How To Become A Canadian

Had enough with the Ignited States? Then it’s time to break up. Here’s how.

I’m not sure if the sun is rising on a new America or setting on a soon-to-be-failed state. I leave it to you to interpret this for yourself. Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

I think the moment I realized it was over between myself and the United States was an evening in 2004 as I ate dinner. The newspaper photo of a Muslim prisoner in Abu Ghraib confronted me. He stood on a box, dark-robed and hooded like an obscene parody of a Klansmen, arms outstretched like Jesus with electrical cables gripping his hands.

Moral degenerates, or as George W. Bush called them, “My base,” cheered and made excuses for why it was okay to torture prisoners like we were some goddamn ‘shithole country’, as an American wag more recently put it, although he was talking about other people’s countries at the time.

I’d schlepped off my Canadian immigration application three months prior, but I don’t think I was yet all-in. Committed enough to go through the trouble and expense (I think so far it had cost me around $1,000, not a sum I’d had to pay all at once) but when I saw the now-iconic photo, I knew it was over between me and America. We had to break up. We couldn’t live with each other anymore.

The moral degenerates have multiplied, the self-infantilization of America continues, and the difference between the left’s and right’s extremism has become so blurred the only difference is in who they hate and how they express it.

No, the left isn’t as violent as the right. Yet.

So you want to become a Canadian

My focus for this article:

  • Americans, since others’ mother countries may vary.

  • Immigration, not asylum claims

  • The Skilled Worker program, which is how I entered

  • Some of my information may prove out of date, as I started the process 17 years ago. I’ll do my best to provide more recent information, but always check everything.

If you’re interested in the story behind my decision to leave America, you can read a guest blog post I wrote for a writer friend several years ago, when I had more of a sense of humor than I feel today.

Consider this your starter article on How To Become A Canadian.

My intention is to update it as new information becomes available, with a list of updates at the top. However, you still need to be proactive and do the research yourself. I’ll answer whatever questions I can or direct you to the right sources.

Your home base will be the Canadian Immigration & Citizenship website. Bookmark it.

There are two ways to enter Canada: Immigration and asylum, and this article doesn’t take into account COVID-19 restrictions. Applying as a refugee doesn’t apply to Americans, although never say never. America’s on the ‘safe country’ list, for now.

WARNING: Famously Canadian niceness and courtesy does NOT extend to Canada geese. They are assholes.

Two main immigration options

  • Federal immigration

  • Quebec immigration

Quebec is a slightly different province from the rest of Canada for many political reasons I won’t get into here. The answer you care about is there’s a separate immigration process for it.

If the Canadian government rejects you, you can still apply to Quebec and if it accepts you, the federal government may still approve it unless there’s a good reason to keep you out which can include having a criminal record, medical condition, or other problematic details (like ties to terrorism). I considered Quebec my Plan B.

You don’t have to speak French to live in Quebec but it helps.

If you successfully enter Canada, you become a permanent resident and can live anywhere in the country you want, including Quebec. You have most rights as a native-born Canadian but you can’t vote or sit on a jury. You may not be eligible for provincial government-paid healthcare for a certain period after you enter (I waited a month or two in Ontario, I think).

You can’t become a citizen until you’ve lived here roughly three years, and that means your butt inside Canada. When you apply for citizenship, you have to specify how much time you spent outside the country during that time period, and then calculate how many hours you’ve been here because they look at hours. I was here eight years before I applied and I had a bitch of a time cataloging all the times I went to the States for family reasons or took vacations. And I forgot one stupid business trip to Chicago which they found stamped in my passport, but fortunately they let it pass.

The main immigration choices

  • Skilled worker. Canada now offers Express Entry for skilled workers which wasn’t available for the slow-ass process I went through.

  • Provincial nominee program. Applies to anyone who’s got special skills that would apply to a specific province. Maybe you’re an oil worker who wants to work in Alberta or a miner who can work in the northern territories (bring some heavy-duty clothing, it can get quite nippy closer to the Arctic Circle!)

  • Atlantic immigration pilot. A company or business who wants to hire you needs to sponsor you. It’s for jobs the business hasn’t been able to fill locally.

  • Start-up visa. Canada actively encourages entrepreneurs and investors to build potential businesses in Canada. The Greater Toronto Area in particular is actively seeking people with startup/entrepreneurial tech skills as it aspires to become the Silicon Valley of Canada.

  • Rural and northern immigration pilot. Similar to the Atlantic one, this one is designed to encourage people to move to smaller, more rural, less attractive communities. Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal remain the most popular destinations for new immigrants, so the federal government is always trying to persuade people to choose different regions (which you may want to consider anyway as the major metros are getting too expensive for even the rest of us to live in).

  • Refugees. Doesn’t apply to Americans, but people living in those considered asylum countries can start here.

  • Family sponsorship. If you’ve got Canadian family members, including relatives, this is one route. Just keep in mind your sponsors are ultimately responsible for you, w