Five Types of Immigrants or Prospective Immigrants

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Where is the info, you said? Ottawa, June 2012

When I have time, I try to answer questions from prospective immigrants and newcomers on immigration forums. I use Settlement.org because this federal- and provincial-funded board is moderated and informative.

Of course, I also get a fair share of questions directly on this blog. I actually enjoy answering them—it’s always rewarding to share your experience and to help someone. Besides, I remember how lost and clueless I was when I was in the immigration process.

That said, some questions, on this blog or in the forums, get on my nerves. Like I put it in the FAQ:

Just a few basic rules to start. I’m always happy to answer ques­tions about life in Canada or immi­gra­tion to Canada. I’m not an immi­gra­tion expert, so don’t expect me to have an answer for every­thing! Please note that I only know the Cana­dian immi­gra­tion sys­tem, not the Amer­i­can one. Yes, believe it or not, Canada and the U.S.A. are two sep­a­rate countries.

I’m not an immi­gra­tion con­sul­tant and I will answer your ques­tion for free. The only thing I’m sell­ing on this blog is my pho­tog­ra­phy. I’m a human being, not a sophis­ti­cated com­puter pro­gram, there­for I appre­ci­ate when you acknowl­edge my reply. I tend to find it frus­trat­ing when peo­ple ask very detailed ques­tions, get their answer and never email again. To put it sim­ply, it doesn’t encour­age me to be helpful.

This week, I received a string of unrelated questions from different people. And I noticed I could easily put those prospective immigrants or newcomers into one of the categories below.

The Anxious Immigrants

Okay, that was me in 2005. Scratch that: that was me until 2009, when I became a Canadian citizen and finally started to realize Canada was going to keep me.

Most prospective immigrants are very anxious and I can perfectly understand why. The immigration process is often expensive, lengthy, and most people have to put their life on hold while some bureaucrats make a decision.

What do they ask? Anxious immigrants usually do their homework and are well-informed, but they want to be reassured and are always afraid to make a mistake. They typically want to share their experience with others in a similar position, and they seek guidance from those who have been in their shoes. They are usually nice people who keep in touch and check back regularly.

The Entitled Immigrants

The entitled immigrant hasn’t landed yet but he already wants to change the rules, because they obviously don’t apply to his specific case. He always claims to be an exception and like to drop the words “Humanitarian or Compassionate Grounds” as it they were a free pass (most of the time, these grounds don’t apply to him anyway).

To him, immigrating is a right and he is ready to fight for it. He could make his life easier by actually reading information guides and following the ground rules but he’d rather be the exception. He is likely to lose his permanent residence status because he didn’t meet the physical presence requirements, or to apply for citizenship when he isn’t eligible, and act surprised when denied.

What do they ask? The entitled immigrant doesn’t have time to waste, which is why he rarely bothers saying “hello” or “thank you”. On forums, he demands an answer from the moderator or experienced users and is curt to anyone else doesn’t have the “credentials” to reply. And he stresses that his case is “unique” and should be treated as such.

The clueless Immigrants

The clueless prospective immigrant is a strange paradox: on one side, he can use the Internet to ask questions; but on the other he seems to be inapt at finding basic answers. He’d rather rely on unofficial replies than to check government websites.

What do they ask? A typical question would be “I want to immigrate to Canada but I have no money and no skills, tell me how to proceed”. If you point the clueless person to a website of reference, let’s say the website of Citizenship & Immigration Canada, he will come back and point out that you do need skills to be selected, and that the immigration process can be costly. Gee.

The Optimist Immigrants

The optimist immigrant can’t wait to start a new life and tell you how much he hates his home country. He knows that everything will be better in Canada: the sky will be bluer, the people nicer, the job well-paid and the locals welcoming.

What do they ask? The optimist immigrant doesn’t really have a question per se, he just wants to have his dream validated. A typical “question” would be: “How much can I expect as the CEO of a major company in Canada, and can I buy a five-bedroom house downtown Toronto when I arrive?”

The Lazy Immigrants

I guess clueless immigrants often become lazy immigrants when they somehow manage to get the process started. The lazy immigrant expects people do to the work for them. Much like this guy who wanted me to give him a copy of my own immigration application, so that he could copy the answers.

What do they ask? A typical question would be “I want to immigrate to Canada, how should I proceed, please advise”. If you refer him to a website, he will get offended and argue that the website isn’t clear. I can sympathize but at least, try, buddy! This is only the beginning of the process!

How about you? Do you think you fit in one of the above categories? Ever received some surprising questions? How do you deal with questions and comments on forums and on your blog?

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About Author

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

24 Comments

  1. I’m lucky no one has asked me questions about immigrating to France, I guess that’s because I’m having so much “success” with the whole process 😉

  2. Hi Zhu,

    Nice article to read that you have categorized us (as I am one of the Prospective immigrant) into interesting categories.

    After reading it I think I fall in the first Category which is Anxious Prospective immigrant. I hve collected quite a lot of info on immigration and also about landing and jobs after landing and housing etc etc.

    Now I just hope I get thru this and land there asap. I m hoping to c u in first 3 months of my landing as you once said that after a person lands in a new country first few months are like a honeymoon!! 🙂 I am accompanied by my wife so definitely a honeymoon for us.

    Cheers, Keep blogging

    • Hi,

      This article is a bit tongue in cheek, hope you weren’t offended! I do get crazy people with attitude here 😉

      Every immigrant is anxious, and I think that’s perfectly understandable. But as long as you keep looking for info, you will be fine! Knowledge is power and it does make a huge difference when you land.

      • Hi,

        There nothing to b offended in your article. Its all good. And yes as you said Knowledge is power and thru your blog I certainly get a really good picture of ottawa, a bit of Toronto, and ofcourse a bit of Nanntes 🙂

  3. I love this!
    I don’t get questions from immigrants but have been interviewing lots of them lately. I think your categories are right on.
    I think there is an additional one, or maybe it is just the ‘anxious immigrant’ after settling in, that is the one that is doing everything right but assumes that they need to be happy with a lot less than what they could have. Opposite from your ‘optimist’ they assume that their education and experience will not be recognized and they better as well just settle for underemployment.
    Good stuff, thank you for sharing this.

    • You are right about the anxious immigrant, even more so because all immigrants are a bit anxious and rightly so. And again, you are spot on, a lot of people are quite pessimistic about their chances, even though their lives usually turn out okay after all!

  4. Hiya Zhu, interesting read indeed. Although I am no intention of migrating I do know I emailed you when I was about to make a trip to Toronto….some element of excitment and unknown and it is always helpful to get some tips and help from someone whom we know 🙂

    Having said that, I am really sorry we didn’t get to meet when you came to Singapore. I should have emailed you earlier.

    • I’m sorry I missed you too in Singapore! But with the Chinese New Year festivities and all, it went by very fast. Hopefully we eventually get to meet! It was my pleasure to give you tips about Canada.

  5. LOL! Yes, I’ve seen many variations of these questions, and I don’t even attempt to give immigration advice! I think you could take out the word “immigrant” from your description and just have types of people — anxious, entitled, lazy, clueless or optimist. The only one you’ve left out is the pragmatist. You know, the one who does her homework, visits the immigration websites, looks up information and advice and doesn’t ask any questions at all!! 🙂

    • Ah yes, but I have no complaint about the pragmatist 😉 You are perfectly right though, these categories can apply to people in general, not just immigrants.

  6. Btw
    I’m still waiting on that CEO job I was promised on my landing!
    As an immigrant (from, I would say, pretty privileged background compared to many) I’m disappointed that some who get to Canada criticize it for not living up to expectations.
    Criticism is fine, but the constant whining grates on other immigrants and the “natives”. Do your research, it’s cold here (sometimes), we eat gravy (some do), and we’re not the US.
    Nothing is ever as good and things are better “back home” or in the USA. The latter is complicated, since I get the impression from some immigrants that Canada was a consolation prize and the US was what they were really shooting for. I think you can have a category called the “whiner”. They’re different places. I love them both, I chose to live here ( Canada).
    I know a lot of folks resent this complaining. I know a woman who constantly bitches about my kids school but is from a country, where A. Women/girls wouldn’t go to school and B. she wouldn’t be treated as an equal member of society. Her or her family. She couldnt afford the schools in her country. She cOmpares my kids public school to elite private schools in her home country even she couldnt attend.
    This doesn’t erase class differences, or racism, or the struggles faced by immigrants- but in perspective,Canada is a much fairer and just place compared to many- the US included. Please note: Readers of this blog- This young lady is not an immigration lawyer, your social worker, your ticket to Canada. She is a kind and helpful person who doesn’t need people putting unreasonable demands on her. If you fit the profile of some of these categories, I’ll be glad if you don’t come here, since you’d make crappy neighbors. Theres always Austrailia-(sorry Aussies!)

    PS on your windows computer there is a shortcut if you want to make a complaint: hit Alt-F4

    • The CEO job is on the way, Canada Post was just slow to deliver the offer 😉

      Immigrants who are constantly complaining are driving me nuts too, and so is the sense of entitlement some people have. Seriously, the immigration process is fairly straightforward here, and so is the way Canadians do business or deal with the government. Not saying it’s perfect but chances are, the gov’ isn’t there to get you. Most Canadians just want things to work out fine and tend to avoid problems, so don’t come and create some out of pure ignorance!

  7. You are forgetting the 6th type of immigrant. You know, the one that does not ask dumb questions on random internet blogs.

  8. Hi Zhu,

    How you doing?
    About the type of immigrants…a big LOL!!!

    I am from India, and i feel i will be an optimistic immiggrant in the process by next year. I so hate my country, I feel St. John’s will give me a new life , a new job , a new 5 bedroom apartment.

    Hope it happens..;-)…till then ciao!!!

  9. Hi Zhu,

    I find your website a great resource for all things canadian.I am a prospective immigrant and started considering the decision only about 2 weeks ago. I am very nervous about the entire process:moneywise and waitwise. i would classify myself as a mix of anxious and optimist.i am doing all the research.I am Indian born but i have lived abroad in UK for yrs so I am aware no nation is heaven on earth.But at the same time like another indian poster commented above,I cant help preferring canada to india.
    Anyway,I have a question. I have been searching everywhere for an answer and so far,i am getting confusing answers.My question is,I have a diploma from uk and i have had myself tested for ielts previously(passed with a very high score).Should i do my English testing again for the canadian immigration process?I speak English very fluently.its just that i would rather not do the test again since i already have to test for french.

    Thank you for your time.

    • Hello Esther,

      Most immigrants are anxious about the immigration process, that’s perfectly normal! Nonetheless, I wish you the best of luck. You will see, it’s scary at first but once you get into it, it gets easier. Just don’t get overwhelmed and don’t hesitate to ask for help!

      Unfortunately, as a native French speaker, I do not have an answer to your question. You should check with CIC. I believe language testing also depends on your education (i.e. did you complete it in English?) and on when you took the test. Better check with CIC to be sure!

    • Hi all,

      late to answer to Esther, I guess, but in case any other passing by was interested… I read even English native speakers need IELTS certification attached to the application, in order to get the points assigned.
      IELTS exam results have a validity of 2 years, so if more than 2 years have passed, you’ll have to take the exam again.

      As for the immigrant types… I’m a mix of pragmatic, anxious and optimistic too (Zhu already had a sample :D)

      Good luck all!

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