One of the reasons I’ve had immigration themes on my mind lately is the profusion of blogs I’ve been reading lately written by Brazilian immigrants (mostly to Canada but a couple to Spain, France or the US).
The blogs written by Brazilians going to Canada are the most fascinating from an academic point of view. The fact that Canada is a country open to immigration doesn’t mean that the process is as easy as hopping on a plane. The main avenue of entry into Canada is as a skilled immigrant and to qualify as such, the prospective immigrant needs to have a minimum amount of schooling (usually university level), work experience, a certain proficiency in English or French, and enough money to support him for the first few months in the new country. For Brazilians the whole process can take around 16 months. So it’s not easy. It requires a lot of investment in time, planning, energy, resources, etc. All of this planning and organization reflects on the blogs written by those imbued by a Canadian dream.
Most of them start writing their blogs the moment they make the final choice, after much soul-searching, to initiate the process. They are usually couples in their thirties or young families looking for a better quality of life. Most have good jobs and good careers in Brazil but are sick of living a life of fear, locked behind tall fences and electric wires. So career and jobs are not the main motivators, but rather the search for a place where they can be assured of safety, respect and a more organized life.
There are usually three phases in this process of immigration.
1. The prospective immigrants (usually a husband and wife) file the application at the Canadian consulate. While they wait – they know it will take some months before they hear back – they research continuously about life in Canada and what to expect. They join support networks of other Brazilians who have gone to Canada, they read Canadian news and listen to CBC Radio. They also start saving as much money as possible and brushing up on their language skills. They try to pick a city. Most have never been to Canada and choosing between Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, etc without ever setting foot in the country can be quite daunting.
2. Visa arrives, move to Canada. The most fun parts to read are the last posts in Brazil and the first few in Canada. The going away parties with family and friends, the difficulty in trying to fit one’s whole life in two 32 kg suitcases, the excitement and the tears. The flight to Toronto – for some, the first international flight – the arrival, going through immigration, the dreamed-off “Welcome to Canada” greeting by the immigration official when he stamps one’s visa.
3. Settling. The first few months. Getting all the pertinent documents, finding a place to live, opening accounts, registering at special programs offered by the government to integrate immigrants into the workforce. From the blogs I’ve read it seems that people in more technical professions such as ITs, engineers, system analysts, programmers seem to find work within the first 2-3 months in their area. That seems to be particularly the case in Toronto. Others from professions in the humanities and social sciences take a bit longer and often need to work for a few months in a co-op (non-remunerated work) to get Canadian experience in their area of work.
It’s fun to follow their first impressions and their positive attitude. Most give updates every few months evaluating their progress and their decision to immigrate. I notice very few disappointments. I think this is mostly because of the extensive research they do before immigrating and their general open-mindness about the whole process. It makes me wish I knew about blogs way back when I immigrated to Canada so I could have documented my process…
Some of my favourites are:
….and many others…