canada-us

As the American Homorazzi cast member who has been wiating for the last 2 years for my Canadian Residency application to be processed, I am pleased to announce that I’ve finally been approved. I still have a few hoops to jump through, but at least now I know that the application has been approved and I’m well on my way. Hooray!

I’ve been living in Canada for 5 years now and throughout that time I’ve had a lot of my US friends ask about the relocation process, blah blah blah. Because I was transferred by the company I work for, the whole process was tons easier for me than if I’d just randomly decided one day to move to Canada and find work, so my advice in the past about relocation has been fairly superficial. That said, now that my application for residency has finally been approved- I have a few little tips about how to ensure you complete the Permanent Residency application process successfully.

  • Drink Water.
    • I realize that sounds like it wouldn’t have much to do with the price of tea in China (I have no idea where that saying came from, but my parents used to say it all the time when I was a kid), but hear me out. When you FINALLY get the notification that your application has been preliminarily approved and it’s time for you to go have your medical exam… don’t do what I did and forget to drink enough water so you show up to your testing dehydrated. Peeing in a cup while you’re dehydrated can make proteins appear in your pee, which shows up on the test, which means you have to go and take it over again- which results in another lost week on your application time. Don’t overdo it though either because you can’t have gone pee within 30 minutes of the test either (why does even peeing have to be complicated with this?)
  • Bring Entertainment.
    • If you do what I did and choose to deliver your passport to the Canadian Embassy in person after your application is approved (they have to put a visa in it which you then “execute” at the border to complete the “landing” process), make sure you bring a book. Don’t bother with your iPod, bring a book. They don’t allow electrical devices of any kind and your cell phone has to remain off at all times while anywhere near the Embassy. If you turn it on, the crotchety old security guard will come after you- literally.
    • Even to do something as simple as turn in your passport, you’re going to be there for a while. I was there for three hours and didn’t think to bring a book or any other form of entertainment, so I was stuck watching this Asian guy sitting across from me pick his nose. No, I’m not kidding. He was probably upper 20′s and sat there repeatedly picking- no, deep-sea fishing his nose and then investigating his catch. He’d look at it, roll it around in his fingers, look at it some more, then SMELL it before finally deciding to discard it by wiping it underneath the chair he was sitting on. I’m not making any of this up either… it was so heinous I just couldn’t look away.
  • Sweat the Details.
    • You know that old saying “Don’t sweat the details”? Well it absolutely does NOT apply to the Immigration process. For instance, you need to make sure that your passport has at least one completely blank page dedicated for visa use. If you don’t and you show up with your passport to have them put in the immigration visa, you’ll likely be turned away with instructions to have new pages inserted. I know this because I narrowly escaped such a fate due to the fact that some other immigration officers had started to use my “amendments” page for entry stamps- which thankfully made the Embassy feel like they could use the last open page (also used for amendments) to put the visa in… but it was a close, close call.
    • Another detail to keep in mind is that you shouldn’t plan any travel for 4-6 weeks after you execute the immigration visa (i.e., “land” in Canada). Once you land, you then transform from an “American living in Canada” to a “Permanent Resident of Canada” (I’m not sure what this transformation looks like, but I’m hoping it involves the sudden appearance of 6-pack abs. I’ll let you know how that goes). As a permanent resident, you then are issued a Permanent Resident Card, which you are suppose to carry with you at all times- especially when you travel. Because the card takes 4-6 weeks to arrive, you shouldn’t plan on any cross-border travel by any commercial means until it’s been received. That said, you can still drive yourself over the border without it.
  • Start Early!
    • Lastly, it took me 2 years from submitting my application to now being almost finished with the entire process. I don’t care what anyone tells you… if you think you want to be in Canada for longer than 5 years- apply for residency as soon as you can. It was cutting it really close for me as my 5-year time-limit is 12/31/09 (and you can only be in Canada on a work permit for up to 5 years).

So there are my little nuggets of Immigration wisdom. Drink water, bring entertainment, sweat the details and start early: your quick guide to Canadian Immigration.