Clarification of Answer by
10 Dec 2002 18:31 PST
Hi again bodaboyce,
I'll happily try to answer all of you concerns - thank you for sending
along some of your background - it will help greatly. I understand
completely what you are saying about "consultants", and that is why
I'm going to repeat what I posted at the beginning of my Answer:
"The Government of Canada provides an excellent website which will
answer most questions:
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC):
Don't confuse my recommendation to visit a "Consulate" with
"consultant" - two different things entirely. You should be able to
avoid consultants, but you shouldn't want to avoid Consulates.
I'll try to respond to your request for clarification as you posted
"We have thought to sell our home and find an apartment/condo in
Vancouver (question of renting or buying is "a who"le nother topic
Rule # 1: Do not sell your home until you are absolutely 100% positive
everything is working out well in Canada and that is where you want to
stay. Can you rent out your home for the first year or two? Especially
if you end up applying for immigration, it is imperative that you do
not do anything drastic until all papers are "signed, sealed and
"We would attempt to find a way to gain Canadian citizenship if it
were significantly more cost effective. Maintaining US citizenship
would be desireable if we could work within the Canadian 'system' of
medical care, taxes, etc. without much difficulty (shall we say no
more than a 10-15% "penalty")."
Don't get confused between immigration and citizenship. You must first
apply to immigrate to Canada, and then live there for three years
before applying for citizenship. As I said before, a legal immigrant
(who used to be referred to as a "landed immigrant" but that has been
changed to "permanent resident") has all the rights and privileges of
a Canadian citizen. So thinking about obtaining Canadian citizenship
is a bit premature for you now. It isn't something that one takes
lightly, or even for financial gains. Better that it come from the
heart after living in Canada for a while. Nothing changes after
becoming a citizen, other than being able to vote, the chance to serve
on jury duty, that sort of thing. Everything else, taxes, health care,
etc., are the same as when you were 'just' a permanent resident. This
is a very important distinction, and I want to make sure you
Whether you are a permanent resident or a Canadian/US citizen, you
will still be obligated to pay Uncle Sam every April, and not only
that, you will also have to send Ottawa an income tax form. Yes, it is
true - you will have to fill out income tax forms for both countries.
If you do not apply to immigrate and remain just a visitor, Ottawa
will have no claim on your income. Normally, income from work is only
taxed by the country you are residing in (the US has a US$70,000 tax
exemption for Canadian work income), but the same can't be said for
investment income. This would be something to discuss with an
accountant and figure out the best way to proceed. Another reason to
keep your house rather than cashing it in perhaps.
Even if you become a Canadian citizen, you do not have to give up your
US citizenship. You would have dual-citizenship, something that can
come in very handy (except at tax time). But again, the only way to
begin the process is to find a relative willing to sponsor you for
immigration. I feel very certain of this fact, but a phone call or
visit to the consulate to confirm would be a good idea.
If you do not immigrate, than there is no "working within the Canadian
system". As a visitor, you would need to pay your way as any visitor.
Financially, immigrating is probably the way to go - the key is if you
have a Canadian relative or not. If not, do not despair, you can still
enjoy living in Vancouver, it will just never officially be your home.
Again, do not sell your house until you are absolutely positive it is
safe to do so. Another little thought, do not bring all of your cash
with you either. Keep your US financial account (money market bank
account or something like that) and have your social security go
directly into it. Then, you'll bring some cash up to Canada, as
needed, when the rate of exchange is to your advantage. Don't count on
the rate of exchange staying in the 1.55 range forever either. It
wasn't all that long ago that it was 1.35 - something to think about.
Well, all that blabbing and I haven't even started on your
clarification request yet!
1. What "up-to-date info" from American & Canadian Consulates would
(might) amplify what you've already found for me?"
For starters, they will be privy to any changes that are planned to
come into effect in the coming year which might effect you.
Aside from relevant applications & brochures for immigration, they
will be able to tell you more about what is needed to reside in
Vancouver without immigrating.
2. You mentioned Vancouver is 'expensive', is that quantifiable,
relative to other locations in BC like Victoria, or ?
I was comparing Vancouver with other cities in Canada. Housing prices
and rent have been on the rise from coast to coast, but Toronto and
Vancouver have always shared top billing for the cost of housing.
Think of the coast of southern BC, the Sunshine Coast, as Canada's
California and you will have a bit of an idea of its desirability.
Ofcourse everyone would love to live there (beautiful scenery, warm
climate, etc), but not everyone can afford to. That is what I meant by
"(although Vancouver is one of the more expensive places to live in
3. Might the Provincial Nomination (5.) be available to us?
No, I'm sorry. The Provincial Nominee Program of British Columbia
nominates immigrants who have the skills to fill specific British
Columbia jobs - it's not for retirees.
"A lot of information, Hummer-ga, for which I would be grateful, if
it's within the scope of the original $50 request."
No problem, bodaboyce. In case you can't tell, this is a topic of
particular interest for me and I've enjoyed trying to help you.
Don't be afraid to get in touch with the Canadian consulate in
Canadian Consulate General -- Seattle
412 Plaza 600
Sixth and Stewart Streets
Seattle, Washington 98101-1286
Tel: (206) 443-1777
Fax: (206) 443-1782
Tell them you are thinking about retiring to Vancouver in about a year
and you would like to have all the applications, guides, and brochures
they can give you. Although I've had first-hand experience with a
similar situation and so am just able to "talk off the top of my
head", the only other information I can give you is what I can find
online (online is a great source of information, but nothing replaces
phoning or going in person at the source). Although the Canadian
government's site is a good one, it would be wise to visit the
consulate (and make me happy too!). Besides, it's fun to spread out
all your "stuff" on the diningroom table and dream about what's to
I hope I've been able to help (without repeating too much of what I
said the first time around), and it is important to me that you feel
satisfied with my answer and with this service - please get back in
touch if needed.