Thanks for sharing. Very enlightening!Hello,
I used to read quite a few threads on this forum and others during my immigration process. Learned quite a bit. I landed recently and thought I should post a write up of my experience here to help other though the anxious process of immigrating.
I flew from Qatar Airways as it fly's direct from Lahore via Qatar to Montreal. Great flight, I flew business because I wanted a good nights rest before landing and it was worth it. Very comfortable. Flight was 3.5 hours to Doha and about 13 hours to Montreal after a 4 hour stopover in Doha. Qatar business lounge in Doha needs to be experienced.
Landed in Montreal and was the first off the plane, this allowed me to be the first one at immigration and I did not have to stand in line at all. Just walked over to the immigration officer and handed over my passport. He asked if I was immigrating and I told him yes. He quickly stamped my passport after checking my visa and told me I will have to go to secondary immigration which will process my landing. It's right next to the immigration counter and the officer will point you in the direction. Went there took a token and waited for my turn, again because I was the first one though immigration and they were less flights at that time, I got called in about 5 minutes. The officer asked for my COPR, Passport and list of goods to follow. She asked why my wife and kids are not traveling with me and I told her they will be coming next month once I arrange things here in Montreal.
She asked if I was doing a short landing and I told her no, I wasn't. I've moved here permanently. She processed my documents stamped my Goods to follow list and kept a copy. She then told me to go to another counter in the same office for Quebec specific information. I asked her if she needed my address to mail the PR card but she said since you don't have a permanent address I cannot take your addresses. I told her I have my friends permanent address and I will be living there but she refused. She instead gave me a paper and told me to call the number and update my address when I have a permanent address for myself. I found this strange, anyway no use arguing with the landing officer. She told me without my PR card in hand I can leave Canada but cannot reenter without it. I asked if I can enter though a land border on my COPR without the PR card for example the US in a private vehicle and she said, call immigration Canada and ask. I thought dude you ARE immigration Canada, a yes or no answer would be great. Anyway she stamped my COPR with landing date, gave me a welcome to Canada booklet and sent me to the next counter. All went smooth although personally I was expecting a bit of warmer reception as I had heard the immigration officers are friendly and welcoming to new immigrants. Oh she did ask if I was carrying any funds and I told her about $10,000 USD, she did not ask to see it.
Got called to the next counter (Quebec Specific one) instantly as it had the same token number. The young lady sitting there was quite pleasant and very welcoming. She asked for my COPR, my selection certificate and passport. Typed some stuff in her computer and told me I had to get a SIN number from Service Canada and asked if I needed my medical appointment now. I told her I will call and get it later but she said I only have 14 days to get the medical card done after landing so I asked her to setup the appointment. She did. This lady (unlike the previous officer) was very welcoming and happy to answer basic questions and gave me a map of the Metro and of Montreal itself. Told me after returning my documents I was done and finally a "Welcome to Canada"
Exited immigration and went to baggage area, got one bag, the other (which was my main bag) was missing. Waited 30 minutes and then talked to an airline rep telling him I couldn't find my bag. He searched around told me sometimes they send bags to the over sized section but didn't find my bag there as well. Had to stand and file a lost bag report. Was extremely disappointed as that bag had all my clothes and some cards (ATM, driving license etc). I had made the mistake of keeping those cards in the check in bag in a hurry. What a pain cancelling them if they got lost. Got a receipt from the baggage handling company and they told me if they can locate my bad they will let me know in two working days. Left disappointed as the worse time to have your bag lost is when you're immigrating and all the things you have planned for and arranged suddenly get lost. Don't make the mistake I did, never put anything in your check in luggage that you can't afford to lose. Carry all cards, documents, valuable electronics etc with you in your hand carry.
When exiting got called into secondary customs inspection. Had to wait in line for 10 minutes, these customs guys were not messing around. They were opening everyone's luggage and inspecting items like crockery, animal certificates, prohibited items, disallowed foods etc. I was however sent to a very nice officer who just asked me how much cash I was carrying and wrote it down on a form, had me sign it and told me I was done. He was the first guy who saw my paperwork and told me Oh you're a permanent resident. That felt good. After 5 years and a lot of paperwork that was pleasing to hear.
Montreal airport is a nice airport, nothing fancy like middle eastern airports but very functional and professional. I headed to the cab line, only to see atleast a 100 people stand in line in front of me, saw that the Limo line was shorter with about 25 people and joined that instead. Limo's are cars in the category of BMW 5 series, E classes or Cadillac's with better more professional drivers. They charge a flat $55 CAD to downtown. Not worth to take the bus with luggage after a long journey, just take a cab I think $35-40 or a Limo $55-60. The driver was a very nice guy, gave me information about Montreal on the way to downtown. Told me for English speaking people the Island of Montreal itself or Laval was the place to settle. Anything east of the Island was mostly French and a bit unwelcoming to English speaking people. 25 mins later we were in downtown and he dropped me off in front of the apartment I had arranged. I tipped him $15 for the helpful information he provided and the comfort of a welcoming face after arriving for the first time.
As for my accommodation, I was not a tight budget so I booked a one bed room fully furnished corporate apartment. In Quebec if you book for less than 30 nights you getting taxed as a tourist, ie you have to pay tourism tax, GST, QST which all add about 20-22% to the price of your accommodation. If you book for 31 nights or more you are charged as a long stay accommodation and those taxes are not applicable. For example I would have to pay the same for 22 nights as I have to pay for 32 nights. I booked for 35 nights and it cost me about $3500 CAD. I could get much cheaper but this is for a 5 star fully furnished apartment in the heart of downtown and right next to the Metro.
I rested for two days and then went to Service Canada's office on the main Boulevard Rene Levesque. 5 minutes walk from Metro Place'dArmes. Their office is in the basement. Went to the counter with my COPR and passport, the lady took my detail and told me to take a seat and the current waiting time is about 30 minutes. Was called in about 25 minutes and a pleasant gentleman asked my address and phone number, issued me a SIN number and gave me a print out. Really a no hassle process, I went at 2 pm and I was done in a total of 45 minutes.
I went to Best Buy to get a sim because it was the mostly convenient place for me to go. I wanted a prepaid sim for my unlocked phone which I brought with me from Pakistan. The sales rep suggested me a CHATR unlimited Canada wide calling and texting package with 2GB data, it cost me about $70 CAD valid for a month before I need to top up again at the end of 30 days. They don't need any ID, just a name is enough.
Will write more in a while.
Thank you so much for your detailed post. I will be moving to Ontario province and I found this really helpful. I pray things are going well for you and you are now settled.About Montreal.
Montreal is a wonderful city. I've traveled all over the world and when compared to say London, New York, LA or Chicago it stands out. The builders of this city had great aesthetics and the residents kept up that tradition by decorating in good taste whatever they build. It is a great pleasure walking around Montreal. I'm not a big walker in my country but I find myself walking 8-9 kms every day since I've been here simply because it is so relaxing. Every other corner has something beautiful or a place to sit and to just enjoy. It's filled with historical churches (which sadly are mostly empty except for tourists) and other buildings.
I found the shopping to be great even in downtown. Google Eaton center, lots of shops there and it is also interconnected to another mall. The streets behind and in front of Eaton center street are also full of shops and some good deals can be had. I mostly bought warm clothes and jackets because no matter which warm clothes you bring, only the clothes bought here are built for Canadian winters. Eaton center also has a excellent food court with two or three Halal food restaurants. On Halal food, although I eat from non Halal places as well but I prefer Halal when available. I was worried that there might not be a lot of Halal options available, that is happily not true. Halal food restaurants can be found all over the place mostly in some variety of Shawrma but otherwise as well. I like Five guys (non Halal), if you like burgers this is the place to go.
Although many desi restaurants can be found in downtown I find the best desi (Indian, Pakistani, Bengali) restaurants are near Acadie Metro. The area is a bit run down but about 5 mins walk from Acadie are literally a dozen good desi restaurants. You will find general stores here with everything you will find in your home country. I for example like a particular brand of Tea which I bought with me from Pakistan. I was surprised to see dozens of boxes of it lying around stores in this area. Desi cooking utensils (cookers, pans, basically everything you would get at home), Masala's, biscuits, Halal meat, clothes, Mithai shops etc. are all available here. No need to waste precious space/weight in airline luggage in bringing these heavy items.
On tipping. In Quebec (or perhaps all of Canada) servers (i.e waitresses) are charged a flat 8 % of the bill amount as tax. For example your restaurant bill is $20, the waitresses will be charged $1.6 as tax. So if you tip her $2 thinking you tipped 10 %, she will only be getting 40c, the rest goes as tax. Try to tip 15% as standard practice.
After 5 days the Qatar airways people called and told me they had found my bag. Apparently someone had picked it up by mistake thinking it was theirs and took it with them to Toronto. They called the airline when they discovered it wasn't theirs and dropped it back to Montreal. The airline delivered my bag to my apartment the next day. Very happy to get all my stuff back.
Pretty much everyone in Montreal speaks both French and English so not really any issues with communication here. Don't expect the standard of English to be on the same level as the rest of Canada as to Quebeckers English is their second language just like it for most of us. I've been told a few times by French speaking people how I speak English better then them.
I had done my research on banks before I came to Canada. Visited all big banks website's and choose the two banks that I would like to bank with TD & BMO. One thing is very important here, bank accounts are mostly the same but credit cards and the benefits that they offer are very different. Go though the benefits that credit cards offer and choose the one which most suits you. I for example choose the TD First Class because it offers Insurance coverage whenever I or my family members travel out of Quebec for 21 days free of cost. It also offers Collision/Loss Damage wavier whenever I rent a car which means I don't have to select the very expensive insurance that the rental company offers. Also the card gets a discount on car rental among other benefits. This card suited me most because since I am new here I will be traveling out of Quebec to Ottawa and Toronto and maybe Vancouver to meet friends and relatives. I need insurance coverage incase of God forbid an accident or any illness. In Canada/America you cannot mess around with medical insurance. You have to have it, period. I know people who were decently well off and on a vacation to the US got sick, the treatment costs made them sell their home back in Pakistan. Get / Have medical insurance when in Canada/America, it's a complete necessity. Btw on insurance, the provincial insurance does not kick in till 3 months after you land I think so it's better to get short tern insurance from a private company meanwhile. I chose a Manulife, a VIP package which cost about $400 for three months. Cheaper packages can be had.
I decided to open an account with TD first. Went to the branch most convenient to me and got an appointment for the next day. You can walk-in without an appointment as well but having one means you won't have to wait and the the bank rep will be expecting you.
Next day went the branch with my passport and COPR. Didn't have to wait as the rep was ready for me. The lady was very helpful and professional. I'm used to priority banking in Pakistan but her level of service was no less. I opened a CAD account and also a USD account. The USD account is absolutely necessary if you are transferring large amounts from your home country. Banks charge a 2.5-3 % commission on foreign exchange conversions. This makes a substantial difference when transferring large settlement funds to Canada. The best way is to open a USD account in your country, deposit USD's in your account there and transfer them to your Canadian USD account. You will only be charged a $17.50 bank fee (for TD) and your amount will remain the same in USD as it was in your country. You can now withdraw the cash in USD (you have to give them 24-48 hours notice) and covert it at a currency exchange of your choice at a much better rate and deposit the CAD you get after conversion in your CAD account. This is a bit of an exercise but will save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Another easier option is a firm like GLOBEX. You simply transfer your USD in their account though wire and they wire CAD back in your CAD account at a much better rate then the bank or even currency changers. I haven't tried them yet so can't recommend them.
So the lady opened the accounts and handed me four cheques each of my accounts. I ordered checkbooks which will take about a week to be delivered. They can be delivered to either your mailing address or to the branch. Choose whichever one is more convenient and tell your bank rep. She also handed me a temporary debit card for my account and told me that I can use that till the one with my name arrives. As for the credit card, she said I am eligible as a new resident for a $1000 CAD credit card. That was useless for me and besides I wanted the TD First Class which I mentioned earlier. She told me the only way I can get that card is if I get a 'secured' credit card. That means I have to put down a deposit as security for the credit limit I want for lets say a year or so. After a year my credit history will be established with good handling of debt like credit cards and bills and they will release my security and offer me the same credit limit. Since I needed that card I put a deposit equal to my desired credit limit. The card has a yearly fee of $120 but if you select the right checking account that fee can be discounted or waived. I chose the one which waived my credit card fee so now I will have out of province medical insurance, collision/loss damage insurance, double warranty for products purchased using my card for FREE. Do your research on which credit card you want, it'll help out big time. I choose TD First Class and BMO World Elite.
Remember credit worthiness is everything in Canada. You car payments might be $250 a month or $1000 a month depending on how you handle your debt. Pay your bills, cards on time and build your credit. It'll save you lots of money in the long run in lower interest rates and preferential offers.
@APPNOV2014NY Thank you I did, I found the homes are a bit more expensive than Laval and a bit run down.
I really would love to live close to downtown Montreal as that's the best area but apartment prices are very expensive. For generalization I would say a good home in Oakville/Burlington area in Toronto costs exactly twice as much as the same home in Laval. However an apartment in Downtown Montreal costs about 80 % of what an apartment costs in Downtown Toronto. Downtown Montreal is expensive, renting is the way to go for living here.
@Sky Walker. No problem, remember you're only allowed USD 10,000 in cash to carry. Anything above that is not allowed. Open an bank account here after you land and then have the funds wired from home. I filled out a wire transfer form at my bank (only leaving out the bank account number and bank details) and left it with my banker in Lahore. I emailed him the bank details once I got them and he processed the form that was with him. Having a personal banker or someone you know at the bank helps. As for luggage, Do not be overweight, airlines are unforgiving these days even if you are two lbs overweight.
@dieheart87 The immigration process takes time. 4.5 years it took in my case but then this is a life changing event. Leaving your country, your friends, family, home, work and your entire life basically to settle into a new one life is not easy.
One thing that I do not like about Quebec is that my children have to go to French language schools. There is no other option. I do want them to learn French to be better able to integrate but forcing a child who has just abandoned his/her entire life to come to a new one and to go to a school/kids which only speak a language they don't really understand is a bit harsh. They should have been a easing into the process. Ideally immigrants should be allowed to put their kids in either English OR French language schools. If not then Immigrants should have been allowed to at least put their kids in an English school for two years and given that time to learn and become comfortable with French. It's very difficult to come to a new country, new school, new circulam and not even be able to understand what is in written in your book and what your peers and teachers are talking about.
An alternative is to send Kids to private schools which are in English but the decent ones cost over $30,000 a year. With 3 kids and other associated costs that's almost $100,000 a year ! That's very difficult to pay when you're a new immigrant.
No he will have to go to French school until he attends college or university. If you want him to attend an English school you can look into private schooling. Fees are variable depending on the school.Dear 19 one of my Child is in O level studying in Islamabad. and will clear his exam in may 2020. We are waiting for MR and will probably move in june 2020. Please guide can my child go to an English medium school for A Level (equivalent). What will be tuitin fee. We are in Quebec investor program
Hi, have you moved to Montreal. I am moving from karachi under investor category in Montreal. Like to share your experience.excellent post. will be moving from Islamabad to Montreal in a short while waiting for medical. completion date is 16 nov 2019. can I keep a contact with you? will you allow me. I am also in investor category of 800000 CAD. Would like to do business in Canada, Please share ur business experience