After 4 years of living in Toronto, 13 months of Visa limbo hell, $3500 Canadian Dollars, 16 forms, 7 tearful calls to a Lawyer, 2 police checks, an Expensive english test, a medical (and a partridge in a pear tree… no… wait…) I became a Permanent Resident of Canada on July 4th, 2015 (thank fuck).
It was a touch and go race against time, a tricky maze of paperwork, and bureaucratic hoops to jump through.
The immigration laws in Canada for Australians used to be super relaxed. There was such a thing as a “Working Holiday” visa, open to all Australians between 18 and 30, who met the criteria (no criminal background and with at least $3500CAD in the bank) and the visa was good for 2 years at a time, renewable until you no longer met the criteria.
Until this year.
The Canadian government, notorious for it’s open arms approach to Immigration has begun cracking down and changing policy. Laws have begun changing and I luckily slid in just before these changes had the opportunity to affect me.
At the time of applying and back and forth with the Canadian Immigration Centre, I was (understandably) nervous that if my application was rejected, I would have had to leave Canada.
That was a shitty situation considering I have a pretty built up life in Canada with friends I love, an Industry I am heavily involved in, a family member who also lives here, and oh yeah – a Canadian boyfriend.
At the time my Visa application began to look a bit dicey, my boyfriend and I had been dating for about 3 months. We were at the shy “I love you” stage, but we were definitely not at the, “lets get married so you can stay in the country with me” stage (although this was suggested to us as the last last option).
I felt pretty awful about the whole situation and lost a lot of sleep over it (and gave myself an ulcer I think). At the time, things were starting to get serious with Jason, and it just really fucking sucked that it seemed like our only options were, breakup, get married, or leave Canada.
Thankfully, my Permanent Residency worked out and our relationship was allowed to progress at a normal pace without making any make or break decisions.
But my story is not unique, and the struggles faced by International couples are very real.
On our recent trip to Vietnam we met Taylor and Richie, a fantastic duo who had been travelling the world together for 3 years after they met in New Zealand. Taylor is American and Richie is a Scotsman. When we asked them where they would be heading when their globetrotting adventure ended (shortly after Vietnam) they told us: Richie was headed back to Scotland and Taylor was going back to the States. There was no working visa for either of them to live and work in each others country (I have since read Taylor’s awesome article for Verge magazine which tells us that she is in Scotland with Richie for 3 months on a tourist visa… yay love!).
The same deal with my two friends Conor (Irish) and Amanda (American) who met in Toronto and who need to figure out where they can exist as a couple in the same place at the same time.
These couples are everywhere, and are constantly trying to make love work across international borders. But it’s not easy. Many people I know simply cannot make it work without a clear concrete destination where they can both live normal, unmarried lives, and still figure out if their relationship is headed down a more serious track.
What is my point?
Aren’t countries always looking for a way to continue fostering great relationships with other nations?
What better way to do that than to encourage couples from different continents to continue loving each other, fostering ties at the most basic level?
The traditional notion of belonging and “home” is evolving as globalization and international nomadry (not a word) become more and more prevalent. Doesn’t it make sense for governments to reconsider booting someone out of a country if they have a life, a loved one, a family? It seems even my married friends are struggling with Visa constraints on their partners. It doesn’t make sense and this issue needs to be readdressed.