When I was a senior in high school, I was too young to vote, but definitely old enough to be one of those unbearable people who insist they’re totally moving to Canada if [X politician] wins. I routinely threatened my parents that I’d move to Canada if George W. Bush was reelected.
Reader, I moved to Canada.
Now, a decade later, many Americans apparently seek to imitate my flight. Online searches for “How to move to Canada” spiked after Trump’s Super Tuesday victory, probably because a sizable portion of the US population is averse to living in a nightmare dystopia ruled by a capricious winter squash.
If you’re one of those people searching, here’s a lil sliver of hope: It can be done. But it’s a pricy pain in the ass, and their Netflix sucks.
Have Canadian Family Already
There are a number of different ways you can move to the Drake country. If you have Canadian family members, you can ask them to sponsor your visa. This is the best way, partly because you don’t have to do much, partly because Canadian family members always know the ~authentic~ poutine joints, and they love to drink full-bodied ales while hollering “gimme your toque.”
“Toque” is Canadian for “hat.” You need to know these things.
Do A Job Canada Likes (Oil?)
You could be eligible for a work visa—but that’s entirely dependent on what skill set you have, and how far along you are in your career. I lived in three different provinces in Canada for a total of seven years and I never met anyone who got in this way. I think it helps if you’re an expert in oil? Just like in the US, most jobs in Canada can only go to skilled foreign workers if they are more qualified than domestic candidates, so this can be a very challenging route, especially if you want to live in a city and not the Yukon.
Be a Refugee (You Are Not a Refugee)
You could try to claim political refugee status but don’t fucking do that. Dealing with an orange reality star with baby thumbs as president is not the same as living in Syria. The nice people of Immigration Canada (hi, thanks guys) don’t deserve to shred your stupid protest gesture.
Go Back to School
The easiest way to move to Canada for many young people is to enroll in one of its universities. This requires getting accepted to a Canadian school, so bad news: You’re probably too late to apply for fall 2016. Sorry. (“Sorry”—live it, learn it, love it.)
If you move to Québec, you also have to get a separate Québec visa, because the unofficial motto of Québec is “fuck all English speakers.”
Getting a student visa is not the same as becoming a Canadian permanent resident. You can extend the visa upon graduation, but you’ll need to find a job in order to keep it. I, personally, did not find a job in Canada after graduating with a degree in English Literature, and so I was kindly asked to leave.
Trick a Canadian Into Falling in Love With You
BUT! I wriggled my way back in, through another route you can explore: Convincing a Canadian to fall in love with you, marry you, and sponsor your visa. It helps to want to fuck people wearing flannel. People with spousal visas get to be permanent residents, which means you can work (but not vote).
I wish I had helpful advice for wooing Canadians but I don’t. My method was getting really drunk and making out with lots of them until I found one I liked, but the risks of alcohol poisoning and prolonged exposure to really boring conversations about the Habs are too great to recommend that to others.
Once you have ensnared a Canadian, you can’t just casually flash your marriage license and expect to be welcomed as a full-time Canadian. It took 15 months of filling out forms and convincing Immigration Canada I was in a real relationship after we got married for them to give me the status card that let me work in Canada. I was only able to afford to live during that hellish interlude because I had a job working remotely for a US company. This process is not cheap. The fees alone are usually around a thousand dollars. Hiring an immigration lawyer speeds up the process slightly, but it adds thousands more.
This route doesn’t make sense unless you have money saved up, or your US-based job will let you work remotely until you can legally work in Canada. The good news is that the Canadian dollar is trash right now, so your money will last.
Be Really Rich (Obviously)
If you have $10 million CDN (around 7.4 million USD), you can apply for an Immigrant Investor visa. But if you have that much money, here’s a thought: Move someplace warm!
Canada is a good country. The people are wry and kind. They like ice sports too much, but they’re fun. Their Prime Minister is sexy in a Justin Long kinda way. But even though Canada has a reputation for politeness and inclusiveness, it’s still a nation with fairly strict immigration policies, and moving there to protest a presidential election is a serious undertaking.
Maybe just move to Vermont instead.