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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 sometimes 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 Government of Canada website. 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, sometimes 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.” You’ll spot the Government of Canada website on the first page.

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”!

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