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The Expatriate Mind on LoonLounge - Are you outraged yet? Legislating away immigration backlog an option, Kenney declares

Posted on Mar. 8th 2012 by expatriatemind
views: 1304, comments: 1
According to a report in today's Globe and Mail (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/legislating-away-immigration-backlog-an-option-kenney-declares/article2362389/), Immigration Minister Jason Kenney knows no boundaries in remaking Canada's immigration system in his party's image. Forget the near 1-million individuals who are currently in the backlog: they don't exist if the Tories pass legislation saying they don't. Forget the immigration system that covers a broad range of applicants, from family class to refugees - the Tories are only interested in those who come to work. Let's have employers decide who comes to Canada with a "just in time" immigration system that they design for their own needs (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/kenney-urges-employers-to-help-build-just-in-time-immigration-system/article2356117/).

Under Harper, Canada's immigration system has deteriorated exponentially. What was a backlog of 600,000 has grown to nearly 1-million people. What was a 1-2 year wait for a decision has deteriorated to an up to 8-year wait. While the Tories played the immigration card in the last election, temporarily increasing the number admitted into the country to around 265,000, they have now reduced the yearly number to 225,000 and cut the Skilled Worker class application allowance in half. They are remaking the refugee claim system into one with no appeal. And family reunification? Well that only costs Canadians money - how could it be good for us?

Minister Kenney: you can't break a system by your policies and inaction and then blame the same system for being broken. Your mismanagement is more than a threat to the Canadian economy - it threatens the fabric on which the nation was built and continues to be grown. Deny if you want the research that shows Canada's  population growth cannot sustain social programs. Deny if you want the best and brightest the globe has to offer because they don't line up with your political master's goals. Your leadership on the immigration portfolio is a shame on this nation.

If you are one of the 1-million currently waiting for a decision on your case, this is not a time to remain silent. While you are not Canadians, you can still make your voice heard by the government. I want to encourage you to get active now, by writing to pm@pm.gc.ca - Prime Minister Harper; minister@cic.gc.ca - Immigration Minister Kenney and members of Parliament (http://www.parl.gc.ca/Parlinfo/Lists/Members.aspx?Parliament=1924d334-6bd0-4cb3-8793-cee640025ff6) in the part of Canada where you plan to live when you arrive.

Let the Prime Minister, the Immigration Minister and your member know what you think of these immigration proposals. Let them know your stories: the years you have waited, the expense you've gone to, the separations you've endured; the dreams you have for Canada. Don't stop there - write the Globe and Mail - http://www.theglobeandmail.com, The Star- http://www.thestar.com, and other publications.

Make your voices heard. If you don't stand up for yourselves now, you may lose the chance in the future. You'll forever be on the outside, looking in.

Follow The Expatriate Mind at http://expatriatemind.blogspot.com/

The Expatriate Mind on LoonLounge - Immigration is expensive

Posted on Oct. 17th 2011 by expatriatemind
views: 1554, comments: 10
I often get asked what it cost me to emigrate from the U.S. to Canada. A lot of people have no idea what they are getting themselves into when they start this process. My case is probably special in some regards, because my Love and I have what is recognized by Canadian immigration law as a "conjugal" relationship. It's also not so special in that we initially got some bad advice from a paid consultant. That led to the expense of a failed appeal and then a totally other immigration application. All the while, we maintained a long-distance relationship, involving many flights back and forth across the country.

As to the core costs - applications, consultant, interview travel expenses, eventually an immigration attorney; we spent around $10,000. To maintain our relationship by actually seeing each other while we were in limbo, and without getting into the nitty-gritty of expense, let's count only the last four-year round: about 30 flights at $500 per round-trip - $15,000. Phone bills? Let's add another $1000.

Now, I'm not counting vacation travel (though it was way more expensive because we were apart) or anything that could be considered optional-expenses (like sending presents and cards and such to each other), or even the non-optional cost of maintaining two separate households; but you should be aware that there are of course lots of other expenses in maintaining an immigration case and a relationship from a long distance. Still, I figure on the low side from the numbers above that my immigration to Canada from the U.S. cost us upward of $26,000.

This seems like a lot of money - and it is: but its not too hard when you are paying it out over the course of a few years as we did. It just adds up is all.

I provide this information so those who may be thinking about following my lead in family class immigration understand the financial magnitude of the effort. Immigration to Canada is not easy and it's not cheap. Attorney's fees only start with a flat rate (and that's for proper filing of forms). If you get into anything complicated and actually need their guidance and advice, be prepared to pay. The fees paid to the Government of Canada are really the smallest part of your expense. Be sure you're prepared for the long haul before start down this road.

Follow The Expatriate Mind at http://expatriatemind.blogspot.com

The Expatriate Mind on LoonLounge - Landing as a Permanent Resident

Posted on Aug. 15th 2011 by expatriatemind
views: 923, comments: 3
I landed as a Permanent Resident of Canada in Toronto (at Pearson, YYZ) on Friday the 12th of August.

The flight in from Seattle, all 4-1/2 hours of it, was quiet and uneventful. I was nervous from the get-go. While I had brought some snacks to eat and entertainment to read and watch and listen to, I wasn't hungry and I couldn't focus long enough to read or listen or watch anything but the landscape passing by 38,000 feet below and the cycle of information presented by the in-flight map in front if me: altitude, speed, current time in Seattle, current time in Toronto, distance to destination, time to destination: over and over I watched as it ticked down and I closed in on the moment my Love and I had waited for for the better part of the last decade if you count all the time we've spent pursuing our immigration case.

I landed at Pearson and after a long walk with other passengers through Terminal 1, snaked through the long quay at Customs and Immigration. I let the officer there know that I was immigrating to Canada as a Permanent Resident and he made lots of marks on my customs declaration form, then directed me behind him and to the right where the Immigration office was located. This is where the actual "landing" process takes place.

I stood in line again with people from all over the world and who were there for a range of purposes. Some with tears in their eyes had been refused entry; some were going through a secondary check because they were entering for business purposes; and one other person, like me, was there to immigrate.

When my turn came and I was directed to an officer, the process itself was very straightforward. I handed the officer my passport, which contained a special immigrant Visa and a form called the "Confirmation of Permanent Residence" (COPR). The officer asked a handful of questions regarding the information on my COPR form, whether I was immigrating alone or if others were following, how much money I was bringing with me into the country, whether I had been in trouble with the law in any country (including my own). The questions were straightforward and I answered them easily. The officer wasn't there to trip me up, simply to confirm information on my application and the visa issued.

Next the officer reviewed a record of my file on her computer. This took awhile because my Love and I had a big file. You get one of those when you are conjugal partners and your case takes years to process. After she had reviewed it, she had me sign my COPR in a number of places, then she detached my copy and stapled it to my passport. She let me know that I would have a Permanent Resident card mailed to me within about six weeks at my Toronto address and that while I could travel out of the country, I could not return to the country without it.

With the first of two interviews complete, I moved to the area where I would declare the goods I was arriving with and those I would be importing later (remember the forms I've been mentioning - the B4 and B4a? This is where these came into play). The officer doing this review was as nice as the first officer I encountered. He took my lists of items (you need to have a copy for Customs and one for yourself) and generated the official forms for me to sign. The only mistake I had made was that I didn't calculate the total value of my lists. But he handed me his iPhone and in a flash, I was done.

"Welcome to Canada." He said with a smile. Those words were music to my ears.

Despite the stress I had in anticipation of this process, because I was well prepared, it went very smoothly. The officials I encountered were all thoughtful and professional. I think they realize how stressful immigration is for people. They see it every day - they are on the front lines.

I pushed my cart of a couple suitcases (I saw families bringing in literally dozens, so I felt pretty efficient) thorough two sets of doors and there was my Love waiting for me on the other side. We embraced a long time, my head sinking into her embrace. "We made it," I said.

"And now we can think about the future," she said.

Follow The Expatriate Mind at http://expatriatemind.blogspot.com

The Expatriate Mind on LoonLounge - The beginning of the end?

Posted on Feb. 15th 2011 by expatriatemind
views: 1162, comments: 7
My Love and I heard from the CIC a few days ago. What we heard moved us to tears.

The days in your life when things change are rarely dramatic within themselves. They are just another day: work, chores, errands, meals. I was tending to my day when the phone call came and everything changed. Wonderfully changed.

We were informed that CIC has approved our (my) Permanent Residence application. After a couple routine (hopefully) final steps, we can expect that I will be a landed immigrant, reunited with my Love in Toronto! Those of you following this blog know how long we have waited for this day.

So starts what we hope will be the beginning of the end of a long immigration process. So starts what we hope will be the adventure of leaving the U.S. and relocating in Canada. We are excited and overjoyed with the possibilities.

I'm also excited to migrate this blog away from issues of the immigration process and onto the logistics of moving to and getting settled in Canada.

I hope you will remain with me as we start this new adventure. God willing, this is the beginning of the end. We won't be ending our prayers until I am standing on Canadian ground; until I am on the other side of that silver door at Pearson. But we have great faith, and God has been faithful to our prayers.

I'll continue to pray for all of you who are involved in this process, and wondering if you will be able to make it through. Have faith, have patience, believe.

Please pray for my love and I that the final steps go smoothly and quickly.

Thank you all for your support.

Follow The Expatriate Mind at http://expatriatemind.blogspot.com

The Expatriate Mind on LoonLounge - The Star - Immigration waiting times cause frustration

Posted on Oct. 24th 2010 by expatriatemind
views: 1144, comments: 4
I guess I'm not the only person frustrated by long wait times. The people in the article by Nicholas Keung of the Toronto Star, are seeking to bring parents and grandparents into the Canada. For some overseas applications, the process can take 15-33 months as reported.

But wait - that's AFTER the standard prescreeneing period. And how long does that period last? According to the CIC,there is a 38-month standard prescreening of the sponsors at immigration’s Mississauga processing centre. So now we are talking about wait times ranging from 53 to 71 months.

For those of you without immigration math skills, that's 4-years and 3-months to 5-years 11-months.

It also means at least two medical exams will need to be submitted (they are only good for a year) and other reports, like police clearances, may need to be submitted at least twice.

The Star article is just another tale of a poorly run ministry. What does Jason Kenney have to say about it? “Canadian visa offices from one country to another can vary significantly in regard to the size and nature of their respective workloads and it is impossible to provide the exact same level of service at every visa office,” Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s office wrote in an email to Zhang’s group, according to The Star article.

Nonsense - Kenney could work to insure that the levels of service were comparable at Canadian visa offices. He chooses not to use his budget that way, however. Instead, he uses it for more important things - high profile globetrotting to preach the Tory line on illegal immigration.

The more you know about the current state of the CIC, the less you want to know.

Read the entire article here - http://www.thestar.com/news/investigations/immigration/article/879401--immigration-waiting-times-cause-frustration
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The Expatriate Mind on LoonLounge - Landed immigrants and the right to vote

Posted on Mar. 23rd 2010 by expatriatemind
views: 596, comments: 1
Interesting article in the Star's "Your City, My City" column regarding landed immigrants and voting rights. While the article makes it clear that non-citizens make a huge contribution to the city (including paying taxes), they are not recognized in the same way and with the same rights that citizens have.

The author, a landed immigrant since 2004, writes, "In an upcoming election where the same old tired complaints of voter apathy, disconnected wards and the lack of new faces among the political elites are loud and true, I can’t help but wonder if that would be mitigated by allowing the strong and active immigrant population to vote for changes that they deserve in the Toronto that they call home."

I can see his point on one hand - but on the other, "citizenship" with its hard-won commitment to the nation, is a reasonable requirement in my mind to instill voting rights. Yes- it's a long process. You have to spend three out of four years resident in Canada. but if you want to impact the nation, then you need to be part of it. A permanent resident has made one level of commitment to the country. A citizen's commitment is a whole other level.

Read the editorial here. - http://thestar.blogs.com/yourcitymycity/2010/03/your-city-my-city-not-so-much-if-youre-just-a-landed-immigrant.html

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New Permanent Resident Cards

Posted on Aug. 27th 2009 by Loonie
views: 1878, comments: 5
Citizenship and Immigration Canada has announced that it is issuing new Permanent Resident Cards as of this week.

The new cards have more enhanced security features, and Canada's Immigration Minister, Jason Kenney, says that this will help prevent the fraudulent use of Canada's immigration documents and protect the integrity of the immigration system.

New Permanent Residents are being issued this card starting August 24, 2009, but people who have the old card won't be issued the new card unless their current card expires and they apply for a new one.
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