2 years, 1 month and 27 days after I first set foot in Canada I was able to claim permanent resident status. The whole process was fairly simple, but like always with me, there were also a few bumps on the road.
If I have one piece of advice to give, it is to start your PR process as early as possible. My plan all along was to apply under the Canadian experience scheme. I knew I needed one year of working experience in Canada to be eligible for it and that’s the only thing I focused on. I was hell-bent on starting the process once I had reached that famous one year mark. The problem is, my work permit was slowly but surely coming to an end and I hadn’t factored in the various wait times for all the different steps.
If you’re not already aware of how the process works, you are evaluated on a number of specific criteria and the more points you have the more likely you are to be invited to apply for your PR. The maximum amount you can get is 1200 but you can be invited to apply if you have around 500. The minimum amount of points required changes constantly but you can keep an eye out on previous invitations rounds here.
For some criteria, like age, there’s nothing you can do. You can however try to snatch a few more points with the languages. I used this page to try and assess how many points I was worth, to decide if I needed extra ones. I put made up scores for the languages based on my auto assessed proficiency.
I am lucky enough to be bilingual (French and English) and wanted to put all the chances on my side, so I decided to take both French and English tests. The only downside with that, is how much dollars you’re going to be parted with. Cresus is not my father nor my husband, so needless to say that the whole process ended up being quite hefty on the money side.
The English test was the cheaper out of the 2 ($280 CAD) and also the more convenient to take. IELTS and CELPIP are both approved by immigration Canada. I was going to take the IELTS as it’s the only one I knew of, but one of my coworkers at the time told me about the CELPIP. The test is done entirely on a computer, even the speaking part, so there are more dates available than for the IELTS. This also means that you get your results back quicker. They will be uploaded on their website and also sent to you by text to the number you provide when registering.
I booked myself a Saturday morning and went with a friend to take the test. I was done in about 2 hours and free to enjoy my day after that. The results came in a week later, as I just mentioned I got a text and could also log onto the platform for more details.
The French test was a different experience. For immigration purposes, there are 2 tests you can take, the TEF Canada and the TEFaQ. At the time I took the test, the price was $440 CAD. I found all the info on the Alliance Française website. TEFaQ only works for Quebec, while the TEF is accepted nationwide.
Given that I live in Ontario there weren’t really any questions about which test to pick. I could however choose what version of the TEF I wanted to take, paper or computer-based. Without any surprise here, I went for the computer version thinking it would be the same as the Celpip… Oh how mistaken was I!
When the Celpip only took about 2 hours of my life and could be done on a Saturday, the TEF pretty much required a full workday and there were no options to do it on the weekend so I had to request time off of work. Once I got there I realized that only half of it was computer-based. Reading and listening are done on the computer, while Speaking is done face to face and writing is done on paper with someone monitoring the room.
Once you’re done, you have to wait between 4 to 6 weeks to get your results by mail. Legend says that the audio recording of the speaking and the copies of the written assignments are sent back to France for correction. Which explains the extended waiting time. I don’t know how true this is, but the whole process baffles me a little nonetheless. That’s one thing I clearly didn’t anticipate in my somewhat flawed planning.
I did find the process of the French testing a little frustrating but nothing comes close to what I had to go through to get my diplomas assessed. I am pretty sure there is more than one organization that can help you with this, I personally went with WES. Each person will have a different opinion based on their experience. Mine was a little crazy but I don’t really know who to blame for that.
When I left France, I took my original transcripts with me for this exact purpose. When I really looked into what documents I needed to send, I realized that my transcripts were not good. I needed to have them certified by the French consulate. This operation is open to all French nationals, but it’s not free. However, if you register with the consulate you can pay a cheaper fee. That’s what I did, but I had to go back because they needed time to process my registration before I could take advantage of the lowered prices. On my second visit, I had my copies certified and put in a sealed and stamped envelope that I then sent with tracking .
Back in those days, processing time was around 3 weeks, so when we got to that cutoff mark I started checking pretty much daily what the status of my assessment was. It took WES 2 months to give me an update and that was that they could not process my documents because there was something wrong with them. The school I had attended had had a name change since my graduation so the name on the transcripts and the one on my certificate of completion were different. I thought that having it certified was enough, I guess I was wrong.
By the time this update came, I only had 4 months left in my visa. I had to reach out to my school to issue a letter explaining the name change and resubmit everything to WES. Because pre-COVID-19 WES didn’t accept anything by email, the explanation letter would have to be sent by regular mail. I usually don’t have any issues with regular mail but this situation was starting to stress me out, so I took advantage of a quick trip to France to go get the letter myself.
I sent the letter to WES as soon as I got back. I got my assessment by June 4th, uploaded my express entry profile and was invited to apply for my PR on June 12th. Except for my medical exam I had all the required documents for this step so all I had to do was upload them into my profile.
I used Dr. Elliott Cantor for my medical exam. I was able to get an appointment pretty quickly which was nice. Once the exam is done, you don’t have to worry about anything. They send you by email what you need to upload into your profile and they submit the rest to IRCC directly.
To make your life easier, if you travel a lot, start listing all your travels over the past 10 years or since you were 18, a little ahead of time. The same applies to your addresses if you moved quite a bit within the same timeframe. I submitted my application on June 29th with a little over a month left on my work permit.
Once you submit your application for PR, you can request a bridging open work permit (BOWP) if your visa expires in 4 months or less, processing time for PR is on average 6 months. It took two full days of searching the IRCC website and Google to try and figure out how to request that b*****y BOWP. Once I found it, I realized the thing was under my nose all along but the terms used were just so confusing to me. IRCC has a tendency to update their processes on the regular so maybe they changed the wording and it now makes more sense.
I got to admit that I don’t know if I would have been able to apply for that BOWP without my friend’s Rachel, guidance. I don’t know if they changed it but the IRCC website is not always the most straightforward.
After all the stress I put myself through, I didn’t even have to wait 6 months to get my PR. Almost 3 months to the date, after I submitted my application I got my confirmation. Funny thing is that it arrived even before my BOWP was processed, and I was reimbursed for that. All in all, things worked pretty well for me, but you’re better off not doing it the way I did. Definitely not worth the extra stress.