Monday, 3 August 2009

Helpful hint for UK Immigrants to Canada

The latest waypoint on our journey passed this morning courtesy of an e-mail from our distant but helpful immigration lawyers. Since we got bumped up the waiting list it's been a frantic scramble to assemble all sorts of paperwork for our application. Mrs S shouted from the spare bedroom where the 'pooter lives calling thus in that particular tone that always puts me at action stations. "Bill! You'd better have a look at this."

Fearing the worst I forgot all about preparing breakfast and quickstepped into the office. "What's up?" I asked, wondering what was wrong. I read and re read the e-mail from our immigration lawyers again. No, no problem that I could see, application looks good (The word 'great' was actually used), TEF (French language) test results better than expected.... Oh.

At the bottom of the e-mail read a little note said that although the rest of our application was fine, there was one detail we had overlooked; UK Police certificates. Shit. Was my immediate unspoken reaction. I took a deep breath and said; "Hand me the phone love. What's the Lawyers number?" Did a little mental arithmetic to work out what time it was at our Lawyers office in Quebec and dialled. Unlike previous attempts at phoning our Lawyer, I was pleasantly surprised to be put straight through by the French accented receptionist.
"Hi, William Sticker here." I said pleasantly and quoted our case file number, not knowing quite what to expect, but went and asked what I desperately hoped wasn't a stupid question anyway. "Erm, just asking about these Police checks. Do we really need a Police certificate from the UK?"
"Oh yes. From every country you have ever lived in for more than six months." Spake our Immigration Lawyer. Oops, didn't know that.
"Will a British CRB check do?"
"No." So Canadian immigration doesn't trust them either.
"Oh, how do we go about getting one of these certificates?" Said I, knowing that any such certificate would arrive at least three weeks too late to go with our main application.
"No problem, I'll send you the link." Spake our Lawyer, and here it is. A short conversation later, we had established that it wasn't a problem if the Police Certificates had to follow our main application, no, immigration were used to stuff arriving late like this, and it shouldn't delay our application for permanent residency. Out of the corner of my eye I could see Mrs S deflating with relief as she earwigged in on the phone conversation.

Half an hour later we were scratching our heads and reading through the notes about what information ACPO needed to verify that we were law abiding citizens of the UK with no besmirchment on our legal records apart from the odd parking ticket laid on Mrs S many moons ago. Until it came to verifying our current appearances.
"Someone we've known for two years?" I said.
"What about my sister?" Said Mrs S.
"Er no, her job has to be on this list." I ran down the list of 'professions' that could verify our photographs for us without an expensive round trip to the UK, mentally ticking people off the list as I went. A gradual leaden feeling hunkered down in my belly until; "Bingo!" I cried. "Thank you God!" Throwing my hands up in the air like a supplicant. Retired Naval Officer. It just so happens that one of my dear wife's oldest and best family friends who lives up in town is not only a retired officer from the Royal Navy, but also the Royal Canadian Navy. Splendid chap, just hit ninety and still going strong. "Of course." Mrs S beamed. Phew.

So today we went to have tea with my wife's fathers best friend, who signed our photographs for us without blinking. Excellent. Tomorrow those applications will be winging their way blightywards and shortly thereafter all our boxes will hopefully be ticked and we won't have to jump through flaming hoops regarding work permits any more. More work, more money. Hallelujah!

UK immigrants to Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the USA all need one of these certificates. They cost thirty five quid for each family member. Even if the skinflint inside my head is blustering "Sixty five dollars! That's a bit steep isn't it? I could fill up the 4x4 for that!". Expensive business this escape from the UK.

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