Things generally happen for a reason.
If we’d been dealt different cards, we wouldn’t be sitting here in our Northern Beaches home today. If events had gone to plan, we wouldn’t in fact be living in Australia anymore. If the immigration officer dealing with our case on that day in that place had acted differently, we’d be calling another country “home”.
We’d currently be living back in Canada.
|Photo credit: Aristocrats-hat (Flickr Creative Commons)|
Making a major decision
Shortly after the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and four years after moving to Australia, we made a monumental decision to leave the land down under for the great white north.
We’d left Canada in a rush four years earlier. Desperate to escape the harsh Ottawan winters, we made our life in Australia and it was going okay, but it wasn’t great. We liked the lifestyle but we didn’t yet love it.
Watching the Olympics unfold in Vancouver that year released emotions and let forth memories locked away since 2006. We’d moved to Western Canada for very specific reasons – lifestyle, attitudes, outdoors activities, health, fitness, you name it – and Australia wasn’t delivering those same motivators to us in quite the same ways (Read: Vancouver, the Best Place on Earth).
We still had our Canadian permanent resident visas and we knew we could return whenever we wanted to. We pined for the great Canadian outdoors and so, on a typical weekday evening, we made the decision to leave Australia…
…to move back to Vancouver.
I’ve generally been lucky in life.
Whenever I’ve wanted something, I work hard to make it happen and it usually does. I push and persuade until eventually I get the outcome I’m after. But this time, it wasn’t to be.
Using the services of an immigration lawyer, we learned that our visas had expired. It was a rookie error and we should have had the foresight to see this could happen after we left Canada. The visas required us to remain in Canada for three years out of every five and we’d already been gone for four years.
So the visas had expired and that door to re-entry closed on us as quickly as it had opened.
Looking back, I’m not sure whether we were crazy or simply determined but we decided to go through the entire permanent resident visa process again – this time from Australia.
For the next two months, we compiled our application, took English language tests, ordered police checks and pulled an inordinate amount of paperwork from our files. We hadn’t followed this process without expert help before but we were confident we could do this alone. We sent off the paperwork and we waited.
Six months later and the application arrived back on our doorstep. We’d missed the quota for skilled worker visas by a matter of weeks and we were ineligible for the current year’s program.
It was a major setback to our plans but we weren’t to be put off.
A learning experience
With the benefit of hindsight, we should have quit while we were ahead. Or we should have hired an immigration consultant or lawyer, or used a visa service, at this point in the game. This was the way we played it before and we had a successful outcome. This time, we needed someone who could advise us on how best to proceed or, at the very least, take the application off our hands.
Instead, we pushed on and again we submitted our visa application the following year. And again we were unsuccessful. The Canadian Government suddenly decided to temporarily halt the skilled worker program.
It was the end of the road for us – we weren’t prepared to go through the process a third time and our language assessments and police checks were now expiring.
With that, we reluctantly let Canada go.
We should have hired an expert. We should never have let our visas expire. We could have been quicker in getting our application in. We’d have stood more chance of success if we had jobs lined up.
Could’ve. Should’ve. Would’ve.
In the few years since the visa debacle, the outlook has changed for us in Australia. We now have our son, Elliot, and we’re more settled and content, at peace with where we are. Whether we were going through a “phase” or just wanted to return to the place where it all began, perhaps we’ll never know. I’ve said before that Canada is an itch I’ll forever need to scratch. Maybe not today or tomorrow but, as for the future, who knows (Read: Canada, eh?).
We try to be masters of our own destiny but sometimes the universe has other plans for us. We weren’t supposed to go back to Canada. Not yet.
And if somebody offered me the chance to move back there today, would I? Well, the answer will probably always be the same.
Because things always happen for a reason.
Are there things you could have done differently when moving abroad? What lessons learned would you share with others thinking about relocating overseas? Has fate intervened with your life plans?
Share your insights and experiences in the comments below.