5 min read

Becoming a permanent resident of Canada

857 words by Kunall Banerjee

Disclaimer: Do not rely on this information when applying yourself. Processing times change all the time.

I moved to Canada to pursue engineering in 2014. At the time of writing this, it is 30 July, 2021. So, ~2500 days. Does it take this long for everybody? No. Could I have gotten it sooner? Yes. I was eligible in mid-2020, but I did not apply till early 2021.

In hindsight, this was one of the easiest things to obtain, however. Was it worth the wait, though?

Admissibility

You can’t be a criminal, or a terrorist if you want to be considered admissible to Canada. Seems fair enough. You could be considered inadmissible if you’ve ever driven while being impaired. It doesn’t matter if the crime happened inside or outside Canada. I think this is fair, too. You could be considered inadmissible on grounds of your (pre-)existing medical condition. Wait what? So I looked this up. Canada employs an excessive demand cost threshold to determine if your medical condition holds grounds for inadmissibility. The 2021 cost threshold was CA$21,798 per year or CA$108,990 over 5 years.

Insulin alone can cost someone $CA840-$CA2520 annually.[…] above costs do not include medical visits and transportation, diagnostic tests, specialized home care visits, rehabilitation, or permanent residential care.

What Is the Monthly Cost of Insulin in Canada?

Not only that, if you’re found inadmissible on medical grounds—usually during your Immigration Medical Examination (IME)—then your Migration Health Branch (MHB) medical officer is required to immediately make note of it in the Global Case Management System (GCMS). Stuff no one tells you about up front. Always read between the lines.

Eligibility

I was eligible for permanent residency under the Canadian Experience Class (CEC). This is 1 of the 3 federal programs managed through Express Entry.

I still cannot vote, or run for political office, but at least now I am protected under Canadian law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I can also live anywhere in Canada.

I really like Vancouver. It rains there 50% of the time. I like the rain. Maybe I’ll move there next.

Cost

In the years leading up to becoming a permanent resident (PR), the mandatory expenses I’ve had to incur in Canada are:

Total: ~$CA327,000 in 7 years.

The wait

As I mentioned earlier, the application processing times* change all the time. At the time of writing this, average wait times are sitting at 180 days for new, and existing applications alike. Because of the pandemic, the grace periods have also been extended to 90 days for most situations.

*Processing time is the time elapsed between the day Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) receives your application and the day a final decision is made on your application.

In my case, it took only 2 days to be invited to apply for permanent residency. This number largely varies for each individual. From there, it took 3 months my application to be processed, and approved. I’ll repeat: do not rely on this information when applying.

Biometrics

I’ll be honest: this had me extremely uneasy. I am not against the concept of “secure borders, open doors.” I do question how Canada (any country, really) processes, and stores my information. So I looked this up too.

Biometrics are collected and enrolled at multiple service points, both in Canada and abroad, with the vast majority (approximately 90%) occurring at Visa Application Centres (VACs). VACs are commercial service suppliers, managed by private companies, contracted by IRCC to deliver biometric enrolment overseas. — IRCC (Canada.ca)

Pause. Private companies? My biometrics—which can be used to identify me with increasingly good accuracy—are being processed by private companies? How could you possibly ask me to trust private companies, especially in today’s landscape?

Your information is collected, stored and transmitted securely using encryption. This prevents unauthorized access to your information. Biometrics collection service locations, such as VACs, ASCs and Service Canada locations, do not keep your information. Your information is deleted from the collection system once it’s sent to the Canadian Immigration Biometric Identification System. — Biometrics and privacy (Canada.ca)

Somewhat reassuring, I guess? At a surface level. In reality, that statement means nothing. On top of that, Canada admits they will share your information with the U.S., the United Kingdom (U.K.), Australia and New Zealand. In short, if you’ve ever given your biometrics to one of the G7 countries, they’re all aware of your identity. If a G7 country has any ties with another country, your biometric data is most likely with authorities of that country.

Wrapping up

As I finish typing up this post, I look back at certain points in time in my time in Canada. I was 18 when I moved here, and I’m 25 as of today. In that time, some interesting things of note:

Going back to the original question: was it worth the wait? It depends 😉

Ultimately, YMMV. But if you are thinking of immigrating to another country, I think Canada is one of the best Commonwealth countries to immigrate to.