On this page:
  • Work permit reprieve
  • Paperwork
  • Almost a permanent resident! Decisions, decisions…
  • Learning from failure
  • Submitted my application for Canadian citizenship!
  • Business update: Tax update

Work permit reprieve

I was relieved to find out that extending my post-graduate work permit should be straightforward. The Government of Canada had recently extended the post-graduate work permit program from one year to a maximum of three years, although the work permit can’t last longer than the period of studies, so I can renew it for at most another year. It was difficult not being able to look beyond October of this year, and I’m glad that I have a little more leeway now. It’s still probably not going to be enough time to get my permanent residency application completely resolved, but I’ve assembled most of the paperwork and I’m just waiting for two more pieces. Yes, I’ve been remiss, but I’ve been focusing on other things. =) All in good time…

Paperwork

Check out this strip from PHDComics on the joys of visa paperwork. Been there, done that… <laugh&gt

Almost a permanent resident! Decisions, decisions…

It’s a good thing I checked the status of my permanent residency application online, as the request for my passport had slipped through the cracks of my e-mail. (Must’ve looked spammy.) So I’m in the final stages of my application, hooray! Now I need to send my passport to the Buffalo consulate so that they can stamp my passport, and then I’ll leave Canada and land as a permanent resident.

Complications:

  • I have at least one upcoming trip, and perhaps two. I’m flying to the Philippines on December 26 to hang out with my family and friends over the break, and I may have either an Innovation Discovery workshop or a training session in mid-November.
  • I can’t leave the country without my passport.
  • The immigration visa is a single-entry visa. When I land using the immigration visa, they will cancel my current work permit and my temporary resident visa(?). A permanent residency card is supposed to be mailed to me within 30 days after landing (although many people report getting it around 60 days afterwards).
  • Once my visa is cancelled, I can only reenter Canada with the permanent residency card, or a travel document for permanent residents abroad. The travel document costs $50, is single-use, and needs to be obtained from the Canadian embassy.

This is like those logic puzzles I so loved to solve as a kid. ;) (Still do!)

I have two variables to play with here:

  • Go to Buffalo in person, or mail my passport
  • Do this before or after my November training trip

So, what are the options?

  • Go to Buffalo to have my passport processed in person. I will need to go on a Tuesday or a Thursday, and it will probably take my entire day (so there’ll be some moving around of work). However, coming back to Toronto from Buffalo will use up the immigration visa. I will probably not receive the permanent residency card in time, as the call centre agent says that computer-related delays mean that processing time is around 60 days.
    • If I do this before the mid-November training trip, I will definitely need a travel document for the training trip, and there’s a small risk I may need a travel document for my Philippine trip as well. The travel document will be difficult to obtain in Boston because I will be busy with training, and the Canadian consulate in Boston does not provide visa or immigration services.
    • If I do this after the mid-November training trip, I will definitely need a travel document for the Philippine trip, but at least I’ll keep my passport with me.
  • Mail my passport to Buffalo, including an Xpresspost return envelope. They promise to return it in at most 15 business days, plus two days for the Xpresspost delivery to them and another two days for the Xpresspost delivery back. Someone reported a turn-around of 10 days from mailing to receiving. On the other hand, someone else took 22 days.
    • If I do this before the mid-November training trip, there’s a risk that I won’t get my passport back in the 18 business days (26 days total) before training.
      • If I do not go to the training, then I can go through the landing process when I return from the Philippines (with my cat!), and no travel document is needed.
      • If I make it to the training, I will need to get the travel document from the Canadian consulate in the Philippines. The website says this is usually decided within 3 working days.
    • If I do this after the mid-November training trip, there’s a risk that I won’t get my passport back in the 24 business days between the end of the training trip and the beginning of my Philippine trip. The Philippine trip is much harder to move. On the plus side, I can go through the landing process when I return from the Philippines, and I won’t need to apply for the travel document. There is also a risk that the mid-November training trip will move. If it moves too late, I may not be able to make it because my passport will be away.

Looks like the best option is to mail my passport to Buffalo after the training trip. There’s still a risk that I won’t get my passport back in time, but that’s the lowest risk of all the options.

Yay decision trees!

Learning from failure

As a foreigner working in Canada, I have to deal with lots of paperwork. The three documents I stress out about the most (and therefore remember to renew) are my work permit, my passport, and my temporary resident visa. Without a valid work permit, I’d be an illegal alien. Without my passport, I can’t travel. Without my visa, I can’t come back into the country.

Ah, paperwork.

Because there are big consequences if I don’t get things like that sorted out (possibly getting kicked out of the country? having to answer yes to awkward questions on future visa applications? getting stuck on the wrong side of the immigration counter?), I haven’t needed long-term reminders.

Renewing my social insurance number, which I really only dig up during tax time and when opening new accounts? That apparently gets me every time. This is the second time I’ve pulled out my SIN card and realized it had expired.

So here’s a checklist for other folks on work permits, if you ever need to renew your passport:

  1. Renew your work permit, which was probably issued with the same validity as your old passport.
  2. Renew your social insurance number record, which was probably issued with the same validity as your work permit. The process is very fast, but you’ll need your passport and your work permit.
  3. Renew your temporary resident visa. This involves sending your passport in the mail, and you should do it after #2 to avoid the wait.

Something like this happens when my task management system fails. I’m getting better at not letting things fall through the cracks, so little failures like this are instructive. I much prefer testing my task management now rather than later, when it might Really Matter.

So, where had it failed?

  1. When I received my previous SIN card, I didn’t make a long-term reminder. I briefly mentioned it on my blog before I renewed my work permit, but (a) I didn’t create a WAITING-FOR task, and (b) I didn’t stop and think about it when I received the card. Either action would’ve caught this, although a good WAITING-FOR system is better. I didn’t have an electronic task in Toodledo, which I’ve gone back to using for my day-to-day tasks. (Emacs stores my long-term goals, and I fill Toodledo tasks in based on that.) I didn’t store anything in my then-not-yet-set-up tickler file. This lack of task recognition was the key point of failure. Action: Record WAITING tasks and add them to my weekly review.
  2. I didn’t have one place to put my SIN card. I checked three places and two folders (Employment, Identification) for my card. I found a SIN card in the first place I checked (one of my drawers), but because it had expired and I remembered being in this situation before, I thought I must have another SIN card. Also, the drawer was the wrong place to put it – I should’ve moved it to the Identification folder when I set up my filing system. ACTION: Tidy up this weekend and file things that are out of place. 
  3. I didn’t have a good action log. Back when I published my full task list, I could easily find out when I last renewed my SIN. I thought I’d renewed it later than that, but apparently I didn’t. So my confusion resulted in maybe five minutes of looking around for a possibly newer SIN card, just in case I happened to have two. Although I suspected that I turned in my expired SIN card during the renewal, it was good to check anyway. ACTION: Get back to posting my task list. I do something like that in my weekly review, but it might not be granular enough.

Slowly figuring things out!

Submitted my application for Canadian citizenship!

After allowing a few months just in case there was any doubt about the residency calculations, I’ve finally sent in my application for Canadian citizenship. This is important to me because I don’t want to ever get stuck on the wrong side of an immigration counter, or to sweat over renewals and paperwork like I did before. Both Canada and the Philippines permit dual citizenship, so I don’t have to give up being Filipino (as if that were possible! ) in order to have that certainty. It’ll be nice to be able to vote for bike lanes and libraries. :)

The government website says 80% of applications are processed within 19 months. Time enough to learn history and geography and politics.

I’ve lived in Toronto for a little over seven years now. I’m getting the hang of where things are, and have gotten to the point of also having old friends here. I know! Boggle. The multicultural diversity of Toronto means I don’t feel out of place, although I’m conscious that I don’t hear or speak as much Tagalog as I probably should. Always a little awkward with it even back home, except in the relaxed and freeflowing company of friends, and here, just unexpected conversations at banks and on the street. Facebook and blogs and Skype chats with family, news articles and charity and trips home… If I don’t have those spontaneous connections, I just have to make my own.

All people who move find their own balance.

Business update: Tax update

I filed my taxes on November 2 by myself, since I wasn’t comfortable with the first accountant I hired. It turned out to be not that scary (aside from, well, making really big electronic payments) – I don’t mind balancing books, making sense of GIFI codes, or searching the Quickbooks/TurboTax websites for information.

A little over two weeks later, I received a Corporation Notice of Assessment that said I owed an additional $146, with no interest due if I paid it before December 31, 2012. (Good news: that means my tax payments made it into the correct account!) The difference was in the Ontario tax calculations. It was easy to send in another tax payment through my bank.

Someone from the Canada Revenue Agency has been trying to reach me in order to ask questions about my HST registration. We’ve been playing phone tag for a few days. I called the CRA to follow up on that and ask a couple of questions. I confirmed that I was eligible for quarterly instalments instead of monthly instalments. The CRA agent also pointed out that I needed to take into account that I just wrapped up a short tax year, so I recalculated all of my instalments and set up bigger payments. I double-checked that they don’t mind me overpaying my instalments for a little peace of mind. (I know, funny question! “Is it okay if I send you more money than I need to?”) Whew!

I’d still like to know an accountant whom I can e-mail quick questions or ask to review my books. In a few years, I’ll probably want to start taking money out of the corporation in order to take advantage of the basic personal exemption for taxes, and it would be great to have an accountant help me get that set up properly. In the meantime, it’s good to know that the CRA isn’t all that scary – no be-suited auditors breaking down our door! <laugh>