[Interview] Chiruza Canadiense: An Argentinian Stuck in Immigration Limbo

Chiruza Canadiense - Dreaming of Canada

Chiruza Cana­di­ense — Dream­ing of Canada

Wel­come to the 2013 edi­tion of “Ten Immi­grants, Ten Inter­views!” In this series, we will explore the moti­va­tions of ten prospec­tive immi­grants and new­com­ers to Canada. You can find the two pre­vi­ous series here: Ten Immi­grants, Ten Inter­views (2010) and Ten More Immi­grants For Ten More Inter­views (2011).

Today, we will start with “Chiruza Canadiense”—a deeply ironic nick­name she picked. In Lun­fardo, a slang spo­ken in Uru­gay and Argentina, a “chiruza” is a poorly edu­cated woman.

Yet our “Chiruza Cana­di­ense” is a young pro­fes­sional woman in her thir­ties. She is from Argentina and lives in Buenos Aires. She is one of these thou­sands of immi­grants who applied under Quebec’s skilled worker cat­e­gory and she is stuck in pro­cess­ing limbo.

I met “Chiruza Cana­di­ense” through this blog. She reached out because the long pro­cess­ing times were dri­ving her crazy. I had very lit­tle advice to offer and felt ter­ri­ble because I had it easy—back in 2005, it took me only five months to get my per­ma­nent res­i­dent visa.

She is still wait­ing, like a lot of prospec­tive immi­grants. She went through hell but keeps a pos­i­tive atti­tude and makes plans, both for her life in Argentina and her future life in Canada. You can fol­low her on Twit­ter and lis­ten to an inter­view she did with Guillermo a few months ago (in Spanish).

1)     Why did you decide to immi­grate to Canada?

My answer is twofold: there are rea­sons why I don’t want to live in Argentina any­more, and there are rea­sons why I chose Canada.

I decided to leave Argentina because I can’t stand life there:

I went to uni­ver­sity for 10 years, got my degree, have 5 years of expe­ri­ence in my field, speak three lan­guages, keep on doing a huge effort to become a bet­ter professional—yet no one in the job mar­ket since to value my efforts or give a damn about it. I notice a lack of pro­fes­sional oppor­tu­ni­ties, it’s really hard to grow or move on in your field. Yes, I’m pro­fes­sion­ally frus­trated… and I admit it.

If at a cer­tain point of your life you were not lucky enough to find a good, sta­ble and well-paid job, then you’re basi­cally screwed and con­demned to jump from one shitty and badly-paid job to another. The later hap­pened and keeps on hap­pen­ing to me.

The lack of plan­ning and the way every­thing is being half-done at the last minute dri­ves me crazy.

I know for a fact that here, I can work all my life and yet never be able to buy any­thing (and I don’t want that for me). Every­thing is extremely expen­sive and over­priced, credit is nonex­is­tent, etc.

In Argentina, the one who avoids the rules is the smart one.…and the one who likes to stick to them (which is my case) is the fool one. This behav­iour is so com­mon we even have a term to refer to it: “Viveza criolla”. I’m sick of look­ing like an idiot for lik­ing respect­ing oth­ers and fol­low­ing the rules.

I don’t like deal­ing with cor­rup­tion, dis­trust­ing the banks because oth­er­wise they steal your money, inse­cu­rity, deval­u­a­tion, super high level of infla­tion, the hos­pi­tals and edu­ca­tion being so col­lapsed, the tran­sit chaos, the con­stant sub­way strikes, the stress, the soci­ety being so chaotic in general…

The lack of respect for oth­ers, and the loss of values.

Because I’ve had it.

And why Canada ? Because…

It’s a coun­try open to immi­gra­tion, with an easy and fast (well, not any­more!) immi­gra­tion processes.

In the­ory, for me, the process should have been easy, since I have the right back­ground: my brother lives in Québec and I have friends there, I meet all the require­ments (I speak both offi­cial lan­guages, I’m young, healthy, with a highly-demanded pro­fes­sion, 5 years of expe­ri­ence in my field, a new grad­u­ate, etc.)

It’s a first world coun­try. And I want to expe­ri­ence life in a first world country.

I want to stop feel­ing so wor­ried and stressed all the time—I am so stressed out that I am los­ing my hair. And Canada is one of the coun­tries with the best life qual­ity in the world. I wouldn’t mind hav­ing some life qual­ity in my life.

Oppor­tu­ni­ties exist for real, and it’s up to me: I’m the one who decides where the limit is or how much I want to grow or in which direction.

I’m thank­ful for every­thing I know Canada gave to my brother.

I know in Canada I will work as hard as I do in Argentina… but I will be worth it and valued.

I think I’ll find every­thing I long for my life, basi­cally every­thing I’m tired of search­ing (and not find­ing) in Argentina.

2)     When did you start the immi­gra­tion process? Which immi­gra­tion cat­e­gory did you apply in?

I applied in Novem­ber 2011 under the Québec’s skilled worker program.

3)     At what stage of the process are you currently?

Hard to admit (and accept!) that it’s been 15 months already and that I’m still at the begin­ning of the process!

I’m still wait­ing for the BIQ Méx­ico (Bureau d’immigration du Québec in Mex­ico) to assess my appli­ca­tion and to make a deci­sion regard­ing a pos­si­ble interview.

4)     Do you speak French? Where did you learn English?

Yes…I speak both lan­guages. I’m flu­ent in Eng­lish, and I speak French as well at an inter­me­di­ate level (Salut tout le monde ! ;-).

I started to learn Eng­lish with a pri­vate pro­fes­sor in 1996, when I was 16, and stopped tak­ing classes after pass­ing the First Cer­tifi­cate with a high mark, three and a half years later. I’m still learn­ing though:  I lis­ten to music in Eng­lish, I watch movies with­out sub­ti­tles, I try to speak Eng­lish as much as I can, etc.

I started to study French in Octo­ber 2011 because of my immi­gra­tion process. I take classes at the Alliance Française, the best (and most expen­sive!) place for study­ing French in Buenos Aires! I also took pri­vate classes with a French teacher from Paris. I’m focused on get­ting ready for the Québec’s selec­tion interview.

5)     How do you deal with the wait? I.e. are you doing research on Canada, think­ing about it a lot or are you focus­ing on liv­ing your life at home?

How do I deal with the wait? Oh,I don’t deal with it well at all! I am not a good example—I hate wait­ing. I always say that I won’t have to worry about my hair­style for the Québec’ selec­tion inter­view since by then I will have pulled out all of my hair!

When I started the immi­gra­tion process I had no idea I’d have to go through these oh-so-long pro­cess­ing times.

After the des­per­a­tion, the anx­i­ety, the hair pulling, the wor­ry­ing, and all those not-so-nice feel­ings, you reach to a point where you realise there’s noth­ing else you can do and you just have to let it go.

I mean, how long can some­one live with his life com­pletely on hold? It’s just not healthy anymore.

At one point, I was stuck in a job I didn’t like and didn’t treat me well and life was hell. I wasn’t buy­ing basics things I needed for my apart­ment and everyday’s life, I decided not to start any news rela­tion­ships of any kind (to cut my ties with Argentina), I walked the streets with the bare min­i­mum because I was scared, etc. Most of the time, I stayed alone in the small stu­dio apart­ment I live in. I was feel­ing sad, I didn’t want to go out any­where but at the Cana­dian Embassy. I had no fun,  no time to relax, I was wor­ried about every­thing all the time, obsessed with my French stud­ies, ter­ri­fied of the selec­tion inter­view, etc.…I was alive but felt dead.

See what I mean? Not exactly a healthy way to live.

It all has to stop. Want­ing to leave to Canada ASAP and not being allowed to, and being on hold for 15 months with no news is shitty, but I realised that immi­grants were right when they said that life goes on wher­ever in the world you are.

So things changed. I took another job, rebuilt friend­ships, fur­nished my place, I go out more often… and love even showed up in my life :)

I don’t for­get I’m in the immi­gra­tion process but I realised I’m not dead in the mean­time either.

6)     What would be your plans once in Canada? Where do you want to live, what kind of work would you like to do?

I plan to land in Mon­tréal dur­ing spring or sum­mer time. For the first months, the plan is to rent a stu­dio apart­ment in Côte de Neiges, a neigh­bour­hood which, accord­ing to friends (thanks Cristina and Martín!) is great for a new­comer since it’s close to every­thing, afford­able, etc. There, I will adapt to Canada.

After that, we’ll see how things work out. I’m fond of Ile des Soeurs neigh­bour­hood but I don’t know how things will turn out. Will I find a job in Mon­tréal or will I have to move? Will I enjoy liv­ing in a French-speaking province? I will go with the flow.

Two or three years after land­ing, I’m hop­ing to have a steady life, both eco­nom­i­cally and pro­fes­sion­ally speak­ing. This is some­thing I was never able to do here in Argentina. It’s truly impor­tant for me, and it is one of the rea­sons why I decided to leave Argentina.

O the long term (in 5 years’ time), I’d like to achieve sim­ple but impor­tant things, such as buy­ing my own apart­ment (again, an impos­si­ble goal in Argentina).

I’m an infor­ma­tion sys­tem pro­fes­sional with a focus on Java, so my plan is to con­tinue mov­ing for­ward in my field. I have already con­tacted HR pro­fes­sion­als in Mon­tréal and looked up IT pro­files (thank God for Linkedin!). I wrote sev­eral email (in French!) explain­ing what my sit­u­a­tion is, and the feed­back I received was great.  Most peo­ple asked me to con­tacted them again once I get my visa to dis­cuss pro­fes­sional opportunities!

7)     From what you’ve heard, what aspect of life in Canada do you find interesting?

I long for the things I want for my life and could never find in Argentina: an orderly soci­ety, in which the smart one is not the one try­ing to avoid the rules but the one who fol­lows them, sta­bil­ity of any kind you can imag­ine (eco­nom­i­cal, polit­i­cal, social, etc.). I want (and deserve to!) live in a place where I don’t have to worry all the time about infla­tion and that is safe, where there is not cor­rup­tion (or at least not as much!), with equal pos­si­bil­i­ties for every­one, where there is respect, where val­ues are not oh-so-damn lost, where streets are clean and rules fol­lowed… a place where I can find some peace for my mind and soul.

I always won­der how it must feel to live in a place like that.

8)     What’s one thing from Argentina you would take with you? Lit­er­ally… or culturally-speaking!

If I could, I’d take along the peo­ple I love and I care for. But that’s not pos­si­ble, since they’re happy here and have no plans to immigrate.

9)     What do you wish you would have known before start­ing the immi­gra­tion process?

This applies only to me, but I wish I had known that the BIQ at Sao Paulo would be closed down and there­fore my immi­gra­tion file would be trans­ferred to the BIQ in Méx­ico, a visa office with much longer wait time!

If I had known, I’d have man­aged a cou­ple of things dif­fer­ently, made dif­fer­ent decisions…

10)  What advice would you give to some­one start­ing the immi­gra­tion process?

Make sure this is what you truly want, since the immi­gra­tion process is not a piece of cake. It con­sumes time, energy, money, nerves, patience… all lim­ited resources!

And sec­ondly, be patient… you will need some. Every­one keeps on say­ing that, and I real­ized it’s absolutely true and vital if you don’t want to drive your­self nuts!


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. Hi, could I ask what your pro­fes­sion is Chiruza? I’m look­ing into return­ing to uni­ver­sity when I can gather the funds and I would like to know what field I should go into.

  2. Pingback: An Update on “Chiruza Canadiense”—The Road to Permanent Residence is Long | Correr Es Mi Destino

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