I know after reading that lengthy blog about Settling as an International Student, you all must be overwhelmed with the information. But at the same time, you must be wondering how does everything differ for an Immigrant to Canada. Yes there is a difference between the process and things for people in both the categories and it may vary from person to person.
But having said that, I will try to touch on each small point that anyone might be thinking about.
Note: I am not a lawyer or an Immigration consultant and neither do I provide any official advise around any of the government rules and regulations. All the words down are jotted based on my personal experience in Canada and I do not promote use of any organization or product through my work on this website.
A immigrant coming to Canada is no less prone to initial settlement issues than anyone else. The only difference between an immigrant and an international student or a foreign worker is that the immigrant need not worry about the status expiration. Moreover an immigrant gets better deals for some of the services offered here. The major things that permanent residents might suffer from can be accommodation, phone connection, bank account, commuting facilities, social circle search, appropriate winter clothing, part time jobs, kids day care, child benefits and many more.
I came to Winnipeg as an international student and got my permanent residence status while I was studying through a different immigration program the government had at that time. So fortunately, I have been through the issues for international student as well as an Immigrant and hence I can speak on both types of initial settlement. Moreover, during my last couple of years, I have come across many people through my website and my friend circle and from their questions and experiences I have learned more; enough to write this blog today.
1. SIN Number: Being an Immigrant, your SIN number will be a normal one and you can go and it from Service Canada. SIN is Social Insurance Number and this number is important to get if you plan to work in Canada. For more details on what SIN is, please visit Service Canada Website. You just have to take your passport and your landing paper to Service Canada.
2. Health Card: All Immigrants, citizens and international students are eligible to get a Health Card (please check their website for any exceptions). Health card is needed to get your health record established in Canada and get free check ups. These are provincial health cards and you should check their website for any exceptions to what is not covered. You just need your landing paper, passport and your Permanent Resident (if at all you already got that) for the Health Card.
3. Bus Pass: Commuting in Canada can be quite expensive as compared to what you make in your income. To beat that, a monthly bus pass is the best solution. If you are living in Toronto or any such major city, check other options like Subway, Go bus and street cars as well. A transit bus pass gives you the flexibility to travel 24*7 on any route given the bus service is available. Hurray... now you have the bus pass and you will not have to spend a lot of money on your bus tickets.
4. Bank Account: Canada welcomes newcomers and that is why they have amazing packages for banking accounts and credit card. Getting a bank account and a credit card are most important things in Canada and this will help you build your credit. The major banks in Canada are RBC, BMO, CIBC, TD and Scotiabank. There are Credit Unions as well but with my personal experience the banks give you the flexibility of banking anywhere with more options. So once you are here, book an appointment with any of the banks and get this initial things done. Once you have your bank account, you can get your mobile phone connection or cable connection for home.
5. Telephone (Mobile) Connection: There are many different cell phone network providers in Canada. The connections here might seem expensive but across different companies, they come to almost a same price. The two different ways to get a connection is just a network sim card and bring your own phone or buy a phone with the sim connection on contract. Buying a phone with sim gets you into a contract and you can't break the contract unless you pay the phone cost. For more information, please visit the respective websites of the telephone service providers. The major companies are Fido, Rogers, Bell, Virgin, Telus and Koodo. All these are national service providers. You will need your permit, your passport and your banking information (credit card if possible) to get a connection. Some companies will not provide connection without a credit card, but that also depends which outlet you go to.
6. Social Circle Search: Canada is a multicultural country and it promotes more and different people to come and settle here. With such diversity, it becomes difficult to find people of your country of origin. Though my personal suggestion is to try and become a universal citizen and meet people from different races and countries. You will find many people who will be more than happy to accept you as a new member in the group and will be friends with you. To find people from your own community, you can search Facebook groups and get contacts from there. Try and look for areas in the city with people of communities that you want to live with. There are many areas that are specific to few communities.
7. Winter Clothing: Transitioning from positive 25 degree Celsius and above temperature to negative 25 degree Celsius and below can be a nightmare for most of the people coming to Canada. Moreover, this can be little expensive as well. Canada is known for its harsh winters but that does not mean people die at every 100 meter. Lol.
There are proper facilities and resources to save us from this cold weather. All the indoor places are heated, the major bus stops are also heated, even buses are heated and for us we have proper clothing designed and readily available in market to beat this winter. The winter clothing includes winter jackets, winter boots, toques, gloves and inner thermal wears. You need not bring so many warm clothes from your home country if you are not landing in winter. The winter clothes from your country will probably be a joke for Canada's winter. All the winter gears are equally important and you should buy these once you are here. Buying these will not be an expense, but will be an investment for you for future years. The jackets can range roughly from $150 to $700 depending on the brand. Even though most of those jackets will be good for -40 degrees Celsius, people do buy good brands as per their budget. Few of the major stores your can get nice winter wear stuff from are Sears, Hudson's Bay and Walmart. There are other stores as well but they can be little bit pricey.
8. Part Time Jobs: Now this is one of the most frequently asked questions and I have decided I will answer this question in a separate blog that I have planned specifically for job search. Please check the website for more information on this.
9. Accommodation: Everyone thinks its super easy to finalize a place to live before even landing to Canada, but its actually not. Unless you know someone, no one will finalize a place for you because the landlord will demand for a deposit amount to hold the place for you. On top of that what if you don't like the place? Or you found a friend before reaching here and you two decide to live somewhere else? Or you actually found a better place after finalizing the first one?
There are so many ifs and buts, and that is why the answer is that its better to finalize the place once you have landed. Be ready to stay in a hotel for a couple of days and then go and find a place; best and more reliable method.
The two options of renting are a house and an apartment (or a condominium). The houses will not really need a strict lease and you can leave the place after a couple of moths if you want to by just giving a notice period as mutually agreed between you two, before leaving to get your deposit money back. The apartments are handled by the realty companies and they get a year lease signed with you that cannot be broken. Most importantly, renting an apartment is not easy as the realty companies want a credit history for the customers renting in Canada. The best choice for a new comer student is to get into a house setup or if really need to go to an apartment, then either find a co-signor to sign the lease or find the rare of rarest realty companies that do not ask for anything and just lease the apartments. The house rental for a room can be from $300 to $550 a month including or not including the utilities. The apartments can be leased from $650 to $1600 per month depending on the apartment and number of rooms and the locality and facilities there.
9. Government Initial Settlement help: All the provincial governments have initial settlement resources for new immigrants. Unfortunately only the permanent residents can use these free services and not international students. The resources include communication classes, employment help, etc. For Manitoba, Manitoba Start is the agency that offers these services. (Please check their website for more information)
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Image 1: https://blog.hoganchev.com/2015/05/15/welcome-to-canada-bonus-need-to-know/
An activist advocating many social and student welfare causes, currently living in Winnipeg. Basically from India, I believe in being a universal citizen.
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