If you’ve fallen in love with New York, there are plenty of ways to live your dream of life in the big apple. Here’s how to stop whining about the GTA and live the life you want:
Find a way into the country
As a Canadian, you aren’t eligible for refugee status or the green card lottery. Luckily, there are plenty of other options.
Remember, the US is another country. There is a process to getting a visa — and it’s not just booking a U-Haul.
Be a dual citizen
Being born abroad to an American citizen automatically qualifies you for American citizenship, even if you’ve never set foot in the US. Did one of your parents dodge the draft? Congratulations, you’re all set.
Go to school
You have it easy if you want to go to school in the US — you don’t even need a student visa. You will need a lot of cash since tuition fees for international students are often much higher than the already high rates for domestic students.
Once you have your US degree, you can apply for an EB-2 visa.
Do a work exchange
There are several different ways to get a J-1 visa. The most common options are to become an au pair, camp counselor, summer worker, visiting professor, or researcher.
Use NAFTA to your advantage
Just make sure you get your paperwork in order before Trump is elected and makes good on his threat to repeal NAFTA.
Marry an American
This is easier than you might think, as there are plenty of Canadians with US passports. Find one, fall in love, marry them, and get them to sponsor you for a greencard.
Just remember that your marriage certificate doesn’t grant you the right to live in the US — it allows you to qualify to apply for permanent resident status. There’s still quite a bit of paperwork, and waiting, after the wedding, but your chances of being approved are extremely favorable so long as it’s clearly a legitimate relationship.
Get your current job to transfer you
One of the easier ways to get a work permit for the US is through the L-1 visa. Convince your company to transfer you to the New York office and you’re good to go. Plenty of Canadian companies have New York offices, so this should be fairly easy.
Just make sure you like your job, as you can’t change jobs and keep your visa. You can only stay in the US on an L visa for 5-7 years, so do your best to get your company to sponsor you for a green card or fall in love with an American as soon as possible.
Marry a US permanent resident
This process takes longer than marrying a US citizen, but it still works.
Just remember: It’s tactless to ask someone about their PR status on a first date.
Get a job offer
If an employer will sponsor you for an H-1B visa, you can work in the US for up to 6 years. After that you can apply to become a permanent resident. Of course, getting an H-1B visa is no easy feat, as first you need to get a job that will jump through hoops to hire you and then you have to win the H-1B visa lottery which admits 65,000 regular applicants per year. Nonprofits are exempt from the H-1B cap.
Be an investor
If you’re lucky enough to own a piece of Toronto, the E-2 visa is the best answer for you. Own a house in Toronto? Sell it and put that it towards your new business in New York City. Your interview will even be in Toronto; it couldn’t be easier.
Own a condo? You can’t move to New York City, but you can invest in a rural area or an area of high unemployment. Once you get your green card, you’re free to move to NYC.
This is one of the fastest paths to PR status and, ultimately, dual US/Canadian citizenship.
Let’s have one of my favorite illustrators sum this all up in one chart:
Reading this is not the same thing as checking with the consulate or an attorney. Don’t mess this up.
Get an apartment
Apartment hunting in New York is much easier than apartment hunting in Toronto, thanks to an abundance of apartment buildings and lack of privacy on the internet.
Just to warn you, this is not a city of shiny new condos. Many of the more affordable apartment options are in buildings that were built before WWII, which never have gyms or an indoor pools. The emergency exit to the off limits roof might be propped open with a brick if you’re lucky. Be prepared to pay. There are NYC neighborhoods that are a little rougher around the edges than Moss Park and Jane+Fitch.
Welcome to the club of complaining about housing in New York. It’s an art form.
Find a job
It is extremely unlikely that you’ll be able to get a job in New York City from Toronto unless you’re a highly sought after professional in a field facing talent shortages. Your best bet is to get yourself down to Billy Bishop, fly to New York on a tourist visa, and do everything you can to get an offer. Maybe you know some people in NYC who can jumpstart your network.
There are plenty of people on Craigslist who will rent you a room without pay stubs, a credit score, or proof of residency. New York has an abundance of free networking events with open bars. Hit up those free events at university campuses and make some friends with whose families have access to corporate dynasties. You can do this.
Become a New Yorker
There’s a lot of debates over what makes you a New Yorker, but here are a few for (recovering) Torontonians:
- Walk faster
- Get rid of your car
- Live in an apartment, not a house
- Shop for everything online
- Embrace the soft shell taco
- Explore your new city
- Apologize less
- Forget that Toronto even exists (that’s by Seattle, right?)