Getting a VISA… The hard way!

As we wait on the fate of our PR application here is the story of our visa quest so far.

Henry and I have been lucky enough to work in other countries before. We both have done winter seasons in Austria when working and moving was much easier. Henry is a qualified snowboard instructor so found work very easily in the winter, and working in a European ski resort as a woman as long as you have a head and boobs it didn’t really matter how good your language skills were. Moving to Europe (back then) was certainly a lot easier. But my guess is that will all change, Thank you BREXIT.

We first started our application for a Canadian visa in October 2015. After some research we were aware that we didn’t have the qualifications the country was looking for, and we were over the age of those looking for just a working holiday visa. So, we decided to find an agency that would help us through the stages and give us some guidance. We contacted a company called CanadaVisa who gave promise of Permanent Residency before you had even left the country you live in. We had long telephone calls with them and really put our trust in this company to help us. Weeks were spend getting paperwork together, getting police checks and education reports. We initially thought if we could get PR before even leaving England, we would have the security and comfort we needed to start a life here. We forked out around $3000 to this company. They told us that we were put in the pool and had to wait to be “picked”. We waited patiently with zero contact from this company for a whole year. We had completely put our trust in them, and with zero experience in this field, what other choice did we have. After the year passed, they contacted us to say our application had expired and that if we wanted to keep trying, we had to pay out another $3000.

Needless to say, we did not do that.

If anyone is embarking on the same challenges, I would not recommend this company.

That’s me being polite. I wonder how many other young people fall for this.

Feeling very disheartened we decided to go the traditional route and go through the Canadian government website. Much cheaper, and apparently faster, we decided to apply for a work visa and then work towards PR. Research said that if you go under a work permit, after a year you can apply for PR as you have experience in the country.

www.canada.ca is the website for those trying.

Now this route is much cheaper, although still easily another 500 GBP each. The main downside is they cannot give you any advice. We went to the immigration office, filled out the forms, did the biometrics and sat in a waiting room for hours. We had a short meeting with an agent who asked us minimal questions and then we were sent on our way. From memory it was valentine’s day. So romantic!

6 months passed while we waited.

We then received the letter we had been waiting for!! So exciting, this was it, we finally had our free pass to go.

DENIED!

So heartbreaking. What had we done wrong this time? Neither of us had a job offer in Canada, which was apparently what they wanted on the forms. NO ONE TOLD US THIS!! When we sat in the interview, the agent read all the paperwork, he knew that information was missing but because of the nature of the application they are really not allowed to tell you anything.

You cant get a job offer without a visa, and you cant get a visa without a job offer….go figure!

Both feeling completely disheartened and angry, but still we knew this was the dream.

We decided to give it one more shot and find a company that was more on a personal level. A smaller immigration lawyer service that we could speak to when ever we wanted and could really help us make this happen.

On our summer road trip in 2018 we discovered CanDo immigration in Kelowna BC. We had video calls with a lawyer and he has looked after our case ever since.

I highly recommend this company. If anyone out there is looking for advice and support then visit https://candoimmigration.ca/ our case worker is Jamie and had has been fantastic.

The way we got in was a little complicated but basically….

I got the work visa approved in November 2018. (Note this is the exact month I found out I was pregnant. Again, go figure) I had to get the visa approved before I was 30 because of age restriction and basically the province requirements for international workers. It was a 2-year work permit. I then was advised to not activate the visa until after I had Rocket and we arrived in the country. It had to be within one year of being approved otherwise you would have to start all over again, by that point I would have been over 30 and it would have been a big fat no! so January 2020 when we flew to Canada, I was going to activate it.

I was not aware that to activate a visa you had to physically do it when you landed in the country. As soon as you arrived you had to declare it. We landed at 10pm at night with 3 ageing dogs, a 6 month old and a shit load of luggage. We had a very long tiring flight because of an emotional goodbye and when we landed the last thing I wanted to do was sit in another office waiting for someone to stamp my visa. So, we went straight to the air bnb. 3 days later when we pulled ourselves together, we drove back to the airport to activate it. BAD IDEA. I think if I hadn’t of looked such an emotional mess, they would have packed us back on the next flight home. if you do not do it as soon as you land then they are supposed to refuse it.  Can you imagine??? All that hassle, all them years, ended because I was too tired to do it straight away. Thankfully we had a very kind Canadian airport officer who saw me break down on the floor and really helped me out. She slapped me on the wrist, stamped my visa and off we went. I cried all the way home!

After the drama of activating my visa, I got a job and started it within one week. I had to work for 3 full pay checks in a lever B or higher job and then Henry would get a spousal visa through me. Thankfully that is what I found, and CanDo stood up to their side of the bargain and got henry his spousal visa.

If you want to hear the rest of that story you can read my post “Settling in”

In classic Curtis family style, the drama never ends as you will read!

I don’t expect us to get PR easily, but bloody hell! It’s about time we deserved a bit of good luck.

If you are thinking of applying for a visa my advice would be:

  • Don’t hesitate, go young and more doors will open to you. And when I say you, I mean under 25.
  • If you don’t have the qualifications or the history they are looking for then don’t be disheartened, you can do it, you just may have to pay more
  • Avoid big company’s offering a quick fix. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

Our work permit application through Cando has cost us about $6k with all the paperwork and taxes. PR is costing around $10k. It’s is expensive! ….Just bare that in mind. But don’t let that deter you, if you want it, it’s worth the money.

2 thoughts on “Getting a VISA… The hard way!

  1. Hi Beau, this is a very thorough and comprehensive coverage of your route to PR so far., so helpful for those considering the process! Again I applaud you and Henry’s determination to see it through and for exposing the pitfalls for others! You will get there I know you will, lots of love to you Henry and Rocket xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

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