My Canniversary (Canada + anniversary) was on September 1st. A day before I went to Point Roberts to activate my new two year work permit. For anyone that doesn’t know, Point Roberts is an area government by the USA just below Delta and Tsawwassen. Point Roberts is unique as you have to enter Canada in order to get to the rest of the USA. As it is so tiny, it means it is generally quiet.
I made my way to Richmond Bridport station and took the 603 bus for Delta all the way to the end of the route at 54th Street and 2nd Avenue. After crossing a small park, you come to 56th street and just carrying on down the road the USA border. There I informed the officer that I wanted to activate a Canadian work permit and he asked for my POE/LOI (Point of Entry/Letter of Introduction). He gave me a piece of paper saying I had been given an ‘administrative refusal’, I believe this means that I refused to enter rather than them refusing me but I am sure I will find out soon enough if this is going to cause issues for me entering the USA in the future :). I have to say the officer was very polite and friendly and warned me that the Canadian side may not have power (due to bad weather that weekend) and then made a joke saying ‘what do you expect it is Canada but don’t tell I said that’. I laughed as in my experience I don’t find the US Border Officers very friendly.
The Canadian side is a stone throw way from the USA and I made my way over there with all my paperwork and the refusal document from the USA. As this was around 9am on Sunday morning, things were very quiet. The officer who dealt with me was very polite and only asked to see my LOI and proof of medical exam. I did have my proof of funds and insurance as well as police certificate from the UK, original IEC application form and the kitchen sink (knowing how OCD I am about this stuff and taking everything and anything with me); but he did not ask for this. However, I would not advice anyone to leave out any documentation required as part of the IEC permit as you may not be given it by the officer.
In regards to the medical proof, the officer made a strange comment informing me that a lot of people don’t both with this. Again I would not recommend this if you are planning on working in one of the designated fields that require a medical examination i.e. health care, agriculture, children, elderly etc. In fact looking at the list on CIC (Citizenship and Immigration Canada) website I don’t think I needed one this year but best to be safe rather than sorry. After half an hour (bit longer then I thought it would take), I received my new ‘open’ work permit valid for two years.
I tried to ask the officer about the new eTA coming into force next March for visa exempt countries. eTA is like the USA ESTA and will cost CAD$7 for 5 years. Although cheaper than the ESTA, it is still a pain that British visitors and myself with a valid work permit will have to purchase this in order to enter the country by air, (land and sea do not count). The officer informed me that he had only heard about this a month ago and was surprised I knew about it. Then again I have heard that the communication between CIC and CBSA (Canada Border Services Agency) is terrible!
So now with another two years, it is time to make a start on the PR (Permanent Residency) application. The day before I went to the border I had my IELTS test (International English Language Testing System). This is the test everyone has to take to go through EE (Express Entry) for PR routes through work/employment. The test consisted of a listening, reading and writing exam as well as a speaking part under very strict exam conditions. The exams are marked in bands from Band 0/1 (did not attempt the test/non user) to Band 9 (expert user). I got the results today and received the following:
Listening – Band 9 (CLB level 10)
Reading – Band 7.5 (CLB level 9)
Writing – Band 7.5 (CLB level 10)
Speaking – Band 9 (CLB level 10)
I am slightly upset with the reading and writing scores, especially the reading but it is not the most simplest exam even if your first language is English. The Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLBs) from the CIC website Language Equivalency Charts is shown in brackets). The minimum CLB for Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) and Canadian Experience Class (CEC) is level 7 so it appears I can apply so far.
The next stage for myself is to get my Educational Credential Assessment (ECA), which is mandatory for FSW but not for CEC. However, The ECA will give me extra points within EE and more chance of being picked from ‘the pool’ and invited to apply for PR.
I also need to wait until at least the en of October 2015 to apply under CEC as I have to acquire at least one year of skilled work experience in Canada under the same National Occupational Classification (NOC). This means my work has to be under the same area/discipline and in my case both jobs since I arrived are under NOC 4212 Social and Community Service Workers (skill level B).
It is very early days with this and I know already that I will come up against barriers and will end up throwing mass fits of anger and hysteria when asked by CIC for more information or, worst case scenario – a rejected application.
I am going to try for this ONCE and ONCE only. I have come to the conclusion that if it is not meant to be then it won’t happen but I at least have to try – right?
Wish me luck!