The Process of Moving Abroad

For this weeks Expat Experience link up we are sharing details of the visa process we went through in order to emigrate.

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Our Immigration Timeline

May 2007 First application submitted to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC)

April 2010 CIC request for updated information, proof of eligibility, police checks and medicals.

July 2010 Visa’s granted

April 2011 Landed

July 2011 Moved


Following the emotional decision to emigrate ,the practical decisions on how to go about it began.

After careful research we decided that we would apply for permanent residency (PR) to Canada.  This method of application had a lengthy processing time of approximately 3 ½ years but the plus side was that we had more control of our future.  Unlike a work permit, which could have gotten us into Canada within a few short weeks, a permanent residency visa meant we would have PR status the minute we landed regardless of our employment situation.  We felt this method was more secure for us especially as the boys were 12 and 6 at the time.  If it wasn’t for them we may not have been so cautious but we didn’t want to move them if our future was uncertain.  Work permits are only temporary and there is a limit to how many times you can renew it, PR, by definition is permanent.

Our initial application was submitted in May 2007 and it was 2 years and 11 months until our application got to the top of the pile. Then it was time to prove that we were entitled to the points that we claimed back in 2007.

Points were given dependent on a number of criteria including your age, education, financial position and family situation.  We thought we had the points required to submit our application and now we had to produce the physical evidence to back it up and update the information we originally gave, after all a lot can change in 3 years.  We had three months to submit this and it took me almost that long to find, copy and collate it all.  We also had to include our police checks and attend medial examinations.



On July 29th 2010 a courier returned our passports with our entry visa’s printed inside, we had 12 months from that date of our medicals to make our official landing in Canada. It was always our plan that our Eldest son would finish secondary school in the UK before we left to go to Canada and he had a year remaining, the timing was perfect for us. We booked flights for April 2011 while the boys were having their easter holidays so we could make our landing in Canada this was when we activated our visa’a and narrowed down the area we were intending to live in.  We also used this visit to open bank accounts, get our S.I.N.(social insurance number, equivalent to the UK’s National Insurance number) visit schools and find a realtor to help us buy a house.

We returned to the UK for 3 months to close up our business and sell up before we emigrated in July 2011.

My Top Tips before you move abroad


Read magazines, sign up to forums, visit an emigrate show if you can. There is plenty of information available out there for you to take advantage of, learn about the process from people who have done it before you decide which option is best for you.


Get organized.

Create files of all your information, use folders, post-it notes and spread sheets.  You will need to collate a massive amount of information during the emigration process and you will need to keep track of all your correspondence and deadlines.  You can reduce your stress levels if you can immediately put your hand on the information you need instead of having to hunt for it.


Don’t waste money on a lawyer

There may be instances when using an immigration lawyer is the best thing to do but for the Average Joe they are unnecessary and expensive. There is no reason why you cannot submit the information yourself, the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) website details the process step by step along with everything you need to submit for each part.  Applicants that use lawyers do not get processed any quicker than those that apply in person.

If you would like more information on our emigration journey please click on the ‘Thinking of emigrating to Canada?’ tab at the top of the page or to read more expat experiences click on the button below.

The Move to America

3 thoughts on “The Process of Moving Abroad

  1. Molly @ The Move to America

    Reading this was so interesting – especially as I did not have the added decision of bringing children with me. I admire your cautiousness, and patience too. I am sure anyone thinking of moving to Canada will find this really useful!

  2. Nathalie

    That’s an incredible move you made! Especially with two kids and a business involved 🙂 I feel like I was so impatient during the whole process I can’t even imagine waiting almost three years and then still having to prove you are eligible for the visa. And you’re absolutely right… don’t waist money on lawyers often you’ll also have to be careful for getting the wrong advice!

  3. Kriss MacDonald

    Great advice Lou for anyone wanting to move to Canada!! We hugely regret having paid for lawyers when my husband joined us in the US. Afterwards we realised we could have done it all ourselves without the extra financial burden.

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