I am Canadian and just received an offer to a US institution. Does anyone have experience with moving from Canada to the US for a position. If so, can you tell me ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING you know about this process? I'm mainly concerned about getting a visa for both myself and my spouse plus I have a baby and a dog I would be bringing with me. Other complications, no doubt, will include getting all of our belongings over the border. Also, I'm curious about cultural differences and how much that makes a difference.
Date: 11 Dec 2014 17:11
Number of posts: 8
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Here in the US, we have a one-baby OR one-dog policy. So, we will make you choose which one to bring and which to leave behind on the Canadian tundra. If you can't choose, we have an option where the two can fight it out for supremacy; the winner gets to enter the US.
I am a Canadian in a relatively new tenure-track faculty position in the U.S., but I also went to grad school and did my postdoc in the U.S. I am currently going through the permanent residency (green card) process.
First, before you can get a green card, you'll need to be admitted in H-1B visa status. The international office (or its equivalent) at the U.S. institution should take care of that process in consultation with you. They can also help figure out the visa status for your spouse and baby. (I am single, so I don't know much about that aspect of the process.)
Second, there are fees associated with getting an H-1B and a green card. In your offer negotiations, I recommend asking for the university to state (in writing) what fees they will cover for you. My university covered the H-1B fees, but I'm responsible for all fees related to getting a green card (>$1,200). Important: If you'll have a relatively early start date (e.g., before August), then I strongly recommend getting "premium processing" for the H-1B application, even though it costs more than standard processing. The process can take several months and, depending on your institution, you may not be allowed to teach until you are approved in H-1B status. I didn't get approved until one week before the start of semester in August, despite filing the application back in March, because my institution opted for standard instead of premium processing. More generally, push the university to get your application in ASAP.
Third, once you have your H-1B, you'll be able to start the green card process. Much to my surprise, my international office informed me that they are not legally allowed to help with that process (although I did receive some informal advice about how to proceed). Some people hire a lawyer to help them with the forms, but as I've been going through the forms, they seem fairly straightforward if you take the time to read instructions. However, things might be more complicated in your case due to your spouse and baby, so you might consider getting a lawyer for the green card process.
I hope that helps with respect to visa/green-card issues. Your institution's international office should help you with the initial aspects of the process, so I recommend getting in touch with someone there ASAP after the offer is a done deal.
Regarding cultural differences: I had a white, middle-class upbringing in a large city in Canada. During my time in the U.S. (over 10 years now), I've lived in the Midwest, the Mid-Atlantic region (not East Coast), and the South, both in large and small cities. I did not experience any culture shock and found it easy to live in each place. There are some minor differences in language and terminology, different temperature scale and currency, some different products/brands, etc., but the transition was pretty seamless for me. However, I can adapt quickly and I have modest standards, so my experience may not match that of others.
THANKS CanAnon- definitely very very helpful information. I'm still considering this move and not entirely sure it's for me. It definitely sounds like a hassle. But on the other hand, I don't expect to get a ton of offers in Canadian schools in my area because there are just fewer positions available.
You other two….not so much!
As someone that did the move from US to Canada I can tell you it's a hassle but if you plan things in advance you should be fine. There is always someone at the university dealing with the move on various levels. It might not be the same person depending on what you need, but universities have tons of experience in getting people from all over. The visa is not a real problem but as mentioned by CanAnon it takes time to get. The main problem for me was the actual move and the packing so give yourself enough time to do that. Also, if possible, get to the US as early as possible before the start of the year as you need to get new driving license, bank account etc which take some time. There is going to be an adjustment period as there is no doubt that things look a bit different, so you will need to just accept that. The earlier you arrive it's easier to familiarize yourself with the environment so when school start you won't have to worry about all the little things. I am sure that the other faculty members will also be able to help you with anything.
I have a related question similar to the OP. What are the odds that, when moving to the US from Canada for a position, that your non-academic spouse will be able to find work/get a visa? Does anyone have experience with this? My spouse is an accountant and I think the best chance would be if he were hired by the institution where I got a job. Other than that, I guess he would be stuck applying to jobs with organizations in the area, hoping that they would sponsor him for an H1B visa as well. This seems highly unlikely to happen, leading me to think I shouldn't consider offers from the US. Any advice?
Anotheranon, I have heard that it is not a problem for a Canadian citizen to work inside the US. You can consult this website for more information:
Since it is an academic position (tenure-track?), you will most likely want to enter the H1b>Green Card>Citizenship application process. Just let your spouse work as a Canadian citizen for now and apply for his permanent residency after you have received your US citizenship.
You should consult the hiring institution's international office for more information. Good luck!