Monday, February 28, 2011

Red tape... I'm drowning in it!

I haven't spoken much about the legal side of moving to another country, but it's a huge huge part of the process. The whole reason I'm not in Montreal right now is because I'm waiting for permission to come back (as a worker).

I originally entered Canada last spring on a Working Holiday Visa. It's a program for young people who were recently students to get foreign work experience. There are similar programs all over the world. What's nice about a working holiday visa is there's no long application or waiting. I went through an organization called BUNAC which arranges everything and provides the emergency insurance required. Basically, I paid the fees, showed up at the Canadian border with paperwork from BUNAC (which took no more than a week to get), and was issued a 6-month open work permit. Piece of cake!

It's once that work permit expires that things get complicated. It's not a program that can be extended or renewed, so if I want to stay in Canada and continue working, I have to go about getting a work permit the old fashioned way:

1. Find a job and be offered a position. The position must be skilled and full time.
2. Employer submits an application for a Labor Market Opinion, where the government evaluates the employer's efforts to recruit Canadians for the job, and whether there are any labor shortages in the industry.
3. File an application for a Quebec Acceptance Certificate and pay the fees ($340!!), which is basically an approval from the government of Quebec to immigrate into their province.
4. If the LMO is positive, a copy goes to Quebec so they can finalize the Acceptance Certificate.
5. Once BOTH the LMO and the Acceptance Certificate come back positive, I can take these documents to the Canadian border, pay the fees ($150), and apply for a work permit.
6. And finally I can go to work.

The work permit issued in this case will only be a closed work permit, meaning I'm only authorized to do the job I was hired for with the employer that hired me. If I quit or am fired, I lose my working rights in Canada.

Presently, my new employer and I are at stage 3. We've submitted the LMO and the Quebec application, and we're waiting for the LMO to get approved so it can go to the Quebec office. This is the 7th week since we submitted the application, and my employer only just got contacted by Service Canada asking for some additional documents. The wait is so frustrating! In the meantime, the bills are piling up... yikes!

On the bright side, I'm actually at a bit of an advantage because I'm from what's considered a "visa-exempt" country. Americans are generally permitted to come and go through Canada without a tourist visa. Because of this, I can apply for a work permit in person at the border and get it that day. People who are from say, the Philippines, would have to submit an application at the Canadian consulate in their country once they get the paperwork approved, which takes even more time (we're talking months). So at least I get to avoid that...

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...