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Lawyer lays out options for Americans eyeing post-election move to Canada

FILE -- US Customs officers stand beside a sign saying that the US border is closed at the US/Canada border in Lansdowne, Ontario, on March 22, 2020. GETTY IMAGES/AFP/Lars Hagberg

Even if the prospect of fleeing to Canada is framed as a joke, 'the impulse is rooted in serious concerns': lawyer

A Vancouver-based immigration lawyer has posted a blog outlining options for Americans who want to come to Canada

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — A Vancouver-based immigration lawyer, who is himself a U.S. citizen, has written a blog post for Americans “eyeing a move north as a line of flight from political chaos.”

Randall K. Cohn explains he has decided to outline the options available to Americans looking to come to Canada because he’s been fielding inquiries from potential clients, friends, and family.

He points out that while the prospect of fleeing to Canada is sometimes framed as a joke, “the impulse is rooted in serious concerns, and the inquiries deserve a serious response.”

The coronavirus pandemic has complicated cross-border travel, as well as stalled immigration. So the path to settling in Canada is more comp[CLIP]licated than it was last time Americans went to the polls.

In pre-COVID times, Cohn points out, any American with a valid passport and no criminal record would be able to come to Canada for six months as a visitor. While working and studying in Canada isn’t allowed with a visitor permit, it allows some time to get situated and plan their next steps. The permit can be extended, and “with a job offer and some determination,” some people manage to stay on as workers. But due to the COVID-19-related border closure, a six-month visit for “optional or discretionary” purposes is not allowed.

The odds of being accepted as a refugee claimant from the states are vanishingly slim, according to Cohn. Since Donald Trump became president, 1,934 claims have been made, and 17 accepted. That’s less than one percent chance of success.

“To be granted refugee protection under international and Canadian law, a person must demonstrate that they cannot rely on the protection of the government of their country of origin,” Cohn explains.

“Canada is playing the long game regarding its diplomatic relations with the United States, and administrative decision-makers sitting on the Immigration and Refugee Board are not about to start regularly finding that the US cannot protect (or is directly persecuting) its own citizens.”

Another barrier is a criminal record.

“Many Americans have been surprised to discover, for instance, that a single DUI conviction in the United States is often enough to make them inadmissible to Canada,” Cohn explains, adding there are ways to challenge a finding of inadmissibility.

He notes being honest about any past convictions is key since officials tend to be less willing to make exceptions for those who “misrepresent” or withhold information.

Coming to Canada as a temporary foreign worker, a skilled worker, or a student all remain options.

Ultimately, according to Cohn, coming to Canada requires serious planning. A sudden influx of disaffected Americans post-election is simply not going to happen.