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.

I’ll be a fully fledged Canadian one day, eh?

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.

The holy grail of all laminated cards…one day the blurry face will be me!

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?


Application Timeline


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About MarmitetoMaple

I'm originally from the UK and have been working and living the dream in Vancouver, BC, since January 2011. I am a firm believer in travel, good cheese, volunteering and community engagement.

27 responses to “Who wants to be a Permanent Resident?”

  1. marieoriordandesign says :

    Hey thanks for sending me this link on fb (on the BUNAC/IEC Work Canada page), great post! I will hopefully be doing the same process myself it’s great to read an informative piece about someone who is also going through it! Best of luck with it all!

  2. marieoriordandesign says :

    Also – (and apologies in advance for badgering you with qtns!). Are they very strict on the whole having 2 years experience in your field? I graduated in 2009 and only have 16months working in my field. Also I imagine the whole process takes some time- what happens if your current working holiday visa runs out while you are applying for your Permanent Residency Card? Thanks in advance! 🙂

    • marmitetomaple says :

      Hey Marie, thanks for the comment! I’m not sure of the rules in Ontario but in BC the PNP is designed to help employers bring in foreign workers from outside Canada, so you don’t need to have 2 years experience like you do with the usual Skilled Worker route. Most people actually apply from when they’re still in their home country and haven’t started their job yet, and that’s how the program is set up, but you can still apply if you’re already living here. The important thing is that you have a job offer that matches the appropriate scale on the NOC skills list and that your employer can vouch for why you got the job over the best Canadian who applied, beyond that your actual skills experience don’t matter so much.

      The question about the WHV running out is a good one…having a residency application in place doesn’t give you the right to work in the country so you need to find another way to stay. My current visa runs out in January 2012 so I’ve applied for a third IEC which would extend that for another year. Another option is to apply for a LMO/temporary work permit. I’ve had lots of advice from other people who say it’s easy to get a temporary work permit if you already have a residency application in place, but that’ll be the next bridge I cross!

      Good luck with your own application process 🙂

  3. Sarah says :

    Ok lady, I just got the link to your blog from the IEC/BUNAC group and it feels like a weight has been lifted. I’m currently on my second visa, and I’ve had my third accepted (One 2010 BUNAC and two new IEC’s). I’m practically a visa veteran, and I find people come to me to ask questions. I am a fountain of visa knowledge – but that’s where I come to a dead end.

    I am totally mystified about what my next move is. I don’t know if I want to stay here forever, but I know that my remaining 18 months does not seem enough. I did look into PNP last year before I knew about the IEC’s and I set up a meeting with an immigration lawyer. It was very expensive and not very helpful unfortunately. He took me through the chart and told me that my admin job did not meet the pay scale requirements. I did the mature thing and went home and cried, vowed to hate canada forever, and never look into that smelly PNP again. lol.

    THEN I read your post. And you explained it a lot better than him. You also made it sound a lot more accessible to me. I have had a pay rise since the meeting and have shuffled around a little in the company. My job title is ‘Receptionist/office assistant’ but it really plays down my responsibilities considering I do most of the companies administration and accounting.
    I’m going to take this chart to my employers and see if there’s anything we can do to meet the requirements. Also – If that doesn’t pan out well – I have 18 months remaining to find a nice job that does fit.

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    Now that I’ve found your blog, I will continue to follow your progress!

  4. marmitetomaple says :

    Hi Sarah,

    Thank you so much for your kind words, I’m so glad I explained things in a way that makes sense to you! Where abouts are you living? In BC at least there was no pay scale criteria, I had to put down how much I earn but the eligibility was based on the job title and duties, not the pay. Office Assistant is Skill Level B on the NOC Classification so in BC that would make you eligible here. Fingers crossed your employers are willing to tweak some things and support you on this one, it sounds like you’re so close!

    I have applied for my third visa (second IEC after one BUNAC) like you and am waiting to hear back, I’m so happy you got accepted as I hadn’t heard of anyone else being successful with a third visa yet. I hope I’ll hear something soon as I’ll have one less thing to worry about!

    Keep in touch, it sounds like we can help each other through this horrendous process!!! 🙂

    • Sarah says :


      I’m in Vancouver too – I guess my wage was not ‘competitive with equivalent jobs in the area’ which I noticed is one of the criteria. As I work in the creative industry they pay me peanuts. Boo!

      As for the third IEC, I’m the only person I know so far to get accepted. A lot of people are falling at the habitual residency ’18 month’ rule. Luckily, at my time of applying, I was 19 months in the UK (The visa release date was very lucky timing for me!) So I made it by the skin of my teeth! Good luck with yours!

      I’ll defo be keeping in touch x

      • marmitetomaple says :

        Ahhh I see, the equivalent wage part, that’s very frustrating!

        I was issued my visa for the BUNAC 2010-11 program in March 2010, but I didn’t enter Canada until January 2011 – I left it right until the last possible two weeks! The timing with the visas being released was lucky for me too as it meant that I could apply for a second visa (my first IEC) as soon as I arrived in January 2011 and I only just ‘activated it’ in January 2012. It’s kind of strange as it means that I’ve been applying a year in advance for visas (I don’t intend to use this third one until January 2013) but it also means I’ve only been out of the UK for 13 months so it worked out well in that sense.

        Thanks for the luck, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that it could take another 3 months for me to get my LOI, and I might get rejected for having a PR application in place by then (I know the IEC isn’t designed for that use) but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it!

        Lizzie 🙂

  5. DebRob says :

    Hello there! I read your blog in interest as I’m in a similar position. I wanted to find out more about the third IEC thing. I came to Vancouver May 2010 on BUNAC working holiday visa, then directly after got an IEC visa which will run out June 2012. I was lead to believe I am not eligible for a third IEC visa because i do not meet the 18 months habitual residence in the UK requirement (you have to be in the UK for 18 months out of the last three years). Did you find a way around this? The whole visa process is very confusing!


    • marmitetomaple says :

      Hi Deb,

      Thanks for your comment!

      I did the same as you by coming here on the BUNAC visa first, but as I just put in my previous comment to Sarah I hav ebeen very lucky with the timing. I was issued my visa for the BUNAC 2010-11 program in March 2010, but I didn’t enter Canada until January 2011 – I left it right until the last possible two weeks! The timing with the visas being released meant that I could apply for a second visa (my first IEC) as soon as I arrived in January 2011 and I only just ‘activated it’ in January 2012. It’s kind of strange as it means that I’ve been applying a year in advance for visas (I don’t intend to use this third one until January 2013) but it also means I’ve only been out of the UK for 13 months so it worked out well in that sense.

      Unfortunately I don’t think there is a way round the 18 month rule, I’ve seen that a few people have been rejected because of it this year. The visa process is fairly complex but I’ve found the Facebook group a really useful forum for questions, and feel free to ask me anything else – I’ll do my best!

      Lizzie 🙂

  6. Pam says :

    Great blog! I’m a Londoner living in Toronto on a WHP so it’s great to hear of someone with a similar experience. I’ll be look to apply for PR too but am somewhat terrified as Obtario’s PNP seems near impossible to apply to due to the small number of applications they allow each year. Think I’ll have to go down the work sponsorship route, and was a bit worried that I’d have to get a Labour Market Opinion and thought they might find it hard to prove why I was better than the canadians as my job is skilled but I’m not a genius, but from the sounds of your experience, it might not be too hard.

    Thanks for the info! Keep writing!


    • marmitetomaple says :

      Hi Pam, thanks for your comment! I’m glad you’re enjoying life in Toronto! I too was terrified of the LMO and proving I was better than a Canadian, but it really was as simple as my employer checking a box to say that they did interview Canadians, they just chose me! Best of luck with the application 🙂

  7. Gemma says :

    Hi Lizzie, I think I spent about 2 hours reading through your blog last night! Very helpful and entertaining so thank you for that.

    I am planning to apply through Bunac for my first year visa as soon as they become avaliable this year and i imagine i will receive it May 2013. Would you suggest not entering Canada until the last minute like you did? I want to plan ahead and be able to secure a 3rd year visa if I want to. Are the rules that you have to have lived in the UK for at least 18 months in the previous 3 years AT THE TIME OF APPLYING for your 3rd year visa?

    • marmitetomaple says :

      Hi Gemma,

      Thanks for the comments, and for the compliments on the blog! I’m glad you found it useful for planning your own trip 🙂

      The new rules are that UK citizens can get two IEC visas instead of just one, and yes that is as long as you have lived in the UK for 18 months in the previous years at the time of applying. The reason I was eligible for a third visa was that the rule changed from allowing one to allowing two visas in early 2011, and it wasn’t applied retrospectively. That meant that anyone who already had a visa (which I did) was still eligible to apply for two visas from that point forward. So unfortunately anyone applying now is only eligible for two visas. Saying that, waiting a little before entering is still beneficial so that you don’t end up in the awkward situation where your first visa has expired but your second one hasn’t come through yet. Coming in May/June should be absolutely fine though 🙂

      Where in Canada are you planning to move to?

  8. Gemma says :

    Ah I see, thank you for explaining. I am still torn between Vancouver and Toronto as i imagine most first timers are. However, swaying towards Vancouver – purely from the amount of travellers stories I have read online 🙂

    • marmitetomaple says :

      It’s quite the decision, I know! I can’t speak for Toronto as I haven’t been there yet, but the thing I love about Vancouver is that it offers a unique, laid back lifestyle that is different to what you’ll find in a larger city. The great thing about the IEC visa is that if you arrive and think you picked the wrong place, you can just hop on a plane to the other! 🙂

  9. g says :

    so by reading everyone’s posts i am assuming you are allowed more than one iec visa? after your first one has finished you can re-apply for another one? how long do you have to wait till you can re-apply for the next one? does it have to be through bunac again or you can apply for it separately?

  10. g says :

    thanks for the info. so the first time around you can use bunac then the second time round you can apply yourself without aid of bunac. i am all new to this so just getting my head around the best options.

  11. Simple Vancouver (@S1mpleVancouver) says :


    Apologies in advance if it was explained previously, but I can’t quite figure out when was your PNP application approved?
    I’ve received my approval letter in January-ish, and sent the papers to Sydney, NS about 3 weeks ago. Just curious when should I expect the request for medical.

    • marmitetomaple says :

      Hi there, thanks for the comment! It was explained in a previous post but I haven’t done a very good job of linking them all up so it’s not clear! I sent my papers to Sydney in September 2012 and received the request for medical results in November 2012. I then heard from CIC again asking for final details in March, and got the official letter in April. So it all moved very quickly once you get started!

      • SimpleVancouver says :

        Awesome, thanks! I get very excited when I read something interesting, and tend to have difficulties with large chunks of text. Fingers crossed, hope to jump on the same boat 🙂

  12. Laura says :

    Hi Lizzie,
    I love your blog I wish I had come across it sooner. What an excellent idea to blog about an issue that is so stressful. It makes the whole process seem not so lonesome!

    • marmitetomaple says :

      Thank you so much, that’s so nice of you to say! It is such a stressful thing to do and I’m really glad you find the blog useful, my goal is to help other people going through similar things! 🙂

  13. nosnowinwinter says :

    G’day, Great to read of your journey! My wife and I need to land in Canada before mid 2014 to get our PR status as business immigrants. We originally said at the beginning of our application (21 months ago) that Winnipeg would be where we would settle and grow our business, but we have now recently discovered that a city in Alberta would be much more suitable all-round. Do we still need to ‘land’ in Winnipeg and spend time there, or are we going to be able to go straight to Alberta via ‘landing’ in Vancouver first? Looking forward to any light you can shine on this matter. (Looking forward to the cold!)

    • MarmitetoMaple says :

      Hi there, thanks for reading and commenting! Unfortunately I don’t know much about the business route to PR. Permanent Residency does mean you have the right to live and work anywhere in Canada so I would be surprised if there were too many conditions, but location may be one of them. The initial landing shouldn’t be a problem, but the province you set up the business in might. I’d recommend contacting CIC! Best of luck 🙂

  14. Lauren says :

    Hi Lizzie, thanks for your post, it was very informative! I am just starting this process and am in a similar situation to what you were… However, for me it is my boyfriend that is applying for PNP and I will be his partner on his application (as unfortunately I’m unsure I will qualify for my own)… We are both UK nationals on our second IEC visas. I was wondering if having my name on his application would affect his chances of getting his PNP? and what kind of ‘common law’ documentation you were required to send in? I cant find consistent information anywhere its driving me nuts! Any info or personal experiences would me very much appreciated!

    • MarmitetoMaple says :

      Hey Lauren, thanks for the comment, it’s great that you’re starting this process too! From everything I’ve read and experienced, having a common-law partner on your application doesn’t impact your chances of getting a PNP at all. The applicant is judged on their job/job offer, and then if they have a common-law partner they automatically get PR too. We found they didn’t ask for much in terms of the common-law partner, just criminal record check/travel history etc. – more focused on security than on what your job is or anything else. For the documentation, we sent copies of tenancy agreements and some bills which has both our names on. There was one place in Vancouver where we didn’t have a proper contract and another where I didn’t have proof of address with both our names, but as long as you can show that it’s more than a year overall, you’re good! And it’s just proof that you’re living together, not that you’re in a relationship e.g. no photos, stories, letters or anything. I hope this helps 🙂

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