This year will be an interesting year. Back in 2014, when we were initially told we were moving to Canada, it was for a 12 month period. Which extended to 2 years ……. and by the time our temporary work permits arrived, they were for 3 years. It’s a bit like my husband subtly muting the prospect of his annual bike trip which starts off as being a few days, then moves to a week duration, and by the time everything is committed, he’s absent for a full fortnight – insisting full disclosure was made right at the beginning. Still, I console myself with the bonus of peace and quiet, and a significant reduction in washing volumes whilst he’s away …….Back to the topic in hand. Would you believe that we’re now 6 months away from our temporary work permits expiring and as you would expect, this triggers some degree of anticipation and consternation as to what will happen next. The simple answer, and Plan B, is to extend our temporary work permits which we’re reliably informed we can do for the next 2 – 3 years. Plan A however, is to apply for permanent residency ……It’s a long path to ‘PR’. You may remember last year, my blogs on the surreal experience of sitting an English test (click here for a reminder – and probably one of my better blogs for comedic quantity even if I do say so myself). We also had to apply to have our educational credentials assessed against the Canadian equivalent and duly received confirmation as to the level they equate to over on this side of the pond. Why bother doing both I hear you ask? Well, as the ‘pre-enrol’ stage for ‘PR’ in Canada, these two steps are essential pre-requisites before you can apply to be in the ‘pool’ of people who wish to be considered for PR. To put it very simply, what you achieve in both equates to a set number of points. These points, along with other factors on your application all comprise to form a total score. Every 2 weeks or so, there is a ‘draw’ by Canada Immigration Services and those achieving a score at or above wherever the line is drawn, are ‘invited’ to apply for PR.Note the term ‘invited’. It is by no means an open invitation. We received our ‘invitation’ to apply for PR at the end of December and have 90 days to compile all the evidence requested before ‘submitting’ our application. We have to substantiate all our work experience, the employment offer here in Canada, undertake medical assessments – physical, chest x-rays, blood tests …. kids are included and nothing is left to chance; although by the time we’ve finished the entire rigmarole itself is enough to trigger a major ailment of some kind. There are UK police checks to be obtained, the need to demonstrate financial stability, details of the specific dates and all overseas travel undertaken over the past 10 years ….. let alone the standard type of documents like passports, work permits, birth certificates, marriage certificates, etc etc ….. the list is long. I often struggle to remember where I was last week let alone have the specific dates and places mapped out for the past 10 years …. but map them out we now have. To some people, I would imagine this item alone is enough to make them think twice about whether to go through the process of PR in the first place. A detailed spreadsheet has been commandeered to track everything required, and thank goodness for email and the ability to receive timely replies to requests – as if we were relying on carrier pigeon between Canada and the UK, we’d never achieve it within the deadline.One of the strangely unnerving things we’ve had to undergo are UK police checks. Whilst neither of us should have cause for concern, just the very fact we need to apply to the police to be checked out evokes nervousness in the first place. A bit like spotting a police car travelling behind you on the road – the rational part of your brain knows you’ve complied with all the rules, and yet a little part of you can’t help assume a guilty conscience. We were relieved to receive our UK police certifications declaring us as having ‘no trace’ – which hearteningly means we’ve not been convicted or sentenced, and are under no active investigation. Reassuring to know. I can sleep peacefully at night in the knowledge my husband is not currently on the ‘Most Wanted’ list back in the UK …..We’ve also had to obtain validation from previous employers about roles undertaken and lengths of service – to confirm that what we’ve declared as our work experience is legitimate. Just imagine having to go back through your employment history over 20 years or so, and obtain past employers’ evidence that you did what you said you’ve done. Some were easier than others. UK legislation and the Data Protection Act doesn’t help this process as the availability of providing the level of information required is restricted and in some cases, has been removed from computer systems and is no longer accessible. It makes me wonder how on earth people from other countries manage ….
Anyhow, like a dog with a bone, I have not been deterred and have managed the evidence collation exercise like a military operation. We’ve finally pressed the ‘submit your PR application’ button and all the information is now in the ether. There’s a 6 month processing time, and after due consideration by border officials, can well be refused. So we await to hear news – which should arrive just in time for when our temporary visas expire. Talk about cutting it fine. Mind you, there’s always Plan B to fall back on. I’ll keep you posted ….. 🙂