My own immigration story begins back in 1997, when I first came to Vancouver on a one year work-holiday visa, almost entirely on a whim. Coming from a densely urban part of London, UK, I was astounded by the dramatic cityscape of Vancouver with its evocative skyline of skyscrapers backed by snow-capped mountains. I couldn’t believe that people were 'allowed' to live somewhere with all the usual services of a city; restaurants, offices, cinemas, buses etc., and simultaneously be on the doorstep to wilderness. I had the kind of experience-rich and carefree time that most gap year students have. But this short time in Canada would end up being the catalyst for the decisions that impacted the next decade of my life. By the time I came to leave Canada, I was well and truly smitten, and with this profound experience behind me, I wondered if I could ever live and work in Canada. I made it my personal life mission to be able to live in Vancouver permanently at some point. It took me another 13 years to make that dream come true.
Firstly, I had to get my own work experience to the point where I would be able to qualify for the Federal Skilled Worker program in place at that time. I was just approaching having enough years to make up the points when, following the political events of 2001, the points to qualify rocketed from 67 to 100. Suddenly, the goal posts had been moved far out of sight. For all intents and purposes, at that point I decided I would just have to resign myself to the likelihood that I would never be able to come to Canada, aside from as a tourist, and to get on with my own life in the UK. For the next 10 years I kept myself busy, going back to college and started a new career, but secretly keeping a small flame burning in the back of my mind tallying how many points I would have were the immigration system to change.
In 2007 I was making my regular cautious, but essentially pessimistic, search to find that the points had been lowered back down to 67. My old dreams were re-ignited. I put together all my paperwork, taking time to visit old employers, calling up University registrar for degree certificates and transcripts, applying for police clearances. I spent a few months taking French classes to squeeze a few more points from my language skills. I submitted my application in secret, not wanting anyone to know my plans in case they didn’t materialise. When I received my receipt of application notice, the processing time was described as 42-48 months and so life continued on without any indication of progress or acceptance for the next 2 years.
Then on a forever memorable day in 2009, I came home to find a small but fat brown envelope on the doormat with the CIC postmark. The next 4 months were a blur of excitement culminating in a long day queueing outside the High Comission in London to collect my passport with its shiny visa inserted. In June 2010 the long anticipated day finally arrived and I landed in Canada as a Permanent Resident.
As it turned out, that didn't become my last encounter with Canadian Immigration. A couple of years later I met a wonderful man who was in Canada on his own work visa. So it came to be to be that in 2013 I was putting together another application package; to sponsor my husband for his own permanent residency.
By 2015 I had enough years’ residency to qualify for citizenship. I submitted my citizenship application in May 2015 and was incredibly proud and humbled to take my citizenship oath on 1 February 2016.
My immigration story has been an almost 20 year history from working-holiday visa holder to Canadian citizen. It is a great privilege to now be in a position to use my training as an RCIC and personal experience to help you achieve your own Canadian dream.