This is 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 Kathleen (Canadian) and Carlos (Colombian)
How did you meet and how did your relationship develop?
Carlos: We studied at the same university in Canada and we met through mutual friends there. After graduation, we started dating and then travelling together and we quickly fell in love. Kathleen lived with me in Colombia for about 18 months and learned Spanish. We have enjoyed creating our own cultural exchange and sharing our Canadian and Colombian backgrounds with each other.
How did you handle being in a long-distance relationship?
Kathleen: We have often been apart both because of our different career choices and because of Carlos' immigration status. For example, he had to leave Canada soon after graduation from university because his study permit was about to expire. The internet makes it easy to stay in contact. We could still talk every day even when we weren't in the same place. I was also able to travel and visit Carlos even though he could not come to Canada before his immigration application was approved.
Carlos: We respect each other's time and interests. When we are apart, we each focus on our respective work or studies and look forward to the next time we will be together. We really support and trust each other, which makes being apart much easier.
What was the best part about the Canadian immigration process?
Kathleen: Getting accepted was the best part! Doing a spousal sponsorship application is a big process and it took about a year. We felt so relieved when our application was approved.
Carlos: Being able to come back to Canada was so great. Colombians can't enter Canada without a visitor's visa, so I wasn't free to visit Canada whenever I wanted. Now Kathleen and I can be together in Canada whenever we want. Also, I get many benefits from being a permanent resident, such as a Canadian driver's license, health insurance and a social insurance number. Being a permanent resident makes me feel more strongly connected with my community in Canada.
What was the worst part about the Canadian immigration process?
Carlos: The uncertainty was the worst. We didn't know how long we would have to be apart - that was hard.
Kathleen: We had to get some documents from Mexico because Carlos used to live there. It was very complicated to get the required Mexican documents because we were not physically present in Mexico to get them.
How is life now?
Carlos: I love it! Although I had to adjust to a new culture, I really like Canada, especially Nova Scotia where we live. Canada was been very welcoming to me. I am an artist and I have had my art shown in local galleries and I won a prize for my art. My work is respected here and I have a lot of support. Also, having Canadian permanent residence has made it easier for me, being from Colombia, to travel through the United States.
Do you have any advice for others going through the spousal sponsorship process?
Kathleen: Read the instructions very, very carefully and get advice from people who have gone through the process before. Also, consider contacting your local Member of Parliament (MP) to get help. For example, when we needed help getting those documents from Mexico, my local MP's office was very supportive.
Carlos: Be patient. The immigration process was hard but it was so worth it in the end.
Thank you so much to Kathleen and Carlos 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.