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Why I Chose to Immigrate to Canada: A Professional's Journey

10 min. readbyTony ZhuonOctober 26, 2020
Marketing professional Tony Zhu shares his story of immigration to Canada from China, with some advice on what worked for him and his family.

It was Wednesday, June 24 at 7:46 in the morning when my phone screen lit up. It was a push notification from an app called Seesaw Class with a message from Cindy Westra that said, "Good morning! Here is the plan for today."

My son, daughter, and I are a family of three, from Shanghai currently living in Manitoba, Canada. Manitoba is located in central Canada and it's one of the provinces that has the most hours of sunshine each summer. It happens to be at the midpoint across Canada so it’s also known as the "Heart of Canada".

This is our third year in Canada. For me, choosing Canada is to choose a life with fresh air, safe food, and most importantly, excellent education and freedom-based values.

My son and daughter are in first grade and kindergarten respectively, both at École St. Avila, a French immersion school. The previous push notification was the homework plan sent by my son’s teacher.

During the years my kids have been here, they have learned to ride bicycles, swim, and play ice hockey. They’ve made a lot of friends and they happily drew the Canadian flag together on Canada Day. They’ve started to love this country.

I am very pleased to see them growing up happy and healthy in Manitoba. This was one of the most important reasons for me to move here.

Determine Your Stream Before You Start

As a single father, my immigration journey was not easy. This thought arose when I was going to have my first kid in 2014, and then it got stronger when my daughter was born in 2015.

In order to give them a better environment to grow up in, I was aiming to immigrate to Canada in 5 years, just before they started elementary school. I started to look into coming to Canada. After months of research, Manitoba seemed like the ideal option. Compared to other provinces, Manitoba’s nomination program policy has been the most stable over the past few years.

There were three streams that were potential options:

  • Skilled Worker Overseas Stream

  • Business Investor Stream

  • International Student Stream

Skilled Worker Overseas stream

The Skilled Worker Overseas stream required that I apply from outside Canada and have a strong connection with Manitoba. As my research continued, I learned that the points assessment has strict definition in regards to the connection. This stream seemed unlikely for someone like myself who didn’t have previous employment or study history in Canada.

Business Investor Stream

The Business Investor Stream required 3 to 5 years of experience in a management role. I was eligible in that regard, but it also required a $250,000 minimum investment to start a business. Even though the amount wasn’t high, I didn’t have the confidence to start a new business right out of the gate without being familiar with the business environment.

International Student Stream

The third option was the International Student Stream. If I chose this stream, I would take one year of study in Manitoba. This would definitely benefit my future career, and it would also be a great opportunity to learn the local customs and workplace culture. Plus, it allowed me to bring my kids here together, so they could start their education in Canada as soon as my studies began.

According to the policy, when I completed my first year of studies, I had to find a job which was consistent with my major and on the In-Demand Occupation list. With seven years of marketing experience, I was so glad to see that marketing was on that list! It was also not overly difficult to meet the requirements of language proficiency of CLB7 and settlement fund of LICO.

When my decision was final, I started to prepare for IELTS in 2017. In 2018, I applied to study at the University of Manitoba and landed my first job in marketing not too long after graduation. It wasn’t easy to go back to school being in my 40s, not to mention, I have two kids living with me. Fortunately, I got through it.

I received the provincial nomination in the beginning of this year, and in total, the whole process took 20 months. It was a wonderful learning experience and reiterated that all efforts have their returns.

Authenticity is Key

I would say that the most important thing in the immigration process is the authenticity of your purpose and your background, which should be clearly reflected in your materials.

One of the materials required for MPNP (Manitoba Provincial Nomination Program) is your past work experience. Usually, many people provide an employment certificate from the previous employer on company letterhead. Unfortunately, the authenticity of these documents can be doubted by the immigration officer.

Canada is an honest country and will not judge you because of your past. No matter what occupations you’ve had in the past, it won’t affect your application. However, if you try to falsify the materials, or have any elements that seem to conceal your history, regardless of your original purpose, it will definitely cause big trouble in your application process.

To make my application as strong as possible, when I prepared all of my previous work certificates, instead of a single piece, I prepared three documents to support each previous position:

  1. Certificate issued by my previous employer: This document verified my job responsibilities, working hours, and employment income from the employer’s perspective.

  2. Bank statements during that period: This proved that my banking records were consistent with the statement from my employer from a financial perspective.

  3. Tax statement from the National Tax Bureau: The National Tax Bureau holds a similar role to Canada Revenue Agency in Canada. My tax statement verified that my personal income tax was consistent with other two documents from an official perspective.

A single document is likely to be questioned, but with these three official documents included, it fully verified my employment during this period. Cross-referencing your history is always a more effective way to prove your authenticity.

Permanent Resident or Citizen?

By taking all of these steps, I was approved with Permanent Residency in Canada in twelve months. The next question I may face is whether or not to become a citizen.

Naturalization is a painful choice for many people, because naturalization can mean giving up your own country and embracing another. However, when I saw a slogan on the billboard on Pembina Highway one day, I was relieved. I felt that I already had the answer in my heart.

The slogan said, "Home is where the heart is."

Yes, for many new immigrants, they are indeed leaving their homes. But as long as our hearts are peaceful, is it important where you live? I believe that the most important thing is whether you have found a sense of belonging.

Having a Canadian passport means that I will become a citizen of this country and have the right to vote. It is exactly what I couldn't get in China and came to Canada to pursue.

On top of that, I wanted to bring my kids to Canada to experience a country of multicultural integration. I enrolled them in French Immersion School hoping that they can learn Mandarin, English, and French from a young age. I don't think too much about how much "knowledge" needs to be learned in elementary school. Instead, I believe that mastering multiple languages ​​will help shape their mindset and their personalities.

In addition to their Canadian Passport, language is the real passport that truly empowers them in navigating the world.

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