This is the blog post that I’ve been waiting 14 months to write. I can finally let you all know that we are officially now Permanent Residents of Canada! The video below is a little something that my creatively talented other half put together to celebrate the occasion. The first part is the sentimental 60-second history of our two years in Canada, and the second part is what actually happened on the day. Enjoy…
The letter arrived in the mail last Friday, about two weeks after our online application status changed from ‘Application Received’ to ‘Decision Made’. They wouldn’t tell me what the decision was, just that it would be sent to me in writing. I was terrified to open the brown envelope with the big Citizenship & Immigration Canada stamp on it, but after double checking that no fees had been refunded onto my credit card I summoned up the courage. It was good news! We were so excited to have the official paperwork in our hands, and made plans to head to the border the next day to make it all official.
The process for ‘activating’ Permanent Residency is very similar to that of ‘activating’ a new working holiday visa, in that you can only do it coming into Canada from outside the country. Luckily we were practised at the phenomenon known as flagpoling from our 2012 working holiday visa experience. It was still more than a little disconcerting to be handed the whole ‘Refusal from the Unites States’ form, but there was very little waiting involved and we were back in the line for Canada within 30 minutes.
We weren’t so lucky on this side, and spent 45 minutes crawling slowly up to the attendant before being directed to the Canadian Immigration Office. We were seen very quickly, and asked to sit and wait while the Officer went through our paperwork. We were called up to the counter individually to confirm that we haven’t committed any crimes in Canada and that we don’t have any other dependents, and then the moment of glory arrived! Our friendly and welcoming Officer (really he was, it was nice guy day at the border on both sides, what a relief!) welcomed us to Canada and handed us our passports, an information sheet about Permanent Residency and two miniature paper Canadian flags. Yes, flags! I immediately started waving them around in excitement and we went outside to take the obligatory celebration photos and video footage.
Our Permanent Resident cards will arrive in the mail in 6-8 weeks, though in the meantime we have a ‘Confirmation of Permanent Residence’ stapled into our passport. This is our proof of Permanent Resident status should we want to do resident-type things like apply for a permanent SIN number or enroll in an educational program. Being a Permanent Resident means that we still can’t vote and we’re not eligible for a Canadian passport, but we’ll be apply for both of these things when we become eligible for Citizenship in three years. Until then, we’ll be mostly found basking in the glory of no more paperwork, visa applications or permit fees. It’s a pretty fun place to be.
- 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
Nearly four months have passed since the trauma of undergoing my immigration medical for my Permanent Residency application, and it seems that the end is now in sight! At the end of February I received an email from my new best friend, Citizenship & Immigration Canada (CiC), letting me know that ‘The processing of my application for permanent residence in Canada is almost complete.’ YEY!
After reading the email all the way through, I was so excited to see that only five relatively small tasks were standing between me and my illustrious Permanent Resident card:
- Family Composition – “Has your family composition changed since our last correspondence?” i.e. Am I still in a common-law relationship with the person listed in my application? This was an easy one to evaluate (yes I am!), and as this means that no action is required, 1.5 seconds later I was ready to move onto the next step.
- Right of Permanent Residence Fee – “Every principal applicant and his/her accompanying spouse/common law partner are required to pay a Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF) in the amount of 490 Canadian dollars. The RPRF is a separate fee that must be paid in addition to the processing fees that you have already paid.” Yes, this means paying ANOTHER $980 total (for two of us), though as this is the final fee it’s one I’m more than willing to pay! The payment was easy to make by credit card through the CiC website, and I emailed the proof of payment to them immediately.
- Passport Scan – “You are exempted from obtaining a visa to visit Canada under Regulation 190 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act; therefore you do not need to submit original passports to finalize your application.” Good news! Instead, we just had to print off a scanned copy of each of our passport photo pages, which we have a stock of after so many visa applications.
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.