Monday, July 14, 2008

Canadian Permanent Resident Application

As mentioned before, no two immigration stories are identical though we all follow incredibly similar routes. This truth probably arises because immigration rules change frequently. What was "true" for me and mine might not transpire or be pertinent for you and yours. Good timely research is key.

I read several times while researching that I could expect a reduced application time for Permanent Residence if I had already procured Canadian employment. I have also been told, and I might add, did not read, that the above process is made more difficult and lengthy if one is already living and working in Canada. Quite contradictory, eh?

My partner Eric and I will be moving to Canada - living and working there for the next two plus years on Temporary Work Permits. It's very exciting to know Toronto will be home on August 1st. And we will also be applying for Permanent Resident status. Indeed, we have already begun collecting the necessary information and documentation.

I do not know of, nor have I read about, an immigrant like Eric and myself, who applied for PR while living and working in Canada on a Temporary Work Permit. All our contacts obtained their permanent residence status first. Will having prior Canadian employment shorten our application time? Does living and working in Canada on a work permit make the PR process more difficult or lengthy? I'd really like to know. Aside from contacting the CIC and asking them directly, which I intend to do, I believe it is time to reach out and ask anyone who might be reading this blog to share their experience. Please shout back and tell us your story.

We will apply for PR status no matter what the answers. But it would be nice to plan ahead.

The truth is out there.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

More Details

I felt like the trip was a huge success. All our goals were accomplished and I am reasonably certain we made good decisions. We left Toronto, Ontario, Canada in great spirits knowing that we could look forward enthusiastically to our "permanent" return.

A few notes though, for those of you who might be considering immigrating to Canada on a work permit. Do your research. Working and living in Canada can happen much faster by means of a work permit than by the permanent residence process. There are several professions that do not need a positive Labor Market Opinion beforehand to acquire the work permit. If you are in these fields and meet the requirements and also have U.S. citizenship it is merely a drive across the border with the correct documents and a meeting with a Canadian Immigration officer to be issued one. You won't need to have the FBI check or the medical exam in most cases. In the short term this will save you time and money. Please keep in mind that:
  • the principle applicant's work permit must be issued for six (6) months or longer for the spouse and children to also receive one. All can apply on the same application.
  • Canada has a much more relaxed definition for spouse than the U.S. Canada recognizes common law and conjugal partnerships for both hetero and homosexual couples as well as same-sex marriage/domestic partnership/civil unions etc. Documentation or other proof is required.
  • for the principle applicant to be eligible for provincial health insurance their work permit must be issued for a period of at least six (6) months.
  • the Canadian employer must intend to employ the principle applicant for at least three (3) years for the spouse and children to also be eligible for provincial health insurance (OHIP). A written statement by the employer is the easiest way to do this. In Eric's case, the LMO and Work Permit were both issued for two years but the three year intent to be employed is stated in both the signed job offer and contract.
  • Employment can be terminated. The principle applicant must remain employed by the specific employer associated with the work permit to remain living in Canada.
  • Work Permits are issued for a specific period of time and can be renewed before expiration.
From start to finish the process has been an incredibly quick six or so months. Almost too quick. Though immigrating through the Permanent Residence process might seem to take forever, that time may be very well spent getting ones affairs and minds in order. Our experience with the Temporary Work Permit process was so quick that occasionally I felt there wasn't enough time to properly plan. Keep in mind, "Luck favors the prepared" (gobblegobblegobblegobblegobblegobble). Though we did plenty of research, we were caught off guard several times and, luckily, the Universe provided us with an equal number of "safety nets". And remember also that work permits are temporary. We now have to apply for PR status or renew the permits before their expiration in two years. The upside, of course, is we'll be living and working in Canada while we do so.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Our Week in Toronto

We've come to Toronto for a week to set up our lives here north of the border. It's been a very successful trip. As they say, "hindsight is 20/20", and how we'll feel at a later date about the decisions we made this week will have to wait for a future posting. Today, however, we are psyched.

Our new place is in an area called Yonge and Eglinton. Technically "downtown" but not in the "core", it is a ten minute drive without traffic straight down Oriole Pkwy and Avenue Rd. from our front door to the "Gay Village" of Church and Wellesley. How important that drive or destination will be in the future remains to be seen. But, for now, "the village" seems important and it is good to know that we aren't a) too far away from "our people", and b) living in or too close to the gay ghetto (LOL). The flat is also a short block or so from Eglinton Ave. another ten to twelve minute drive to Eric's office on the same street. The Yonge and Eglinton subway is a slow ten minute walk from the house which, again, goes straight away past Bloor St. and Wellesley through to the downtown core. Very convenient. There is also a larger park right up the street as well as a smaller mall, movie theater, a branch of our bank and shopping strip within walking distance east on Yonge St. I have read there is also a more upscale variety of shops etc. west on Eglinton to discover. We'll see.

Our new place is on Oriole Parkway. It is a main floor flat in a two unit building. It offers hardwood floors in all of the rooms and carpeting in the hallway. There are two bedrooms and an office and one and a half baths. There is a formal dining room and living room separated by french doors. The master bedroom is big, has two closets and the half bath mentioned above. Extra storage is downstairs as well as shared laundry with the second floor unit, which is occupied by the landlord and his wife. There are numerous closets throughout. Another nice detail is some stained glass in the living room. Our unit also includes garage parking for two vehicles. And while there is a small yard between the house and garage, it is not completely fenced, which is unfortunate for our cat, Caesar, who is currently used to being able to go outside.

Our trip also included a journey back to the border to acquire our work permits which are issued by Canadian Immigration. A "non event" as someone else had written in their blog. I agree completely. We drove down to the immigration station at the Lewiston/Queenston Bridge with all the necessary documentation "required" and mentioned on both the Canadian Immigration website as well as the checklist provided for Temporary Work Permits. We even had the required "passport" pictures. Much of this was simply ignored or waved away when offered. Of the several documents they did take note of were the Labor Market Opinion issued by HRSDC and our Domestic Partner Certificate issued by the state of California. Our passports now officially stamped and stapled - we are both officially allowed to be employed here in Canada. Yippee!

We both had very good first impressions of our new city. It is very green. Walking the streets is a truly "United Nations" experience. It seems no specific group or type of people is dominant. They are all represented. The sidewalks and roads are clean. Very clean. The people are very polite and helpful. And friendly.

We had the pleasure of meeting up with Tom and Emilio from the blog, Canadian Hope. We all went to the Greektown section of Toronto and had lunch. Afterward they took us to an area of town called, "The Beaches" where we strolled the boardwalk and enjoyed a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon. Tom and Emilio were great company and Eric and I look forward to hanging with them again once our move is complete.

We had a productive and successful week in Toronto and return to San Francisco tomorrow. We are still working out specific pick up dates with the movers, but the lease on our flat in Toronto begins August first and we are looking forward to exploring and creating our new Canadian home.