If the election's left you with a void in your gut, you can always do what you've long threatened to do: move to Canada. Unfortunately, it's not as easy as driving on Interstate 25 north for 17 hours. To join the 10 million-plus people who've come to this land of moose and honey since World War II, you've got to jump through some hoops and be patient.
Every year, according to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), 150,000 people become new citizens of Canada. They enjoy all the rights and freedoms you'd expect in one of the world's most well-established democracies. And many of them enjoy dual citizenship.
First, however, they become permanent residents of Canada. As a permanent resident, you can live, work and study throughout the country and receive most social benefits, such as health care, and even a permanent residency card, which you can use like a visa. You pay taxes and must abide by Canadian law, but can't vote or run for office. Some high-level security jobs are off-limits.
If you're not sure that you want this to be a permanent move, you also may apply for a temporary resident visa or a study permit.
Information and applications (from inside and outside Canada) are available at cic.gc.ca, or by visiting or calling a visa office in Los Angeles, Detroit, New York, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and Buffalo, N.Y.
Who can immigrate
Most people reading this story would probably apply for permanent residency as a skilled worker or professional. Your application will be scored on six criteria, from age to education to arranged employment. If you score at least a 67 on a scale of 1 to 100 basically, if you prove that you can positively contribute to the country you'll qualify. (There are other ways to qualify, too; visit cic.gc.ca for more.)
Before you get past border security, you also must:
show you have enough money to support yourself and your dependents for six months;
undergo medical exams, which you can have done by CIC designated doctors locally and submit to CIC;
and pass security and criminal checks. (If you've been convicted of any criminal offense, a red flag the kind without the leaf and stripes goes up, and your application may be discarded.)
Depending on the application you submit, getting approved for a permanent resident visa probably will take about 24 months. The application fee for both citizenship and permanent residency is $200 per adult and $100 per child.
Once you're approved as a citizen or permanent resident, your significant other may file an application and reside in Canada with you immediately.
Study Canada's Citizenship Act. Both permanent residents and citizens may be thrown out if they violate it.
If you're hoping to become a citizen, pick up a basic understanding of the history and attributes of Canada, both geographically and politically. It'll help on the citizenship test.
If you meet the requirements, go for it and apply. Help kindle this fine country's growth and culture, as well as your own.
Volunteer to stay involved in local politics
You've just spent the past few weeks or months giving your time to the 2008 general election, volunteering to help your favorite candidate or cause. And now, despite the months of attack ads and policy discussions, you're strangely energized an uncaged political animal.
Well, consider jumping into local politics. Who knows where it might lead?
El Paso County
County commissioners meet most Monday and Thursday mornings (visit elpasoco.com for agendas and other information). Five commissioners, representing five districts, are elected to four-year terms. Districts 1 (northern county) and 5 (central and northern Colorado Springs) will be open in the 2010 election.
The county also has dozens of volunteer boards dealing with everything from highway paving to justice issues. Visit bcc.elpasoco.com/volunteer_boards for information.
City of Colorado Springs
One of the best ways to get involved in city government has been the Citizens' Academy, an eight-week course that gives citizens a better understanding of government and prepares them to serve on boards and commissions. Unfortunately, because of budget cuts, your next chance to attend won't come until 2010.
Still, you can apply to serve on boards and commissions at springsgov.com/ccbindex.asp, or call 385-5453 for more information. They range from the Trails, Open Space & Parks Working Committee to the Liquor and Beer Licensing Board.
Certain city departments are often looking for volunteers Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services, police and fire are good examples. Check springsgov.com for more information, and sign up for the Personalized CityWire to have pertinent city information e-mailed to you.
Local party offices
If you're more interested in toiling for a certain political party, helping to keep the enthusiasm and money flowing, contact the county Democratic Party (peakdems.org) or Republican Party (gopelpaso.com).
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