By Ruth Bayang
Northwest Asian Weekly
Let me start off by saying, I chose America and I love America. I am American.
Naturalized, not natural-born.
I have lived in the United States for 26 years. I entered the United States legally on a student visa. I graduated from college and immediately applied and got approved for a work visa. Then I applied and got approved for permanent residency (green card). Then I applied to be a citizen. I was sworn-in in 2004.
Many times, you’ve heard, or maybe you’ve uttered it yourself, “If (insert candidate’s name here) wins, I’m moving to (insert country here).”
Here’s where the arrogance part comes in. What makes you think another country wants you?
I have lived in several countries and the common perception around the world is that in general, Americans are obtuse.
I know from personal experience that the United States of America is the easiest country to get into. And yes, I’m talking about going about it through the legal channels. Not crossing a border illegally, or overstaying a visa.
Again, if Hillary Clinton/Donald Trump wins and you’re moving to (pick a country of your choice), what makes you think that they want you?
You can’t move tomorrow
I’ll use Canada as an example, since they are just north of us and Americans have a history of pledging to move there during fierce elections.
A check of application processing times for permanent residency or citizenship on the Government of Canada website (cic.gc.ca) states it takes a minimum of 5 months.
Canada’s point-based immigration process puts an emphasis on skills for employment and education, not family ties (unless you’re marrying a Canadian).
The vetting process for Canada’s skilled workers program is comprehensive.
The Canadian government launched a new system in 2015 to expedite the permanent residency process for highly-skilled immigrants called Express Entry. While Express Entry has processing times of six months or less, a job offer up front from a Canadian employer is a “significant asset,” according to Canada’s immigration website.
If you don’t already have a job offer in Canada, you better have enough money saved up to support yourself until you find one. You’ll need $9,199 ($12,184 Canadian) in cash savings — and that’s the bare minimum to qualify for Express Entry.
So I’ll marry a Canadian
You can marry a Canadian or live with one for at least a year to become a resident of Canada.
When you’ve married or lived with a Canadian green card holder or citizen for one year, and you are in Canada legally, they can sponsor you to begin your citizenship process.
There is no minimum income requirement, but you can’t be on welfare and you need to pass the criminal, security, and medical exams. Your relationship must also be genuine, for obvious reasons. This process can take at least six to eight months after the fact that you’ve legally been married or lived with them in Canada for a year. It can also cost around $750 in processing fees. More complicated cases can take up to two years to resolve, which puts you halfway through a presidential election cycle.
The U.S. dollar is currently stronger than the Canadian dollar, and income taxes in Canada versus the United States are roughly the same. Depending on your occupation, your income could go down.
Also, Americans who move to Canada may still be subject to paying American taxes. The IRS states that U.S. citizens who live in Canada as Canadian permanent residents are still required to file yearly U.S. income tax returns and also contact the Canadian government to see if they should file Canadian tax returns and pay Canadian taxes as well.
If you meet the IRS’s requirements. it may be possible to exclude some or all foreign income on U.S. tax returns.
They have free healthcare
Get in line and expect long wait times for doctor’s appointments.
A free healthcare system has its downsides. Many doctors are over-booked and are not taking new patients. If you can find a doctor, the next available appointment could be six months down the line.
Canadians on public drug plans can wait up to a year to access new medicines and treatments after they are approved by the Canadian government, according to a study released in June by pharmaceutical group Innovation Medicines Canada.
And the cost of prescription drugs often is not covered under Canada’s public healthcare system. The study also found that only 37 percent of Canadians on public drug plans were qualified to be reimbursed.
I chose America and I love America. The U.S. of A is not perfect, but what place is? It is still the land of the free and home of the brave.
God bless America.
Ruth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.