The highly controversial move by the US Supreme Court to end women’s right to abortion is the latest example of how the country is lurching to the right on a number of important issues.
With the decision leaving many Americans feeling disenfranchised and frightened about the direction their country is headed, Canada could be an ideal destination for those who have simply had enough of the US.
Overturning Roe vs Wade triggered the closure of abortion clinics across the country, with some states already having laws in place to ban abortion in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s decision.
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In the same week, as Democrat President Joe Biden celebrated the successful passing of mild gun control measures, the Supreme Court moved to make it easier to carry firearms by overturning a 1913 New York licensing law.
This came despite 225 mass shootings in the US in 2022 (or more than one a day), including the bloody massacre of 19 school children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas on May 24.
Same sex marriage and contraception could be next, with Justice Clarence Thomas suggesting the Supreme Court could reconsider a slew of decisions, placing further constitutional rights under threat.
The controversy dates back to the presidency of Donald Trump, when he was able to nominate three new Supreme Court justices – namely Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett – and significantly shift the balance of the bench to the right with Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, appointed amid controversy in 1992, leading the conservative bench.
The Trump appointees left many Americans fearful of the consequences, and now those fears are being realised.
Even before Trump’s Supreme Court picks, Americans were already considering their options to move north. His election victory over Hillary Clinton triggered a huge surge in the number of Americans researching how to move to Canada.
The number of American citizens becoming Canadian permanent residents rose in every year of the Trump presidency except the last, from 7,655 in pre-Trump 2015, to a peak of 10,900 in 2018, his third year in power.
After dropping off in 2020 due to COVID-19, the figure surges again in 2021 to 11,950, and is on pace in 2022 to exceed 12,000 for the first time.
Canada has a plethora of options for American citizens who wish to immigrate here.
In addition to economic programs, Canada also has an established family sponsorship immigration program, which include options for LGBTQ couples and common law partners.
With provincial programs also welcoming newcomers under a wide variety of criteria, American citizens interested in moving to Canada have many pathways open to them.
What Are the Options for Immigrating to Canada from the USA?
Broadly, the options are:
- Federal Economic Class.
- Provincial Economic Class.
- Quebec Immigration.
- Business Immigration, including the Start-Up Visa Program.
- Temporary Residence First, Then Transition to Permanent.
- Family Class Sponsorship.
1) Federal Economic Class
Canada accepts the largest number of immigrants under the economic class, with annual levels set to reach nearly 270,000 by 2024.
The largest group within the economic class is the Federal High Skilled category.
There are many immigration streams to be considered when considering applying for Canadian permanent residence from the USA.
What Are Canada’s Federal Economic Class Programs?
Canada operates its federal economic class immigration system using Express Entry. Many provinces also follow a similar approach and tie their programs to the federal system.
Express Entry requires candidates to submit a profile, with the highest scoring profiles issued an Invitation to Apply to one of the above immigration programs.
Candidates then get 60 days to submit a full application.
Under Express Entry, candidates score Comprehensive Ranking System points for core factors such as age, education, work experience and language ability.
What Is the Express Entry Process?
- Submit profile and enter Express Entry Pool.
- Get issued an Invitation to Apply if you meet minimum points requirement.
- Submit an application in 60 days.
- Get a decision in target processing time of six months.
- If successful, move to Canada.
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Several of Canada’s provinces also operate Express Entry streams, allowing them to tap skilled workers from the pool.
A provincial nomination is worth 600 points and effectively guarantees an Invitation to Apply.
If you meet the requirements, Express Entry can be a fast way to achieve Canada immigration, with target processing times of six months once the full application is received.
What Are Canada’s Provincial Programs?
If you do not qualify through a federal economic program, the next step is to consider provincial streams for your application for permanent residence from the USA.
Each one of Canada’s provinces runs their own immigration programs, targeting the specific demands of local labour markets.
If you have specific skills, there could be a provincial stream waiting to accept you.
Quebec has autonomy over economic based immigration and admits immigrants under its immigration system, with the right to set its own immigration levels and the power to operate its own programs.
Quebec recently launched an Expression of Interest system similar to Express Entry, where candidates submit profiles to the Arrima system and are issued periodic invitations to apply.
Can I Apply for A Business Immigration Program?
Canada also aims to attract entrepreneurs and investors through its business immigration programs, with many applications accepted from the USA.
At the federal level, options include:
Start-Up Visa Program
Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program offers Canadian permanent residence to qualified immigrant entrepreneurs.
The program targets innovative entrepreneurs and links them with private sector investors in Canada who will help establish their start-up business.
Candidates can initially come to Canada on a work permit supported by their designated Canada-based investor, before qualifying for permanent residence once their business is up and running.
There are three types of private-sector investor:
- Angel investor.
- Venture capital fund.
- Business incubator.
Initially a three-year pilot, the program was made permanent on March 31, 2018.
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What Are the Start-Up Visa Candidate Eligibility Requirements?
The basic candidate eligibility requirements for the Start-Up Visa are:
- Qualifying business.
- Commitment Certificate and Letter of Support from a designated entity.
- Sufficient unencumbered, available and transferable settlement funds.
- Proficiency in English or French at minimum Canadian Language Benchmark level 5.
What Is A Start-Up Visa Program Designated Entity?
A designated entity is a Canadian private sector angel investor, venture capital fund or business incubator.
The required commitment must meet the following criteria:
- A designated angel investor group must invest at least $75,000 into the qualifying business. Candidates can also qualify with two or more investments from angel investor groups totalling $75,000.
- A designated venture capital fund must confirm that it is investing at least $200,000 into the qualifying business. Candidates can also qualify with two or more commitments from designated venture capital funds totalling $200,000.
- A designated business incubator must accept the applicant into its business incubator program.
What Are the Start-Up Visa Program Business Ownership Requirements?
For the candidate to qualify for permanent residence:
- The intended business must be incorporated and carrying on business in Canada.
- The candidate must own at least 10 percent of the voting rights in the corporation.
- No other person can hold 50 percent or more of the voting rights in the corporation.
NOTE: Up to five candidates may have their permanent residence application supported by the same business investment. However, certain candidates may be designated essential to the business. If any essential candidate withdraws their application, or are refused, all other candidates under the same business investment will see their applications terminated.
Quebec Immigrant Investor Program
One of Canada’s most popular business programs is the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program.
It is the only passive investment program that leads to Canadian permanent residence.
Intake for the Quebec Investor is currently paused.
Quebec Investor: Primary Requirements
- Legally acquired personal net worth of $2 million;
- Two years of suitable management or business experience within the five years preceding the application;
- Investment of $1.2 million into a passive government guaranteed investment for a period of five years bearing no interest;
- Intend to settle in the province of Quebec.
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Several of Canada’s other provinces also operate business programs as a route to permanent residence from the USA.
Increasingly, the provinces require time spent in Canada setting up a business as a temporary resident before candidates are nominated for permanent residence.
Can I Transition from Temporary to Permanent Residence?
Increasingly, immigrants are coming to Canada as temporary residents and transitioning to permanent residents.
This is a popular route for candidates who do not immediately qualify for permanent residence when applying from the USA.
Time spent in Canada as a temporary resident counts towards a permanent residence application.
What Is Family Class Immigration?
Candidates in the USA with family members who are already permanent residents or citizens can apply through Family Class Sponsorship immigration.
Which Family Members Can Be Sponsored for Canada Immigration from the USA?
- Common Law partner
- Conjugal partner
- Dependent children
- Brothers or sisters, nephews or nieces, granddaughters or grandsons who are orphaned, under 18 years of age and not married or in a common-law relationship
- Another relative of any age or relationship but only under specific conditions
- Accompanying relatives of the above (for example, spouse, partner and dependent children).
What Are the Requirements to Be A Sponsor?
- You must be 18 years of age or older.
- You and the sponsored relative must sign a sponsorship agreement that commits you to provide financial support for your relative, if necessary. This agreement also says the person becoming a permanent resident will make every effort to support her or himself.
- You must provide financial support for a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner for three years from the date they become a permanent resident.
- You must provide financial support for a dependent child for 10 years, or until the child turns 25, whichever comes first.