According to the most recent data from the Association for Canadian Studies in the United States, more than 11,000 Americans moved to Canada in 2008. While some Americans dream of such a move, others view it as an act of treason on the U.S. Regardless of your point of view, immigrating to Canada and pursuing Canadian citizenship can be confusing.
What are the basic, long-term options for living and working in Canada? Living year-round or working at any time in Canada requires either the proper permit or Canadian citizenship. In the long term, those who aren’t citizens should decide whether to seek a temporary work permit, permanent residence, or citizenship. Considerations include tax implications, cost of living, health care, and lifestyle issues.
A Cautionary Tale
We’ve seen too often how a lack of planning in this area can result in unfortunate consequences. Take this case study as an example. Our new client had accepted a teaching position at a Canadian college but his initial immigration strategy hadn’t addressed the work permit situation for his spouse. While he was able to work in Canada, his spouse was left at home in a new city and country because she was unable to work. The lack of family or support structure added to the strain, and within a year, the couple contacted us to assist with their transition back to the U.S.
Our couple illustrates the importance of planning early and working with a knowledgeable professional who can help design your Canadian immigration strategy from beginning to end and achieve your goal of attaining temporary or permanent residence or citizenship.
Status in Canada
Generally speaking, there are three categories of “status” in Canada:
- Temporary Residents: This category consists of anyone who is not a permanent resident or citizen, including all visitors (for a maximum of six months), foreign workers, and international students.
- Permanent Residents: Those in this category can work and study in Canada with no restrictions and also have the right to enter and stay in Canada indefinitely. The five sub-categories of permanent residents include: Family Members, Skilled Workers/Professionals and Investors, Entrepreneurs and Self-Employed Personas, Provincial Nominees, and Quebec-Selected Skilled Workers.
- Citizenship: In most cases, children who are born in Canada will be Canadian citizens, regardless of their parents’ status. Otherwise, one must become a permanent resident to be eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship. Canada does allow for dual citizenship, in which a person can be granted Canadian citizenship without having to give up his/her U.S. citizenship or passport.
Of course, the points above discuss Canadian status in the broadest of terms. The cross-border specialists at Cardinal Point Wealth Management can conduct a detailed analysis of your particular situation to help determine the best immigration strategy to achieve your needs and goals.
Terry Ritchie is the Director of Cross-Border Wealth Services at the Cardinal Point, a cross-border wealth management organization with offices in the United States and Canada. Terry has been providing Canada-U.S. cross-border financial, investment, tax, transition, and estate planning services to affluent families for over 25 years. He is active as an author, speaker and educator on international tax and financial planning matters. www.cardinalpointwealth.com