Quote EndQuote Cross-Cultural Strategy

Becoming a Canadian

Posted by Tina | 06.30.13

For people born in Canada, they can instantly claim Canadian citizenship. For others like me, who have chosen Canada to be their new home country, it’s more complicated. This is my path to becoming a Canadian. After 7 years living in Canada, I’m still waiting to get my Canadian Permanent Resident (PR) status.

To stay in Canada after post-secondary studies, international students need to apply for a Post-Graduate Work Permit to be legally work in Canada. I didn’t apply for mine after I graduated from my undergraduate study. The reason is that one is given only one chance to get a Post-Graduate Work Permit. If I wasn’t able to get a job, which is critical in helping me get my PR status, I would have to leave Canada.

Also due to other considerations (a lot of considerations!) about my career path, I decided to get a master’s degree. After graduating, I applied and acquired my Post-Graduate Work Permit.

I’m lucky to be hired by QEQ right after graduation, although QEQ is not eligible for sponsoring me to become a PR through the Provincial Nominees Program (PNP). Going through the PNP is a very assuring way to get PR status since it does not have so many requirements on the applicants themselves, such as language requirement. I was only able to go through the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) which has the following requirements on the applicant:

    • 12 months of full-time Canadian skilled work experience (NOC Skilled type O, A or B)
    • meet the required language levels needed for your job for each language ability (speaking, reading, writing, and listening)

I started to get my documents ready for the CEC requirement after a year working at QEQ. In the process, I had to:

  • take the International English Language Test System (IELTS) English test
  • get my mom to mail me my birth certificate and a criminal record check from China
  • have Alisa to write me a reference letter
  • fill out a bunch of forms, including one that lists all addresses that I’ve lived at since age of 19, and one that lists all countries I’ve travelled to since age of 19, both with all the dates!

The major costs were the IELTS test and the application fee, each costing $295 and $550 respectively. I will also need to pay for a medical exam plus pay maybe another $500 once the application is processed and the immigration officer would kindly decide to grant me the status. Yes, maybe another $500, as I remember having seen it somewhere on the internet but it’s not clearly shown on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada‘s website.

The processing time for people applying for the CEC program is currently projected at 13 months. We’ll see if my application would be accepted or not next year. Fingers crossed!

After that? If I still decide to become a Canadian citizen — at the cost of losing my Chinese citizenship (China doesn’t allow duo-citizenship) — I’d need to live in Canada for 3 years out of the next 5 years, and then be eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship. Who knows how long the processing time would be…

It is definitely a long journey for an international student to become a Canadian. Hopefully with Minister Jason Kenney recently announcing increased quotas for the CEC program, this journey will be easier for  future eligible applicants.


In the end, if all goes well, it will be worth it to become a Canadian. I’ve made so many friends here and want to continue to enjoy everything that Canada has to offer. I also want to continue to give back to the harmonious, multicultural country that Canada is.  To all my Canadian and not-yet-Canadian friends, HAPPY CANADA DAY!

— by Tina Sun, Marketing Coordinator, Quote EndQuote Cross-Cultural Strategy, who immigrated from Beijing