Legal issues regarding a Canadian citizen who wants to move to America

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Bob Movies, Dec 10, 2002.

  1. Bob Movies

    Bob Movies Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi Everyone,

    I'm a Canadian citizen who lives in Toronto. I will be graduating from university in April, and I want to move to Los Angeles when I graduate. I'm an aspiring writer and director, and I want to be where the movies are made. I've been there twice this year on business, and I'm convinced that it's the place for me.

    Is there any way for me to live there other than becoming a U.S. citizen? I'm not anti-American or anything like that, I just don't think that they'd let me become a U.S. citizen, considering that I'm not bringing any new skills into the country. Canadians are not elligible for the INS lottery, so that method is not available to me either.

    Is it possible for me to live or work there and still be a Canadian citizen? From what I gather, I would not be able to work without a green card, which would make it difficult to live there considering that I would have no way to earn any money!

    If there is anyone here who has immigrated into the USA or is a Canadian living in the USA, I would love to hear about your experience, and any tips you might have for me.

    Thanks!

    Bob
     
  2. Nathan*W

    Nathan*W Screenwriter

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    You could marry an American. My brother-in-law was born in Vancouver, BC and lived here for years as a Canadian. He did have to become a citizen eventually though, because of his job. (State Trooper)
     
  3. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    You will need to apply for permanent residency. You do not need to be a citizen to live in the US -- in fact, you must be a resident for several (seven?) years before you can apply for citizenship.

    A co-worker recently received his permanent US residency, and is relocating from Windsor, Ontario across the river to the Detroit area. I believe he had to complete his paperwork at the US facilities in Montreal.
     
  4. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    My mom was a "permanent resident" in the US for about 30 years until recently she got her citizenship. She too was a Canadian Citizen officially.

    However, I don't really know the details other than to inquire about permanent recidency and go from there..

    Jay
     
  5. Bob Movies

    Bob Movies Stunt Coordinator

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    So, if you need to live in the United States for several years before you can apply for permanent residency, does anyone know how you can go about legally working during those years?

    Thanks! I've been reading about this online, and it's pretty confusing.

    Bob
     
  6. Eric Kahn

    Eric Kahn Guest

    Call immigration and naturalization, you will need to get a work Visa the "green Card" to work here, might be easyier to call the US embassy and ask them who you need to talk to
    you will get less of a run around that way
     
  7. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    There is a "work visa" or some such thing. My company employs a Canadian citizen (he's lived in the US for several years). I believe he just gets his passport/visa stamped at the border on an annual basis. I think the only caveat is that you have to already be employed/have a job in the US.

    Living in LA, you obviously wouldn't be close enough to the border, but any INS office should be able to accomplish the same thing. I don't think citizenship is necessary.
     
  8. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    Or you can just hide it [​IMG] Remember, it's pronounced "Ab-out" not "Ah-Boot" and stop saying "eh" [​IMG]
     
  9. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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  10. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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  11. HienN

    HienN Stunt Coordinator

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    One way is to get a company to sponsor you while you are in the US qualifying for your permanent residency/green card. That will provide you with work and a work visa before you qualify for permanent residency and citizenship if you so choose.
    Finding such sponsorship is not easy unless you have skills that are difficult to find in the US. A possible way to get around that is to get a position at a Canadian office of an American company (or get a job at a Canadian company that does extensive business in the US) and ask for an internal transfer to the US after a few years.
    Or maybe you can switch with me. I have visited Canada a few times, and I love your country. Can't imagine why you'd want to move.
    PS. It's 60F outside, and I am freezing [​IMG]
     
  12. Rain

    Rain Producer

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    For more information, I suggest you contact a US-based lawyer who specializes in immigration.

    I looked into this once and it is very difficult.
     
  13. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    I agree with Rain. I was looking into this a year or so ago (American coming to Canada), and it seemed all but impossible, and quite expensive either way.

    It wasn't always like this though. A girlfriend of mine in the 1980s had two brothers move to Arizona because they couldn't get the Canadian banks to loan them money to build aparment complexes. The US banks gave them millions of dollars to develop down there (as the contractors), even though they weren't citizens, and were living in the country illegally, sending their kids to US schools, etc.

    Now it seems you have to marry someone to cross the border and work.
     
  14. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    Jeff Kleist, the way you quoted me makes it seem as if I said 9/11 cause people to want to see IDs everywhere. That is not what I meant.
    Barring foreign students from driving whether directly or through the SSN requirement for a driver license is extremely stupid. What the hell good is that going to do? It's hard enough to survive with all the restriction, now you can't drive??!! That it was/is even being considered is what terrifies me.
    I know this is threading on dangerous grounds, I just wanted to make myself clear [​IMG]
    --
    Holadem
     
  15. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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  16. Francois Caron

    Francois Caron Cinematographer

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  17. Stacie

    Stacie Stunt Coordinator

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    Holadem obviously has lots of insight into this situation, but -- and not to be too much more discouraging -- getting permanent residency isn't a cakewalk even IF you're married to a U.S. citizen. My sister-in-law married a U.K. citizen, and they jumped through a lot of hoops and paid an immigration attorney a few thousand dollars before her husband got permanent residency. I know others who married Canadian citizens and went through pretty much the same damn thing.
    Still, your best bet might be to find a nice American girl and settle down. [​IMG]
     
  18. BrianB

    BrianB Producer

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  19. Michael Silla

    Michael Silla Second Unit

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    Let me clear up a fews things [​IMG]
    As a Canadian who has lived down here in the US for 6 years now, I'll make a few remarks.
    Working in the US can be easy or HARD depending on which career field you are in. The easiest way to begin working in the US is to be educated in one of the following NAFTA approved career fields. This is considered temporary work that is renewed on a yearly basis with no end time limit on the number of years. The status is referred to as TN. It will never lead to permanent residency or Citizenship. You MUST have a job opportunity with a signed letter of intent to employ for a year's period of time - renewable in one year increments.
    Alternately, like others have mentioned you may apply for a H1-B visa that will allow you to stay up to two consecutive terms of up to 3 years. You can apply for permanent residency with this visa. It can lead to permanent residency and citizenship. You DO NOT have to be a rocket scientist to get one. You just have to be in a field that is underserved (A nurse, Doctor, Lab Tech etc.....) in the US. This one is "harder" to get because it involves the employer or the employee forking out $1000 to processes the application.
    People will swear up and down about having a lawyer to get this type of visa. Don't be swooned. Spend some time reading and researching. Pretty soon you will realize how simple it is to apply (forms can be submitted over the internet).
    Someone mentioned that Canadians are barred from winning the visa lottery. This is unfortunately true. Becoming a permanent citizen via the H1-B involves filling out more forms and paying more money. After spending some time and a decent amount of money, you can eventually expect to become a US citizen.
    Even marrying a US citizen is not an immediate gaurantee of permanent residency and citizenship. They don't make anything easy, mate.
    Michael.
     
  20. Bob Movies

    Bob Movies Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi Everyone,

    Thanks again for your continued help in making this topic easier to understand.

    Holadem - Unfortunately, a student visa wouldn't work for me because of the exact problem that you mentioned - lack of funds. That's the reason I didn't go to university in the united states in the first place, I just can't afford it.

    HienN - I love living in Canada, but Los Angeles is where the film production takes place. People call Toronto "Hollywood North", but almost all of the creative decisions are made in America, not here in Canada. It's a good place if you want to work on film crews, but not if you want to get into the creative side of the business. Canada doesn't have the same budgets / resources / studios for producing feature films, unfortunately.

    BrianB - Good luck on Monday!

    Michael - the H1-B visa seems like it would be the best bet for me. It says that it's for temporary entry in a specialty occupation as a professional, but I'm not sure if they would consider film industry work a "qualified profession".

    There are two other ways that I've found, but both are very hard to get! The first is Employment First Preference (E1) which is for persons of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. You (literally) need to be a Nobel Prize winner to qualify for this category, so I am not elligible (hopefully some day!). You don't need a sponsoring employer if you're one of these people, you can apply directly.

    The second is "immigration through investment" which is basically investing $1,000,000 in the U.S. economy and creating a minimum of 10 jobs while you do that. Unfortunately, I'm $1M short for this one.
     

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