TO Buffalo thread,
It came a lot sooner than expected, but I have just landed as a permanent resident in Canada. Believe it or not, I already have a SIN card and my wife and I just signed a lease on an apartment in Toronto. I have to finish a contract here in the states, but I will be visiting every weekend, moving stuff up there, and will be settled there come May.
Sorting out our immigration/work situation has been an incredible challenge. I'm sure many of you know exactly what I'm talking about. I wasn't able to work in Canada, and she wasn't able to work in the States. It was very painful to feel the constant uncertainty of our legal status in each other's country, to have to spend so much time apart, and it was financially difficult to both make sacrifices in terms of our work situations as we both had to take time off to visit one another. Crossing the border each time was becoming extremely stressful as well. We often got the gears and they often threatened us with non-entry, especially when she visited me in the states. We often felt powerless in knowing someone else could keep us apart if they just felt there was something fishy going on. Of course, we knew the laws and there wasn't anything fishy going on. We were honest each and every time and in the end, that seems to be what they're looking for. I found that being honest and explaining the whole situation clearly helps the process along.
I've been using this forum since last January about, to get answers to questions I had about beginning the process. I got great answers and lots of support. I came back here when I needed clarification about the application forms. I got great answers and lots of support. Once the application was filed, I came back here when I needed clarification about the waiting time line. I got great answers and lots of support. Thank you thank you thank you thank you. What a great forum. Thanks to everyone who helped me in my journey.
Now that I'm at this point in the journey, I wanted to give back to the forum by telling my story. ddobro, feel free to add some dates to the spreadsheet.
What I've shared in the forum so far:
We sent our application on July 23, 2011.
They received it on July 26, 2011.
My wife received an email saying that she was eligible as a sponsor and that the application was sent to Buffalo on October 17, 2011.
We were very happy for that email in October of course. I started logging in online to check the status, but it was a little unclear. For example, the email had said my wife was eligible, but the online status said her application was in process. So, I logged on here to ask people's opinions about the online piece, and everyone said basically that it doesn't necessarily get updated at the same time emails get sent out.
So, at this point, we knew that the application was sent to Buffalo. On the web site, it says Buffalo has an 11 month processing time. That felt like an eternity. People on here said that perhaps it could come through quicker, say 7 or 8 months. Someone mentioned that some applications were being completed in 4 or 5 months. We didn't know what to expect.
I was doing more research trying to ascertain what the next notification would be. I looked up AOR, PPR to make sure I knew what those terms meant. In the midst of doing that, I received an email saying that my application had been received. This email (the AOR, acknowledgement of receipt ) was sent to me, whereas the October 17 email was sent to my wife. So she received the notification in October that she had been approved and it was being transferred to start my application. I received notification on December 14, that my application had been received.
I was very relieved to receive that, at least because now I knew they had the right email address and I was receiving correspondence from them. Of course, I was also relieved that I had confirmation from Buffalo that it was received ok in the mail and it was on someone's desk to begin a process.
So, now I said to myself, "Is it 11 months from now?" We were still unsure what the time line was.
I received that email (AOR) on December 14, 2011. On December 30, 2011 my wife received an email saying:
"This refers to your application for permanent residence in Canada. We are now in a position to finalise your application."
This was absolutely amazing. We were so amazed and happy. It explained the process for completing the application. In the body of the email it requested that I mail my passport within 30 days. In the email it said "You must submit these items by mail." This is the PPR, passport request.
But we clicked a link below on "Instructions for Passport submission" and it said we could also go to the consulate in person and that often they are able to return the passport the same day. You can go Tuesdays or Thursdays in the morning between 8 and 10am.
This email was perfectly timed. I was up in Toronto celebrating Christmas with my wife and her family but I had to come down to the States to work for a weekend. I drove down on the next Thursday and went to the consulate in Buffalo. I waited in line for 10 minutes, told the nice woman that I was approved for permanent resident and she said "OK, please wait over there." and within an hour and a half I was led into an interview room and another nice woman said "This completes the process." and she handed me an envelope with a paper that says "Confirmation of Permanent Residence." She said the passport didn't need a visa stamp because it's an American passport. So, Americans just get the "Confirmation" form.
Once I had that in my hands and went down to the lobby I cried. The relief was incredible.
Once you receive the Confirmation of Permanent Residence form, there's an expiration date on it, so you need to land within a few months of getting your confirmation or else it expires. I worked that weekend in the States, and then was driving back up the following Tuesday, so it worked out well for me to just land right away. I drove up, told the border guard that I was visiting my wife and I also need to land as a permanent resident.
She told me to pull over to the building. I went inside and met a nice man who took my "Confirmation of Permanent Residence" form and asked me to sit down for a bit while he processed it. I came back up in a few minutes, signed it, and that made me a landed permanent resident of Canada.
He clarified a few things for me that I asked about. He said the actual permanent resident card would take 6 weeks in the mail, but in the meanwhile he stapled my "Confirmation of Permanent Residence" form into my passport. He said I could use that going back and forth while I move all of my stuff up to Toronto. I thought I was going to need a travel document for each trip in and out.
Also, he gave me a sheet to write down all of the expensive things I would be moving up to Canada. If you declare them when you land, you don't have to pay taxes on them, even if you bring them up at a later date. I listed the expensive stuff, car, computers, jewelry, etc.
When I was back in town, I went to city hall and applied for a SIN, and it came within a couple of weeks in the mail, so I have that now. OHIP (health insurance) and driver's license will be coming soon once I get my name on a couple of bills for the new apartment. You have to show active residence to receive healthcare. I think you need residence for the driver's license as well.
So, I hope the recounting of my process is helpful for people on here. Even if I help one person, I'm happy to have shared my story. It can feel so daunting and uncertain, I found hearing other peoples' stories and explanations of things really helped calm me when I didn't know what to expect.
July 23 - Application Mailed
July 26 - Application Received
October 17 - Sponsor received initial email confirming eligibility and transfer to buffalo
December 14 - Sponsored received email saying application was received in buffalo (AOR)
December 30 - Sponsor received email finalizing application and passport request (PPR)
January 5, - Sponsored got Confirmation of Permanent Residence in Buffalo in person
January 10 - Sponsored signed Confirmation of Permanent Residence at the Lewiston border, aka Landed
I again want to say thank you to all those who helped me through this process. Each step along the way there was someone here willing to quickly provide support and clear answers for my questions.
Wishing everyone the best and strength in getting through such a stressful process.