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  1. Part 1 - Getting everything ready! WES, PCC, IELTS Our journey started in May 2020 during lockdown. Myself (28) my wife (28) and my son (1) made our decision to make a move, at first, we decided on Australia, but due to the difficulty in applying and cost, it never sat completely well with us. We just kept on reading and talking without actually doing anything. But through our research, especially in regards to my wife’s occupation, we came across possible opportunities for her in Canada. We started reading and watching as much as we could, and something about Canada just sat well with us. The process cost was a lot cheaper than Australia, and the process simpler. So, in just two weeks of starting we decided to start our process by ourselves. The following steps are as thorough as possible to help others in the future. We decided that we would pay extra wherever we could to make things move along, for example, DocAssist etc. in order to reduce stress somewhat and perhaps make things as quick as possible. I will add in the steps as we go along. I hope you enjoy! Police Clearance Certificate (PCC) - 2 Adults We decided to start with his step due to possible delays in getting them granted, and rather get them out the way first thing. I contacted PostNet Pretoria in regards to their assistance, and they sent an email with all the steps and costs in this regard. This is how our process went: Printed out form SAPS 91(a) and went to Durban North Police Station bright and early at 8 when the lady started work, paid our R300 (R150 per applicant) to the cashier and received a receipt, took our fingerprints on the form and took back both the completed set of prints and receipts. In and out in 30 min. Printed out the Application for Police Clearance Certificate and filled out all info. Made certified copies of both ID’s, and marriage certificate and scanned all above documents. Dropped off the following at PostNet for courier to Pretoria PostNet, Cost R113: • Original form 91(a) • Application: Police Clearance Certificate • Certified ID’s and Marriage Certificate • Receipt of Payment for PCC Timeline: 1/07/2020 - Did fingerprints and couriered to Pretoria 20/07/2020 – Email to say our certificates are ready to be sent back. 28/07/2020 – Collected from PostNet Total Cost: R1 213 Application - R300 Courier to Pretoria - R113 PostNet Pretoria Fees - R800 IELTS: 2 July 2020: We were both really nervous for the English tests, due to the extreme difference in possible points if it goes bad, plus the cost of R4 429 per test. But this was the first real step in making this all come true. So, I hopped on to the IELTS website and booked my wife’s test for the following month (8 August) and made payment. I then went to book a test for myself, but there were no more dates available for August. Now I generally like to get things done as quick as possible, so my first instinct was to book in JHB and catch a flight for the day for early August, but my wife convinced me to rather book in September in Durban, and save a possible flight if one of us needs to redo the test at short notice (smart lady I married). In the end both tests booked: • Wife: 08 August 2020 (Cancelled Due to Covid) • Myself: 12 September 2020 Little did I know how frustrating IELTS would become, 1 week before my wifes exam, the dreaded email arrives, cancelling her exam until a still to be announced future date. At this point you become frustrated, because form here on out, every week lost is another week added to the process, and the question of draws and points and limits start to play on your mind. The communication from the British Council was poor at best. No updates, the same generic answers to your queries, you feel like you are left in a void, just waiting for them to grace you with their decisions. 2 days before my exam, I receive an email to rebook my exam. At literal lightning pace, I follow the link and am relieved to find a new date in Durban the following week, so I was able to rebook for both my wife and myself for the 17th September, and at the end of the day only 5 days lost through the whole ordeal, not bad in hindsight. Total Cost: R8 858 2 x Tests - R4 429 each. Results: Reading Listening Writing Speaking Overall Wife 8.0 9.0 8.0 8.5 8.5 Myself 8.0 8.5 7.5 9.0 8.5 As you can see from above, unfortunately there is now clear proof that my wife listens better than I do, and that I speak too much. However, we were both ecstatic with our results, knowing that we now had guaranteed our points were going to be enough for the next draws. We received our provisional results on our IELTS profile on the 9th October, but had to wait until the 19thbefore we got our couriered results. You have to wait to get the TRF as you need the certificate number and date of results on the certificate in order to submit your EE application. WES Assessment: Next on our list was applying for our ECA through WES. We decided to get both my wife’s education assessed as well as mine in order to get maximum points. Wife’s Assessment: • Bachelor of Arts (UNISA) The easiest way of getting the official stamped transcripts from UNISA was to go to our local UNISA office, for us that is Bram Fischer Road in Durban. They would put them in a sealed envelope, stamp and sign the seal and I would then send them to WES. However, due to lockdown, no UNISA offices in Durban were open, so we had to do it the hard way. I managed to track down an email address for someone at UNISA who knew about WES and their requirements etc. and WES had instituted a process whereby they were accepting digital documents, as long as they came from the University directly. He was immensely helpful, replied to my initial query at 7AM with exactly what we needed to send to him, which consisted of: • Completed WES form (WES Provides) • Copy of Degree Certificate Received an email back at 7PM Friday Night letting us know that our documents had been sent to WES. Timeline – Enquiry 7am 10 July Documents sent 7pm 10 July WES Confirmed receipt and acceptance 14 July. Completed Evaluation – 21 July If I hadn’t found this gents email, we would still be floundering around with UNISA until their offices reopened. • Bachelor of Social Science Honours (Psychology) (UKZN) • Master of Social Science (Health Promotions) (UKZN) UKZN tended to be more difficult, due to their alumni offices being closed due to lockdown. However, we tried our luck and sent off an email with the WES forms attached and hoped for the best. 2 days later we received an email back from UKZN informing us they had digitally sent off the transcripts. My Assessment: • Bachelor of Law (UNISA) See above, followed the same process as my wife’s application. Cost: UKZN Transcripts x 2 - R140 UNISA Transcripts x 2 - Free Courier to WES – No cost, all digitally sent. ECA Assessment WES x2 - R2 976,44 each (230 CAD) = R5 952,88 Total Cost – R6 092,88 Total Cost: R16 163,88
  2. Hi all, I haven't seen much information yet with regards to South Africans applying for Permanent Residency (PR) via the Express Entry program from inside South Africa. This post is intended to share my experiences from before the application to the permanent residency being granted, hopefully it will help some people. Sorry about the very, very long post. I have tried to be as detailed as possible, but I am sure I have forgotten many things along the way. If anyone has any questions I'll gladly try help. To set the context with which I was applying. I am a 26 year old male and applied as a single person via the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) category as a Mechanical Engineer. I live in Johannesburg and am a South African citizen. Preparation to enter the EE pool: Before entering the EE pool I had to get various things in place. I will describe these below. Language test: I did the IELTS English test (one can book at this link: https://ielts.britishcouncil.org/Default.aspx). For a PR application one needs to do the "General Training" version of the test. I live in Johannesburg but did the test in Pretoria as an earlier test date was available. Results take 13 days to be released, they were posted to me at my stated address. Test date - 2015/02/28 Test cost - R2 400 Education Credential Assessment (ECA): I decided to use World Education Services (WES) (see http://www.wes.org/ca) to do my degree conversion because it seemed to be the quickest and cheapest. I had to send copies of my degree certificates to WES (I did this by registered letter. If I were to do it again I would use a courier, for the sake of speed and traceability). I also had to get my university to send my academic transcripts directly to WES (WES supplies a form that you fill in and give to provide the faculty office with the relevant information). WES indicated 20 working days to perform the degree conversion, I seem to remember that it took about this length. I have a BSc and MSc in Mechanical Engineering from Wits University. These degrees were valued at an equivalent level by WES. Registered letter cost - less than R100 Transcript request and couriering - around R300 Degree conversion cost - 200 CAD Delivery fee - 7 CAD (I chose standard delivery. Courier delivery is 85 CAD) Police clearance: Although not necessary to enter the EE pool, I applied for police clearance now because it is needed for the actual application and I had heard stories of it taking a couple months to be received. I applied at a normal police station and it took about a month to receive (see http://www.saps.gov.za/services/applying_clearence_certificate.php for instructions). A police clearance certificate is required for every country, other than Canada, that one has lived in for six months or more. One thing that I came across was that some countries required more than just a police clearance certificate (Australia for example). The requirements of each country can be seen at http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/security/police-cert/index.asp Cost - less than R100 Entering the EE pool: Once I had all of the above mentioned things in place (except for the police clearance certificate) I could enter the EE pool. This all worked out pretty easily for me. I had a CRS score of 456. To create an account and enter the pool you start from here: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/e-services/mycic.asp Invitation to Apply (ITA): I received my invitation to apply on 2015/03/27, which was very exciting as the application can start moving forward from this point. The application: In order for one to submit the application one needs to get a medical done and get a police clearance certificate. I had already received my police clearance certificate as mentioned earlier (a police clearance certificate for the country you currently live must be issued within 6 months of your application). One also has to get proof of funds, proof of work experience, proof of education, digital photograph, and scans of one's ID and passports. Medical: I called a few medical physicians and the earliest appointment I was able to get was in two weeks. I can't quite remember what I needed to take to the medical but they will let you know. One can find a CIC approved physician to perform the medical at http://www.cic.gc.ca/pp-md/pp-list.aspx The physician enters all your medical results onto an online system which the CIC has access to, so I never actually saw my results. One just needs a "Proof of medical" form (or the IMM 1017B upfront medical report form) from the physician which you upload during the application. Cost - R2 051 Date of medical - 2015/04/15 Police clearance: As mentioned above. Proof of funds: One has to prove to the CIC that you have the minimum required funds (see http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/skilled/funds.asp). As far as I know, these funds have to be readily available, so can't be in the form of property or the like. I have an investor who manages my unit trusts and the like, so I got them to write a signed letter on their company letterhead indicating when they opened each of the unit trusts and accounts for me. They attached six months of statements from each of my unit trusts and accounts. I then got my bank branch (Standard Bank) to write a letter on their letterhead indicating when I opened my accounts with them. They were very helpful and willing to do so. They also attached 6 months of statements (with the branch stamp on each page) for each account. I scanned in all these documents with a cover page summarising what I had in each account, the total value in ZAR and an equivalent in CAD (although I am not sure that this is strictly necessary). I indicated the exchange rate I used and the date on which I did the calculation. I saw a case where an application was refused because the required funds were "gifted" to the applicant by his father. This showed up in his six months of bank statements. I am not 100% sure but I think one can have funds gifted to you, but you then have to prove that you are not just borrowing this money. Proof of work experience: The CIC requires proof of your current and previous work experience. This is done by means of a reference letter and pay slips (where available) from your current and previous employers . The reference letters should contain the following: Printed on the company letterhead. Company’s contact information (address, telephone number, and email address). The signature of either your immediate supervisor or personnel officer. The business card of the signing person is also required. All positions held at the company. Job title. Duties and responsibilities (make sure that these match those specified by the National Occupation Classification (NOC) (see http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/skilled/noc.asp) on your application because I saw a couple applicants get rejected because these did not match). Job status. Dates worked for the company. Number of hours worked per week. Annual salary and benefits. All the documents should be scanned into a single file (a separate file for each work experience) It proved to be a little awkward having to ask my current employer to write me a letter to help me immigrate, but I supposed it must be done. Proof of Education: Here I scanned my degree certificates and my WES results into a single PDF file. A mistake that people commonly make is that they only upload their WES results, it seems the CIC actually want your degree certificates. Digital Photo: The specifications for the digital photo are as follows: Dimensions: The final frame size of the photo must be at least 35 mm x 45 mm (1 3/8" x 1 ¾"). The photographs must show the full front view of the head, with the face in the middle of the photograph, and include the top of the shoulders. The size of the head, from chin to crown, must be between 31 mm (1 ¼") and 36 mm (1 7/16"). Digital dimensions are often expressed in pixels or DPI (dots per inch). The physical dimensions in pixels must be at least 420 x 540 Quality/Resolution: If an existing photo is being scanned, the minimum resolution must be 600 pixels per inch. File Format: The file may be submitted in JPEG or JPEG2000 format File Size: The final size of the image should be ideally 240 kB (kilobytes), but not less than 60 kB.Colour: The image must be in colour (24 bits per pixel) in sRGB colour space which is the common output for most digital cameras.National ID: I scanned in the information page of my South African ID book. Passports/Travel Documents: I scanned the information page and pages containing Visas that I had received in the past for both my current and my previous passport (I only have one previous passport). I scanned each passport into a separate PDF file and upload both of them separately (I am not sure if you have to upload your previous passports, I did just in case). Application: Many of the fields in the application are carried over from the application to the EE pool, but there is still quite a lot of information to be filled in. After all the forms have been filled in the above mentioned documents need to be uploaded. Payment: After the application is complete you can submit and arrive at the payment page. You have the option of paying the processing fee and the Right of permanent residency (RPRF) fee, or just paying the processing fee. If you pay just the processing fee you will be requested to pay the RPRF at a later stage when your application has progressed further. I selected to pay both fees now in an effort to save time. When it came to the actual payment I was using a Standard Bank credit card and the payment kept failing. I called Standard Bank and they said they could see that attempts were made to charge the card but could not tell me why it was not going through. I tried different browsers to no avail. I considered taking out a credit card with Virgin money just to make this payment, but I eventually borrowed a friend's Canadian credit card and that went through without a hitch. Processing fee – 550 CAD RPRF – 490 CAD Application submitted - 2015/04/24 Application incomplete: After my application was submitted I was going through the submitted forms and saw that the table of my family data was empty. I immediately sent an email (question@cic.gc.ca) and a case specific enquiry (https://secure.cic.gc.ca/enquiries-renseignements/canada-case-cas-eng.aspx) with this missing information to the CIC. I got no response, but am assuming they added this information to my file. The wait: The wait was the most nerve wrecking part as I had no control over the progress of my application. All I could do was sit and wait for the various statuses to change. There are two places where application updates are shown: MyCIC and on ECAS (https://services3.cic.gc.ca/ecas/?app=ecas〈=en). Below I outline the various statuses of my application. Acknowledgment of receipt (AOR) - MyCIC: The AOR is a letter that is sent to one's MyCIC account. You'll get an email indicating that there is an unread message in your MyCIC account. You then have to log in and download the message as a PDF file. I received my Acknowledgement of Receipt (AOR) letter the day after my application was submitted. Some people receive this a couple minutes after submission, others a couple days afterwards. Date of AOR - 2015/04/25 Medical Passed: My medical passed status happened about a month after I received my AOR. I can't remember the exact date. Date of medical passed - approximately 2015/05/25 A day or so after my medical passed my ECAS status changed to "Application Received" In Process - ECAS My ECAS changed to "In Process" on 2015/06/19. Background Check "In Progress" People often worry because their background check status remains at "Not Started" for a very long time. Mine only changed to "In Progress" on 2015/08/25, about two weeks before my PPR. On other forums it seemed that inland applicants (inside Canada) had their background checks start and complete relatively soon during the process. I think that outside applicants' background checks are also started early but their status' only get updated later due to the EE system being very new with some kinks that still need to be ironed out. Maybe this will be corrected in the future. Date of Background check "In Progress" - 2015/08/25 Decision Made - ECAS My ECAS changed to "Decision Made" with no indication as to the favorability of the decision. From what I have read on other forums this does not mean that the decision has actually been made but means that things are being finalised. I have however only seen one case where an applicant was rejected after their ECAS status changed to “decision made". Date of "Decision Made" on ECAS - 2015/08/27 Passport Request (PPR) As far as I have been able to understand from other forums, when one receives your PPR your application is pretty much approved and complete. All that has to happen is that the CIC needs to stick in your Visa and issue your “Confirmation of Permanent Residence” (CPR), though I tried not to get my hopes up too much before I received my Passport with Visa and CPR. Some people have received their PPR via their MyCIC account, I received mine directly via email. Mine said that I should send my passport to Ottawa, but indicated that if I am residing outside of Canada or the USA I should notify them on the given email address so that they can arrange for my documents to be issued at my Local Visa Office (LVO). I sent them an email and got an automated reply indicating that it usually takes 20 days for them to respond to requests due to a high volume of emails. I called VFS (http://www.vfsglobal.ca/Canada/SouthAfrica/) a day later and told them the story and asked what I should do. They asked for my application number and said that they were going to call the high commission and that I should call back in 30 minutes. When I called back and they said that I can bring my passport and two passport photos conforming to (http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/applications/guides/pdf/5445EB-e.pdf). I delivered my passport and photos on 2015/09/11. I also paid for a courier service to return my passport to me so that I would not have to drive out to Pretoria for collection. VFS gave me a tracking number with which I could track the progress. Date of PPR - 2015/09/09 Date passport sent - 2015/09/11 Cost of Passport handling by VFS - R296.10 Cost of Courier of passport back from VFS - 105.90 Permanent residency granted and application closed On 2015/09/17 I got an email from VFS that they had received my passport. I had specified, on submission, that my passport should be couriered to me so I called VFS and they gave me a FedEx tracking number. My passport was delivered on 2015/09/04 with my CPR and a letter explaining the entry into Canada. On 2015/09/17 my MyCIC account statuses changed to application closed and PR granted. The landing The final stage is now to perform my landing in Canada. I'll explain my understanding of how this works from what I have read: One needs to perform one's landing within a year from the date of your medical. One enters Canada as one would normally enter a country requiring a Visa, using the Visa now pasted in your passport. One presents your CPR to immigration in Canada. You will be issued a Social Insurance Number (SIN). One also provides an address in Canada to which your PR card should be delivered. It should be delivered to this address in about six weeks. From now on one uses your PR card like a "Visa" to enter Canada. Total cost of Express Entry Language test IELTS test - R2 400 Degree conversion Registered letter - less than R100 Transcript request and couriering - around R300 WES ECA - 200 CAD Delivery - 7 CAD (I chose standard delivery. Courier delivery is 85 CAD) Police clearance Police clearance - less than R100 Medical Medical - R2 051 Application Processing fee – 550 CAD. RPRF – 490 CAD Passport submission Passport handling by VFS - R296.10 Courier of passport back from VFS - 105.90 Total cost of application - R17 823 (Approximating 1 CAD = 10 ZAR) On top of the total cost one obviously still needs the minimum required funds (as indicated at http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/skilled/funds.asp) available to you. Timeline summary ITA received - 2015/03/27 Application submitted - 2015/04/24 AOR - 2015/04/25 Date of medical passed - approximately 2015/05/25 "Application Received" (ECAS) - a day or so after medical passed "In Progress" (ECAS) - 2015/06/19 Background check "In Progress" - 2015/08/25 "Decision Made" (ECAS) - 2015/08/27 PPR - 2015/09/09 Passport submitted - 2015/09/11 Application status "Approved" – 2015/09/17 Passport received - 2015/09/18 ​
  3. Sheppie

    Apartment Hunting

    Hi all, My fiance and I are moving to Vancouver in July and we are in the process of trying to find a small furnished apartment to rent. We are still on the job hunt so area is a bit confusing at the moment - however, we have our eye on Kits and maybe North Vancouver. We have picked up a lot of scams on Craigslist so we would like to avoid that if possible. I see a site called Rent-it-Furnished has some nice listings - has anyone used this site? Any other great sites or rental companies anyone could suggest? We are bringing our two Boston Terriers over as well so any advice on the pet side of things would be greatly appreciated - housing and transport Thanks!
  4. How much does it cost to build a new house per square feet or per square meter in Canada? Are there any members here who have done it?