This post is a bit long, the short version is that I have been trying since 2003 to immigrate to Canada, but I always fail to get a high score that can help me be part of the withdrawal they do every month or so.
To understand the whole story, I need to go over and talk about myself and why I am trying to immigrate.
I was born in 1982 to a family of five members; I am the youngest. My dad died when I was three years old, and my mom worked hard to ensure that we didn't need any help from anyone; she was an elementary school teacher and then moved to work in an administrative position in the teacher's association union. We all continued our education, and we were able to finish our higher education.
In the 90s, I was introduced to the computer world when my oldest brother bought a SAKHR computer and brought it home; I was hooked; I think I was 11 years old or 12 when I started copying codes from books that I understood nothing from just so I can see lines moving at the screen or any dump thing these codes used to do at that time.
The computer used to look like this image, and we used to attach it to the TV.
To load a game, I can either use cartage or I'll need to use a cassette unit like this one:
Syria has been under technological sanction by the US since forever, so getting the latest technologies was complex. Plus, the nature of the Syrian Government made getting those technologies even harder.
For example, I still remember in 1995 when I had to go to a branch of the Syrian intelligent service to get my brothers' copy of a "computer magazine" that came from abroad with a 3.5" disk containing demo programs (If you are young, this is how programs used to be distributed), as they wanted to inspect the content of the disk before deciding if we are allowed to have it or not, many times I used to tell them to keep the disk and give me the magazine.
I grew up with a dream to immigrate to countries with no embargo, where they can get all the technologies they need and have the technological freedom to do whatever I want. In the end, it was the era where we read "How to Become a Hacker" by Eric Steven Raymond, and technical/software companies existed in basements.
Fast forward to 2003, when I got my Associated degree in Information technology, I went to the Canadian Embassy in Syria and submitted my papers. At that time, applications were submitted by hand, and they would only call you back if you were accepted. And I didn't get any call.
In 2014 I entered Türkiye coming from Egypt after leaving Syria in 2012; I will not talk about the circumstances that led me to leave Syria, as this post is all about my immigration attempts.
In 2015 I got a Temporary Protection status from the Government of Türkiye.
In 2018, the UNHCR ended the registration for refugees directly. All the registration is done via the Turkish Government, and all the cases for resettlement will be referred to UNCHR via the Government of Türkiye (The Presidency of Migration Management) only.
I am still living in Türkiye under the Temporary Protection refugee status, and this status comes with its own set of rules. For example, I cannot visit another province unless I obtain travel permission, provide all the required documents, and demonstrate that I will return to the province where I am registered.
At the same time, I can't travel outside Türkiye to attend any conferences or job interviews in other countries. I can only travel outside of Türkiye if I terminate my status completely.
Express Entry Path:
Immigration attempt via the express entry path, applying via the website of CIC, and waiting for the withdrawal results.
To apply, you need to have the following:
- Prove of income, at least something that will cover your stay for the first year; the amount depends on the number of family members applying and starts from $16K CAD for a family of two.
- Prove of English proficiency: IELTS General exam with high scores, anything under 8 in reading/speaking/listing and 7 in writing is considered low).
- Work experience papers: You need to provide an experience paper for the past 5 years of your work. Self-employment does not count.
- Work offer in Canada (optional): This one is critical, as it will give you 600 points; not sure how many points it will give you nowadays, and I failed to secure one. And yes, you must secure it before arriving, as you must submit the offer with your papers.
- Education Qualification papers: If your education was outside Canada, you must contact organizations like WES.org to evaluate your credentials. This paper can only be used for immigration, so if you arrived in Canada, you still need to do another evaluation.
- Your spouse's Education evaluation papers and English proficiency exam (with high scores too).
There are other papers, but they are the normal ones that any Government will ask for, like a marriage certificate, birth certificate ... etc. I had all these papers ready, translated, and notarized.
To ensure that I don't provide any wrong papers, I hired an immigration lawyer to help me apply, it was 2017, and my application expired in 2018.
Due to not having a work offer and not having a high score in IELTS, I always get 7.5 in listening and 6.5 in writing; I miss by half point.
My total score never reached more than 385 points, and the withdrawal was consistently above 425.
And every year, on my birthday, they will deduct 10 points due to aging. Currently, my score is 352 points.
I have done eight IELTS exams and three educational evaluations, and my wife did eight IELTS exams, one of them being Academic and two educational evaluations. And I kept my application open for like 3 years, as I'll have to reopen a new account each year. I didn't have a valid passport during the COVID period, so I couldn't apply.
The thing about my passport is that I have to apply for a new one every two years. It's one of the most expensive passports in the world (it costs $300 to renew and $200 more for delivery) and is ranked one of the worst.
The Refugee Path:
This one is a bit tricky. Canada created a special kind of sponsorship called the group of five, where five people will go and say they want to sponsor a family and be responsible for them for the first year (not so sure about the number of years, to be honest). They can apply via specific organizations, churches, mosques, or even the Government (at least, this is what I know).
But, the refugee family must have a UNHCR case number, which is something I don't have because I didn't register our family with them when I came to Türkiye, and then it was too late as they stopped accepting applications directly.
My wife is a stateless person and has a record with the UNRWA. Yet, this number is not considered a UNHCR number, and the UNHCR in Türkiye does not recognize that record because my wife has entered Türkiye legally and does not hold the Temporary Protection status that I hold. Lastly, her registration is at the UNRWA office in Syria, and the UNRWA does not have an office in Türkiye.
Over the years, I reached out, via email or via a proxy, to organizations/churches, and mosques asking for their help for resettlement while I will be fully responsible for the costs of the process to remove any financial stress on the one who will help me, and their response was somehow the same:
- For the organizations, most of them do not consider that I am living in the middle east, so they gently refused my request stating they accept only Syrians staying in Jordan or Lebanon.
- For Mosques: I didn't get any response to the emails I sent.
- For Churches: They gently rejected my request stating that I am in a mixed marriage (I am a Muslim, and my wife is Christian), and they prefer to help Christian families only.
- For the Government: They only accept applications referred to by the UNHCR.
The irony is that my mixed marriage is one of the reasons why I can't get back to Syria; we are not forgiving communities, and I am talking about the Muslims and Christians; when it comes to marriage, things get ugly, and with all the mayhem there, you can't be sure we will be safe.
The funny thing about this whole situation is that many Syrians who were living in the Gulf were able to get sponsored and moved to Canada as refugees, many of whom were living and working there before the Syrian war ?♂️.
I am not going to go into how they did that or who helped them, but in simple words, money can help you conquer any difficulty.
I have applied to many companies in Canada, and either I won't get any response, or I'll get a response saying that I should communicate with them once I am in Canada as they are not hiring people from outside.
I was able once to secure one interview over three years. Actually, it was a code test that I failed to do, I am not a social person, so I get nervous when doing online coding while someone is watching and judging me, and this was the case; I forgot most of my coding skills and got rejected ? .
There is the "studying" route, but it's a waste of time and money, especially for a person of my age and qualifications, as currently, the only thing missing on my wall is a Ph.D. certificate. But I know that this might be the only route left.