Kitcat

Living in Limbo: Tips for Staying Sane While You Wait for Your Visa

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Kitcat

So this last week marked a year since our AOR for our Permanent Residence application via Express Entry and we still don’t have an answer yet… 

Ours was a very smooth process from the point of deciding to emigrate to Canada and the work that began after that, such as doing our IELTS, organising our WES assessments, and gathering docs till our ITA and then getting everything finalised for the big submission and receiving our AOR. We worked quickly and efficiently to get it all done and we thought, wow, this has actually been pretty easy, and judging by the recent fast progress of others to receive a decision, we reckoned, and really hoped, that we were in for a short wait. 

Boy were we wrong…and as the last year has proven to us, immigration is a long and often unpredictable road!

The wait is agonising - there is no way around it - and the most frustrating is not knowing when an answer will come. Your future is totally at the mercy of the Canadian government and once your application is sent in you have to realise that you’ve done your best and it’s now out of your hands, it’s out of your control and that’s a scary prospect. You have to let go and have faith in the process. 

There are days when this is easier, and then there are the dark days where you question everything and feel like giving up, feel sad and despondent, want to run away and wonder if all this stress will be worth it. You question all your decisions and have a mini freak out at what lies ahead and, of course, google a million ways that things can go wrong.

I’d like to share a few tips and thoughts for those currently in the application process and waiting for that all important “golden email”. Some of these I’ve tried to put into practice myself, some I’ve had to keep reminding myself of along the way to try keep sane. Perhaps you can relate and I hope it helps those still in the trenches of the application phase and the agonising wait to know what your future holds:

Have realistic expectations of the process. Have your short-term goals, but also realise that emigration is a long-term exercise, and the application is just the beginning of this journey. Processing times are merely a guide and it could go quicker than the six months or it could stretch out much longer. While it’s good to keep informed of the current processing, don’t compare your application to others - each is judged on its own merits and how easy it is to verify your information and your own profile and background. If it’s taking longer than usual that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong - there are so many factors at play that will determine the length of time it takes. And by comparing yourselves to others you will only drive yourself mad, feel resentful when others succeed before you and create more paranoia and stress than necessary. Save your sanity and rather keep focused on your own application. 

Live in the moment and always keep an open mind. You have your whole life ahead of you, so what’s a few months or even a year waiting? This is just one small window in time and it too shall pass.

Find your tribe and your community. Connect with those in a similar boat - build a support network and share the journey with those going through the same thing. Commiserate and share victories and disappointments. Support one another and help where you can to answer questions, offer words of support or just a shoulder to lean on.

Realise that everyone is going through their own journey and has had their own hardships to endure through the process. So, even though someone’s application may have been approved in lightening speed, don’t underestimate the long journey they may have taken to get to that point - potential months of redoing IELTS to improve scores, issues with education assessments, perhaps previous application rejections. So, it’s likely they still had many of their own struggles, so don’t begrudge them, be happy for them and celebrate their success alongside them.

Don’t stress about which visa office is processing your application. It’s a myth that any office is faster than others. Our application is being processed in Sydney and Ottawa, which is supposed to be one of the “faster” offices, and look how long our application has taken.

The best way of understanding what’s happening with your file is to order GCMS notes. This will give you a good indication of what’s been done and said by the immigration officers reviewing your case, and if there are any problems then you may be able to preempt any further delays by sending any relevant or additional documents.

Live your life and don’t let immigration consume it. Enjoy your time with your family and friends and enjoy and celebrate the good that SA has to offer instead of always focusing on the negatives. Spend quality time with your loved ones and with people who are supportive of your choices in moving abroad.

Be more discreet about who you tell about your plans or risk the constant “have you got your visa”, “how’s things going with your Canada plans” questions from everyone until you want to punch the next person in the face who asks you.

It’s easy enough to do it yourself, but don’t let anyone make you feel any less worthy if you’ve decided to work through an agent. Not all agents are scammers and many can provide valuable input. But at the same time, make sure you do your own research and due diligence - understand the process for yourself. Be informed, don’t just walk into this blindly. Take control of your own future and keep informed in every step of the process. Agents can’t speed up the process and they certainly can’t guarantee success.

Be happy for others and celebrate their victories. I know it’s not easy sometimes when all you wish is for your own good news, but we’re a community and we need to stand together.

Be flexible and expect the unexpected. Immigration is not always a smooth process and if you can’t handle the paperwork and then the wait, how will you handle the move itself? This is all building resilience in you so you need to embrace the lessons you learn along the way, with the most prominent lessons likely being those in patience.

Don’t speculate as to why it’s taking so long - you will drive yourself mad playing all kinds of negative scenarios in your head. It’s not healthy for your sanity.

If it’s meant to be it doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. Even if it’s the right path for you, there may still be many obstacles in the way. It’s how you overcome them that counts.

The application is only just the start of the journey and we know that the really tough part is coming. And we know that this has all just been preparing us, making us more resilient, getting our minds and hearts ready for the crazy adventure that we’re about to embark on.

Put your life into perspective. In all likelihood, while you wait, you have a roof over your head, food on your table, friends and family who love and support you, qualifications and a job (otherwise how else would you qualify for the visa in the first place?). Don’t stress about the future – as the good book says, “do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow’s worries will worry about tomorrow”. Take each day as it comes. Live life!

It will happen all at the right time and when it’s meant to.

Have faith that things will work out as they should. Pursue your dream. Go for it. Don’t lose hope!

Good luck to all those going through this process, may it all be well worth it in the end.

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OutOfSa

The waiting parts of the process are probably the hardest.  Simply because you have absolutely no control and no way to influence the outcome. The type of person that emigrates from SA is probably dynamic and flexible - used to setting a goal and working towards it with purpose.  Now suddenly, the goal is set, the plans are made and put into motion - only to fall into a black hole.  "Nothing-ness" follows - silence.  It's simply horrible.  

The only plus side is that when any positive news does come, it's like the taste of that mountain stream after hours of hiking on a hot day.  Nothing, but nothing tastes better, feels better.  The down side of being in the process (for me) was that my SA-FILTER-SYSTEM started to breakdown.  I started to feel the psychological effects of allowing the violence, corruption and crime to trickle into my subconscious.  The usual SA mantra - "S* happens" or "he was only ripped to shreds - wow, so lucky not to have been killed..."  started to fail.  With that came more and more frustration and anger at what had become of the country and where it was headed.  On top of that, all the "not greener on the other sider-s" love to get their 50c in - as well as the "are you going now-ers?"

What I found was that as my SA tolerance decreased, so my Canada perfection increased - a bit like a see-saw.  Eventually (especially as the move draws near) Canada is perfect and SA is broken.  It's probably a way to psychologically let go.  Of course as with all things, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.  When you arrive, everything is brilliant - the contrast to the broken is stark.  Things work better and safety is a huge relief.  After arriving, you have to survive the various stages of immigration - Honeymoon phase, Mourning, Homesickness and realities of getting work and starting over.  Fortunately these are far more controllable variables - you can actively participate in modifying their outcomes.  

There is something deeply different about Canadians when compared to SA people.  I've taken a stab at what it might be many times, but I don't think I'm much closer to really understanding them.  I think the younger you are when you decide to move the better off you'll be.  Mind you, my experience only extends around the GTA.  I can't help but feel the smaller towns will be different.  I know some people here that have moved their families to smaller towns and commute / live dual lives - that way they get to isolate the kids from the crazy GTA, but still benefit from the vibrant local economy. One fella I know has two houses - he live here during the week and at "home" on the weekend.  He says it's worth the sacrifice - his wife and kids benefit so much from the location that he's prepared to work that way.  

I hope your wait is over soon, I think you will find it worth all the pain once things begin to move. A year or two is nothing in a lifetime - but one year feels like a lifetime when you have no control.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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poorguy

@Kitcat sucks to hear you been waiting for so long, hope you hear something soon! Did the gcms notes reveal why it's taking so long? 

 

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Kitcat

Thanks for sharing @OutOfSa. It's so true what you say, that while going through the waiting game and since making a decision to leave, our tolerance of what's going on this country has started to fall. It's that moment of realising this is not normal and we should not have to live like this  - it was only compounded recently when my husband witnessed the man behind him in the traffic being hijacked. When he managed to flag the police down further down the road they were totally apathetic and didn't do anything to go back and help the guy. It could so easily have been us and it's always the usual attitude of "oh well, at least you weren't hurt" - that's definitely no way to live.

There definitely is that slow process of letting go of things - we've felt it in most aspects of life during this wait. On the one hand we're trying to live our lives as normally as possible and get on with things, but at the same time there is a delicate balance of not wanting to get too involved in anything and not being able to commit to anything long-term - which makes this limbo extremely frustrating at times as we can't make any other major plans in our lives until we know for sure that we have our visa or not.

I know this is just a season and it too shall pass - and when the wait is over then the real adventure will begin!

 

 

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Kitcat
16 hours ago, poorguy said:

@Kitcat sucks to hear you been waiting for so long, hope you hear something soon! Did the gcms notes reveal why it's taking so long? 

Thanks @poorguy, in our notes it says there was a review required of our eligibility, but nothing specific to indicate what needed to be reviewed. We had a random request for additional documents for our marriage certificate, but other than that it's been silence since June last year. It looks like we have met all the criteria for FSW as they have awarded us all the points we claimed. We suspect that it may have to do with my husband's extensive travel history as he travels frequently to Lebanon and other Middle Eastern countries for work, and it looks like it's just the last security checks that need to be completed.

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LislB

This is such an insightful post! Thank you @Kitcat - your points are so valid and true. I find myself already not wanting to commit too fully and we haven't even done our first EE application.

I'm so sorry for you that this is taking what feels like a lifetime. To quote the good book again - "to everything there is a season" - everything happens in it's perfect time. The good and the bad is all part of the journey and it all leads to our future. Without our tragedies in our past, our present and our future would look mighty different. (On a personal note: some background into our story https://musingsofanoncomom.wordpress.com/2014/07/05/we-suspect-your-daughter-has-leukemia/ - just so you know I understand about hope deferred) 

And thank you @OutOfSa - your posts/comments are always so good to read. You really have a way with words and it makes difficult information easier to read. Really appreciate it!

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Kitcat
Posted (edited)

Thanks for sharing your story, @LislB. As a mom of two little girls I cannot imagine what you have gone through! If there is one thing that we're learning through this process, besides patience, is to count our blessings in the moment, and realise that things will happen as and when they should. It's so easy to always focus on the negatives and  hardships, and only see the end goal, but we forget to live in the moment and appreciate what we have. Good luck with your process, I hope it all goes smoothly!

Edited by Kitcat
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LislB

Thank you!

6 minutes ago, Kitcat said:

count our blessings in the moment,

What a motto to live by!

I really hope that you receive your answer soon!!!

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MaryJane
5 hours ago, Kitcat said:

It could so easily have been us and it's always the usual attitude of "oh well, at least you weren't hurt" - that's definitely no way to live.

I realize that as South Africans living in SA, rationalizing the high crime rates and the violent ways in which the crimes are conducted, we accept this as the norm.

Until it isn’t any longer.

@OutOfSa and I were from the same batch of applicants. I can tell you that having someone with you on the journey helps. Someone that totally gets the disappointment, the frustration, the elation, etc. This journey can sometimes be lonely.

Having a community - this community - even better. As you go through the ups and downs, it is amazing to be part of a group, whose members gain nothing by giving their support, but continue to do so anyway.

@Kitcat, it is heartwarming to see the legacy carried on. I know that when I was in the “waiting” limbo, I drove myself a little mad there. As a result, my FB was filled with pictures of Africa...(yeah, in the end, I spent my “waiting” time travelling).

Great attitude and this will serve you well when you start the next chapter. Best of luck for the future!

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Kitcat

Thanks @MaryJane, this community has been so wonderful to be a part of. While there is loads of official info out there, it’s always so great to hear directly from those who’ve been through the process and can share their personal experiences. You and others who’ve gone before us have helped so much to ease the fears and frustrations of those of us still waiting.

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