Whenever I travel home I try my best to get to Montreal. My home is Toronto but Montreal is definitely my favourite Canadian city. It's cosmopolitan and bohemian at the same time and NOT pretentious. A great mix of immigrants from different backgrounds living in a French and English environment give Montreal a real European flair. One of my dreams has always been to buy some nice real estate there.
Finally, on this trip, I decided to check out the market. Montreal has always been one of the most affordable Canadian cities to buy real estate. Not anymore. As my uncle and I drove around, he started pointing out new condo and housing developments all around the city.
Apparently a slew of Americans have started buying up the real estate in Montreal post 9/11. Many of these same Americans are immigrating to Canada as skilled immigrants because they feel they can no longer live in post-9/11 USA. Many non-Americans who are temporary workers in the US and who are on an H-1B visa or other temporary status are also choosing to immigrate to Canada. They feel that it's not the best time to be a foreigner in the U.S. and Canada's multi-culturalism and higher human rights standards appeals to them.
As a Canadian immigration lawyer, these are interesting developments. It's my business to know where people are choosing to immigrate and why. Some people make decisions based on little information or misinformation. I always explain to my European clients that for all the welfare nets of some European countries, they are not and never will be immigration countries, countries built on and strengthened by immigration and diversity.
For many people, especially in the Balkans and Eastern Europe, they simply don't know that Canada has an immigration policy which SEEKS new immigrants. I spend a lot of time simply explaining to people that this program exists and that yes, they may be eligible. Of course many people have their own personal reasons for where they decide to immigrate; family re-unification, jobs, studies etc.
While all destinations have their pros and cons, Canada definitely has huge advantages no other country can provide. Canada actually HAS an immigration policy, arguably the most generous of any country AND seeks new immigrants. Every year about 250,000-300,000 people from all over the world who speak English, have university and some work experience immigrate to Canada. This is a deliberate immigration policy put in place by the Canadian government to attract new immigrants to Canada.
Once you immigrate to Canada, you are a permanent resident. This means that you have access to the same health care, work opportunities and educational institutions as a Canadian citizen. Permanent residents can also sponsor family members to come to Canada. After at least 3 years as a permanent resident, you can apply for citizenship and a Canadian passport.
For international students, studying in Canada is definitely a great option. Considerably cheaper than U.S. universities, Canadian universities offer the same and often higher standards than their U.S. counterparts. After finishing your studies, some provinces allow you a one year work permit which can be extended, all of which can make it much easier to immigrate to Canada after you finish studying.
Alright, enough already. I'm starting to get worried now, the more I advertise, the less my chances of buying that great apartment in Montreal.