Mistakes-Canada

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Introduction

The purpose of this article is to warn you about some common misconceptions that we see on the Canada forum.

Immigration issues

Points

  • Many people think they have to earn points to get into Canada.
  • Points are typically used for applications for Permanent Residency through Federal economic immigration (eg Federal Skilled Worker), and some Provincial nomination streams. They are not required for things like becoming a PR through family nomination, or for short-term work permits.
  • For a more detailed explanation, please see the BE Wiki article called Self-Assessment Test-Canada.

Believing experts

  • Unfortunately, there have been a few instances in which government officials in Canada have given wrong information to BE forum members.
  • There are several reasons for this. At least one of the reasons is that different aspects of Canadian life are overseen by different levels of government -- federal, provincial and municipal. Sometimes municipal or provincial officials are well meaning, but they don't understand the implications of immigration, which is primarily a federal matter.
  • Come to think of it, even immigration consultants occasionally have given BE members wrong advice. This admittedly has been rare, but even once is one time too many if it wrecks your changes of gaining entry to Canada.
  • This warning is being issued because it is important for you to verify the facts by checking different sources of information.
  • If a municipal official in a town to which you want to move waves his/her arm and says, "Oh yes, your British qualifications will be accepted here," don't take it for granted that he/she knows what he/she is talking about.
  • If you want to ensure that your immigration application is successful, you need to monitor it yourself (even if you've retained an immigration consultant), and you need to check and re-check the facts, using different sources of information.
  • When it comes to immigration, the wording of legislation and regulations is the final arbiter, not something that someone (even a government official) told you.
  • One useful suggestion that has been made on the BE forum is that you insist on getting all assurances and promises in writing.

Limitations of permits

  • Expats don't understand in advance how much of a nuisance a limitation may be.
  • For example, some expats have not been aware that, if they were in Canada on temporary work permits, their teenaged children would not be permitted to work without their own work permit ([1], which they are unlikely to qualify for).
  • Another thing to be aware of is that if your occupation does not belong to Skill Level O, A or B on the National Occupational Classification Matrix, your spouse will not be entitled to a spousal open work permit (SOWP). In that case, your family may very well have to live on one income.

Where to live

Premature choice of destination

  • Many people arrive at the forum saying they want to go to Toronto or Vancouver.
  • Both of these cities have their good points, and one of them may indeed be the best place for you to go.
  • But there is a lot more to Canada than Toronto and Vancouver.
  • During the early stages of your research, it's a good idea to keep an open mind and find out about all of Canada's regions.
  • Another factor to consider is that expats increasingly have to rely on temporary work permits and Provincial Nominee Programs to get into Canada (see the section on Points, above).
  • A temporary work permit or PNP application requires a job offer.
  • To get a work permit or apply through PNP, you can't just get any old job.
  • Essentially the job that you're offered has to be one for which no willing and able Canadian is available.
  • This means that you may have to go to a region in which there are labour shortages.
  • There is no substitute for visiting the areas you think you might want to live in. Go on a Scouting Trip .
  • Make your own mind up. There is advice a plenty on the BE site about places to live. Some people love the area they are in, others may dislike it. Take the suggestions, visit and decide for yourself. The more informed your decision the better your chances of success.

Booming regions

  • Take with a pinch of salt reports that a specific part of Canada is booming.
  • Booming areas may be better suited to people in some occupations than in other occupations.
  • True, a boom often creates a shortage of workers in every field you can think of.
  • But ... that doesn't necessarily mean it's the best place to live. You might wonder why, given that there are jobs aplenty. The reason is that real estate prices shoot up during the boom. They reach high levels, at least by Canadian standards.
  • Alberta, for example, is a great place for people in certain occupations -- anyone who works in the petroleum industry, people in the skilled trades (think housing boom), and some others. These occupations pay highly enough to compensate for real estate prices.
  • But there are many occupations that do not pay highly enough to compensate for the high real estate prices. To illustrate this point, it's sobering to realize that half the people in Calgary's homeless shelters have some form of employment.
  • A factor to consider if you're heading to a booming part of Canada is the amount of equity you'll be able to bring with you from the UK. This will influence the size of the deposit that you'll be able to pay for a house. That, in turn, will influence the size of the mortgage that you'll have to take out.
  • This section is not suggesting that you avoid Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton entirely. Several members of the BE forum live in those cities, and most of them seem happy there. What is being suggested is that you do your research.
  • A part of Canada that has lower real estate prices may give you a higher standard of living.
  • This cautionary advice about booming regions may sound as if it contradicts the earlier point about going to parts of Canada in which there are labour shortages. After all, it's the booming regions that are more likely to have the labour shortages that might enable you to get a work permit.
  • Frankly, the two seemingly paradoxical pieces of advice are consistent with each other. What that combination tells you is that, if you are unskilled and if you cannot bring to Canada a generous amount of money to invest in a house, you should think twice about moving to Canada at all.
  • It's not fun to be poor in Canada.
  • However, you may be willing to accept a poorly paid job in a booming region of Canada as a way of getting your toe in the door. Then, once you're established in Canda, you may relocate to another part of the country.

Job hunting

Cold contact

  • Many people say that they have e-mailed their CVs to dozens (or perhaps even hundreds) of prospective employers and recruitment agencies, but they have not heard back from them.
  • First of all, it's not a CV. In Canada it's a resume, and its format is different from that of a CV. There is a Wiki article on how to write a resume.
  • But, quite aside from that, Canadian employers rarely respond to a resume that arrives out of the blue. If an unsolicited resume arrives by e-mail, the employer may not even open it, much less reply to it.
  • It's much better to phone a company first, and then follow up with a resume by e-mail.
  • Alternatively, send your resume by conventional mail. Allow enough time for the resume to reach the prospective employer, and give him/her a week to peruse it. After that, pick up the phone and speak to him/her.
  • If you are sending an unsolicited resume, it's better to do so by conventional mail or fax. When it comes to a cold contact, these methods of communication are more effective than e-mail.
  • The importance of the telephone in your job hunting endeavours cannot be overemphasized.
  • If you were able to arrange a face to face meeting, during a recce trip for example, it would be even better.
  • To help you understand the hiring culture in Canada, which is different from that in the UK, it is suggested that you read the Wiki articles called Hiring Culture and Networking.

Job hunting via the Internet

  • New posters come onto the BE forum and say that they've searched fruitlessly on the Internet to find companies that might employ them or to find recruitment agencies that might secure a job offer and a Labour Market Opinion for them.
  • This is the wrong approach if you are trying to get into Canada.
  • In most cases recruitment agencies are not going to be able to refer you to employers unless you already have the right to live and work in Canada.
  • Canadian employers rarely reply to unsolicited e-mails.
  • Yes, the Internet approach may have worked in a handful of instances, and there may be someone on the forum who can make a valid claim that it has worked for them.
  • But in general Canadian hiring culture isn't like that.
  • Canadian hiring culture heavily favours person contacts, networking, "who you know."
  • If there is one thing you need to understand about job hunting in Canada it is that you have to pick up the phone and talk to people.
  • Ask them:
    • What qualifications and experience they look for when they hire.
    • If they hire foreign workers.
    • If they apply for Labour Market Opinions and temporary work permits.
    • What kind of income, roughly, people in your occupation earn.
    • If they can tell you the names of other companies in their area that hire people like you.
    • If they can tell you the names of a couple of people who work at those companies.
  • Better still, come to Canada on a recce trip and show them your face.
  • The Internet is fine as a starting point for your research, just to find out the names of half a dozen or so companies that you can contact initially.
  • To that end, please read the Wiki article entitled Finding Job Opportunities.
  • But, after you've phoned the first handful of companies, referals from one company to another will gain more importance in your job hunting strategy.
  • When you're phoning someone whose name you've received from another company, say so. You could consider opening with, "Hello, this is Joe Blogs. I'm phoning from England (or Scotland or whatever the case may be). John Smith from XYZ Oilfield Services suggested I call you."
  • The Internet also is a useful tool once you've already made contact by phone. For example, you can e-mail your resume to a prospective employer or other Canadian contact after you've had a phone conversation with them.
  • But the Internet is only one tool in a much broader arsenal that you have to use.
  • It is impossible to overemphasize the importance of personal contact (by phone and face to face) in a Canadian job hunt.
  • It will help you a great deal if you read all the Wiki articles in the series on job hunting in Canada.

Assuming employers know immigration process

  • Foreign job hunters and would be immigrants assume that Canadian employers know about the immigration process.
  • Depending on how many foreigners they've hired in the past, some Canadian employers are thoroughly familiar with the immigration process, some of them are partially familiar with it, and some of them don't have the foggiest clue how it works.
  • Don't assume that your employer fully understands the immigration process.
  • Do your own independent research.
  • If your prospective employer is unfamiliar with the process for applying for a Labour Market Opinion, etc., be willing and ready to walk them through it.
  • Yes, this means that you, the foreigner, may need to know more about the process than the local employer knows.
  • Stay in touch with the prospective employer throughout the process.

Serious Risks

  • We all are at risk of unwanted events, regardless of where we live.
  • For example, although it's rare, people sometimes do die while their children are young.
  • If a catastrophic event happens when you're an expat, an ocean away from your country of origin, it adds a level of complexity to an already difficult situation.
  • However, there are measures you can take in advance that will mitigate the negative effects on your family.
  • To find out more about this, it is recommended that you read the Wiki article called Risk-Canada.