Welcome and thank you for choosing Canada

That is the beginning of one of the letters accompanying my brand new Canadian Permanent Resident Card.

However, reaching the point where Canada thanks you for your interest in moving over there has been a long and convoluted process that started about two years and three months ago. This is the full story.

Points

Getting a Canadian Permanent residency is, on paper, simple. Candidates submit an application, the application is assessed and if the candidate’s application has enough points, the candidate receives an invitation to apply for Permanent Residency. When the invitation is received, candidates will need to submit all the paperwork required (which varies depending on the scheme). CIC reviews the required paperwork, and if everything is okay, they issue a Confirmation of Permanent Residency. That COPR is what grants entry to Canada.

At the end of October, 2016, I landed in Vancouver with all the paperwork necessary to be granted a temporary work permit on arrival. That paperwork was, in a nutshell, a job offer backed by a LMIA.

A LMIA (Labour Market Impact Assessment) is a document that shows that a Canadian employer has tried their best to hire a Canadian citizen / Permanent Resident, but because couldn’t find any suitable candidate, and therefore, they need to recruit a foreigner.

So, I landed in Vancouver, with my LMIA and my job offer, and as expected, I was issued with a Temporary Work Permit for two years. The work permit only allowed me to work at my current employer (the one that applied for the LMIA), and could be extended every two years.

The good thing about a LMIA was that, at the time of my landing, it granted enough points to be issued an invitation to apply for PR. Have in mind, that due to my age and the fact that I don’t have a college degree, I needed those points to be invited to apply for PR.

Everything changed two weeks after my arrival. Suddenly, the regulations changed, and the LMIA stopped being worth to 650 points, to just be worth 50, not enough to grant me an invitation to apply for PR.

Plan B

Suddenly, instead of being able to apply for PR in a matter of one or two months, I found myself without any prospects of getting a PR.

After consulting with a couple of immigration lawyers, and having a couple of chats with my management, we came up with an alternative plan.

The Government of British Columbia provides a Provincial Nomination program. Basically, the program is a way to facilitate recruitment of foreign workers in high-demand jobs (aka tech). The way it facilitates that is by having attached an invitation to apply for PR.

However, in order to apply for a Provincial Nomination, the temporary foreign worker (moi) needs to work in BC for at least a year.

So, the plan B was: remain employed for a year, apply for a Provincial Nomination, register into Express Entry via the Canadian Experience Class, and get invited to apply for PR.

The Provincial Nomination

The Provincial Nomination requires some paperwork from the employer (basically, they have to explain why the contribution of the foreign worker is important to the economy of the province) and requires some other paperwork (basically, proving two years of work experience in a similar position).

The processing time of a Provincial Nomination is about 2-3 months. However, it is safe to expect that, for jobs in tech, that tine would be much shorter.

And indeed it was short. My Provincial Nomination was approved in 10 hours!

Canadian Experience Class

With the Provincial Nomination granted, it was time to move on to the next step: registering for Express Entry.

In my case, the lawyers suggested registering for the Canadian Experience Class program, partly because that simplified the paperwork necessary to be granted the PR.

We had to provide the following:

  • certificates proving work experience in similar positions.
  • certificates proving at least one year of work experience in Canada
  • certificates proving the required language level (IELTS)
  • police certificates from every country where the candidate has lived for more than 6 months.
  • certificate of Provincial Nomination

Invitation to apply

Once the invitation to apply was issued by CIC, it was time to submit all the paperwork, and sit and wait for CIC to review it. This happened by the end of January 2018.

CIC commits to review the applications for permanent residency in less than six months. In our case, we got approved by the end of April.

COPR

Once we got the COPR, the next step was validating it. In our case, we did what is called “flag polling”, which is basically leaving Canada and entering again, so that the final interview with an immigration officer happens when re-entering Canada.

That happened on May 24th, and that is when we actually became Permanent Residents.

Permanent Resident Card

But that is not all. There is one final step: the Permanent Resident Card. The card is supposed to be mailed to your Canadian address when you arrive in Canada. But this is where things got a bit messy.

During the landing interview, the border officer will ask for a Canadian address. That’s where the PR card will be mailed. The processing time for the PR cards is about two months.

The PR card is important because it is necessary to present it when boarding a flight to Canada.

Have in mind that the cards are send in envelopes marked as “do not forward” so it is important to notify CIC of any changes of address while the cards are being processed, and setting up an email forwarding with Canada Post, as we learnt the hard way, is not enough to grant that the cards will be received.

Because the cards did not arrive after six weeks past the two months of expected processing time, we had to submit a solemn declaration to request a new set of cards. In this case the processing time was just a couple of weeks (even though CIC mentions it’s three months)

Here we are

“Welcome and thank you for choosing Canada”.

To be honest, I can’t think of a more Canadian way to start that letter. And you are most welcome. 

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