Writing

Immigration Frustration

So, for those of you who are unaware, I am Canadian, and my husband is American. We met through a mutual friend, and were good friends for three years before we realized we were more than friends. After we got together in September of 2012, he proposed January 3rd of 2013, and we were married June 22nd the same year. He moved in with me the May preceding the wedding, and we attempted to apply for his Permanent Residency status. According to Canadian Immigration, this isn’t supposed to take all that long. We prepped all the paperwork, and figured we would apply right after the wedding.

Turns out the marriage certificate takes about three months to come in, so we had to wait for that. While we waited, his visitor status ticked away. While we were waiting, we tried to get his physical out of the way, but every single place that Canadian Immigration told us to call was closed. Finally it came, but by then his FBI background check was pretty much out of date, so we had to reapply for that. We were unsure where to get fingerprints done, so we called CIC again. They told us to go to a police station. We called police stations, and I even asked a close family friends who is a cop where we could get it done. Turns out, CIC was wrong; we can only get fingerprints done through a private firm. So we went to a private firm. 

We finally, finally got the damn thing off, only for it to come back because we hadn’t changed the date of our addresses. We hadn’t moved, as noted by the fact that our mailing address never changed, but they sent it back because we didn’t change it to the date we sent the paperwork in. Also, the forms we downloaded from the CIC cite were out of date, so we had to re-fill out everything. Let me reiterate that: we downloaded the immigration forms from the Canadian Immigration website, and they were out of date, so they sent them back to us to be redone. 

I was unimpressed, but what could we do? We updated everything – and I mean everything – up to the day we mailed it out. It arrived at CIC, and…. nothing. We have heard nothing since. According to the online tracker, nothing has moved since we sent it in the second time. It hasn’t even been reopened. 

Our first application was in October of 2013. It is now May of 2014, and my husband and I have moved temporarily to the US so that his visitor status can be refreshed. It cost $600CAD to renew it after he moved up in May 2013 (it is valid only for 6 months, and applying for immigration within Canada doesn’t put your visitor status on hold), and we didn’t want to keep paying $600 through the entire process, so we figured if we move him back to the US for a time, we can wait it out. Hopefully by the time we return to Canada, his paperwork will have moved, and he’ll be able to return to Canada. 

If not, I have no fucking idea what to do. 

Thing is, immigration in general is a pain in the ass. The website for CIC is really horrible – think University websites, with extra irritation – and information on their is outdated and next to impossible to put together unless you are able to pull up about a dozen forms and websites simultaneously. The people that work at the call centre are uninformed, and their information is either outdated, or just plain wrong. It is expensive, and most irritatingly, it is impractical. My husband and I cannot currently work in the same country. Due to the laws of Canadian Immigration, my husband cannot work in Canada until his PR has come through. There is no way for him to get a temporary work visa while we are waiting for his immigration, and we have to keep paying to extend his visa until it comes through – if it comes through. There is, apparently, an income minimum that a family must make to sponsor a spouse into Canada. If the two of us were legally allowed to work, we could hit it no problem. But in this job market, how the hell am I supposed to hit that magical number – that I’m still not sure what it is – without help? He wants to work; why not let him while his immigration is processed? It would remove so much strain from the system, and the families of immigrants. Trust me when I say it doesn’t just affect me. My parents and in-laws both are worried about us, as well as some extended family. We’re a young couple trying our hardest to work hard and start a life together – why put in so many road blocks to deter us from doing just that? I know some people screw the system, and I know that these checks are put in to ensure no one “takes advantage” of the system, but the lengths this system goes through to make hoops for families to go jump is absolutely absurd. 

Because of our difficulty with CIC, we’ve been looking into my immigrating to the US, even though we’ve already paid for his immigration to Canada. This is how frustrated we are. I looked into it, too; it appears it is way easier to immigrate to the US than it is to Canada. If I go back home for a time while he works in the US, we have to file one form – one – and it costs less than half than it cost to file in Canada. In addition, once you’re allowed into the USA, you have the ability to apply for a work visa so that you can legally work while your papers for your Green Card are being filed.

Are you kidding me, Canada?!

Honestly, Canada claims to love immigrants, and to believe in families, but from what I’ve experienced over the last year and a half, it is the dirtiest business out there. Even without taking into account the fact that my husband is American – a country that is part of the NAFTA – doesn’t it make sense to create a more practical course of immigration policy to build a system wherein families are respected and treated like, I dunno, families rather than business investments? And that gives immigrants the opportunity to support themselves rather than burying themselves in debt and other financial instability? 

We’re looking into the US Immigration Policy now, and I’m cautiously hopeful. At the end of the summer my Visitor Status will run out, since as per NAFTA, I can be in the USA 6 months. Selfishly, I want to say fuck it and pay the extra money to apply from within the USA immediately, but I know that we might as well take this summer together and then both of us work in our separate countries to save up some capitol while my papers go through. That means I will have to move up to Canada alone for a time, which sucks. Hardcore. I cannot express how much it makes my heart ache to even think that I might have to sleep without him, go a day without hearing his laugh, or go months without feeling his touch. It pains me that in an age where we pride ourselves on doing things quickly and efficiently that our governments have set up systems that mean families must be separated for months, or even years, while some government official sifts through stack after stack of photos and letters, masked pleas for the return of their loved ones. 

Both the USA and Canada have high unemployment rates. Why not employ more people in places that clearly need more help. People are fighting for their families every day. This is just another way people are fighting. Borders are lines on a map, guys. My heart gives exactly zero fucks about borders when it comes to who I love. I want to spend every moment of my life with the man who has become my best friend, my lover, my partner. I am really fucking annoyed that a stupid piece of paper is holding me back from knowing that I can. 

 

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