Canadian Bureaucracy Part 1 – Landing at YVR

There are many immigration stories on the web, but there is not much I could find on what happens after landing on Canadian soil, what precisely you need, how long does it take etc. I hope this post will help all the people who consider participation in International Experience Canada programme. So, this post is not going to be about technology. Maybe I will make Sundays non-tech days? Who knows…

Last Tuesday I have arrived at YVR, after 15 hours in transit, with two-hour delay. According to IRCC website, on arrival I should say I have come to work to the border officer and present whole bunch of documents – originals of all the documents submitted in the online application, insurance and bank statements I have enough funds to sustain myself at the beginning and buy a return ticket, if I do not have one already (I did not) and a landing card. You have to fill a landing card out in the airplane, except for Vancouver, where you can easily get a prefilled one printed out from the kiosk, after arriving at the airport.

No one was able to explain me, even after sending an inquiry to IRCC, whether I need to print out a photo, which I uploaded to the online application. How the work permit would look? If it was some sort of an ID card, then photo could be useful.

I know all of it now and I will explain it to you.

I have prepared all the required documents, as well those that I was not sure whether they are required, like e.g. a photo. After arrival, I took out an envelope where I kept everything, my passport and then… realised I still have long way to go.

I had to climb the stairs up. Escalator was out of order and I did not feel like waiting for the lift. Then I had to walk all above the surprisingly empty departures. After that, stairs down brought me to arrivals. I have been carrying my backpack, carry-on suitcase, blanket from the airplane, my coat (it was too warm to wear it) and the envelope with documents, which I was focused on not losing… This added to my natural clumsiness brought me close to disaster.

After getting the landing card from the machine (btw, machine communicates in multiple languages, so no reasons to worry if you are not comfortable with any of the official languages, i.e. English and French), not sure what did they mean as liqour (like, how many alcohol content percentage?) I proceeded to the queue. I have lost grip on my carry on suitcase, which obviously fell on the floor and it took me a minute or two to get everything back in order. During this time, the queue was obviously blocked. I have said an f-word, to which a female officer somewhere responded “Move on people! You’re in the goddamn customs!”.

So after reaching the first desk, I have been moved to another queue, from which I have been asked to pick up my luggage from the carousel and… move on to the third queue at immigration. So I found a cart, picked up a luggage and proceeded to immigration, where I was asked to park my cart in a designated spot. It was hard time for me to fit in that spot, my bags almost fell out of the cart and the nice lady who was in charge of keeping an eye on the parked carts had scared eyes. It seemed she was wondering whether she should escape.

I have proceeded the room with another queue. Even though I am very far from being racist, I have to admit it felt somewhat uncomfortable to be the only white person in that queue. When my time came, I was asked to come to one of the counters. Behind it there was an immigration officer, which turned out to be really good looking lady.

Here I need to make a disclaimer that someone’s looks do not affect my business decisions and the previous comment serves only informative purposes.

I tried to smile, despite tiredness, and said politely “Good afternoon, ma’am!”. I have produced my passport, landing card and Port of Entry Invitation Letter (a print-out of a pdf you receive once IRCC accepts your permit application). I have been asked to sit down and wait, while the officer went somewhere out with my documents. She returned after few minutes with my passport and work permit printed. She asked to check whether the information on the permit are correct.

Work permit is nice looking, letter-sized (slightly wider than A4) piece of paper. Unfortunately it does not have a form of ID and no, it does not contain a picture. For some reason, she did not ask me for any other documents I was requested to prepare, but it does not mean you would not be asked too! I take no liability!

All details were correct but my mailing address. Since my application I have moved two times and informed IRCC on that. After pointing this out to the officer, she responded “It doesn’t matter. Now you’re resident of Canada anyway. Just be nice and that’s it.”.

I kept reading the permit and arrived at the following disclaimer:

Not valid for employment in businesses related to sex trade such as strip clubs, massage parlours or escort services.

Multiple hours of transit hit my brains, I guess, and I responded “I promise, I won’t work in sex trade.”. She gazed at me, together with her workmate, who just came to her counter, and, after few seconds, said “Well, we were actually wondering about that. It could be quite problematic for us if you did.”. For some reason I fired “No worries, I’m not really good at it.”. The officer and her workmate burst out laughing and kept doing so for few long minutes, getting attention from all other officers at their counters.

“Thank you for making my day”, she said and I was let to go. Both officers waved at me when I was leaving the room. I managed to safely pick up my cart with luggage, left the baggage hall (on exit, I needed to return stamped landing card).

I hope this helped you understand what is going on when you land in Canada to start your IEC adventure! In the next post on bureaucracy, getting necessities to start enjoying your life in Canada, i.e. sinful SIN, SIM card, bank account and local ID. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Medium to be up to date!


Also published on Medium.

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