When considering Immigration, probably the most important question and possibly the hardest to answer is "is this the right thing to do"? This, of course, is the question only YOU can answer and it depends a lot on your family. If you're single then there are your parents, siblings, and other close family and friends you may miss who have to be informed.
If you're married (or separated) with a family then it's a totally different scenario. If your kids are old enough to understand then they have to be fully informed and you have to listen to them. Both partners need to be 100% committed to the idea - a half hearted attempt or negative attitude will make the transition even harder and make failure a more likely outcome.
This is a deeply personal subject and we experienced it first hand. Before we had kids we had visited Canada and I wanted to go for immigration - my wife wasn't sure and didn't feel comfortable with the idea so we dropped it. About 3 years later after another visit to a different part of the country everything changed; we had a son and the town that was visited was everything we had dreamed of to raise our child. The lifestyle available was vastly superior to the way we were living and obtainable by ordinary people. My wife came back to the UK and announced that she was 100% behind an immigration application and we set the ball rolling straight away - the rest, they say, is history!!!!
So, once you are all in agreement, then you are past the first step. The real "fun" starts here!!
You need to consider your options very carefully -which Visa class do you qualify to apply for and if there is more than one that fits, which is the best for you? In Canada there are 7 standard classes of immigration visa and then a seventh separate class if you are applying to live in Quebec. All of the main 6 visa types are administered by the Citizen and Immigration Canada (CIC) department which was established in 1994 to handle all the Citizenship and Immigration procedures. Quebec runs its own immigration system!
Read each of the types of visa and go through them in great detail - always err on the side of caution and be conservative in your assessment of your case. I was applying for the skilled worker class under the old system (70 points) and assumed that with my wife's sister living in Canada (married to a Canadian) I would score an extra 5 points and bring my total to 74.
After several months of assumptions I checked it and found that I wouldn't be entitled to the points and so failed to meet the pass mark. Then we hired Kerry Martin of Access Migration Services to act on our behalf and she eventually secured the permanent residency for us. Unfortunately, Kerry no longer offers the service for Canada.
The skilled worker class is by far the most popular choice of immigration application and is currently taking at least 18 - 24 months for applications to be processed. (This is always changing so check the Visa Page for the up to date info) The CIC site has an excellent self assessment tool for you to use - if you pass easily then you shouldn't have a problem with the application. If you don't reach the pass mark or are close/don't want to do it on your own; then I would recommend hiring an Immigration professional (Lawyer or consultant).
If you are short of points for your immigration, there are several ways of earning more - learning second language skills (English or French) is possibly the quickest method. Gaining work experience will take the appropriate number of years as will any educational improvements you may need. Definitely don't submit your application until it is complete and check it over several times to avoid submitting an application with mistakes. They will most likely be found and will then delay your application while they are sorted out. Always give EVERYTHING that you are asked to provide and to be honest try to give more - extra evidence of work history, personal character references, other qualifications or skills - to give too much info shouldn't affect the application, not enough definitely will!!
Okay, you have chosen the visa, compiled the application and submitted it - what next? Well, depending upon the type of visa you have applied for you can check the CIC website for the approximate processing times and see how long you have to wait. This time could be several years so you can spend it very proactively and improve your chances of a successful resettlement.
If your educational levels are in need of a boost you would be able to complete some fairly high level courses in 2 years. The major problem is that whatever course you do - make sure it can be
Transferred To Canada.
This will most likely be a lengthy process with a fair chance it won't work. The best option would be to enroll on internet courses with Canadian colleges - then the resulting qualification is Canadian.
Another option is to learn new skills (typing. Welding, electrics, auto maintenance) most skilled trades are in very short supply in Canada and even if it isn't your chosen career, they pay well and would give you an excellent start in the Canadian workforce. It is always easier to find the career you want from a well paid job. It is most unlikely that your trade skills will transfer directly across to the Canadian system as there are separate
for most trades across each Province. Definitely expect to have to retrain and/or sit exams prior to be allowed to work in that profession.
I would recommend checking with the qualification equivalency agency for whichever Province you intend to move to and find out exactly what you require in the way of documentation. This could be as simple as course transcripts or calenders showing the amount of time you had to study each subject to acheive your qualifications. It is far simpler to obtain all the correct documents BEFORE you leave your home country than it is to find yourself in canada in 5 years time, needing them to apply for a course.
We are facing this at the moment for my wife who has decided to change career tracks as the kids grow up. As I was the main applicant, only I had my qualifications assessed by the Alberta agency IQAS. So, even if you don't actually apply for the assesment, at the very least, make sure every adult that is moving has all the paperwork they need prior to moving! This will save a huge amount of hassle later on as life changes very quickly and you never know when you may need it.
If we can't prove the equivalency, she will have to study to requalify!! Thats expensive and time consuming - possibly being so restrictive it could stop you from chasing the career of your choice. For all the info on having your qaulifications assesed for each particular Province just Click Here
A huge step forward for your immigration is to identify the area you wish to settle in and then tie in your (and your partners) skills to see if any of the local industry is likely to hire you. You can easily research any of the local companies by using the yellow pages, town/city chamber of commerce and the main Job Searching sites and see who is in commutable distance and whether they are likely to be hiring. If the area of your dreams does not have the industry that applies to your skills is there anything you can offer the companies that are there or do you need to change your plans and move to where the work is? These pages also have great tips on Resume writing and Interviewing techniques that will help you.
To be honest, we moved to the area of our dreams and now I have a lengthy commute to work - this becomes an issue in the winter and provides a longer work day. Would I change it? No, but I think plenty of other people would.
All this is in YOUR control before you move and forewarned is forearmed as they say. It is always better to know what lies ahead, if your qualifications transfer (do you have to retrain) will there be a chance of work in my chosen profession? Etc. so you can plan for it. Once you have moved, you are at the mercy of the local job market and if your settling funds diminish as fast as ours did then it won?t take long for the panic to set in!!
If you have kids then the area you chose to settle in will also impact the choice of school for them. Most of the schools budget comes from local taxes and as a taxpayer you can chose which school your contribution goes to. Though you can send your kids to the school of your choice, each residential area is assigned its own schools and if you wish to send your kids elsewhere it is at your own cost. Detailed information about each Provinces education systems can be found here:
Another vital aspect of your move is the budget - the chances are you will be selling most of your possessions and moving with your life savings. The method of transfer you use for your funds is critical so ensure you read the Money Transfer page! Choose a conservative exchange rate to work out your settling funds and make sure you account for all of your expenses to move (legal fees for house sales/purchases, Shipping/Storage, house deposits, replacement of goods you sold to move, flights, hotels, pet shipping costs, rented accommodation, insurance.)
This is where your research will pay extra dividends. If you know the area you want to settle in, Housing costs, local taxes, which are the most likely employers and what they are paying, then you can fairly accurately forecast your budget. The following table demonstrates our average monthly outgoings for an 1800 square foot family house:
Life insurance ($250,000 on each parent) = $70
Pet Insurance (for a Dog) = $45
Local taxes (approx 1% of "assessed" house value per year) = $300
Cell Phone (family plan 3 phones) = $180
Local town bill (water, recycling, sewage) = $85
Gas (heating + hot water) = $90
Electric (power and cooking) = $90
House phone (long distance + features) = $30
Cable TV and high speed internet = $100.00
Total monthly = $990.00
Then add your mortgage/rent (allow $1,500 for a family house depending on loan amount /amortization and rates) and living costs (family of four about $350 per week) and it soon adds up. Your wages will see the Canadian Pension Plan, EI and federal/Provincial taxes deducted along with any Provincial Healthcare premium that may be applicable. Total deductions could be around 45% of your salary (depending upon the Province you move to) so always bear that in mind too. Our pages on
Personal Finance and Pensions
are packed with great information on essential immigration topics like pensions in Canada, personal banking and Education Saving Plans for the kids.
To write off 40% of your salary is a conservative estimate with everything rounded up but is an honest picture of the level of outgoings you can expect to see. Add in activity costs if you have kids - hockey equipment is expensive with the season ice fees normally in excess of $900.00 and you see the picture.
This is an illustration based upon our immigration experience and will be different for each area - believe me, the effort involved with this research will pay you back and then some!!!