So last week I wrote this blog post on our visit to Niagara Falls and in it I told the falls we would be back, what I didn’t know at the time was we would be back just 1 week later. The reason for our speedy return?
Yesterday I got my CANADIAN PERMANENT RESIDENCY VISA. Why I am I shouting??? Because this is such exciting news, you see I arrived in Canada on a Tourist Visa and have basically been in limbo since we arrived a couple of weeks ago. I have had no STATUS. I couldn’t work (not that I’m in any kind of hurry to look for a job), I couldn’t open a bank account, I couldn’t apply for a social insurance number (tax file number in Australia), and I couldn’t apply for government health insurance (medicare equivalent).
Today the world is my oyster and off I trot to the Service Ontario office. I am thinking I should take a packed lunch because it is like Centrelink and Medicare in Australia but on steroids and with less dead shits. It is a one-stop shop for all things government. In the one office I will be able to swap my Australian Drivers License for a Canadian Drivers License, Apply for my social insurance number and inquire about applying for health care (although I think I need to wait 3 months before I am allowed to apply for this), I can even apply for a hunting license in this office if that was my thing.
We spent some time at Service Ontario when we first arrived getting a couple of things for The Canadian sorted out and it looks like this:
I had applied for my Permanent Residency Visa from Australia a few months ago and was advised just before we left that it was near completion but because we had booked our trip to Canada I could enter on a Tourist Visa and then complete the process in Canada. I received a letter this week confirming my PR was approved and that I would need to leave the country and re-enter at a border to activate the PR Visa.
As my husband has Canadian Citizenship and our son the 8-year-old is currently waiting on his Canadian Citizenship Card it was only necessary for me to go over the border. We decided to head on back to the border crossing at Niagara Falls and I would be able to walk across the Rainbow Bridge from the Canadian side to the American Side.
The whole process is a bit weird, I left the Canadian side of the river through a door and a turnstile and had to put in 2 x 25 cent coins. I then came out on the bridge.
Boy oh boy could the weather be any different to our Niagara visit last week?!? It was raining, blowing a gale and single digits cold.
Niagara this week
Niagara last week
I then did the lonely and cold but beautiful walk on my own over the bridge. This took about 5 minutes.
This is the halfway point on the bridge.
I entered a door on the US side and into the warm welcome of a United States Border Agent. I advised him I was flag-poling (this is the term given to people leaving on one visa and re-entering on a different visa) and he stamped a special piece of paper and sent me packing out the door I came in and back over the bridge to the Canadian side.
On the Canadian Side, I was advised to go into the office and hand over my passport and paperwork to a border services agent. I kind of knew the drill because I have binge watched border security in the last few months. Paperwork was checked and then I was given a big heartfelt welcome and congratulations by the agent. I almost cried……………… but didn’t, instead I did a little happy dance and a few air fist pumps.
We then went out to celebrate with a big fluorescent orange cheese lunch and a glass of fine Canadian Ale.
Naturally due to the significance of the day we all decided to wear the national dress of Canada – Plaid.