Thought I might update you all on my landing process.
I drove from Montreal to Buffalo on Monday. The biggest incident that I ran into was, oddly, getting through US customs on my drive there! I'm a US citizen, and I've crossed the border by plane and car dozens of times. By car, I've always had rentals, with no problems whatsoever. Usually the officers ask my purpose, glance briefly at my luggage, and wave me through.
Logically, I'm always more fearful of Canadian customs. Last time I drove into Canada (just last week), my work permit had expired, I was still waiting for PR, and I had filed for a visitor extension but hadn't heard back, so was technically on "implied" visitor status. As you might expect, I was nervous about getting back in. But after I explained the situation, and showed the receipt for my PR and visitor applications, it was no problem.
Another thing I had been nervous about the prior week was getting into the US with my Canadian husband. He hadn't been to the US with me since before we were married. I was afraid they'd think he had intent to overstay, etc. But, no problem that time. Just this time, when I was alone, and had hardly any luggage (just a bag with one change of clothes). Just goes to show you that you can't always guess when you are likely to be flagged..
After being ordered inside, and following a bunch of grilling about what I brought, where I was going, why, what my status in Canada was (seriously, what do they care?! if I had stayed illegally in Canada would they have denied me entrance back to the US?!), calling my car rental company to verify the rental, and so on, I continued on my way to Buffalo.
I got to the consulate at 7:15am, and waited in the Tim Horton's area downstairs (which normally might have confused me, but thanks to this forum I was expecting it!). I was about 3rd or 4th in line once we were let in at 7:30. After I entered, over the course of the next 2 hours, about 150 more people came in. I noticed a lot of people WAY after me being called in first (e.g. #120), but it didn't bother me; I think that meant they were missing documents or needed to submit payments for other types of visas. At 10am I was finally called up. Everything was in order, the visa was attached to my passport, and I was on my way.
I drove back to Montreal immediately afterward, "landing" at the Ontario border - which took about 40 minutes. The officers were nice and approachable, but otherwise it was fairly anticlimactic.
This morning, I went and got my SIN # (only took about 15 minutes), and my RAMQ provincial health coverage. I got in immediately at RAMQ at opening. Actually, their website said they were supposed to open at 10am, but I got there at 9:20am and they were already taking clients! Apparently no one but me knew to come in so early, so I got in without any wait whatsoever. But I hadn't realized that they needed my original CSQ and lease, so I had to go home and get those 2 documents. By the time I returned, there were more people there, but I was still done in just 30 more minutes.
RAMQ gave me a great surprise! I had been anticipating the 3-month waiting period that I had read about before I would receive provincial coverage; however, they informed me that in my case it would be waived, because my previous work permit/RAMQ coverage had expired less than 45 days ago! (To be exact, it had expired 33 days ago.) So, apparently I get healthcare immediately. Actually, it is in effect as of the day I landed, yesterday. Can't believe it!
Today, I feel happy with Canada.
I had several 1st interviews just before I left.. next week, I will have the 2nd interviews for both potential jobs leads. They are not the most prestigious of jobs, and they are both temp/contract work, but I have hope that either might be a good foot in the door, and could eventually lead to a more permanent, higher status position.
Thank you all for your support during the past 7+ months!!