The Canadian Immigration Taboo: Those Who Go Back Home


Gatineau, Feb­ru­ary 2012

Each year, about 250,000 immi­grants from all around the world are granted per­ma­nent res­i­dence in Canada. For most of these new­com­ers, it’s the begin­ning of a new life after a sev­eral month-long or even sev­eral year-long wait.

And each year, an undis­closed num­ber of per­ma­nent res­i­dents decide to go back home. Each immi­grant has its own rea­son for kiss­ing the “Cana­dian dream” good­bye, and these rea­sons are some­times hard to express. Some immi­grants are ashamed of going home, some are bul­lied into think­ing that they didn’t try hard enough, and other are so resent­ful that noth­ing con­struc­tive comes out of their comments.

All immi­grants go through a phase in which they hate Canada. Some­times it hap­pens dur­ing the lengthy immi­gra­tion process: it’s hard to keep faith when you have to deal with so many admin­is­tra­tive require­ments, and when your life is pretty much put on hold wait­ing for some­one to take a deci­sion about your future. When I was into the process, I clearly remem­bered think­ing that if my appli­ca­tion was sent back to me again, I was head­ing back to France because I was sick and tired of that nonsense.

The rejec­tion stage can also occur after the “hon­ey­moon period”, when real­ity kicks in. Yes, Canada is fuck­ing cold (or fuck­ing humid, depend­ing on the sea­son). Yes, some Cana­di­ans don’t like immi­grants. Yes, some employ­ers are narrow-minded. Yes, the food may have been bet­ter back home. But most peo­ple even­tu­ally over­come this phase and set­tle down into a rou­tine in their new coun­try, as they become more famil­iar with it.

But for some immi­grants, life Canada doesn’t turn out as good as expected. Life happens.

As a French, I was lucky to be able to spend almost two years in Canada before decid­ing to apply for per­ma­nent res­i­dence. Dur­ing these two years, I “tested out” the coun­try, started work­ing, made friends, etc. But a lot of peo­ple from the so-called “devel­op­ing coun­tries” aren’t that lucky and can’t even get a tourist visa to visit the coun­try they plan to immi­grate to.

This can lead to a lot of issues because no mat­ter how much you read about Canada and how pre­pared you are, you won’t know if the coun­try is right for you until you actu­ally expe­ri­ence it yourself.

So what can you do if you don’t see any other solu­tion but going back home?

  • Take a deep breath and talk to other immi­grants. Most will have expe­ri­enced what you are going through. Try to see whether you are sim­ply going through a “rejec­tion phase” or whether the issues are deeper.
  • Con­sider mov­ing to another province, or another city. Provinces each have their own cul­ture and “vibe”, and as a per­ma­nent res­i­dent, you can live any­where in Canada. Even if you apply for per­ma­nent res­i­dence through the Que­bec pro­gram, you do not have to stay in Que­bec if it doesn’t work out for you.
  • Remem­ber that you can lose your per­ma­nent res­i­dence if you do not meet the res­i­dency require­ments, i.e. being phys­i­cally present in Canada for at least two years in every five-year period. You may not think much of it if you are sure you don’t want to live in Canada any­more, but I do know immi­grants who regret­ted los­ing their per­ma­nent res­i­dence sta­tus. And if you do lose it, you have to start the immi­gra­tion process from scratch.
  • Con­sider how long you have to wait until being eli­gi­ble for cit­i­zen­ship. Of course, becom­ing a Cana­dian cit­i­zen may not be your goal if you do not want to live in Canada any­more. But it’s still a major mile­stone and can offer you new oppor­tu­ni­ties. If you are a few months’ short of meet­ing the require­ments, keep that in mind before head­ing home.
  • Talk about your expe­ri­ence. It may be hard to be objec­tive at first but shar­ing the “lessons learned” will help other immi­grants decid­ing whether Canada is right for them.

Have you ever con­sid­ered going back home? Did you go through a “rejec­tion phase” in your new country?


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. I immi­grated exactly 3 years ago and in the begin­ning, it was hard. The cold weather, dif­fer­ent cul­ture. I was lonely and in a big city that over­whelmed me. Peo­ple from my (eth­nic) com­mu­nity who had strug­gled for years warned me that I should lower my expec­ta­tion and wouldn’t amount to much. I did the oppo­site. I embraced my fears, made new friends from dif­fer­ent races/ethnicities as long as our val­ues matched. I vol­un­teered even when feel­ing sorry for myself. I asked for help. I made mis­takes (lots).I forced myself out of my com­fort zone. I chose to be grate­ful for small vic­to­ries. I was under uti­lized in my first job changed jobs after 2 years(went back to school). My first boss sucked but I am now blessed with a won­der­ful boss. I like my col­leagues and what I do. I have hard to push myself really hard these 3 years but it has paid off. I just recently bought a small town home and have hosted a new comer. Canada is becom­ing home. When I vis­ited my home coun­try recently, I got home­sick for Canada. Its been a jour­ney and still is. I miss my extended fam­ily that’s the chal­lenge of being a first gen­er­a­tion immi­grant. I still hate the crazy win­ters but so do most Cana­di­ans. When I stopped com­plain­ing (or to be more accu­rate, sig­nif­i­cantly cut back on com­plain­ing), I found oppor­tu­ni­ties. And not just me. I have immi­grant friends who have been here about 5 years that are doing ok. But I also know some who have been here for 10 years and are con­vinced you can’t make it

    • Thank you for shar­ing your expe­ri­ence! I’m glad to hear that, despite strug­gles, you are mak­ing it here. Out of curios­ity, where are you from? Is there any­thing you would have done dif­fer­ently look­ing back?

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