Ellis Island was once the terminal for individuals immigrating to the United States from a foreign country. Now, much of the paperwork is for immigration is processed remotely through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, USCIS. Despite the close proximity to the United States, Canadian citizens do not have special privileges when it comes to immigrating. There are two options for Canadians who seek to make the United States their permanent home: Obtaining a Green Card or becoming a U.S. citizen.
Establish your need for a Green Card. The U.S. Immigration Support website defines a Green Card as "evidence of lawful permanent resident status" in the U.S., while U.S. citizenship is one step beyond that.
Review the requirements for a Green Card application, which are determined through employment and family relationships. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the immigration process, grants Green Cards to individuals who are offered a job in the United States, have a particular skill set or are the immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
Apply for an immigration visa through the National Visa Center, NVC. The USCIS reports that an immigration visa must be available to you before you can apply for a Green Card. Visa's are handled by the U.S. Department of State. Visa availability varies, based on the country from which you are emigrating. Contact the NVC for information on visa availability or to review the status of your application.
Download the required forms from the USCIS website. The form you fill out and submit to the Department of Homeland Security depends on your reasons for moving to the United States, such as family reasons or employment. Complete all forms correctly and submit them to the address located on the form.
Schedule a medical exam through a USCIS-approved physician. A list of approved doctors can be obtained by calling 1-800-375-5283. Do not break the seal of the envelop that contains the results of your physical, as that nullifies its contents and requires you to obtain a second exam.
Submit an affidavit of support, which is filed by a sponsor either in the U.S. or in Canada. It verifies your ability to financially support yourself without the use of government-based programs, such as welfare or Medicare.
Wait for the USCIS to process your request. The USCIS may require you to undergo an interview, although this step is not required of every applicant and is determined on a case-by-case basis.
Check the status of your Green Card application through the USCIS website. Because of the amount of paperwork involved in this process, it can take several months for your application to be reviewed.
Establish your need to be naturalized. Understand what it means to become a naturalized citizen. In this process, a person born outside the United States applies for citizenship and all its rights, including the ability to vote in elections. Applicants for naturalization must be at least 18 years old and must have held a Green Card for at least five years.
Fill out form N-400, the Application for Naturalization, on the USCIS website. A filing fee is due when you submit your application. You also need to submit two passport-style photographs and a photocopy of your Green Card.
Wait while the USCIS processes your application. During the review process, the USCIS may contact you to request a your fingerprints or other documents.
Schedule an interview with the USCIS after being contacted by the agency. Go to the scheduled appointment and answer questions about your application and your background. Take an English language and civics test.
Take the Oath of Allegiance after your application is approved. Turn in your Green Card when you receive your Certificate of Naturalization.
- Do not attempt to forge any documents or lie at any point throughout the immigration process.
- The USCIS recommends all applicants retain a copy of all submitted documents throughout the immigration process.
- U.S. Department of State: Immigrants To The United States
- Law Office Of Joseph C. Grasmick: FAQ Part I-Frequently Asked Questions: Canada to U.S. Immigration for Businesses and Professionals
- U.S. Immigration Support: General U.S. Immigration Information
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: Green Card Processes And Procedures
- U.S. Department of State: Visa Types for Immigrants
- "U.S. Citizenship And Immigration Services"; A Guide To Naturalization; January 2011