As the name suggests, I’ve decided to write a blog to hopefully help people who are considering applying for Permanent Residency here in Canada. Myself and Phil are just going through the process so believe me – I know it can be confusing. Sorry to my fans out there (Mark and Miriam) as this post probably won’t interest you guys! Ok so this blog deals with applying for PR through Express Entry (EE) Common Law, Canadian Experience Class (CEC), wow, that’s a mouthful!
First things first lets establish what exactly all of that means, you can apply as common law partners if you have been living together for a period of at least 12 consecutive months without any long periods where you did not see each other. You are eligible to apply under the CEC route once you have at least 12 months of full-time (or equal amount in part-time) skilled work experience in Canada. Your skilled work experience must be a NOC 0, A or B. You can find your NOC here: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/skilled/noc.asp
You must take an English test to show that you meet the requirements for speaking, reading, writing and listening. My advice is to do this before you set up your online profile through EE. We did the IELTS exam, it costs $310 and was pretty straightforward. If you’re doing the IELTS test you just have to do the General Training Test, not the academic one. It’s pretty easy for native speakers, myself and Phil didn’t even look at any practice tests and we both did well in the tests. I’ve seen plenty of people posting online asking how easy/hard it is and if they should study – if you are a native English speaker then don’t worry about the tests, you’ll be fine. We did ours through Global Village, you can find the test dates and locations in Toronto here: http://www.ieltstoronto.com/apply-now/test-dates-locations/general-training/ Results are released on the 14th day after the test, you can go pick them up or if you don’t do that they will send them by regular mail. Be prepared for a long day the day of the tests, we had to be there for 7.45am and didn’t get out until 4.30pm (we had a pretty long lunch break in that time though).
I have heard the CELPIP is much easier, and is much shorter as well. It’s all done on computer, even the speaking test, and once you’re finished you can leave. The IELTS can take hours and you are not alowed leave the exam room even if you are finished the test with an hour to spare. It reminded me of the leaving cert, they were so strict and checking to make sure you’re not cheating. You can’t bring anything into the room with you apart from a bottle of water, and at that, it can’t have a label on it in case you are trying to sneak notes on it!!! If I could do it over, I think I would do CELPIP.
There is no education requirement under the CEC route, however, if you are stuck for points it can be a great way to boost them. Again I advise to do this before you set up your online profile. As I am the primary applicant I got my education assessed, I used WES. It was pretty easy and straight forward and took about 8 weeks to receive the Educational Credential Assessment (ECA). I think it can actually be quicker but there was a delay on my University’s end sending my transcripts. Basically set up a profile with WES and enter the details of the education that you want assessed and then make payment ($210). Once you set up your account it will give you a list of required documents. You have to send them a copy of your degree certificate(s) and then contact your University to send transcripts directly to WES. **Warning** When mailing your certificate(s) make sure that your reference number is on the outside of the envelope, ensure that you also tell your University to do this when sending your transcripts, if your reference number is not clearly on the envelope they will return it.
Once we had our English test results and I had my ECA from WES, I set up our online profile through EE. If you use the Come to Canada tool you will answer some short questions and then get a personal reference code which you can enter when submitting your profile, this will then take some of your answers from the Come to Canada Tool and build them into your profile. When submitting your profile you will need your passport (and your common law partner’s if applicable), your NOC code, your language test results, your ECA. It’s pretty straightforward and doesn’t take too long, some parts take longer than others – for example entering your work experience. **Note** If you have a full-time job in Canada but do not have an LMIA then you must select NO to do you have a valid job offer. Once you do this and submit your profile it will then ask you to register with Job Bank. You have to register with Job Bank within 30 days of submitting your online profile or your EE profile will expire. I put minimal info into Job Bank as I have a job here, I only gave information about my current role.Once you have submitted your online profile you will be given a score using a ranking system based on all of the information you provided in your application. Our points are 469. You will then also be told if you qualify under the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSW) or CEC.
In 2015 there has usually been a draw every two weeks. You can have a look to see what the points have been in every draw so far here:http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/express-entry/rounds.asp I submitted our online profile on Sunday November 8, 2015, then there was a draw on November 13th – the points were 484 so we missed out by 15 points! The points have dropped to 450 twice this year – that’s the lowest they’ve gotten so I’m hoping that they’ll drop enough for us in the next draw. If your points are the same, or higher than the points that come out of the draw then you will receive an Invitation to Apply for PR (ITA) at which you have 60 days to submit your application and all documents. On the day of the draw I did get a notification through my CIC account advising me that the province of Ontario wants to consider me for Provincial Nomination. This would give us an extra 600 points – meaning we would be guaranteed to receive an ITA. It’s extra paperwork and extra money but you have 45 days to apply to the province once you receive this PT Notification of Interest so we are going to wait for the next draw and see if the points come down and if not, then we’ll go the Provincial Nomination route.
**Note** When you receive an ITA and you have 60 days to submit your application and documents, police clearance from every country you have lived in for more than 6 months since you were 18 is required. This will be of particular interest to anyone who has lived in South Korea because it was a nightmare trying to get the police cert. I had a police cert from Korea because I needed one in order to get my two-year visa to come here, however when applying for PR they require a specific police cert from Korea and the one I had was not the right one. A Criminal (Investigation) Records Check Reply is required rather than the Criminal Background Check that I had, and a conversation with someone on the Irish and Applying for PR Facebook page informed me that his application for PR was denied because he had the wrong police check from Korea. I won’t go into all of the details but I went to the South Korean Consulate in Toronto twice and both times they tried to get me to apply for the Criminal Background Check and they had no clue when I tried to explain what I needed. Anyway to cut a long story short, two visits, many phone calls and emails later I established that the police check that is required is NOT available outside Korea. I had to get one of my friend’s living in Korea (thank you Catherine!!!) to apply for it for me. You need to send a copy of your passport, a copy of your Korean visa that you had, a passport sized photograph of yourself and a power of Attorney form giving your friend in Korea permission to apply for the police cert on your behalf. The Power of Attorney Form is available in the Korean Consulate, fill everything out there and get it all notarized by the Consulate and then send it all off to Korea. I decided to do this ahead of time as I was worried I wouldn’t have it all sorted out in the 60 days if we get an ITA. The Consulate still got me to fill out the form for a Criminal Background Check to send off with everything else so I just put a note in for my friend explaining what I actually needed and wrote it in Korean too to make her life easier. I got the police cert back a couple of weeks ago and while it is slighty different to the one I have, I’m not entirely sure it’s the correct one but at this point there is nothing more I can do. If you live in Vancouver the South Korean Consulate there seems to be aware of this police cert so things might be easier with them – check out their website: http://can-vancouver.mofa.go.kr/english/am/can-vancouver/visa/criminal/index.jsp
So that’s where we are now, will do another blog once (and if) we get an ITA and will update about the process of submitting your application for PR and all that entails, and if we take the Provincial Nomination route I will update about that process. Good luck to everyone, I hope this blog helps!