So yet again it has been a while so an update is needed. The big news is…I got my Permanent Residency Yay!! I have been reluctant to talk about my PR journey through Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) aka: Citizenship and Immigration, Canada (CIC) – I just didn’t want to jinx it. I’ve noticed the last post was before Christmas where I talk about job letters and language tests etc.
If I backtrack to November, I actually entered the Express Entry pool in November (after clearing my one year of Canadian work experience). I had to input information about myself, my education, my skilled work experience, my language test results – I did the ‘International English Language Testing System’ (IELTS)**. The profile took around 30 minutes to fill in and then I had to create an account at Job Bank.ca (it is a requirement if you don’t have a job offer /’Labour Market Impact Assessment’ – LMIA) – my honest thought on Job Bank is that it is a waste of time and hardly anyone gets job offers through it.
**If you want to know a bit more about IELTS, please read this post
My profile was successfully added to the Express Entry (EE) pool of candidates under Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) and Canadian Experience Class (CEC)
I finally got my Invitation to Apply (ITA) under FSW in early December with 468 points (based on age, education, work experience and language test results) – this is also known as the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). I then had the wonderful task of submitting all documentation within 60 days.
This was by no means an easy task as outlined below:
Like the IEC application online, it followed a similar format where you upload particular documents in each section as required:
Education – My Education Credential Assessment (ECA), Degree certificate and University transcripts
Passport – Copy of the bio page and any pages with stamps/visas
Digital Photo – like the photo for the IEC application
Police Certificate – UK police certificate (you have to get one from every country where you have spent 6 months or more altogether since you were 18)
Medical – You have to have an upfront medical for PR application. I had already has two done for the IEC so I knew the process but it still cost me $300. I upload the proof of medical sheet as the designated clinic sends the results onto CIC
Employment Records – Each work experience (skilled – NOC A, B or 0) had to have a reference letter stating salary, dates worked, job positions held, job duties (very important as these had to match with the NOC code but NOT copied and pasted – many people get rejected for this) on company letter head and signed by the HR representative/Direct Manager.
I had 3 letters to get all for the same NOC code. I only had issues with one letter, where the HR Manager was annoyed I had written the drafted the letters myself (despite me sending web links and scanned documents to show why I needed the information) and took out most of the job duties as he ‘didn’t want the letter to go over 2 pages (despite the fact that it did already). I asked him to put this back in and explained I could get rejected if CIC did not feel my experience reflected the NOC code but he refused. Instead he allowed me to submit the Job Description when applied for the job (I usually keep these and use them to write my cover letters when applying) – I submitted all of this information as well as screenshots of the email communication between him and myself and giving me permission to use the job description. I explained all of this in my Letter of Explanation (LOE) – more on this later.
As well as the letters, I also submitted my T4s/tax information for my Canadian jobs, pay slips to show proof of working (usually one at the beginning of the job, one at the end/most recent and some in between).
Financial Support – This is not required for CEC, although you still have to upload a bank statement but there is no minimum proof of funds. For FSW however, the minimum amount is$12, 164 (for 2016) that you must have held or at least 6 months prior to your application. You need to evidence this by getting letters from your banks stating when the account(s) were opened, average balance over the last 6 months and printed on headed paper, dated etc. This was the most challenging part of my application as it requested ALL financial institutions, even if you had the minimum amount that CIC want to see in one account.
My Canadian banks (TD and CIBC) were fine although I did have to pay $15 each for the letter lol. It took 3 attempts to get the correct letter from Nationwide Bank in the UK as I contacted them visa the web and they then wanted me to go into a branch to get the letter. When I explained to them I wasn’t in the UK they did do it on my behalf and sent me the letter I needed with all the required information but I was concerned for a while.
CIC also want to know about loans and debts so I included my credit card information.
Student Loans is a difficult one to say for sure. On the one hand, it is considered a debt, on the other side of the argument, UK student loans are income assessed (whereby you only pay back an amount based on what you are earning). When you go for mortgage advise in the UK they only take your repayments that you you make each month, not the entire debt. In this particular example, student loans (from the UK) is not the same as a house or car loan as it does not affect your credit score. Many immigration forum post if you do a search advise that CIC are not so concerned about UK student loans debt. It is up to you how you wish to proceed with this (I know that I have had a few debates with people over this) but I believe if you already have at least the minimum funds required they are probably not going to refuse you just because you owe the government $30,000 from trying to get an education. Other countries may view their own student loans as commercial debt.
So that was the documentation but there are also forms to fill in online before you can submit:
Personal Details – Name, DOB, Nationality etc.
Contact Details – Address, Phone, and Email etc.
Address History – Everywhere you have resided in the last 10 years. I included all my Canadian addresses including the hostel when I first arrived but forgot about student hall when I was at university.
Study and Languages – University information/ ECA and language test results (IELTS or CELPIP).
Work History – Only put the work history you want points for (skilled). If you put that you worked in a bar in Ibiza in August 2006 then CIC will want a reference letter. This was where I put my 3 jobs information.
Personal History – Everything you have done in the last 10 years with no gaps – work, traveling, studying, military etc. CIC want the month and year, what you were doing. No gaps and no overlaps otherwise the form won’t save properly.
Travel History – This is by far the biggest pain in the ass. CIC want EVERYWHERE you have traveled to outside of your country of birth/residence within the last 10 years or since you turned 18 (if less then 10 years). This is where you look at passport stamps, flight conformations, hotels booking etc to get those precious dates. Luckily I had kept a lot of that information but struggled with some European trips (no passport stamps). You have to put the exact/approximate date/month and year, country traveled to, purpose of travel and where you visited.
The travel history is also where CIC can catch you out as if they work out through the dates that you have spent over 6 months in a particular country AND you did not submit a police certificate for that country they can reject the application or ask you for that document.
Letter of Explanation (LOE) *optional – this is such an important document as mine was 30-40 pages long. This is where you tell CIC about anything else to do with your application. For example – if you can’t get a police certificate from a particular country, issues with work experience letters, any extra qualification certificates that ECA would not accredit, and any extra financial information. I think at some point I will make a separate post about this as I swear this is what got me through and lessened my chances of rejection.
Once everything is filled in and uploaded then you pay the application fee ($550) and everything gets sent to CIC. About 24 hours later I got an Acknowledgment of Receipt (AOR) stating that they had received my application and would begin processing my application within the timescales (6 months for Express Entry).
The online page, when you log into myCIC is similar to the page for the IEC
This was what my application looked like a week later after the medicals were passed and my background check went ‘into progress’ – usually this is a good sign for people who are ‘outland’ (applying outside of Canada) as it means the Passport and Photo Request (PPR) is just around the corner. Not in my case though.
I didn’t hear from CIC until end of April when they asked for my Right of Permanent Resident Fee (RPRF), which is another $490 per person named in the application. You can pay the RPRF at the time you submit and CIC also advise you to do this as well.
I still believe that if I had paid my RPRF at the start, my PPR request would have come through at the end of April/start of May but because I didn’t, I had to wait another 2 months for this. I have ordered my notes (known as The Global Case Management System – GCMS) associated with my application. This is where you make a privacy request to CIC to find out everything that has been written about your application by the officers. Many people do this if they have no update for a while or are just curious to see what is happening with their application. I didn’t want to do it and worry about things written on it but now I really want to know just for shits and giggles 🙂 – please note you can only order these if you live in Canada otherwise you have to get someone to order them by request (Lawyer/representative). GCMS is free under ‘Privacy Act’ for people who live in Canada and $5 under ‘Information Act’ and for people outside of Canada. It does take around 30 days to receive them though, so I have a bit of a wait.
The last 2 months were agonizing. I didn’t know if they would request further information or documents and if my application would go over 6 months.
Fortunately, I received the PPR request and the same day went down to London Drugs to get my 2 photos and then a couple of XpressPost envelopes from Canada Post (CIC only send your Confirmation of Permanent Residence – COPR) in one of these pre-paid envelopes so you include one within your application. You would have thought with all the money you have given them; they could at least pay your postage costs lol. I also had to send a copy of my passport bio page but it depends on which country you are from as some countries require a visa and so you have to send your passport off as well.
Luckily the envelopes can be tracked and I could see online that CIC had received my package. A few days later, myCIC account was updated to ‘Closed and Approved’
Then a few days later, the tracking number for the pre-paid envelope was activated and my COPR arrived yesterday 🙂
So there you have it!
My timeline was within the 6 months but this is the breakdown:
Entered the EE pool – November 8 2015
ITA received under FSW – December 8 2015
Application submitted and AOR – January 6 2016
Medical Passed – January 15 2016
Background Check ‘In Progress’ – January 15 2016
RPRF Request – April 26 2016
PPR – June 20 2016
Application Approved and Closed (Decision Made) – June 25 2016
COPR – June 29 2016
This is the approximate breakdown of costs (CAD$) for the documents and fees for the PR application for myself but it depends on what documents you require and if any need to be translated. All of mine were in English so there was no need:
IELTS language test– $300
ECAS through WES (World Education Services) – $200
Transcipts from University to send to WES including international postage – $100
Financial letters from banks – $30 (TD and CIBC charged me)
Medical – $300
CIC PR Application Fee – $550
RPRF – $490
Passport Photos for PPR – $15
Xpresspost pre-paid envelopes (Canada Post) x 2 – one to send and one for CIC to send COPR back – $40
So altogether just over $2000 and if there is more than one person (spouse/family etc) then the cost is much much higher.
The last thing I need to do now is ‘land’, which like the IEC means I need to leave Canada and re-enter via a Port of Entry (POE). However, instead of flag poling at Point Roberts, I have an appointment at the Vancouver CIC office to do an ‘inland landing’ – this is an option for people already legally working or studying in Canada. I booked this through the CIC help line and after being on hold for 20 minutes I got through to a human who passed on my request for an appointment. 3 hours later I get an email from the Vancouver office informing me the time, date and what documents to bring.
I will then need to go to the Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) office in Vancouver to show my ‘Goods to Follow’ list. This is where if I decide to bring any large items/personal possessions from the UK, I need to declare them at the time of landing otherwise I will have to pay taxes/duty on them in the future. As it happens I do have books, CDs, DVDs and photo albums that will have to come over in the future so presently my mother is going through all my crap to let me know what there is.
Also after I have ‘landed ‘ and am officially a Permanent Resident then my residency obligations begin – being present for 730 days (around 2 years) of every 5 years to keep my status.
I will do another blog entry after I have landed and updated my SIN and all that lovely stuff. In the mean time, these are my tips for the Express Entry PR application:
1. You can get some documents whilst you are waiting in the EE pool before the ITA. These can include: work reference letters, doing your travel and personal history, any police checks that will take over 60 days to get (e.g. FBI).
2. The LOE is a very important document, put anything you wish to add or that you feel would help your application. Likewise if they’re any issues with any documents that you can’t get hold of or information is missing – TELL CIC!
3. Be honest – its simple I know but don’t lie in your application because if they find out you can be done for misrepresentation and banned from the country.
4. Pay the RPRF at the same time you submit the PR application. It means you pay over $1000 in fees but I think it speeds up the application processing time. Mine took an extra 2 months to go from RPRF to PPR and I think it is because they just left my application in a while and worked on other applications where they paid this at the start – only the GCMS notes will confirm if this was the case for me.
5. Just on the GCMS notes, I wouldn’t bother ordering them unless you go over the 6-month processing time. They take 30 days to come through and I have heard of people ordering them 3 weeks after AOR – what exactly are they going to say at that point?
6. Lastly, utilize immigration forums but be aware that there can be a lot of incorrect information/advise and scare mongering. I used British Expat Forum, which has been very helpful for my IEC and PR and I will use in the future for my Citizenship application. Other online forums are not always like that.
I would like to say to anyone reading this GOOD LUCK on your journey to live in Canada
IRCC/CIC Express entry completeness information as of January 2016 – This information is very useful in showing you exactly what CIC are looking for especially in regards to the information required for the financial letters and work experience letters.
Canadian Experience Class (CEC) – Eligibility and minimum requirements. You DO Not need to show proof of funds for CEC
GCMS notes – Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) If you order by selecting ‘Privacy Act’ then there is no charge otherwise under ‘Access to Information Act’ the cost is $5. You must already be residing in Canada in order to order your GCMS notes.
International English Language Testing System (IELTS) – One of the accepted organizations for English Testing.
Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) – The other accepted organization for English Language testing. You can only complete this test if you are in Canada