Visa to please ya’
Good news that I wanted to share with you guys! I got my work permit extended. I am so happy to be able to stay another year here in Vancouver! So, the situation: I had a one-year visa and my boyfriend, because of his Irish nationality, has a visa lasting for two years. My visa was running out as of September 16th 2018. So, we decided to figure out a way to extend my visa. I didn’t want to do PR because I am only in Canada for 8 months and I hadn’t saved for that yet. One day, we met someone who has a friend who did common law and extended his visa to match the length of his girlfriends.
Wait…, WHAT? “Common law”?
In Canada, you are considered common law once you have lived together for one year. It’s one year without any interruptions, in Canada or outside Canada. The country doesn’t matter!If you can prove it, you get the same rights and responsibilities as married couples.
After having knowledge of this common law thing, we started searching for some more information. You know, it’s good to know that this exists. But, what do we need to prove it? How can we prove it? What is the common law process? How can I get extended through my boyfriend? Which document do we need? Where do we have to send those documents? A lot of questions made the whole thing a bit overwhelming.
Many people told us that it was impossible to extend my one-year work permit through my boyfriend’s one without doing PR. So, we were stressed because PR is very expensive. We discovered that we can either do an online application but that would take up to 45 days to get an answer nor mail all documents but it would take up to 118 days. I had only 3 months left to get everything done! The stress drove us crazy!
A few weeks ago, we heard about “Flagpoling” and what are the documents we needed to get it done.
Okay, new term: “Flagpoling”
The website https://meurrensonimmigration.com/flagpoling/ defines “Flagpoling” as the process of individuals who are inside Canada travelling briefly to the United States and then upon re-entry to Canada submitting an application at a Canadian port of entry (“POE“). For most individuals who are eligible to flag-pole it is the preferred method to obtain study permits, work permits, and to have their Confirmations of Permanent Residence signed. The reason is because it typically takes a Canada Border Services Agency (“CBSA“) officer less than 30 minutes to process an application, whereas it can take Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC“) weeks or months to either process an application or schedule a landing interview.
This saved us! I got my visa extended today! What are the documents you need?
- The main applicant (the one who has a longer visa) needs to be in a skilled job, they called it NOC code 0 A or B job. Cian and myself have both the NOC code B, I am an IT recruiter and he is an application assistant.
- You have to be common law! To be common law, you will have to go to a notary and get a common law declaration. You will have to have lived together a year. We showed a lot of proof: letters from friends (one in French and one in English), 2 leases (one from Belgium and one from Canada with both names as tenant), USB key with approximatively 20 pictures with us and our friend and family, joint bank account (we opened one 3 days before going to the notary) and flight tickets with both of our names. The notary we contacted is Alan, very nice guy. This only costs $40 to get the stamp! After that, you are common law partner.
- You will need to get a letter from Work stating your job title, duties, wage, etc. and signed by your employer.
- You can bring the last few payslips with you as well. That can help. We had ours on our phone and the agent didn’t ask to see it. But, you never know.
- We filled out the form to extend my stay online, printed out in case they ask for it. We printed out the checklist as well.
- When you have everything, book a night at a motel in the US. This is because the US customs are not too fond of the flagpoling process and they will deny you entry to the US if you don’t have a trip planned. This means that every time you enter the US in the future you will have to declare that you were denied entry into the US.
Then, the next day, bring your documents to the border and say you are here with your partner for common law spousal sponsorship. The agent we got didn’t understand this term. So, we explained that we were here to extend my visa to match my boyfriends, now partner. Then, he showed us where to park, we went inside, explain to another agent who asked us how many years we were together, where did we meet. Gave him all documents in a folder then we sat for a bit more than an hour. He called us, asked us to pay the cost for a new work permit. A new work permit costs $255 CAD and will last until your partner’s visa runs out.
It was pretty stressful but unbelievably easy in the end. We left with a new visa the same day. I just need to go to the Service Canada Center to ask for a new SIN (Social Insurance Number).
I wanted to write about it, because it was so difficult to find the correct information needed. Not a lot of people have done it in Vancouver, so people discouraged us a lot. So, I am very happy to write something helpful and it’s a relief to focus on something else.
Guide that explains everything:
Where to find the Common Law Declaration Form:
Find your NOC Code: