More on immigrating to Canada

I so appreciate the comments received on the last entry on infidelity. I started responding to each one but there was so much repetition in my responses that it’s probably best to address the comments in an entry. I’ll do that later this week.

Today I wanted to follow up on the entry I wrote about immigrating to Canada. A dear friend’s brothers in Nigeria want her to send them a letter, inviting them to visit her. Her brothers don’t just want to visit: they want to find a way to work while on a visitor’s visa, earn some money and then return to Nigeria. The laws of Canada say you cannot work on a visitor’s visa and my friend is one of those rule following types (she probably hasn’t ever downloaded music illegally either!). As a result, she told her siblings that she cannot in good conscience agree to the visit. Besides telling them that it’s illegal to work on a visitor’s visa, she tried to get them to see that their actions if they were to get caught could reflect on her good name. If the authorities were to ask her if she knew that her siblings’ intentions were to do more than just visit, she would have to say YES she knew. I would have made the same decision she did.

Unfortunately a no, even with the most rational of explanations, even one that offers another way of getting the same end, is not often accepted easily. The alternative that my friend has given is that the brothers work on raising the money to attend a one or two year college or post graduate diploma in Canada, apply to a school in Canada, preferably one in my friend’s city, get admission, then use the information sent to them by the educational institution to get a student visa. If the school is in the same city as my friend, then her siblings could live (rent free) with her while studying. They would also be able to work (on campus at least) to earn extra money which they can use to save for the next semester of school or save for their future goal of relocating to Nigeria with money.

The problem with this plan for her brothers (and for my family members in the past) is that it’s a long and slow process. They would rather buy a plane ticket and come here without a plan, and find a way around the system rather than sit down and write it out on paper, see if it’s feasible, then act.

When I think of my own parents’ journey, it wasn’t the fastest one. Due to the fact that we lived in the one province that has different immigration rules from the others for one year, we had to restart the process. In the end it took an unusually long time for my parents, sister and I to get our papers sorted out and obtain citizenship — just over 10 years! This is definitely above the average. I had nothing to do with the process but I know there were frustrations on my parents’ part to make sure the statuses of all family members (except my brothers who were born in Canada) were up to date and visas renewed when they had to be. Of course, those times are not too deep in my parents’ memories but I think their relatives forget the amount of time that the process actually required. But knowing what we know now, we know that any family or friend who is prepared to come to Canada legally would be able to get citizenship in a much shorter time period.

What continually upsets me is the fact that despite all that has been said, family members continue to think there’s an easy way to get here that we refuse to share with them, that we’re being unnecessarily “stuffy” with our insistence on keeping things legal. Why wouldn’t we want our loved ones close to us? What do we have to gain by keeping this “secret” from them?

To anyone dealing with the situation my friend is in regarding communicating the reality of immigration and making money in Canada to family members, I’d say it’s important to stress that the process can be long but when all is said and done (legally) it will be worth it in the long-run. If you play your cards right you will be able to move freely between both countries and either settle permanently abroad, or take your education and skills back home and use them to better your life and hopefully the lives of others. If you’ve waited this long already, what is another few years? (Note: I’m not saying that “a few years” is nothing, but let’s think big picture.) Instead of calling family members with the latest thing you heard from someone who has never left Nigeria’s shores about how things work abroad (of course that person heard it from someone else who has probably never left the country), use the time (yes, the years!) to work with what you have at your disposal to be the best you can be.

And please, don’t misinterpret me:
I know that life in Nigeria is hard for many. I know some are desperate to leave the country, to go somewhere their skills and talents can be recognized and used to their full potential. I know some people have given Nigeria a very good try, have tried to build businesses and start new things that have failed due to countless factors beyond the control of the individual. I really get that!

I also know that I am blessed that I came here as a child, in the pocket of my parents, so to speak. I have not been where my relatives or my friend’s siblings are. If the roles were reversed I may very well be the one sitting in Nigeria thinking that my relatives aren’t doing enough for me, or don’t want to see me thrive. I recognize that I haven’t “been in the shoes” (literally) of those who don’t mind doing things illegally to get where they want to be. I’ve never had that desperation. But, I actually firmly believe that there are very few situations where the only alternative is to do something illegal. Oftentimes it’s impatience that leads people to do things the wrong way.

Finally, I know people who want to leave Nigeria but who are willing to make lemonade with the lemons they currently have, sell the lemonade for a few years and save some of the profits for the future plans to immigrate. Some find that their lemonade leads to a business or idea that allows them to support themselves quite well in Nigeria, and abandon plans of trying to go abroad. My cousin is an accountant and her husband works in a bank. Things haven’t been good for them financially, but they are surviving. However, for at least five years, my cousin has been buying and selling on a small scale, finding a way to supplement their income with this (in fact this is more profitable than her job at the moment). She recently got in contact with a friend in the UK and the two of them are partners in that he provides her with merchandise that she sells, and she’s doing very well with that. She’s making really good lemonade from what I can see!

This is longer than I wanted it to be, and if you read it to the end, I appreciate it. This idea of immigration and helping people to come here the right way is one that I am passionate about. I intend to find a way to do more for the cause in the future.

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23 thoughts on “More on immigrating to Canada

  1. I completely agree with you on this post. I don't think people who haven't gone though the hustle of filing for citizenship understand how exhausting it can be- time and money wise. It currently costs $675 to become a US citizen. And that's just part of the cost for the whole process.

  2. I agree, but on the flip side, I think it's tough when people are really struggling and all they keep hearing is how green the grass is on the other side. And to make matters worse, during Easter or Christmas, people abroad go home and they throw money around like they have plenty of it, while their relatives are struggling to even come up with a year's rent in their small one-bedroom apartment.

  3. Well said girl, well said. @ Anon: The truth is most of the people abroad that come home for Easter or Christmas usually plan way ahead of time and save extensively for that thereby sacrificing luxuries that they would normally indulge in so that they can come home to share a few hard earned pounds and dollars, some perfumes, sneakers, handsets etc and not to mention generally feed the whole family for the duration that they are here. The ones that throw money around are ( I am not an authority on this) those that are into very VERY illegal stuff cos those that work hard for their money don't throw it around…just my 2 cents.

  4. That post takes a lot home. Quite impressive for someone who went abroad "in parents' pocket". You really understand. I have lived in UK and hussled immigration issues and work permit for about 16 months after my Masters Degree. I now live in US. I have visited Canada once. My friends are spread all over the world, even in countries that you can not spell their name.

    The issue is that Naija is sooooo hard! In fact for some being on the run for 10 years in the west will give them a better life than being in Nigeria. It is almost like being in jail, but the conditions are much harsher. Look at this short list:

    1. Work for 7 months, no salary, no explanation, no relief, and no credit facilities.

    2. Broad daylight robbery by armed bandits as well as so-called police. No prosecutions or even arrests ever!

    3. Wanton discrimination especially by the Northerners even among themselves.

    4. Raping of Democracy and no pretence what-so-ever.

    5. Persona-non-grata in any foreign nation, so no visa even with your own money.

    6. Schools at every level are so poorly run that your children will get better education with 2 hours tutoring by you daily plus access to some safe internet sites.

    I can go on and on, but in fact my dear, do not blame them. The situation may be rationalized out here by us as being stupid, but if "If say na you, na wetin you go do?

  5. I agree with U completely. the one problem that I encountered was that a friend who I eXplained all this stuff to suddenlly became cold and unwelcoming… with the idea dat I was just being difficult and selfish.. as in "I don reach, I no want make another person come." the truth though is dat, while working it the legal way is hard and long, in the end having the right papers make life sooo much easier for you (e.g, getting work, going to sch or even getting welfare help)and anyone else dat U want to bring along wit U l8r.

  6. â–ºNana

    You said it. For me the frustration is like you said: it's time-consuming, but the people who want help want everything done yesterday.

    â–ºAnon

    Yes, but the people who are telling their family in Nigeria how green the grass is is doing them a disservice in my opinion. It's usually not the family members who are hustling abroad who are bragging about how easy things are. We tell our family that it's lovely to have all these amenities easily accessible, but you have to pay for everything and work hard to earn that money that you'll use to pay for things.

    The part you mention about people going home for Christmas is valid though: some max out their credit cards to look like a bigshot when they go home, or because they really want to share the little they have earned.

    When my family goes, we stretch out our necks and bring as much money as we can, but we never throw the money around…too many people need the money. It's a shame though that some people who do that give other who are genuinely hustling abroad a bad name.

    â–ºAmina

    Oh! Good point in addition to what I responded to Anon. We share a similar viewpoint: anyone who's flashing dollars left and right so soon after coming abroad may not have gotten the money by legal means (not saying all of them are though).

    â–ºMcneri

    Thanks for commenting and I fully agree that life in Nigeria is not a picnic. That list of things you shared is really upsetting to think of, but I really pray that I would do things the right way if the roles were reversed. It's a really difficult situation though!

    â–ºAmy

    Thank you for the support! It's much appreciated.

    â–ºA witty fool

    Oh, I know what you mean! I find it so hurtful when I hear our families say the same to my parents. And yes, the freedom that'll come to you (and, depending on the country you gain citizenship in, your children) is worth doing things right.

  7. From a British perspective, a lot of people come in on a holiday visa and don't go and they do actually (sort of) survive. The down side is that they can't leave! I had a relative that had to pay £11 000 to fake marry so she could get a passport and go and visit her Mum was was ill.

  8. You can go and on with this issue. Life is hard in Nigeria, no doubt. I lived in Nigeria till my teens and I personally know how desperate it can get,. The thing to do to do is to weigh the risks and ask yourself if it really worth it to take the illegal route. I live in germany and I personally know lots of people living here "on the down low". It is a hard knock life. Many people regret it making such a move because you live in perpertual fear. Also the fact that it sometimes seems that the country is a police state does not help matters at all.

  9. You touched on important points. I feel that anyone who is willing to come to US/UK/Canada should be educated on the realities of life for illegal immigrants. If the feel they can handle it, let them come.

    That said –

    Whoever is going to be hosting so called illegal immigrants, you should educate yourself on the stress, finance, time and energy you will need to help our your illegal immigrant relatives. It will be just as hard for you as it is for them. If you can handle it, go ahead. If not, save yourself the trouble.

  10. I so feel for u, GNG, having to bear the accusation of being ''uncaring''. I live in here in Nigeria, i got a job some 2yrs ago just after school; now most of peers n frnds 4rm schl n home arent so lucky, n when i try to explain dat i cant always help cos i hav needs too (plus family, i'm the first), they dont always understand. So, i kinda get hw u feel.

    Here's wat i do: help when i can as much as i can, n try to explain to them how they too can fare better, then try n remain pleasant even whn they see me as mean. Its a tough world for them, GNG, dont expect 'em to see it the way u do.

  11. Life in Nigeria is hard but i think living illegally in another country is even harder. The Naija people back home think everything is all well and rosy over here…

    The fact that her brothers dont even want to go to school and hows that they are going to be a liability and a big problem for her. Your friend should talk to older family members maybe they canhelp make her brothers see her point.

  12. Thanks for the update. the first post was informative like i told you and this one too. If you wanna Immigrate you better do it legally.

  13. Luckily I have never had any family member put me in a dilema like this. All of my close family are in the UK and anyone else I don't think would even have the cheek to ask as they don't know me well enough.

    My friend did however once ask me to fill in something as assurance that her boyfriend who was in the UK on a student visa would stay a student and not overstay. They also wanted to see my financial status to assure that I could support him. My friend at the time was working part time and not earning enough.

    My answer to this question was HELL to the NAW. I can't assure anything. I barely know the guy and when I see him he barely talks and from what she told me he was barely going to classes. Am I a fool? She didn't take it badly and just dropped it. She found some kind of way in the end, but ended up wasting her money on college fees and he never attended, ended up overstaying and getting arrested and deported for some other crime.

  14. nice post, you touched on lots of import points. I guess having a citizenship is always easier than going through a long process, so it must have been hard for ur family…I always thought u were Nigerian-Canadian …@ Mcneri, those problems u listed are true ( ive never been to Nigeria so i cant talk like i know) but there are also problems everywhere including many places abroad. I think if Nigeria wasnt so bad, then most of its citizens wouldnt be so eager to leave, it seems like Nigerians do anything to leave the country…sort of makes me sad…

  15. â–ºCaramel Delight

    I know what you mean. One of my uncles has been in Europe since 1994, unable to leave the country and come home. It's a horrible situation, and I'm very angry with him for the way he handled things. My grandmother (his mom) has been raising his kids for years now, more so when his wife left Nigeria to join him there.

    Wow…eleven thousand pounds for a marriage for papers. It's just unreal.

    â–ºJOICEE

    Yup, as I mentioned above, my uncle is the situation you describe and it is not ideal at all.

    â–ºLucidLilith

    It's true o! Anyone who decides to get tangled up in this illegal immigrant-supporting business really should make sure they know what they are getting into. I'm with you 100% on that.

    â–ºkay9

    It's really my parents that I feel for. They do so much and their efforts are not appreciated at all.

    My dad follows your philosophy, and he doesn't allow himself to be influenced by family members who are practically insulting him for not doing more because he knows he's doing his best. My mom knows she's doing her best but she, like me, is more susceptible to the comments of family. I think we need to develop a thicker skin!

    Thanks for your comment. I definitely will never be rude, I'll just keep trying to get them to see our own point of view. I wish you prosperity in all your work.

    â–ºPink Satin

    I'll definitely tell my friend what you said about the whole liability thing. I know she doesn't mind providing food and shelter, but it's not something she'll be able to do indefinitely, if there isn't a plan to prosper, legally (ie get a good job, be a contributing member of society) on the part of her brothers. It's not an easy situation.

    â–ºNBB

    You're welcome and yes, let's keep it legal!

    â–ºNollywood Forever

    I'm glad you haven't had to deal with this.

    I'm glad you said no to that sketchy idea…I would have too! And what a shame that she stuck her neck out for someone who seems very much like a slacker. I hope the only thing she lost was some money.

    â–ºonosetale

    I'm Nigerian-American actually! I was born in the US, lived in Nigeria until I was 6 years old then we immigrated to Canada.

    I'm saddened too by the fact that so many want to leave Nigeria…I know things must be desperate for some but at the same time I think many could make very good lives for themselves at home instead of thinking that good things are only abroad.

  16. My dear….there is really nothing much u can do..it is just sad that some people want to do things illegally.

    i dont want to say much cuz like u i haven't been in their shoes but i totally get this post

  17. Hey GNG,

    Love you post. Keep up the good work. BTW you have some problems with your wordpress blog. It's throwing a warning at the bottom of the page.

  18. Hey GNG,

    Love your post. Keep up the good work. BTW you have some problems with your wordpress blog. It's throwing a warning at the bottom of the page.

  19. I need a student visa to Canada but I do not know how to proceed i need help please

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