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Also available is my new eBook, "How To Immigrate To Canada In The Family Class: The Authoritative Guide Including Qu├ębec And Super Visa Opportunities". Get it at Amazon or the other e-retailers noted above.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Get involved - CIC Launches Online Consultation on Immigration Levels and Mix

So you want to have your voice heard on Canada's immigration policy? Now you have your chance.

OTTAWA, ONTARIO, Aug 29, 2011 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney today launched online consultations on the appropriate level of immigration and the most suitable mix between economic, family class and protected persons.
Immigration has been a sustaining feature of Canada's history and continues to play an important role in building our country. Canada has one of the highest per capita rates of permanent immigration in the world-roughly 0.8% in recent years-and has welcomed 3.5 million immigrants in the last 15 years.
"The online consultation provides an important opportunity to gather input from stakeholders and the public on key questions facing CIC," said Minister Kenney. "This is also a chance to highlight some of the considerations and difficult choices involved in managing a global immigration system."
In planning for the total number of people to admit as permanent residents, CIC not only balances immigration objectives but also considers several other factors, including broader government commitments, input from provinces and territories, and current and future economic conditions. The Department must also consider its ability to process applications in a timely manner, as well as the capacity of communities to welcome newcomers.
The questionnaire is a key component of the cross-country consultations Minister Kenney and his parliamentary secretaries are currently leading on immigration levels and mix. In July, the Minister consulted with stakeholders in Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto. This month, parliamentary secretaries Rick Dykstra and Chungsen Leung held round tables in Mississauga, Scarborough and London. Additional sessions may be planned in the coming weeks and months.
Thus far, the majority of stakeholders present at the consultation sessions expressed a fairly positive view of the current immigration system. They have identified immigration as a critical way to meet labour market needs, citing economic factors as among the most important considerations when establishing immigration levels, followed by integration concerns. Participants have also highlighted the importance of family reunification and the need to address wait times in the parent and grandparent stream.
More than 1,600 people have already signed up to complete the questionnaire. It is available at the following link: .
A report on the consultations, including the online questionnaire, will be available on the CIC website in the fall of 2011 or winter 2012. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Jack Layton - an inspiration who will be missed

The Honourable Leader of the NDP, Jack Layton passed away this morning. His loss is something very personal to me. In all my years going through the immigration process, Jack and his wife (and my MP) Olivia Chow were consistent advocates for fairness in the immigration process. When the Tories would propose restrictive changes to immigration policy or some other nonsense impacting the social contract, Layton would always step up to be sure the underdog's point of view was heard and considered. 

In contrasting Jack Layton to the politicians that I had grown weary of in the US, he illustrated the best qualities of Canadians: fairness, acceptance, and progressive ideas on social issues. Jack was one of those public figures that convinced me that coming to Canada to be with my love was the right thing to do - that this country could be my home. He convinced me not through anything he said or did directly, but more because of the spirit and idealism - standing up for Canada and Canadians. I can't name any US politicians that ever left me with those feelings about my home country. 

I never met him, though my Love had an encounter with him. I'll never forget talking to her one day as she was walking home. As she was sharing something with me, out came a happy laugh - "there goes Jack Layton on his bike!" What that meant to her and meant to me was simple: there goes a good man who walks the walk. Pretty rare. 

God bless you, Jack Layton. You made a real difference in people's lives, in my life.     

Friday, August 19, 2011

First days back in Toronto

My first days as a permanent resident of Canada here in Toronto have been busy ones. I went down to City Hall at Nathan Phillips Square and got my Social Insurance Number (SIN), had a job interview, made preparations to do some advanced telecommuting/video conferencing with clients in the States, have taken many walks...

One too many walks actually - I strained my arch so now I'm limping around! Enthusiasm can be a problem at times, I guess. But I love my walks, and there's so much to catch up on and see. It's a little over a two-mile loop from our home over to Chinatown and through the Discovery District, and a million things to see along the way, and I've had daily chores I've also needed to see to, so it's hard to keep off my feet much. I'm figuring out I need to stretch my foot - that's helping a lot. It needs to help, because there's a show at the AGO I want to see right now and we are members!

My Love and I are having a wonderful time, and so far the transition is going smoothly. We did get news that our condo is being sold however, so we are going to have to look for a new place to rent or purchase very soon. That should be interesting.

Lots going on - no time to even think about being homesick. I'm sure that will come in the months ahead.    

Monday, August 15, 2011

Landing as a Permanent Resident

I landed as a Permanent Resident of Canada in Toronto (at Pearson, YYZ) on Friday the 12th of August, 2011.

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 shoulder. "We made it," I said.

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

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Last days in the U.S. (for now)

I'm landing as a Permanent Resident in Canada on Friday. One bag packed, another to go, and then final lists to print out for my Form B4 and B4a. It's best to wait and do this last so the accounting is accurate.

I've been spending time with friends and family, saying my goodbyes for now, gathering a suitcase full of well wishes and love to see me through the first couple months of transition while I wait for the Permanent Resident Card to show up (this is the card needed to re-enter Canada once you've landed as an immigrant and travel outside the country). I know in my heart the time will go fast, and everything will be alright; but I also know this is as big a change as I've made in my life and it's going to take some adjusting.

I'm going to try and get most of my packing done tomorrow so I can really take a few long, deep breathes of Seattle air before I leave. Maybe this isn't the best approach - giving myself time to ponder and consider what's left behind. But I'm no good at the scramble - waiting for the last minute. So I guess pondering time, it is. A last visit with family, making sure everyone's Skype connection is working correctly...that sort of thing.

I'm exited. I'm nervous. I think I'll leave the next post to report on the landing process. Please say prayers for me, that it all goes well. The next time you hear from me, I'll be a Canadian - of the Permanent Resident variety.

Monday, August 01, 2011

The end of the lists, really

Tired of hearing about the import lists? Well this should be the last of it. I think I have the things I'm arriving with and things to follow pretty well sorted out now. I've collected the serial numbers, I've taken pictures...I have a call to make to clarify a couple things with the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA), but that should be pretty routine. I'm mainly wondering about personal effects - do they have an import value? Do I need to claim the luggage that the stuff I'm taking is packed in? Does it make a difference if I import a car now or later?

Beyond that, I think I've got it sussed, as they say.