An airplane flies over McArthurGlen Designer Outlet in Richmond, B.C. (Nicholas Pescod/News Bulletin)

COLUMN: Going through family sponsorship has been an adventure

More than 333,000 people applied for Canadian permanent residency last year

It’s amazing what love will do to people.

Now normally, I wouldn’t write about something personal, after all, that’s what social media is for these days. But, there are exceptions and this is one of them.

In a few days, my beautiful wife will walk off an airplane into Vancouver International Airport and barring some misunderstanding, she will walk out as a permanent resident of Canada.

For the past seven months, my wife and I have gone through the process of family sponsorship. For the entire length of our relationship, we’ve been long distance.

It’s never been an ideal situation, but we’ve always made it work thanks to the wonders of modern technology. I mean, how often do you hear a relationship expert say to someone that what they need is a long-distance relationship? Not very often, and for good reason.

I met my wife in 2015 while on vacation in the Philippines. It wasn’t planned, it just happened that us two 20-somethings fell in love. All because I decided that the Philippines, a country 15 hours away by air, would be a nice place to take a short holiday. I’ve logged nearly 140,000 kilometres in air travel since then, with trips to Thailand, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore.

Long story short, we got married last June. A couple of months later, we applied for her to immigrate to Canada.

The government offers plenty of ways for people to immigrate to Canada. One of those ways is through family sponsorship, which allows individuals to sponsor their significant other, grandparents, adopted or dependent children.

Those who apply for family sponsorship are divided into two groups: the sponsoring applicant and the principal applicant seeking permanent residency. Applicants are also required to decide whether they want to to apply as either inland (both applicants live in Canada) or outland (the person seeking permanent residency lives outside of Canada).

In simple terms, inland generally means that both the principal applicant and the sponsoring applicant are living within Canada and will continue to do so during the length of the application, which is usually processed within Canada. When the sponsoring applicant is living in Canada but the principal applicant is living abroad and is expected to remain abroad throughout the entire process of the application, they are generally expected to apply as outland.

For those who have been married for less than two years, the government requires applicants to not only provide evidence of marriage, such as marriage licences, but also proof that the relationship is legitimate through photographs, e-mails, social media and other online communication. It’s a rigorous and time-consuming process, as it should be.

My wife and I applied under the outland stream, meaning I resided here in Nanaimo while my wife remained in the Philippines. As we went through the process, we met and communicated with countless other individuals who had gone through or were experiencing what we were experiencing.

In fact, 333,773 people from all over the world applied for Canadian permanent residency in 2017 with the top three source countries being India (74,650), China (31,201) and the Philippines (28,764), according to the federal government.

After nearly nine months of waiting and wondering, her application was approved. During that time the immigration officers communicated with us through e-mail, requesting specific documents and that sort of thing, but it wasn’t very often. Most of the time, we would go months without contact from them. It was hard because it felt like a lifetime of waiting, but when we look back, it really wasn’t that long.

Going through family sponsorship is an adventure I won’t forget, the first of many adventures that will now begin right here in Nanaimo.

I can’t wait.

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