Immigration Corner: How to navigate life in Canada
Dear Ms Powell,
Thank you for your guidance over the past few months, as I am pleased to say that I now have landing papers for me and my family in less than a year. 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?
Last week, I answered some of your questions on what to do as a newcomer to Canada and what to expect at the airport when you first land. If you missed that article, you may check The Gleaner's website for the previous article, 'What should I expect in Canada?'. This week, I will focus on the things you should do in your first weeks of landing in Canada.
You should receive a book titled Welcome to Canada from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). You may receive it before in your package or at the airport when you land in Canada. That book has useful information about what you should know about settling into Canada. It will be your guide to transitioning into your new home in Canada. You can also find useful videos and additional information at the CIC website: www.cic.gc.ca.
First Week in Canada
You should apply to get your most important documents processed in your first week in Canada. It generally takes up to three months for these documents to be processed, so the sooner you put in your application, the better. The key documents that you will need are:
1 Permanent Resident (PR) Card: You do not need to apply for your first PR card. It will be automatically sent to you, once you have provided an address to CIC. If you did not have your address at the time of landing you have up to 180 days after your arrival to submit your permanent address in Canada to CIC via their online portal or at a Service Canada office.
Your Permanent Residence Card should be used in place of your Confirmation of Permanent Residence document in order to travel outside of Canada. It is your official proof of your status in Canada. You should not travel outside of Canada without this card. If you have an emergency and need to travel outside of Canada before you receive the card, you can make an emergency application to have your application expedited. You will need to provide proof of the emergency.
You may also use your PR card as a means of identification. The card is valid for five years and so you should ensure that it is renewed when it expires.
2 Social Insurance Number (SIN): This card will be needed in order for you to work or apply for government programmes and benefits. It may also be used as an identification card. There is no fee for this card.
3 Provincial Health Card: Health services such as access to clinics, doctors and hospitals are funded by taxpayers and so you will not need to pay to access these services, but you will need a provincial or territorial health card. Apply for one using forms that are available at doctor's offices, pharmacies, hospitals, and at your provincial websites. You must present this card when you seek medical care. Most health cards have an expiry date, so you should pay keen attention to the date to ensure that your health card is renewed in a timely manner.
You may visit a Service Canada office and a provincial office such as Service Ontario, nearest to you, to request forms or additional information. The application forms are online, so you can download, complete and take the application form, your passport and confirmation of permanent residence document in order to take your photographs and process your application. It is also a good idea to take your birth certificate as a supplemental means of identification.
Once you have your SIN card in hand, you can apply to work anywhere in Canada in any unregulated occupations. If you are in one of the regulated occupations such as engineering, law, health services, financial services, you will need to get your credentials assessed and sit the necessary licensing examinations before you can start working in these fields. If you are not in these regulated fields, you may start applying immediately for a job.
Ensure that you have your cover letter, resume, copies of your educational credentials and references to share with a prospective employer.
There is the Federal Internship for Newcomers ( FIN) Programme which is available to individuals who live in the Toronto, Ottawa and Victoria area. This programme provides newcomers with temporary valuable training and work experience, provided that you qualify. Additional information is found on CIC website.
There are several ways that you may apply to get a job. You may visit your local Employment Resource Centre, websites such as www.jobbank.gc.ca, www.sorkopolis.ca and www.monster.ca. There are other job agencies locally and online that you should explore.
If there is a company or organisation that you are interested in working for, you should visit the company's website to see if they have posted a career opportunity. You should also consider applying directly to the CEO/human resource manager so that they may consider you for a job within their organisation.
Children are required by law to attend school from age 5/6 until 16/19 years, depending on the province where you live. It is the parents' responsibility to ensure that their child attends school. Home schooling is permitted. There are both public-funded and private schools. You may visit the nearest school to your home to obtain information on how to register your child for school. Be sure to bring your child's passport, COPR, birth certificate, vaccination records, transcripts, health card and permanent residence card (if available). You may also visit one of the immigrant servicing organisations within your area for additional information.
Most major towns/cities have immigrant-serving organisations that are there to serve you. You should visit one of these offices in your first week. These offices are a
good source of information and there are many volunteers who can guide you with information on how to get settled. You may visit www.citizenship.gov.on.ca
for information on how to connect with these organisations.
Good luck to you and your family,
and feel free to visit my website at www.expressimmigrationcanada.com for additional information about settling in Canada.
-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