Moving to Canada
So you want to come to Canada, eh? First of all, contrary to widespread belief, we don't say 'eh' all the time. In fact, there are a few untruths out there about the country, one of which is that it's a cinch to get in. It's important to dispel the myth that Canada's doors are wide open to whomever wishes to enter, so; that you can ensure you're one of those who does get in.
Ninety per cent of skilled worker applicants are successful, but this is partly due to a preliminary self-assessment they are encouraged to do, resulting in many deciding not to apply. But, if you have the skills and the profile that Canada is looking for, you could be off to a new life in a vast and beautiful country.
Defining your Goals
- Perhaps you want to come to a country less restricted and/ or more stable than your own.
- Maybe you have family here whom you'd like to join or you simply fancy a lifestyle change. You may feel Canada offers a higher standard of living than your own country.
- Are there employment opportunities in your field that don't exist in your country? Is there a business you'd like to start that you think would prosper better in a competitive and growing economy like that of Canada?
- Perhaps you prefer to first sample life in Canada through a working holiday programme or a limited-time working permit.
- Do you want to take a particular course of study at a Canadian university or college? Or are you just coming over on a short-term student exchange?
- Maybe you just want to backpack around the country or visit friends and relatives for longer than a few weeks.
Sticking to your Decision
Once you start making serious preparations to come to Canada - especially if it's to settle for good - you may begin to have doubts. It is a courageous act to leave a life you know for one that is unknown. You may be worrying about cultural differences, homesickness or you may be afraid that your bravery will lead you to failure. This is perfectly natural. Just remain clear about your motives, informed about your choices and prepared for what will greet you. And know that even if you don't have family or friends await ing you, you are not alone. There are agencies and organisations in many Canadian communities that are set up to help immigrants and new visitors.
The host programme
This helps you get settled in your community. It is a free service that introduces you to a Canadian who helps you learn about how things are done in Canada. For example this person will help you with the following:
- grocery shopping
- registering your children for school
- how to use local transport
- how to arrange television, phone and other utility services.
To join the host programme, contact a local immigrant service agency. There is also the Language Instruction for Newcomers (LINC) programme and the Immigration Settlement and Adaptation Program (ISAP).
Adjusting to Culture Shock
Canada is like most industrialised countries, so if you're from the Western world you may not find it all that different. The greatest adjustment will probably be getting used to the cli mate and the vast spaces. Make sure the clothing you bring is appropriate for the season, but don't overdo it. You don't need three down jackets all at once in the wintertime, but a warm jacket, gloves, a hat and boots are necessary. If you bring clothing you can layer, your wardrobe will be at its most versatile for any season.
Canada's biggest cities are so multicultural that anyone of any race or religion is bound to find a community they can feel comfortable in. Smaller towns, however, are less diverse and the adjustment might be more dramatic.
Other than that, the differences are bound to be little ones only you would notice: office etiquette, slang words, hours of operation for businesses and shops etc. You'll soon settle right in.
Before you Leave
If you're coming to live in Canada as a permanent resident, don't sell your house or give up your job until your papers have come through. You have about a year to get to Canada once you receive your visa. Regardless of whether you're coming as an immigrant, temporary worker, student or visitor, do not make any life-altering decisions based on your travels, until you are certain you are going and have your visa or work permit in your hand.
When you do come across, don't pack your official documents in your suitcase, but carry them with you. This includes your passport; visa/immigrant papers for you and anyone else you are travelling with; birth certificate; baptismal certificates; marriage certificates; adoption, separation or divorce papers; school records, diplomas and degrees; trade or professional certificates; immunisation, vaccination, dental and other health records; driver's licence and any accident record from your insurance company; car registration (if you are importing your car); employer reference letters.
Also, bring with you two copies of a detailed list of all personal or household items you are bringing with you or that will follow you later. Last but certainly not least, make sure you have sufficient funds for short-term living expenses.