Author Topic: Closing the Distance of a Long Distance (International) Relationship  (Read 6907 times)

huadpe

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So this is a big and hairy problem, but here's my best summary:

My boyfriend and I (both male) have been together since about 3 years ago (met in 2009 originally). 

I (age 25) live on Long Island where I have a good gig as a paralegal at a very small patent firm where I have been offered to become a partner with my boss once I'm registered as a patent agent.  Current income there is about US$65k/year pre-tax, and has been on a strong upward trend, starting at US$30k a few years back.  I currently live with my mother, and commute about 10 miles by car to work.  If David is gonna move here, I'll need to find an apartment, as he (quite reasonably) does not want to live with his mother in law.

My boyfriend David (age 26) lives in Mississauga ON and works at a pretty large international company doing dispatching and customer service for corporate clients and makes CA$43k/yr pre-tax.  He has his own apartment at $1280/month, and commutes about 6 miles to work by municipal bus.  He got this job about a year ago and was making about CA$20k/yr before that working retail.

Neither of us has any debts or anything.  My savings ~$30k are bigger than his ~$6k, but we'd be combining them wherever we live I suppose.

The legal details are that right now there is no visa he can get that would let him live and work in the US.  Hopefully this will change next month if the Supreme Court overturns DOMA, which would let him get a green card by marrying me.  I could legally move to Canada by marrying him and applying for permanent residency.

I am hoping some of you have some thoughts on this or could share your experiences closing gaps (especially internationally).  I know MrMM and MrsMM have moved between the US and Canada, but I don't know what their statuses were/are immigration-wise.

bogart

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Hmmm.

Some questions:

Is there one of the two places where you two are currently living, that you both prefer for "quality of life" reasons?"

Does either of you feel strongly, either now or looking down the road, about wanting to live near extended family, either your mother or other members of your or his family?

Have you discussed with David and/or do you anticipate wanting to have children together?  I realize you are young, and also that this is a more complicated process for a same-sex male couple, but thought I'd ask.  Clearly same-sex couples already enjoy better legal status in Canada than in the US, but I'd guess this may be even more relevant for same-sex couples who are parenting together than in general.

How portable (if at all) are US paralegal skills to Canada?

frugalcalan

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I don't really know much about immigration, but I work at an immigration firm (obviously not in the law portion of it!).  I know they do some sort of free consultation or something, to help you figure out if it's worth pursing a visa.  So maybe give them a call?  I know there's some sort of 99+% approval rating that gets advertised, so that's good.  Number is listed on: http://www.visanow.com/contact-visanow

huadpe

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Hmmm.

Some questions:

Is there one of the two places where you two are currently living, that you both prefer for "quality of life" reasons?"

Does either of you feel strongly, either now or looking down the road, about wanting to live near extended family, either your mother or other members of your or his family?

Have you discussed with David and/or do you anticipate wanting to have children together?  I realize you are young, and also that this is a more complicated process for a same-sex male couple, but thought I'd ask.  Clearly same-sex couples already enjoy better legal status in Canada than in the US, but I'd guess this may be even more relevant for same-sex couples who are parenting together than in general.

How portable (if at all) are US paralegal skills to Canada?

1. Quality of life wise, I think both of us like the Greater Toronto Area a bit more than the NYC area.  But it depends a lot on which specific spot we're in.  Without considering housing cost or commuting distances, the rank ordering would likely be Manhattan > Downtown Toronto >  Rest of NYC > Rest of Toronto > Burbs of Toronto (where David currently is) > Burbs of NYC (where I currently am).

2. I don't think either of us feels extremely strongly about living near extended family, though I will say he has a bit larger of a social network up there than I have down here.

3. No kids planned.

4. My skills are reasonably portable to Canada.  Canadian patent law is extremely similar to US.  The main issue would be that the patent industry is a lot smaller there than it is here (most Canadians would prefer a US patent to a Canadian one).  I could look at different fields of law or going out into another area entirely, but that would be a total career reboot probably.

Career is the main thing that points to the US.  Once I'm registered as a patent agent (~1 yr from now I expect) my income will shoot up substantially, probably to US$120k+/yr, and being a patent agent (which is not transferable to Canada) is a pretty cushy profession.  Think what being a regular lawyer was 40 years ago before the law school bubble made it an awful proposition for most people just entering.  Also being a US patent agent doesn't require law school, which is awesome. 

I don't really know much about immigration, but I work at an immigration firm (obviously not in the law portion of it!).  I know they do some sort of free consultation or something, to help you figure out if it's worth pursing a visa.  So maybe give them a call?  I know there's some sort of 99+% approval rating that gets advertised, so that's good.  Number is listed on: http://www.visanow.com/contact-visanow

I may give them a heads up if you can vouch for their being ethical, which is a big issue in immigration law.  However I am -very- familiar with the law on this.  There are a few visa avenues I could use to move to Canada, but none David can use to move and work in the US.  At most he could get a student visa for US and then a TN visa after he graduated if he had a job offer in a certain field.

bogart

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Frustrating (please allow me to apologize, albeit ineffectively, for the discriminatory practices of my US government.  Yours too, of course, but still.).

It sounds like if you two want to cohabit and/or marry, Canada is the way to go.  Could you work in Canada helping Canadians get US patents?  Work remotely at your current job?


huadpe

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I am leaning towards Canada myself, but we'll have to see how it ends up.  This is not a decision I plan to do quickly or lightly.  Thanks for the input on this; it's always nice to have someone to do an outside sanity check on things.

mlipps

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You could also do something really crazy & move to a totally different country. Australia recognizes gay marriage & has reasonably favorable immigration policies compared to the labyrinth of the US system. Just throwing it out there. Hopefully there's a better solution soon. The good news is, I think there will be a better solution within our lifetime, so even if you move to Canada now for a few years, I don't think you would necessarily have to expect to stay there forever.

daverobev

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For those under 30 there are always - at least - 1 year visas. I know that isn't long term, but it's there. Then there is the fact Canadians can spend 6 months a year in the US, hassle free. I assume the reverse is true. Obviously that does not help in the long run - in terms of stability.

I suspect on the 'professional/points' system you'd pass with flying colours too, and so not even need to worry about the legalities of same-sex partnerships.

swick

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Could you work in Canada helping Canadians get US patents?  Work remotely at your current job?

This was my first thought. Could you approach your boss and see if he is interested in expanding and you could head up "Canadian Operations"  If most Canadians want US patents anyways, they will be looking for a firm that specializes and has experience in US patents and would be willing to pay more for your "specialized experience and expertise"also there is a certain amount of perceived "Prestige" with dealing with an International company that has it's head office in NYC - even if it happens to be a small business.

Whatever you end up doing, good luck and hope you guys have many years of happiness once this all gets sorted out.

huadpe

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For those under 30 there are always - at least - 1 year visas. I know that isn't long term, but it's there. Then there is the fact Canadians can spend 6 months a year in the US, hassle free. I assume the reverse is true. Obviously that does not help in the long run - in terms of stability.

I suspect on the 'professional/points' system you'd pass with flying colours too, and so not even need to worry about the legalities of same-sex partnerships.

Are you talking for me to move to Canada, or him to come to US?  For me going up there, immigration is not too bad.  It's still a royal pain in the butt re: paperwork, but we'd get married and he'd sponsor me.  I don't know of a 1 yr visa to the US that permits work, at least outside of some arranged employment schemes that are almost universally awful ripoffs for the immigrant.

Could you work in Canada helping Canadians get US patents?  Work remotely at your current job?

This was my first thought. Could you approach your boss and see if he is interested in expanding and you could head up "Canadian Operations"  If most Canadians want US patents anyways, they will be looking for a firm that specializes and has experience in US patents and would be willing to pay more for your "specialized experience and expertise"also there is a certain amount of perceived "Prestige" with dealing with an International company that has it's head office in NYC - even if it happens to be a small business.

Whatever you end up doing, good luck and hope you guys have many years of happiness once this all gets sorted out.

I have talked a bit with my boss about that over the years (this is not a new problem for me).  It might be possible, but it would not be easy.  We are a very very small firm, i.e. working out of his basement.  If I weren't going to become a partner and would just do amendment/spec writing from Canada, that might be workable, but it's piece work so my job security wouldn't be so high.  I am exploring it though.  Right now I am trying to get to a spot where I do some work from home and use that to take longer trips up there (and do the work while David is at his job).

daverobev

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Re: Closing the Distance of a Long Distance (International) Relationship
« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2013, 01:57:12 PM »
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Working_holiday_visa guess these wouldn't work?

I'm an immigrant to Canada, and my wife sponsored me. Pretty plain sailing, to be honest. Even the paperwork wasn't bad - really. Just took a while - I got my temporary work permit about two weeks before the notification I would get Permanent Residency, so I had a temporary SIN for all of two months!

huadpe

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Re: Closing the Distance of a Long Distance (International) Relationship
« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2013, 05:04:04 PM »
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Working_holiday_visa guess these wouldn't work?

I'm an immigrant to Canada, and my wife sponsored me. Pretty plain sailing, to be honest. Even the paperwork wasn't bad - really. Just took a while - I got my temporary work permit about two weeks before the notification I would get Permanent Residency, so I had a temporary SIN for all of two months!

Working Holiday visas to the US are extremely corrupted, they basically have to be arranged through employers and are extortionate, putting young people in shitty locales and giving them no time off to travel.  Really for now we're waiting on US v. Windsor, which the Supreme Court will rule on in June most likely.  So it's not long til we know.  If we win Windsor, then he can come here as my spouse if we want to live in the US.

BPA

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Re: Closing the Distance of a Long Distance (International) Relationship
« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2013, 05:34:10 PM »
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Working_holiday_visa guess these wouldn't work?

I'm an immigrant to Canada, and my wife sponsored me. Pretty plain sailing, to be honest. Even the paperwork wasn't bad - really. Just took a while - I got my temporary work permit about two weeks before the notification I would get Permanent Residency, so I had a temporary SIN for all of two months!

Working Holiday visas to the US are extremely corrupted, they basically have to be arranged through employers and are extortionate, putting young people in shitty locales and giving them no time off to travel.  Really for now we're waiting on US v. Windsor, which the Supreme Court will rule on in June most likely.  So it's not long til we know.  If we win Windsor, then he can come here as my spouse if we want to live in the US.

My fingers are crossed for you.  Would a temporary life in Canada work if the ruling isn't favourable?  You could always move back to New York when (not if, but when) your rights as a married couple are legally recognized in the US.  I'm sorry that you have to worry about this.  It makes me sad that you have been denied the right to marry the person you love. 

totoro

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Re: Closing the Distance of a Long Distance (International) Relationship
« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2013, 05:41:16 PM »
While Canada is a great option for gay marriage, sponsorship and health care it seems kind of a crappy one for work for you given the fabulous opportunity you currently have.  If you can become a partner and make $120,000 this could fast-track you to FI pretty quick.  Can you sell your partnership interest at the end?

I don't know about the US student visa option as I'm Canadian.  I would say it is an option worth looking into for him if it allows him to live in the US and get a visa after.  I have a couple of friends who landed up working in the US without being married to a US citizen, but I have no idea how that worked - both of them are professionals (lawyer and investment banker).

I would really lean towards getting him to the US, getting him legal to work even if p-t while in school, and saving like crazy so you can buy a place outright in Canada in a few years.  It will make a HUGE difference to your comfort and lifestyle long-term.  In the meantime, you could get married in Canada and work on a transition plan for your work once you move back to Canada and one for him as well.

huadpe

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Re: Closing the Distance of a Long Distance (International) Relationship
« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2013, 06:08:11 PM »
I'm fairly confident we'll win Windsor.  See, for example, this: http://www.scotusblog.com/?p=161880

So then it boils down to whether we should marry and move to Canada, or marry and move to the US.  NY already has legal same sex marriage, so if we win Windsor, our legal status would be the same in either country.  David also detests the idea of going back to school and likes his work reasonably well, so I don't think he'd be too hot on the student visa plan.  The people you refer to almost surely had TN visas, which require that you have at least a bachelors and work in specific fields (of which lawyer and banker are both on the list).

I think it bears emphasizing the small size of the place I work.  We are in my boss's basement, and the whole business has a gross revenue of about half a million a year, maybe 250k profit a year.  The partnership interest is probably not sellable.  My boss is 72 and my being a partner is basically a transition plan for me to own the whole thing.  He doesn't want to retire though until he can't do it anymore.  He's financially independent but likes having something to do every day.

To be honest, I may still work as a patent agent even when I become financially independent & own the whole firm.  It's self employment at that point, and I can scale the business to whatever case load I want to handle.


totoro

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Re: Closing the Distance of a Long Distance (International) Relationship
« Reply #15 on: May 30, 2013, 07:14:03 PM »
Well then I'm rooting for the case.  Marry and move to the US, make the money, go back to Canada with some cash.  It will likely be harder for you to make that much in Canada unless you telecommute for your existing work. 

Also, maybe there is a market for a sale of the business later on?  I wouldn't discount it, especially if there is existing clientele and you don't need to go to law school and you could mentor someone into the position. 

I think you need a five-year plan written down.

KulshanGirl

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Re: Closing the Distance of a Long Distance (International) Relationship
« Reply #16 on: June 26, 2013, 10:30:18 AM »
Bumping this thread to say ... 

Congrats on having more options as of this morning!  :) 

marty998

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Re: Closing the Distance of a Long Distance (International) Relationship
« Reply #17 on: June 27, 2013, 05:26:18 AM »
yes..curious now, come back and tell us what you will do...

huadpe

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Re: Closing the Distance of a Long Distance (International) Relationship
« Reply #18 on: July 02, 2013, 10:50:10 AM »
yes..curious now, come back and tell us what you will do...

Obviously the DOMA ruling is great and means we can pick a country at our leisure.  We're still not decided which way to go.  I'm investigating the time and expense of US vs. Canadian immigration (US seems slightly more painful, but the K fiancee visa might be easier than full spousal to Canada, which doesn't have an equivalent), and we haven't gotten a chance to see each other in person since the ruling.  This sort of thing does not lend itself to instant message decisions.

Luigi

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Re: Closing the Distance of a Long Distance (International) Relationship
« Reply #19 on: July 04, 2013, 01:25:13 PM »
Something to look in to, if you go for living in the US is that while the K1 visa process can be faster than the process for a K3 visa, there are some things to bear in mind.  First of all, while applying for the K3, you can also apply for a 2 year visa for your spouse while the immigration takes place.  This doesn't always get approved, especially if they are beginning processing the actual immigration request (that's what happened to me and my wife). 

The second thing to note is that again, I have heard reports of the K1 visa being faster, I have also heard that the number of consular rejections is incredibly higher.  You have to show absolutely incontrovertible evidence that you will get married.  If you are already married, the evidence is much more heavily in your favor, already, and the proof process is much easier. 

I assume this is true for other places as well, but I am speaking from my experience from my wife immigrating to the US from China.  When I spoke with an immigration lawyer regarding this, he said the K3 process was the best option, due to the comparitively lower rejection rate, even though the K1 can be faster at times.

Good luck no matter which way you choose!

Daleth

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Re: Closing the Distance of a Long Distance (International) Relationship
« Reply #20 on: July 04, 2013, 08:46:34 PM »
One crucial thing for you to look into is whether you can continue to be a paralegal in Canada, and whether you can become a patent agent there (or whether there are firms there that would be interested in hiring a US patent agent). I'm a lawyer and have looked into emigrating to Canada, and it's exceptionally difficult for a US lawyer to become qualified in Canada. I suspect the same may be true of paralegals. Also, while I'm an IP lawyer in the US so I know what you're talking about re: patent agent, I don't know if it's possible for non-attorneys to become patent agents in Canada.

Also, Long Island is not Mississauga. Are there firms in his area that would even have jobs comparable to the one you have now?