Gaining Permanent Residence in Canada

22nd January 1999

After a couple of years of pondering and indecision, and spurred on by my Canadian girlfriend, I decided to begin the process of entering Canada as a permanent resident.

So far, I've just been gathering information. Here are some of my sources:

4th February 1999

I've now filled in the Quebec preliminary questionnaire, apart from a couple of small bits of info which I can't remember, like what month I started my last job in.

I've also contacted my previous employers about providing references, so that I have them ready when they are asked for.

19th February 1999

I sent off my preliminary questionnaire to the Quebec Immigration Office in Paris yesterday. I guess I just sit back and wait now.

I've also started investigating getting a background check from Scotland Yard.

6th April 1999

My application kit from the Quebec Immigration Office arrived today, less than seven weeks after sending my questionnaire. All the forms and instructions are in French, so I'm busy translating. The main requirements for the application are: I've webbed my translation of the application form here.

10th May 1999

My application form and all accompanying documentation went in the post on Saturday. Here is brief list of the highlights of getting it all together: Now I've got another wait before the next stage...

25th May 1999

I'm truly stunned.. A mere 17 days after sending off my application to Quebec, I have received my Certificate of Selection. No interview, no phone call, just a letter in the post with the certificate, an application form for the Canadian Government, and information on obtaining a police certificate.

Now I have to gather together:

I'm so glad it arrived so soon, especially while Jen is here in England. We can celebrate now :-)

10th June 1999

After calling the West Mercia Police Authority, I received a form to fill in to get a convictions report from them. This form had to be countersigned by someone 'of good standing', so I sent it to my accountant who signed it for me. I've sent it off, and I should hear within 40 days (a legal requirement as part of the Data Protection Act).

21st June 1999

I received an authenticated letter from Scotland Yard today, telling me I have no convictions or prosecutions. I'm off to the bank later to order the foreign draft for $1475 CAN. As soon as that arrives I'll be sending my application off.

30th June 1999

I've collected everything together for my application, so I'll be putting it in the post today. I'm guessing it will take between 4 and 6 months, so I should hear something by Christmas!

3rd August 1999

Today I received my medical forms, along with a request to explain why I applied to New York instead of Paris for my Quebec Certificate of Selection.

From the list of doctors provided, I chose one in Birmingham, and made an appointment for 6th August.

5th August 1999

I arrived in Birmingham very early, but then spent an age looking for the doctor's surgery. I eventually found it, arriving 20 minutes early.

First my weight was measured, and I was given an eye test (with my glasses on). From there I was ushered into the radiography room for my chest x-ray, and then into the consultancy room for my interview with the doctor. He put me at ease and asked me all the questions on the form, as well as some small talk to check that I had all my faculties. He then proceeded to prod and poke me in various places while I did some heavy breathing. At the end of all that, he wrote 'Fit and healthy male' on the back of the medical form, which was great to see.

Finally I was asked to provide a urine sample, and a nurse took a blood sample. They told me the results would be sent off within 4 days, so now I'm just playing the waiting game again.

6th August 1999

I sent a letter to the Canadian High Commission today, telling them why I applied to New York instead of Paris, basically saying that I had been told New York would process my application faster.

20th September 1999

Got It!!!!! I arrived back from Canada (oh the irony) late last night, to find my Canadian permanent residence visa waiting for me on my doorstep. It looks like it arrived about 2 days after I left, around 2nd September. The waiting is over, I can start planning for the big move.

I intend to land sometime in October, to set government wheels in motion, then come back to England to organise selling/packing all my stuff.

19th October 1999

I went to Canada on 6th October to land. Here's how it went:

My plane landed at Montreal Dorval airport in the middle of the evening. After the usual long walk, I arrived at passport control, and handed over my passport and all the forms. The lady there checked my passport and then sent me into the Immigration office. There was no queue, so I went straight up to the counter and was greeted by a friendly man. He separated the various parts of my visa, and stapled my copy into my passport. He then directed me to go left into the customs office, then left again into Quebec Immigration. As I left the counter he welcomed me to Canada.

I missed the customs office completely, and ended up in Quebec Immigration, where a man, after establishing that I didn't speak french, arranged a meeting with an immigration official for the next day. He also gave me a pack containing literature about living in Quebec, and welcomed me to the province.

I wandered back the way I had come, and eventually found the customs office. I was ushered into a small room containing one desk, and asked to take a seat. After entering some data into the computer, the customs official asked me what goods I had with me, and what I was having shipped. I gave him the lists I had prepared before leaving England, which he seemed happy with. He stamped them both, fed the value of my goods into the computer, and printed off a goods receipt, which I will need to bring with me when my goods arrive at customs. He also gave me some customs literature, and welcomed me to Canada.

All that took no more than 15 minutes, then I was out into the baggage reclaim area, slightly dazed, and apparently a Canadian permanent resident. After collecting my luggage, I went out to be greeted by Jen, who had a big bunch of flowers for me, with the three flags of Canada, Quebec and Montreal.

My orientation meeting the next day involved telling me about various agencies who could help me find work, find accomodation, and teach me French. After that little chat (which was made much easier by Jen being with me to speak French when necessary!), we were passed to another desk where I applied for my Social Insurance Number, which should arrive soon.

The next day, we went to apply for my medicare card. First we had to visit a pharmacy to get my photograph taken, then we went and waited about an hour to be seen at the medicare place. Finally our number was called. Jen had to read out loud a solemn oath that I would be living at her apartment, and sign it. I was given some leaflets, and told I would receive my card in 4-6 weeks.

The rest of my stay in Canada was spent relaxing. We tried briefly to get my Canadian driver's licence, but it's not possible without an SIN or medicare card.

25th August 2000

This will probably be the last update to this page. I just want to bring anyone reading this up to date with my immigration process.

After spending Christmas back in England (and a brief trip to Florence with Jen), we headed back to Canada at the start of January. We were greeted at the airport by Jen's parents, but we were too exhausted to chat for long, so we headed straight home.

I already had my Social Insurance and Medicare cards, as Jen had bought them to England with her, but we had to visit a government office to get my drivers licence. I expected to have to take a test or something, but all I had to do was show my UK licence, and they gave me a Quebec one, very easy!

My stuff from England, which had been shipped before Christmas, arrived in February. We had to go to the shipper's office to sign the customs documentation, and the boxes were delivered to the apartment the next day. I had spent the previous few weeks clearing out loads of junk from the apartment, so I had some closet space to store some of my junk. I had my computer shipped over, but had to have the power supply replaced with a Canadian one. This was very cheap (about 40 dollars), and was done very quickly.

Apart from a nice holiday to Vancouver in April, the rest of the time until June was spent relaxing and settling in to my new life in Montreal. I started looking for work around April, but didn't get serious about it until the end of May. I was getting pessimistic because my lack of French seemed to be a major hurdle, but eventually a contract came up, and I'm now working at CN.

I haven't had any trouble being a new resident. I even managed to get a mortgage, which was a bit of a surprise. The only minor inconvenience is that nobody will give me a credit card, but I can live without that. I incorporated a business for contracting, which was straight forward, and got my GST and PST numbers without any problem (apart from an official who didn't speak English).

I love my new life in Canada. Jen and I have a great new apartment, the summer has been good (not great, very rainy, but better than England), and I'm very happy.

I hope this page is useful and interesting to those thinking about moving to Canada, and even those who have already made the move. If anyone has any ideas or useful advice that can be added to this page, don't hesitate to let me know.