Some Americans look to Canada, NZ as Trump surges to victory

November 8, 2016 11:27 PM EST

Trump supporters celebrate as election returs come in at Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump's election night rally in Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid


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By Jeffrey Hodgson and Charlotte Greenfield

TORONTO/WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Canada's main immigration website remained down on Wednesday and New Zealand reported increased traffic to its website for residency visas from U.S. nationals as Donald Trump surged to victory in the U.S. presidential election.

Americans have often vowed to leave the country if their chosen candidate doesn't win the election, but this time around some are actually preparing to do so after Trump stunningly won the Nov. 8 election.

A spokeswoman for Canada's immigration department said the website crashed "as a result of a significant increase in the volume of traffic" as election results rolled in Tuesday night.

Bonnie Quinn, a New Jersey insurance underwriter planning to move to Canada with her husband said she felt "just downright embarrassed" by the election results.

"I'm not sure in what order we should do things - find jobs first or move," said Quinn, 35, whose Irish grandparents once immigrated to Canada.

In New Zealand, immigration officials said the New Zealand Now website, which deals with residency and student visas, had received 1,593 registrations from United States citizens since Nov. 1 – more than 50 percent of a typical month's registrations in just seven days.

Rod Drury, the chief executive of NZ-based global accounting software firm Xero, said the statistics matched up with interest his company has been seeing from prospective U.S. national employees concerned about a Trump win.

Drury said what started as a joke was becoming a reality.

"I've got lots of messages coming through at the moment asking for a job in New Zealand, and we're saying 'Yes you can'," Drury told Reuters by telephone on Wednesday.

In the hours after Trump's victory, Americans were searching for jobs in Canada at 10 times the rate of previous nights, said Jed Kolko, chief economist for job website Indeed.

"It's far too soon to guess how many of these searchers will make a move after the shock wears off. But the jump in searches shows how many Americans were surprised by Trump's victory and are thinking about their options elsewhere," Kolko said in an emailed statement.

In Atlanta, business coach Nancy Chorpenning, 62, said she and her husband are looking to move to Costa Rica sooner than their planned retirement because of the Trump victory.

"I am simply terrified the new administration and Congress may destroy the Social Security we count on when my husband retires," said Chorpenning, who is traveling to Costa Rica next week to scout for condos.

After some Americans, often jokingly, said they would move to Canada if Trump was elected, the idea was taken up by some Canadian communities.

In February, the island of Cape Breton on Canada's Atlantic coast marketed itself as a tranquil refuge for Americans seeking to escape should Trump capture the White House.

On Maple Match, a recently-launched dating website aimed to match Americans fleeing Trump with Canadians, users have more than doubled to about 14,000 overnight, according to chief executive Joe Goldman.

While the pledge to "move to Canada" has been made in elections past, it has rarely played out, although thousands of Americans who opposed the Vietnam War moved to Canada.

Migration data from after Republican George W. Bush's 2000 election and 2004 re-election - other moments when liberal Americans pledged to move to Canada in protest - suggest few followed through on their promises.

While immigration to Canada increased during the years of Bush's elections, the rise was not more than increases in other years, data from the Montreal-based Association for Canadian Studies show.

(Additional reporting by Andrea Hopkins in Ottawa, Catherine Ngai in Vancouver, writing by Jane Wardell in WELLINGTON; Editing by Martin Howell and Alan Crosby)



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