Crime/Punishment, Criminal Justice, Immigrants, Politics, The World We Live In, Venting

Setting ourselves up to Self Destruct.

Depositphotos_67771567_m-2015

Welcome back blog readers,

There is so much going on, I’m having a hard time knowing where to start. The only thing I can come up with is to ask, What the hell is going on? How did we allow ourselves to get here?

For now, those questions are rhetorical as I don’t expect an actual answer because there is so much that is wrong and while it’s apparent there is so much that is wrong, there seems to be no attempt to fix it. Just little band-aids here, a bit of duct tape there and that should hold… for now… we hope.

Let’s just dive right into this, shall we? In no particular order, and as usual, I’m just going to write off of the cuff, unfiltered as it comes to me.

We have thousands of immigrants being detained and families being forcefully separated at the southern border. There are stories coming out every day about how many children are being abused, neglected, not given medical attention, dying in the holding facilities, not allowed proper representation in the courtroom, and moved into an adult holding facility once they turn 18-years-old. The fact that many children were adopted within the USA seems odd and the fact that there are many statements that indicate that ICE has no idea which children belong to which parents is concerning.

It would be great if we could get news about what is really happening and what the plan of action is for those families. For now it’s just speculation.

The fact that social media doesn’t really share the truth mostly opinions, it’s difficult to find a reliable source for what is really happening versus which headline and twisted version of the truth will sell more copies or get more traffic. The news used to be dependable and unbiased, lately, not so much as all they seem to be interested in is the ratings and interaction or shock value, and less about the truth and what’s really happening.

Next on the list: Fact vs. Opinion

I am a supporter of Science, I believe the earth is round because it has been proven, there are pictures to prove that fact. I believe that Climate Change is a concern because the human population has increased significantly in the last 100 years, 500 years, since the Ice Age. Humans create heat so logic would dictate that as the human population increases, so would our surrounding area. More humans mean that we are clearing more land, losing trees, ruining creature habitats, and going through resources at a faster rate. Let’s be honest, we are not as eco-friendly as we should be; if anything we are creating more ways to pollute and be wasteful.

It’s getting to the point where it’s becoming more tempting to live off of the grid and take a page from Amish living. Modest, downsize, grow enough food for yourself and live tax-free.

Following along with the Fact vs. Opinion theme:

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate… To protect yourself and others against Measles, Mumps, Typhoid, Polio, and other incurable diseases that can be avoided or risk taking the chance to becoming infected or infecting others that don’t have a healthy immune system like newborns, the elderly, those undergoing chemotherapy or have an autoimmune disease.

This is where the right to choose gets muddled. While I do have my opinions on this matter, I will refrain from preaching and hope that you all know enough to do what’s right because it’s not always about you.

I’ll just encourage you to do the research and get the advice from professionals and ask yourself why certain diseases have made a huge comeback when up until 5-10 years ago there were significantly fewer cases.

Moving right along… How can the USA continue to claim to be the land of the FREE when the rights of its citizens are being taken away?

Those that are able-bodied pass the physical exam and want to serve their country can’t due to fear. Not from fear that they have, but rather the fear of homophobics and transphobics. Members of the LGBTQ community have been serving right along until the recent ban. Rather than banning members of the LGBTQ community from serving, how about banning all phobics from serving as they are the problem.

What am I saying? The bullies never get punished, it’s the victim that is always forced to quit, move, transfer, resign, get demoted and feel that somehow they are wrong or the problem. I’m not a stranger to being bullied as I have endured my fair share of it throughout my life. At school, in the workplace, online and it sucks. Especially when you’ve done nothing wrong and you’re the one that gets punished, it’s very frustrating.

Having your opinions is one thing when they don’t interfere with the lives of other people. Color your hair, try a new hairstyle, put pineapple on your pizza, invest in real estate instead of putting your money in stocks. No harm was done and you have the freedom to choose. That is all the rest of us want, the freedom to choose what is best for us.

Why are there so many people that feel the need to cram religion down the throats of others and push their beliefs into the laws that affect EVERYONE? Religion is PERSONAL, not UNIVERSAL! If your religion says not to eat pork, then don’t eat pork, don’t force everyone to stop eating pork. Your religion is not the only religion, the higher power that you pray to is not the only higher power, just be respectful and mind your own business.

The fact that religion is creeping more and more into the government, public schools, and the health care system is not what is best for everyone. Making choices for you based on your religion is great… for YOU! Forcing me to follow your beliefs goes against my religion. That is why there should be a separation of church and state, and separation for church and public school, and church and medical care. While you might not accept that transgender folks might want surgery to change their body, let that be their choice, not yours.

You may not believe in abortions, that is fine, don’t have one. I believe that women have their reasons for wanting one, they will be the one to live with that choice. Not you, not me, but them. Let women choose and don’t make her feel shitty about it. If you believe she will go to hell or that all those in the LGBTQ community are going to hell (for merely existing), that is not your business. Stop inserting yourself and your beliefs into the lives of thousands of others that didn’t ask for your opinion.

In recent news… Privilege, Bribes and Lack of Merit.

Parents and celebrities are getting arrested for paying off colleges to have their kids admitted because, well because they can. We wonder why there is such an issue with entitlement, nobody is wondering, we all see it. If you have enough money you can pay off just about anybody to get in or out of just about any situation. Politics, Presidency, Prison, Ivy League College.

I want to see some accountability!!! It’s hard to make the changes that need to be made when the rules don’t apply to everyone and exceptions are made for the elite. Reading the stories of injustice day after day, week after week has me thinking that we are not going to get ourselves out from the mess that we created. We have left the era of community and it taking a village, now we are allowing greed to take over and it’s not pretty. It’s only going to get worse. We have lost sight about what it means to come together and have reverted back to every man for himself.

I know, not my most chipper post, but I needed to get it out of my system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Crime/Punishment, Criminal Justice, Government, Immigrants, Politics, Venting

The Great Wall of Trump

 

 

Welcome back blog readers,

Let me start off by saying, that if you are FOR/PRO the wall, then you may as well stop reading.

I’m so tired of hearing about this stupid and unnecessary “Wall” of hate. There is no way that Mexico is paying for it, nor should they be expected to fund it. The American people (the majority of us) aren’t going to pay for it (willingly). Trump himself and all of his millions don’t seem eager to fund his own project. So that leaves us exactly where we are now, no funding, no plans, no blueprints = NO WALL.

 

Finally, somebody is finally saying what we have all been thinking.

Trump’s decision to force the government to shutdown is the equivalent to a toddler throwing a temper tantrum. He’s just holding the American people hostage until he gets his way. Meanwhile, while many government-supported services like TSA, Air Traffic Control, NASA and Homeland Security are working with a skeleton crew, those that are showing up to work are not getting paid until AFTER the shutdown. According to Trump, this shutdown could last months, even years until he gets what he wants.

https://globalnews.ca/video/4814144/irony-of-shutdown-over-border-funding-it-affects-the-department-of-homeland-security-too

The irony over this shutdown is over security, meanwhile, there is a complete lack of security throughout the nation. Trump is so concerned over the idea that Mexicans and Central Americans will cross the border illegally that he’s willing to jeopardize the entire country, force government workers to continue working without pay, families are in danger of losing their homes, single moms on welfare can’t get food stamps.

Does it occur to Trump that getting over a Wall is not the only means of entering the United States. People are allowed to drive across the border to shop, to visit, to spend the weekend. People can book a flight across the border, they can travel by train or greyhound, let’s not forget that people can also travel by boat or other watercraft. Having the biggest Wall at the southern border would be useless. As Trump as stated himself in 2004… About 12:30 in.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQqjSPsvA0E#action=share

People that are trying to cross the southern border aren’t doing so because they want to harm anyone. They are not all killers, rapist, terrorist, in fact, many are families and children hoping to make a better life for themselves. Yes, there is a right way to do that. Instead of building a WALL to keep people out (Americans in); why not build several immigration centers to HELP families that want to start over, want to work, want to feel safe as they are escaping worse conditions in Central America. Let’s not assume all of those migrating are Mexican, they are not.

Not only should we set up immigration centers to assist those families that are refugees, but rather than detaining children and separating them from their parents, we should consider building temporary housing near the border because that would be the HUMANE way to treat people and help keep families TOGETHER. Not keep them in cages, fire tear gas at them or assault them when they are unarmed with child in tow.

Let’s be honest… America is housing hundreds of thousands of CRIMINALS that are US citizens. Criminals of all shapes, sizes, colors and ethnicity. They are not all black, African American, Hispanic, Latino, Mexican or other minority because there are plenty of white males and females that also deserve to be in there.

https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pie2018.html

Yes, of course, protect the borders and ensure that those coming in and going out have the proper documentation, I’m not arguing that point. My point is, what good is a giant wall that spans the entire length of the southern border if we don’t have enough border agents to patrol every inch of it 24 hours each day 365 days each year. I’d imagine that they too would require housing close to the border. Why not spend more money on creating jobs that protect the southern border, than a wall that will only be damaged, covered in graffiti and need to be maintained. To me it just seems like a huge waste of resources when that kind of money (if it gets raised) could be put to better use.

There are US citizens in need of financial assistance, housing assistance, homeless, sick, and an entire city that still needs clean water (FLINT, MICHIGAN). Spending billions on a wall because the President “wants” one and for the notion of “feeling safe” doesn’t justify shutting down the government and making the USA more vulnerable to attacks or forcing government employees to work without pay (to be paid eventually) isn’t what the majority of Americans want. Kind of like when Trump was elected, it wasn’t what the MAJORITY of Americans wanted. Again, just being honest.

Clearly, I’m not for the wall, was never for the wall, nor would I feel safe if a wall was built as there are plenty of evil doers north of the southern border, I include Trump as an evil doer. I can’t help but feel that all of the focus on the wall is another means of distracting us from another sneaky bill that will be passed while we’re too busy looking the other way.

We’ve heard from the government a few times that they will not negotiate with terrorists, so why is this any different. Trump is playing the part perfectly, making outrageous demands that he knows can’t be met. The government doesn’t get paid by the president, they get paid by us, the people, the taxpayers. I say they should continue working as they normally would. Ignore the tantrum and Trump will have to find another way to soothe himself and his oversized ego.

My rant is over, carry on…..

Home, Immigrants, Living Abroad, Moving, Speaking from Experience

Driving across Canada, 2009

lake superior

Welcome back blog readers,

Yesterday’s topic inspired another idea for a blog post; that idea was to share my experience as I drove over 2,000 miles from Massachusetts to Calgary after being allowed entry as a Permanent Resident. I think sharing my learning curves is also worth mentioning.

While my husband is originally from the Ottawa area, he had moved out to Calgary two years prior to us meeting. During our dating/engagement period he made several trips down to Western Massachusetts to visit me. Sometimes for a couple of weeks, sometimes for a few months at a time. As you might expect, traveling over that distance does get expensive; he made the choice to stay with his grandparents in the Ottawa area to help bridge the gap and allowing me the chance to drive up to visit him.

When we finally received my passport with the Visa we could start making solid plans to pack up and decide on how we were going to get to Calgary. I decided to leave on the weekend after Thanksgiving (US/November) and I “landed” as a permanent resident at the Alexandria Bay border between Watertown, New York and Mallorytown, Ontario. Since my husband’s grandparents were only a 40-minute drive away, we stopped by so that he could pick up a few things and we could spend the night before making our long journey west.

Since we were in the winter season, we kept a close eye on the weather that was tracking from the west to the east. Calgary had just been hit with a massive snow storm, if memory serves me correct, I’m pretty sure it was a blizzard or what Canadians call an Alberta Clipper and it was making it’s way east across Canada. My husband’s grandparents suggested that we stay a few days to avoid driving in those harsh conditions. We agreed that was a good idea and we kept an eye on the weather and the news before heading out four days later once the storm passed us.

Just to give you a sense of time and distance:

  • From Western Massachusetts to Ottawa, Ontario- Driving time roughly 6-6.5 hours and 400 miles/644 kilometers
  • From Ottawa, Ontario to Calgary Alberta- Driving (non-stop 36 hours) we stopped every 8-12 hours, spent the night at a hotel and switched drivers, it took us 2 days to get out of Ontario and another 3 days to drive to Alberta. From Ottawa, we stopped at Sault Ste. Marie, ON and Thunder Bay, ON then Winnipeg, Regina and finally Calgary for a total distance of 3,500 miles/5,632 kms having followed the Trans-Canada highway for most of our journey.

The scenic mountain picture with the green trees was taken at Thunder Bay when we stopped for the day. The other picture is of Lake Superior as we still making our way through Ontario. Due to the lack of snow in both pictures, I suspect those were taken on our drive back 2 years later (in July 2011) after we learned NOT to drive on the Trans-Canada highway in the off season (many gas stations are closed) which is a stretch of highway mainly used by truckers.

The scenery through Ontario, beautiful with lots of green trees and a view of the Great Lakes for two days. Lots of steep hills and hair pin corners with plenty of places to stop, eat, refuel along the way (during the open season). It was a little unnerving driving through, knowing that your getting low on gas and hoping the next gas station would be open. Part of my nervousness stemmed from the fact that I was so familiar with miles/gallons and all of the signs were reading kilometers/litres and knowing that the gas gauge reading may not have been accurate as we were climbing steep inclines. Once you get into Manitoba the land gets flat as you’ve entered the Prairies. It’s pretty much the same in Saskatchewan except you can start seeing the Rocky Mountains in the distance as you get closer to Alberta and steadily climbing in elevation. All of a sudden you see city lights, lots and lots of city lights and the closer you get the more lights you see. That’s Calgary! After 5 grueling days of driving through the snow, stopping at hotels along the way, we had finally made it.

For anyone considering making the same journey, avoid traveling in the winter if you can help it. If you can’t help it, make sure your vehicle has snow/winter tires (I did not). Also, make sure you have plenty of windshield washer fluid, not just topped off under the hood, but have extra available because if the wintery slush doesn’t cover your windshield the large bugs will.

Anyway, that is all that I have time for today.

Safe travels~ Hannah

Immigrants, Immigration Process, Living Abroad, Moving, Need to prepare, Speaking from Experience, What to consider

My Immigration Process, Part 2

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Welcome back blog readers,

Here is the continuation from yesterday’s blog post. I left off just having received my Visa that was permanently affixed to my passport and I was getting all of my ducks in a row before making the big move across the border.

I feel like I have to make this point again, you can’t just show up at the border with your belongings and expect entry and start your life in Canada without having gone through the proper process.

Here’s the link that I shared in the previous post, it’s the link I highly recommend that you use as your main resource for information.

https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/immigrate-canada.html

There is so much to consider when you now have the OK to move to another country.

  • Finding a place to live, establishing a permanent address.
  • Updating your address with the government, IRS, Banking, Social Security, Credit Card companies.
  • Having your mail delivery put on hold for a couple of weeks while you get settled/established.
  • PAY OFF YOUR DEBTS! I chose to consolidate all of my debts into one easy monthly payment. Back in 2008-2009 online banking and e-transferring was not as popular. I had to figure out how I was going to pay my debts in US funds while in Canada. I ended up creating two PayPal accounts, one attached to my US bank account and one in Canada attached to my new bank account. I was then able to transfer myself money back/forth until I no longer needed my US bank account (about 2 years later). I had to keep it open for pending tax returns and making automatic monthly payments to pay off my credit card debt in the USA.
  • Make sure you have enough money to cover you for a few months as you look for work and wait 2 weeks for your first paycheck. Most jobs pay bi-weekly in Canada, something to keep in mind. My first job up here paid on the 1st and the 15th, that took a bit to get used to after being paid every Friday. You’ll also have to show proof of the funds in your bank account(s), so have a print out of your last statement handy.
  • Downsize, sell or donate items that you can live without. If money is no object, then rent a U-haul or POD. In any case you will have to figure out which is the best way to move your belongings across the border. As for me, I was on a super tight budget and chose to sell the bigger furnature items. Actually, my husband was down with me helping me pack during this process. While I was at work, he was at my apartment wheeling and dealing selling just about everything that wasn’t nailed down. In fact, I came home on day from work and found that he had sold my bed, curtains for the bedroom window, my microwave and the cart, my TV and my couch. While the extra money was needed, I still had 2 weeks left before I was ready to move. We ended up sleeping on a twin air mattress and a pile of folded bath towels on the floor.
  • Schedule to cancel your utility services, Internet/cable/phone and make sure you pay your last bill.
  • Cell Phone: While I didn’t own one at this time, I suspect that you may want to look into an International Plan or buying a new SIM card once you get into Canada. Roaming charges will add up quickly unless you’re using skype, magic jack or a messenger app.
  • Tax Returns: Make sure that you have a copy of your tax returns (going back at least 7 years). I didn’t have the luxury of having them saved onto a USB drive as they were paper copies from H&R Block. In any case, make sure you can access them as you will be asked for that information when you apply for any line of credit in Canada.
  • Important paperwork: Birth cerificate(s), Social Security card(s), Marriage Certificate(s), Adoption Certificate(s), Divorce or other court documents of proof, Driver’s Ed proof of completion, Diploma(s), A copy of your medical history and refill your prescription(s), Vaccination record(s).
  • Pets: If you’re bringing your pet(s) they also need to go through the Import/Export process. Have their Vet/Medical history, make sure they are up to date on their vaccinations and refill their medication(s).
  • Vehicle insurance: Get a copy of your driving record as proof of your driving experience as you will need to have vehicle insurance in Canada. If you have a Drivers Education certificate, make a copy of that as well as that will be handy when applying for your new Canadian drivers license. Inform your insurance company of your intention to move and coordinate with them as far as making your last payment, returning your plates and cancelling your policy once you’ve established yourself in Canada, especially if you plan on driving your vehicle across the border.
  • Import/Export: While I did my best to research this before I packed up my car, there is a lot of misleading information as well as information that was not clear at the time. Learn from my experience and take from it what you will. You will need a complete itemized list of everything you are bringing across the border. Keep a copy for yourself and you will turn in a copy to the Customs agent. I chose to pack small boxes and with each box, I numbered the outside. I wrote down the contents, on the outside of each box I attached a copy of the contents, the second copy I kept together with the rest to hand over to Customs. The same thing with any backpacks or luggage, I attached a copy of the contents to the bag for my records and another copy of the contents was placed in the packet of the other lists of contents to be handed in to Customs.
  • Import/Export of your vehicle: Please keep in mind that this took place in November 2009, so it’s possible laws may have changed since then. I was able to find information about having to IMPORT my car into Canada, but I didn’t find anything solid about EXPORTING my car from the USA. I learned quickly once I arrived at the border. Canada did not require that I EXPORT my car from the USA before IMPORTING it. I was warned that the USA prefers that I do EXPORT my car and the issue that may come up from not EXPORTING my car from the USA is that if I cross the border (driving) into the USA and happen to get an agent that specializes in the IMPORT/EXPORT of vehicles after they notice my US passport with Canadian plates on my car, I may get fined and may be denied entry into the USA until I follow the EXPORT process. So, I simply didn’t cross the border in that car, crisis averted.

Here is the website I was directed to use from the Canadian Border agent to properly IMPORT my car.

https://www.riv.ca/importingavehicle.aspx

You may have more things to consider, especially if you have to sell your house, have other real estate or own your own business that you may have to dissolve. I can’t offer any advice on those concerns.

Now that we’ve successfully crossed the border and are ready to start our life in Canada, we’re not done yet. We still have to apply for a Permanent Resident Card which is mandatory to carry with you and have to show with your passport anytime you reenter Canada should you leave for any reason. This form of identification expires in 5 years and you will need to reapply/renew before it expires.

Being a permanent resident grants you all of the same rights as any Canadian citizen, with the exception that you can’t vote or be summoned to serve jury duty. You also can’t serve in the Canadian military and there are some government-funded benefits that you may not qualify for.

You also have to apply for your Social Insurance Number (SIN) which is the equivalent to the US Social Security card. You’ll need your SIN card to apply for jobs, open a bank account, apply for credit just as you needed your social security card for similar things. Keep your social security card as you will also need that, or at least the number to file your tax returns.

There is another important piece of information about filing taxes that needs to be clarified. Many Americans living abroad are under the misconception that they don’t have to file a tax return to the USA. This is only true if you renounce your American Citizenship and by renounce I mean you have to follow the process, file the paperwork pay the USA a hefty fee (close to $2,000 last I checked), and receive confirmation. Then and only then will you be exempt from filing a US tax return.

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/travel-legal-considerations/us-citizenship/Renunciation-US-Nationality-Abroad.html

Now it’s not to say that you actually OWE anything. If you are like me (most of us, middle class income) and you don’t own property, you don’t work in the USA, you don’t live in the USA, you don’t conduct business that results in income in the USA, then all you have to do is file a ZERO return. Filing basically states just what I mentioned above, you made nothing, you claim nothing, you owe nothing. This MUST be done when you file your Canadian (T4) taxes as a means of keeping the IRS informed, keeping them off of your back and remain in good standing with the USA because you are still a US citizen.

You are still a US citizen even if you apply to become a Canadian and obtain a Canadian passport. You will still have to file a zero return for the USA and file your regular taxes for Canada. You are now considered a DUAL citizen and hold 2 passports. You can stop renewing your permanent resident card at this point, but as long as you hold on to your US citizenship, you will be expected to file a tax return each and every year and yes, it’s still due April 15th even though you have until the end of April to file with Canada.

Renouncing your citizenship is a lengthly process as the USA wants to retain as many tax paying citizens as possible, even those living abroad. So they make the process long, costly and brutal. It’s just easier to file a few extra papers along with your Canadian taxes just to keep the peace.

As for me, I have thought about applying to become a Canadian Citizen as it makes sense to me. I don’t have any ties to the USA (besides a few family that I can visit whenever), I don’t own property, I don’t have financial ties (besides filing a zero return). Yes, I can still cast my vote for US Presidential candidates, but otherwise considering the state of the USA under its currant leader, I don’t see the point in maintaining my US citizenship. On the other hand, I don’t see the point of paying $2,000 (more like $2,600 if you consider the conversion from CAD to USD at today’s rates) just to get out from filing a few pieces of paper once a year. Even the cost of renewing my 10 year US passport is cheaper ($110 USD) considering that I might renew it 4 more times before I die or stop traveling to the USA. I’d rather pay the lesser fee and become a Canadian citizen, but that is my choice and not one that you have to make for yourself.

If you are a US citizen living abroad and would like more information about renouncing your citizenship, what it means, what are the pros and cons for your situation, if you are behind on filing your US tax returns then I encourage you to click the link below and contact a representive there.

https://www.moodysgartner.com/blog/

Since November of 2009, I have had to renew my Permanent Resident card once and renew my 10 year US Passport once. I am allowed to travel outside of Canada as long as I follow the same rules as Canadian citizens, we have to remain in Canada at least 6 months each year to maintain our status. I have to carry my permanent resident card with me along with my passport when I travel or when I expect to show proof of my status.

Now I have 2 US passports, both of which I have to carry as the first has my VISA and immigration landing document and the new passport, well it hasn’t expired as I just renewed it a few months ago. I will have to continue to carry both until I become a Canadian citizen; at which point I’ll only have to carry that one passport going forward.

That about sums up the immigration process if your going from the USA to Canada. I had no idea what I was getting into, what the process entailed or how long it would take. Knowing all of what I shared would have been super helpful because the not knowing was more frustrating than the waiting.

I’m happy to answer any questions or clarify if something I mentioned didn’t make sense. The link for the Canadian government website is truly a great resource to help you find work, answer questions about living in Canada and reassure you that not all Canadians live in igloos. That was a running joke from my former co-workers before I moved.

Actually most of the people live close to the border up to 2 hours away. Unless you live further North, then you better like the colder weather year round. Research the different Provinces, what the climate is like, what jobs are available, what the tax rate is (Ontario has a 13% sales tax while Alberta has a 5% sales tax) before you decide on which Province to settle in. Canada has so much to offer and if you have the means of coming up for a visit or a few visits, you should.

With that said, that has sparked another topic for a blog post… I won’t spoil it, you’ll have to come back to find out.

I hope that my experience has helped you to make your choice on whether immigrating to Canada is for you. At the very leas,t I hope that you have learned what the process is like for those of us that go through it legally and you know it’s an on going process to maintain our status. Please feel free to share, like, comment especially if you know someone that may be considering such a big move as they will have a better idea as to what to expect before going into this blind, like I did.

Have a great weekend!

Hannah, the international traveller.

 

 

Immigrants, Immigration Process, Living Abroad, Moving, Need to prepare, Speaking from Experience, What to consider

My Immigration Process

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Welcome back blog readers,

Today’s topic is about immigration, what you need to know and consider should you be thinking about immigrating from the United States to Canada. I will share my experiences and tips to help you get through this process. But first, here’s a link that will get you started. Most of your questions will be answered here, so please use this website as it is verified by the Canadian government and other websites may contain misleading information or may be a scam.

https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/immigrate-canada.html

There is so much information that you need to know before applying as an immigrant. First, How do you plan to apply? Do you have family in Canada that are willing to sponsor you?  Are you married to a Canadian citizen that can sponsor you? Are you coming to Canada to study in which there is a special student/study Visa required? Do you have a special trade skill or work experience that may qualify you to be sponsored by an employer? Are you a refugee seeking a safe place for you and your family to live?

Again, I will refer you to check out the link above. I was able to immigrate by means of meeting a Canadian citizen and falling in love. I did look into the special skill process, but my set of automotive skills/knowledge wasn’t enough to qualify, even though I had an employer that was interested in hiring me.

The first thing I should make clear is that you can’t just show up at the border and expect to be allowed entry and start your life in Canada. There is a process, there is a ton of paperwork, there is proof and documentation that is required, there is a medical exam that each member of your family will have to go through, there will be fees costing up to $1,000 and most importantly, you need a valid US passport. Expect this process to take up to 9 months to complete, maybe longer.

There was a packet of paperwork that we printed off, one set for me (the applicant) and another set for my husband (the sponsor).  Both applications, various forms of proof, and payment were all sent in one large envelope to begin the immigration process.

Here are some things that needed to be answered or required more documentation (proof).

  • All names (aliases) I have used, last names, maiden names, legal names
  • All addresses where I lived for the first 18 years of my life
  • Copies of my birth certificate, marriage certificate, copy of the picture page of my passport
  • I needed to obtain a copy of my fingerprints, FBI clearance to prove I didn’t have a criminal record or any outstanding warrants in any of the 50 states.
  • I had to seek a doctor (one approved by Canada which ended up being 2 hours away) to clear the medical exam, which was basically a physical, blood work and a “womanly exam” to ensure that I was not infectious and free of serious diseases and not trying to abuse the Universal Health Care that Canada offers.
  • Proof of our relationship, the marriage certificate was not enough, we needed to include photos, chat logs from skype and MSN messenger (2008), copies of emails that we exchanged, proof that our families knew/had met the other person. We sent in boarding passes and ticket stubs when my husband came down to visit me. We sent in receipts to prove that we bought joint items or gifts that we bought for each other. All to prove that we were in a legitimate relationship/marriage and weren’t trying to scam the government.

I suspect that if the proof we provided wasn’t enough to convince the immigration officer, that we would have been asked to come in for an interview. We were able to avoid that part of the process. Once we finally mailed out the large application packet and it was received, we were able to check the status online. My husband was approved to be my sponsor within the first week. Going through the paperwork (which we put in order, using paper clips as they requested) took them about 4-6 weeks. I did get a notification in the mail asking for me to resubmit my fingerprints as the first set were smudgy and there was a hiccup on one of the dates on the application. I inverted the last two numbers by mistake and had to correct it. Once completed, I sent that back to the immigration office. Another 4-6 weeks would pass before we received another notification in the mail, I was to send my actual passport in so they could affix my VISA to one of the pages before mailing that back to me.

Ladies, here’s a tip: Make sure that your passport is updated with your legal married name (if you took your spouses last name or hyphenated it). You want to send that updated version to have your Visa attached. Also make sure you get the correct sized passport photos taken. My first set were not taken properly and I had to get them retaken, wasting more time and adding to my frustration.

If my memory serves me well, I want to say that we started (mailed in the application packet) in February 2009 and I received my full passport back with affixed VISA in early October 2009, so about 8 months. Once I received that, it was a sigh of relief but it also meant I had a limited time to get my affairs in order, tie up loose ends, sell my belongings, seriously downsize and pack before actually crossing the border to live in Canada.

There is more information to share, but sadly the world of retail insists that I show up for my shift. I’ll come back tomorrow (on my day off) to share the rest of my experience.

Happy Friday! ~ Hannah

 

 

Government, Immigrants, Military, Not the Popular Opinion, Politics, Venting

Trump Dump: Veterans before members of Congress!

Welcome back blog readers,

Over the last few days, I’ve been seeing/reading the thoughts/opinions of my friends/family on social media regarding Trump, his views, what he would like to put into action as well as the treatment/rights of veterans compared to the treatment/rights of immigrants.

What occurs to me is that much of the anger/frustration that is being displayed from us (the general public) is misdirected and we are comparing two things that aren’t related, in the sense that one has nothing to do with the other. Yet so many of us keep jumping on that bandwagon because we’re mad about one issue and taking that anger out on something not related.

Allow me to clarify…

First, let’s get the topic of Trump off of the table. It should not come as a surprise that I do not support Trump, I didn’t vote for Trump and frankly, I’m shocked he’s still in power. I know there are the loyal Trump supporters that will always stay loyal, and that’s fine. There are Trump supporters that voted for him and are trying to turn a negative into a positive by reminding us all that Trump WILL make America great again because they are in denial about Trump’s real agenda and they can’t swallow their pride to say, I was wrong to vote for him. Then you have antiTrump supporters who see that he’s trying to take away human rights along with many other despicable things.

Here’s the real issue… You have a man that has had 20+ women accuse him of sexual misconduct, this same man is conspiring with Russia/Russian mob for over 30 years, this same man that has been married three times to three IMMIGRANT women and he has a huge hatred for immigrants (even though his grandparents were immigrants). This same man that intentionally tore hundreds of families apart to deport illegal immigrants (parents) and threw their kids (US Citizens) in holding facility then made toddlers who can’t speak English defend themselves in court. Trump is hoping to open many wildlife reservations, risk the extinction of many species (which up until this point were protected) just so he can drill, cut down trees and destroy the planet. The same Donald Trump has been threatening to take away a woman’s right to choose (because he doesn’t agree as if to suggest that he’ll have to worry about an unwanted pregnancy). Just this week this same man is pushing really hard to take away the human rights of the transgender community (again because he doesn’t believe people can be transgender).

With all of that said, please remind me of how Trump is making America great again. Why are so many supporters unwilling to see that Trump is not a modern-day hero, he is not looking out for the people, he is looking out for his businesses, his assets, his family, and his business partners. Trump supporters can keep on supporting a monster, it is your right to do so. Although your choice makes me concerned about where you stand on my rights as a woman. As one of my high school teacher’s used to say, “You can polish a turd, but it’s still a turd, now it’s just a shiny turd”. That is how I see Trump, a shiny turd.

Politics and religion need to be separate, just as public school and religion need to be separate. We need to stop cramming our personal believes down each other’s throats and stop judging people because their beliefs are different than our own. What we believe is a private matter, but it doesn’t mean that you’re right and everyone else is wrong.

It’s one thing to be patriotic, to have pride in your country and be firm about what you believe. It’s another thing to force all students to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, because they may not pray to God. Just as you can’t expect all athletes to stand for the National Anthem because, in case you haven’t noticed many athletes are not AMERICAN (take NHL Hockey for an example). Don’t get your panties all in a bunch because some players take a knee, that is their right it’s not like they are burning the flag.

Perhaps we should consider the fact that all country national anthems should be played/sang to honor all of the players and their respective home countries, but that would be time-consuming and Americans are impatient and just want to watch the game, right. Chances are that if the national anthem for Sweden, Norway, Canada, Russia, Czech Republic all had to be played to honor the hockey players, what are the chances that Americans would stay standing for all of them? I think that falls under “practice what you preach” and if you can’t then shut the hell up.

As for the comparison of veterans to (illegal) immigrants, here are my thoughts on this matter. Veterans and Immigrants are two separate issues and the slogan of “Veterans before Immigrants” would make more sense if the slogan read “Veterans before Members of Congress”.  I’m all for veterans, my grandfather went to Korea, my father went to Vietnam and my brother was in the Coast Guard in Alaska and my sister volunteers at a VFW in California. Veterans serve their country, they put their life on the line and sacrifice so much to do what they do. They deserve to be taken care of while they are serving and after they get home.

Immigrants, on the other hand, you can’t compare them to veterans. Immigrants may not have fought for the USA (or wherever they immigrated to) but they might have served in their country. It’s possible, we just never ask them do we? We’ve been brainwashed to think immigrants are job stealing, disease-carrying parasites from a foreign land. In reality, most immigrants leave their country because there is a war taking place in their backyard (good chance that our beloved veterans are over there fighting on their home turf).

Again we don’t consider that as being a possibility. Immigrants flee across the ocean or across the border for a better life. They come over with not much more than the clothes on their backs. Most people don’t realize just how long the legal immigration process takes (again, because we don’t ask). The legal process takes a minimum of 3 months once the paperwork arrives at the processing center, nevermind the time it takes for FBI clearance, the medical exams for each person in the family and the time to fill out the multi-page application and gather all of the documents/proof that is required and the fee varies from $500-$1200 per person.

So think about that for a moment… You have a war taking place in your hometown, you can’t work, your house is gone and the only thing running through your mind is that you need to get yourself and your family to safety. You don’t have time to wait 3-9 months to go through the proper channels. Any important documents/proof may have already been destroyed. What are your options? Where do you go?

You do your best to start over in a country that boasts about being the best, the richest, a place where dreams come true. The only things veterans and immigrants have in common is war. One group is sent to maintain order while the other group flees for their safety. To suggest that illegal immigrants have more advantages, or are better cared for than veterans is absurd!

Members of Congress on the other hand…. If anyone deserves a cushy pension after their years of service, it’s veterans, not the members of Congress that have never served a single day in their life. From what I’ve noticed most members of Congress (including the POTUS himself) have successfully dodged/avoided that particular civic duty and encourage their kids to do the same. That’s not very patriotic at all now, is it?

I suspect that I’ve rambled on long enough. Folks we are on the same team no matter where we live, where we call home or who our parents are. Yes, there will always be a bad group, an extreme group, but you have the choice to be better than that.

Choose to be part of the solution, instead of continuing to be part of the problem.