How can my British self and Thai wife move to Canada?
April 11, 2013 2:05 AM   Subscribe

I'm a British 25 year old Computer Science graduate working as a Software Developer in the South East, UK. I will soon be married to my 24 year old Thai girlfriend, who'll graduate soon with a Masters degree from a British university. We'd like to eventually move to Canada, but since there are several options of how to go about this I'd like to know the best way without us spending much time apart. Any suggestions of which city/province to relocate to and any preparations we can make now, if we want to move within the next 2 years, are welcomed.
posted by asharchist to Work & Money (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you're city people, Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal are all great options.
Vancouver is beautiful, temperate and a bit boring. Great for outdoors, not awesome for nightlife.
Toronto is busy, fun, great summer, unpleasant winter. Good night life, reasonable cultural activities.
Montreal is busy, fun, great nightlife, horrendous winters, top notch cultural activities.

It's been a while since i dealt with immigration issues, but I recall that learning French scored you more points. You should run through the points calculators, that should help you find the things you can do to accrue more points.

You might want to look into which places have larger Thai communities as that may ease your partners transition.
posted by Sleddog_Afterburn at 3:29 AM on April 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

Everything you need to know is here: Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Canada has a very transparent process, but has recently changed some of the rules, so my ~12 year old experience may not help. Quebec may have language requirements that would be difficult for you to move straight there.

The process will likely take about two years. If I had to do it again, I'd research ways of developing better credit-worthiness on arrival. My bank's advice was, frankly, crap, and it left us struggling as a cash-only family for the first 18 months. If it's like it was when we emigrated, Immigration : British Expat Discussion Forum was really helpful.
posted by scruss at 3:48 AM on April 11, 2013

The fastest and smoothest way by far is for you to get a job in Canada with a company that is willing to support your work permit application. If you get a job as a software developer, which is in the "high skilled" job category, your wife will qualify for an open work permit to join you in Canada. You could either come to Canada first and get your work permit (as a Brit you are visa-exempt and this can apply for your work permit on arrival at a Canadian airport), then send your wife a copy of your work permit to support her work permit application - Thai citizens are visa-requiring, so she'd have to apply for her work permit and visa in advance of coming to Canada, most likely through the visa office in London. She'd be ready to come to Canada maybe a month or two after you, depending on the visa office's current processing time. Or you could apply together through the visa office and be ready to come to Canada at the same time. This way would take longer for you to get your work permit, so it might be up to your new employer which route you take. Then, after just one year of working full-time in Canada, you would be eligible to apply for permanent residence under the Canadian Experience Class with your wife as a dependent applicant. You'd become landed immigrants about a year after applying.

The Federal Skilled Worker program, which admits applicants based on a points system, takes a year and a half to two years to process at the London visa office, so that's another option if you aren't able to find prearranged employment.
posted by keep it under cover at 6:18 AM on April 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

Ditto above: if you have a job offer, paperwork can happen very quickly. In my experience work visas take 2-3 months to process. They've been getting faster in the past few years.
posted by bonehead at 7:35 AM on April 11, 2013

Seconding Sleddog_Afterburn's excellent advice above, but I just wanted to clarify that while Montreal's winters are horrendous, don't let that scare you off. Everyone (and that would soon include you) totally knows how to handle it, and there's a comraderie which results from it. Toronto winters and Southern Ontario winters generally are more mild, but they're dreary and interminable.

Regarding your particular skills, Montreal has (had?) a fairly robust computer animation industry, although I cannot speak to its current state. Toronto teaches a lot of computer animators, but ships them out. Software development as a larger whole -- I don't know.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:49 AM on April 11, 2013

Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal each have a rather different vibe, so considering you want to make a new life someplace, I'd recommend at least making vacation visits to see how you personally feel about them.

All of them are ok for tech jobs, though Toronto probably has more and larger corporates, incl a large-ish financial sector, if that is the kind of environment you'd prefer.

Vancouver has a strong Asia-Pacific side to it, if that's important to you or your wife. Personally it's one of my favorite places on the planet. For my tastes, it's big enough to have the benefits of city life, like plenty of culture, restaurants, interesting stuff happening, but also pretty uniquely for a big city, in no time flat you can be in the mountains, or out by the ocean, enjoying some fresh air and feeling like you're exploring pristine wilderness. In the winter, the city itself is temperate much like the UK, but there's world-class skiing just a two-hour drive away in Whistler.
posted by philipy at 10:31 AM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

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