This is the first instalment in a series about Canadians who love non-Canadians and their journeys to getting Canadian permanent resident status for their loved ones in Canada. Please read on for stories of love, Canadian immigration and taking the "long-distance" out of a relationship.
The story of Natalie (Canadian) and Alex (American)
How did you meet and how did your relationship develop?
We met on a rock climbing trip in Kentucky through mutual friends. We connected instantly. A few weeks later, we decided to meet up again to go rock climbing together in Alabama. After that I (Natalie) went back to Toronto and Alex surprised me by showing on my doorstep a few weeks after that. We have been together ever since. Luckily, we have flexible jobs and were able to do online classes at university so we were able to always live together in both Canada and the USA.
What immigration category did you pursue?
We quickly decided that we wanted Canada to be our "forever home". When we got engaged, we started researching our Canadian immigration options. It was very difficult to decide whether to do an outland spousal sponsorship application through the Family Class or to do the Spouse in-Canada Class. We worried about it for a long time but finally decided to apply through the outland spousal sponsorship because it allowed Alex to leave Canada and travel for his work.
What was the best part about the Canadian immigration process?
Doing the spousal sponsorship application really solidified our plan to make a life together. When we reached out to friends and family for letters of support, we received an outpouring of love and support that was beautiful and overwhelming. Also, we are not journal or diary keepers, so it was nice to have a neat package that documented the development of our relationship and our life plan.
What was the worst part about the Canadian immigration process?
The wait! It was hard to make plans for the future while waiting for a decision from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. Also, although we were lucky to be able to visit each other in Canada and the USA without visitor visas, there was always uncertainty at border crossings because border service officers have the discretion to deny entry to the country.
How is life now?
Blissful. We got Alex's approval letter the night before we went on our honeymoon, which was about a year after our wedding. We were so happy and relieved! We have now been married for more than 3 years and we love each other so much.
What would you do differently if you had to do the Canadian immigration process again?
If we had to do the process over again, we would get professional help from a Canadian immigration lawyer at the beginning of the process. When we tried to negotiate our way through the forms and paperwork on our own at the beginning, we wasted our time and became confused and frustrated. We felt much more peaceful and settled once we got advice from a lawyer.
Do you have an advice for other going through the process?
Start early! It takes much longer than you imagine to gather all your documents and complete the forms. If you are asking your friends and family for letters of support, ask them as early as possible. Start going through your files right away to get your address and travel history, especially if you have moved around often.
Thank you so much to Nat and Alex for sharing their story here. If you love a Canadian or want to live in Canada with your beloved, please contact me to discuss your options.