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?