Visas: Part I- Getting Started

Winston Churchill’s quote applies to getting visas!

Do you need a visa? If so, you need to find a visa that suits your goals for life in your new country. If you aren’t sure what visa you need, keep researching available visas. I know it sounds weird, but if you look hard enough, you can find a visa to fit your needs. Visas can have many parts to them and you need to figure out what those parts are and decide which ones work for you. For instance, with my IEC visa, I can either do the Working Holiday Program or the Young Professionals Program. The Young Professionals Program suits my needs more, and I will try to get into that program. Right now, because everything is being delayed with COVID-19, I don’t know yet what program I will be doing.Β 

Once you look at the technical parts of your visa, you need to see what they recommend about passport validity. Do they recommend that your passport has to be valid for a certain amount of time in order to apply for the visa? If they do have recommendations for length of passport validity, and your passport is not going to be valid for that long, it’s time to renew your passport. If you need to get your passport fast, you can get expedited service. Currently, for US passports, expedited service has been suspended because of COVID-19. Check with your passport authorities about processing times.Β 

Now, it’s time to address the dual citizenship issues. Since I’m a dual citizen, I had to decide which passport I wanted to use for the visa. Thankfully, my visa application gave me instructions on what to do if I am a dual citizen. I decided to use my US passport since I am moving from the US and the transition would be easier. I may have a chance to use my UK passport at some point since Canada is a former British colony, but I will bide my time.

I ran into another dual citizenship issue. My US passport expired last year and I wanted to wait to renew it because my UK passport expired this year so that I could renew them at the same time. What was I thinking? πŸ€¦πŸΌβ€β™€οΈ I applied to renew my US passport when the pandemic hit in March, and it’s being delayed. Passport services resumed processing regular applications a month ago, so I am still waiting for it. I am trying to think about when I can apply for my UK passport. I might have to wait until they resume processing regular applications. #dualcitizenshipproblems

It is important to plan ahead and set goals for how long you wish to stay in your new country. Of course, there are some unexpected things that happen, but it’s important to have a plan. The saying β€œFailing to plan is planning to fail” may be clichΓ©, but it’s very true when it comes to planning for an international move.Β 

Do you only want to live in a country for as long as your visa lasts? That’s fine, but what if you love it so much that you want to stay? You want to have a plan in case that happens because if you don’t, you will be very disappointed if you have to go home because you didn’t plan to extend your visa or apply for another visa, depending on your life circumstances.Β 

There might also be an emergency that may cause you to lose your visa through no fault of your own. When I was 12, my parents and I lost our visa through no fault of our own and it was terrifying not knowing if we could stay in the UK.Β  I bet the COVID-19 pandemic has left a lot of immigrants concerned about their immigration status if their visa is dependent on their jobs. My heart goes out to all of them. πŸ˜’πŸ€—

Do you want to get permanent residence and/or citizenship? That’s fine, but I recommend making a final decision after you go through culture shock, and be honest with yourself about whether you want to stay. I will do a future post about culture shock and reverse culture shock, but I will say this. Don’t underestimate the impact of culture shock. There will be highs and lows that are more extreme than a roller coaster sometimes. Someone once said to me, there comes a time when you realize a country is either going to work out for you, or it isn’t. I knew when I went through culture shock in London that I didn’t want to live there for the rest of my life. Reverse culture shock when I moved back to the US resulted in A LOT of tears! I was in denial that things weren’t working out for me when I moved back to the US because I am American for goodness sake! I was also burned out from international moves. I guess the 2016 election and COVID-19 snapped me out of denial and made me realize what’s important. Denial is not a river in Africa after all. I will do a post about being a dual citizen someday because that is a whole other story.

I do plan to get permanent residence and citizenship in Canada, but still planning for culture shock. I am looking into what I can do to stay longer, such as going to graduate school or extending my visa or seeing if I can qualify for another kind of visa. We’ll see how culture shock goes! What have been your experiences with visas and obtaining citizenship?

This move is different from the ones I have done before, precisely because of COVID-19, plus the US response to the pandemic has been dismal, to say the least. I feel sorry for Canada being right next to the US and worrying about Americans bringing the virus into Canada. I heard stories of Americans exploiting border closures, such as claiming to be driving to Alaska and then going to tourist spots not wearing masks. Also, two other Americans got fined for not quarantining. Really people? As if we didn’t look bad enough already. πŸ€¦πŸΌβ€β™€οΈπŸ˜‘ I would understand if people were leaving because they were desperate, but still doing so legally. Just leaving to satisfy your own ego is not okay.

Even though I am practically desperate to leave and I’m so done with this country, I only want to do it safely, ethically, and lawfully. My area has low rates of infection, but I have still been sheltering in place all this time. Where do you think I got all this time to blog from? πŸ˜‚ There is still a lot I can do to prepare to move though thanks to staying at home and waiting for my passport. I don’t have a definite date for moving just yet, but I can be patient.Β 

Stay tuned for more posts about finances while moving, packing, and saying goodbye!

How to Organize the Timing of an International Move

How long does it take to prepare for moving abroad? Simple answer: as long as you want it. In the past, I have moved abroad a few months after deciding to do so. I made the decision to move to Canada last April. I am moving as soon as the border re-opens. The border may reopen at the end of July this year, according to recent updates. I am prepared for the border to reopen later than that though. Restrictions will relax, but not completely go away. I may have a chance to move soon, but we’ll see! It’s about finding a window of opportunity and grabbing the chance!

Know Your Timeframe:

My friends who are international students have said that it generally took them a year to get ready to move. Applying to universities and getting visas processed can take a long time! I have heard of other people who get a job overseas and then move a few months later. The International Experience Canada visa rules state that I have to get the visa first before I can look for a job. Therefore, I decided to go to Canada on a visitor’s visa first. While I am waiting for the IEC visa, I can get settled and then I can start working. Even if your timeframe keeps changing, like mine is, you can still do a lot of preparation.

Set Goals that work with Your Time Frame:

Sometimes, you have an established goal to move, such as starting a job or university. If you don’t have that, make your own goal. Right now, I’m staying up to date on the border situation. I can get my IEC visa processed once I move to Canada. Visa processing and other services are delayed because of COVID-19. I can still be efficient in my own plans and preparation for moving though. The time you spend planning is not a waste of time!

A Note on Getting Settled:

It takes a long time to get settled in a new country. That’s the main reason why I’m going to move when the border opens. I do not want to rush the process of settling into a new country. It takes a MINIMUM of two months to get settled! It’s a variable, unpredictable time and you have to plan for that. If I waited to move until I got my IEC visa, there would be too much to do and too little time to do it.