Surviving The Interview
Valerie Gerrard lived in Canada for eight years with her family and maintains strong links with the country. She draws on her own and her husband's work experience in writing this guide. Valerie now lives in Huntingdon, Cambs.
SURVIVING THE INTERVIEW
An interview is not always required, but is at the discretion of your visa officer. Do not be alarmed if you are called to interview, it is not necessarily a sign that your application is in jeopardy. Quite the opposite, as the Immigration Division is very busy and not likely to waste time interviewing applicants who do not have a reasonable chance of being accepted. Often the interview is to determine the points to be awarded under the category of Adaptability.
If you are married your spouse will be requested to attend, along with any children over 18.
What can you expect at the interview? As mentioned, your personal suitability will be assessed, as well as your professional qualifications. You can expect the visa officer to ask questions about your current job, past experience and education. Certainly he will want to know why you wish to migrate to Canada and what you have planned once you get there. You want to demonstrate a mature approach. Mention anything that shows you have thought the move through thoroughly and made contingency plans.
Taking the opportunity to prove yourself
The visa officer wants to know that you will be an asset to Canada and that you will adapt well to life there. He will be looking for initiative, adaptability and resourcefulness. What he does not want to see is any evidence that you will not fit in or that you could become a drain on Canadian resources. This applies to all members of your family because, even if they are not accompanying you at this time, they may well do so in the future.
Don’t be intimidated by the interview, which is held in a relaxed and informal manner. It is also your opportunity to ask questions, so be prepared if there is anything you want to know. In fact, asking a few questions is another way of demonstrating that mature and thoughtful approach the visa officer is looking for.
COPING WITH OBSTACLES
Hopefully, the process of obtaining the visa will be smooth, but if you run into problems or think your application may not be straightforward you might consider enlisting the aid of an immigration consultant or immigration attorney. These provide similar services, but you need to be aware of the differences, then decide which suits you best.
These are experts in the area of immigration law. They are governed by a professional watchdog body and provide a service for those who are having difficulties with their application, particularly applicants with past convictions or those who do not score enough points under the occupations category.
One of the key differences between an immigration attorney and a consultant is that only attorneys are allowed to attend immigration interviews. In a problematical case this could be very helpful and indeed comforting to the applicant.
What will an immigration attorney do for you?
Although firms vary, basically you are paying the attorney to provide legal advice and assistance in all matters pertaining to your immigration application. Most will:
- advise you on the best route to take for your application; for example, an applicant who is refused as a skilled worker may have stood a better chance under the Business Classification
- prepare your application forms and all supporting documentation
- train you for your interview
- attend your immigration interview, providing you with legal representation.
A major firm of immigration attorneys, Brownstein, Brownstein and Associates, warns that ‘all too often the skills of an attorney are not called upon until an immigration application has been refused. It is always more difficult to reverse a negative decision than it would have been to provide the best case possible with an attorney from the outset.’
If you feel you are likely to run into problems with your application, that could be advice worth noting.
The scale of fees will differ from firm to firm, so ask for details when you make contact. The address section gives a partial list of immigration attorneys.
These firms will help you with the immigration process but differ from attorneys in that they cannot attend the immigration interview and are obviously not as well placed to offer legal advice. However, they do often include settlement advice and business services. Several also assist with job placement. Enlisting the services of a consultant will make things easier for you.
In April 2004, the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC) was set up to serve as a self-regulating body for Canadian immigration consultants. Now, only immigration and citizenship consultants who are members in good standing of CSIC and lawyers who are members of a Canadian provincial or territorial law society will be recognised by the Canadian government. All members are required to keep up with the current immigration rules and regulations by taking refresher and professional development courses.
Balanced against that must be the cost which, again, varies from consultant to consultant. Generally, the more services they provide the larger the fee. See the address section for some immigration consultants.
The choice is yours
If, after carrying out your self-assessment, you think your application will be pretty straightforward you may well choose to tackle the procedure alone. Or you might like to get a second opinion on that all important point score. You can take a free on-line assessment at www.canreach.com In either case, if it doesn’t look like plain sailing it could be worth your while to pay an attorney or a consultant.
Do not be overwhelmed by all the rigmarole. In most cases it should be pretty straightforward. And the good news is that, on average, 90 per cent of all skilled worker applicants successfully obtain their visas. So it can’t be all that bad!
George runs into a problem
Although his points worked out at 73, more than enough to qualify, George encounters what could be a major difficulty with his application. Thirteen years ago, when he was 25, he foolishly drank too much at a party and was convicted of driving while under the influence of alcohol. He paid a fine and has not offended since but this appears on his police record. He contacts an immigration attorney.
‘Will that old offence seriously jeopardise my application?’
‘I’m afraid it will,’ the attorney replies. ‘You need to apply for rehabilitation. It was a minor offence and quite some time ago, so we may be able to swing it.’
George hires the attorney, who undertakes the necessary legal work to have George ‘rehabilitated’. He is successful in this (although the entire process takes almost two years) and George is eventually granted Permanent Resident Status.
George’s occupation of Electronic Engineer appears on the National Occupations Classification List.
QUESTIONS ABOUT IMMIGRATION
- 1.What is meant by the term ‘skilled worker’? This refers to a person with special occupational skills and experience which are transferable to the Canadian labour market. Refer to the National Occupations Classification List to see the occupations that are acceptable.
- 2.Will my professional/occupation qualifications be accepted in Canada? Some will, some will not. Sometimes it is just a case of passing an examination or adding an additional qualification. It is up to you to find out if your qualifications relate to the Canadian labour market. You should contact a suitable professional body in Canada. Their names and addresses can be found in The Canadian Almanac and Directory. The Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials can also give information on this.
- 3.One of my children is remaining in the UK. Does she still need to be included in my application? Yes, if she is less than 19 years of age and unmarried at the time of your application.
- 4.I have an aunt living in Canada. Will that help my application?
- 5.I have heard that the procedure is different if I want to go to Quebec.
- 6.Should I hire an immigration consultant or attorney? Will they help me to get my application approved?
- 7.Will I need to attend an interview?
- 8.How long will it take for me to get my visa?
- 9.Will the Canadian Immigration Department help me to find a job?
- 10.Once I have Permanent Residence status, how long does it last?
- 11.As a permanent resident, what exactly is my status in Canada? You and your dependants have the right to live, study and work in Canada. You and your dependants are entitled to most social benefits. However, you cannot vote in certain elections and may not be eligible for some jobs that require high-level security clearances. You are liable for Canadian federal and provincial taxes. You or your dependants could be deported from Canada if you or they commit serious crimes.
- Decide which immigration category applies to you.
- Study the points system. You need a minimum of 67 to be successful.
- Chances are you will need an approved, pre-arranged job in Canada to get a temporary permit.
- Students looking for temporary work should contact BUNAC.
- It may be worth your while to enlist the services of an immigration attorney or immigration consultant. Consider this before making your application.