As part of the Public History program here at Western, I have to complete a 12 week, full-time internship this summer for my degree. Now these internships can be paid or unpaid (as I will be getting college credit for working) but obviously I would prefer if I could find something paid. I have applied to programs both here in Canada and back in the States, but I would much prefer to stay here in London with Doug.
The student permit that I currently hold allows me to attend university and work on-campus. Since I have a research assistantship (RA) I am technically employed by Western, even though I spend my time out at Fanshawe Pioneer Village. So I could remain in Canada on my student permit only if I take an unpaid internship.
So I have started the process of applying for a work permit in order to legally work anywhere in Canada. (By starting the process I mean filling out all the forms and making sure I have copies of all the necessary documents.) I went to a seminar a few weeks ago for international students about immigrating to Canada. Though Doug and I aren't to the point where we want (or are able) to start the immigration process, I was hoping they would provide some information relevant to my situation.
I had to sit though a two and a half hour presentation (much of which did not pertain to me) but I got the nugget of information I needed. Basically, there are three different ways I could apply for a work permit. (These are all without already having a job lined up, which I don't, or falling under the category what Canada considers a "skilled worker.")
First, there is an option for a co-op work permit if it is required for your degree and the co-op isn't more than 1/3 of your program. However, this permit would only be good for the length of the co-op, then you would need to renew. That's a lot of money to spend for a relatively short period of time.
Second, I could apply for a post-grad work permit. This allows someone who has just earned a graduate degree to get a work permit that would be the same as the duration of their program - up to two years. So for me that would amount to a one-year work permit. Not bad, but still not great.
Finally, I can apply for a spousal work permit. Since Doug's PhD program is longer than my MA program (his student permit is valid until 2015), as his spouse I can apply for a work permit that matches the duration of his student permit. Three years, now we're talking.
I talked with one of the speakers at the seminar to make sure I understood everything correctly (it can all get pretty confusing) and I've also made an appointment with a counselor at the International and Exchange Student Center next week to go over everything.
In the meantime, as I already had a planned trip to Ohio to visit family this weekend, I am going to stop by the Consulate in Detroit and try to apply for one in person, rather than mail in the application and wait to hear back. I just like the idea of talking with someone face to face before paying the fee and possibly being rejected because I filled something out incorrectly. If that happens, they keep our money, and we have to pay again when I reapply.
So here's to hoping I'm as over-prepared as I was when we crossed the border the first time and things go as smoothly. I'll feel a lot better when all this government paperwork is behind me, and I can stop worrying about it for a few years!
(Oh, and here's to hoping I get a paid internship - or better even - a job in the area to go along with my work permit!)
|Renaissance Center, Canadian Consulate Detroit|
I have decided that there needs to be a special link on the Citizenship and Immegration Canada website that is specifically for those coming from the United States. All it need say is - "whatever documentation you want to get, you can do it at the port of entry."
Much like my last time crossing the border, I didn't need to go to the Consulate in Detroit, they just directed me to the port of entry (I stopped in Sarnia on my way back from Ohio.) Once again, I had more paperwork than necessary, and I spent about an hour waiting for the immegration officer to put all my information in the computer, and then printing out a nice work permit for me.
Though it was frustrating to go through way more work than was necessary (espcially since I was just doing what I had been instructed to do) in the end I guess it's better safe than sorry.
Most importantly, I have a permit to work in Canada through May, 2015. Let the job hunt begin!