01 Jun 2001: Sent forms with all fees
13 Jun 2001: Receipt acknowledged
26 Jun 2001: Medical forms and interview waiver received
07 Aug 2001: Took medicals
01 Sep 2001: Visas received
02 Apr 2002: Arrived in Canada
18 Mar 2006: Took citizenship
It’s been hard work, but worth it. Canada’s a decent place to live.
Some observations on how immigration worked for us:
- We did the application ourselves; all you need is on cic.gc.ca.
- Research ways of getting your money into Canada without incurring swingeing foreign exchange charges. This was perhaps our single biggest cost, and I’m sure we could have avoided some of it.
- Canadian banks are rather stuffy and inefficient. Expect to pay bank charges, and also expect the “free banking” banks to turn you down until you have a credit history.
- It takes several years to become credit worthy in Canada. It took about a year before we had a credit card at all.
- Get to know and love your public transit system. Most Canadian cities have decent transit, and living near a busy transit hub gets you around quickly.
- Join the library. Books, internet access, and information of what’s happening — and free, too.
- Owning a car is quite expensive. It’s not the purchase price or the fuel cost; insurance for new immigrants with no insurance record is unbelievable. If your employer can put you on their policy to drive one of their vehicles, you’ll find that it’ll cut your insurance premiums drastically.
- I ended up changing jobs more than I thought I might.
- Volunteering helped me get into the industry I really wanted to be in.
- Professional qualifications don’t import well. Ontario is getting a bit better at accepting foreign qualifications (my UK CEng counted for nothing) but there’s still a long way to go.
Not long after we arrived, I remember being slightly irritated when a fellow UK immigrant said, “The first three years are difficult, then it gets easy.” Looking back, I now agree with him.