Dear Mentor:

I love Canada, but should I work in the US?

I am currently employed as a Market Analyst by a large corporation in Toronto, Canada. In the past three years with this company, I have also worked as a Financial Analyst. I hold a Master's degree in Biomedical Engineering and undergraduate in Mechanical Engineering. Hearing about all the opportunities for success, I am often tempted to consider employment in the US. What do you think of it? Is it really worth it, given that I love Canada? How difficult is it for a Canadian citizen to gain employment and residence in the US?

On the Border, Toronto, Canada

Dear On the Border:

You are obviously a successful and bright young man, who wants to be even more successful. Given your track record, we are confident that you will be successful in whatever you choose to do and wherever you choose to do it. We know that successful people continually search and examine opportunities, and act upon them only when appropriate. So please keep up your on-going search for success. As you know, success does not mean only professional success in terms of title and/or money. Success must also include an acceptable balance with the kind of personal lifestyle you desire. Yes, you can focus too much on professional life at the expense of personal life, but that can lead to a sub-optimal outcome in the long run. Thus, we are pleased to see that you are including such intangibles as "living in Canada" in your decision-making. We do agree with you wholeheartedly - Canada is a great country!

As you know, the US is the largest economy in the world, has a population about ten times that of Canada, and offers far greater opportunities. With unemployment at 3.9%, the US currently has a severe shortage of highly skilled workers. US employers are open to considering qualified candidates from anywhere in the world, but they face difficult immigration hurdles. However, these hurdles - in the case of recruiting Canadians - are relatively nominal, thanks to NAFTA (North American Free Trade Act, which includes the US, Canada, and Mexico). It is relatively easy for Canadians to obtain a one-year renewable work visa for the US once they have secured employment.

We are not qualified to comment on immigration issues and/or process. We are commenting here on the basis of personal knowledge of incidents, rather than on any systematic legal knowledge. We would encourage you to contact the US Immigration & Naturalization Service (INS), or an immigration attorney, or your prospective employer. In terms of searching for prospective employers in the US, you should proceed exactly the way you would for prospective Canadian employers.

It is difficult for us to comment on whether it is worth it for you specifically to move to the US. It is a personal choice. While the US may offer greater professional opportunities than does Canada, your personal decision-making criteria should determine if moving to the US is the right choice for you.

Just a comment in passing, even though you haven't asked for it. You seem to be at a stage in life where doing an MBA from a top-tier US business school may put your career on steroids. Good Luck!

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