Immigration Station

January 22, 2009

From visas to bank accounts, this blog is designed to help you brainstorm questions and find answers to export yourself legally. I look for everything online, but had trouble readily finding information on how to legally move to another country. In this case, (immigrating to Canada) mai best resources were the officers at the Canadian boarder, the Port of Entry personnel in Detroit, Michigan, and my school, the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine.

(This info is US to Canada specific. Though perhaps not your specific destination, the following points should help you develop your own Immigration Station checklist.)

Passports/Passcards: Do you have a passport? Since January 1, 2009 it is required to have a passport to go anywhere outside the US. Before, you could go to Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean and other destinations without one. They just required ID such as a drivers license, state id card, or birth certificate. Now you must have one to cross any boarder. Be careful, often times it is easier to leave the US than to enter back in! Partly, because of this new law they have “invented” the Passcard. I’ve been advocating this to all my relatives who must get their passport for the first time, or obtain a new one. Passports are $115 (You get $15 off if you are a AAA member– go figure) Passcards however are only $45!! Of course, with a passport you can go anywhere you want in the world (or just about) but with a passcard you can only travel to other countries in North America, and you can only travel by land or sea. Yup no flights. Only car, train, bus, boat or ship. Interesting, no? Passports, and visas are costly. I actually kinda expected visas to be free, don’t ask me why.

Visa: How long are you planning on staying? You can stay in Canada for 6 months before you have to attain a visa. This was surprising to me. Check with the individual country you are moving to to find what their specifics are. I found this info from my school and it was corroborated by the port authority in Detroit.

Work/Study Permits: Will you be allowed to work? I’m not allowed to get a work visa, only a student visa. My husband is allowed a restricted work visa by default because he’s married to me. Honestly, this really bites. I guess they are worried that all the immigrates are gonna come and take the jobs away from the Canadians (wow, they kinda sound American to me–Paper Planes…). My husband’s visa is restricted which means he’s not allowed to work with children unless he takes and passes certain medical examinations. Do you already have a job? Often times when you are moved to another country by an employer they are your “sponsor” and often cover your passport and visa expenses.

Motor Vehicles: Will you be allowed to drive in this country? Going to Canada from the US you don’t have to worry about getting another drivers license, but that wouldn’t be the case if you where going to say… Europe. Metric system or no? Driving specifics: While driving in Canada you have to remember the us kilometers per hour not miles per hour like we do in the States.

Cell Phone Carriers: This was an unexpected bummer. I’m addicted to my sidekick. I’ve had a myriad of the Sidekick variations over the past 5 years. If you think you can keep Sprint, Nextel, Boost, Cricket, T-Mobile, or even the surprising one AT&T (I thought they were global, don’t ask me why) THINK AGAIN!!! In Canada, they have several carriers but NONE are international calling friendly ($$$$$) Also, you may be surprised to learn that your device may not work there. I have heard about perhaps having a device “unlocked”. I’m not quite sure what this process or expense would be but would like to know more. Supposedly, if you get your device unlocked your new carriers’ SIM card should be able to work in it. T-Mobile denies this is possible and maintains that only their SIM cards are designed to work in their devices. Blackberrys and iPhones are very popular worldwide. It maybe a worthwhile investment.

Banks: I can’t stand the banking system in Canada. It’s much more of an expense. In the States you can easily get free savings and checking especially if you have direct deposit (Chase, Credit Unions, and Bank of America are a few examples of this). How will you exchange your money?

Apartments: We’ve had a lot of success with this one, so I cant readily think of something to look out for. Perhaps find out if you will be able to rent a place without citizenship status.

Healthcare: If you have prescription drugs you should think about if you will be allowed to take them with you, and how you will get them once you are living abroad. Also, what is the state of their public healthcare? Will you be eligible for it?

Belongings: Find out what things you have to declare before you can cross the boarder. Sometimes you cant bring edibles, perishables, or organics from one country to another. Other times you have to declare money when you bring a certain amount or more (must declare $10,000+ to enter Canada).


another source:

Citizenship and Immigration Canada


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