#012 :: CoPR form (IMM-5688) received, getting ready to travel!

We didn’t expect it to run smoothly, and it didn’t… Since our son’s passport was about to expire in November, we decided to extend it (actually, to obtain a new one) as soon as we did our medicals. We felt that PPR (Passport request) was going to happen soon, and we scheduled an interview for passport issuance for both him and myself (mine was going to expire in April next year). Additional expense of ~50$ CAD apiece. The first available term was on 17th of May. And PPR surprised us on 24th of April, so we had to kindly ask to be received without appointment. In our country, it means waiting in line, hoping that someone will not show up or that someone is going to be rejected due to incomplete documentation. (Actually, scheduled time slots are 30 min long, but the procedure takes less time, and they manage to squeeze in additional people.) And we were not the only ones without appointment, so the waiting took about 3 hours. And another 45 minutes for the procedure itself (for both of us, in total).

The next complication: bank holidays in Serbia: 26/04, (weekend 27/04 and 28/04), 29/04 (Orthodox Easter), 01/05 and 02/05 (International Labor Day), and majority of the population takes 2 days off (30/04 and 03/05) to have a 10 days vacation! And after the holidays I went to pick up the passports. This time I was only waiting for 70 min (10 people before me).

Next step: sending the package to Vienna Visa Office through IOM (International Organization for Migration). Each medical examination took place there, and each took more than 3 hours. They were painfully slow and inefficient! No difference this time: 4 hours to take our passports (and our money – over 80$ CAD apiece) and process them.

When the new passports returned from Vienna, we were unpleasantly surprised – Canada entry visas for my wife and son were issued with expiry date 08/11/2019. And mine was valid until 10/04/2019. Single entry. We need to enter Canada before 8th of November (and it’s out of question to travel separately, we need to go together to keep our son entertained during the flight). It severely impacts our plans and we will need to do “soft-landing”, which is basically entering Canada, activating PR and returning home. Which could be quite expensive. We would not wait for PR cards to be delivered to us (it takes a long time lately), someone could bring them to Serbia when they come to visit. And we need them to re-enter Canada.

Why don’t we just move to Canada now, someone might ask. Why return, why soft-landing? While waiting for this visa to happen, I didn’t just sit and wait – I was actively searching for an alternative. And I applied for internal relocation within my company (one of options was Montreal, but it didn’t happen) and I just signed a nice contract which makes us stay in Europe for a while, but move to some other country, very similar to Canada. So, we started selling things, including our apartment (but this time, the car is going to be the last). Stay tuned.

#011 :: FINALLY !!! :)

Yesterday morning we have received a beautiful email. It was THE email we had been waiting for nearly 2 years. A dear friend asked me today, “How do you feel? Are you excited?” Surprisingly, I didn’t feel much of happiness. It was some numb feeling, some emptiness, and a bit of relief because the waiting game was FINALLY over, after 726 days!

We have 30 days to submit our passports and additional documents (passport-sized photographs, copy of receipt of RPRF payment, printout of the first page of this letter, and a confirmation letter with our mailing address… it’s quite a long email) to obtain immigrant visa and IMM-5688 (Confirmation of Permanent Residence form). Then, the next deadline is 10/04/2020 – it is 1 year from our last medical examination. This means that we have to enter Canada before that date and apply for PR card, or we lose the right to do so. PR is granted for a period of 5 years and if we want to renew it, we need to spend at least 730 days (2 years) in Canada. It is allowed to leave the country and re-enter multiple times during this period, only total number of days spent in Canada matters.

#010 :: Another medical – after 23 months of waiting!

Something finally happened! Today we have received an email requesting us to re-do the medicals in the next 30 days. Good news: we can expect our PPR soon. Bad news: this is going to cost us additional 490 ‚ā¨ (~700 CAD), and we still have no clue when we are going to receive PPR. Fingers crossed!

#008 :: Another milestone – 18 months of waiting (28/10/2018)

One year and a half! Do you know anyone who waited for so long to process their documents? My Immigration Tracker kicked us out several times because of inactivity (they supposed that we got our visas already and forgot to update the status).

There was very little we could do: we submitted several more enquiries to CIC, and each time we got the same answer, “Your file is currently under review and requires additional verifications.¬†… Your patience is very much appreciated.”

Recently, we learned that we could demand GCMS/ATIP notes¬†with some applicant dependents excluded from the report (therefore, we didn’t need parents’ consent for it)! This time we were using the service https://www.getgcms.com¬†and we ordered our notes on the 2nd of October asking to exclude my daughter (who is a non-accompanying dependent).¬† The answer arrived on the 2nd of November and it was a HUGE, 240 pages PDF document (with all the pages concerning my daughter blacked-out). Unfortunately, not much we could learn from it (we still don’t know what is the reason for this unusually long processing time). The strange thing was the claim that we had insufficient funds (which is not true, we had more funds than required because of potential changes in exchange rates between EUR and CAD or USD and CAD) and we had our funds dispersed on multiple bank accounts in different currencies. But, our profile states that there are no additional documents required (as if everything was fine with submitted documents).

We will continue waiting and hoping for the best!

#006 :: Phase 4 (28/04/2017 – still in progress)

The waiting game is still going on. We didn’t get our visas yet, and more than 8 months have passed since we submitted the application. However, we didn’t get refused and that was a good sign, but the waiting is getting difficult when you don’t have a¬†deadline in your sight. Let’s start the story from the beginning.

001 - Confirmation of Online Application Transmission

As soon as we submitted our application, we have received a¬†confirmation e-mail. We were curious about the processing time, and¬†CIC website didn’t help at all. We searched the Internet to¬†find some kind of estimation, and in our case, it was 108 days (which should come around 14/08/2017). My wife and I agreed to leave as soon as we get our visas, which should be by the end of August. The prices of airplane tickets usually significantly drop after the 1st of September (after the summer season), thus we chose the month of September for our departure. We were so happy and excited, I started applying for jobs on various Internet sites and we¬†started planning our last summer vacation in Europe.

My daughter

I have a 7-year-old daughter from my previous (the first) marriage, Nadja. She lives with her mother (my ex-wife). When we decided to immigrate to Canada, I have spoken to my ex-wife, and she didn’t give her consent to put our daughter in the application. Our lawyers suggested that we should try to convince her to allow the child to go with us, just to activate PR visa, and she could return home immediately (that way she could easily gain Canadian citizenship without even having to live in Canada, which would bring her many opportunities later: lower college fees in Canada, no visas when she comes to visit us, etc.), but – no progress. So, the application contains just the three of us: me, my wife, and our son.

The plan

In June, our application changed status to “Medical passed”. We made plans to go to Greece in July, celebrate our son’s first birthday (and my 37th, 5 days later) in August, and start packing in September. That was the plan, in short. And we added details to it on daily basis. We should sell our car, sell our home library, eventually sell the apartment… And also, buy suitcases, buy plane tickets, book a place to stay in Toronto…

The plan after we arrive in Toronto is to rent some Airbnb apartment for a few days until we choose a furnished apartment to rent for a month or two (and even three, if necessary) until I get employed. And after I land a job, we will move as close to my job as possible, to avoid long commuting and spend more time together. My wife will not search a job for a few months until we find kindergarten and sort things out.

Additional documents

We spent a beautiful summer vacation in Greece in July. On 18/07/2017 (two days prior to our departure home), we received 2 e-mails from CIC. The Internet connection was terrible (actually, we were lucky to even have any), and we struggled to download the PDF attachments, trembling over them: we knew that it was too early to approve our application, so it could only be a refusal or some request for additional documents. Luckily, they were both request letters. The first e-mail requested for my Schedule A Background Declaration form (IMM 5669) within 7 days, and the second informed us that my daughter was added to the application by CIC (with status NON-ACCOMPANYING DEPENDENT), and requested us to provide following documents (I had to hide some sensitive information) :

Procedural Fairness

It was pure luck (and good timing) my daughter was with us on the vacation at the time (and her passport also, which was required for the medical examination), so we were able to schedule and finish the medical as soon as we returned from Greece. Otherwise, I doubt her mother would have allowed us to do this (actually, she was very pissed off when she heard from our daughter that I took her to some kind of medical examination).

And on 26/07/2017 another request e-mail came from CIC. This time they required my “Details of Military Service” (complete military history; including reserve service, volunteer service, participation in militias and/or paramilitary groups). Since I chose to serve civilian service, I didn’t have much to put into this form.

What next?

Our application changed status to “Medical passed” once again, on 28/07/2017. After that, “Background check status” changed to “IP1” on 03/08/2017. We could track (and predict, to some extent) our application changes, using the Internet site My Immigration Tracker. We didn’t think that these requests for additional documents would delay our application too much, we stuck to our plans and purchased one-way plane tickets for 27/09/2017. We also sold our car on 20/09/2017 and did a lot of preparation from our ToDo list by then (closed unnecessary bank accounts, bought suitcases, sold our laundry dryer, converted our savings into Canadian dollars…). When we realized that we would not be able to leave because we still didn’t get our visas, I canceled the flight and got a partial refund. I didn’t reschedule it because we didn’t have any info on our visa status.

On 18/10/2017 we submitted an enquiry to CIC:
Dear Sir/Madam,
I have applied for permanent residence in Canada via Express Entry on April 28, 2017. I have submitted all required documents and complied with your requests in prescribed time and manner. It has been almost six months since we have applied and I still have no information on the status of my application. Please be so kind and inform me what is happening with my application and if you require any additional document or information, feel free to contact me.
Thank you.

This is the reply we got by e-mail on 20/10/2017 :
Hello,
Your file is currently under review and requires additional verifications.  As a result, the assessment period will be outside of our posted processing times. Unfortunately, at this time we are not able to determine when your application will be finalized, but our office will contact you as soon as all verifications are completed, or if any additional information or documents are required.
Your patience is very much appreciated.
Regards

As the 6-month milestone passed by on 28/10/2017, we decided to request official GCMS/ATIP notes through my friend in Toronto. He submitted a request on 14/11/2017 and on 13/12/2017 we received this e-mail:

ATIP

Conclusion: we are in the dark! We don’t know the status of our application (and we cannot get the consent of the¬†other biological parent), we don’t know when it is going to be completed, we can only wait and hope for the best! The next milestone is 20/04/2018, a year from our medicals. If we don’t get the visas by then, we will have to do the medical examination (and pay for it) again.

Financial breakdown of Phase 4 (not complete)

In this phase we have spent:
~ CAD. $161 for medical exam (110‚ā¨ for the child)
~ CAD. $55 for various documents and translations
~ TOTAL: CAD. $216