For American Clients

For American Clients

From headlines in Canadian[1] and US newspapers to online playlists and websites pitching particular Canadian islands as a refuge[2] or promoting Canadian singles as prospective spouses for Americans[3], a lot of ink has flown over the last few months on an age-old theme: the desire of certain Americans to seek refuge in Canada.

Rolling Stone coined it correctly though, in their article on the subject[4]: moving to Canada entails more than simply packing up your things and walking across the border, even if you are an American. While you will have some perks as an American, a lot will still depend on who you are beyond your citizenship.

For instance, if you are a close family member of a Canadian citizen or a Canadian Permanent Resident, you could potentially be sponsored by that person. The same goes with finding a Canadian sweetheart, whether online or not. If that is your situation, you would need to make an application in the Family Class.

You consider yourself a political dissident or conscientious objector, or member of a minority at risk for persecution?

Historically speaking, some American citizens who opposed US politics have been able to obtain permanent residence in Canada. During the Vietnam War for instance, tens of thousands of American citizens fled to Canada. It is however unclear how many of these conscience objectors actually received refugee status[5].

As well, more recently very few claims from people coming from the USA have been granted: over the last decade, an average of only 470 claims were granted annually, with a historical low level of only 168 refugee claims granted in 2014[6]. Indeed, every refugee claimant needs to prove that they are personally at risk of persecution, torture or alike, and since December 15, 2012, less procedural safeguards exist for US citizens who make a refugee claim in Canada. In fact, since that date, the United States of America is considered to be a Designated Country of Origin (DCO) by the Canadian Government, meaning that it is considered to be a country that does not normally produce refugees; a country that respects human rights and offers State protection. While the USA may be taken of the list of DCO’s, it is unlikely this will happen any day soon.

In the light of the above, a successful refugee claim might be an option, especially if the USA continues to go down its current path, but waiting until then may not be your best bet.

So what other options are left if you don’t have family in Canada and don’t want to take your chances with a refugee claim? The bulk of the Canadian immigration programs! For the year 2016, more than half of the 300,000 new Canadian Permanent Residents will be so-called economic immigrants.

To become a Permanent Resident through the economic immigration programs, a lot will once again depend on your personal profile. For instance, the North American Free Trade Agreement(NAFTA) facilitates the issuance of work permits for American business people, professionals, and intra-company transferees. As well, if you are fond of all French things and poutine (not the Russian president, but the dish), moving to Québec might be a feasible option, or you could take advantage of your knowledge of French to obtain a work permit more easily under the Francophone mobility program.

If you are not a French and English bilingual (yet), the rest of Canada remains wide open. If you have a particular province or territory in mind, you should check the Provincial Nominees section. Alternatively, if you are a willing to be employed as an In-Home Caregiver,you might want to check out the Caregiver section. And in all cases, you may want to read the Express entry section after reading the following introduction for more information.


[1] Studin, Irwin. “Dear Americans: Welcome to Canada”., Globe and Mail (9 May 2016), online: <>

[2] “If Donald Trump wins U.S. presidency, Cape Breton pitched as refuge for Americans”, CBC News (16 February 2016), online: <>

[3] «Maple Match makes it easy for Americans to find the ideal Canadian partner to save them from the unfathomable horror of a Trump presidency», online: Maple Match <>

[4] Lim, Audrea. “Want to Move to Canada If Trump Wins? Not So Fast”., Rolling Stone(5 May 2015), online: <>

[5] “Brief history of Canada’s responses to refugees”, (April 2009), online: Canadian Council for Refugees  <>

[6] “Facts and figures 2014 – Immigration overview: Permanent residents”, supra note 6.

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