So you’ve had it with the cold Canadian winters and are planning to make a move to the United States. At least, that’s what many Canadians will say if you ask them where they’d rather be in the dead of winter! But the reality is that there are many reasons for becoming an ex-pat. You may be making a career-related change, or decided to move to the country of your future spouse, to name just a couple.
The main thing to remember is that moving to America is entirely different than moving within Canada. Because you will be a new resident in the country, it’s important to understand that everything will be different. As a result, there is much more involved when planning for your out-of-country move.
Those Canucks who are unsure about making a complete move to the U.S. should understand that they have options too. Any Canadian has the opportunity to visit the United States either up to six months at a time, or per calendar year, whichever comes first. If you’ve already spent six months in the U.S., then it’s recommended you return to Canada for the same period of time. This will ensure that you retain your provincial health care benefits. But a good idea is to check with your province to see if there is a requirement for how many months you should stay in order to be covered.
These days, much of the forms and information you need for a cross-border move can be found online. Probably most important is the U.S. Department of State, which is the government body who makes the decisions about whether or not to allow you into the country. Some non-expert information found online will reveal the many benefits of being extra cordial with them.
Moving To Marry
If you’re moving cross-border for love, a few sites exist which can help sort through the various administration processes, visa requirements and special information needed when bringing a soon-to-be spouse into the United States.
If you live in Canada but want to join your spouse in the U.S., your process will be unique, as what you need will depend on where your wedding ceremony took place. Therefore, planning months ahead is crucial. For example, the K-1 visa allows those of foreign national status intending to wed a U.S. citizen live permanently in the U.S. But in order to qualify, you must have met your fiancé two years or sooner before you file for this type of visa.
And even before you file, you will have to both prove that you are able to marry and show the successful termination of any previous marriages. If you have met these requirements, you can enter the United States for 90 days with the single-entry K-1 visa. But you must be married within 90 days, or you will have to return to Canada.
There are many different types of visas and procedures for each, but sites like Visa Journey offer help in the form of Canada-specific forums, as well as their very own Wiki so that you can learn more about the steps you need to take to join your loved one in the United States.
You may be considering hiring a lawyer to help you with your case. But beware of the firms who claim that they can speed up the process. This is not possible, even with the best of lawyers. How long it takes for the process to be completed depends on several factors that are completely out of every lawyer’s control.
Moving For Work
Doing some research online will reveal several categories for those wanting to move from Canada to the U.S. to work. Some of these categories are E2, H1B, L1 and B1. Be aware that even if you don’t permanently live in the U.S. and are only working there, you will still have to pay taxes to local, state and federal governments. You will also have to pay social security and Medicare taxes.
You can also get an employment-based green card, which is one of the more convenient options for those looking to both work and live in the U.S. on a permanent basis. If you’re only visiting the U.S. to participate in some type of research, you may opt for the J1 visa.
Student visas are available for those who find themselves planning far ahead to live in the United States. Studying in America to obtain qualifications needed by that country can pave the way for an easier process if you apply for a long-term work visa.
The Physical Move
Something that is within your control after you’ve gotten the visa ball rolling is getting prepared to move your belongings. But this will require dealing with customs regulations, transportation and travel time from Canada to your new U.S. residence. Because all of these processes can take up to three months to complete, this should be considered months before you relocate.
If moving your items, you will need to itemize them, as customs will require this type of list when you make it to the border. Be aware that you will be required to pay duty and entry fees in addition to the cost of transporting your items.
Many future ex-pats decide that moving their physical belongings will cost much more than they are willing to spend. In these cases, it can much easier to hold a garage sale or give away household items. However, if you have items such as family heirlooms or antiques with high sentimental value, the monetary cost and time needed to move them will be well worth the effort.
Check the U.S. customs web site for items that are prohibited to bring with you over the border. Following this list of items will help you avoid disappointment and perhaps even possible criminal charges.
Planning Is the Key
The bottom line of your cross-border move, besides being far less chilly in the winter, is in the preparation. The more prepared you are with all of the documents and other information that’s required before you cross the border, the less stress you will have on the day of your move and the quicker you can begin your new life in the United States.