Patrick Arsenault, Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) works with foreign nationals and permanent residents to address immigration-related legal issues and concerns.
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Most people that are interested in relocating to a new country are curious about the cost of living there. They want to try to picture what kind of life they will be able to have there and more often than not, where you live plays a big role. Canada is huge and diverse. It offers accomodations to fit any lifestyles and desires. The real question is: What will you be able to afford in Canada and how does it compare to where you live right now. The answer to this is not simple, because it varies greatly from province to province and from city to city. My recommendation is to browse for yourself. Hence, I have included a few good resources:
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Canada's education system is among the best in the world. Universities especially stand out on the international scene. Most rankings place the University of Toronto, McGill University and the University of British Columbia in the top 50 in the world.
Finding the best fit
canada is home to world-class institutions that cover all areas of knowledge. With so many great choices, it's important to find the right fit. It can help to work with an expert that is familiar with higher education institutions in Canada and that will be able to help you find the school of your dreams.
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Being an international student in Canada can be an immensely rewarding experience. This post will focus on highlighting differences between Canada and its neighbour to the South.
Each year the Canadian Bureau of International Education (CBIE) publishes facts and figures that provide insights on international education in Canada (international students coming to Canada to study and Canadian students studying abroad). The Institute of International Education (IIE) does the same in the United States through the "Open Doors Reports". In this post, I will highlight what I believe are the three most important trends in Canada when compared with the world leader in international education: The United States.
Accelerated Growth: 54% increase in international student population in Canada from 2010 to 2018,
Canada has experienced incredible growth in the past decade. More and more students choose to come to Canada to pursue their studies for:
Unmatched Experience: 96% Of international students recommend Canada as a study destination
International students that come to Canada tend to have a great experience and close to all international students actually would recommend Canada as a study destination. On the other hand, a recent study with a small sample in the United States found that international students were dissatisfied with most services on their campus. In fact, the last Open Doors report shows that close to one international student out of five (24%) wishes to leave the United States (and that is only as a result of the political climate. There are more that want to leave for other reasons). While the data does not say if they would recommend the United States as a study destination, the fact that close to a quarter wants to leave is extremely compelling and a good indication that they probably would not recommend the United States.
Focus Immigration: 60% Of international students plan to apply for permanent residence in Canada
Canada's ambitious goal is to attract A MILLION new residents by 2021. Unlike in the United States, there is no immigration lottery system. Foreign nationals are carefully selected based on their ability to settle and thrive in Canada. That is fundamentally a different approach than in the United States where immigrants tend to struggle a lot more compared to the general population. Because international students in Canada are pursuing local credentials, already have an established support system, and are knowledgeable about Canadian society, they are given priority. A lot of effort is put into converting international students into immigrants. That means that a lot of red tape has been removed, and actually, in some cases, the red carpet is out!
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Canada is known to be a friendly and safe country, but what are the facts? According to World Population Review, Canada is the 6th safest country on Earth, beating every other G7 country. This is quite an exploit! Our neighbours to the South, the United States actually ranked 128th.
Not that anyone would be surprised, but a study revealed that what Canadians identified as the highest risk to their safety are winter storms. Not too bad!
When it comes to crime, one needs to be cautious and use common sense, of course. That being said, violent crimes are rare and they are close to non-existent in popular areas for tourists. What this means is that there is little crime and it is usually concentrated in certain sections of bigger cities that people tend to avoid.
If safety is a concern for you, there are plenty of extremely safe communities to consider. This previous link looks at the Crime Sevirity Index of the safest cities in Canada. While Toronto has about 65 crimes per 100,000 people, Chicago just over the Great Lakes (similar size) has over 15 times more. Detroit, who shares a border with Canada has twice as many crimes as Chicago and 30 times more than Toronto. That can be very reassuring when Toronto is often seen as one of the most dangerous places in Canada.
In a nutshell, Canada is a very safe country and it stands out as the safest country in the G7. While it is imperative to be cautious and use common sense, it's good to know that Canada is considerably safter than the United States and most other developed countries.
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According to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Canadian government strives to meet 12 main goals through immigration. If you are wondering if you would be a strong candidate to immigrate to Canada, a good first step would be to ask yourself whether or not you can assist Canada in meeting these goals.
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On June 21, 2019, I attended a session in Halifax (Nova Scotia) during which three employers talked about their experience hiring three immigrants. The three employees had originally come from Brazil, Uganda, and China.
All three employers agreed that diversity was a strength in their organization. They also talked about how foreign workers bring a wealth of experience, but sometimes need a little more support. Whether that means providing additional help when they are relocating or helping them understand the culture of the organization. Ultimately, they agreed that hiring foreign workers comes with both benefits and challenges. An example they gave is email etiquette. In some countries, it may be common practice to send a quick email without too many formalities. In Canada, these can sometimes feel a little dry.
At the end of the day, it felt like newcomers had the power to outperform and succeed in Canadian organizations if they were provided with appropriate support and opportunities to be mentored. Hiring a foreigner is a great investment into the future. You manage to attract top talent and new ways of thinking, as long as you are willing to put in a little of extra work in the beginning (why it's an investment).
Unfortunately, not all Canadian employers have worked with immigrants, but from what I see, they usually share a similar sentiment. I expect that, over time, employers will become more familiar with the great benefits of recruiting talent internationally and that it will become easier for top talent to settle in Canada.
If you are interested in coming to Atlantic Canada to continue your career, take a look at opportunities available through the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program.
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For the majority of individuals who wish to relocate to Canada either as an international student or a skilled worker, having a strong and realistic career plan is essential. If your plan is to start a new life in Canada, you must have a clear plan and your career will most likely be at the centre of your immigration strategy. It is important that you start thinking about that today. Not all Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants are equipped to provide career coaching. You may want to investigate a little further when looking for a trusted professional to see what their expertise, skills, knowledge, and experience are and whether or not the RCIC is the best fit for you.
In this post, I will present the easy 5-step model I personally use with my clients to start the conversation about career planning. Sometimes, I meet people that have already started the process (or even completed it several times already). Other times, I meet people who have never really spent much time thinking about their career plan.
1. Self-Assessment: “Find out who you are and do it on purpose.”
Like Dolly Parton would say: “Find out who you are and do it on purpose". At this step you have to discover who you are and make concerted efforts to embrace that persona in every way you can. You cannot build a career plan if you do not know who you are as a person and what you bring to the table.
Top 10 resources:
According to The Wall Street Journal, scientists have found that the majority of us will be better served not by high SAT scores or STEM degrees but by discovering and embracing our true talents.
* These are just a starting point. Please feel free to connect with me to see if I can recommend different tools or help you decide where to focus your time.
2. Career exploration: "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
Once you have a better grasp on what kind of person you are, what your strengths and goals are, you need to translate that into career options. This can be a very easy process in some cases, but extremely hard in others.
Top 5 resources:
If you struggle to organize your thoughts, you can use brainstorming techniques.
3. Gap analysis: "What are the best opportunities and unmet talent needs?"
There has long been a conversation about whether it's better to be a generalist or a specialist when it comes to career development. In my opinion, Canadian professionals have to become-multi-specialists with transferable AND additive skills. It's no longer enough to be a specialist in something or to have a broader scope allowing you to easily expand your skill set. You need to have demonstrated the ability to become a specialist in various trades and bring added value to the table (something above and beyond what is required for the job, for example, speaking multiple languages).
The first step is to make an inventory of all the skills that you have, the ones you want to work on and the ones that are needed in your field. To do so, you can compile job descriptions over a period of at least three months and compare the requirements.
Top 3 resources:
4. Individual development plan: "What's the plan?"
Once you have a better idea of what you bring to the table, what you want to accomplish, and what the the needs in the job market, you can start working on setting career goals. These should be SMART goals:
Once you have a clearer idea of where you are going, develop an extensive individual development plan, which will not only allow you to determine what your end goal is, but allow you to determine what to do to get there. My favourite individual development template was developed by the University of Missouri and is freely available online.
You should also produce a one-pager that conveys the essence of where you are and where you are going. Having this on hand and even in some cases in a public form, may be useful to keep your professional identity and goals in sight. I transformed mine into a personal website. More specifially, you should be asking yourself what you define as success exactly. It can be beneficial to look back at previous challenges and successes to determine what our own magic formula for success is.
5. Pivot: "How to keep the momentum and have a proactive approach to career development?"
Even if you spent a great deal of time and energy organizing and implementing a strong career strategy, its success will rely on your ability to be able to change it to adapt to new realities. In some cases, this may mean starting from the beginning again, or any other step along the way, especially Gap Analysis, as the market changes.
You don't necessarily need to undertake a big career change to pivot. Pivoting can also mean changing some of the things you currently do to expand your horizons, meet new mentors, learn new skills, or anything else that has the power to impact your trajectory.
A great way to keep the momentum going after having built a strong career strategy is to do the 4-Week #PIVOTsprint. You can even invite a group to do it with you so you can grow together and bounce ideas from each other. It's entirely free.
The importance of continuous reflection
Developing a career strategy is hard work. It is difficult, because it forces us to reconsider who we are, rethink our life, step outside of our comfort zone and DREAM. Dreaming can be difficult. We don't want to be so vulnerable as to wish for things we know will never happen. However, without a sparkle of dare and imagination, it's often impossible to reach our full potential or even to move forward at all. We tend to be extremely good at preparing for the worst, but not that good to "prepare for the best". However, it is a crucial part of the journey. We simply can't accomplish what we cannot dream.
I have two activities that I recommend you do on a daily basis and all you need is a pile of index cards. I recommend that, each night, you answer one of these 70 questions. The next morning, flip the card over and write about a pretend scenario where you life might head in the future. This can be far-fetched, but it should be positive. Too often, we think too much about what could go wrong, but we don't spend much energy thinking about what could go well. Hold on to your cards and, once in a while, read through some. This is a great way to brainstorm about your life. Figure out what is working well for you, who you are, what you want, and where you could end up in the future. An article from the Economist discusses how imagining far-fetched scenarios about the future can prepare us to face the unexpected in the present and be better prepared for what is coming.
Always be ready
For any of this to be worth it, it is crucial for you to always be ready. You must remain open to new opportunities and have tools and materials available to sell yourself at all times. You always need an up-to-date:Should I stay or Should I go? Every time you choose an opportunity, you have to turn down something else. Your time is a finite resource and you can't do everything. You have to be mindful of that and determine whether or not the timing is conducive to make a career change.
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Most career professionals will argue that "transferable skills" are the most important thing for any job seeker. These skills are essentially the abilities you gained through various experiences, tasks, and responsibilities that can help you perform a task without having to start from scratch. Don't get me wrong, it's essential for foreign nationals to be able to articulate how their previous experiences have prepared them for new opportunities in Canada. However, in my opinion, that is simply not enough. If your whole strategy has been relying on highlighting how you have transferable skills, you are probably not reaching the level of success you want or deserve.
The thing is that ANYONE needs to put forward transferable skills, whether their past experiences are in China or across the street in Canada. Employers EXPECT you to explain to them how your skills are transferable to any job, and more specifically the job that they are trying to fill. So, this should be a given, but not your strategy to stand out. You would be doing EXACTLY what everyone else is doing BUT you would also be dealing with the following hurdles as an international student, an international graduate, or a foreign worker in Canada.
- Weaker networks
If you are not originally from Canada, chances are that you have less connections in the country. When other people are competing for the same jobs, they have more chances of knowing someone who can provide some insight about the job or answer key questions about the organization. They may even know the hiring manager or know someone who can introduce them. Foreign nationals don't always have the same luck and they may find it difficult to network in Canada, especially if they are an international student spending most of their time on campus or a professional still based outside of Canada.
- Lack of Canadian credentials and/or experience
You probably have heard before that you are at a disadvantage, because you lack Canadian credentials or experience. I personally disagree with that. I think that international experience allows us to find new creative ways to solve problems. Unfortunately, not all hiring managers think like me and it is essential for you to keep that in mind. They may think that what your learned may not be transferable (that word again) enough or may not even apply in the Canadian context. In some occasions, they can also be worried that you will struggle to adapt to the company culture or that your personal values may not be compatible with the organization. Success in one context does not guarantee success in a different context. This is always true, but it tends to stay top of mind when hiring managers are speaking with foreign nationals.
Not all employers have experience hiring foreign nationals. They may not be familiar with immigration laws, regulations, and procedures. The fear of the unknown may push them to consider Canadians first or even to leave the position unfilled and wait if they can't find a permanent resident or a Canadian citizen.
- Unfair power dynamics
Finally, hiring managers know that it is more difficult for foreign nationals to secure employment. They may assume that you are desperate and ask you to go above and beyond, accept a lower wage, or compromise in other ways. They may think that they are doing you a huge favour by "giving you a shot", but in reality, they are probably forcing you into a position where you are effectively underemployed. To truly get a job that you deserve, you will have to stand out more than a Canadian would have to (at least that this is what I personally think).
+ Additive skills, knowledge, or experience
The truth is that will make you stand out from the crowd is not transferable skills... that is a given! What you need is "additive skills". I define them as skills that are above and beyond what the employer is looking for. The best additive skills are skills that the employer desperately needs, but that are not included in the job description or that them employer doesn't know they need. Your goal is to show them that you tick all the boxes AND that you bring something else, something BETTER to the table that other candidates may not have.
+ Different perspectives
Research shows that multicultural groups are able to embrace different perspectives, which allows them to find new innovative solutions to daunting problems. The fact that you were able to adapt to different cultures and that you are familiar with various settings make you a prime candidate for many jobs. You have the potential to be more creative and to push the whole team to succeed. A lack of Canadian experience is not that big of a problem. That is something you will acquire (quickly) over time. The other perspectives and lived experiences you bring are UNIQUE and I would argue PRICELESS. You have to let prospective employers know you can:
+ Compelling stories
Recruiters and employers are used to the same resumes and cover letters. What really cut them off-guard and makes them want to get to know you is a compelling story. Because you might have lived in various countries or chose to explore new opportunities abroad, you bring something unusual to the table. This is something you can use to stand out.
As you continue to create your job hunt strategy, I would encourage you to use the following resources.
How To Write A Cover Letter That Recruiters Will Love Using Compelling Stories
The 2 Kinds Of Skills You Should Highlight When You're Underqualified For A Job
"You see a job you’d like to apply for—but there’s a catch, you don’t meet all of the requirements. Despite that, you know the difference between being underqualified or unqualified and you feel confident you fall into the former camp rather than the latter. You can do this job". Read more...
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Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) are experts of Canadian immigration laws, regulations, and procedures. Working with an RCIC can greatly facilitate your immigration process to Canada. However, it is imperative that you check that your consultant is regulated and in good standing with ICCRC. Otherwise, they are not allowed to charge a fee to assist you in your immigration process.
Avoid using WhattsApp at all cost
A number of fraudulent individuals have been reaching out to prospective immigrants pretending to be RCICs. They portray immigrating to Canada as an easy process with little to no requirements if you hire the right people. That is simply not true. I am aware of at least five people who have been approached by fake consultants that were using my name and my picture on WhattsApp to provide fake advise, putting individuals and families in jeopardy. I would recommend to ONLY communicate with consultants using the contact information listed on the ICCRC website and avoid using social media and WhattsApp as it is easy to steal someone's identity.
Make sure you report ghost consultants and identity thefts!
If someone contacts you pretending to be me, please let me know and contacts ICCRC as soon as possible. You should contacts ICCRC any time you are contacted by a Canadian immigration consultant that is not licensed.
Oh, and that's not me and these documents are FAKE/FRAUD!
As you work on your "Canadian Dream", you must ensure you are working with top experts that are regulated and legally allowed to assist you. The risk of fraud is high and many individuals are out there trying to take advantage of immigrants. MAKE SURE you only use the email address listed on ICCRC to deal with your consultant. DO NOT engage with strangers on WhattsAPP or other social media that are saying they can help you immigrate to Canada. They may try to steal your money.
Like many other consultants, other people try to impersonate me on a regular basis. Here are few examples from the many I have been sending to the authorities over the past few months.
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LinkedIn recently produced a list of the most sought after employers in Canada by looking at four key metrics: interest in the company, engagement with employees, job demand and employee retention. These employers are not necessarily Canada's best employers, but they are employers that generate the most interest from Canadian job seekers.
Here is the top 10: