Sorry for going off-topic. I just wanted to update everyone on a successful visa experience.
It took my wife 8 months to get her visa, from April to November. In December I flew to Moscow and celebrated my third Russian New Year with her, and then in January we flew to Toronto. Immigration was exceptionally friendly, made jokes and welcomed her warmly to Canada. Then we went through customs and, because she didn't have anything except a bunch of suitcases filled with clothes, they waved us right through.
At Pearson International she tried her first Molson Canadian, didn't like it, and had a tea instead. We visited my family and friends in southern Ontario for a few days, and she was completely jet-lagged and incredibly moody. She burst into tears a couple of times, not because she missed home so much as because everything was too stressful, foreign and unfamiliar to her. Needless to say she didn't like southern Ontario in the winter.
Then we got on a comfortable Air Canada flight to Victoria, BC (our permanent place of settlement) and her spirits lifted as we flew over the prairies and the Rockies and landed on the Pacific coast. Even in January Victoria is filled with flowers and birds and seals and deer, and she fell in love with the place. Our first morning here I took her to the Ogden Point breakwall and a giant wave crashed over and soaked her. She loved it, and said it was a warm welcome from the ocean!
The BC government offers free English classes for newcomers as well as workshops to network and find work, so she's been going to those daily. She's met a group of Russian and FSU emigres her age and loves our clean and well-organized bus systems. Scotiabank offers a great newcomers package, with a free chequing account and Visa credit card. The Service Canada centre got her a SIN card with little pain. She has her health card and a library card and is looking at upgrading her skills at University.
She's fallen in love with Chinese and Mexican food, although she still doesn't like pub food too much (although British fish and chips is becoming a favourite). For Russian cooking she's substituted buttermilk for kefir and finds that the parsley isn't as strong flavoured here, so just uses more. Her biggest beef is that she can't find the same type of cucumbers as she can get in Russia. It also took her a long time to find a good black, loose-leaf tea but she's settled on the tins of Twinnings loose-leaf, which she quite enjoys. Also, she fell in love with Tim Hortons hot chocolate and honey cruelers. To top it all off, she's fallen in love with the DIY shows on the Women's Network and Home and Garden TV. Finally, she saw her first massed bagpipe and drum parade and absolutely loved the sheer power and pageantry of it!
Another problem she's having is the change in the chemicals found in water (mainly that in BC there are none) are wreaking havoc with her hair, and she hasn't found a shampoo yet that she likes. Cucumbers and shampoo, however, seem to be her only complaints thus far so I would say that after 6 months her move to Canada is a resounding success!
Her transition to life here as been successful so far. We've bought a car, got a beautiful flat near the ocean, and she's growing millions of pretty flowers. I recently mentioned what she thought of living in Russia and she shouted "No!" before I even finished the sentence! Skype keeps her connected to her family back home, and we're planning a visit with my next vacation.
All in all, the 10 months we spent apart waiting for her visa seems like a distant memory now. I know how tough it can be when you're apart, waiting for what seems like forever, but I can tell you from personal experience that once it is over Canada will truly welcome your new life together. Hang in during that tough wait because when it's all over and you're together in Canada you will feel like it was all just a bad dream.