It’s that time of year again – January 11th 2014 marked three years since I arrived in Canada. Wow. It’s been a big year and a lot of things have changed since my last Canada-versary. In a good way, I should add. I have all kinds of feelings about celebrating this latest milestone, so hear we go…
I’m a Permanent Resident
This time last year I was a temporary worker on a IEC working holiday visa, and now I’m a fully-fledged Permanent Resident. Yey! Although nothing in my day to day life has really changed (still have to spend hours in border line-ups, still can’t vote) I’m one step closer to the illusive passport, and it’s a big step. There’s something about knowing that if I chose to go back to studying I’d be classed as a Canadian student rather than International that makes me feel happy. This is definitely a good thing; changes recently proposed to Canadian citizenship guidelines mean that I may be waiting an extra two years before I can submit my application. Better get used to this Permanent Resident status as it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere any time soon.
I have a dog child
I didn’t quite realize just how much getting a puppy would change my life. And I’m not just talking about the endless poop bags and excursions limited to 4 hours. Dave is part of our family, and I find it so funny to think of him growing up in Vancouver, having no idea that we’re not from Canada. To him, we’re humans who give him meals and take him for walks, and we all live together in Canada. And that’s the way it will stay. Having a puppy wouldn’t stop us from moving back to the UK if we needed to, but it has made it all the more unlikely. Our short to medium term future is definitely on this side of the pond.
I have family here
Yes, my younger brother moved to Vancouver with his girlfriend in June of last year. It’s been really fun having them here, and I see them every couple of weeks to continue our everlasting hunt for cheap, good pubs. It also meant that we got to spend our first our first Christmas away from home with each other. Our parents come to visit in TWO WEEKS (excited, much?) and I can’t wait to have all four of us in one place.
I like my job
Or should I say, jobs. Now that I’m a contractor my employment situation has technically never been more unstable. Despite this, the hours are still coming and I’ve had the opportunity to work on some amazing projects with some amazing people. Vancouver is all about who you know, so the more I achieve here the more I wonder what I’d do if I went back home.
I cheer for Canada in the Olympics
Not over Team GB, of course. But being the Winter Olympics (or as they call them in Canada, the Olympics) there are many more maple leafs than there are Union Jacks on TV. I happened to see Justine and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe receive their Gold and Silver medals in the women’s moguls while I was in the gym, and almost wept into the cross-trainer. I was a very proud Canadian in that moment, and the lump in my throat was very real. Then I started thinking about how I had a lump in my throat and my connection to Team Canada, and that made the lump get a little bigger. If only Citizenship & Immigration Canada had been watching me…they would have presented me with a passport on the spot.
I don’t feel the need to go home as much
I still miss my family and friends, but I miss the UK less and less. I haven’t been back in 14 months, and don’t really feel the pull to the Tesco cheese aisle the way I used to. Three years is longer than I spent at University, so it’s more than long enough for me to have built some amazing friendships in Vancouver (the strongest ones with those I met on the plane over!). I miss so many of my friends in the UK, but time apart is a good test and my I appreciate my friendships with those who have kept in touch with even more. I do wish I could see my parents more often but I’m so glad I get to speak to them on Skype every week. Going over a year without seeing them has been tough, but it’s made me realize that I could survive another year before going home to see them. Which would be two years away from the UK. The problem with this is that I do really want to see my Grandparents. I know they’re not able to travel all this way to visit me, so I want to make sure I go back to spend some time with them. Because of them (and my beautiful dog, Freddie), I’m thinking about a 2014 visit after all, but it’s to see them rather than see the UK. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I wouldn’t stop in at Primark on the way back…
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