Immigration Corner: Strong words for UWI student
Dear Ms Powell,
I am supposed to go into final year at the University of the West Indies (UWI) next September and I'm contemplating not going back. My boyfriend is a Canadian citizen. He takes good care of me and gives me money for my boarding. He is planning to send money for my ticket to come to Canada soon. He, however, wants me to stay in Canada when I visit. He said it doesn't make sense I finish up studies here in Jamaica, as Canada does not recognise Jamaican degrees. He said I could come up and live with him and he will sponsor me. I'm a little confused as my mother died recently and I don't have anyone else to help me. I don't have any money to finish up and any money I get comes from my boyfriend. A friend said I should write you to see if my boyfriend can really sponsor me and if it's true that even if I go Canada I wouldn't be able to use my UWI degree. I look forward to your advice as I'm a little confused.
I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your mother, as a mother's guidance can be invaluable in times like these. So, I will speak frankly with you as I do not want you to make what could be a big mistake at this critical time in your life.
You have just a matter of months to finish your degree and I strongly recommend that you make every effort to finish your degree. The greatest investment you can make in your life is to invest in your education. I'm sure you have heard the saying, "Silver and gold will vanish away, but a good education will never decay."
A degree from the UWI is recognised in Canada and the rest of the world. I do not know what you are studying, but the degree from UWI can be a launching pad for a world of opportunities. Do not give up. You are almost there.
Who can sponsor you?
Once you are finished with your degree, you will have the freedom and independence to live life as you truly want to without depending on anyone to sponsor or support you, if you do not really want to.
I note that you did not say that you love this man or that he loves you. Has he proposed to you? How would he sponsor you? As a common-law spouse or as a wife? How much do you know about this man?
For this man to sponsor you, he would need to prove to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) that:
1. He is married to you, or that he is in a serious, committed/ common-law relationship with you; that he is single and not in a common-law relationship with someone else.
2. He has the financial ability to take care of you.
3. You will not need financial assistance or become a financial burden to the government of Canada.
4. He has not sponsored anyone else within the last five years.
5. He has not declared bankruptcy and it is not discharged.
6. That he has not defaulted on a court-ordered child-support payment.
7. That he is not receiving social assistance, unless for reason of disability.
8. That he does not have a criminal record.
Can you say positively that he will be able to satisfy these conditions?
As mentioned before, since you are almost finished with your degree, if he would like to sponsor you, then he should encourage you to finish the degree while he submits the application to sponsor you. The sponsorship application takes time. You should note that the processing time for sponsorship of spouses when they are outside of Canada is usually faster than if the application is made when the person being sponsored is already in Canada. Furthermore, there could be some restrictions on your ability to travel outside of Canada once the application is submitted for permanent residence when you are already in Canada.
Opportunities available with a degree
I know you mentioned the difficulty you are facing with finances. However, you should consider applying for a student loan or write to various private organisations, requesting sponsorship, loan or grant. You may elicit the support of an organisation to assist you, especially if you have good grades, active part in your school and local community.
Once you have your degree in hand, you are on your way to being able to independently apply for permanent residence in Canada. You will need to get an Educational Assessment Report from one of the institutions approved by CIC. A list of these organisations is on my website. You will need to submit a copy of your degree, an original sealed transcript from UWI in order for your degree to be assessed. You will receive a report to show that your degree is the equivalent to one been granted by an accredited university in Canada.
You will also need to sit and English language examination. The most popular is the IELTS, general training examination that you would need to sit at UWI. Strive to get a minimum of eight points for reading, writing, listening and speaking, in order to increase your chances of being given an invitation to apply for permanent residence under the express entry system.
Once you have the ECA, IELTS results, work experience and savings, you may apply under the express entry system as a Federal Skilled Worker to become a permanent resident in Canada. If you have close relative or a spouse in Canada you stand a significant chance of your application being successful.
Once you have your degree, you can even apply for post graduate scholarships at various universities around the world. With a degree your opportunities for immigration have increased. Why not even look at opportunities in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand?
It is good to have the support of someone else, but don't limit your opportunities. I'm encouraging you to make every effort to finish your degree. That could be the best decision you could ever make for your future. If your boyfriend really wishes your well, he will also encourage you to finish while he starts the sponsorship application. Best of luck to you. Keep me posted of your decision and progress.
- Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator, and notary public who is a member of the Jamaican and Ontario, Canada bars. Send your questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject: Immigration. Find her on Twitter: deidrespowell and Facebook: jamaicanlawyer. Call 876.922.4092 or 876.922. 8899.