immigration myths and facts

There's a lot of misinformation out there about Canadian immigration. (Why would this be the exception?) Based on current law:

1. Americans who emigrate to Canada do not lose their Social Security benefits. Assuming George W Bush doesn't lose all our savings in the stock market, if you emigrate, you will be entitled to the same benefits had you not left the country. At retirement age, you will also collect the Canadian version of Social Security. Canada will subtract the amount of your US Social Security from your Canadian cheque.

2. Similarly, under current laws, American 401(k)s and IRAs will be accessible upon reaching retirement age.

3. Taxes are paid based on residency and where the work is performed. As a Permanent Resident of Canada, I will not pay US taxes. Canada and the US have tax-agreement laws that generally prevent double taxation. There are exceptions, but they are rare.

4. Canada has not announced that it will refuse refuge to American draft resistors if a draft is instituted. There has been no announcement about this one way or the other. There is only rumor. Based on current Canadian immigration law and Canadian history, American draft resistors will likely receive asylum, but that is conjecture, not fact.

5. Currently, US military conscientious objectors are not eligible for refugee status under Canadian law. This doesn't mean the Canadian government approves of the war in Iraq! It means that a volunteer soldier who follows her or his conscience over military orders does not qualify for refugee status under current law.

6. There is no such thing as a "Bush Refugee". Canada is not accepting asylum seekers based on extreme disgust at the current American government. No one who applied to emigrate after the 2004 election could have been accepted yet.

7. There are, however, American Muslims who fled to Canada to escape persecution in the post-9/11 US. Some of them have received refugee status; others are living legally in Canada as their cases are reviewed.

8. You do not need to hire an immigration lawyer in order to immigrate to Canada. Having an attorney does not increase your chances of acceptance. Anything an attorney can do for you regarding immigration, you can do yourself.

9. The point system for Permanent Residency, where you are assigned points based on education, work experience, language proficiency and other criteria, is flexible. If your points are below the passmark, Canadian Immigration may still accept you. Likewise, you can have a point-value above the passmark and be rejected.

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