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permanent resident

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image“Isn’t it crazy how we can look back a year ago and realize how much everything has changed? The amount of people that have left your life, entered, and stayed. The memories you won’t forget and the moments you wish you did. Everything. It is crazy how all that happened in just one year.”

Author unknown

Were one to scour the InterWebNet (as did I earlier today) searching for a suitable quotation, an appropriate apothegm on the subject of ‘anniversaries’ – one might well discover (as, again, did I) that all such wit and wisdom that is to be found online concerns exclusively the matter of matrimony. Further, not one example actually concerns the business of marking the day itself – instead all exclusively wallow in the warm waters of the well of love! Rightly so in normal circumstances you might think, but connubiality is not on this occasion the subject of my discourse.

In the circumstances the unattributed passage above was the best up with which I could come.

In some ways it is actually quite fitting (though perhaps something of a truism) for today marks the first anniversary of my arrival on these fair shores – of that ‘first day of the rest of my life’ – of my landing in Canada as a Permanent Resident. It is therefore absolutely the case that in this brief span my life has changed utterly and completely – and in what feels now to have been the blink of an eye.

Where did that year go!

For sure, on reflection it is clear that the Kickass Canada Girl and I have achieved a great deal since the day a year ago that we arrived in Victoria bearing our lives in a small number of suitcases. Yes, there is much yet to achieve – but that is as it should be. We have not – after all – either of us reached to point in our lives when we are prepared to sit back, gazing out to sea and reminiscing on our past lives as seen through blush-tinted spectacles.

There is still ass to be kicked!

We will hold back the celebrations themselves as there are yet more anniversaries to be considered over the coming weeks, but we can at least raise a quiet glass in honour of this particular landmark with a certain degree of satisfaction.

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Photo by Andy Dawson Reidyear-end also year·end (yîr′ĕnd′)
n.
The end of a year: the value of the account at year-end.
adj.
Occurring or done at the end of the year: a year-end audit.

It is at this time of the year that the Girl and I habitually sit down and look back over the events that have unfolded throughout the preceeding twelve months. It is always good to take stock of what has (or has not) been accomplished and to use this as spur to encourage us onward toward the nascent season ahead.

It need hardly be said that the year just ending has been – to put it mildly – epic! We have retired from the world of work. We have sold up and closed down our existence in the United Kingdom. I have become a Permanent Resident of Canada. We have moved across an ocean and a continent. We have purchased a house. We have instigated the lengthy and complex process of setting up a new life here on the west coast of British Columbia.

Given that all of this is the culmination of a five year project it would not be at all surprising were we to be somewhat overwhelmed by the massive changes that our little lives have undergone. In the event the happenings of the last couple of months have added a momentum of their own which has imbued the end of the year with yet another unexpected twist.

I have already alluded in cryptic manner to an issue that has arisen concerning our house purchase that has required the intervention of the legal profession. As the matter is ongoing I cannot at this stage tell all. Suffice to say that there is an issue with the property that was not disclosed at the time of the sale – though it was known about. Given that considerable expense will now be required to resolve the matter, we are seeking – and are most hopeful of achieving – a suitable settlement with the vendors.

Then – a week before Christmas – we suffered a bereavement. When the Girl’s mother died when she was in her early teens, her mother’s best friend – an honorary aunt – stepped in and effectively raised her from that point on. Such was the robust nature of this exceptional lady that – though well into her eighties – we believed that she might live forever. She was always exceedingly kind and generous to us and we will both miss her terribly. For the Girl this is, naturally, a particularly difficult time.

The Girl was grateful that – by catching the 5:30am flight out of Victoria the Sunday before Christmas – she was able to reach the hospital in Kamloops (her birthplace) in time to say goodbye. She returned to Victoria on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, we entertained on Christmas Day and – early the next morning – took the ferry to the mainland and drove back into the snowy interior of BC for the memorial service. The Girl is joint executor to the estate and we will have to stay in Kamloops for a while helping to sort everything out.

All in all, not how we expected this momentous year to end. Regardless we wish all gentle readers a very Happy New Year, and a prosperous – not to mention hopefully calm – 2016.

 

 

 

 

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Full house

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidThree months and eleven days have elapsed since I landed in British Columbia clutching my Confirmation of Permanent Residency (COPR) documentation.

In this post – dating from a few days before we left the UK in July – I mused upon the unsettlingly stateless limbo in which we found ourselves at that point, having divested ourselves of all of those accoutrements by which one’s existence is normally defined.

As documented a few days subsequent to our arrival in Victoria I had rapidly commenced the task of constructing a new Canadian identity. It has taken a while but I am delighted to report that the process is now pretty much complete.

Over the past few weeks a variety of critical markers – in the form of credit card sized identity cards – have dropped into our Community Mailbox…

A digression for non-Canadians… Until recently the majority of inhabitants of this brave young country were blessed – as we yet are in the UK – with a postal service that provided door to door deliveries. Now – for all of the usual painful reasons – that service is being curtailed. Even since we took up residence in our North Saanich home the familiar sight of the year-round shorts-appareled post person has been replaced by a roadside stack of ‘Community Mailboxes’ for which we have all been issued keys. In our case this now means a quarter of a mile trek up the road – in all weathers naturally – to see if we have mail. That’s ‘progress’… and indeed ‘service’!

Enough! Back to identity cards. I have recently taken delivery of the following:

  • my Permanent Resident card. Hooray! I now officially exist.
  • a permanent Driver’s License – to replace the temporary document that I have been toting around with me.
  • my British Columbia Services Card. This precious piece of plastic signifies that I have now not only met the residency requirements for eligibility but am a fully paid up member of the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP).

I think it is now safe to say that I am no longer a non-person.

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imageThus commence all good fairy stories.

This one is no exception…

I feel sure that the habitual reader – should such there be – will be unsurprised that there has been something of an hiatus since my last posting to this journal. Given that this week has proved to have been – as predicted afore-hand – pretty ‘full on’ (as the parlance has doubtless not had it for years!) it will probably be taken as read that there has been little time or energy left over to practice the communicative arts.

No matter! We are in!

By which I mean – of course – that as of last night we are officially in residence in our splendid new (to us!) domicile.

As for our physical and mental state you would have more sympathy – I have no doubt – were our weariness solely attributable to our endeavours on the home-making front. Alas, I cannot pretend that this is so. For the last few nights at least we have been living the high life.

Should I needs plead an excuse I find myself in possession of one such of the copper-bottomed variety. This past week has seen the occasion of the Kickass Canada Girl’s birthday.

Happy birthday to the Girl! Hooray!!

Celebrations have included participation in several events of a charitable nature, which means that not only have we indulged in revelry but that we have done so in good cause!

We commenced on Thursday night at a fundraising dinner in support of the Tour de Roc – the ‘Cops for Cancer’ charity cycle which takes two weeks to ride the length of Vancouver Island. This splendid campaign has been an annual event since 1998 and the officers who volunteer not only ride over a 1000 kilometres but also have to scrub up and put in appearances at fundraisers throughout the fortnight.

Last Thursday was the penultimate day of the ride and the dinner in the evening – at the Mary Winspear Centre in Sidney – not only offered quite the best mass-catered buffet I have encountered, but also a full bill of comedy headlined by our new Canadian favourite – Mike Delamont, who once again had us crying with laughter.

Friday found us back at the Mary Winspear Centre for another charity event for which the Girl’s best friend was helping to organize the silent auction. The most worthy cause on this occasion was the raising of funds to support the excellent work done by ‘THRIVE Malawi‘.

The centrepiece of the event was a concert by local ensemble – The HiFi. All you need to know about this assemblage of musos – who describe their schtick as “New Orleans, West Coast brouhaha” – is that not only are all concerned amazingly talented musicians, but one of them is actually an internationally reknowned boogie pianist appearing under a pseudonym for contractual reasons. Anyway, they all appeared to be having a lot of fun – as were we!

 

With regard to our new home… all of our goods and chattels were duly cleared through Canada Customs on Wednesday morning, and the movers spent the rest of the day unloading and unpacking everything. They were contractually obliged to unpack everything to a ‘flat surface’ and we to let them so do – for were there to be any breakages of items not so processed we would not be able to claim for them.

As a result the day was extremely long and tiring and at the end of it every available surface was covered with gewgaws. It took a couple of days subsequently to create sufficient order that we could actually take up residence. This not helped of course by the fact that once one’s possessions have been bundled up and bumped halfway around the world in a container absolutely everything needs to be washed before it can again be used.

No matter. ‘Tis done and we are in!

Guess I am now officially a resident…

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imageThis post has been a long time coming.

Regular readers will need no reminder of the tortuous genesis of our Canadian adventure. Should the casual passer-by wish to catch up on the history of our struggle to divest ourselves of our UK property – of the Kickass Canada Girl’s abortive 2012 attempt to establish a new career in Victoria – of our brief long distance relationship and of my delayed retirement… all of the necessary information may be gleaned from the archives to this blog.

I will simply refer all other gentle readers to this post, dating from the end of April of this year. This missive – lurking under the banner “A lesson in patience” – had as its theme the notion that the entire enterprise had been an extended education in endurance.

It turns out that in this regard I was somewhat off-beam!

The post contained the following paragraph:

“As the deadline for our departure for Canada approaches with all the subtlety of a runaway train we must keep our faith, our belief in our good fortune and our fingers firmly crossed. The universe is surely planning for everything to pan out just right – at just the right moment.”

At the point of posting the Girl and I had both made something of psychological leap, deciding that we would no longer fret and strut regarding our lack of progress but determining instead that we would retire and move to Canada in July come what may! Had we not found a purchaser for our Buckinghamshire apartment – or had my Permanent Residency at that point not been approved – we would go regardless and make of the emprise what we might.

It is now a matter of history that within forty eight hours of this missive having been penned we received – and accepted – a reasonable offer for the apartment. Within little more than a week of that milestone my application for PR was also granted.

The sale of the apartment was completed a mere week before we departed on our trans-Atlantic jaunt, just in time for a six-year high in the Sterling/Canadian dollar exchange rate to gift us a bonus of around $145,000 on what we would have had, had the property been sold when we first attempted so to do.

Our good fortune in finding our dream house in Victoria has been documented sufficiently recently that I need not repeat myself here. Suffice to say that faith in our fellowship of the fortunate few, which had been somewhat eroded over the last year or so, has been dramatically restored.

What might all of this mean?

Well – there is no denying that a great deal of patience has been called for over the last four years. The ultimate lesson – however – is surely rather that one should trust in the universe to provide what is needed – when it is most needed. One may – of course – ascribe this fortune to whatever higher force one deems appropriate. Personally I just think that we are just lucky, lucky buggers!

End of story…

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image…no, no – that’s just a little too obvious!

Let’s just say that the Immigrant is Imperceptible no longer (though I like the tag so much that I most certainly intend continuing my use of it).

When I last posted concerning my attempt to become a Permanent Resident of Canada I described to process to the point – which had then just been reached – at which my Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) had arrived in the post. All that remained – I wrote – was for me to ‘land’ in Canada.

The process is this:

The COPR document is essentially a temporary visa with an expiry date by which point the applicant must have ‘landed’ in Canada. Upon ‘landing’ the temporary visa is replaced by more permanent documentation and the applicant becomes a resident of Canada. This is done at the ‘port of entry’ into Canada.

Thus, when I landed on Sunday morning at Vancouver International I was directed to the Immigration hall, triaged by a very polite young man and then passed over to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) for a brief interview and document processing.

Having heard that this might be a lengthy process we had arranged an hiatus in our journey at this point of some three hours before catching the connecting flight on to Victoria. Of course, when we entered the Immigration hall it was almost entirely empty, save for the helpful young man, a suitably stern CBSA lady and our good selves. As a result the whole operation was completed in around thirty minutes and we found ourselves with a considerable amount of time to kill before we could take the last step of our long trek.

For the record, the CBSA lady did not issue any new documentation – she merely stamped the existing COPR document. The final PR card will apparently catch up with me later. The stern lady also assisted us with our customs declaration which she need not have done, though as the centre was so quiet she seemed happy to do the leg work for us. She filled out Form B4 – ‘Personal Effects Accounting Document‘ (eschewing the copy that I had prepared earlier) – and stamped the printed copies of the spreadsheet that I had provided listing the ‘Goods to Follow’ which comprise the contents of our shipping container.

Now, I have to say that – compared to the preceding elements of the process – ‘landing’ could not have been accomplished in a more easeful and efficient manner. My thanks to the Canada Border Services Agency for helping to make my arrival go as smoothly as it did.

And as just about everyone has extended to me thus far – “Welcome to Canada”.

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officialOne of the last remaining obstacles to our impending relocation to the Pacific Northwest coast of British Columbia has been officially surmounted. Yesterday – in the post – I received the Confirmation of Permanent Residency (COPR) that marks the virtual culmination of the process of becoming a full time inhabitant of Canada.

Hoo – bloomin’ – ray!

All that now remains in this regard is for me to ‘land’ on the continent and for this temporary visa to be exchanged for the actual PR document. Fears that the expiry of my medical certificate at the end of April – the which is normally used as the deadline for landing once the COPR has been issued – might cause a problem have been excised by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) extending the visa period for a year – to May 2016.

The whole process – which has felt for much of the time as though it were indeed doing its best to live up to the ‘Imperceptible’ tag – has actually taken about two weeks less than a year. Given that the CIC website originally indicated that the expected processing time would be around eleven months, I guess I shouldn’t complain.

It has – however – felt like an eternity!

Well – this is it:

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

One factor in our case for the process seeming quite as extended as it has is that we made a first abortive attempt to set things in motion back in 2012, when the Kickass Canada Girl had moved – temporarily as it turned out – to Victoria. For those with a predilection for completeness here follows the complete trail of my posts documenting the whole shebang…

  • A Tough OccupationMay 2012 – an introduction to the PR process
  • A Word from our SponsorMay 2012 – the part that the Girl would have to play in the process
  • PrerequisitesMay 2012 – a description of the documentation that would need to be gathered before completing the application
  • Doctor, DoctorJune 2012 – my first visit to the doctor to acquire a medical certificate
  • A Little Application-1June 2012 – details of the complete sponsor’s application
  • A Little Application-2June 2012 – details of my own complete application
  • Leave to RemainDecember 2012 – first attempt abandoned
  • Residency RevisitedFebruary 2014 – the process restarted a year on
  • Residency Revisited – RevisitedFebruary 2014 – further information gleaned concerning the process
  • Spot the DifferenceApril 2014 – second medical and police certificates are obtained
  • Momentous DayJune 2014 – the completed application is at last submitted
  • Cause for CelebrationAugust 2014 – the Girl is approved as a sponsor
  • In the SystemAugust 2014 – our first appearance on the Electronic Client Application Status (ECAS) site
  • The Waiting Game  – November 2014 – introduction to the London sponsored applicant spreadsheet on the British Expat website
  • Signs of LifeNovember 2014 – request for payment of the Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF)
  • Glory Be!March 2015 – finally – the application appears as ‘In Process’ on the ECAS
  • Hallelujah!May 2015 – and now it switches to ‘Decision Made’
  • It’s Official – May 2015 – this very post – I have my COPR!

Phew!

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prNo more need be said…

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Image from PixabayWhen I started writing this blog in January 2012 at the ripe old age of 58 – with the intention of documenting my odyssey across the waters to Canada and into retirement in British Columbia – I knew even then that the process would not be an easeful one.

I chose its appellation carefully – the sense of danger, of striving, of progression and adventure implicit in the journey into a new world balanced carefully by the anticipated glacial progress of the process itself. The Kickass Canada Girl and I were about to embark on our short-lived experiment in living five thousand miles apart and – even though I was at that point expecting to retire in 2013 – I knew that this relatively brief span would feel like a lifetime.

I had – however – no idea just how imperceptible progress towards our ultimate objective would turn out to be.

Should you ever determine that you have a problem with impatience – an intolerance of prorogation – then let me recommend to you as a form of therapy an application for Canadian Permanent Residency (PR)… or an attempt to sell a ‘quirky’ property in a buyer’s market. As an exercise in having absolutely no control whatsoever over the outcome of said venture, neither of these can be beat.

To be entirely fair, when I submitted my application for PR at the very start of June last year the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) website was indicating that the average time to process such would be around eleven months – which period is not strictly up until next week! Such details don’t help much for those having actually to endure this interminable wait. The fact that almost no indication is given at any point as to current progress only makes things worse.

Until my sponsor – the Kickass Canada Girl – was approved almost two months subsequent to the original submission there was no indication that the application had even been received. The listing on the Electronic Client Application Status portal (ECAS) thereafter read ‘Application Received’  for nearly eight months until it suddenly flipped to ‘In Process’ in mid March this year. Word on the various expat fora is that one might hope for a decision within three to five weeks thereafter, but it is now at the furthest extent of that range and there has been as yet no word.

Naturally I check ECAS daily. Naturally I pore over the London spreadsheet on the British Expats forum to see if anyone from the same cluster as me has heard the good – or indeed any – news. Naturally I rush to check the post to see if anything has magically arrived from CIC.

Nada!

We first placed our Buckinghamshire apartment on the market in the spring of 2011. Though it has been on and off the market since then, over that four year period we must have had dozens of viewings. We have yet to to receive a single offer! This is – of course – somewhat dispiriting… to put it mildly. We have taken much advice. We have adjusted the price diligently at the behest of our agents (realtors!) and thus far elicited only the reaction that no-one knows why it hasn’t sold…

Hmmm!

As the deadline for our departure for Canada approaches with all the subtlety of a runaway train we must keep our faith, our belief in our good fortune and our fingers firmly crossed. The universe is surely planning for everything to pan out just right – at just the right moment.

If nothing else we will have learned a heck of a lesson!

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Glory be!

Inf. an exclamation expressing surprise or shock. (A bit old-fashioned.)

Idioms – The Free Dictionary

Since paying the Right of Permanent Residency Fee (RPRF) shortly before the end of last year I have – with almost religious fervour – been logging on daily to the CIC’s Electronic Client Application Status (ECAS) portal to check on the progress of my application for Canadian Permanent Residency. The status routinely revealed thereby appeared to be stuck so obstinately on “Application Received” that I was beginning to wonder if the whole kit and caboodle had become lost somewhere in the machinery – or whether there might be some sort of un-revealed issue with my application – or if indeed we would needs make the journey to BC in July without having heard anything at all…

Then – all of a sudden – when I logged on yesterday the status had changed to “In Process“! As you can see from the screen capture below – processing actually started on March 10th.

In Process!

Whoopee!!

This is very good news. There is but one step to go, at which point the status will change to “Decision Made” and – all being well – the necessary documents will be sent out. Anecdotal evidence from the expat fora suggests that this might not take too much longer, and further that sometimes the documents arrive without the status on the ECAS being updated at all.

Well – this is all really quite unbearably exciting!

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