My "lucky" break
Hey universe, I am about to be happy here. Can you give me an effin' break for a change?
On April 9th, 2021, I got one of the best news of my life.
My acceptance letter to the University of Toronto School of Social Work dropped into my email box.
I have been selected to attend one of the most prestigious graduate schools in North America, out of almost 900 applicants, I was one of the 130 candidates given a place in this competitive program.
As I was reading the admission letter from Joshua Baker, Dean of School of Graduate Studies I cried out out relief and happiness. He says “You have shown yourself to be among the world’s best and brightest. It would be our privilege to welcome you into our esteem cohort.”
I worked hard for years to be able to get this opportunity on my non-conventional path. I left my career as a Ph.D. level scientist to go back to school and become a social worker. I moved to Canada and uprooted all my family and life.
Yet, sadly neither I was able to enjoy this news. Because of my immigration status and delayed permanent residency application in Canada.
When I first heard about the Canadian Express Entry system in the Summer of 2019, when our daughter was born, I told my husband that it sounded too good to be true. An online application system where you navigate by yourself based on your CRS score, get invited and submit documents smoothly. The promise was that most of the applications are completed in a 6months period.
This was music to my ears, to whom at the time was suffering through a complex, opaque, and unyielding US immigration system. I believed Canada was a great place to live as an immigrant. I felt welcomed. I believed we can make this happen, fast and smoothly.
It took us a good 6 months to collect all the documents necessary and we were able to submit our application correctly on March 7th, 2020. Like every other fellow immigrant out there, we started waiting with our hearts in our hands, dreaming of a stable life for our family. Hoping to finally belong somewhere, staying there for the rest of our lives. somewhere where we can call home. We wanted that place to be Canada.
At the time, mid-march 2020, it was unbeknownst to anyone that a global pandemic was boiling and about to hit the US and Canada hard, as well as every other country in the world.
After a couple of months, when Canada closed borders to all non-essential travelers and stopped processing our file, we knew that things will be delayed. What we didn’t know was the length of the delay.
We hoped for the best and started waiting patiently. After all, our main goal was to survive through the pandemic while full-time working, parenting, and planning an international move.
The anticipated completion of our file in IRCC system was September 7, 2020. That day came and passed and nothing changed in the online system. We started getting antsy yet, kept up the hope.
To our luck, my husband also had a work permit application going on, (which took 6 months to finalize by the way!), and we were able to travel to Canada with that work permit as he was deemed an essential worker.
On November 19, we landed in Toronto and quarantined for 14 days. We followed all the public safety measures and to this date, we are doing our best to be good “citizens” of this country.
I had this naïve idea that our file was not processed until November (8 months) due to travel restrictions place and once we are here in Canada, we will be able to get our PR approved.
This made sense in my mind so I contacted IRCC multiple times after updating my address and appealing that now that we are living in Canada, we are inland applicants therefore we kindly ask our file to be finalized. All I got was generic responses to my emails that due to Covid, all applications are delayed and processing times are increased.
Life seems to have come down to an almost complete still for immigration processing authorities yet life, as we know it, did not stop due to Covid. We had to work full time through the pandemic in the US and pulled through an international move in the middle of the pandemic with our daughter.
My husband is now working full time, despite Covid. I applied to the University of Toronto School of Social Work in December 2020, to become a social worker, my dream, in the middle of the pandemic. Despite Covid, I hoped to realize this dream in Canada upon our PR approval by the time I get my admission letter.
After celebrating the one-year anniversary of our PR application on March 8,2021 (which is not something that I wanted to celebrate!), I got really upset about the delay and applied for GCMS notes. To my surprise, the last update on my file was in May 2020, other than our address update on January 2021. I started losing hope as I knew I would get my admission letter by mid-April.
Here we are on April 10th and I have my admission letter and I still do not have my PR approval and the only way for me and my family to afford this school is through domestic fees.
The dream that I have been working towards for the past 16 years of my life has arrived. This unprecedented delay in my PR application is standing in between me and my dreams now. What do I do?
I have to say that, I’ve been an immigrant for many years in the US and now in Canada. Therefore, as a family; delays, bureaucracy, paperwork, and wait times that test our patience are not new to us. We got pretty used to them frankly, became resilient and we are proud of this journey.
What it taught us. Who we became.
Yet this situation and this choice that I am presented with are beyond my comprehension anymore.
It is not fair.
My daughter is almost 2 years old, so it has been solid 2 years that we are planning, acting on this, and waiting for the day that we become PR holders. I am not sure where did everything went so wrong or how long more we can keep the faith in this system?
I have to admit that I am in a bad place mentally. This delay and not being able to accept this offer is affecting me and my family’s mental health very adversely. The irony here is that I am hoping to go to the graduate school of social work to become a mental health practitioner to help Canadian society. Yet I do not feel like my mental health is acknowledged or taken into consideration by this system.
I understand that IRCC is doing its best to adapt and navigate this unprecedented and evolving situation. I have been following very closely from the news that they are prioritizing certain streams like CEC, in order to give priority to people who are already in Canada and contributed to the Canadian economy.
As a resident of Canada, I am aware of the third wave, how tough it has been for everyone for the past 6 months. I feel for everyone affect because of this situation, people who were not able to come to Canada with approved PR visas, people like us who have been waiting beyond 1 year, people who have lost hope…
We have been very patient waiting all along. As we thought there was no real urgency that can speed up our case. But now that I am on a deadline to accept this offer, there is an urgency and I am appealing to IRCC to be compassionate and fair.
We are in Canada at the moment. We do not need to travel upon our PR approval. We are not a public safety threat. We are already settled here and ready to call Canada our home. My husband is already working in a Canadian company. I am ready to accept this offer from the prestigious program at the University of Toronto, ready to get trained and become a social worker.
I am pleading to IRCC, to make things right, to help us plan our lives and move on.
I am waiting to see that for all immigrants like me,
who have been waiting for a ridiculously long time,
who have their life on hold,
who are about to lose sight and hope,
can finally get a LUCKY BREAK.
I would like to end with Dean Joshua Baker’s words again “Once, again, congratulations! I look forward to the opportunity to support you as you embark on this life long voyage of intellectual discovery”
I, too, am looking forward to this opportunity.
If, I can have the peace of mind and accept this offer.
If, I know that I will be able to stay in this country permanently.
If only I got my lucky break, finally.
*This is an evolving story, please see the second part Help is on the way from here for the updates.