…"I'm thinking seriously of moving to Canada - where do I start?"… Before you dash off to sell the house, the car and the cat and jump on the next plane to Canada, take a moment to review the list of do's and don'ts to keep you on the right track and prevent you from making what could be an expensive and painful mistake!
- Firstly, find out whether you qualify to apply for a visa.
- Contact your local Canadian High Commission for application forms and documentation or visit their web site at www.cic.gc.ca for details of visa types, fees, minimum application requirements and selection factors.
- Decide whether you will submit your own visa application or if you need an immigration lawyer or immigration consultant to complete the visa application on your behalf.
- Prior to submitting your visa application, try to take one or two 'preview trips' (in winter and summer) to see if Canada feels like the place you and your family would like to call home.
- Once you have submitted your visa application, use the long waiting period to research possible housing, job opportunities, schools and other relocation assistance you will require during your move to Canada. Current processing times for Skilled Worker visas (through the Canadian High Commission in London) are between 24 - 30 months.
- Consider improving your English or French language skills while you are waiting for your visas. The ability to communicate and work in one or both of Canada's official languages is very important and will help you in the Canadian labour market.
Applying for permanent residence in Canada is a legal procedure, and like any legal procedure, there are costs and risks attached. There are no guarantees that you will be successful in your visa application and despite what you may have heard to the contrary, purchasing a property or buying a business in Canada will not influence the decision of the immigration authorities in your favour.
Once you have applied for your visas, you will have plenty of time to plan and prepare for your relocation to Canada.
Despite the strong temptation to do otherwise, until you receive your visas:
- Undertake any commitments in Canada that cannot be reversed or easily reversed (like buying a house or a business).
- Tell your employer you are moving to Canada! This may jeopardize your current job and if your visa application is refused, it could make life very awkward for you in your present employment situation.
- Give up your job. Instead, avail of all opportunities offered to update your skills and training in preparation for your entry into the Canadian job market.
- Sell your house. Instead, consider giving your home a low cost 'makeover' and 'de-cluttering' to enhance your property's value and ensure its speedy sale when the time is right.
- Sell your car or other assets.
- Once you receive your visas you will have ample opportunity to take care of wrapping up your old life and leisurely settling into to your new life in Canada prior to your visas expiring.
Thelma O'Connor, B.A., CERC Relocation Specialist, emigrated to Canada in 1995 and runs Canada Wise, a relocation, orientation and settlement service for newcomers to Canada. Contact Thelma on tel: (403) 226-4999, email: firstname.lastname@example.org; web site: www.canadawise.com
Thelma C. O'Connor
612 - 500 Country Hills Blvd NE
Alberta T3K 5K3
Tel: (403) 226-4999
Fax: (403) 226-1220