Immigrating to Canada can seem a daunting task for prospective immigrants. Looking for information, filling out the paperwork, waiting, dealing with unfamiliar requirements, sometimes in an unfamiliar language… I can totally understand that.
I’ve been writing about Canada immigration since I became a permanent resident, in 2005. While I’m by no mean a specialist, I learned a lot when I did my research and I enjoy sharing the knowledge.
And the more I participate in forums (such as Settlement.org) and answer various questions from readers, the more I’m convinced some people are just either very mistaken, either very innocent, either simply… stupid.
Here is a list of five immigration mistakes to avoid… and why.
Lying when filling-up the permanent residence application – People make mistakes, we can all understand that. The problem is that “mistakes” you make when filling out the permanent residence application can have huge consequences – it’s called misrepresentation and yes, you can lose your permanent resident status for that. Case in point, people who fail to disclose the birth of a child or a marriage. They usually hope to immigrate to Canada easily on their own and eventually sponsor their relatives, husband, wife, kids. Problem is, if you didn’t disclose your dependents on the immigration papers prior to landing, they don’t exist to Citizenship and Immigration. Not only you can be charged with misrepresentation, but you won’t be able to sponsor relatives that don’t exist.
Applying for citizenship before meeting the requirements – I can never understand that one. In order to be eligible to apply for citizenship, you must “have at least three years of residency in Canada within four years immediately preceding the date of application” and “be physically present in Canada for 1,095 days in a four year period”. Yet, there are always people who apply for citizenship before they meet these requirements, and then they complain they received a residency questionnaire or that their application is scrutinized. Well, duh. A Canadian passport is a great thing to have but why jeopardizing everything because you are not patient enough?
Being convinced that immigrating is a right – Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for mobility rights and I don’t support closed doors or gate-keepers policies. But overall, I think Canada is pretty fair when it comes to immigration: the country welcomes 250,000 newcomers every year, and has several immigration categories in which you may qualify. Immigrating to Canada is much easier than immigrating to the USA or most Western Europe countries. Yet, not everybody can immigrate to Canada, the same way not everybody can be a top model or a football player. Deal with it. Immigrating is not a right but a privilege. And since we are it, drop the attitude – it doesn’t help, really. I’m tired of people who want to sue the Canadian government because their application have been denied.
Failing to comply with the residency obligation – In order to maintain permanent residence status, landed immigrants must live in Canada for two years for every five-year period. Yet, some people just land in Canada and then go back home. Years later (usually when their permanent resident card is about to expire), they wonder if they lost their status. You bet they did. Because permanent status is intended for people who actually want to live in Canada! I find these kind of situation heart-breaking – why work so hard to obtain permanent residence to not use it? Once you lost your permanent resident status, you have to reapply again from the scratch.
Doing research based on one and only source – I interviewed immigrants from all around the world earlier this year, and they all recommended prospective immigrants to do research on their adoptive country beforehand. I would further recommend you to gather information from different sources. Official sources, such as government of Canada websites, will give you the most up-to-date straight-to-the-fact info and documents. However, don’t forget that most of these facts are statistic and don’t really tell the other half of the story. Guillermo recently wrote a very good article on the subject “Los blogs, la inmigración y ‘la última milla’” (in Spanish), in which he explains that new Canadians’ blogs and immigration websites are the “last mile” that connect prospective immigrants with the reality. Most immigrants won’t “sell” you Canada – they will provide real snapshots of their daily lives and experience, and will include you in their network.