A quick way to summarize the reasons is to say people immigrate to the United States for weather, money, love or escape.
Many immigrants are attracted to the American sunbelt, where they do not have to deal with harsh weather on a daily basis. Others see America as the land of opportunity and innovation and where someone with an idea can rise in stature and achieve economic success. Still others find their soul mate in the USA or have other family members there. Finally, there are those who seek to escape their current conditions in their country or origin or residence, whether for economic, religious or political reasons.
The United States is a vast country where the same language, English, is spoken everywhere and this is something some people like. The United States is known for freedom. Unlike many countries, people can do whatever they want to do as long as it is within the law.
It is a country where you do not have to register your day-to-day movements with the police. Many immigrants find that America is a place where you can make a life for yourself, if you are willing to work hard.
As much as the United States has lower test scores on Math and Science than some other leading countries, it still offers a good education. Even high school dropouts, old people and disabled people all have an opportunity to get into college or university at any time in their lives. Some people want to just pick up American knowledge and go back to better their countries since people with education from the U.S. sometimes are more likely to get better jobs in their home countries.
Other people want to work in the United States so they get better pay than they were getting in their countries. Some find challenging jobs with great future potential.
Other immigrants come to the States because they have their families residing in the United States and desire reunification. Through family-sponsored immigration, a U.S citizen can sponsor his or her foreign-born spouse, parent, minor and adult married and unmarried children, and brothers and sisters to be with their families.
In most instances immigrating to the United States is a two-step process. That is because it takes so long to get the green card or permanent resident status and most immigrants don't want to wait several years to begin living and working in the U.S.A. Apart from family sponsorships, most US immigration is based on employment and this fact underlines the need for a two-step approach.
Normally then, the first step is obtaining a non-immigrant work visa. A "visa" is a document that allows a foreigner to enter the United States. By obtaining a work visa the foreigner can enter and work in the United States fairly quickly, usually within a few months if not sooner. The worker's family usually enters the U.S. with the worker and is allowed to live in the U.S. for the same length of time as the worker. Children are allowed to go to school although spouses are not allowed to take up jobs. Once the foreigner is established in the U.S. he or she can initiate the paperwork to "adjust" to permanent resident status.
The second step is adjusting status from non-immigrant to immigrant status, that is, getting what is called a green card or permanent resident status. This usually takes a few years although it can be quicker in certain circumstances involving high placed executives or prominent individuals.
The most significant exception to this process is the spousal sponsorship where an American marries a foreigner and sponsors that spouse to immigrate to the United States. This normally is done as a one step application.
That depends on what you mean by "immigrate". You can move to the United States and begin living and working there very quickly with a so-called non-immigrant visa. But such a visa does not allow you to stay here forever. If, however, by "immigrate" you mean move to the United States forever, then the timing will usually be significantly longer. We have already mentioned previously that most immigration to the United States involves a two-step process. Usually immigrants get a non-immigrant working visa first, and then later adjust to immigrant status.
The quickest non-immigrant working visas that will get you into the United States are the work visas for professionals under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). If you are a citizen of Canada or Mexico, such a visa can be obtained within a few weeks or even sooner. Other quick visas include working visas for executives and managers transferring from an affiliated company outside the U.S. to an affiliate in the U.S. These might take a couple of months. Then there are the high tech executive and managerial employee visas as well as entertainment and sports visas that again will take a few months. Again, these are all non-immigrant working visas that will allow you and your family to move to the United States, and include the right for your children to attend American schools. Spouses cannot work on these visas and must obtain their own work visas if they intend to take up employment in the U.S. Finally, there is always the student visa for anyone who wants to come to the United States to study at a college or university.
The quickest permanent immigrant visas are those dealing with spouses of American citizens, highly acclaimed individuals such as the Wayne Gretzkys of hockey or the Albert Einsteins of science, and various high placed executives in business and professors and researchers at universities. Usually such individuals can get green cards to live permanently in the United States within a year or so. The major hurdles that take time to overcome deal with police and medical clearances for these applicants.
The quick answer is no. But that is not the complete answer.
Owners of houses do not have to have a real estate agent to sell their house but most owners do. Taxpayers do not have to use accountants to file income taxes but many taxpayers do. Families can cook their own suppers but often prefer to go to a restaurant and have somebody else cook for them. You do not have to go to a surgeon if you have appendicitis - you could do the surgery yourself - but would that be a wise choice? In all these instances turning to somebody else often makes sense because that person can facilitate a solution or help you resolve your problem. Immigration is no different.
Sometimes the involvement of an immigration attorney is met with reluctance or even disdain on the part of immigration officials or others. Attorneys are sometimes resented for charging clients fees for preparing applications that government officials provide to the public for free and which can be filled out and returned to the Immigration and Naturalization Service by the applicants themselves. Officials feel the forms are simple enough that the clients should be able to complete them without the aid of attorneys and resent having to explain things to attorneys who charge their clients for their work and then ask the officials for help. But are immigration attorneys any different than accountants, for example, who fill in government income tax forms and consult with government officials to properly do their work? Immigration attorneys provide services very similar to the services of other professionals who are not resented or condemned. In fact, the value of immigration attorneys has been recognized by the U.S. Department of State in the following statement that was issued jointly with the American Immigration Lawyers Association:
There is an appropriate role for attorneys to play in the visa process; the involvement of an attorney in a visa case does not signify anything amiss. The majority of attorneys are aware of and adhere to the rules of the game. In the sometimes complex world of visas, a good attorney can prepare a case properly, weed out "bad" cases, and alert applicants to the risks of falsifying information presented to the consular officer. The attorney can help the consular office by organizing a case in a logical manner; by clarifying issues or concern; by avoiding duplication of effort (reducing interview time); and by providing the applicant with the necessary understanding of the intricacies of the visa process thereby easing the pressure on consular sections to provide information to the applicant."
Many of our clients have commented on how hard it is to contact the US Immigration and Naturalization Service about their case and how helpful it has been to have us follow through for them. They recognize the importance of using a US immigration attorney when it comes to filing US immigration applications.
The best visa for you depends on your circumstances. A review of the schedule of visas, fees and costs and processing times contained on this web page will help you sort out which visa is best for you. But we would suggest that after looking at the options available you schedule a consultation with Mr. Semotiuk to confirm that you have chosen the best alternative and to find out more about the process.
The most important difference is in the attitude of the two countries towards new immigrants. Generally speaking the United States State Department takes the view that there are enough people in the U.S.A. The feeling is that America does not need any more people. That is why, by and large, the American government does not publish brochures on how to immigrate to the United States and what steps are required. Immigration in the United States is seen as a tool to help the economy. Apart from family reunification and political asylum cases, immigrants are seen as needed only insofar as they can help American employers expand their business. Economic immigration is geared to the workplace and any skill shortages that exist.
While Canada also has geared its economic immigration to the Canadian market, Canadian government attitudes are not quite as restrictive when it comes to new immigrants as US attitudes can be. Canada is a wide open country that still has a need of new immigrants - at least more so than the United States. By and large there is not the congestion, the density of population, the gridlock associated with large populations in big cities that is found in the United States. These factors all influence the immigration process.
Another difference is America's reliance on work-related visas verses the Canadian point system. In the United States immigration is based on the job offer. The job offer is at the front of immigrant visa processing. This is not entirely the case in Canada. Canadian immigration operates on a point system. Would-be immigrants are assessed on the basis of points for various positive attributes such as age, language skills, occupation and work experience. Immigrants who have a desirable occupation can actually immigrate to Canada without a job to go to. Examples might include the therapy professions, and certain welders and mechanics. The same is true for Canadian business immigration. In the United States business immigration is still closely associated with job offers - except for investors. In Canada, however, entrepreneurs and self employed business persons can immigrate without job offers.
Two other important contrasts are worth noting. American immigration often involves an adjustment of status from a temporary work visa to permanent resident status in the country. There is no equivalent process in Canada. Canada discourages attempts to immigrate from within the country. America tolerates it. The two-step process is more related to American immigration than Canadian: first one obtains a temporary work visa then adjusts to permanent status. While this can happen in Canada it is more the exception than the rule.
The last important difference is in the area of caregivers. The American caregiver program is riddled with difficulties involving labor certifications. The Canadian caregiver program is a model of a good immigration program for all countries to follow. It is the only program we are aware of that actually enables those without money or status to earn their way into Canada by working two years for a family that needs a caregiver.