Category Archives: oh canada

Identity, residency and legal status

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I’ve been pondering this topic – identity, residency and legal status – for about a month.

In February I received my permanent resident (PR) card. It’s a very important important piece of ID: you need it to leave and re-enter Canada as a permanent resident and to access certain government services. It is also the end of my application for permanent residency.

Now I jokingly identify as “Canadian Lite” – most of the responsibilities, most of the rights. Compared to living in Canada on a working holiday visa, I do have some important additional rights: I am allowed to live in Canada indefinitely (so long as I meet PR requirements), I pay the same school fees as Canadians and my Social Insurance Number does not expire. However, my limitations are very similar to those that applied to my working holiday visa: can’t vote, can’t receive EI, can’t serve on a jury and am not eligible for certain government jobs.

However, I’m surprised by how much easier it is to view Canada as my home. I feel far less homesick. Plus I feel so much happier. I don’t anxiously check our mail everyday, looking for the brown kraft paper envelope used for government correspondence. I don’t anxiously refresh the CIC website, hoping for additional information on the application process. I don’t lay awake at night, anxiously making contingency plans.

My privilege as a white English speaking immigrant is much more apparent. I can complain about Canadian politics, culture and society. I argue with my co workers about minimum wage, living wage and the necessity of trade unions. I can joke that “Canada is bullshit. I was promised that the cops ride horses.” No one will tell me that I should go back to where I came from.

Like most of my rambles on identity, I don’t have a neat conclusion for this one.

 

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.

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Visitor’s visa

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I’ve been busy lately. As I’ve mentioned on Twitter, my work permit expires in January and I am not able to renew it. So I applied for a visitor’s visa. I was really worried that my application would not be processed before my work permit expired and that I would need to leave the country. Fortunately I’m allowed to legally remain in Canada until a decision is made.

Compared to a permanent residence application, applying for a visitor’s visa application was super simple. I just needed to complete a form explaining why I originally came to Canada, why I wanted to stay longer and how I intended to support myself. We also needed to gather supporting documents. So Wife obtained another letter from her employer outlining her position and salary and she also wrote a letter stating that she would support me.

Actually I wrote the letter. She’s far too busy and stressed from working to support our family to have time to write a letter saying that she will support our family. Perhaps I should have put that in the letter.

It was mostly stressful because I needed to persuasively yet succinctly explain why I should be allowed to stay. It’s like a job interview. You need to convince the person reading your application that you should be chosen.

Immigration: an explanation

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Several people have asked me how I am applying for permanent residence in Canada. This blog post is about our personal experience of preparing an application. It does not, obviously, constitute legal advice.

You are not automatically entitled to permanent residence when you marry a Canadian! However, you are allowed to apply for a visa. We are applying for an in Canada Spousal or Common Law Partner visa. As the name suggests, you must be married or in a common law relationship with a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and currently living in Canada. In order to apply, you must complete several reams of paperwork.

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Summer

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Australians and Canadians have very different attitudes about summer.

Australians enjoy the beginning of summer. It’s nice to see the sun peek out from behind the clouds, leave our jackets in the wardrobe and plan barbeques. However, as the weeks where the temperature never dips below the high twenties, even at night, pass, as the beaches become more and more crowded as people attempt to escape the sweltering heat, as the sidewalk burns and the public transportation stops working … well, winter sounds like an amazing respite.

However, Canadians enjoy every moment of summer. It’s amazing to watch the snow melt, to leave coats and boots and mittens and hats in the closet. It also signals the beginning of numerous outdoor festivals and events. People take holidays in order to spend time with their friends and family.

Which is where I have been. Spending time with Wife (she alternates between loving my company and wanting to murder me). Spending time with friends. Rekindling old connections and making new ones.

And I’ve been loving it.

Vancation!

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Last night I had a photo taken for my U.S visa application, completed the DS-160 and paid a deposit for a hostel in Seattle. Then I learned that there are no visa appointments available at the consulate for the next two months.

Sadly we are not going to Seattle.

So we are going to have an amazing trip to Vancouver! With a stop in Kelowna to visit vineyards!

Can we talk about patriotism and privilege please?

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This year I celebrated my second Canada Day. Last year we were busy moving into our first home, so the day was spent moving boxes and furniture. However, this year we wandered downtown to watch the Canada Day festivities. It was great to wander around, wear my Vancouver 2010 Olympic t-shirt and hoodie, observe the hustle and bustle whilst eating gelato, watch some Serbian dancing and hang out with my Wife and Friend.

However, I have a complicated relationship with Canada Day.

Canada Day is  an over-the-top celebration of colonial history. It is the 143rd birthday of the Dominion of Canada. Canada Day erases the history of Indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples who had their own nations, confederations, histories, religions, languages and cultures for thousands of years.

I realise that when my accent changes (it will), I will pass as a Canadian. Unlike people of colour who are be second or third generation Canadian citizens, I won’t be asked “Where I’m from” or “Where I was born.” I won’t be asked to speak about my culture. I won’t be exoticised.

Unlike Indigenous people who find that their cultures, histories and languages can be reviled and fetishised (sometimes in the same breath). Despite these cultures, histories and languages being authentically “Canadian.”

Furthermore, as someone who benefits from colonialism, I always walk a fine line between recognising my privilege and colonial history and appropriating the genuine hurt and anger of Indigenous peoples.

It’s suprisingly similar to the way that I feel about Australia Day. Yet it’s complicated.