My eBook, How To Immigrate To Canada For Skilled Workers: The Authoritative Guide To Federal And Provincial Opportunities is available now on Amazon and other online retailers. Get your copy of the essential guide to Skilled Worker class applications today!

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Also available is my new eBook, "How To Immigrate To Canada In The Family Class: The Authoritative Guide Including Qu├ębec And Super Visa Opportunities". Get it at Amazon or the other e-retailers noted above.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

CIC News - Important Changes to Canada’s Citizenship Act to Come Into Effect Next Week

From CIC News:

Permanent residents of Canada can enjoy a quicker, simpler citizenship naturalization process after key measures contained in Bill C-6, Changes to the Citizenship Act, come into effect next week on October 11.

Speaking in Brampton, Ontario on October 4, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Ahmed Hussen, stated that changes have been “long awaited by permanent residents” who have “been eagerly awaiting these changes.” C-6 had been passed into law last June, but some of its most important provisions did not come into effect immediately. The government had stated that some elements of C-6 would come into effect in the fall (autumn).

“We want all permanent residents in Canada to become citizens. That’s our wish, because we value Canadian citizenship, we understand we are a community that continues to welcome people from all over the world. And we understand the importance and the positive role that immigrants play in our economy, in our society, and in our cultural life,” Minister Hussen said.

Read all the good news here

Friday, September 15, 2017

I passed the citizenship test!

Hi, dear readers. I wanted to let you know that I passed the citizenship test with flying colours - 100%! I guess those years of studying made a difference. For those of you who have this event coming up, I wanted to demystify things a bit for you, since I've now been there myself.

When I got to the office for the test, the clerk checked my appointment form to be sure I was there on my scheduled day, then he handed me what is essentially a verification form. On it, I had to inform the CIC if anything had changed since my application that would make me ineligible for citizenship. Once I filled out the form, I simply had to wait to be called for the test.

There were about 40 others in the waiting room for the test and after a short time, a man came out and announced that those of us with blue forms (the appointment form) should follow him to the exam room. We lined up and another person looked at the date on our forms and handed each of us a "scantron" card (it's a card used to mark answers for multiple choice tests). I entered the test room, which was like a small classroom and took a seat at a desk. They had provided a pencil for everyone.

The proctor then explained the test (multiple choice, 20-questions) and that you needed to get 15 questions right out of 20 to pass. He also put everyone at ease. If you don't pass the first time, they will schedule you for a second exam. If you don't pass the second time, they schedule you for an interview with a citizenship officer. Either way, there are multiple chances to make it through. 

Next, we filled out the test scantron with our name, application number and date and then the test booklet was handed out (there are multiple booklets and your test will not be the same test anyone around you is taking - that ensures no one cheats). The test lasts for 30-minutes, which is plenty of time to answer all the questions. While of course, I cannot share any questions, I can tell you that if you study the Discover Canada booklet, you will not have any problems passing.

After the test, it was back to the waiting room. After a while, my name was called by an immigration officer who took me into a back office to review my application. First she checked the original documents I had brought with me (see the previous post). Then, she asked me a couple of questions about my travels and my work, and then I signed my application in front of her, basically testifying that all the information I had provided was true and accurate. If you lie, and they find out later, your citizenship can be revoked. So - don't lie!

At the end of the interview, she told me I had passed! The next steps are a final review of my file, which she would conduct, and if all was well, she would sign off on it and I will get a letter (within one year, though she said it's typically only a few months) telling me when and where my citizenship ceremony will be held. At that point, I will take my oath in front of a citizenship judge and then...I'll be Canadian!

And that's it. So you see, there's nothing to worry about. It all just takes time and patience and preparation - like every step in this wonderful journey. 

If you've been down this road too, please share your story in the comments. 

I'm almost there, and it means so much to me!

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Citizenship test!

Hi readers. I know, I know - it's been awhile. I've been busy writing books and doing all that authory-stuff and since there hasn't been a lot of personal news, I've neglected you. Sorry (add Canadian accent here).

But there is some news now and that is; next week I will sit for my citizenship exam! While the typical wait times for a citizenship application can run a year, mine has only been in process about 6-months. Because I was careful about submitting my documents and application, double and triple checking everything, it all went without a hitch.

Next week I will take the original documents that I sent certified copies of with my application, which includes two pieces of photo ID (my driver's license and health card), passports for the last six years, proof of language proficiency (a university diploma in my case), my landing document, and permanent residence card to the test site here in Toronto. There I will have the documents examined and answer questions about my application, as well as take a 20-question multiple choice test regarding Canadian history, culture, the political system and the responsibilities of citizenship. If all goes well, the final step will be my citizenship ceremony!

So if you can spare a thought or a prayer, please send one my way next week. I've been studying for this for years to be honest and I hope I do well on the test.

For those of you who have been along for this adventure, which has taken me from the US to Canada first as a family class immigrant; through the long, dark, painful wait of uncertainty, to permanent residence, a new life in Toronto and now the final step, citizenship - thank you for your support. I hope I have been able to inspire you to take a chance for a better life and consider joining me here in Canada.

I'll let you know how it all works out!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

My Canada at 150

As Canada approaches its 150th birthday, I am thinking tonight about my place in the scheme of things. Nearly six years ago now, I became a landed immigrant in this great country, leaving the USA, none too soon it turns out, to join my love and start a new life. It wasn't all that unknown to me - our immigration process was complex and the years it took us to navigate the system were years I spent getting familiar with Canada.

Still, there were many adjustments, many hopes I had for life here that never materialized. In particular, the job market was not welcoming of someone of both my middle age or my senior experience. I was overqualified on one hand, but lacking "Canadian experience" on the other. A real catch 22. But I overcame, as immigrants must. I reinvented, and now I am more of what I've always been - a musician, an artist and an author. Canada made me choose. I am blessed to have a wife that wanted me to choose what was best for me too.

Now I am on the verge of citizenship. My forms are in a pile somewhere on a desk in Nova Scotia, maybe at the top, maybe at the bottom - but they are in process. Soon I'll get word that I'll have a citizenship test to sit for - one that I have studied for since before I was even a permanent resident. I know if I pass (I'm pretty confident I will!), and I am offered citizenship in this wonderful nation - I know on that day I will cry with joy. I'm a sentimental man. Life is hard. Things take time. When the dreams of my life come to pass, and I know they have, I am always overwhelmed with gratitude for those that come true. Becoming a Canadian citizen is one of them.

I've said time and again - Canada isn't perfect. We face many of the same issues of institutional racism, historic injustices, inequality, name my friends in the Old Country. I sense however, that here, in this huge, small nation, that we are less able to avoid our collective sins - it's hard to get lost in a country of 34 million compared to one of 330 million. People tend to know what you did, call you on it, and you tend to have to answer. I think that's healthy. Especially when you factor in the other great difference I see here. Canada is a country of compassion. Get it right, and we can put the past behind us.

So, from my room, high in a condo in Toronto, the view I have is one of a blessed life. One I could not have imagined. I have my Love to thank for it, and because she is Canadian, and her actions are those of a Canadian, I also have Canada to thank for that.

At 150, I want to encourage you, who dream of a better life for yourself and your loved ones to come and join me in Canada. Bring your skills and your spirit and follow me. It's not an easy road, and you will face obstacles, but if you are determined and patient, there is a way. I believe that, because I am proof of that.

Canada was discovered by westerners in 1534. We became a nation of our own over 340 years later in 1867. We are old for such a young country and maybe therein lies the secret of Canada.

A young country with an old soul.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Legalization without expungement - get marijuana right, Trudeau

... The bill would legalize marijuana possession for quantities of 30 grams or less, but offers no redress for Canadians who have been charged or convicted of possession under the current legislation.

“You know, Mr. Trudeau admitted that he comes from a privileged background where his own brother got off because his family was rich and well-connected, that he admitted smoking marijuana while he was in the Parliament of Canada and has suffered no consequences,” NDP Leader Tom Mulcair told reporters at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on Tuesday. “And yet it doesn’t bother him in the least that young people are still being prosecuted today for smoking marijuana. … That’s abject hypocrisy by Justin Trudeau.”

Read the rest of the article here

When pot is legalized in Canada, those who have been convicted in the past simply must have their crimes related to possession expunged from their criminal records. It makes no sense to maintain historic crimes, ones we now know were wrongheaded in the first place to impact the freedom of Canadians.

Get it right, Mr, Trudeau. And not just half-right.

Thursday, April 20, 2017 Interview

I'm pleased to note that interviewed me about my experience in Canada and has now posted it for all to see. They are a great resource site for expats and have a rich variety of content related to Canada.

Check out my pearls of wisdom! 

Saturday, April 08, 2017

My citizenship application has been submitted

For awhile there, I thought I would wait for Trudeau to implement his promised changes to the Citizenship Act. But really getting anything done doesn't seem to be a Liberal priority these days. It's easier to make speeches and promises than it is to do the trench work that turns them into policies that change people's lives for the better. Harper did a lot of harm to immigrants. He made it harder to get into the country, he made it take longer to qualify for citizenship. He even made it more expensive. I thought Trudeau would've undone a lot of the mess he made by now. He hasn't.

After five-plus years in Canada, I passed the bar where I am able to apply for citizenship. My wife said not to wait any longer, so I didn't. I applied a few days ago.

Gathering the application materials wasn't difficult. I found a local notary to create the "certified true copies" of my university diploma, passports, two- pieces of photo ID (I used my driver's license and health card), and my immigration form signed on landing back in 2011...I had to wait for the police clearance from the FBI as I had spent enough time back in the US over the last five years t require one. Then I used the online tool at CIC to document all my trips out of the country, printed it, put the application and checklist together, and that was it - they are off to Nova Scotia for processing.

If there aren't any issues with processing, the next step should be the scheduling of my citizenship test. I've been reading Discover Canada and taking both the CIC's mock tests as well as tests through an Andriod application (Canadian Citizenship Test Free by Alpca+Fox). I'm confident I'll be ready for the test once it's scheduled.

So how long will I have to wait? Depending on the current volume, the process could take a year. Again - the Liberals aren't helping things with practical solutions like staffing, but after my immigration experience and years in Canada, I know that patience is required and I've always been a patient man.

Where are you on your immigration journey? At whatever stage, let me encourage you to be diligent in your applications to provide everything that's asked for, advocate for yourself every step of the way (even if you have a lawyer), be patient, and never lose hope that you will succeed. My own immigration journey took a long time, but was it worth it? Yes.

Canada is the greatest nation in the world and soon, I won't only be a permanent resident - I'll be a citizen.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Know your rights at the US/Canada border

Under Canada’s Customs Act, Canada Border Services Agency officers have widespread powers to stop and search people, their baggage and other possessions and devices at any Canadian port of entry (land border crossing, air terminal or sea port).

Canadian courts have generally recognized that people should have reduced expectations of privacy at border points. In this special context, privacy and other Charter rights are limited by state imperatives of national sovereignty, immigration control, taxation and security.

Canada Border Services Agency officers are authorized to conduct searches of people entering Canada, including their baggage, parcels or devices such as laptops and smart phones. These searches may be conducted without a warrant. Officers may examine devices for photos, files, contacts and other media.

If your laptop or mobile device is searched, you will likely be asked to provide the password.  If you refuse, your device may be held for further inspection. Our understanding is that the issue of whether a border security agency can compel an individual to provide a password for a personal electronic device at a border crossing is not something that has been specifically looked at by the Courts in Canada.

(Source: Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Choose Canada

It's been quite awhile since I wrote here. Some might say it's the natural cycle of blogs that they can only be sustained for X-number of years, or that once the mode of expression has served its purpose or run its course that it's natural it should fade into the background.

These things are true of The Expatriate Mind. I started the blog to document my immigration from the US to Canada,with all its emotional ups and downs, the events along the way and the current events that put the journey into context.

The entirety of the journey is nearly complete as I will be filing papers for my citizenship in a matter of months. I'll be sure and let you know about that process as it occurs, and the steps along the way. It's exciting to think that I will be a Canadian in the very near future.

But why I am writing tonight is because for now, I remain an American permanent resident of Canada and I want to communicate to anyone out there who is looking for make a new life for themselves in North America to take the US off of your radar and instead, choose Canada.

For at least the next four years, the US will be lead by Donald Trump - a fascist, racist, misogynist who is supported by his enablers and henchmen in government and the general population. The characteristics Trump exhibits are not those of all Americans by far, but his control of the government means that immigrating to the US will be fraught with difficulty as he molds policies to please his fascist, racist supporters and fills his bureaucracy with those who share his world view.

Canada welcomes you. In Canada, multiculturalism is written into the constitution:

Equality before and under law and equal protection and benefit of law

  • 15. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.
  • Marginal note:Affirmative action programs
    (2) Subsection (1) does not preclude any law, program or activity that has as its object the amelioration of conditions of disadvantaged individuals or groups including those that are disadvantaged because of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability. (84)
Multicultural heritage
27. This Charter shall be interpreted in a manner consistent with the preservation and enhancement of the multicultural heritage of Canadians.

There is no question that the contributions made by all who choose Canada as their home is welcomed and appreciated.

While immigration to Canada is not easy - economic immigrants must be matched with demand for their skills, family class immigration has limits in the range of reunification it offers: There are still 60 different programs under which you might immigrate to Canada.

I love this country and am so grateful to have the opportunity to live here. It's been a little over five years now since I landed, and while it has not been easy, coming to Canada to be with the woman I love is one of the best decisions I have ever made.

As an American I can tell you that the US has always been a country that believes in "economic Darwinism" - only the richest survive. If you aren't well off, it's YOUR fault; if you lose your job, you deserve it; if you're sick, it's not anyone's problem but yours. There's a social safety net - but only if you are destitute.

In Canada, we know that we are all in this thing called life together, and that our neighbour's quality of life enhances our own. We put a priority on care and compassion, and good government that is responsive to the needs of the people - not business.

Canada is not perfect - we have a history of wrongs like any other nation and are still setting things right with the aboriginal population of the country. But Canada's heart is in the right place.

If you are seeking the true land of opportunity - one where your contribution is wanted and your hard work for success will matter, I encourage you, as challenging as it may seem - come to Canada. It will be the best move you ever make.  

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

The Globe and Mail - Feds to drop wait times for spousal sponsorship applications to 12 months

My wife and I waited 4-years during our application. This change is long overdue and is fantastic news for those families separated by Canadian bureaucracy.

The length of time it takes to process spousal sponsorship applications for immigrants is dropping to months from years under a multimillion-dollar revamp of a key, the federal government said Wednesday.

Current wait times ranging from an average of 18 months for overseas applications to upwards of two years for spouses already in Canada will plunge to 12 months, Federal Immigration Minister John McCallum said.

“I have always felt it was wrong for the heavy hand of the Canadian state to keep people apart for two years,” McCallum said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

Read the article here.