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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Immigration is expensive

I often get asked what it cost me to emigrate from the U.S. to Canada. A lot of people have no idea what they are getting themselves into when they start this process. My case is probably special in some regards, because my Love and I have what is recognized by Canadian immigration law as a "conjugal" relationship. It's also not so special in that we initially got some bad advice from a paid consultant. That led to the expense of a failed appeal and then a totally other immigration application. All the while, we maintained a long-distance relationship, involving many flights back and forth across the country.

As to the core costs - applications, consultant, interview travel expenses, eventually an immigration attorney; we spent around $10,000. To maintain our relationship by actually seeing each other while we were in limbo, and without getting into the nitty-gritty of expense, let's count only the last four-year round: about 30 flights at $500 per round-trip - $15,000. Phone bills? Let's add another $1000.

Now, I'm not counting vacation travel (though it was way more expensive because we were apart) or anything that could be considered optional-expenses (like sending presents and cards and such to each other), or even the non-optional cost of maintaining two separate households; but you should be aware that there are of course lots of other expenses in maintaining an immigration case and a relationship from a long distance. Still, I figure on the low side from the numbers above that my immigration to Canada from the U.S. cost us upward of $26,000.

This seems like a lot of money - and it is: but its not too hard when you are paying it out over the course of a few years as we did. It just adds up is all.

I provide this information so those who may be thinking about following my lead in family class immigration understand the financial magnitude of the effort. Immigration to Canada is not easy and it's not cheap. Attorney's fees only start with a flat rate (and that's for proper filing of forms). If you get into anything complicated and actually need their guidance and advice, be prepared to pay. The fees paid to the Government of Canada are really the smallest part of your expense. Be sure you're prepared for the long haul before start down this road.       

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