Permanence

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In September, I wrote about the process of applying for permanent residence. I also explained that I did not have a time line for having my application processed:

“Now we are waiting. We are hoping that Wife will be approved as a sponsor in January or February. Once she is approved as a sponsor, I can apply for an open work permit. An open work permit is valid until a decision is made regarding my application for permanent residence.  We do not have a time frame for the processing of my permanent residence application. It might take a few months, it might take a year.”

In December I was obsessively checking the application processing times posted on the CIC website every few days (even though they were updated irregularly). According to their website, our application was just about to begin being processed. However, just before Christmas, we received three letters from CIC.

The first letter was addressed to Wife. It said that she had been approved as a sponsor and then outlined her legal responsibilities.

The second letter was addressed to me. It said that I had met the eligibility requirements for permanent residence and that any interview would be conducted by my local CIC office.

The third letter said that we were required at an examination interview on Dec 30th at 10:15 AM. The manner in which the letter was written strongly suggested that I was going to be granted permanent residence. I was so relieved that I cried.

Despite two glasses of wine the previous evening (designed to help me sleep), I was awake and staring at the ceiling at 6:30 am on the morning of the interview.

We arrived at the federal government building and made our way to the immigration office. We lined up and paid the $490 Right of Permanent Residence Fee and were told to take a seat. I was absolutely terrified. I did not know what questions we would be asked. What if I didn’t know the answer? What if they didn’t like my answer?

Also, after five weeks and three days of hobbling along on crutches, it was the first day that I was allowed to walk. I had decided to wear a pair of shoes because I was concerned that the immigration officer would that someone who had broken their ankle by falling on ice wasn’t cut out to be Canadian. I was also worried that the immigration officer would ask me to walk up a flight of stairs.

My mind goes to some very interesting places when I’m scared.

An hour after our scheduled appointment time, we were called in to an interview room. A really nice immigration officer asked me to confirm my passport number and information that I had provided on my application form. Then, while I signed some paperwork, she asked Wife a few questions about our financial situation. Then she complimented the design of Australian passports, stamped my passport, told me that I would receive my PR card in two months and congratulated me.

I thanked her profusely.

As we sat and ate vegetarian bi bim bap after the interview, I stared at my passport and felt a wave of homesickness wash over me.

“I feel so guilty. I’m so happy that I’ve been granted permanent residence. I wanted it more than anything else. I just feel really sad.”

Wife held me while I sniffled.

I need to go home. I need to see my family and friends. I need to feel moisture in the air. I need familiar currency in my palm. I need cars to drive in the right direction. I need to hear familiar accents and vocabulary.

Most importantly I need to see that Melbourne has changed.

I need to be reminded that these cold, dry prairies are my home.

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