Post Image

How I got my first job in Canada during the pandemic

March 27, 2021

I have finally found my dream job in Canada, but my journey was far from normal.

Immigrating to a new country is a big step in one’s life. But if done rightly, it can lead to a lifetime of happiness, a better life and a chance to live your dreams. After working for more than seven years in India, I decided to immigrate to Canada to explore Western culture. Although I was a bit anxious to find a job in my field in a completely new world, I was still pretty confident that I would be able to get a good job in Canada sooner or later.

I am a chartered accountant with experience working in the advisory division of two of the Big Four firms in India. I knew I was coming to Canada with a strong profile. I even turned down a huge job offer in India after I received my Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR).

I planned to arrive in Canada in March 2020. Everything was supposed to be like a dream coming true, but I never could have imagined what destiny had in store for me.

The dream turned into a nightmare

I left my job and booked my flight for March 18, 2020. However, our world turned upside down when the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11. Soon after that, the Canadian government closed the border— on the same day I was supposed to fly out of India. The government said Canadian citizens and permanent residents were allowed to travel, but there was no clarification for people in my position. I was technically not a permanent resident yet, as I only had my COPR.

March 2020 was a chaotic period. Travel was considered to be highly risky and with no clarification from the Canadian government on COPR holders, I decided to postpone my flight as I would have landed on the first day of the border closure. Like everyone else, I was hoping that this would be a short-term problem and I would be travelling soon.

About a week later, the Canadian government announced exemptions for COPR holders like me, but by then India had introduced severe lockdown measures. International flights were cancelled. I could not even leave my apartment except to get groceries at the nearest store.

In June, the lockdown was still in place and international flights were extremely limited. I became one of the thousands of approved permanent residents around the world who were not able to travel to Canada before their COPR visa expired. At first, I had faith that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) would support all of us without any hassles. Sadly, that was far from reality.

IRCC took many months to provide the extension, never gave any concrete timeline and only gave confusing or no responses. With no job in hand and no certainty on when I would get the COPR extension, life turned into a living nightmare. Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months but nothing happened. It was a hopeless and extremely painful situation, in which I could do absolutely nothing.

Those eight months severely impacted me emotionally, physically, and financially. I lost a Canadian job opportunity in April, lost money on three flight tickets worth more than $2,800, I was unable to apply for any Canadian job as I was still not a permanent resident and had no Social Insurance Number or bank account, nor was I able to go back to my old job or apply to a new one in India as there was no timeline from IRCC. Life had come to a standstill. It almost broke me and my dreams.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, I was not the only one as there were more than 15,000 future permanent residents waiting with the same fate, and sadly many are still waiting in complete limbo.