Gaining Permanent Residence in Canada
Advertisement: Its important to have a good immigration attorney when attempting to become a legal citizen of a particular country. For all of your other attorney needs when you move like a banking lawyer check us out.
I've decided to reorganise this page to make it more useful. The original Immigration Diary can be found here.
I often considered the idea of emigrating to Canada, and originally wanted to live in BC. I didn't start thinking seriously about it until January 1999, when I decided I wanted to be with my Canadian girlfriend in Montreal.
This page is the result of my immigration process, and hopefully provides useful information for any potential immigrants. It is broken down into the following sections.
- General immigration information
- Information specific to moving to Quebec
- My immigration and landing experiences
- Things to do before you leave for Canada
- What happens after landing?
- Information for immigrant IT consultants
DISCLAIMER: I am not a lawyer, or an immigration expert, the following information is purely from my own personal experience. Seek professional advice if your case is not straight forward.
General immigration info
Here are some useful sources of information for emigration to Canada:
- The Canadian High Commission in London - As a UK resident, this was my first point of call. They have the full self assessment information, including the Canadian Occupations List.
- Carolyn Poulter's excellent Immigration website, featuring her Immigration story, and lots of useful links.
- The Canada Immigration newsgroup - This is a useful resource for free help and information from experts, and people with experience of the process. Beware of commercial lawyers trying to sell you advice though!
- A Police certificate - call your local Police Authority, who will send a form to fill in to get a convictions report from them. This form has to be countersigned by someone 'of good standing', such as your doctor. After sending the form, you should get a report within 40 days (a legal requirement as part of the Data Protection Act)
- A completed Canada immigration application form
- If you're landing in Quebec, The Certificate of Selection (see below)
- Certified copy of your birth certificate
- Certified Passport photocopies
- More passport photos
- 1475 Canadian dollars (975 Right of Landing Fee + 500 application fee)
First my weight was measured, and I was given an eye test (with my glasses on). From there I was ushered into the radiography room for my chest x-ray, and then into the consultancy room for my interview with the doctor. He put me at ease and asked me all the questions on the form, as well as some small talk to check that I had all my faculties. He then proceeded to prod and poke me in various places while I did some heavy breathing. At the end of all that, he wrote 'Fit and healthy male' on the back of the medical form, which was great to see.
Finally I was asked to provide a urine sample, and a nurse took a blood sample. They told me the results would be sent off within 4 days.
My interview was waived, so I can't offer any advice on that area.
Information specific to moving to QuebecQuebec has it's own immigration process. If you are planning on landing in Quebec, you must have a Certificate of Selection, before you can apply for federal landed resident status. Quebec Immigration is well worth visiting. Unfortunately most of the site is in French, but my limited French, and the Altavista Babel Fish helped a lot. Here you can get the forms for the preliminary application questionnaire:
- The Payment
- The completely application form
- Certified copies of educational certificates, with French translations
- Work history with French translations
- Bank statements
- A Curriculum Vitae, in French
- Copies of the relevant pages of your Passport
- Marriage and children's birth certificates (if applicable)
- Certificate of cohabitation (if applicable)
- French resident permit (if applicable)
My experiencesMy immigration process went something like this:
- January 1999 - Started gathering information
- February 1999 - Sent preliminary Quebec questionnaire
- April 1999 - Received Quebec CSQ application form
- May 1999 - Sent application kit
- May 1999 - Received Quebec CSQ (only took 17 days!)
- June 1999 - Applied for and received police report
- July 1999 - Sent Federal application kit
- August 1999 - Received Medical forms and went for medical exam
- September 1999 - GOT IT!! Landed resident visa arrived 2nd September
- October 1999 - Landed. See below
- January 2000 - Arrived for good
My plane landed at Montreal Dorval airport in the middle of the evening. After the usual long walk, I arrived at passport control, and handed over my passport and all the forms. The lady there checked my passport and then sent me into the Immigration office. There was no queue, so I went straight up to the counter and was greeted by a friendly man. He separated the various parts of my visa, and stapled my copy into my passport. He then directed me to go left into the customs office, then left again into Quebec Immigration. As I left the counter he welcomed me to Canada.
I missed the customs office completely, and ended up in Quebec Immigration, where a man, after establishing that I didn't speak french, arranged a meeting with an immigration official for the next day. He also gave me a pack containing literature about living in Quebec, and welcomed me to the province.
I wandered back the way I had come, and eventually found the customs office. I was ushered into a small room containing one desk, and asked to take a seat. After entering some data into the computer, the customs official asked me what goods I had with me, and what I was having shipped. I gave him the lists I had prepared before leaving England, which he seemed happy with. He stamped them both, fed the value of my goods into the computer, and printed off a goods receipt, which I will need to bring with me when my goods arrive at customs. He also gave me some customs literature, and welcomed me to Canada.
All that took no more than 15 minutes, then I was out into the baggage reclaim area, slightly dazed, and apparently a Canadian permanent resident. After collecting my luggage, I went out to be greeted by Jen, who had a big bunch of flowers for me, with the three flags of Canada, Quebec and Montreal.
Things to do before you leave for CanadaThere are some important things to do in your home country before leaving for Canada, which are easily overlooked:
- Arrange with your bank to make the transfer of funds to Canada as easy as possible. They should be able to arrange it so that you can fax transfer requests.
- If you already have a mailing address in Canada, set up a redirection service, and send out some change of address notifications.
- Make a list of all the stuff you are taking to Canada, and all the stuff you are having shipped to Canada. Record the estimated value of all objects, and any relevant serial numbers. This is useful for you, for your shippers, and is necessary for the customs process.
- Look around for a good shipping agent, and get a few quotes, prices can vary widely.
- If you are shipping by sea, be prepared for it to take 6 weeks or more, as most agents ship by consignment, and wait for a container to be full before putting it on a ship.
- Have a moving sale! I nearly didn't bother, but my girlfriend persuaded me, and did lots of organising, and we made enough money to cover my shipping costs and more.
What happens after landing?First of all, some of the important things:
- If you don't have somewhere already, find a place to live! I was moving in with my girlfriend, so I don't have much advice on this aspect.
- In Quebec, you are invited to an orientation meeting, where you will be provided with various useful addresses and telephone numbers for finding work, accomodation, French courses etc.
- You should apply for your Social Insurance Number as soon as possible. The legalities of asking for the SIN seem to be a grey area, but banks will demand your SIN to open a bank account.
- You will also need a Medicare card to take advantage of the Canadian health care system. You will need to have a photograph taken for this, and your whoever provides your accomodation must declare a solemn oath that you are living where you say.
- Open a bank account. Apparently this can be problematic for landed immigrants, but I didn't have any trouble. You can also try getting a line of credit, to start a Canadian credit history, but you might have to provide a large security deposit.
- Get a driver's licence. If you have a UK driving licence, you can drive for up to 90 days. In some provinces (Quebec for example) you may be able to simply swap your current driving licence for a new Canadian one. In other provinces you will be required to take a test.
- Take some time to settle in and enjoy your new environment. Don't jump straight into work, unless you really can't afford not to.
- Explore whatever city you are in, get to know the public transportation system and start learning your way around. I didn't do this straight away, and I wish I had!
- Do some sight-seeing, and some of the touristy things. You will probably have family and friends visiting at some point, so it's good to know where to take them.
Information for immigrant IT consultantsI work as an independant IT consultant, and I know a lot of immigrants are in the computing field, so this is some advice on being a self-employed consultant in Canada.
- Incorporation - You don't have to be incorporated to be an IT consultant,
but it is highly recommended, and many agencies demand it. Incorporation
is the equivalent of forming a limited company in the UK. It is easy to
do, and you can get all the information, and the relevant forms from the
Canada Corporations website.
You will need to have a name search performed on your proposed company name. Finding an agency to do this is as easy as looking in the Yellow Pages under 'Name Search'. This will cost about $100, plus additional fees if additional searches are required.
Once you have the search certificate, and your filled out form, send it off together with your $500 application fee. You should receive your incorporation papers within a few days.
- Accountancy - Find yourself a good accountant, who will make life as simple for you as possible. If you keep your accounts in something like Quicken, it is easy to handle a lot of the paperwork yourself, substantially reducing your accountancy fees. Get a few quotes, and look for fees below $700 per year. Most accountants will offer a free initial consultation.
- GST/PST - If your corporation will be earning more than $30,000 per year,
you will need GST and PST numbers, and you will charge GST and PST on your
invoices. You can get the necessary forms at the local tax office, and
hand them over in person. You should be given the numbers there and then.
Use your accounting software to keep a record of incoming and outgoing GST and PST so that the periodic payment is easy to calculate.