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 was not part of my original travel plan—it was a last-minute decision, 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 caught 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 did not speak much English back then), scouted the job market and had many snowball fights.
It 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 was not yet a popular destination—the WHV was free (!) and the yearly quota was not even close to being filled. I showed up at the Canadian embassy in Paris and left 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.