Saturday, October 3, 2009

Another Quick Immigration Update

A few updates since my massive post on Sept. 24th that I wanted to share with you, sort of in reverse order:

I “passed” my immigration medical, which is to say I’m not in immediate danger of keeling over dead, I can see and hear reasonably well, I still have most of my marbles and I do not nor ever have suffered from either tuberculosis or renal failure (those subjects came up a lot in the discussions, Canada is really looking out for that stuff!).

Some basic bloodwork was done, as was a chest X-Ray (see what I mean about the TB thing?). I won’t get the results of the blood sample for a while, but I was able to see my chest x-ray and both I and the technician agreed there was nothing too out of the ordinary there, and I don't expect my basic blood test to be abnormal either. I imagine they're looking for things like HIV, but I had such a test before I got married and it came up clean. I also had to pee in a cup, which I kind of expected. They always make you do that, and they never tell you why.

Because I’m overweight (hey, I’m a sedentary computer nerd and writer, it kind of goes with that career choice), the doctor who administered the physical (very nice fellow!) advised some additional bloodwork be done (cholesterol, lipids, triglycerides et al, which I’ve traditionally not had much problem with), to forestall any delays due to questions from Immigration Canada. So I’ll be doing that on Monday. Those results will be cc'd to both my regular doctor as well as the immigration physician, who files the report to IC.

(I normally do not discuss my health this candidly, but I hope my description of what’s going on will help others who are considering immigrating here or elsewhere.)

Momentary side rant: next time you go to your own doctor, ask them how much they’d charge you for a blood workup, a chest x-ray and a complete physical if your insurance didn’t pay for it. My guess is that the answer would be a hell of a lot more than the $330 I paid. More ranting about our respective healthcare systems another time.

Now that the medical’s all but done, all that’s left for me to do for a while is file the receipts of these exams with the attorney (that’s the required proof that I did them), have him officially file the paperwork, and then ... well, pretty much just wait to hear back. I can start hunting around for work within a very limited scope (more about that in the longer post), but I don’t expect the situation to change much for the rest of this year.

On another front, some excellent news to report: thanks to a very kind and informative Immigration Canada officer, my visa has been extended an entire whole ’nother year. Just amazing kindness (along with a bunch of hopefully useful new data!) that has really helped us feel better going forward ... my visa (which has been renewed twice already) was set to expire on October 15th, which meant I would have had to leave Canada (though I would most likely have been let back in for another three-to-six months after a 72-hour away period, but there was no guarantee of that).

We decided to test our luck by taking a very short day trip to nearby Port Angeles to retrieve some stuff from our US mailbox. Having my wife with me was likely to help our chances of me being let back in/have my visa extended, and we also used another trick I’ve found terribly helpful: hang back and be the last person in line when re-entering. That way if they do have issues/questions etc., there’s not some artificial rush because others are waiting. Since we were last in line, I piped up and asked about our chances of getting my visa extended. After some discussion about where we were in the process (and some mysterious computer checking), he was kind enough to not just extend the visa, but to give me an entirely new one. The “visa” is an official-looking bit of paper stapled to the middle of your passport, for those who’ve never needed one. It specifically bars me from working or becoming a student here (because students have entirely different rules under which they can be here).

Since it is entirely possible that I can achieve “landed immigrant” (i.e. permanent resident) status before that year is up, this is an important achievement and I’m really pleased we got such a generous and well-informed officer to assist us. He gave us some additional info on things we didn’t previously know that I’m keen to discuss with our attorney, but I want to be circumspect on those matters until we see how it pans out. Overall, we have much more confidence about the future with that weight off our shoulders.

More on this story as it develops, as they say ...