After 6 weeks in Canada and the finality that we were no longer on vacation
hit with a thud – we weren’t going “home”.
I’d served 16 years in the Royal Air Force (RAF), so saying goodbye
to a “safe” job seemed surreal. The final Christmas and New
Year, the emotional family farewell, even the one way flight - it all
seemed totally unreal! We found it hard to believe that over 2 years of
planning had actually come to fruition and we were starting our new life
near Calgary. Well, it was true. I was starting my new job the next day
and the temperature was a cool - 25ºC !
We had discussed living in Canada in great length after my wife’s
sister had moved to Edmonton with her Canadian husband and were enjoying
a lifestyle we could only dream of. We tried a few DIY assessments to
see if we would qualify but found ourselves 1 point short of the “pass
mark” which was 70 at that time.
We decided that we’d have to hire an immigration professional.
When we opened up the Immigration Newspaper “Canada News”,
the first advert we saw was Access Migration Services who offered a free
assessment. We spoke to Kerry Martin and discussed our thoughts. We received
the assessment in the post, filled it in and returned it the next day.
Kerry decided that we had a good chance of qualifying and so offered us
a no visa no fee contract and so the process began.
We were inundated with forms and questionnaires and set to researching
thoroughly what it all entailed. I assembled my qualifications and sent
them to IQAS in Edmonton for a Canadian equivalency. Then I contacted
Transport Canada to see if my aircraft maintenance licenses were valid.
They weren’t, but I would be able to sit some exams, provide my
full career history and work for a minimum of 6 months in Canadian Aviation.
It didn’t seem too bad considering I was hoping to move continents!
We had to send off for police checks from Germany, the UK police and the
RAF police to prove we had no criminal records, once they were back we
could submit our application.
It was announced that the Canadian Immigration visa system was changing;
no-one knew what would happen or when it would come into effect. Kerry
kept us informed and was very reassuring during a troublesome time. I
had to put in my 18 months notice to leave as the Immigration authorities
required an exit date from the RAF – 17th Feb 2003 was the date
We watched the horror of September 11th unfold; the aviation world collapsed
and with the rest of the RAF, I became involved in the Afghan War and
the unstable world climate that followed.
We managed to spend two weeks at Andie’s sisters in Calgary during
October 2001, fitting in quad biking, hiking, trips to Banff, and also
viewing show homes. We were getting a feel for southern Alberta and its
opportunities. On our way home the airline (Canada 3000) went bankrupt
as we flew into Gatwick on it – another bad sign for my future employment.
With the police checks complete, we sent the application off to Kerry,
who returned professionally presented paperwork with supporting documents
for us to sign and return with the High Commission fees. The new Canadian
Immigration system was finally announced with stricter point scoring that
was back dated to all applications received after December 18th 2001.
Ours had arrived there on 19th December!!!! We wouldn’t qualify
under the new rules; Kerry reassured us that as the new system hadn’t
been ratified by parliament it wasn’t set in stone.
The authorities backed down after threats of legal action by several
Canadian Immigration Lawyers, the cutoff date was set as June 1st 2002.
All applications processed before then would be under the old rules –
we were back in with a chance. In Feb. 2002 our file number arrived –
we were being processed; we waited to see if we were to be called for
an interview, accepted or declined. The wait was crazy – Kerry kept
us busy with regular information mailings on Canada, the reassuring voice
on the end of the phone was worth the fee in itself. Andie’s sister
was also busy in Calgary phoning around to establish points of contact
for me. I had started to look at other employment and began some project
management courses. As with my aircraft maintenance licenses I soon realized
that UK qualifications wouldn’t readily move to the Canadian system.
I contacted the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) and found
they had an impressive curriculum of courses including several Project
Management offerings and some great technical pre-employment courses that
had a good history of the candidates finding employment in the field of
The call came out of the blue: we had been accepted subject to Medicals
and were not being called for an interview! The nearest approved clinic
was in Oxford, Andie phoned immediately, the first appointment was eight
weeks. We put the house on the market – we needed to know it was
sold before we could plan on moving. If we failed the medicals we decided
I would still leave the RAF and we would move away from the area. Andie’s
parents would let us stay with them if we sold the house.
We put the house on the market at the end of June 2002 – and had
a buyer in 3 days. The date of sale was set for the 31st August and we
would move out on the 29th. We couldn’t believe our luck, but it
wasn’t to be all plain sailing! The clinic phoned first, they had
double booked us and we’d have to wait an extra two months. Andie
had “a bit of a chat” with them and they finally agreed to
squeeze us in as an extra appointment after a heated debate!
All 4 of us had to have medicals – the kids didn’t have x-rays
or blood tests but we each had 40 minutes with the doctor, hearing and
blood pressure tests. Even though there were no health issues as far as
we knew I managed to stress about the whole deal and ended up failing
the blood pressure test. Apart from the embarrassment, I had to have a
cardiograph to make sure I was ok. This delayed the medicals being sent
back by a week as the cardiograph had to be analyzed by a cardiologist.
I didn’t feel too clever!
We checked out the different shipping agencies. Kerry recommended PSS
shipping - a family run business with a good reputation and a good quote.
When we called to book we had almost left it too late. They managed to
fit us in as we only had a relatively small load to ship. We agreed on
a shared container for the shipping on a door to door service. They would
arrive to pack everything on the 28th August. We just hoped the Medicals
While I was deployed away with the Air force, the house sale had stalled
due to an argument between the lawyers! We couldn’t sack them as
then the whole process would have to start again and there would be no
chance of us making a deadline for a currency transfer we had booked.
There were large penalties for missing the date. We couldn’t cancel
the removals at such short notice either, as it too would incur large
penalties. So we were facing moving out to Andie’s parents and leaving
the house empty whilst still paying the mortgage, taxes and bills. On
top of that the insurance was only valid for 30 days once it was empty
and we were booked on flights to Calgary to go house hunting!
Eventually, Kerry phoned with the news that we were accepted and just
had to sign some documents and send in our passports and photo’s
to claim our visas. At last the relief of knowing took away the house
nightmare for a day or two. The date was set – January 11th 2003.
There is only a 3 month window where the forms were valid so we decided
to send the paperwork off once we had returned from Canada as the house
drama was starting to become serious. We were about to set off to Canada
for a month with the house sale still in limbo. We managed to gain assurances
that things were moving behind the scenes and that all would be completed
in time for our money transfer, all we could do was board the plane and
hope for the best!
In Canada, we were recommended a local realtor (Estate Agent). He helped
us find a plot of land and reputable builder to build the house of our
dreams. We arranged a mortgage (with 35% down you don’t need to
have a job for approval) and agreed on the deal – all that was missing
was the cash! Eventually, the house sale went through, the money arrived
into our Canadian bank in 72 hours. I was astonished (and thankful) at
how the transfer went like clockwork. It was time to spend!!!! We went
in to sign the house deal with the realtor and wrote out the house purchase
agreement. The realtor handled all the negotiations on our behalf but
always made sure we agreed to everything. We put down the 10% deposit
needed to secure the deal (the rest is paid at possession) and put the
house building process into gear.
The day after we returned, we gathered up our documents and photo’s
and sent them recorded delivery to the High Commission in London. It would
take approximately 3 weeks to process and then we’d be on our way.
We researched and chose the shipping company for our Golden Retriever
which would cost us more to ship than our one way tickets! These one way
flights were booked for the 11th January 2003 and it seemed strange paying
more to ship a dog than a family of four! The rest they say, is history!
We’ve been here 18 months now and can honestly say it has worked
out better than we had ever imagined. The first 8 months or so had more
stress than I have ever had before and times were extremely hard but now
we are settled it’s hard to imagine being back in the UK. The air
is clean, scenery amazing and there is so much to do there’s no
spare time! The beer isn’t too clever but you can’t have everything!
I hope this will give you an insight into Canadian Immigration and inspire
rather than disturb!! If you decide to give it a go – good luck!
About the Author:
The author immigrated to Canada in 2003 and has constructed a free information
about Canadian Immigration and life in Canada based on his family’s
Read more articles by: Dave
Article Source: www.iSnare.com
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