Applying for residency in Canada has been my biggest administrative paperwork achievement as an adult. There were times when I wanted to give up, but I'm glad I didn't, It was all worth it!

I arrived in Montreal on a tourist visa in August 2013 and quickly liked the city. I left in December and applied for a working holiday visa; I was able to return in May 2014. I was lucky that year, Immigration Canada allowed people to apply for a second working holiday visa (it was limited to one before), and the WHV were now valid for two years. That covered my stay in Canada from 2014 to 2017! Still, I had to start the paperwork machine to get permanent residency.

Phase 1: get the CSQ

Since I wanted to live in Montreal, the process was a bit different from other provinces. I first had to get a CSQ (Quebec Selection Certificate), which is like a Quebec residency pre-approval.

Christmas 2014 (in France): I looked for my high school & university report cards, diplomas and got certified copies of them. I couldn't find my high school grades at first so I called my high school and while they promised to try to help and look in the archives, they never called back. Good thing I ended up finding all I needed!

September 2015: There's a big time gap because, in 2015, I was busy with paperwork to extend my first WHV and apply for the second one. Quebec Selection Certificate is point based, they give out points depending on age, education, experience, but also on family background. I have my paternal grandmother who's a Canadian citizen so getting a copy of her papers will help me get more points. In September, I also got translation work done for my past Korean employment papers. There's no official Korean translator so I had to find a translator and get the translations certified at the Korean embassy/consulate.

October 2015: My situation in Canada is a bit weird because I do not work for a Canadian company. I stayed in Canada with my WHV but I am actually working as a contractor for a US company. In the past, if you had studied in France/in French and worked in Quebec, you didn't need to take a French language test, but that changed, and for some reason, in my situation, I had to take a language test, even though I was born and raised in France. Needless to say, the test was easy, it cost me about 250$ and took half a day. I got the results 2 weeks later.

November 12th, 2015: I sent the Quebec application and braced myself to wait for a whole year. At the end of November, the CSQ application rules changed and got a lot simpler for people in my situation. Bummer! (But good news for others in the future).

December 15th, 2015: Application payment (765$) was processed.

May 5th, 2016: I received the Quebec Selection Certificate and it's valid for 2 years (this means I have 2 years to get federal permanent residency)! It was such a relief. Because of my education, my application was put on a fast track and "only" took 5 months. If I had been working for a Canadian company over one year, it would have taken only 3 weeks. The provincial application for workers in Quebec is much faster and simpler.

Papers required for the CSQ (at the time)

This has probably changed by now and depends on the individual. I think the proof of work is more lenient now. In my case, I had to provide:

  • Super long information form (to download and fill from the site)
  • Passport and WHV photocopy
  • Birth certificate
  • 2 Photos
  • High school and university report cards & diplomas
  • Proof of employment for each work experience for the past 5 years as well as legal proof for these experiences (i.e. income taxes). In my case, since I worked in South Korea, I also had to get an official translation of those papers.
  • Proof of employment for each internship done in the past 5 years
  • Income tax notice of assessment for work done in Canada in the past years as a self-employed
  • French language test results
  • Family in Quebec: copy of birth certificate, social insurance card, passport
  • 2 stickers with your postal address on it

Total costs for the CSQ

  • 765: Application
  • 300: Paper translations
  • 250: French test
  • 100: Postal & Photos fees
500
dollars

CSQ Papers

Parc de la Jacques Cartier

Phase 2: the road to permanent residency

I regret waiting so long to send the federal application. I had everything ready for it because I prepared the papers while waiting for the CSQ, but I was missing my Korean criminal records document. It’s a bit painful to get it from abroad since you need to visit a Police station in South Korea to get it, so I decided to send my application anyway with a little note and my Korean background check (different paper, but easier to get), and planned a trip to go to Korea.

July 16th, 2016: Sent the federal residency application. The envelope was much less bulky than the provincial application.

September 22nd, 2016: Application fees (550$) are processed! I've never been so happy to pay fees.

November 17th, 2016: Federal application receipt! They’re officially working on my case! Just receiving this receipt gave me so much joy because just the day before I was worried that I still haven't heard from the Immigration after 4 months since I sent it. They know I exist, my application wasn’t lost.

December 6th, 2016: Received the invitation to the medical exam. You only have 30 days to do it after receiving the paper. I didn't waste any time and immediately booked an appointment at Clinique Médicale Luso near my place. They do immigration medical checkups.

December 8th, 2016: Medical exam day! I had an appointment and didn't wait long. The doctor and staff were nice. It cost 250$ and it was cash-only. The exam results are sent directly to the Immigration office.

March 1st, 2017: Radio silence for another 4 months and then I received an update inviting me to pay the residency fees (490$). Something strange though, I didn't receive a message, it was an update in my immigration account dashboard. So I only saw the message on March 6th and paid the fees that day.

April 2017: I go to South Korea to try to get my Police Certificate document. I get a paper after a week but unfortunately, it's only the background check again! Mission totally failed. I leave Korea and I'm a bit devastated. Meanwhile, if you ever need it, here's a very useful guide to getting the Korea Police Certificate.

June 6th, 2017: Decision taken: the Client Application Status page (different from Immigration online account!) has a "decision taken" update, but has no details! I'm getting super hopeful all week but no other news or update... I was never asked for my Korean Police Certificate!

Residency approved!

June 13th, 2017: Ready for visa email received. I was so happy to receive this one!! The email had additional steps to follow to complete the residency. I had to go take 2 immigration format photos, buy a prepaid Xpresspost envelope, print and fill out a form to confirm my address and send everything back to Immigration. Needless to say, I did send them everything the same day. Tip: take a photo of the prepaid envelope so that you can track it.

June 20th, 2017: Received confirmation of permanent residency paper in the Xpresspost envelope I had sent. From here, it's almost official. The confirmation paper is valid until December 21st, 2017, which means I need to activate my residency before that date.

June 23rd, 2017: No time wasted, my friends bring me to the border by car and my residency is activated! The experience was so emotional! My Client Application Status page now says:

You entered Canada at the St-Bernard-De-Lacolle - Hwy 15 POE office on June 23, 2017 and became a Permanent Resident.

I activated my residency on a Thursday so the border was pretty much empty, it went super fast, I didn't really wait. The staff was super nice and welcomed me officially to Canada. It was really a beautiful moment. Canadian immigration officers are really nice.

June 27th, 2017: Going to Service Canada to get my permanent SIN and RAMQ offices to get health insurance. For me, there's a 3 months delay before getting health insurance.

September 2017: PR card and health insurance cards received! I can now travel abroad (if you take the plane abroad without PR card, you need to apply for an authorization to travel). This marks the end of my residency journey. There was a lot of waiting without any news (causing stress) but also a lot of joy when everything was accepted and confirmed.

Papers required for the PR Application

The number of papers required was nothing compared to the provincial application but it required a trip down memory lane since you were asked for details about your life for the past 10 years and since the age of 18.

  • Super long information form (to download and fill from the site)
  • Detailed explanation of what you've been doing for the past 10 years (can't have blank periods)
  • List of all your travels for the past 10 years
  • List of all your postal addresses for the past 10 years
  • For QC applicants: declaration that you want to live in QC
  • Quebec Certificate of Selection
  • List of your family members
  • Passport and WHV photocopy
  • Birth certificate
  • 2 Photos
  • Police Certificates for all the countries where you stayed over 6 months in total since 18-year-old.

Total costs for the PR

  • 550: Application fees
  • 490: Residency fees
  • 250: Medical exam
  • 100: Postal & Photos fees
500
dollars

Canada Permanent Residency

Epilogue

It took me 3 years (months spent to gather papers and months spent waiting) and cost me roughly 3000$ to get the residency, but it's so worth it. I no longer have to carry my passport everywhere (it's my only official French ID), I can now just keep the small PR and health insurance cards in my wallet! It's the small but simple things 🙂 I don't have to apply for an electronic travel visa to come back to Canada when I travel abroad and I can use the Canadian passport & resident line when I go through immigration.

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