Category Archives: canada

Paperwork hassles

This is more complicated than I thought.

The post-graduate work permit I am getting is most definitely not an
entry document, which means that if I step out of Canada, I’m going to
need to apply at an embassy for a temporary resident visa to get back
in. If I had applied for a work permit outside Canada, then the visa
would be automatic, but I don’t have the time.

I can apply for a temporary resident visa outside Canada. However,
this involves mailing my passport off. Which I’m going to have to do
anyway, so I might as well do it as soon as I’ve cleared the
requirements for my post-graduate work permit. Buffalo, NY is
reasonably fast – 43% of cases in 2 days or less.

I can apply for permanent residency through the consulate in Buffalo.
However, the process takes a while. Buffalo will only respond to
status checks after 18 months. Manila is even worse: “Applications can
be expected to be reviewed only 48 months (four years) from the date
we acknowledge receipt of a complete file.”

Other people have done it. I have to find them. Sometimes I’m tempted
to just throw my hands up in the air and take the easy way out. I can
build a life in the Philippines. It will be a pretty good one. It
might even be easier. I can’t fully explain my reasons for wanting to
explore to build this life bridging Canada and the US, but I *want* to
have that kind of life, so let’s make that happen.

So here’s what I need to sort out:

  • Post-graduate work permit: that’s the first thing I need
  • Temporary resident visa: good to have
  • Permanent residency application: as soon as the ink dries on my IBM onboarding papers
  • Renewal of work permit (two years)
  • US visa: good to have

Okay. I can do this.

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Paperwork progress

Clearance was surprisingly easy to do. My quest for signatures took me
to labs I’d never once set foot in, like the machining lab in the
basement. Cool stuff!

I’m still a little nervous about the timing of my post-graduate work
permit. I’ll breathe easier once I get that sorted out.

I’m a little less disappointed in Yiorgos the Cobbler, who (once
again) didn’t have my shoes ready when I dropped by to pick them up.
He finished them in ten minutes, though, and I was happy to see that
the rubber heels were secured by nails instead of just glue. That
should be sturdier than the heels I had repaired in Chinatown. We’ll see.

Library run: dropped off a whole bunch of books. Picked up 6,
including one on photography.

We’re celebrating J-‘s first day of school by making chicken fried
steak with mashed potatoes and fried corn for dinner tonight. We
enjoyed a lot of good conversation while preparing dinner, and I look
forward to even more while eating. I wish my family could have had
this. I guess there are some downsides to growing up with cooks,
although food at home *was* always excellent…

Tomorrow: Go to IBM and work on social computing booklet. Maybe
schedule driving lessons?

Thursday: Driving lessons, pick up letter (if I’m lucky; if not,
Friday), work on social computing booklet.

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Not panicking about paperwork

Being an international student is tough. I’ve been trying to figure
out my paperwork requirements for the next few steps. My Canadian visa
is about to expire, and for a moment I worried that meant I had to hop on the next flight home.

According to this U of T FAQ, I only need the temporary resident visa when I enter Canada. I just won’t be able to leave Canada until I’ve fixed my paperwork, which will make short trips home a little harder to arrange. I hope to have this matter cleared up by Christmas, or by August next year by the latest.

Life shouldn’t be this complicated! I am, however, less
panicky now that I’ve figured out that I *probably* won’t be an
illegal alien. I’ll call the government help line tomorrow in order to
confirm my understanding.

The paperwork for the post-graduate work permit’s down to two weeks of
processing time, which gives me a *little* bit of breathing room, but
I’m still worried about it. My supervisor should get back to me today
or tomorrow with the final okay, though, and then it’s off to the
printers. The end is near!

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It’s mid-August, and a cold front is passing through Toronto. My toes
feel chilly under this blanket. Even though sunlight illuminates the
room, sometimes it doesn’t feel like summer.

W- joked that it’ll be stew time soon.

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Got my study permit extended

Yay! No longer have a strict deadline for completion. Not that I
should let my schedule slip anyway, but it’s nice to know that I won’t
have to leave by Aug 31.

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Being in the right place at the right time

Another cycle of revisions. My supervisor thinks my draft is ready to
be defended, although there are some things I’ll fix tomorrow before I
sort out the page numbers and send it out. He told me to relax and not
worry too much about deadlines, although he understood that I like
delivering things when I say I will. So, that’s going well.

I met Robert Terpstra again this afternoon, and his questions helped
me reflect on things I was doing well—and some tricky things I need
to think about a little more.

One of the questions he asked me was whether I felt that I could have
done all this had I been in the Philippines instead of Canada.

I told him, yes.

This is not entirely true. The kind of research training I’ve
received, the opportunities I’ve had, the library I’ve made so much
use of—all these things are difficult to find in Third World
countries. But what I said was more true than it was false.

I would probably have been able to do something in the Philippines. I
don’t know what I would have done, but I do know that it would’ve been
interesting, and I would’ve been just as happy doing it as I am doing

The important bit is being happy. In terms of my work, I can’t say
that I’m happier here. Then again, I can’t say that I would have been
happier had I stayed home. It’s hard to tell because I’m happy and I
think I’d be happy no matter what. I can’t speculate much about other
possible lives, but looking back at this one, I can say that I’m happy
to have survived the challenges. They’ve made me stronger, and even if
homesickness gets the better of me sometimes, things are good. But my
intuition tells me that there’s a reason for this, and that there’s
something more that I need to explore. It feels right to be here at
this time.

I don’t have a master plan right now. I can’t tell you how my life
fits into some grand plan for the Philippines or for the world.
I’m here, and as long as I pay attention to the details and check
every so often that I’m heading in a direction I like, things should
work out.

So, should I have stayed in the Philippines? I don’t know. I’m sure my
life would have worked out if I had. But I’m here in Canada, so let’s
see what I can do from here. After all, if I think that I’m in just
the right place at just the right time, I’ll probably be right. And if
I think I’m in the wrong place at the wrong time, I’d be right too.
I’d rather be in the right place. =)

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