Phil, despite what Ferniefreeheels said about likelihood of getting a work visa for Canada, emigrating to Canada is not at all easy or quick for USA-ians. Lisa and I seriously looked into it back in late 2003/early 2004, until we came up with the "move to Colorado" plan instead. It's understandable that someone already a Canadian citizen might not know all the steps involved in moving there. You can't just say "my job is in demand" and decide to move.
Immigration Canada's "Coming to Canada" website
gives you lots of information and lets you score yourself to determine whether or not you will be accepted. On a national level, the need for workers in a specific profession is not considered at all (at least not officially). Instead, it's based on scores using years of education, bilingualism in English and French, age (after age 50 you lose points each year). This is the "Skilled Worker Class
" immigration procedure, but it is not based on skills in a particular profession. You do need to have at least one year's work experience in a profession on their long list of occupations, but they don't value one profession over another in terms of points you earn.
You need 67 points or higher to be qualified to apply for Canadian Immigration under this process. You can score yourself here
. There's some weirdness in some of the scoring such as for education. For example, if you have 16 years of formal schooling (12 years Grade 1-12) plus a 4-year college bachelors degree, you only can get credit at the 14-years level (12 years plus at least a 2-year degree). But if they years post-highschool were in a trade school, they count for more. You have to have two separate bachelors degrees to get 15 years of education credit. Also, if applying with a spouse, your language skills are rated but not your spouse's. In my case, we scored higher with Lisamarie as the applicant and me as the spouse, because my speaking no French didn't work against me as the spouse, and her basic but non-fluent French did give her a few extra points. There was zero difference in the values of our professions despite the very different pay scales; it was just "is your occupation on the list" and "how many years". A Physician Specialist (occupation code 3111) and a Hairstylist (code 6271) are weighed equally given the same number of work experience years (4 years being the highest that counts).
Certain provinces might have sponsored immigration
for particular professions. But in that case you are obligated to spend X number of years living in that province. Also usually requires a pre-arranged job offer. Probably not a lot of skiing in Manitoba.
At the time I was applying, it was about a 2-year process before getting approval. They also were talking about raising the 67-point minimum back up to 74 or higher. You get in based on what the requirement is when Immigration Canada finally decides on your visa a year or two after starting the process, not on what the point requirement was when you started it.
There's also a Business Immigration policy
if you're going to invest > $400,000 in a new or existing Canadian business.
Then there's working as a Business Professional in Canada under NAFTA. This has a limited number of accepted professions, and it only allows you to get a job there and live there, but not to become a Canadian Resident in the "landed immigrant" sense which gets you rights such as healthcare. I could apply for a job as a Systems Analyst in Vancouver or Toronto if I wanted, and if hired I could move there for the duration of the job. But I wouldn't have any Canadian benefits. Not what you want if you're really relocating.
I'd vote Whitefish. Cool town, nice mountain, and Fernie's an easy day-trip away.