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Health Savings Account Plan Document Question & Answers

2013 September 15
by Sarah Fields

Lizzie asks…

How do I work in Canada as an American citizen?

My boyfriend is currently living in New York and we are planning on moving in together. I am a Canadian citizen of British Columbia, and he is an American Citizen. We are wondering what steps we would need to take for him to be able to work here AND/OR go to school.

What must we apply for so he can work AND/OR go to school here?
How long of a process is it?
How much does it usually cost to apply for said documents/requirements to work or go to school?

Sarah Fields answers:

Americans may visit Canada for up to 180 days each year. They may not attend school, work, or look for work as a visitor. Nor can they obtain driver’s licenses, provincial health insurance, social insurance numbers, open bank accounts, etc.

In order to stay to attend school, he would need a study permit. This requires that he apply and be accepted at a post secondary school (college, university, trade school, etc.) which accepts international students. Many universities have limited seating for international students so competition for seats may be extreme and there is little chance he’ll get into a university or college near you. He must then apply at either the Canadian embassy (or as an Americans at certain border crossings) for a study permit. He must show proof of finances. A typical year in university will cost around $25,000 in tuition and another $15,000 in living costs. A trade school maybe only $20,000 a year. He must also satisfy immigration officials that he will leave the country when the program ends. He is limited to on campus jobs unless he (after arriving in Canada) obtains permission from the school to apply for a study work permit. This only allows him to work part time.

In order to obtain a work permit, he would require a job offer from a Canadian company which has obtained permission to hire foreign workers — by obtaining a labour market opinion (LMO) report from HRSDC which shows a shortage of Canadians in that profession. This is pretty much limited to highly skilled professions (doctors, engineers, nurses, specialized trades, etc.) or highly temporary work (seasonal farm worker, ski resorts, etc.). Such job offers are insanely rare to find and competition for them is extremely fierce as Chinese, Indians, Americans, etc. Will all be applying. Even skilled workers can go years looking and never finding one. Limiting ones job search to a specific province or city makes it pretty much a non-starter. He must then submit the job offer letter, the LMO (provided by the company), plus proof of finances (usually six months living expenses) and other documentation to the embassy or consulate. The work permit lasts a few years or until the job offer ends.

Americans may also obtain a work permit if they are in a management position in a US company and transferred to a branch office in Canada. There are a few jobs which do not require a work permit to enter Canada (i.e. Clergy, reporters, performing artists on specific tours, NATO/NORAD military personal, etc.)

If you wish to marry him (or have proof of a common-law relationship) you can sponsor him for permanent residency. You must have a solid job history in Canada, a residency, $13,000+ in savings, and proof of a marriage or common-law relationship. You must also sign an agreement to cover al his debts for a period of three years and not to accept certain forms of government assistance during those three years. He must pass background and medical tests and your relationship will be investigated — possibly including interviews. The process averages around 10 months for an American. You must remain living together for a minimum of two years.

Information for study permits, work permits, and permanent residency are on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada web site — including requirements, processes, application forms, embassy/consulate locations, fees, and processing times.

Susan asks…

What is the necessaries when packing for Spain?

I am going to Malaga, Spain beginning of September and I’ve never been to Europe before, so i’m not sure what to pack. I know i should pack light but with what i’ve come up so far, for a list, it doesn’t really look light.

Sarah Fields answers:

I would go with the following:

Things to arrange while planning your trip

passport – is it still valid ?
Visa (if required – see Visa & Passport Info for Spain for info.)
credit cards (copy all information and leave with friends or family, together with bank telephone numbers to report lost or missing cards)
arrange a savings account and order debit cards to be able to use ATM’s
book all hotels, car rental, travel tickets – store all tickets/vouchers in safe place
research suitable itineraries, sights, hotels, restaurants, etc.
Subscribe to the TravelSpain mailing list at to get all the best information to plan your trip.
Buy maps, travel guides, Spanish phrase book and/or dictionary.

Clothing (note: depends on time of year)
(see further information at Spain Clothes & Customs )
comfortable, light cottons. Light rather than dark colours
bathing costume / shorts (may depend on destination)
cap or hat for protection against the sun
sun glasses
some sort of waist bag or other secure money bag

Personal items
toothbrush and toothpaste
wash-bag (shampoo, perfume/cologne, razor & shaving accessories, make-up, hair brush, etc.)
nail file and/or clipper
tampons, slips, etc.
Paper tissues

Health items
insect repellent and/or soothing lotion for insect bites
sunsceen and after-sun creams
small first-aid kit, aspirins, etc.
Travel sickness pills or medicine
other medicines / prescriptions
health insurance certificates
reading glasses and spare pair (if used)

Electrical and other appliances
still photo camera, spare film and batteries
video camera, spare tapes and batteries
electrical adaptor (if necessary)
travel alarm clock
currency converter
hair dryer

address book and business cards
books to read
bags for used clothing
travel sewing kit
head rests, ear-plugs, eye-wraps, etc. – to sleep on the plane
small bottle for water
bottle opener and/or corkscrew
plastic bags with zip for documents, papers, etc.

Things to do before leaving
turn off water
empty and de-frost fridge
contact somebody to water plants and collect your post
arrange to have pets looked after
empty all waste-baskets, garbage, etc.


Mark asks…

What would it take for me, a disabled person in a gay relationship, to move to Canada?

I know this question has been asked alot, I’ve looked around quite a bit… But I’m not sure I have the whole picture, so I figured I’d ask it myself.

First of all, I’m pretty clueless on traveling, papers and documents I’d need… I’d be happy just being able to live and work there, for a few years or so… even if it’s not a permanent thing. Whatever’s cheaper and quicker… or possible at all.

Secondly… I’m in a gay relationship with someone living there currently, marriage would be completely do-able if it helps this whole move, but it’s not really something we’ve thought we needed for the move or in general. I live in US Florida currently… He lives in Nova Scotia…

Thirdly… I’m disabled. In the states considered legally blind, I have achromatopsia. From what I’ve read, Canada isn’t too keen on letting disabled people live there x_x But the thing is, I might soon be without anyone here in the states to help me with some basic help I need. Currently I’m in a pretty shit position, and being able to move up there with my boyfriend would be an amazingly better situation.

Fourthly, if I am able to move there temporarily… would I still be able to get my disability benefits? How would I go about setting that up… how would it even work?

Any help, direction, thoughts on this… Would be great.
@Ruth- The mention of me being in a gay relationship, is to make sure people know the whole situation, on any problems that there might be as far as marriage. The help I need are basic issues like not being able to drive and needing a ride, not anything else that the government would need to provide me.
@Ruth- The mention of me being in a gay relationship, is to make sure people know the whole situation, on any problems that there might be as far as marriage. The help I need are basic issues like not being able to drive and needing a ride, not anything else that the government would need to provide me.

Sarah Fields answers:

If you are serious, start by reading the Citizenship and Immigration Canada web site and then you are your partner should contact an immigration lawyer.

Americans are free to visit Canada for up to six months with out a visa. You may not attend school, work, or look for work while in Canada as a tourist. Nor can you obtain a driver’s license, health insurance, get any government benefits, enroll children in school, open a bank account, etc. As a tourist. Entry into Canada is also at the sole discretion of Canadian Border Services. If you start crossing frequently, stay for long periods of time, have a serious medical condition, are unemployed, etc., etc. They will likely start asking why you are ‘visiting’ Canada so much, wanting proof of travel medical insurance, proof of finances, proof of family/work/school ties in the United States, etc. Wanting to live with your significant other is not a legitimate tourist activity. And yes… They will ask about your relationship. They won’t care about you being gay or not, but than having a significant other (gay or not) in Canada is a darn good reason for many people to violate immigration laws and not leave at the end of six months.

If you want to remain in Canada, you would need to apply for permanent residency. This is normally extremely difficult. The only likely way is that your partner sponsors you as a spouse or common-law partner. He must have a steady work history, residency, and savings. The later starts at $13,000, but can easily be set higher by CIC if you require special care, are unemployable, etc. He must also sign an agreement with CIC agreeing to cover all your debts for a period of three years and that neither of you may apply for certain government benefits during that period of time. You will also need proof of a marriage or common-law relationship and must remain together for at least two years. You must pass a medical exam and background check.

Blindness is a disability and not specifically a medical condition baring entry. You presumably do not require expensive medical care for the condition itself nor is it risking the health of Canadians. However, an inability to work is the issue. CIC will probably want to see that you are gainfully employed in the US and have some type of plan to find work in Canada. It you are rule unemployable, then CIC will either reject the application or require that your partner have proof of sufficient funds to pay for your care.

You would have to ask your state about disability benefits. I would doubt most would continue if you left the state. If this is in anyway a concern that your partner can’t support you without this… Then it is highly unlikely that he’ll be able to sponsor you.

Again, this is something you should be discussing with an immigration lawyer, if your partner is willing to sponsor you.

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