Applying for PR in Canada: A How to Guide, Part 3

Last time I left off, it was February 2016 and I had just submitted my PR application on December 22nd and had heard nothing except for a ghost email on January 22nd. Now let me fill in the gaps between then and now.

It was mainly radio silence, a couple more ghost emails and then on May 18th, I got a letter (through my CIC account) advising that PR had been refused. As you can imagine, I was heartbroken. However, when I read the letter and read why it had been refused, I was outraged, not heartbroken. CIC said that I had indicated on my EE profile that I had a degree, but when they looked at my WES assessment, I only had a post grad, therefore, I should have never gotten the points for a degree and should not have received an ITA. I do have a degree which is why I was so outraged, also, my WES assessment clearly stated that I had a degree AND a post grad. I understand human error, but really, when it comes to immigration, they really need to be carefully when checking documents. I can also only presume by this error, that it means there is no second level of review, which is crazy to me. Anyway, after I calmed down, i submitted a Case Specific Enquiry (CSE), re-attached my WES assessment, reiterated that I have a degree and asked them to re open our PR application.

They are supposed to respond within 10  business days, and low and behold, on day 10, I get an automated response saying my email had been forwarded to the correct department. Then, they proceeded to do what they do best, ignore me. After about 4 weeks, I tried calling (1-888-242-2100) and the guy I spoke to told me that an application for reconsideration of the decision had been submitted for me a couple of weeks ago. Yeah, I know, would be nice if someone had dropped me and email to provide me with that update, but hey, it’s CIC. Then once again, I waited. After 10 long weeks since my PR was first refused, it was eventually re opened. No apologies, no acknowledgement of error on their part, it was just simply re-opened and once again I received a letter via my CIC account to let me know. That was on July 26th.

Then on August, I got the long-awaited “Ready for Visa” email. And once you’ve got that, then end is in sight!! Once you get that visa you have to send a copy of the bio data page of your passport (the page with your picture and info), along with two pictures of yourself – they give you a link to the photo specs in the email. One of these pictures must contain the following info on the back: your name and date of birth, the name of the photo studio who took the pictures, the studio’s complete address and the date the photo’s were taken.

You then send all that stuff by Xpresspost to Ottawa, along with a copy of the “ready for visa” email. You must also include another Xpresspost envelope in there which must be self-addressed so that they can return your Confirmation of PR (COPR). We mailed our stuff on August 22nd and received COPR in the mail on August 30th.

The COPR is valid until mid-December, so you have about 3 and a half months to activate your PR by leaving and landing in Canada (flagpoling). Most people enter the US and come straight back accross the border. We are going to Peru in October so we will just activate PR on our way back in. Apparently once you land in Canada as a PR, it takes about 56 days for your PR card to be mailed to you.

So the marks the end of my PR journey, thankfully. I’ve documented it in a 3 part blog and this is the final part. Hopefully others going through the PR process will find my blogs helpful and good luck to everyone, it may be a long and arduous process, but it’s worth it once you get that COPR 🙂

Applying for a Bridging Visa (BOWP): A How to Guide

I just applied for a bridging visa (BOWP) last week and must admit, I found the whole process quite confusing, if it wasn’t for the good people who are members of the Irish & Applying for Canadian PR Facebook page, I would have been completely lost. As is usual with CIC, nothing is very well explained on their website, so I decided to put together an easy step-by-step guide to help others with the BOWP process.

Firstly, what is a bridging visa? A Bridging Open Work Permit is for those of us who have applied for PR but whose work permits are going to expire in four months or less. This means we can keep working while waiting for a decision on our PR. You can read more about BOWP eligibility here: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/tools/temp/work/prov/bridging.asp

Right now, processing times for online BOWPs are 38 days and paper applications are taking 93 days. You can check processing times here: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/times/ Usually, people will wait until a couple of weeks before their work permit expires to submit the bridging visa application. Once your bridging visa application is received before your work permit expires, then you automatically go onto Implied Status – again, this is so you can continue to work until you have a decision on your Bridging Visa. I submitted our bridging visa applications (online)  last Thursday (April 21st) and our work permits expire on May 5th. Also, it’s handy to note here that you can also submit a bridging visa application online for your common-law partner.

How do I apply for a bridging visa? As I’ve already mentioned above, you can apply online through your CIC account, or you can submit your application by mail. Many people chose the one with the slowest processing time to give them longer on Implied Status – especially if they know their bridging visa application is going to be denied. I submitted mine online and if that’s what you’re doing, there are two options. Option 1 is to use the “Come to Canada Wizard”,  you can find that tool here: http://www.cic.gc.ca/ctc-vac/cometocanada.asp answer the questionnaire and then you’ll be given a personal reference code which you then input into your CIC account, or option 2 is to log into your CIC account, and under the “What would you like to do today” section, choose apply for a visitor visa, study and/or work permit. At this point it will ask you for your personal reference code, if you don’t have one (I didn’t) then look under “I do not have a personal reference code” and click on determine your eligibility and apply online for a visitor visa, and/r work permit. It will then guide you through the questionnaire.

A few things to note about the questionnaire, as it can be slightly confusing, and if you don’t answer some questions in a particular way, it won’t lt you apply for the bridging visa. When it asks “What would you like to do in Canada?” you should say work, and not move there, as I did at first. For how long do you plan to stay in Canada, you should answer temporarily – more than 6 months, and not permanently (I also made that mistake the first time round). The next tricky question is when is asks about your current immigration status in Canada, you need to say here that you are a worker, rather than a temporary resident permit holder (which is exactly what we are, but who knows why CIC make these things so confusing). Then you will be directed to a page which lists lots of different situations broken into three groups and you have to answer “yes” or “no”. Make sure you answer yes under the section which contains the following statement “I applied for permanent residence to an office in Canada and was determined to be eligible for permanent resident status (first stage approval)”. Even if the review of eligibility is still at “review in progress” for your PR app (as mine is) because if you say no, it won’t let you proceed with the BOWP application.

Capture

Once you’ve answered the questionnaire, the option to apply for a visitor visa and/or work permit will disappear, so if you answered any questions wrong, and it didn’t guide you to a checklist of required documents, then delete that application and start again. Once you answer all the questions in the questionnaire, you will be given a list of documents that you have to submit, most of them will be things you already submitted as part of your PR application; copy of passport, digital picture, proof of your medical exam, statutory declaration of common-law relationship (if you’re common law). If you are common-law then you’ll have to upload Form IMM5713: Use if a Family Member Representative for Online Applications. You will also be required to submit Form IMM5710: Application to change my conditions, extend my stay or remain in Canada as a Worker. This form again asks for a lot of information that you already supplied as part of your PR application such as education, work history, and to note any other countries you’ve lived for more than 6 months in the past 5 years. There is also space to upload a letter of explanation, I uploaded my AOR for PR here. The fees you pay for the bridging visa are $155 for the work permit and a $100 fee for an open work permit holder fee.

Once you submit everything and pay, you will receive a submission confirmation. I believe this can be used to show your employers if they need proof that you are legally allowed to work here after your work permit has expired, you can also print off the information on the CIC website about Implied Status and that along with the receipt should keep employers happy. You can find information about Implied Status here: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/tools/temp/visa/validity/implied.asp

I hope this helps when applying for your bridging visa, and if you’re not already a member, join the Irish & Applying for Canadian PR Facebook page – it is a life saver!

Until next time 🙂

Applying for PR in Canada: A How To Guide Part 2

So I last left off informing you that I had received a notification of interest of provincial nomination from the province of Ontario. This was on November 13, 2015. I decided to remain in the pool for a couple of weeks to see if the points would drop and I could get an ITA, as it was going to take longer to go through the PNP route, not to mention it’s more expensive. Once you receive that Notification of Interest, you have 45 days to submit your application. Luckily, there was a draw on December 4, 2015 and the points came down and I got an ITA! The points were 461 and we had 469. Needless to say I was thrilled. I had until February 2, 2016 to submit my application.

I was pretty organized before even creating my EE profile and was in the process of gathering all of my employment reference letters, police certificates etc. So once we received our ITA, I was almost ready to submit everything, except for the medicals. For obtaining police clearance from Ireland, it’s all outlined online regarding what you should submit to them http://garda.ie/Controller.aspx?Page=2742&Lang=1 . Like all of us, I had to submit a police check from Ireland before I got my 2 year IEC Visa so my sister just brought in a copy of that to our local garda station and asked for an updated one and it came back within a week.  For the medical, you must see a physician that is on the list of approved panel physicians. You can find that list here: http://www.cic.gc.ca/pp-md/pp-list.aspx . For anyone in Toronto, I went to Dr. Li Francis, near Pape Station. No appointment is necessary, they do the medicals every morning between 9-11am, however, if you go on a Saturday morning, be prepared to wait. We arrived at 8.45am and there was already a queue outside. The full cost of the medical is $260 including the x-rays. I think it was $200 for the medical and $60 for the x-ray and we were there for a total of 2 hours. Please don’t forget that if you are applying under common law, both you and your partner/spouse must undergo the medical. As you are leaving the clinic they will give you a print off with a bar code on it and that is the document that you upload with your application. The clinic will then send the results directly to CIC (online I believe) and it takes about 2 weeks.*UPDATE* This doctor has been removed from the approved list of physicians as he has been charged with sexual assault of one of his female patients. If anyone has any information or if there are more victims out there you should call police at 416-808-7474 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-8477. http://www.insidetoronto.com/news-story/6724918-toronto-doctor-charged-in-connection-with-sex-assault-of-female-patient-in-pape-danforth-area/

The other thing that I hadn’t considered was the common law union declaration, this appeared in the list of required documents. You can print the form off online, you should get a link to the form in your list of required documents. You must get it signed and stamped by a Notary Public. We used David Mrejen located at 2 Bloor Street East, and it cost $89 in total, although I’m sure there are cheaper ones out there. You also need to provide evidence of cohabitation for at least 12 months. This can included copies of lease agreements, evidence of joint bank accounts, utility bills.

You also need a letter from your bank detailing when you opened your account and how much you have in there, along with copies of statements for the past 6 months. I used statements for my chequing account and also provided statements for our joint account for the past 6 months. The banks should be aware of this letter, I’m with CIBC and went I asked about it they knew exactly what it was and I had it within about a week.

You need to provide employment reference letters for all employments which you got points for in order to get your ITA. If you need to collect a few of these letters, I advise that you start gathering them early, even before you get the ITA. The employment letters have to include very specific information:

  • should be an official document printed on company letterhead (must include the applicant’s name, the company’s contact information [address, telephone number and email address], and the name, title and signature of the immediate supervisor or personnel officer at the company),
  • should indicate all positions held while employed at the company and must include the following details: job title, duties and responsibilities, job status (if current job), dates worked for the company, number of work hours per week and annual salary plus benefits;

If possible, I would also have the relevant NOC mentioned in the reference letter. I’m not sure if it’s necessary or not, but my NOC was in my reference letter for my current role. As part of the application you have to give you personal history, travel history and work history for the past 10 years or since you were 18 (whichever is most recent). I found the travel history section particularly difficult as I’ve done my fair share of travelling so I had to go back through all my stamps in my passport to get the dates of entry and exist to different countries. I didn’t include any EU trips as I had no idea of dates of those trips and there are no stamps in my passport relating to them, so I’m hoping that will be okay. For US trips there is a website that you can use to get your entry/exit days. I didn’t know about this until after I submitted my application but I think it will come in handy for many:  https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/consent.html;jsessionid=7K5LW2wQD4rv0Vj216dLw1nGRLhF3th0d5WnDYwvJT0qRLp7Dnqh!1808615784

The address history was another one I found tricky as I have lived at so many addresses both in Ireland, and in other countries. I couldn’t remember my address from when I did my J1 Visa in San Diego and then also there have been times when I’ve been travelling for a couple of months with no fixed abode. In these cases I reverted back to my home address in Ireland. If you are having trouble remembering all past addresses in Ireland, be sure to at least cover those that are mentioned in your Irish Garda clearance letter. Make sure when filling in the address history, travel history etc that it is all in chronological order and that you leave absolutely no gaps.

For the photographs you can provide a digital photo. I used Photo Imaging at Yonge and Bloor and I have to say they were great, they are well used to doing pictures for people applying for PR and knew exactly when I needed. He saved the pic onto my USB key. It’s located at 2 Bloor Street West, I can’t remember exactly what it cost but it wasn’t too expensive.

When uploading the documents, there is a section that asks for your education – degree certificates. I scanned my degree certs along with my WES ECA as all one document so that I could upload them all as one document. I think sometimes people have only uploaded their degree cert and then they are contacted later to provide their ECA, so it’s better to just upload it in the first instance to save time. Also, in the required documents section they don’t ask for your English test results. I uploaded my IELTS results along with my letter of explanation to save time so that I won’t be asked to provide it later. My letter of explanation was in relation to my South Korean police certificate, as I mentioned in my previous blog I had a hard time trying to get that, and in the end I’m still not sure it was the right one so I just included a letter explained everything I did to try to obtain the right police certificate.

I submitted and paid for our application on December 22, 2015. It was $2,080 in total for the two of us, although I believe if your application is denied, you are refunded the right of permanent residence fee ($980 in total – $490 each). Also, you aren’t required to pay that fee when you are submitting your application, you can pay it later but I decided to pay everything at once.

I received the AOR (Acknowledgement of Receipt) on December 22, 2015 (the same day that I submitted the application) and since then it’s been radio silence. I did get one of those ghost emails that tell you that your application has been updated but when I checked nothing had changed. That was on January 22, 2016. Right now, when I log into CIC my application status is as follows:

Application Status as of Feb 12, 2016

Once again, I will do another post once we get PR (fingers crossed) outlining the process from now until actually receiving PR. Until next time 🙂

Applying for PR in Canada – A How To Guide

As the name suggests, I’ve decided to write a blog to hopefully help people who are considering applying for Permanent Residency here in Canada. Myself and Phil are just going through the process so believe me – I know it can be confusing. Sorry to my fans out there (Mark and Miriam) as this post probably won’t interest you guys! Ok so this blog deals with applying for PR through Express Entry (EE) Common Law, Canadian Experience Class (CEC), wow, that’s a mouthful!

First things first lets establish what exactly all of that means, you can apply as common law partners if you have been living together for a period of at least 12 consecutive months without any long periods where you did not see each other. You are eligible to apply under the CEC route once you have at least 12 months of full-time (or equal amount in part-time) skilled work experience in Canada. Your skilled work experience must be a NOC 0, A or B. You can find your NOC here: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/skilled/noc.asp

You must take an English test to show that you meet the requirements for speaking, reading, writing and listening. My advice is to do this before you set up your online profile through EE. We did the IELTS exam, it costs $310 and was pretty straightforward. If you’re doing the IELTS test you just have to do the General Training Test, not the academic one. It’s pretty easy for native speakers, myself and Phil didn’t even look at any practice tests and we both did well in the tests. I’ve seen plenty of people posting online asking how easy/hard it is and if they should study – if you are a native English speaker then don’t worry about the tests, you’ll be fine. We did ours through Global Village, you can find the test dates and locations in Toronto here: http://www.ieltstoronto.com/apply-now/test-dates-locations/general-training/ Results are released on the 14th day after the test, you can go pick them up or if you don’t do that they will send them by regular mail. Be prepared for a long day the day of the tests, we had to be there for 7.45am and didn’t get out until 4.30pm (we had a pretty long lunch break in that time though).

I have heard the CELPIP is much easier, and is much shorter as well. It’s all done on computer, even the speaking test, and once you’re finished you can leave. The IELTS can take hours and you are not alowed leave the exam room even if you are finished the test with an hour to spare. It reminded me of the leaving cert, they were so strict and checking to make sure you’re not cheating. You can’t bring anything into the room with you apart from a bottle of water, and at that, it can’t have a label on it in case you are trying to sneak notes on it!!! If I could do it over, I think I would do CELPIP.

There is no education requirement under the CEC route, however, if you are stuck for points it can be a great way to boost them. Again I advise to do this before you set up your online profile. As I am the primary applicant I got my education assessed, I used WES. It was pretty easy and straight forward and took about 8 weeks to receive the Educational Credential Assessment (ECA). I think it can actually be quicker but there was a delay on my University’s end sending my transcripts. Basically set up a profile with WES and enter the details of the education that you want assessed and then make payment ($210). Once you set up your account it will give you a list of required documents. You have to send them a copy of your degree certificate(s) and then contact your University to send transcripts directly to WES. **Warning** When mailing your certificate(s) make sure that your reference number is on the outside of the envelope, ensure that you also tell your University to do this when sending your transcripts, if your reference number is not clearly on the envelope they will return it.

Once we had our English test results and I had my ECA from WES, I set up our online profile through EE. If you use the Come to Canada tool you will answer some short questions and then get a personal reference code which you can enter when submitting your profile, this will then take some of your answers from the Come to Canada Tool and build them into your profile. When submitting your profile you will need your passport (and your common law partner’s if applicable), your NOC code, your language test results, your ECA. It’s pretty straightforward and doesn’t take too long, some parts take longer than others – for example entering your work experience. **Note** If you have a full-time job in Canada but do not have an LMIA then you must select NO to do you have a valid job offer. Once you do this and submit your profile it will then ask you to register with Job Bank. You have to register with Job Bank within 30 days of submitting your online profile or your EE profile will expire. I put minimal info into Job Bank as I have a job here, I only gave information about my current role.Once you have submitted your online profile you will be given a score using a ranking system based on all of the information you provided in your application. Our points are 469. You will then also be told if you qualify under the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSW) or CEC.

In 2015 there has usually been a draw every two weeks. You can have a look to see what the points have been in every draw so far here:http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/express-entry/rounds.asp I submitted our online profile on Sunday November 8, 2015, then there was a draw on November 13th – the points were 484 so we missed out by 15 points! The points have dropped to 450 twice this year – that’s the lowest they’ve gotten so I’m hoping that they’ll drop enough for us in the next draw. If your points are the same, or higher than the points that come out of the draw then you will receive an Invitation to Apply for PR (ITA) at which you have 60 days to submit your application and all documents. On the day of the draw I did get a notification through my CIC account advising me that the province of Ontario wants to consider me for Provincial Nomination. This would give us an extra 600 points – meaning we would be guaranteed to receive an ITA. It’s extra paperwork and extra money but you have 45 days to apply to the province once you receive this PT Notification of Interest so we are going to wait for the next draw and see if the points come down and if not, then we’ll go the Provincial Nomination route.

**Note** When you receive an ITA and you have 60 days to submit your application and documents, police clearance from every country you have lived in for more than 6 months since you were 18 is required. This will be of particular interest to anyone who has lived in South Korea because it was a nightmare trying to get the police cert. I had a police cert from Korea because I needed one in order to get my two-year visa to come here, however when applying for PR they require a specific police cert from Korea and the one I had was not the right one. A Criminal (Investigation) Records Check Reply is required rather than the Criminal Background Check that I had, and a conversation with someone on the Irish and Applying for PR Facebook page informed me that his application for PR was denied because he had the wrong police check from Korea. I won’t go into all of the details but I went to the South Korean Consulate in Toronto twice and both times they tried to get me to apply for the Criminal Background Check and they had no clue when I tried to explain what I needed. Anyway to cut a long story short, two visits, many phone calls and emails later I established that the police check that is required is NOT available outside Korea. I had to get one of my friend’s living in Korea (thank you Catherine!!!) to apply for it for me. You need to send a copy of your passport, a copy of your Korean visa that you had, a passport sized photograph of yourself and a power of Attorney form giving your friend in Korea permission to apply for the police cert on your behalf. The Power of Attorney Form is available in the Korean Consulate, fill everything out there and get it all notarized by the Consulate and then send it all off to Korea. I decided to do this ahead of time as I was worried I wouldn’t have it all sorted out in the 60 days if we get an ITA. The Consulate still got me to fill out the form for a Criminal Background Check to send off with everything else so I just put a note in for my friend explaining what I actually needed and wrote it in Korean too to make her life easier. I got the police cert back a couple of weeks ago and while it is slighty different to the one I have, I’m not entirely sure it’s the correct one but at this point there is nothing more I can do. If you live in Vancouver the South Korean Consulate there seems to be aware of this police cert so things might be easier with them – check out their website: http://can-vancouver.mofa.go.kr/english/am/can-vancouver/visa/criminal/index.jsp

So that’s where we are now,  will do another blog once (and if) we get an ITA and will update about the process of submitting your application for PR and all that entails, and if we take the Provincial Nomination route I will update about that process. Good luck to everyone, I hope this blog helps!