Immigration Corner: What should I expect in Canada?
Dear Ms Powell,
Thank you for your guidance over the past few months. I am pleased to say I got landing papers for my family and me in less than a year. I'm excited and nervous at the same time as I do not know what to expect when I get there. I have some friends there who say that we can stay with them for a while until we get settled, but I want to know that I bring everything I will need to settle in quickly, especially as I am bringing my children with me. Can you please tell me how to prepare and what to expect at the airport when I arrive in Canada? Will they give me everything I need at the airport or do I have to go to different places to get registered? How do I get my children into schools? How do I get a job?
Congratulations to you and your family. It was my pleasure to serve you and I'm excited that you and your family are now on your way to making Canada your new home. You would have received a package from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) along with your passports. That package should have some useful information on how to settle in Canada. You should take the time to read the information.
You have asked many questions, so I will answer you in two separate articles.
Your passport will be stamped with your immigrant visa and you will be given a Confirmation of Permanent Residence document. This document is very important and must be kept in a safe place as you will need to refer to it from time to time as a permanent resident. You will need it to also apply for citizenship at a later date.
What to do now?
. Each family member must have his or her own passport stamped with an immigrant visa and a confirmation of permanent residence.
2. Check the documents received from CIC to ensure that there are no errors. Pay specific attention to the spelling of your name, date of birth and passport number. If there is an error, you should notify CIC immediately to have the document corrected before departure.
3. Locate all important original documents and at least one certified copy of each document for each family member such as:
a. Birth certificate.
b. Marriage certificate.
c. Baptismal certificate.
d. Divorce certificate (Decree absolute).
e. Court orders/ formal orders.
f. Adoption records.
g. Death certificates of spouse or close family members, e.g. parents.
h. Medical records, immunisation/vaccination booklets/records, prescription, and a letter from your doctor if you are taking certain medications.
i. School records: copies of certificates, degrees, transcripts ( sealed copies).
j. Certificate of membership from professional organisations.
k. Letters of good standing from professional organisations
l. Letters of recommendation from former employers and teachers.
m. Driver's licence
n. Recommendation from your motor vehicle insurance company about your driving experience and claims record (NB not all insurance companies in Canada recognise these records, but you should take the letter of recommendation, just in case you are able to use this record).
o. Cash or certified cheque, draft, and traveller's cheque for any amount of fund you wish. Just remember you need to declare the amount you are taking in if it over CAD$10,000.
4. Make a detailed list of the items you plan to take on the plane, or plan to ship at the same time or at a later date to Canada. Ensure that you know the fair market value of these items. You should have at least 2 copies of this list.
5. You can choose to make several trips to bring your personal or professional items to Canada, or you may choose to ship them. The choice is yours. The key is to declare your intentions when you first land and to keep a detailed list and have a good plan for dealing with shipment of goods at a later date.
6. Scan a copy of all important documents and ensure that you store this information in a safe place. If your documents are lost, stolen or destroyed, it is good to have an electronic version to refer to.
7. Choose a departure date that is memorable to you as you will need to refer to that date on several occasions when completing official documents in Canada.
What to bring on the plane?
2. The complete package received from CIC.
3. All official and important documents.
4. Certified cheque, securities, bonds, stocks, drafts, traveller's cheque or cash.
The above items should be kept in your handbag or carry-on luggage and not left in your check-on luggage.
Before you land in Canada, the flight attendant will give you a customs declaration card. You will need to complete the information accurately. You will need to record the full address of where you intend to stay. Pay attention to the section that requires you to declare if you are bringing funds in excess of CAD$10,000; if you have unaccompanied bags or if you are bringing meat/meat products, fruits or vegetable. You are allowed 1.5 litres of rum. Ensure that you declare everything that you are bringing with you. You do not have to list the items shipped, but you may refer to the list in hand and provide the detailed list to the officer.
I know you are going to miss the ackee, fried fish, mango, and all the wonderful foods from Jamaica. However, this is your landing trip; leave the fried fish, ackee and other tasty foods behind this trip, as you do not want to have any anxieties and additional things to think about on this important day. Furthermore, many of those foods can be found in the Caribbean grocery shops around and even the regular supermarkets.
What to expect at the airport
When you alight from the plane, you will be directed to the Immigration section at the airport or port of entry.
You should have your passport, declaration card and your confirmation of permanent residence in hand. Expect the officer to welcome you to Canada and examine your documents to ensure that they are correct, and that they are not expired. He will ask you a few verifying questions. The questions will be similar to those asked in your application for permanent residence.
Usually, you are directed to another officer thereafter to complete the landing process, so expect at least 2 screenings or interviews with a Canadian Border Security Officer.
Be prepared to answer additional questions such as:
1. How did you receive your permanent residence?
2. What was your occupation?
3. What is your intended occupation?
4. Who are staying with?
5. What is your relationship to the person you are staying with?
6. What is your intended address and telephone number?
7. How long do you intend to stay in Canada?
8. Have you been convicted of any serious crime in your home country?
9. Have you visited any country with any serious diseases within the last 3 months?
10. Are you suffering from any serious illness?
11. Have you ever been to Canada before?
12. If so, when? How long? Were you required to leave?
13. How much money are you bringing?
14. How many bags did you bring?
15. Will you be shipping any other items? Ensure that you have a list of items you plan to return for. It is better to list them and change your mind about bringing them than to not list them and not be able to bring them in duty free at a later date.
Be calm and answer the questions truthfully and clearly. If all goes well, you should be out in a short time. Relax! These officers are usually kind and welcoming if you are organised and honest. Next week, I will continue to answer your questions and focus on what you should do in the first month after you land in Canada as a permanent resident.
- Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator, and notary public who is a member of the Jamaican and Ontario, Canada bars, with main office located in Ottawa, Ontario. Her areas of practice are in immigration, real estate, commercial, family and administration of estates. She is on the roster of Mediators for Ottawa, Toronto, and the Dispute Resolution Foundation of Jamaica. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org subjectline: immigration, Call 613.695.8777/ 876.922.8899