Landing: The Close of One Chapter


I’m writing this a week after the event. Indeed, even now it’s still a bit of a euphoric shock.  The images isn’t my landing stamp, but it’s very similar and it doesn’t have any specific identifying information.

USPS finally managed to deliver the letter.  A day late.  But it was a relief to know that they hadn’t lost it.

Thus, my company’s US office finally received the paperwork on Friday October 12.  Since I couldn’t see the paperwork, I couldn’t know 100% that they had issued a COPR. The person in the US office who put it into a FedEx envelope said “it looks like they returned the documents you sent to them.”  After all this time I must admit, I was still not 100% convinced this was going to happen, that something would “go wrong” at the last moment.  No PR, work permit rejection and – of course – I’d abandoned the challenge on my original PR application rejection before the Federal Court of Canada.  Even knowing that it was a paranoid fantasy doesn’t mean that the thought didn’t run through my head.  This in spite of the fact that my last ATIP report had been returned to me just days earlier, with complete information on it.

Case Analysis FOSS: Application for PR denied due to medical inadmissibility December 2011 (HIV Positive). Development of Relationship: Second marriage for PA, USA citizen had valid status in Canada – expired 2012/09/03. Met in 2008 via the internet, communicated   via the internet for several months prior to meeting in person in 2009. PA and sponsor continued to see each other  on a regular basis, engaged and married in 2011 cohabitation from 2010/11/15 to 2012/01/23. Eligibility:  Photos of relationship provided, copies of e-mails also provided as evidence of communication. Relationship appears to be genuine. Admissibility: FBI Clearance
provided, RCMP screening submitted. Based on  information provided, further review required due to previous inadmissibility. RPRF- Paid

Note: emphasis added.

So while I think the review might have been timely, I suspect it was pushed to the front in order to get it done quickly – and thus provide CIC with some sort of plausible defence against my JR application.  The emphasized section is what I was expecting and normally this would mean it goes into the “cases needing more attention” pile.  That normally adds months onto the processing time.  But just five days later:

Reviewed file and case analysis: FOSS: PA previously refused SW application on A38, medical inadmissibility for  excessive demand. That file currently has application for leave for JR pending with Federal Court. Current medical result is Passed (M39 – EDE). No other eligibility or  admissibility concerns noted on previous file. PA residing in Canada on WP since 2009, recently applied to  extend. PA currently has TRP appln in process in Seattle. Based on evidence on file, I am satisfied the relationship is  genuine and has not been entered into primarily to gain immigration status in Canada. Eligibility passed. [redacted section on Security] Criminality: No concerns, passed. All requirements met: File RFV. File forwarded to Los Angeles for finalization.

This is what makes me think the file was being pushed.  The case notes don’t tell me who actually reviewed the file, but each officer is identified by initials and numbers.  The first entry I listed was done by ND01111.  The second one was done by SO0213.  From reviewing these files, I’ve noticed that the lower numbers generally appear to correspond to more senior individuals.  I suspect this is coincidental – that they may be sequential numbers assigned by the database, with people having been in the organization longer (or at least in the computer system longer) having lower numbers. But at any rate, the point is that SO0213 did this last review – someone more senior than ND01111.  That’s my theory, at least.

The most recent entry is from Los Angeles:

E-mail to sent to SEATTLE once visa issued, so that they may close their TRP application for subject.

This one was entered by DV00073.  If my theory is correct, this is someone very senior that added this note.  Of course, this is consistent with what the VO in Seattle had told me – she said that they’d close out the file once the COPR was issued. The actual paper file was logged into LA two days after this notation (by MY04934).

It is easy to overanalyze these notes however, and I will state right here that I’ve put forward a lot of conjecture.  Maybe some of it is right, but it’s likely I’ve mis-guessed here as well.  Nevertheless, the facts are that I appear to have been processed in record time – before more than two dozen other people I know, all of whom applied in March 2012.  Second in the group (after someone from the London Visa Office) and the first in the Ottawa/LA group.

At any rate, it doesn’t show the PPR on 26 September, even though that’s the date on this last ATIP report. Thus, i suspect it was extracted earlier in the day.

Of course, I had plenty of time to go over this both when I got it and once again on Saturday, October 13.  I also dutifully checked the CIC website. Instead of the “In Process” it had shown for the past three weeks it said “Decision Made”.  That was enough for me to jettison the paranoid fantasies – I knew the Confirmation of Permanent Residency was included in the overnight package – a relief.  I obsessively checked the FedEx website throughout the morning, so I could see the letter had made it to Memphis, then later it made it to Vancouver, then it cleared customs and finally, just before 9 am, it was loaded on a truck for delivery (by 5 pm, their service commitment).  Before heading to work my spouse asked me if I still planned on heading down to the border. Naturally I said yes – after waiting this long, I really wanted to have this matter settled once and for all.

The morning slipped away and I frittered away my time by reading the news, checking facebook and spending my time answering questions in an online immigration forum (an obsessive trait that had worsened in the previous month). I have learned quite a bit about the Canadian immigration process, and I’ve been sharing bits of that experience with others – hopefully it’s been right more often than not!

I even took the time to write my previous blog post.

I finally decided to shower and get ready to go – taking the phone with me (I wasn’t going to risk not getting that package) and quickly rushing through the process.  Still nothing…  In many ways, that morning seemed every bit as long as the months and years leading up to that point.

But it did eventually arrive.  I buzzed the driver into our building and at 1:31 pm I signed for that precious envelope.  I opened it up and found that in addition to what I expected – my passport and the COPR – they actually returned a number of the documents that I had sent along – my birth certificate, the certified copy of our marriage certificate, the photos we had sent and a couple other documents.  I must admit, I was rather surprised, since I didn’t expect to get any documents back.  But nestled in the pile was the precious COPR. Two copies, actually.  Almost identical except at the bottom where one said “CIC Copy” and the other said “Client Copy”.  Both had my picture affixed (something that confused the border officer later – he seemed to expect only his copy to have the picture on it.)

Then the frenetic activity started.  I pulled out just what I needed to land (passport, COPR copies) and realized I needed to walk the dog before I could actually go anywhere.  So I’m scrambling around, walking the dog, trying to book a zip car, text my spouse, etc.  After juggling everything we agreed that I wouldn’t book the zip car, that we’d drive to the border together after my spouse finished work.

And that’s what we did.  We picked Peace Arch (“Douglas”) because it had the lighter traffic load. Being a US Citizen, I had to get my passport stamped (a non US Citizen could have requested an “administrative refusal” which means they stamp the date on a piece of paper saying you weren’t admitted to the US.)  That’s because, as a matter of law, a US Citizen had a legal right of entry into the United States.  So we had to park the car, go inside, stand in line, all so I could get my passport stamped that I had been in the US.  I did not confirm that this is still necessary, but a friend of mine from the US had to make an extra cross-border trip to get his passport stamped several years ago in order to land, so I thought it safest.  The border guards had no problems with any of this – the primary inspection officer wrote “flag pole” on a referral slip even.

The “return to Canada” lane was barracaded, so we had to talk our way out of the secondary inspection area (since I didn’t have a slip) and then go through a pair of round-abouts (rotaries for those from New England or maybe even traffic circles for others.)  Then we were lined back up heading into Canada. I was driving (my spouse was funny – “I don’t know what to say to them at the border”) which is very unusual.

Let’s put it this way. we’ve owned this car for 13 months and this was the second and third time I’ve ever driven it!  This time we took the Nexus lane.  Practically the first thing the officer asked was “what’s your status in Canada”, to which I replied “well, until 30 minutes ago I was living with implied status on an expired work permit, but if you don’t mind I’d like to go over to the office to resolve that, because I have this COPR…” I’m pretty sure I rattled it off like that, modulo punctuation.  So he wrote “Landing” and “B” on a referral slip, called it in, handed me everything back and off we went to the Canadian immigration building.

Both the US and Canadian buildings are very new, having been completely rebuilt in the past two years.  They’re quite nice actually, so it makes the experience a pleasant one.  We pulled over, the CBSA officer in the parking area told us to go inside and we went and stood in Line B.  Two minutes later I was at the counter, giving the passport and COPR to the officer, explaining that my goods were already in Canada, and that I had no goods to follow – albeit with him prompting me for some of this information – and then he said “go sit down and I’ll call you up when I’m done.”

I posted an announcement on Facebook:

Becoming a permanent resident of Canada. Only took 3 years, 3 months and 17 days.

And just after I posted that, the officer called my name. I went up, he went over the forms, paying particular attention to the criminal charges and the undeclared dependents section.   He had me initial both places on both forms and sign along the bottom.  He kept one – he actually tried to keep the wrong one, but I corrected him.  He stamped my passport, wrote an I with the line next to it – that means “admitted as an immigrant with no departure date”, added “no goods to follow” as well, stapled my copy into my passport, folded it all up nicely and handed it back to me.

The entire process took no more than 10 minutes.

And thus, on Saturday October 13, 2012 my status in Canada changed from “foreign national” to “permanent resident”.  As I write this a week later, I still feel the euphoria.  The process was long and painful.  But it’s over now.  Time to start looking forward.

 

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Three months and counting


Cat waiting outside of mouse hole

Three months and counting

As I write this, I realize that it will be three months since my file was sent to the court for a decision.  Thus, my case now seems to stretch into an unusual category, since this time of extended delay seems, from what I can tell, to be remarkably unusual.

Companioni took three weeks to decide (and review was granted).  Another case of someone I know took two months for a denial.  Ovalle took just under a month to decide (and review was again granted).  While I’m sure there are other cases that wait three months for a decision on the application, I have not found one.  This leaves me in the peculiar position of wondering why it is taking so long to actually make a decision.  Part of me wonders if the Court is waiting to see if CIC makes a decision on my other application (thus allowing the Court to wriggle out of making a decision that is unlikely to be popular, regardless of what they decide.)

Of course, nothing seems to be moving when it comes to the Canadian government and any of my applications.  At the beginning of July, the GCMS notes for my request to Seattle (for the TRP – in order to definitively settle the question of admissibility or not) indicated that Seattle had still not started processing my application.  Given that they quoted a three to six month application time frame (and it’s now at five months) I’m now wondering if even six months is a realistic number.

Heck, I’m still waiting to hear from CIC with respect to my request to withdraw the sponsored spousal application (indeed, that hurt to do – I put it off until May, but I didn’t seem to have much choice in the matter.)  Knowing my luck, they’ll finally match the withdrawal letter with the file the dayafter the Court declines to grant my judicial review application.

The final looming deadline is that my current work permit expires on September 3, 2012.  That means that in about a month’s time I will need to gather up all the paperwork for it and submit a renewal. Of course, my hope had been to have a TRP by then so I could apply for the renewal of both the work permit and the TRP at the same time – but that really only worked if I had the TRP by June.  At this point, even if i did get the TRP, I seriously doubt I could get a renewal of the work permit and the TRP prior to September 3, 2012.  Of course, an inland application for a work permit is automatically canceled if you leave Canada after the expiration of the first work permit and prior to the granting of the second (new) permit.

The inland work permit application differs from the outland application in one critical area.  The inland permit renewal asks if you have any “serious medical conditions” and while I wouldn’t think of an asymptomatic disorder to be “serious” I’ve been assured by my attorney that CIC considers it to be one and that I must answer yes.  The outland permit renewal asks if you have any serious medical conditions that require treatment other than prescription medications and the answer for that in my case is “no”.  Indeed, my attorney told me that he was involved in the drive to change the rules (and specifically this field of the form).

So I’m not quite at the point where I have to prepare for the work permit renewal.  But I’m already thinking about it.

In the meantime, it’s now been three months, no decision.  Perhaps there will be a decision tomorrow – or not.  Only time will tell.