Will disheartened Americans head north following U.S. election?

Americans considering making Canada their new home in the wake of the U.S. election should get proper legal advice before heading north, says Toronto immigration lawyer Robin Seligman.

For many in the U.S., fear was their first reaction to Donald Trump's win as president, she tells, noting that on election night Canada’s immigration website crashed due to the volume of traffic, presumably from Americans investigating their options.

“We will have to see what he does with NAFTA,” says Seligman, principal of Seligman Professional Corporation. “There are thousands of people, Americans and Canadians, who count on NAFTA work permits to cross the border, and if he cancels that, as he has said he will, it will cut off opportunities all around.”

Some Americans may think a Trump presidency qualifies them to apply under refugee or asylum status, but that’s not the case, Seligman points out.

“They have to look at realistic options, which would include intra-company transfers, international students, and perhaps people with solid business background who want to establish a business in Canada,” she says. “The eligibility requirements for permanent residents are strict and geared to educated, younger people, or people who have job offers. And even if they do qualify, the process takes time.”

Last year, a radio host in Cape Breton, N.S., launched a Web site – Cape Breton if Donald Trump Wins – that encouraged disaffected Americans to consider making the island their new home in the event the Republican candidate took the White House. To date there have been more than two million visitors to the site.

“There’s obviously a huge interest, but Americans who are seriously considering a move need to know what the rules are ahead of time,” Seligman explains. “You can’t just come here and work and put your kids in school. There is a border and rules and it’s best get proper immigration legal advice before buying a one-way ticket to Canada.”

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