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An Invitation from Foreign Affairs Canada [-]

Canadian Expatriates, its contributors, and readers have been invited by Foreign Affairs Canada to participate in a series of eDiscussions. The current topic is “Showcasing Canadian Culture and Know-How Abroad”.

We are asked to consider the following questions:

  • What role does Canadian culture and know-how play in our foreign policy?

  • How might the government best promote Canadian talent and expertise in the world?

    The eDiscussion runs from April 4 to May 6, 2005. At its conclusion, a summary of the discussion will be sent to senior policy planners.

    The Expat admin team encourages its readers to join in the eDiscussion at the Canadian International Policy website.

    Posted by Admin

  • Call for Contributors [-]

    The administration team is currently searching for Canadian expatriates who would be interested in contributing to the Expat Blog. The subject matter is wide open, but must remain family friendly.

    If you are interested in joining our blogging team, please send an email our way!

    Thank you!

    Posted by Admin

    Tuesday, January 03, 2006

    by Expat

    On Saturday, Tanith Belbin, a Canadian-born figure skater, became an American citizen. She was sworn in at a USCIS office in Detroit one day after President Bush signed an appropriations bill designed to speed up the naturalization process.

    According to this article, the new measure allows Belbin and other people "of extraordinary ability" to take advantage of changes in immigration rules that speed up the process. Since 2002, individuals like Belbin have been allowed to apply for a green card and visa at the same time, rather than waiting 18 to 24 months. As a result of the measure, Belbin and her ice dance partner Ben Agosto will be eligible to compete in the winter Olympics in Turin Italy.

    I first heard about Belbin and her bid for US citizenship while watching a figure skating competition on television. The announcer did not explain her situation in detail, but simply stated that Belbin was waiting on President Bush to push through her immigration case over the holidays so that she would be able to represent the United States in the upcoming Olympics. Not knowing that Belbin had to abide by the old immigration rules, I was quite put off by the thought of a figure skater (from Canada nonetheless) jumping to the front of the line because she had a chance to bring home a gold medal.

    I followed the story about Belbin for a week, grumbling when I would hear about her on the radio, grumbling even more when I saw the new label on the Diet Coke bottle - a greyscale picture of a figure skater with the words "proud sponsor of the US Olympic team". Daily, I have checked my case status online with the USCIS and, daily, I have been disappointed to see that no changes have been made. In fact, I still smart from being treated poorly the last time that I dealt with the USCIS office in Chicago and am so tired of living in "immigrant limbo" that I would like to throw up my hands in frustration and jump on the first plane back to the Motherland. That is when I realize just how stuck in limbo I am. My life in Canada stopped the day that I came here, and my life here has not had an opportunity to begin.

    Perhaps this system is somewhat better for those of "extraordinary" ability who can capture the media's attention, but for ordinary me, it has been terrible. I think back to the timeline that our immigration lawyer had estimated - working by this date, green card by this date, life returning to normal by this date - and realize that another deadline has passed and I am still known as "that immigrant girl".

    Hopefully 2006 will bring some welcome changes.

    Posted by Expat at 9:21 AM

    But we love you, immigrant girl. Don't worry, someday this will be all over for all of us...and then we'll erase all of those years of waiting for US Green Cards and just move to Canada. :)

    Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 3:38 PM, January 03, 2006  


    Thanks Flippy! :D

    Moving to Canada certainly is one of the options that is currently on the table. The only hesitation at this point is all of the money that has been spent on lawyers and government forms on this side of the border. It seems *somewhat* foolish to pull up anchor here and then start the process all over for the Yank on the other side of the border. LOL Then again, Tim Hortons, Coffee Crisp, and Good Host Iced Tea provide motivation to do exactly that. ;)

    You would think for all of the money we have paid, someone could at least update my case. Perhaps we would have been better investing that money into some skating lessons. :P

    I can certainly understand your frustration. I hope this is all settled for you in the coming year. But just remember.. once a Canadian.. always a Canadian :-).

    Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 11:02 PM, January 03, 2006  

    I finally wrote the cheque to my lawyer to file for my "change of status": $5745. That's in addition to the $2000 it cost to just file my application in the first place. Keeping in mind that it's taken me 15 years to reach this point, it sort of illuminates why there are so many "illegal aliens". It's not just a matter of filling out a piece of paper -- it's a privilege of the financially fortunate.

    Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 2:14 AM, January 04, 2006  

    For both of us Expat, for both of us :-)

    Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 7:17 AM, January 04, 2006  

    Oh Expat (and Others)!

    I am so sorry to hear this crappy story. I really believed that marrying a person in the other country would make immigration a breeze. Obviously I am naive.

    It was a 2-year wait here in Germany to get "unlimited staying" status. But that's that -- it cost nothing, just time.

    And I've recently heard that it can be very difficult for a German spouse of a Canadian to immigrate to Canada!

    I never realized that all this red-tape existed.

    Perhaps you're right, if nothing else skating lessons could be a pleasant diversion :-)

    Hey folks,

    Thanks for the well wishes.

    You are right Colleen, once a Canadian - always a Canadian. :) My in-laws keep asking me about getting American citizenship and I keep repeating that all I want is a green card. LOL The plan is still to return to Canada. That is definitely where my heart is. <3

    Congrats on getting things filed Leigh-Ann. The price tag associated with the forms is certainly ridiculous. We thought about forgoing the lawyer and filling out the forms ourselves, but when we realized how complicated the process is and thought about how we would have to pay the fees again if we had to refile because of any errors, we decided to bite the bullet and get a lawyer. I could not imagine speaking broken English and trying to fill out those forms without a lawyer, it would be impossible. :S

    Niko, I hope that things speed up for us all. Nothing is worse than feeling like you are waiting on something out of your control in order for your life to begin!

    Goodness Prairie Girl! What a difference between moving to the US and moving to Germany. How interesting that it does not cost anything to get "unlimited staying time". I worry about how difficult it will be for my husband to move to Canada when the time comes as well. It is tough to be in a relationship with someone from another country as it introduces all sorts of logistical problems. I wish for nothing more than the day when all of us will have a normal life again.

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