A conversation held in the immigration department of the Canadian Government Offices (Open one day a week for four hours only with one solitary clerk on duty). We take our place in the queue and chat to a few other hopefuls until it comes to our turn.
“We’d like some help finding out how to get a work permit.”
“Do you have a job?” Says the clerk.
“Well, not yet, we need work permits.”
“I can’t help you. You have to have a job.” She responded.
“Oh, but we keep getting told that we need a work permit before we can get hired.”
“You’re a Permanent Resident of Canada?” She asked us.
“Erm not yet, no. We’ve applied.”
At this point Mrs S digs out her old ‘Landed Migrant’ status card and Canadian Social Insurance number. “I grew up here, and I have these, but we got told that I’ve been out of the country too long.”
“That’s correct, you have to have spent at least three out of the last five years in Canada.”
“I’ve got my Canadian Social Insurance Number here.” Mrs S hands over the original. “It’s in my maiden name.”
The clerk typed the SIN number into her computer. “Oh.”
“Is it valid?”
“I don’t know.” Said the clerk and then ran a Computer search on my wife’s ‘Landed migrant’ status. “It’s too old. It’s not in the system.”
Mrs S tried another tack. “What if we started a business here?”
“You can’t do that, you’re not permanent residents.”
“So no job, no permit, and we can’t work self employed?”
“Not really, no.”
“But we can open a bank account, yes?”
“Is it okay for us to buy a house, car, that sort of thing?”
“Can we do voluntary work?”
“So long as you aren’t paid for it, yes.”
“But we can’t legally work?”
“Not without a work permit, no.”
“Oh.” Thoughtful pause. “So what is the actual process of getting a work permit?” I asked carefully.
“Well, you can’t apply for a work permit within Canada.”
“Ri-ight. I thought you had to be here to apply according to your web site.”
“Oh, that rather puts the tin lid on it. Say I was offered a job, what would I have to do?”
“You’d have to leave the country.”
“You’d have to apply at your port of entry for a work permit.”
“You could do it this way. Say you get offered a job, your would be employer writes to us for a market opinion to make sure you’re not putting a Canadian out of a job. We write back to them, you go down to the US border and leave Canada. Then you come back across the border and apply at a main border crossing for a work permit.”
“So that is how to get a work permit?”
“Providing the market opinion is favourable, yes.”
We left. You know it’s funny. You want to work, make money and contribute to the local economy and there’s stuff out there to do that is screaming out for your talents, but then there’s this seemingly huge adamantine wall of bureaucracy in the way.
On a similar subject; last week I was listening to a radio interview of a First Nations Project Manager who seemed to be having similar problems with the Governmental rule book. The First Nations elders ended up just ignoring the rules and went straight ahead and completed the projects anyway. The permissions came through in the end. They have a word for it. It sounds like “Wa-ey-ya”, which translates as “Just do it.” This is very tempting
Labels: Canada, Frustration