How to Actually Move to Canada (and Other Countries) If Trump Wins

It's a phrase we hear nearly every election cycle: “If [insert politician's name here] wins, I'm moving to Canada!” But it looks like this time, when it comes to fears of a Donald Trump presidency, Americans might really mean it. During Super Tuesday, when Trump swept several states, Google searches for the term “move to Canada” spiked – to borrow a term from everyone's favorite candidate – bigly. So, with the election now less than 20 days away, we broke down what it'd really take to escape the country and resettle somewhere else. Start packing your bags now.

We should probably point out that, for the purposes of this article, we stuck to strictly legal options.

Canada, always eager to please, actually has an online quiz you can take to determine if you'd be eligible to immigrate to Canada. (And no, watching your country be humiliated on an international stage doesn't qualify you as a refugee.) We took the quiz, explaining that we wanted to move to Canada permanently, did not already have a job in the country and did not have any relatives who currently live there. Shockingly, we were rejected. Still, at least one part of Canada wants fleeing Americans: A website called “Cape Breton if Trump Wins” suggests that terrified Americans check out life in Cape Breton Island, a landmass off Nova Scotia's northeastern tip. Though it started as a tongue-in-cheek joke by a local radio host, according to CNN, the website has now attracted more than one million clicks.

For Texans, Mexico is obviously the closest county to relocate to. (But you'll want to move quickly, before President Trump gets the Mexican government to pay for that wall of his.) But moving to Mexico permanently is difficult, and you're likely out of luck unless you have a family member or spouse who is a national, according to Mexperience. However, Mexican Temporary Visitor Visas can also last for up to four years, which is long enough to escape a Trump presidency – unless he gets re-elected, or the country is in such shambles that there's no point to returning.

United Kingdom

At first glance, moving to the United Kingdom looks like a good idea. After all, we share a history and a language. Like Canada, the British government also has an online quiz you can take to determine if you are eligible to settle in the United Kingdom. However, it's a bit more blunt than the Canadian version: The very first question asks if you have a British citizen as a family member or partner, if you have a visa to work or study in the United Kingdom, if you've already legally lived in the United Kingdom for ten years – all the standard grounds for immigrating. When we chose that none of these reasons applied, we were immediately told, “Your answers suggest you aren't eligible to settle.” Canada at least bothered to put us through a few different screens before it crushed our hopes and dreams. But on the other hand, if you're worried about a Trump presidency, you might not be better off in Britain since the country's got Brexit and its own xenophobic leaders to deal with.

You've probably never heard of this tiny archipelago located between Norway and the North Pole. But guess what? Though Svalbard is nominally Norwegian, it's largely self-governed and so Norway's Immigration Act doesn't apply. That's right: You don't need any pesky residence permit or visa to settle on Svalbard. But before you get too excited, there are some important drawbacks to living there. You won't build up any rights to eventually gain Norwegian nationality and you will have no access to public social services, like welfare. Instead, you have to support yourself completely, or risk being thrown out. Plus, polar bears are an occupational hazard, and the local government officially advises everyone to carry a weapon if they plan to travel outside of an urban area. So, really, living in Svalbard might not be that different from living in Texas – at least the governments share the same values.
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Carter is the Houston Press fellow. A Seattle native, she graduated from Northwestern University and also has written for Elle, Los Angeles magazine and Ms. Magazine.
Contact: Carter Sherman