5 Reality Checks on Your Immigration Project

Ottawa, January 2013

Ottawa, Jan­u­ary 2013

Let’s face it: immi­grat­ing any­where in the world is not a right but a priv­i­lege and not all prospec­tive immi­grants will be granted per­ma­nent res­i­dence sta­tus in Canada. Is it unfair? In a way, I guess so. Ide­ally, I would love to see bor­ders and visa sys­tems abol­ished but it’s not likely to hap­pen any time soon.

I get a lot of ques­tions from prospec­tive immi­grants and I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but a real­ity check on their immi­gra­tion project is some­time needed.

Find­ing a job in Canada from abroad is almost impossible

One of the ques­tions prospec­tive immi­grants ask most often is “Can I immi­grate to Canada even if I don’t have a job offer there yet?” Good news: the answer is “yes”. I think the large major­ity of landed immi­grants do not have a job lined up when they arrive in Canada.

But if you are not eli­gi­ble for per­ma­nent res­i­dence in the first place, stop brows­ing job ads in Canada. Find­ing a job that will give you access to a work visa is almost impossible.

In the­ory, a Cana­dian employer can spon­sor a for­eign employee and have him come to Canada. In real­ity, it is very unlikely to hap­pen. First, employ­ers have to go through a lot of red tape to bring an employee to Canada. For instance, they have no prove that no Cana­dian or landed immi­grant in the coun­try can fill the posi­tion. Sec­ond, a work visa is not per­ma­nent residence—it is tied to the posi­tion you were hired for in Canada. If you lose your job, you have to leave the country—as sim­ple as that. It hap­pened to hun­dreds of work visa hold­ers in Canada dur­ing the eco­nomic crisis.

I only know two peo­ple who were hired by a Cana­dian employer from abroad, and both had highly-specialized and sought-after skills (think sci­en­tists with PhDs).

If you do not have the skills or the expe­ri­ence, you are out of luck

I get emails from prospec­tive immi­grants who ask me how they can immi­grate to Canada. I usu­ally send them to the web­site of Cit­i­zen­ship & Immi­gra­tion. A few days later, they email back: “But I don’t speak Eng­lish or French, I haven’t com­pleted high school and I have no work expe­ri­ence! I can’t qual­ify as a skilled worker!”

Well, duh. It’s called the “skilled worker cat­e­gory” for a rea­son. I’m sorry but if you don’t have the skills or back­ground Canada is look­ing for, you are out of luck. It sucks but that’s the way it is. The good news is that you can prob­a­bly gain work expe­ri­ence or upgrade your skills—and no, don’t even think that mar­ry­ing a Cana­dian cit­i­zen will be the easy way in.

There is no such thing as a “fast immi­gra­tion process”

How can I get a visa to Canada? I want to move there before the sum­mer!” Well, buddy, that prob­a­bly won’t hap­pen. Ask Chiruza Cana­di­ense or the thou­sands of immi­grants who applied for per­ma­nent res­i­dence and are stuck in immi­gra­tion limbo. Get­ting per­ma­nent res­i­dence takes time—count at least a year, some­time sev­eral years if your visa office is very busy.

Some peo­ple are lucky and man­age to get per­ma­nent res­i­dence sta­tus within a few months but they are the excep­tion, not the norm. And no, there are no tricks to have your appli­ca­tion processed faster. You can do the best you can—gather all the paper­work, pro­vide all the infor­ma­tion and doc­u­ments needed—and hope for the best. That’s it.

You won’t know whether your life will be bet­ter in Canada until you actu­ally live there

A lot of prospec­tive immi­grants basi­cally want me to guar­an­tee them their life will be bet­ter in Canada. Uh uh, can’t do that. No one can.

I don’t know what your expec­ta­tions are, I don’t know how your life at home is. Some immi­grants think that mov­ing to a first world coun­try is a sure way to upgrade their life. Materially-speaking, maybe. But you won’t have your fam­ily around and adapt­ing to another cul­ture can be tough. Money isn’t every­thing. Some peo­ple fall in love with Canada dur­ing a two-week hol­i­days but are bit­terly dis­ap­pointed after immi­grat­ing there. Every day’s life can be quite dif­fer­ent from a two-week break vis­it­ing and enjoy­ing the coun­try at its best.

The bot­tom line is, do research and take your own respon­si­bil­i­ties. No one but you will know if Canada is the right place for you.

No one can do the work for you

Click on your browser. Go to www.google.com. Type “immigration+canada”. First result: www.cic.gc.ca, the web­site of the Min­istry of Cit­i­zen­ship and Immigration.

Yes, it is a bit tech­ni­cal (although very user-friendly) but it is the start­ing point of your jour­ney. You can read about the var­i­ous immi­gra­tion cat­e­gories, down­load appli­ca­tions, etc.

And yes, you have to do it your­self. No one else can do the work for you, unless you have a few thou­sands of dol­lars to spare and would rather hire an immi­gra­tion lawyer—it’s up to you.

But for Christ’s sake, stop ask­ing me to “pls explain detailed process for a visa to Canada—thx”!


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. Amaz­ing!! I have been apply­ing for the IEC for two years now, hop­ing against hope that my part­ner and I can be together, it has been so hard. So I know, even when you are in love with some­one in Canada and even when all you are doing is apply­ing for a year long visa, it is still going to be a longer process than you think!

    Holly :)

  2. The last part sums it all. The best place to start with for any­one who wants to work/live in Canada is the Cit­i­zen­ship and Immi­gra­tion Canada.

    It’s a web­site that every immi­grant should befriend. Through CIC you can pay online and sub­mit some of the doc­u­ments. You can also check your sta­tus if your apply­ing for Per­ma­nent Residence.

    It’s def­i­nitely a web­site not to miss.

  3. Pingback: Are You a Good Fit for Canada? | Correr Es Mi Destino

  4. Wow, in the immi­gra­tion limb for 2 years is a lot of time.
    And yes, in the CIC I’ve found all the infor­ma­tion I need, but isn’t my time yet to apply.
    Regards from Venezuela. 😀

    • I’m sorry to hear that. Many on the con­ti­nent are in the same boat… I know, it doesn’t help know­ing that. Life goes on mean­while, any addi­tional skill you learn while wait­ing, any money you man­age to save will help you later on :-)

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