Saturday, May 31, 2008

Still Waiting...

Just a short post to mention that we are still waiting for the Positive Labor Market Opinion to be issued. As soon as we have it in hand, we will by flying to Toronto to rent an apartment. Thanks to all for your input regarding suitable neighborhoods.

***6/2 Update*** HRSDC has informed Eric's Toronto employer (ETO) that the LMO will be completed by this coming Friday. Good news, I suppose! ETO also agreed to a later start date because of the additional processing time.

Oh, and going into its third growing season is my cute little backyard garden. Aside from a newly planted pine tree and un-killable bush (no jokes please) it was a virtual dead zone when we moved in. Much of the soil was as hard as concrete. Now significantly more verdant, I find worms and salamanders regularly and it is actually starting to look like something. Life supports more life. I am going to miss it. Click on the pic. :-)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Where in Toronto should we live?

These are the areas of Toronto (in no particular order) that have been suggested by you, the people. I believe we are still aiming for a June trip to Toronto to apartment hunt. We love to explore, so I am sure we will be roaming as much of the city as time will allow. Even so, these areas will be a great place to start. The poll is still open. If there are any more suggestions, click on "comments" and let me know.
  • Yonge and St. Clair
  • Yonge and Eglinton
  • Cabbagetown
  • East York (Old East York Village)
  • Leslieville
  • Kensington Mrkt.
  • Riverdale
  • Danforth (Greektown)
  • Parkdale
  • Liberty Village

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Choosing a Toronto Neighborhood

Eric and I have a dilemma. We are not familiar enough with Toronto neighborhoods. We're hoping that we will be traveling to Toronto sometime in the beginning of June to rent an apartment and we have no idea where to focus. Yeah, we know the "gay" area is Church and Wellesley but other than that, where would a gay male couple want to live? I don't necessarily need to be in a gay ghetto/neighborhood.

We currently rent a two bed single family with a backyard and a garage but we've also really enjoyed living in a flat. I'd like to be near a subway station and have what I consider walk-ability. It would be nice not to have to drive every time I leave the house. Having some shopping, grocery, farmer's market, pub, COFFEE SHOP, etc. close by would be ideal. So would a park. Anyway...

What do you all think? What areas do you consider great to live in? And why? And what areas should we avoid? Any help is appreciated.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Enlightened Perspectives

The recent California Supreme Court decision overturning the ban on same-sex marriage got me thinking about two wonderful commentaries I read in The San Francisco Chronicle, Louis Freedberg's "Personal Perspective: My Gay Neighbors," and "Everyday Life Best Argument for Gay Marriage," by C.W. Nevius.

Now, I hate the Chronicle. My opinion is that it is a tabloid masquerading as a newspaper. I don't think the writing is stellar. I don't think the editing is exceptional. I think it strongly follows the trend to pander to it's readers including a dumbing down of all that is reported. I feel that the focus is too far toward making the news entertaining than actually hard reporting of the facts and well thought out analysis. Also, the excessive amount of reporting that is based on some person or company's public relations statement or product releases, 99% of which are not news but simple advertising, overwhelms me. Almost a complete rag. All my opinion. However... a city as uber-liberal as San Francisco - surrounded by pockets of conservatism, the opinion and editorial pages shine. Perhaps the only reasons I can't stop myself completely from reading San Francisco's major newspaper. Which brings me back to the two columns I mentioned above, the first of which is almost four years old but still a completely relevant and important read for someone who has no experience around committed gay couples. If you haven't already, click the links above and read the commentaries. And here is my invitation to sample the writings of C.W. Nevius, Louis Freedberg, Jennifer J. Saunders, and Mark Morford.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

California Supreme Court Overturns Gay Marriage Ban

A very good day indeed. The Californian Supreme Court has overturned the gay marriage ban. How exciting. The fight is not over. Over one million signatures are being verified for an initiative to amend the California Constitution making marriage only between a man and a woman - for a November ballot. More to come for sure. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Labor Market Opinion Needed

Eric's Toronto employer has determined that a Labor Market Opinion will be required. It is our understanding that the determination will take approximately twenty days. More info here, and here. Employer LMO info here.

***Update: Originally we believed that Eric would not need a LMO (see above) because his position is listed as one that is exempt. Sounds great right? Wrong, unfortunately. Canada highly skews their immigration policies toward those that have educational degrees. Now, while Eric's work experience and skills make him uber qualified, highly employable, and, thus, highly valuable, he does not have a degree past high school - alas. Because of this he is caught waiting for a positive labour (I am starting to spell like a Canadian, LOL) market opinion from HRSDC. The Canadian employer must apply for the LMO, which happened, I believe, this last Monday. Again, we are told this will take twenty days.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

First Steps

The devil is in the details, so they say. The job offer needed to include a starting and ending date. these are going to be added. Other than that, all was good and now we have to apply for the work permit, hire movers, fly to Toronto to rent an apartment/open a bank account etc. and attend to all those requirements to cross the border. Do we need a medical exam-not so sure. I read something that said the requirement is based on how long one's work permit is. Eric read something else saying that US citizens don't need one for a temporary work permit. I am going to try and find out by phone on Monday through the Canadian Visa office in Los Angeles. So many aspects to cover.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Ask for what you want....

...and The Universe will provide.

Our actual immigration becomes less aspiration and more reality. Eric has the initial Toronto job offer in hand. I have to laugh as it all feels like a Twilight Zone episode. Is this really happening? Stay tuned...

Happy Birthday, Eric!

Today is Eric's 35th birthday. It was a regular work day for him. We attended French (language) class together after the work day and took our final. After class we went home to find a birthday goody bag from his sister, Rose on the table in the foyer...and my celebratory pile of gifts for him waiting in the living room. We're having a nice evening, despite having to take a test (blech!).

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Immigration Resources/Links/Web Sites

A seemingly endless list of informative web site links. I frequently add to this list.

U.S. DEPT OF STATE: Travel/Expatriate Registration

CANADIAN HEALTH CARE: Articles Regarding Canadian Universal Health Care

Immigration Resources/Canadian Reads:

Immigration and Travel Books

A similar list to those you may have seen before.

**A note regarding dates and publications**  
Immigration regulations change regularly and, whether on-line or in books, one should always choose the most recently published information.
  • The Canadian Way: An Immigrant's Guide to Settling in Canada - Jo Davenport
  • How to Move to Canada: A Primer for Americans - Terese Loeb Kreuzer/Carol Bennett
  • Living and Working in Canada - Graeme Chesters
  • Canadian History for Dummies - Will Furguson
  • Lonely Planet: Toronto City Guide
  • Lonely Planet: Vancouver City Guide
  • Fire and Ice: The United States, Canada and the Myth of Converging Values - Michael Adams
  • So You Want to be Canadian - Kerry Colburn/Rob Sorensen

The Meeting/Our Strategy

As I mentioned below, Eric met yesterday with a potential Canadian employer. Apparently the meeting went extremely well and Eric is expecting an job offer in the next couple of days. Though final details weren't yet agreed on, the discussion more than implied that our "sticking points" for acceptance will be exceeded. Wow. Now we wait. The meeting occurred here in San Francisco. The employer is flying back to Toronto we'll see what happens in the next few days.

We decided to procure a Canadian job before applying for Permanent Residence. We have debt. If one already has a job then there is no unencumbered funds requirement. We figured that could be a much faster way to go. Otherwise, it would be a year or more before the debt was paid off and at least the minimum amount of unencumbered funds could be saved so we could apply under the skilled worker program. Eric's unique work skill set is such that would attract an employer willing to involve themselves in the process to hire a non-Canadian.

That being said, his potential employer will be applying for a Labor Market Opinion which basically states that there was exhaustive attempts to employ a qualified Canadian (but to no avail) and to authorize the hiring of someone outside the Canadian labor pool. Once authorized, Eric would receive a Temporary Work Permit to be employed in Canada. For health care eligibility and other reasons his Temporary Work Permit has to be for at least six months. For me to accompany him and also be eligible for health care, etc. it has to be for at least three years. A time extension can be applied for in the future if need be. During that three plus years we would apply for Permanent Resident status. A grand scheme as all the while we will be living in Canada. That is the plan. A three year situation gives us time to evaluate our lives in Canada while actually living there. Sthuper!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

First Contact

Eric and I have been contemplating his meeting with the Toronto employer scheduled this Monday.

Probably of more significance is that we are "out of the closet" with our families regarding not only our desire to move to Canada but the active nature of it. I think this is a bigger deal because my brother, sister-in-law and nephew also live in the bay area. We'd be leaving them. My parents both live on the East Coast - Long Island, New York and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Their location might not seem a significant factor except that they are both over seventy years of age and, I think rightly, having both their sons in the same area is comforting to them. We all wonder if they'd ever relocate to the S.F. Bay Area. The cost of living is prohibitive for them both. I am, however, a strong believer in human nature and circumstance and figure that it's just a matter of time before necessity of their age makes it an inevitability. Does my moving out of the area make the situation more difficult? Hard to say.

I recently had a chat with friends of ours who had a job offer in London, England. One of the reasons they mentioned for not accepting it was their older parents who live in the Los Angeles area. I could sympathize with this immediately. One would like to think that they will be able to take care of their parents properly in their old age but it's really difficult to know exactly what that will involve. Or where.

In any case, my brother seems understanding. His wife and he recently had to make a similar decision regarding whether to relocate. Their situation allowed them the option of staying - which they chose to do. My brother's concerns for Eric and I were mostly of a professional nature.

Eric's brother and sister have also been informed of our intentions and I am told they took the news well. They are significantly younger than the two of us and I believe I am warranted in wondering if they have completely contemplated the significance of our moving out of the area.

The meeting between Eric and the Toronto employer is this Monday...