Sunday, July 16, 2006

Permanent Resident

Friday, I became a permanent resident of Canada.

But what exactly does that mean. I am not a Canadian citizen....yet. As my wife keeps telling me, I will undergo a blood-maple syrup transfusion when that happens.

During my first three years here in Montreal, I was on a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) professional exchange temporary work permit. Under that visa I was betrothed to work at the place that originally offered me employment and I could not take any educational courses. I was required to obtain a Quebec drivers license along with a social insurance card and a health care (Regie de l'assurance maladie) card. I paid taxes and received benefits like paternal leave just like everyone else. One very important difference was that we had a very difficult time obtaining a mortgage because of my "temporary" status.

In June I obtained an open work permit since my permanent residence application had been accepted in principal. That meant I could work at any place of employment if I so chose. Otherwise, not much had changed. Currently I have no grave reason to change jobs.

So what is different about being a permanent resident. My social insurance number will change so everyone will know that I am not temporary. We should be able to get a better mortgage. And I don't have to keep reapplying for temporary work permits every year. Oh yeah, and I think I have a right to a Canadian pension now. The only way I could lose the permanent residence status is if I am both living outside of Canada and not with a Canadian citizen for three years time out of five.

Citizenship would offer two things as far as I can tell. First I would be able to vote and second I would have a Canadian passeport. Of course I would also be able to call Canadians my brethern and it would be interesting to have that maple syrup running through my veins.

As for citizenship, I'm still not quite willing to give up my US citizenship. I liken it to saying you are disowning your family and joining another. The other family may have similar characteristics and viewpoints, but you grew up with your family and you share the same genetics. So really I'd have to share families. I would become a Canadian citizen if I don't have to renounce my US citizenship. I need to get an clear answer whether both countries accept dual citizenship. So far I have heard both sides. I have two to three years to find out and decide.


Anonymous said...

My wife, her father and all her brothers and sisters have both a Canadian and a US passport (and citizenship).

So unless they all are doing something illegal you don't have to worry.

I myself will start my quest for dual citizenship (Dutch and Canadian) in September, when I'm 3 years a permanent resident. Apart from voting rights and the maple sirup thing, becoming Canadian saves me time and money at the US border, where they now treat me like a terrorist, complete with fingerprinting and mugshots.

Blork said...

Congratulations! Buy yourself a double-double!

Anonymous said...

How about dont ask dont tell. I know a lot of Americans with dual Israeli-American citizenship and it doesn't seem to hang them up. Depending upon where you are going, that's the passport you show at the border.

Anonymous said...

In the worst case scenario, you can remain a permanent resident for the rest of your life. I understand you are a second class citizen, because of the passport and vote issue. Which can be felt as an hassle.

Regarding the 3/5 yr living in Canada, I think there is some play in the rule, especially if you lived here long enough (and have a family here). Once you are issued a '2' NAS, immigration agents have some play.

But as other suggested, investigate first.

Zeke's, the Montreal Art Gallery said...


The only way you lose your US passport is if you renounce it. Becoming a Canadian citizen does not cause or require you to renounce it. My mom is dual. They changed things in 1986, that made it much easier to be dual.

Read this if you want the complete nitty gritty.

Unknown said...

Wow! Thanks everyone. I talked with my immigration lawyer today and they found out that since I was born in the US, that the US cannot renounce my citizenship if I chose to obtain Canadian citizenship. Also, the waiting period is three years to become a citizen and since I am a permanent resident I get to count one year that I am here already. So I could apply in July 2008 if I wanted to.

I guess one reason that I have stubbornly been thinking dual citizenship is not condoned by the US is because that is what they had told my wife. If she chose to apply for US citizenship, she would have to renounce her Canadian citizenship. Maybe it's different for those applying for US citizenship. I'll have to revisit the issue. That way everyone in the family could carry two passports and whip out one or the other depending on if we're heading north or south.

Anonymous said...

It all makes sense now, as I also heard both.
I guess there is one more difference between permanent resident and Canadian citizen, thanks to Steve 'Moron' Harper.

Canadian permanent residents (on holidays in Lebanon) won't be evacuated.
(I could not find it in English yet)

Just brilliant!

Anonymous said...

It's cute that you spelled passport as "passeport" at least once in that entry. French xenophobes can't say that YOU aren't trying.

Unknown said...

Raoul and Jonas, for both points I'd say that even though I have this new status, I still feel I am a visitor.

So in the case of Lebanon. If I was stuck there, I'd expect my country of citizenship (US) to bail me out if at all. Even in that case I would really only EXPECT help and evacuation if I was there working for the government. I'd appreciate the help, but not expect it.

As for the language thing, since I'm new to the scene I have always felt I was visiting a French speaking place. So it is up to me to learn the language and not the other way around. I really should be progressing faster especially because I need to for work. I really need work on correct grammer and verb tenses. I really should start writing those French posts.