Mon | Oct 15, 2018

Immigration Corner | Male, Female or 'X'?

Published:Tuesday | December 26, 2017 | 1:03 AM

Dear Ms Powell,

I have a software engineering degree and I have been having difficulty finding a job as a software engineer in Ocho Rios.  I am currently working as an administrative assistant. I am very frustrated and would like to know how I can move to Canada to work as a software engineer. Also, I have problems fitting in here in Jamaica as I don’t see myself as either male or female. I know that may sound strange to you but I don’t want to be judged for how I talk or dress.  How can I move to Canada? I hear it’s easier there for people like me.

- LE


Dear LE,

I’m sorry to hear that you have not been able to find a job as a software engineer in Jamaica.  That is one of the most on-demand skills you can have in this information age.   Nevertheless, Canada is a wonderful place to earn a living and live regardless of your race or gender. 

Recently, Immigration Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)  announced that they are on the verge of introducing new measures for individuals who do not identify as male or female. That means that the 'X' gender designation in the sex field of passports and other IRCC documents will soon be allowed   This is one of the many efforts by the Government of Canada to ensure that government-issued documents better reflect individuals' gender identity.

Furthermore, same sex marriages/unions are legal in Canada.  Therefore if you are having difficulty 'fitting in' as a Jamaican national because of your gender identity, you can rest assured that this would not be an issue in Canada.

Many professionals have been able to get permanent residence in Canada within six months, based on their ability to demonstrate their potential to succeed in Canada and contribute towards the economy.  IRCC will evaluate your potential to do well in Canada and grant you permanent residence based on your work experience, language, age, education and adaptability.  If you are able to get a valid job offer, although it is not a requirement, you could be granted an invitation to apply for permanent residence and could be living in Canada next year.

Many provinces are looking for software engineers via the Provincial Nominee Programme.  Although you say you have not had any luck in gaining experience in that field, you do not need to worry about that as you would still qualify as a federal skilled worker.  The fact that you are working as an administrative assistant which is one of the qualifying occupations, means you are a strong candidate to receive an invitation to apply for permanent residence, provided that you are able to satisfy the other requirements.

IRCC is looking for you to demonstrate that you have a minimum of one year continuous, full time work experience in the same type of job within the past 10 years.  It must be paid work for at least 30 hours per week.   Voluntary/ unpaid positions would not qualify.  Although the job title is important they are more interested in the duties that you perform to see if they are in line with Canada’s National occupational classification (NOC). 

Another significant factor is that you will need to demonstrate that you have a minimum of CAD$12, 300 in savings, depending on the number of persons in your immediate family.  This money will not be taken from you, but you need to show that you have adequate resources to make your move to Canada and also to take care of yourself while you get settled and adjusted to your new community.

I understand your frustration but you seem to be young and your whole life is ahead of you.  What I recommend that you do is to request sealed copies of your transcripts from your university, book the IELTS, general training exam at University of the West Indies.  You can do so online at Once you have done this, consult with an authorised Canadian immigration lawyer to help you with your immigration plan.

- 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: Subject: Immigration. Find her on Twitter: deidrespowell and Facebook: jamaicanlawyer. Call 876.922.4092 or 613.695.8777