Who wants to be a Permanent Resident?
Usually I’d avoid writing two posts in a row about visa applications, but this time I’ll make an exception as this is a Really. Big. Deal. This afternoon I mailed the 30+ sheets of paper that make up my application for Permanent Residency to the Citizenship & Immigration centre in Nova Scotia. Oh yes, the first step on my journey to becoming a fully fledged Canadian is now complete.
Oh, so you must really like Vancouver then?
Well yes, I do. Enough to want to apply to live here longer than the two more years my working holiday visas will allow me too. Applying for and receiving Permanent Residency doesn’t mean that I will stay here forever, but it does mean I have the option to. And I’m all about keeping my options open.
What about your other half?
I did come to Vancouver with my boyfriend, and I’m not about to send him on the first boat back home. We’ve been living together for two and a half years now, which means we are technically ‘common-law partners’ in the eyes of the law. Any couple who have been living at the same address for 12 months or longer is classed as common-law, meaning that they share a lot of the same legal rights as any couple who are married. Including the right to name one partner on the other’s Permanent Residency application.
So are you doing it through your work?
Yes, and no. There are a plethora of different ways to apply for Permanent Residency in Canada, and I’m applying through the Skilled Worker stream of the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). Each province has it’s own PNP with different rules, but in BC all you have to do to prove your eligibility to apply is have a written job offer for a job at a certain level of the National Occupational Classification skills index. Essentially, a ‘proper’ job. Hospitality and retail don’t count, but administrative, managerial and above do. My role in Volunteer Engagement is classed as ‘Human Resources Specialist’ and means I come in at skill level A. That’s a good thing.
The application is joint between the employer and employee, with the employer having to write a letter of recommendation and fill in a form outlining why the best Canadian who applied didn’t get the job. There’s no trickery to this, it’s as simple as saying that they weren’t the best candidate. My HR team have been fabulous in providing me with the necessary paperwork (business certificates, contracts, offer letter, job description) and I in turn had to provide information about my background and history. The application is officially submitted as a joint request by my employer and myself, but doesn’t mean that I am in any way tied to working for them for a particular length of time. When it comes through, my Permanent Resident status will allow me to live and work anywhere in Canada, and I’m free to go wherever I like whenever I like.
How long does all this take to process?
That’s a very good question. The first stage of the application is to send off my initial forms to the PNP office in Nova Scotia. They will check that my application is complete and forward it onto the PNP office in BC. The BC office will then assess my job offer and decide if they would like to ‘nominate’ me to the national office for Permanent Residency. If they say yes, I receive a Certificate of Nomination in the mail and send off an even larger application pack to Citizenship & Immigration Canada (which is actually in Buffalo, NY). In theory, this nomination from my province means that my application is fast tracked, but in reality the processing time could still be up to 15 months.
But then you’ll be a Canadian?
Unfortunately becoming a Permanent Resident isn’t the same as being a Canadian citizen. As a Permanent Resident I will be able to live and work anywhere in Canada, pay domestic fees to attend school and receive benefits like healthcare. I won’t be able to vote, hold a position of office at any level of government, or leave the country for more than three of every five years. Yes, you read that correctly, if a Permanent Resident was to leave the country to go back home (or anywhere else in the world) for more than two years in five they would lose their Residency and would no longer have any right to live or work in Canada. That kind of defeats the point, and is why many people choose to apply for Canadian citizenship after three years of Permanent Residency. It’s at this point that I give everlasting thanks to the UK and Canadian governments for allowing citizens of their country to take on dual citizenship. This means I can potentially be both British and Canadian, spend as much time as I like in either country, and use my two passports to choose the shortest line at the airport when travelling.
I want to be a Permanent Resident, can I apply too?
As I said earlier, there are a number of different options for applying for Permanent Residency, and although most of them do rely on you having some kind of job there are specific streams available for those who are in a semi-skilled industry, own their own business or have family ties to Canada. Many people choose to hire an immigration lawyer to help them through the complex web of red tape and find the most appropriate route for them, but I settled for the highly informative Citizenship & Immigration Canada website.
Applying for Permanent Residency is an exciting milestone in my Canadian adventure so far, and I’m looking forward to updating you on the trials and tribulations of the never ending pile of paperwork that will no doubt plague my life for the next 15-18 months. I never was any good at waiting, so I’m going to need all the help, support and distractions I can pick up along the way…please?
- Applied to Province for PNP Nomination – February 2012
- Received certificate of nomination from Province – April 2012
- Sent certificate of nomination and other PR papers to CIC – July 2012
- Had forms returned for missing a signature – August 2012
- Re-sent PR papers to CIC – September 2012
- Received request for a medical examination – November 2012
- Received request for passport photos and final information – February 2013
- Received official confirmation of Permanent Residence – April 2013