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Is it worth getting US PR?

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  • Sep 24th, 2021 11:57 pm
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[OP]
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Nov 6, 2010
9931 posts
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Montreal, QC

Is it worth getting US PR?

Wasn't sure where to put this so mods feel free to move.

So I'm working for a US company right now on a TN-VISA (due to COVID and various reasons I haven't permanently relocated yet) and weirdly...I got selected for the H1B lottery despite all this and the immigration lawyers are asking if I want to proceed with H1B/PERM (which will eventually lead to a green card) and I'm unsure if I should based on research I've done online.

Based on what I've found, as a Canadian born citizen, the main benefit of going down this route boils down to:
- eventual US-citizenship
- ability to work in the US without future sponsorship (or need for more visas)
- getting social services in the US
- easier travel to/from the US
- some things here and there such as the ability to work for government clearance jobs and a bit easier to get US real estate

I don't plan on retiring in the US (then again I'm not sure I want to retire in Canada either), but as a career-opportunity it seems to be worth it if I don't need to apply for a TN every time I want to get a new career opportunity.

Has anyone done PR as a Canadian (or considered it)? Is there anything I might be missing that should make me consider or avoid it? I know ultimately it's my choice I just wanted to make sure I didn't miss anything or if anyone had any perspective from past experience on RFD.

If it changes anything I'm 30 and unmarried.

Thanks in advance!
Last edited by uber_shnitz on Aug 9th, 2021 9:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
27 replies
Deal Fanatic
Oct 25, 2003
9247 posts
360 upvotes
uber_shnitz wrote: So I'm working for a US company right now on a TN-VISA (due to COVID and various reasons I haven't permanently relocated yet) and weirdly...
Are you paying Canadian income taxes right now?
Member
Jun 27, 2007
285 posts
183 upvotes
California
Assuming you're going to eventually relocate in the US, then yes the H-1B opens up options, namely to get a GC in the the future. It's also easier to switch jobs (can start before H-1B transfer is approved). I've been on a TN for 6 years but it's unpleasant going to the border/airport for a new job (got grilled last time). If you have NEXUS, travel in/out of US probably isn't much of a difference (I never get questioned on TN).

I actually got selected for the lottery last week as well (even though I am able to apply for a marriage GC). I'm taking the H-1B for now as my TN expires next summer and I don't want it to expire in the event I applied for the GC.
Penalty Box
May 4, 2017
247 posts
383 upvotes
The Bridle Path
If you become an American citizen or hold US Green Card, there will be tax obligations with the IRS. The IRS requires all Green Card holders to file US income tax returns and pay US tax based on their worldwide income as do US citizens, even if they live in Canada.
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Nov 6, 2010
9931 posts
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Montreal, QC
fr33style wrote: Assuming you're going to eventually relocate in the US, then yes the H-1B opens up options, namely to get a GC in the the future. It's also easier to switch jobs (can start before H-1B transfer is approved). I've been on a TN for 6 years but it's unpleasant going to the border/airport for a new job (got grilled last time). If you have NEXUS, travel in/out of US probably isn't much of a difference (I never get questioned on TN).

I actually got selected for the lottery last week as well (even though I am able to apply for a marriage GC). I'm taking the H-1B for now as my TN expires next summer and I don't want it to expire in the event I applied for the GC.
Yeah I didn't have a great experience with my first TN so I might be biased and giving more important to the whole "no more work visas needed" as a pro, but I wanted to get others' opinions on it seems even though entering/exiting the US seems fine, the whole renewal/new TN might be a bit of a hassle worth trying to get rid of. Thanks for sharing yours!
GoldenKnight wrote: If you become an American citizen or hold US Green Card, there will be tax obligations with the IRS. The IRS requires all Green Card holders to file US income tax returns and pay US tax based on their worldwide income as do US citizens, even if they live in Canada.
Yeah I heard that from someone else which is another con. I suppose even if my tax obligation is 0 that filing is still a cost, but to be fair I could also get access to SS and other benefits even if I'm not in the US (my stepmom is a US citizen living with my dad in Canada and she still collects SS).

Thanks for sharing!
Sr. Member
Aug 15, 2018
723 posts
583 upvotes
Interesting thread. My wife and I also have an opportunity to get the US green card. We are still not decided whether we should do the move or not.

Purely out of curiosity, what would be your reason to move? For us I must admit that high wages and lower cost of living (as long as we avoid well known expensive cities) sound quite attractive.
Deal Addict
Nov 24, 2004
4529 posts
1093 upvotes
Toronto
GoldenKnight wrote: If you become an American citizen or hold US Green Card, there will be tax obligations with the IRS. The IRS requires all Green Card holders to file US income tax returns and pay US tax based on their worldwide income as do US citizens, even if they live in Canada.
I would think that the capital gains on the sale of Canadian property would be just as much of an issue -- US citizens living in Canada (theoretically) take a big tax hit when they sell a home.
Member
Jan 12, 2011
272 posts
191 upvotes
Toronto
Hmm off the top of my head.

Reasons for:
  • Flexibility with switching jobs. Including the ability to work for your own business.
  • Your H1B cannot be renewed beyond 6 years.
  • The longer you stay in the US on TN the more risky it will be.
  • You don't really know where you might want to be in 30 years.
  • Easier to continue to hold US accounts and assets when you move out of the country.

Reasons against:
  • Income tax complications if you move anywhere outside of the US.
  • Exit tax if you want to ever get rid of PR/citizenship.
  • I believe your investment cost basis resets to current market value to the CRA when you move back to Canada. If you have green card you still owe capital gains to uncle sam when you sell, but if you don't those capital gains are free.
  • Estate tax if you make/save enough money and want to pass it onto your kids.
Deal Addict
Apr 21, 2014
2301 posts
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Alberta
cnfjti3 wrote: Hmm off the top of my head.

Reasons for:
  • Flexibility with switching jobs. Including the ability to work for your own business.
  • Your H1B cannot be renewed beyond 6 years.
  • The longer you stay in the US on TN the more risky it will be.
  • You don't really know where you might want to be in 30 years.
  • Easier to continue to hold US accounts and assets when you move out of the country.

Reasons against:
  • Income tax complications if you move anywhere outside of the US.
  • Exit tax if you want to ever get rid of PR/citizenship.
  • I believe your investment cost basis resets to current market value to the CRA when you move back to Canada. If you have green card you still owe capital gains to uncle sam when you sell, but if you don't those capital gains are free.
  • Estate tax if you make/save enough money and want to pass it onto your kids.
I’m on a TN in the states and am currently going through the green card process. It’s definitely worth it, especially if you’re married. My wife can’t work here and neither can my kids (when they get old enough). They are all on TD (dependent visas). There are tons of job opportunities and not many businesses want to bother with a TN. With a TN you are tied to that employer. Not so with a green card. Also the tax implications are over hyped. If you move back to Canada and maintain your US citizenship, you won’t have to pay tax in the US, since there is a higher tax burden in Canada, you will get a credit. If you ever move to a lower tax jurisdiction and don’t ever plan on moving back to the states you can renounce your citizenship.
Member
Jan 12, 2011
272 posts
191 upvotes
Toronto
abc123yyz wrote: If you move back to Canada and maintain your US citizenship, you won’t have to pay tax in the US, since there is a higher tax burden in Canada, you will get a credit. If you ever move to a lower tax jurisdiction and don’t ever plan on moving back to the states you can renounce your citizenship.
Right I agree with most of what you said except this point. The exit tax is a major point of consideration:

https://retiremitten.com/the-exit-tax-w ... to-canada/

You have to get american citizenship to avoid it. And if you do, I believe you miss out on the free capital gain loophole from CRA resetting your cost basis for your investments when you move back, and IRS not charging an exit tax. See:

https://forums.serbinski.com/viewtopic.php?t=8682

This could potentially be hundreds of thousands depending on how well your investments performed and how long you held them.

Likewise the estate tax is another area for consideration, but I think fewer people should be impacted by it given its high limit.
Deal Addict
Nov 24, 2004
4529 posts
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Toronto
abc123yyz wrote: Also the tax implications are over hyped.
I think the income tax implications are overhyped, but the capital gains tax implications are under-appreciated. It could be a major financial burden if you ever sell a home in Canada.
Member
Jun 27, 2007
285 posts
183 upvotes
California
cnfjti3 wrote: Right I agree with most of what you said except this point. The exit tax is a major point of consideration:

https://retiremitten.com/the-exit-tax-w ... to-canada/

You have to get american citizenship to avoid it. And if you do, I believe you miss out on the free capital gain loophole from CRA resetting your cost basis for your investments when you move back, and IRS not charging an exit tax. See:

https://forums.serbinski.com/viewtopic.php?t=8682

This could potentially be hundreds of thousands depending on how well your investments performed and how long you held them.

Likewise the estate tax is another area for consideration, but I think fewer people should be impacted by it given its high limit.
I've been looking at the exit tax as well but it was unclear to me when the time gets counted as a long term resident. I think you need to actually be a Green Card holder for 8 years (your previous time on a temp visa doesn't count). For me, I think that gives me about a decade (I'm moving to H-1B first) to decide if we'll go back to Canada before the tax is in effect.

https://hodgen.com/no-green-card-no-exit-tax-problem/

For capital gains, I've read you can renounce your GC on your way out (if we ever go back to Canada) to take advantage of the cost basis resetting.
Sr. Member
Sep 28, 2013
793 posts
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don't know what your birth country is but keep in mind some birth countries have waiting time for green cards that are decades long (India, China)
Deal Addict
Apr 21, 2014
2301 posts
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Alberta
JHW wrote: I think the income tax implications are overhyped, but the capital gains tax implications are under-appreciated. It could be a major financial burden if you ever sell a home in Canada.
Haven’t looked into that as we sold our home in Canada before moving here
[OP]
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Nov 6, 2010
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Montreal, QC
angrybanker wrote: don't know what your birth country is but keep in mind some birth countries have waiting time for green cards that are decades long (India, China)
I'm Canadian-born and using the EB-3 certification for PERM so I was told to expect a 2-3ish year process assuming I don't get audited which would add another 18 months.
JHW wrote: I think the income tax implications are overhyped, but the capital gains tax implications are under-appreciated. It could be a major financial burden if you ever sell a home in Canada.
I already paid departure tax, but I do own half a condo still which I've reported to the CRA and IRS. I'm assuming if I end up selling it the capital gains will be double taxed or something along those lines right?

It is a bit frustrating that despite there being many Canadians who work in the US, the info online seems to be very scattered and there isn't much in the way of professional help unless you're really wealthy.
Deal Addict
Nov 24, 2004
4529 posts
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Toronto
uber_shnitz wrote: I already paid departure tax, but I do own half a condo still which I've reported to the CRA and IRS. I'm assuming if I end up selling it the capital gains will be double taxed or something along those lines right?
I'm not an accountant or lawyer (you will need to talk to one when the time comes) but the general principle is that US citizens / permanent residents are taxed on capital gains no matter where they occur or where they live. There have been a number of stories over the years of Canadian residents with US citizenship being stung by this, when they sell their homes in Canada.
Deal Addict
Aug 18, 2018
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Month late to this thread, but as a Canadian who will have spent 9 years working in the US in a month's time but only became a PR a little over a month ago, I will say that YES, getting a green card is 100% worth it if you have any long term career aspirations at all in the US. Most of the pros/cons have been pretty well covered, so I'll point out some minor ones:

- freedom to take up multiple (part time) jobs whenever you want, wherever you want (you can't even legally monetize Youtube channels or become an independent contractor on a work visa)
- complete protection against layoffs/involuntary job losses; no 60 day grace period hanging over your head*, can even apply for EI if really need to
- opens doors to many more opportunities not available to a visa worker (employer too small/refuses to sponsor even TN), not restricted to working in field matching your education. Also I believe many government jobs are open to US citizens only

Not job related, but you have A LOT more rights at the border. CBP can't deny you entry just because you looked at them wrong or whatever, and in general give you much less hassle unless you're out of the country for more than 6 months continuously. (there are rumors some will even greet you with "welcome home sir" Smiling Face With Open Mouth And Smiling Eyes)

*this may seem trivial, but having experienced a layoff on an H1B first hand, I can tell you those 60 days were the most stressful period in my life ever, especially since it came at a time when Trump just got inaugurated and was firing off anti-immigrant EOs left right and centre. You have next to no rights as a visa worker in the land of the free unfortunately.

fr33style wrote: I've been looking at the exit tax as well but it was unclear to me when the time gets counted as a long term resident. I think you need to actually be a Green Card holder for 8 years (your previous time on a temp visa doesn't count). For me, I think that gives me about a decade (I'm moving to H-1B first) to decide if we'll go back to Canada before the tax is in effect.

https://hodgen.com/no-green-card-no-exit-tax-problem/

For capital gains, I've read you can renounce your GC on your way out (if we ever go back to Canada) to take advantage of the cost basis resetting.
As explained by the IRS:
You are an LTR if you were a lawful permanent resident of the United States in at least 8 of the last 15 tax years ending with the year your status as an LTR ends. In determining if you meet the 8-year requirement, don't count any year that you were treated as a resident of a foreign country under a tax treaty and didn't waive treaty benefits applicable to residents of the country.
So you're correct, the time spent in the US working on a visa does NOT count towards the "8 year requirement" as defined by the IRS.
Sr. Member
Sep 28, 2013
793 posts
559 upvotes
just remember if you have Canadian real estate that has more than $250k US capital gains OR if you have aspirations of working in a tax free jurisdiction one day, being a US PR means uncle Sam will chase you with a stick (as opposed to Canada)
Sr. Member
Feb 19, 2017
854 posts
630 upvotes
angrybanker wrote: just remember if you have Canadian real estate that has more than $250k US capital gains OR if you have aspirations of working in a tax free jurisdiction one day, being a US PR means uncle Sam will chase you with a stick (as opposed to Canada)
What are you talking about? As a non-resident, you get taxed 25% on capital gains from Canadian real estate by the Canadian government.
Crypo/NFT-enthusiast
Sr. Member
Sep 28, 2013
793 posts
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Walch1102 wrote: What are you talking about? As a non-resident, you get taxed 25% on capital gains from Canadian real estate by the Canadian government.
I don't have the time to debate tax policy with you, but you are incorrect with regards to a principal residence. Have a cross-border tax consultant and going through this now.

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