What is Canada’s electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)?

It’s official now….

Canada Requires Authorization to Visit

It used to be, to visit Canada, you just “fly in and visit.” Not any more. Authorization is needed from everyone. Continue reading What is Canada’s electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)?

Student Loans Deferred Longer in Canada

Student loans grow out of control during those 4+ years of university. Then you’re expected to repay loans, starting the day after graduation. But with what?

Student-loan-debt1The result? Newly graduated, bottom-rung workers get themselves into serious financial strain.

Sure, some students get lucky with a job offer in their first year. But I think the majority (what, like 80-90%?) of students don’t walk into their first big job right after graduation. [if definitely over 80%, tell me; I’d love to know.] Instead, students take whatever job they can, to scrap by however they can. The first paycheck is not as big as they wanted, but the loan is still demanding payment.

Student Loans Deferred – Until You Can Pay

A new law just passed: students here in Canada can wait to pay back government loans until they are in a good position to do so. Instead of payments starting after graduation, loan repayment starts after you make the minimum salary. Starting November 1st, that minimum is $25,000. That might not seem like much, but it is an income. For most students, just having an income is a big deal.

If you read the article, you’ll see other benefits from this law, namely increased loan amounts. This is good, provided you need it.

Is There a Catch?

It’s not free deferment. There always seems to be a catch, right? The catch here is, interest continues to accumulate. You probably could have guessed that.

So, you don’t want to defer your loans forever.

Then again, you also don’t want to earn under $25,000 forever.

How to Take Advantage of This?

If you’re considering moving to a foreign country to have lower student loans, then Canada just rose in the ranks, didn’t it? I can help you move here. Either through the “Gone In One Year” program, or by phone consultation.

Do these work? Yes, very well. There are several of my clients now living, working abroad as a result.

Yes, I know… “my case is special”? Each one is, that’s where I’m most capable. I think outside the box, come up with the right way ‘out’ for you. Give me a call. Or check out the monthly program to be out in a year.

Gone to Canada in 10 Months – Trump edition

Thanks to Super Tuesday results, it’s pretty certain Trump will be the candidate.
And possibly the next President of the United States.

Your Next President? It's Looking that Way
Your Next President? It’s Looking that Way

Do you really want to be there when this happens? …I didn’t think so.

As of today, I’m tailoring my current Gone in One Year program. I’m building for one person: for the American who want to get out of the US, and move to Canada.

What’s the Gone in One Year program? It’s a 12-month (obviously) long set of e-mails, homework, videos and tailored help to get someone living abroad. I’ve lived abroad several times; now I teach others. It’s great.

Faster, Shorter, Uncut

Because moving to Canada for Americans is easier than say, moving to Costa Rica or Czech Republic, this program is faster. It’s 10-months, not 1 year.

It’s also “uncut” and less generalized. When I know you come from X country and want Y country, I can give clear-cut, direct help. In this case, it’s US —> Canada.

Read more on the “US—>Canada” and other 2 plans here.

 

Going For Citizenship in Canada: Counting the Days

Today is June 21st, 2014

It was 2 years ago I got the letter. Two years ago, CIC (Citizenship and Immigration Canada) said I was awarded Permanent Residency in Canada. The letter was dated June 11th and I received it on the 21st – exactly 2 years ago today. That’s kinda cool to me. 🙂

Two Years – My Last Qualification

To apply for citizenship, I have to be a permanent resident of Canada for (at least) two years before. My final interview was June 27th, 2012. I had the interview about a week after my letter came June 21st, 2012. Note: if you want to learn all about the PR final interview, read here. That post is at 300 comments and growing!

So, here I am in June 2014, meeting that 2-year requirement. (Yea!)

The 2-year thing is just one condition. What other requirements are there?

Here are all of them to be eligible for citizenship:

  • You lived in Canada for 3 out of the last 4 years. (1095 days) Check!
  • You’re able to communicate well in either English, French or both. Check! (just English for me.)
  • Know about Canada – be able to pass a citizenship test. I’m a fast learner, so… Check!
  • Lastly, be a permanent resident for at least 2 years before applying. Check!

What does all this mean for me? Well, it means I will be….

Applying For Canadian Citizenship – Yea!

Okay, to be totally safe, I’ll probably wait a month or so before applying. The reason is I haven’t spent 1095 continuous days in Canada. Over the past 3 years, I’ve visited the US for a few weeks and Prague for a week. So, I’ll wait until mid-July to apply.

If you need to be sure, CIC offers a calculator here. But be aware you have to (first register and) log in to get the “results.”

If you don’ t want to go through registering with the CIC, you can do it yourself.

Here is how the math works:

1. Figure out when you arrived in Canada.

2. What day did you get Canadian Permanent Residence status?

3. What day do you want to fill in the application for Canadian citizenship?

Count It Up

[(How many days between #1 & #2) / 2] + [How many days between #2 & #3]

If that number is 1095 or more, then you can apply for citizenship.  (1095 = 3 years worth of days)

Ah, but what if you had some vacation time, outside the country? Excellent question — and here’s my answer to that….

How to Vacation Out of Canada – And Apply For Citizenship Faster

Have you wanted to vacation out of Canada, but you’re afraid that every day you’re outside Canada, that’s another day longer you can’t apply for citizenship?

Not really. It actually depends on when you vacation.

Let’s look again at the number facts

Fact #1: You need 3 years worth of days (1095 exactly) of physical presence in Canada.

Fact #2: Each day you lived in Canada before you became a permanent resident counts as half a day.

Fact #3: Each day you lived in Canada after you became a permanent resident counts as a whole day.

Let’s look at 2 examples, using “Alice” and “Bob” again to find out when is the best time to take an extended vacations outside Canada.

Vacation Example #1:

Alice is a Permanent Resident and has been for nearly 2 years. She is planning a 3-month trip back to India. Soon after her return, Alice plans to apply for citizenship.

Vacation Example #2:

Bob is a landed immigrant, but not yet a Permanent Resident. He submitted his PR application a few months ago and noticed online that processing just started. With all his free time, Bob is considering a 3-month visit to family in the Philippines. He expects to get back long before a letter arrives that his PR application was approved.

Who’s Vacation Counts Most Against Citizenship?

If you’re paying attention, you know the answer already. Yup, Alice. Her 3-months away means she must wait another 3 months longer before she can apply for citizenship.

But Bob’s 3-month vacation will only take away 1.5 months from his citizenship application date. Because Bob took vacation before he got his Permanent Resident status, his days in Canada count as only half-days. And thus, his vacation days out of the country only forfeit away half the time.

Sure, it’s “glass is half-full” versus “half-empty” thinking, but in terms of “opportunity lost” the logic is sound.

Something I thought you should be aware of, in case you’re planning around your PR interview date.

How to Get Into Canada Using New Federal Skilled Worker Program

Yesterday Canada announced it is re-opening the Federal Skilled Worker and Skilled Trades Program.

If you want to get into Canada, this is great news for you.

Getting Into Canada as a Federal Skilled Worker

This is very exciting news for people who wanted to immigrate into Canada, but didn’t want to marry a Canadian to do it.  LOL Continue reading How to Get Into Canada Using New Federal Skilled Worker Program

Holy Winter in Nova Scotia, Canada!

Whether you’re American thinking in Fahrenheit, or Canadian thinking in Celsius, it’s COLD here.

The temperature outside our house is now -15 (C). With the wind, we’re well past twenty below zero. (Dude, that’s cold.)

I’m no outdoorsman, not an Inuit, nor am I fond of cold in general. In fact, if I can share, I’m daydreaming of a toasty beach chair and a cool tropical drink with one of those little paper umbrellas.

Continue reading Holy Winter in Nova Scotia, Canada!

Who the Hell Is Terry Fox?

 

I have a small life lesson to share: Don’t ever ask “Who the hell is Terry Fox?” when you’re talking to a Canadian.

You can say “Hmmm, it’s interesting you bring up Terry Fox, tell me more?” or say “I’m eager to learn more about Terry Fox.”

But please, trust me, you don’t want be snarky when asking about this Canadian legend.

Continue reading Who the Hell Is Terry Fox?

330+ Days Outside The US = No Income Tax

If you are a US citizen, living outside the US, then all your income may not be taxed. Yes, if you live as an expat, then at tax filing time, you can file the “Foreign Income Exclusion” form, number 2555.

But, there’s a catch. (Isn’t there always a catch?) The catch is, you must really be living outside the United States for 90% or more of the time (that works to be 330 days or more). It doesn’t mean just calling your expat home your “Primary residence.” It doesn’t mean come home again for “just” the summer months. Nope, for your income to be excluded from tax, you must stay clear of the US for 330 days or more.

This is on my mind because someone just wrote to me asking the same questions. She asked how (or if) they can visit the United States and how it affects their taxes. I answered her, but then I thought others may be wondering the same thing. So, here is my reply:

Yes, about spending 35 days in the US, it’s true, unfortunately. If
someone spends 35 days in the US, they are then ineligible for foreign
income exclusion. It’s part of the physical presence test and I agree
it stinks.

I think the actual IRS text reads that you must be outside the US for
330 days, but it’s the same. It’s more important to understand that
those 35 days are cumulative and not consecutive. Also, understand
that the 35 days is over *any* span of 12 months, not just calendar
year.
So, as a detailed example, someone fails the physical presence test if
their vacations were:

  • July 2011 – 5 days
  • December 2011 – 20 days
  • May 2012 – 10 days
  • June 2012 – 5 days

—–that’s 40 days within 12 months, failing the test. My wife and I have been super careful in counting our days spent over the past 6-7 years outside the US. We never go over 33 (including the entry/exit days in travel). One flight delay could cost us thousands, as you
know.

Of course, I have to add that I am not a financial expert. All the above comes from years of experience as an expat, but not as a financial planner, tax attorney or some other professionally licensed money guru.

Hope this can help at least someone else out there.

Lastly, here’s a flowchart graphic I stole from the IRS. At least it’s less confusing than the 7000 pages of tax code.

14999e01

 

 

Expat Program Released: Gone in 1 Year

If you or someone you know wants to move overseas, I just launched a program guaranteeing success. Based on years of consulting, I created a step-by-step program: tools, guidance and ‘homework’ (consulting). By the end, you’re moving overseas, employed and secure, or money back, guaranteed.

Check out “Gone in 1 Year” here.

Canada’s a Magnet for People Unlocking Cell Phones

Did you catch the news that since last Saturday, it’s now illegal to unlock your phone? You probably did.

But did you hear how big the penalties are? For first-time offenders, we’re talking half a million dollars and up to 5 years of jail time! Yeah, that’s a serious f***-ing penalty for a new law.

UPDATE: This post was originally written in 2013. As of early 2015, the act of unlocking a phone in the US is now legal again, with one condition. If the phone company agrees your contract term (typically 2 years) is satisfied, then they must agree to unlock your phone if you request it. (Thanks Joel!)

If you’re a techno-phobe, left wondering what “unlocking” even means, here’s the skinny: A “locked” phone can only be used with one service provider, like AT&T. When unlocked, you can use the same expensive phone with Sprint, Verizon, etc. The common argument is “But I paid big money for that phone…why couldn’t I use it with any provider I want?” The industry answer is typically “You only thought it was your phone…ours and (you) will always be ours.

What does this mean for Expats like yourself?

When I travel, I take my phone with me. In fact, I’ll be taking my new iPhone 5 with me to Prague when I go in 2 weeks. I did some serious research before buying my iPhone 5. Even got Expat Yourself community members in on the discussion.

When I travel, I take my phone’s SIM card out and replace it with a local SIM. That gives me a local phone number and data plan for temporary use. But when a phone is “locked” – that’s not an option.

Luckily for most of the world’s travellers, this “locked” business really only happens with American cellular phone providers. (Yes, for example in Britain, everyone’s phone can freely be switched over from provider to provider.)

So, before an American travels abroad, he must first pay a small fee ($20-$50) to unlock the phone.

Oh, but not anymore. Now, that fee is gone, and replaced with jail-time.

Isn’t There a Hero In The House (or continent)?

But Wait! — There’s Canada to the rescue! In Canada, there’s much public discussion around a draft bill. The draft was initiated by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. They made the draft public (imagine that!) and invited any and all feedback (and imagine that!!). Crazily enough, the public like it. Why? Because some of it is exactly opposite of what the US recently passed. Whether causal or coincidence, it looks like Canadian smartphone owners may soon be all the envy of American smartphone users.

Now, am I saying you should move to Canada to enjoy more features on your newest iPhone, Android, or smartphone? Of course not. That’s like suggesting you move from Provo, Utah to Las Vegas, Nevada to access electric fuelling station for your electric car. There are far better reasons to move to Las Vegas…and there are far better reasons to move to Canada.

Canadian Freedom

My Permanent Residency Interview in Canada

Yesterday was a big day….I went to my interview to finalize permanent resident status here in Canada.

Yes, I should write up a big post about how I got permanent resident status.  But for now, I’ll share how the interview went:

Continue reading My Permanent Residency Interview in Canada