Simply marrying a Canadian or American does not grant the foreign national spouse any rights or privileges in the citizen’s country, with the exception of a slightly easier path to immigration. As you may know, after following the husband to the “Great White (FRENCH!) North,” we applied for my Canadian permanent residency. We applied inland, meaning from within Canada. While one has an inland application in progress, you are not supposed to leave Canada until the process is complete. I’ve been unable to visit family or friends in New York or Oklahoma since the move.
My application was received by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) on October 23 of last year. CIC’s estimated timeline was 6 months for Stage One approval (during which they confirm that my husband is eligible to sponsor me for permanent residency), and 8 months for Stage Two approval (during which they evaluate my eligibility as a permanent resident – background checks and whatnot). There’s also an extra step for those of us residing in the Democratic People’s Republic of Québec (an extra step that costs $266 more than the Rest of Canada pays – bienvenue au Québec!), but that doesn’t change the timeline any. After Stage Two approval, all that’s left is getting a landing appointment, a brief interview, and then BOOM, you’re a Canadian Permanent Resident (PR). A PR card is needed for commercial travel from/to Canada, and the card takes a couple of months to arrive.
The six months following submission of our application came…and went. Then seven months. Before eight months had passed, my enthusiastic father-in-law decided to book the family vacation we’d been talking about. A trip for him, my mother-in-law, my husband, myself, and my brother-in-law to beautiful Estepona, Spain, near the Strait of Gibraltar. I couldn’t allow myself to get at all excited about the trip, because as the days and weeks dragged on, I felt increasingly certain that there was no way I would become a PR and have the documentation I would need to travel by late March. I frequent a Canadian immigration forum, and many of us who had applied in late 2012 were waiting far longer than expected with no word from CIC on Stage One progress. Eight months passed. Then nine. By the time ten months had passed, the process felt interminable, and it seemed I would never see my family or be able to travel freely again. The whole situation stressed me out. Every trip to the mailbox brought with it the hope that today, TODAY, would be the day I finally received notice from CIC that some progress had been made on my application. Day after day, checking the mail was uneventful and disappointing.
Finally, last Thursday, I received a call from a gentleman at CIC asking me to fax him a copy of my passport. My heart was pounding as I asked him, since he was handling my file, if this meant I might reasonably expect to receive Stage One approval in the near future. He answered with a simple, “Yes.” I tried unsuccessfully to send a fax through an online service, so the husband woke early on Friday morning (an expression of his deep and abiding love, as waking up is his LEAST favourite thing to do) to swing by the office before a mandatory work outing so that he could send the fax from work. The gentleman from CIC called after Friday’s French class to confirm that he had received a decent copy of my passport. I was feeling pretty good as I drove home.
About an hour later, I was feeling much, much better as I checked my email to find a message from CIC. I opened the attachment to find the Stage One approval for which I’d been so eagerly waiting! I was grinning from ear to ear when the husband returned home a short time later from his work outing. However, that was nothing compared to what came not quite an hour later. A second email from CIC. The second attachment stated that a decision had been made on my application! Stage Two approval, not 8 months after Stage One approval, but the very same day!
I cried. Finally moving forward with the immigration process, finally being able to hope to travel with my in-laws and to be able to think about visiting my family…it was all simply overwhelming, after the long wait.
It’s not over yet, but I can finally envision the finish line. The CIC office in Montreal will send a letter to give me a date and time for my landing interview. And after that interview, I will be a Canadian PR! A couple of months after that, I should have proof of my status in the forum of my PR card. And I will feel like a normal human being again, not trapped in limbo as I feel I’ve been since the move.
Yep, yesterday was a very, very good day.