Canada saw a rise in the number of Americans trying to move to Canada after Trump’s victory, according to new figures from Immigration Canada.
In 2015, just over 6,800 Americans attempted to apply for permanent residence in Canada, followed by just over 7,700 in 2016.
But in 2017, the year Trump was inaugurated, that number jumped to over 9,000.
The number has yet to drop below 8,700 in the years since, although 2020 is set to fall well below previous years – likely linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen borders close and movement limited.
Immigration Canada has warned that the figures are “preliminary” and “subject to change.”
Chantal Desloges, an immigration lawyer in Canada, says the modest increase “doesn’t surprise her” – although she says it’s not an “extreme” trend.
“We get a lot of applications from expats to the United States who have worked or studied there, and we are now finding that immigration policies in the United States are so restrictive that Canada is a much more attractive destination,” Desloges told CTVNews.ca in a telephone interview.
“I had for example a Muslim, you know, a very educated professional, a little older with a family, well established in the United States, [who] said, you know what? I am no longer comfortable living here as a Muslim. “”
Andrew Carvajal, an immigration lawyer who works at the same firm as Desloges, said he had received similar calls – and many more of them, compared to the days before Trump.
He said he had received roughly “four times” as many calls from US residents considering moving to Canada once Trump was elected.
“They were basically making comments, ‘I’m really concerned about what’s going to happen now,’ and a lot of people just, it was just obvious from that, what they were saying,” Carvajal said.
He said that, for example, some members of the LGBTQ + community who were exploring a move to Canada said during their consultation that they “don’t know what’s going to happen” with the “federal government” in the United States. .
Carvajal said he recently received a call from an American pastor who had been living in Canada for two years.
“During the consultation, he really said, ‘As a black person in the United States, I just don’t want to go back.’ It was in the context of everything that’s going on right now, it’s just like ‘I really want to stay in Canada, I want my kids to stay in Canada,’ “said Carvajal.
Desloges noted, however, that for someone pulling the trigger and packing their bags to move to Canada, there are usually other factors involved.
“We haven’t found a lot of random Americans who say I’m getting out of here, I want to go somewhere else. It’s more people who have a historical connection to Canada now saying okay, you know, I’ve had enough of this, ”she said.
“It’s an emotional reaction at first, but once the reality sets in, you know people usually decide to stay where they are. ”
The month Trump won the election also saw a small surge in nominations from Americans seeking to move north or across the border.
While a month-by-month breakdown of permanent residence applications from Americans to Canada in 2015 and 2016 saw an all-time high of 694 applications, that changed in November 2016 – a day when US politics also took a shockwave. .
In the month of Trump’s election, Canada received 829 applications from US citizens trying to settle in Canada. The following month, December 2016, also saw the second most applications in two years: 743.
“People don’t decide for themselves when their application is made. They have to receive an invitation from the government, and when the government sends out that invitation, the person only has 90 days to perfect it, or they lose their chance ”. Said Desloges.
“As soon as they have the capacity to accept a thousand more applications, they send out a thousand more invitations. ”
Still, Desloges says his company has felt an increase in inquiries from Americans seeking to cross the Canada-U.S. Border – more than they felt in the wake of the previous election.
“People have kind of a visceral response to him, don’t they? It kind of elicits this overreaction from people, ”Desloges said.
But, she said, many of those investigations are just that, with very little to pull the trigger.
“There are a lot of people complaining about the general situation in the United States with Trump, as if they would be complaining about it, but I mean it’s a big step, to leave one country and go to another. country because of a guy it might not even be there next year, ”Desloges said.
Yet, according to Immigration Canada figures, enough Americans have felt the surge to establish a trend of increasing applications. Meanwhile for Desloges, calls continue to come from people living in the United States who think it is time for action.
“Even this morning, I got a call from someone,” she says.
With files from CTV News’ Mahima Singh