We had to provide documents to back up our claims in the application form. I dug out ancient and tatty British birth certificates for all of us - nothing makes you feel quite so old as to see that faded bit of pink paper, the ink a subtle shade of brown after years neglect. Dug out the marriage certificate and got photopies of all of these. We went across to the bank and got the copies notarised. Same with passports, educational documents and so on. So far, so good.
Next we needed letters from previous employers. This was a bit of a problem for us. We had been self employed for the majority of our adult lives. The few people we had worked for donkeys years ago had either died or gone out of business. I hasten to add that we had nothing to do with the demise of any person or business! It just happened that way.
As we were business partners we effectively worked for each other. I could have written a very nice reference for Alan and equally he would have been a dead man had he not offered to do the same for me, but I assumed that the Canadian Immigration authorities might not believe my glowing descriptions of him so we needed to come up with something else.
We got photocopies of newspaper and magazine reviews of the restaurant and also asked our regular customers if they would write something for us too. This was a problem because we didn't want the world to know we were even thinking about moving to Canada. Not because we were planning on doing a moonlight flit or were ashamed of the plan, but when you are in business, if you even hint that you might be leaving you can more or less kiss the business goodbye. In this case we especially didn't want it known that we were applying because we had no idea if we would even be approved or how long the process would take.
We received a letter to say we had been interview-waived but were warned that this decision could be reversed at will. In fact I have heard of many cases where they did change their minds so bear it in mind when you are deciding where to apply.
Next we had a phone call where they did a kind of impromptu interview. It was very friendly. He made the inevitable comment about our English accents when we were living in the mid-west of the USA and commented about the weather and so on. To be honest I think they were just checking that we were, indeed, who we claimed to be and that we did indeed run a restaurant. Probably they also wanted to hear how our English was too.
Finally, after months of waiting, we received a letter to say we were approved. It still took almost another 8 weeks before we received the papers. The delay is simply clerical. It seems to take them ages to actually type the damn thing up and send it out. Meanwhile we had sold the business at a whopping great loss, borne the brunt of comments from people who assumed we were being thrown out of the USA and we holed up in a motel - in January, in Iowa! - waiting for the package.
I discovered this is an ideal time to schedule that nervous breakdown if you are going to have one. There's nothing else you can do with the time anyway.......
Go to Chapter Six