This is my own immigration story, plus some resources for all your immigration needs. Here is the summary, just click on the link to access the section directly:
- Why I moved to Canada
- My immigration timeline
- Looking for immigration info?
- Looking for canadian citizenship info?
- Looking for a job in Canada…?
- Looking for info about Ottawa?
- Immigration resources and useful websites
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 am always happy to answer questions about life in Canada or the immigration process in general. However, I am not an immigration consultant/lawyer, so don’t expect me to have an answer to everything! Please note that:
- I am only familiar with the Canadian immigration system, not the American “green card” process. Yes, believe it or not, Canada and the U.S.A. are two different countries.
- I immigrated to Canada in 2005 and the permanent residence process changed quite a bit since then. I am not always up-to-date with the latest regulations.
Obviously, I don’t charge for advice or tips—again, I am not an immigration lawyer. The only thing I am selling on this blog is my photography. I am a human being, not a sophisticated computer program, therefor I appreciate when you acknowledge my email. I tend to find it frustrating when people ask very detailed questions, get their answers and never email back. To put it simply, it doesn’t encourage me to be helpful.
Note that I am not perfect: a few emails or comments occasionally slip through or get blocked. Don’t hesitate to contact me directly using this form. If I don’t reply within a few days, try again or leave a comment below. Emails occasionally end up in the spam folder (and I know you are not this obnoxious spammer!).
For more guidance, don’t forget to read How To NOT ask for help.
This page is updated very often with new resources, so stay tuned!
I “discovered” Canada in February 2002, at the end of a three-month long backpacking trip from Mexico to Brazil (yes, by bus). A stop in Canada wasn’t part of my original travel plan—it was a last-minute decision because I got a good deal on a one-way ticket from Rio de Janeiro to Toronto. So I followed Feng, my Canadian travel-partner-turned-partner-turned-spouse, to Ottawa, and got a glimpse of the country before eventually flying back home to France a few weeks later.
I stopped over once again in 2003, before heading to Central America for yet another backpacking trip with Feng. In February 2004 we flew back from Guatemala City to Toronto, broke and tired. I had been given a six-month “tourist” stamp upon landing in Canada, so I decided to stay in Ottawa for a bit to see if I actually wanted to move there. For the following few months, I worked on my English skills (I didn’t speak much English back then), scouted the job market and had a lot of snowball fights.
Turned out that I liked Canada. I started to research how to obtain a work visa and the famous “permanent resident” status.
In September 2004, I traveled to France and applied for a Working Holiday Visa (WHV). Canada wasn’t such a popular destination back then—the WHV was free (!) and the yearly quota wasn’t even close to being filled. I showed up at the Canadian embassy in Paris and stepped out of it a couple of hours later with the precious WHV stapled in my passport.
I flew back to Canada in November 2004 and started working right away while completing my university degree in France (yes, it was challenging). By mid-2005, I was ready to apply for permanent residence.
I decided to apply in the sponsorship category since Feng was my main reason for staying in Canada.
For more info and anecdotes about my immigration process, you can check out the interviews in the Press Review page.
- March to April 2005: Prepared the application and gathered all the documents.
- April 19, 2005: Took the medical exam in Ottawa at the CIC-approved University of Ottawa Health Services (with Dr. Vincent F.G. Nadon).
- May 19, 2005: Sent the application to Mississauga, Ontario.
- June 13, 2005: The application was sent back because it wasn’t clear whether I was living in Canada or in France. Gee, it wasn’t even clear to me!
- June 18, 2005: Amended my application and sent it back.
- July 7, 2005: Sent our marriage certificate that was originally missing (getting it from Thunder Bay took months!).
- June 30, 2005: Received the first acknowledgement letter: Feng is eligible to sponsor me.
- August 5, 2008: My application is forwarded to the Canadian embassy in Paris.
- September 27, 2005: The Canadian embassy in Paris acknowledges receipt of my application.
- October 20, 2005: “Decision made”, my application is approved and I am granted permanent resident status.
- November 17, 2005: Five days before the expiration of my one-year Working Holiday Visa, I became a landed immigrant. I had to travel to Prescott, U.S.A. in order to become a landed immigrant.
- August 5, 2008: I am eligible to apply for citizenship. I sent my application.
- November 12, 2008: I receive the acknowledgement letter.
- June 11, 2009: I took the citizenship test in Ottawa.
- July 3, 2009: I took the oath of citizenship and became Canadian around 12:30 p.m.
If you are looking for info on how to immigrate to Canada, be sure to check the series How To… Immigrate To Canada. The Immigration category also has a lot of first-hand information on how to settle in Canada, how to deal with immigration issues etc. To know more about Canada in general, you can read articles in the Canadian Life category.
For info on how to apply for Canadian citizenship, check out these articles.
I wrote a ten-post series, How to Look For a Job In Canada, which covers the hiring process, work culture tips and how to tackle potential challenges.
For first-hand experience, check out the posts tagged Working World.
If you are considering settling in Ottawa, you’ve come to the right place—this is where I have been living since I came to Canada! You can find a lot of picture-based articles in the Snapshots of Ottawa category, and general information on many topics in the Canadian News and Trends category.
The following is a list of useful resources you may want to check out:
- Settlement: this website aims at helping newcomers to settle in Ontario. It has very useful info on health, housing, employment etc. It also features a forum where you can ask questions.
- Citizenship & Immigration Canada: the official Government of Canada website with all the info and documents you need for the immigration process.
- Welcome to Canada: this is a section of the CIC website that covers all that newcomers to Canada need to know.
- Canadian culture articles: this Wikipedia page has a lot of articles related to all aspects of Canadian culture.
- Canada Kicks Ass: A Canadian portal of Canadian culture, trivia and news.
- Reddit Canada: Canadian news.
- Useful blogs that deal with Canadian immigration topics: The Zieglers Blog (y en español aquí).
- My Flickr Sets for pictures of Ottawa (in the spring, summer, fall and winter), Montréal, Toronto, Niagara Falls and Ontario.
Good luck with your immigration project!