Canadian Immigration Interview and Application Tips

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A Canadian immigrant shares his immigration experiences and insight.

In MOTHER EARTH NEWS NO. 31, Sharon Woolley described her family’s troubles in emigrating from the U.S. to Canada. I have some further information to offer, obtained at great cost in money and time (because of the Canadian Immigration Service’s bureaucratic methods, and because of changes in the standards to be met by would-be immigrants).

Canadian Immigration Interview and Application Tips

First, a rough outline of the application procedure for those who desire permanent residence in Canada:

[1] You must apply for immigrant status from outside Canada, through the nearest Canadian consulate. (If you’re granted an interview later on — after you’ve entered Canada — you’ll have the added hassle of traveling back to the U.S. city in which the consulate is located.)

[2] You must hold a valid passport or equivalent document.

[3] After receiving the forms, filling them out in triplicate, and returning them, you’re required to take a physical. If you fail to meet the health requirements, that’s the end of the road.

[4] Last comes the Canadian immigration interview and final assessment . . . but only if you make at least 50 points out of the 100 on which the evaluation system is based, and that’s no easy task.

The following is a breakdown of the point system, as explained to me by Canadian authorities:

[1] AGE. 10 points maximum. One point is removed for each year over 35.

[2] EDUCATION. 20 points maximum. A Ph.D. scores the full 20, and one point is deducted for every year short of that level.

[3] RELATIVES IN CANADA. 3 points maximum.

[4] SKILL. 6 points maximum.

[5] LANGUAGE. 5 points for English, 5 for French . . . a total of 10 maximum. If you don’t speak either, your score is zero.

[6] PERSONAL ASSESSMENT. 1 to 15 points. The bases for this rating are restricted information (not revealed to the applicant or to the public). The interviewer’s impressions are in any case quite subjective.

[7] DEMAND FOR OCCUPATION. 0 to 15 points. The criteria here are also restricted information . . . and if your skill isn’t in demand, you’ve had it. (You’ll recall that the Woolleys were told, “We don’t need teachers.”)

[8] PREARRANGED EMPLOYMENT. 10 points. This is a very important item and — I strongly suspect — influences personal assessment

Perhaps my experience in job-hunting north of the border will give you an idea of the difficulties involved. I spent a lot of money and time on trips to Canada, and discovered that there were indeed positions open in my field. Not, however, for an American. The immigration authorities had told me that it was possible for a non-Canadian to get employment . . . but when I mentioned this statement to the company officials I talked with, I learned that it’s technically true but false in reality.

Here’s what would happen, I was told, if a Canadian firm hired me and gave me the necessary proof of employment: As soon as I showed that document to the immigration authorities, the Canadian Manpower Commission would be contacted and informed of the job opening. The commission would then jump on my employers with a demand that a Canadian be given preference . . . and the members of management who were nice enough to offer me a position would find themselves committed to hiring a citizen of their own country instead.

I should point out that Canada does have unemployed persons, and the Manpower Commission is responsible for relocating such individuals to areas where jobs are available. The only fly in the soup is that some people don’t want to move from their hometown or their own part of a province. Thus one mining company by which I was interviewed had nearly had to close down for lack of help! The pay and safety standards were good, but the location was out in the sticks where nobody wanted to live.

Even so, the managers of that same company were apprehensive about giving me a written job offer . . . although they were willing to do so verbally. Quite simply, they just didn’t want to draw the attention of federal bureaucracies. And, considering how such officialdom operates, it’s not hard to understand their fears. A miscalculation of the new laws on the employer’s part could mean a $5,000 fine and a jail term for the person responsible for hiring a non-Canadian.

[9] AREA OF DEMAND IN DISTRICTS. 0 to 15 points. Again, the criteria are restricted information. Pick the wrong destination, and you’ve lost vital points . . . if not your interview for assessment.

What it comes to is this: If you’re under 35, pass your physical, hold a Ph.D. in a vital field, speak both French and English, select the right place to live, and have relatives in Canada, you just might make those first 50 points necessary for your final interview and eventual status as a landed immigrant. (There’s also a security check — no points awarded for clearance — which, I’ve been told, is why it takes so long to process an application.)

A couple of final notes:

[1] If you’re closely related to someone in Canada, you might check out the possibility of going through a different entrance procedure as a “nominated applicant”.

[2] Even if you make it through all the hassle of federal immigration and at last enter the country, you must still meet provincial requirements before you can engage in any kind of government work. These are tougher than federal standards and usually require a five-year residence.

What I’ve told you is the current situation according to my own experience and understanding. The requirements can be changed, however, and you should contact a Canadian consulate for the latest information if you’re considering a move north of the border.