The U.S. presidential election has been marked by controversial, divisive and occasionally downright ridiculous statements from the candidates, not least of which has been Trump's impossible idea to build a wall between the United States and Mexico and to somehow force the Mexican government to pay for it.
And now with the increased threats from American liberals that they would immigrate to Canada if Trump wins this week's election (such threats happen every four years, I might add), I imagine many Canadians wish they could build a wall between Canada and the U.S. and send the bill to the American government.
But Canada doesn't need to build a wall to keep out those Americans willing to renounce their ties to the U.S. and trade their "freedom fries" for poutine. Because while Canada may have an admirable universal health care system, sensible gun laws and a ridiculously handsome prime minister, Canada's immigration system is broken.
Many Americans -- including celebrities like Chelsea Handler, Bryan Cranston, Barbara Streisand and Lena Dunham -- who have taken to Twitter to express their panic and outrage with this U.S. election and who have threatened to move to the Great White North should have applied to Canada years ago, like I did, if they really wished to immigrate. Because according to the CIC's own website, it now takes more than 26 months for Canada to process a visa for a foreign spouse of a Canadian citizen who is already living inside Canada.
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I have been waiting 27 months, and yet still have not received my residency visa. Meanwhile, I don't have access to Canada's coveted health-care system. I can't legally work or study in the country. I can't even open a bank account.
I met my Canadian husband in 2011 when he was living in New York City. He was working at the Quebec delegation in New York, helping to promote Quebec art and culture in the United States during a three-year posting abroad. I proposed to him in 2013, shortly after the landmark ruling in the United States that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, which then paved the way for gay marriage to be recognized across the entire country.
We had all the intention of remaining in the U.S. after our wedding, but when the PLQ regained power in Quebec in the 2014 provincial election, he was offered an amazing job within the Quebec government. It was a career-defining move, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for him. Despite having a great job in New York that I enjoyed, it was a no-brainer decision for us as a couple to move to Canada.
We knew that moving to Canada wasn't going to be easy and that the immigration process would be a hurdle. We expected it might take about a year for the Canadian authorities to process my visa application, which is on average with most developed countries in the world. However, we were certainly not expecting a 2.5-year wait, during which time we would have to jump through some of the most ridiculous hoops to meet the requests of the demanding, yet unresponsive, immigration authorities.
Canada's immigration system is broken.
My first year in Canada was a year well spent learning one of the country's two official languages: French. But when my language studies were complete, and my visa was still not processed, I became depressed. I resented my husband's structured day and his ability to go work. And he resented all the time I had to myself and what he viewed as "freedom." But never before had I wanted to have a job so badly. My home felt more like a prison. And for a while, my marriage became strained and full of petty grievances.
This is how Canada treats its immigrants and its citizens who have dared to fall in love with a foreigner. Because while the details of my story may be different than other immigrants to Canada, the general premise of the story remains the same. We have all left our jobs, our friends, and our families in order to establish a new life with the one we love in their homeland. We came to Canada excited to start a new life with our partners, excited about living in a country with a sterling reputation on the international stage.
And yet, the Canadian immigration system has treated us no better than a piece of paper being pushed around in a bureaucratic and inefficient system. This negligence has taken a severe toll on our lives, on our marriages, our sense of worth, our self-esteem, our finances, and even on our mental and physical health.
The Canadian immigration system has failed us and has failed our Canadian partners who have sponsored us to live here. Twenty-six months to process a spousal visa is way too long. It's as ridiculous as Trump's idea to build a wall between the United States and Mexico.
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