My earlier "advice" posts are here, here and here. In this fourth advice post, I want to address some general concerns about moving to Canada.
Writer "RB" speaks for many when he says:
I have one question though: what is this business about "Canadian experience" for jobs? I've read a few internet sites that had tirades on how hard it is for immigrant workers to get jobs due to lack of this "Canadian experience" business. Some of the sites were run by South Asian immigrants and it sounded like they ran into some racist employers. Did you have any issues with this? Or heard of this?
Also I heard this same bit from a woman who is an American in the GTA ... [who wrote this essay] ... about how Canada is not the answer and that Canadians hate Americans and I shouldn't plan on getting a job since they want this "Canadian experience". I emailed her and she told me that straight up: "Oh, they hate Americans and you won't get a job". . . .
I've never had issues visiting there. I work with a half dozen Canadians at the hospital where I work, they're just like anybody else, just less bull-headed about their country I think.
RB's email brings up several points that I can address.
In my experience, the information on these forums can be highly suspect, and is often flat-out wrong. And like many sites all over the internet, the immigrant forums tend to be places where people vent and complain about negative experiences. I would never deny anyone's experience, but when you hear someone vent, you're only hearing their version of events, you don't know what they contributed to the experience, what their expectations were, or even their general truthfulness.
I found that the version of Canada presented on the immigrant forums to be so totally different from the Canada I live in that I didn't even recognize it.
If you know you want something, and you believe it is right for you, I think it's best to go with your own feelings and not be too influenced by people for whom that same choice did not work out.
But Canadians are also openly critical of Canada. In general, in Canada, you're not expected to shut up and salute. In general, Canadians are not defensive about Canada as Americans are about the US. But most Americans don't even realize they are defensive. They defend the US by reflex, and they regard criticism of the US as a personal insult. If that's your attitude, then of course you're going to hear anti-Americanism everywhere.
What's more, most people easily distinguish between the US government and individual Americans - especially if you've moved to Canada to get away from that government!
One thing is certain, no one will hate you because you're American. Some Canadians might worship you a bit because of that, some might jokingly say, "Sorry to hear that". Most won't care. And no one will treat you any differently.
My partner and I both found employment right away, and so did almost every other US-to-Canada immigrant we know. One person did have trouble finding work; I don't think that was because he lacked Canadian experience, he just had some employment trouble. Depending on your field, you may have to get re-credentialed, and that can be an issue, so you certainly want to investigate that in advance.
But most of the US-to-Canada immigrants we know have been very successful. These include people who are lawyers, nurses, social workers, in the telecom industry, secretaries, teachers, IT professionals... in other words, a whole range of jobs and professions. If anything, our US experience is looked on as worthwhile and important.
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The other concern is more general, about the lengthy application process, and my advice is more general life advice. It might not work for you, but it did work for me, so for what it's worth, I will share it.
I know the application process is very daunting, even overwhelming. There were certainly times I felt overwhelmed - and everyone I know who has emigrated here felt the same way. Try to remember, as with any process: one step at a time. Make it your mantra.
While we were going through the application process, and certainly during the transition itself, I found it very useful to think in small chunks of time.
I would take one step, and try not to think too far past that stage. Then that stage would be accomplished and I'd move on to the next. If I thought too far into the future, I would feel the anxiety creeping in. So I would pull myself back to the task at hand.
First, read everything on the CIC site, finding what pertains to you and digesting that material. Only that. Not too much more.
Then, print out the application, read through it, make lists of what documents you'll need to assemble.
Then, start to assemble those documents. That takes time, so get the process going, and while you're waiting, continue investigating Canada.
Make lists and lists and lists, and keep plugging away. One step at a time.
This is how you write a book, or go to law school, or accomplish almost anything. One step at a time.
Remember: if you meet the qualifications, if you can come up with the money, if you have never been convicted of a felony - and if you jump through all the hoops, one at a time - you will get here.
It takes time, but what Big Life Change doesn't? If you went back to school or changed careers, that would take time to accomplish. Leaving the US for Canada is the same thing. (But better!)
In 2006, almost 11,000 Americans made the move. When the numbers come in for 2007, I think it will be even higher. We all did it and so can you.