How are you feeling about the 2016 presidential election, eh? From the cringeworthy speculations and inspiring speeches to the off-hand tweets and ill-timed tirades, this election has had its fair share of eyebrow-raising moments. And while many Americans may think that the circus may pack it in the minute the confetti falls and a winner is named, there are some of us who might not be as confident in the nation's future. If you have a (reasonable) fear that America is destined to resemble the ultimate satire come to life, Mike Judge’s cult film Idiocracy, then maybe it's time for you and Lena Dunham to head to Canada. After all, it's hard not to like Justin Trudeau.
Check Your Eligibility
Before packing up that U-Haul in a fit of ex-pat rage come January, first check your eligibility. There are a few reasons why you may not be eligible to immigrate to Canada, including: human or international rights violations, a criminal record, health and/or fiscal reasons, non-compliance with IRPA (Immigration Refugee Protection Act), and others. If you are in the clear, then start shopping for flannel.
Which Type of Resident are You?
Next, which type of legal resident status best fits you? Applying to be a legal resident is necessary to avoid breaking the law and avoiding deportation — that wouldn't be fun. Plus, you must demonstrate a deep commitment to the country by living in Canada for at least three years before applying to become a citizen.
Take some time to consider a few of the ways to keep it legal and apply to be a full-fledged Canadian resident, including: Express Entry for Skilled workers (considered by many to be the most effective path toward residency), enroll in the Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Pilot Program, show that you are self-employed and make at least $40k per year, enter into the Provincial Nominee Program, which occurs when a specific Canadian province selects you to move to it (Canada loves you), or be a caregiver for a Canadian resident or citizen.
Apply for a Visa
Now, it’s time to apply for your visa and pay up. The application fees vary depending on which type of legal residency you’re seeking. The application fee for an Express Entry application, for instance, would be $550 Canadian dollars, while a Self-Employed visa applicant would owe $1,050. Select the appropriate application that best characterizes your situation, fill it out and send that baby in.
Play the Waiting Game
Wait (anxiously) for your visa to arrive! Be patient, even the quickest turnaround time can take upwards of six months, so plan ahead. In the meantime, why not pick up a few bonus tips about how to better assimilate into your new country? Sure, you’ll miss all that makes America exceptional, but now you have poutine.
Taste the Local Cuisine
Poutine is an authentic French Canadian delight invented by an unknown French Canadian genius in the 1950s. Enjoyed (re: gorged) by the average Canadian after a night of drinking, poutine is the perfect high-calorie carb fest made of a trinity of ingredients: French fries, cheese curds and gravy. You may have seen the American abomination in certain Northeast diners under the name “Disco Fries,” which are made with cheddar in lieu of curds. Do not fool yourself. That is not poutine. You know poutine. (Side note: pass for a real Québécois and pronounce it “poo-tin.” Trust me.)
BONUS! Before you go, impress your American friends with how dedicated to Canada you have become by inviting them over for homemade poutine. Go ahead and throw on an episode of Degrassi while you're at it.
Learn the Lay of the Land
Did you know Canada is the world’s second largest country? With a land area of almost four million square miles (about the size of Europe), this massive country maintains close ties to its many miles of wilderness heritage. Canadian forests make up about 50 percent of the entire country, which means you are destined for some truly epic camping trips. The dense, untapped wilderness is breathtaking in its beauty, but it can be brutal. Try brushing up on your Canadian wilderness survival skills whenever feeling particularly frustrated by the American presidential race.
Explore New Options
Think about the vast Canadian wilderness and all of its wondrous possibilities while you wait for your visa. Let yourself get lost in a daydream while imagining a career as a park ranger, otherwise known as a park warden in Canada. Think about it: these park wardens get paid to hang out in the forest all day and study, monitor and manage the varying ecosystems within the vast wilderness. No more Game of Thrones spoilers at the water cooler.
Make It Official
When you’re ready, and only when you’re sure you’ve made the right decision after weighing every possible pro and con you can think of, it’s time to switch your internet browser homepage to Google Canada. And don’t worry, you’re not alone.