Global Glance: November 14, 2016
A quick look at intriguing international stories
By John Bostwick, Managing Editor, Radius
Moving to Canada and a Cape Breton Man’s Wildly Successful Immigration Pitch
Some weeks ago, in the face of idle talk from friends and stories of celebrities vowing to move to Canada in the event of a Trump victory, I considered writing a post on what it would take to actually emigrate to that country from the US. What criteria would you have to fulfill, what forms would you have to complete, what permits would you have to obtain, etc.?
I should have known that I’d been in effect reinventing this month’s editorial-calendar wheel. Countless stories have been published on the subject of moving to Canada in the last week alone, with many more similar stories published earlier in the election cycle. By now, then, anyone interested in the subject has probably already read about it. In fact, so many people visited Canada’s Immigration and Citizenship website on election night that the site crashed.
In the event that you’re still looking for a good article about emigrating to Canada, I recommend “So You Want to Move to Canada, Eh?,” published in PolitiFact. Surprisingly enough, according to the article it appears that some US liberals may have actually made good on their vows to move north after previous Republican presidential victories. The US government doesn’t publish stats on this, but Canadian numbers show, for example, “a dramatic increase in the number of US citizens granted permanent resident status in Canada in the years immediately following [George W.] Bush’s re-election.”
Still, the numbers are minimal given the US’s total population. From 1990 to 2015, the peak number of US citizens granted permanent residence status in any given year is 10,000 (in 2008). The article gets to the heart of the matter with the following one-sentence paragraph: “It’s hard to up and move to another country, Canada or otherwise.” Under Canadian immigration laws, in order to become a permanent resident you’ll need a close family member living in Canada or a “spouse willing to sponsor an immigration visa.” (If someone’s spouse isn’t willing to do that, he or she probably has bigger problems than who’s in political office.)
The Canadian government will also consider your education, language skills, potential economic contribution to the nation, income and/or net worth, work experience, age and whether you have a job opportunity waiting for you. One expert quoted in the Politifact article cautions, “any American who plans to move permanently to Canada if Donald Trump is elected better check to see if they can get in, and expect to wait a long time — at least months, if not years — before they get permission. … it might take so long Trump’s first term would be over before they get in.”
So if you feel compelled to say you’re going to move to Canada because of our recent election result, consider that this is a clichéd sentiment and that Canada (like every other country on earth) has its own unique immigration requirements. In other words, beware of (arrogantly?) assuming you can move to another country simply because you’re an American.
But enough self-righteous advice. There is at least one part of Canada that will welcome you provided you can jump through the requisite immigration hoops. Cape Breton — the remote, northernmost island of Nova Scotia — is experiencing ongoing population losses through out-migration. One local resident, pop-radio DJ Rob Calabrese, created the website Cape Breton if Trump Wins early this year as something of a joke. A February article in Rolling Stone explains that Cape Breton’s population has been “steadily plummeting” over the last five years in part because of a steel-mill closure. Calabrese tells the magazine, “Our population is aging, and it's shrinking by about 1,000 people every year. … It’s projected to do that for the next 20 years unless it can get turned around.”
Since the article, the Calabrese’s website has become according to a CTV.com article an “online sensation,” with over two million visitors. In addition, some 6,000 Americans have contacted Calabrese directly about how to move to Cape Breton. The CTV article cautions that national immigration requirements have in no way been altered to facilitate in-migration to Cape Breton, and that visiting the island “has proven to be much easier than staying for some Americans.” Many of those visitors are forced to leave when their visas expire. Calabrese is quoted as saying, “We have such a population problem and someone who just loves it here and is working to make it a better place, has to leave. There's no way someone like that is eligible unless they go through a new path as an investor or starting a new business or having family or getting married. ... It's the way the law is.”
If your interest is piqued and you want to read more about Cape Breton’s culture, check out, “Fiddling With the Past: The Secrets of Scottish Music,” published in last Thursday's New York Times. It explains that many Cape Bretons are descended from Scottish Highlanders who “flooded into” the island in the 1800s for economic reasons. The close Gaelic communities on the island have preserved Scottish musical traditions to a greater extent than their counterparts in Scotland. The article says that, “many people in Scotland considered the Cape Breton style — fiddling and dancing, in particular — as frozen in time,” and that in the 1980s, the Cape Breton music “helped spark a cultural revival in the old country.”
For more on Canadian immigration, read The Washington Post’s, “Americans, It’s Actually Quite Hard to Move to Canada,” also published last week following the election. It covers some of the ground already covered here, but notes that Canada plans to take in 300,000 new permanent residents next year, “but that number includes immigrants with family ties and refugees, as well as economic newcomers.” It also addresses some potential negative effects of the Trump victory that are unrelated to immigration, such as a possible sharp decline in Canadian exports should Trump make good on his vows to tear up or rewrite the North American Free Trade Agreement.