Time for a formal announcement, if you don't already know: We're leaving France in late June 2021 to move back to Canada, and will be heading to Vancouver.
I'm very excited about this move - I've missed living near the ocean, I've really missed living in an English-speaking city, and I'm eager to try something new while returning to a country I already know and love.
Also - for all the happy posts and photos of our adventures, it's been a very difficult and never-ending fight with immigration authorities for the past five years, and something I'm very eager to put an end to.
As always, immigration issues have propelled this moving decision. I know some of you think the reason I've had such immigration/visa problems is because I keep flitting around, but the reverse is true - I keep moving because visa/residence pathways have been blocked.
Every - Single - Move I have made since 2013 has been intended to be "the final move," where my immigration would be finalised and I could live in that locale forever. It didn't happen.
In 2013, I moved to Halifax, and met the crazy Ontarian French Canadian who somehow convinced me to go camping with him in deserted northern Nova Scotia 2 months after meeting. His work transfer to Montreal meant I had 2 choices: stay in Halifax with a somewhat secure immigration procedure and possibly lose him, or roll the dice with immigration and marry my love. I chose the second option.
Quebec, though, was a nightmare. I had no working visa, no right to live in the country, and the only feasible way to get a visa was to stop working freelance for AT LEAST 2 years while I tried my luck with immigration. This was unappealing because A: I still wasn't 100% convinced the guy I married wasn't a serial killer and I wanted to protect myself (he turned out to be awesome, btw. Well done, me), and B. I knew of Quebec's long history of "clearing its immigration backlog" by canceling all immigration applications every 2 years or so and making people start over from scratch. So I pushed for us to go to the UK.
The UK seemed like a GREAT idea - we both had working visas, I was convinced we could turn those into long-term residence visas, and Britain is beautiful. The last thing I expected was for (some of) the fuckers to vote for Brexit the month after we arrived. In the months following that, it became crystal clear that the Home Office (in charge of immigration) was not going to allow us to get long-term visas, and it increasingly became a source of stress as its 'hostile environment' meant that working visa-holders were really not at all protected from canceled visas or worse. It was nerve-wracking, and with a new baby, we needed a better option.
Enter France - we said, "after this, we're never moving again". We were so ecstatic to receive our visas - so ecstatic, and so eager to move, that we didn't fully understand that they had done something highly irregular - they gave Matt a full working visa, and me a "visitor" visa, which does NOT give me the right to work. Every bureaucrat we saw, in countless departments in the years since, said they had never seen anything like it, and that a mistake had been made. We tried to get it fixed - they rejected my request twice. The only path to normalising my visa was for Matt to get citizenship (which would take at least 5 years and another 2 for me to get working rights). Or, for me to leave France and my family and reapply from outside the country (not an option). Desperate, heartbroken, and furious, I realised that France was not a long-term option. And that's when I began the application for Canadian permanent residency, in February 2020.
Please understand that each of these moves - Quebec to the UK, the UK to France, and the upcoming France to BC - has been absolutely heartbreaking for all of us. It's a difficult thing to make inroads in local communities, make local acquaintances, and get used to a way of life, only for the ugly mess of visas to make a move necessary. This part of the process is not something that we've enjoyed.
But with any luck, by August my immigration woes will be over and I will have permanent residency in Canada.
**Support refugees and immigrants. You have no idea how difficult the whole process is, in every single country. It's a nightmare. We were the lucky ones - if we needed to, we could just return home. For too many people, that's not an option.**