RSSSubscribe via RSS / Email

The emptiest feeling I’ve ever had

The emptiest feeling I’ve ever had

For those of you who have been following the blog for a while now, you probably know that our plan was to fly to Hawaii in 4 months time and then most likely onwards to Vancouver and beyond. After exploring North America for a few months, our aim was to eventually return to Canada, find somewhere to settle for a few months and subsequently obtain work. Amy’s uncle lives in Toronto so that looked like it could have been the perfect destination for us.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it’s going to happen anymore.

After a process that’s dragged out for over 4 months, I’ve finally received official notification from the Consulate General of Canada that I’ve been rejected for a Canadian work permit. Yep, rejected. By the nature of Canadian law, this also means that I’m inadmissible to Canada until I apply for rehabilitation which I’m not eligible for until 23 January 2012.

Based on a careful review of the information contained in your application and all of the documentation which you have provided in support of your application, I am not satisfied that you meet the requirements of the Act and the Regulations. I am therefore refusing your application.

After reading this letter, I can’t even begin to explain the emotions I started to feel. Anger. Disappointment. Devastation. Completely and utterly emptiness. Our hopes and dreams crushed to pieces.

Lake Louise

Lake Louise - will you still wait for us?

My offence

I’m sure by now you’re wondering what the hell I did, right? It must have been pretty awful to have a visa application rejected and be deemed inadmissible to Canada for a minimum 5 year period after the offence.

In March 2006 when attempting to park my car in an underground parking garage, I inadvertently made contact with another car’s rear bumper whilst reversing, causing minor damage to the other vehicle. As it was the first time I’ve been a situation like this, I was unaware of my responsibilities and failed to leave a note on the other car – not deliberately of course, but out of ignorance more than anything.

I was subsequently charged on a summary offence with “reverse vehicle when unsafe” and “fail to report property damage”. In hindsight, it was a very naive and silly decision not to leave a note, but hardly an offence where they’d lock you in jail and throw away the key. We’ve all made mistakes like this when we’re young, right?

Unfortunately I slept through my court hearing in November as I was suffering from mild depression and insomnia at the time (not a good combination, believe me!). As a result, I was convicted of the two charges and had my license suspended for 2 months. Harsh decision yes and again in hindsight, I probably should have done something about it and appealed the decision due to medical grounds but I just wanted to move on from the situation and accepted the judgement.

Little did I know that one silly mistake 5 years ago and some bad decisions would come back to haunt me so badly! In reflection, I wish I had left a note… I wish I had gone to court that day and I may have escaped conviction… in fact, I kind of wish that I never applied for a Canadian visa!

Canada’s interpretation of my offence

Here is the direct extract from the rejection letter:

On 23 November 2006 you were convicted of “failing to report accident” which equates to section 252(1)(b) of the Criminal Code of Canada and is an indictable offence liable to a maximum of 5 years imprisonment.

You will be eligible to apply for rehabilitation not before 23 January 2012 if not convicted of any other offences rendering you inadmissible until then.

So essentially what was a summary offence in Australia is equivalent to an indictable offence in Canada. But a maximum of 5 years imprisonment for what I did? Please!

It seems that the Consulate General of Canada sees this matter as completely black and white even though there is such a vast grey area. Initially I was surprised that I had to provide a traffic history report during the visa application process but now I’m completely stunned at this decision. Unfortunately though, I have no choice but to respect it and move on from it.

The future

We’ve got our one-way tickets to Hawaii on July 26. But now we have even more unanswered questions that need to be answered as soon as possible so we can plan accordingly.

  • Do we still go on this round-the-world adventure or do we postpone it until early 2012 when I’m eligible to apply for rehabilitation?
  • If we do go through with our trip, how will this affect our plans and our budget?
  • Where should we visit now instead of Canada?
  • Do we work in the UK or give up on the working holiday idea?

Regardless on the answers to these questions, I’m sure more and more will arise but hopefully a resolution isn’t far away. We aim to discuss our plans and make some important decisions about our trip in late April so stay tuned.

We’re still extremely determined to visit Canada, but this won’t be happening for at least the next 12 months it seems. It’s a very sad day, but believe me when I say that we’ll only become stronger from this decision and experience and resolve to have even greater travel adventures because of it!

Apologies for the rant, I just had to get this all off my chest! Have you had visa issues before? How have you dealt with them? Do you have any advice for my situation?

Flickr Photos: jacob earl, MarilynJane