When Emma Hughes applied for Canadian immigration just over two months ago, she did not know that she would end up being the first person to obtain permanent resident status through the new Express Entry selection system for Canadian immigration. As it turned out, however, she was recently informed that she was the first Express Entry applicant to activate permanent resident status.
Emma, a citizen of Ireland, created her Express Entry profile within days of the system’s launch on January 1, 2015. With 1,094 Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points, she received an Invitation to Apply for permanent residence when Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) performed the first draw from the Express Entry pool on January 31. She submitted her complete online application on February 5, and received confirmation of her permanent resident status on March 26.
Clearly thrilled with becoming a permanent resident, Emma sat down with CICNews this week to talk about all things Canada.
How does it feel to have obtained Canadian permanent resident status?
It’s great. It’s a big relief not to have to worry about having to make a decision about whether you’re going to stay or go. You can just kind of relax now and enjoy Canada.
Why did you decide to move to Canada in the first place?
I have an aunt and uncle who moved here around 40 years ago. They immigrated from Belfast to Orono, Ontario, just east of Toronto, and we used to come and visit them a lot for family holidays. I had been maybe three or four times during my childhood to visit them with the whole family. They have sons and grandchildren now, so they’re like my Canadian family.
Did that bring about the idea in your mind that maybe one day you would like to move to Canada?
Yes, exactly. It’s so different from home. There’s a world of possibilities, the culture is so different, and everything is so much more based around being outside and interacting with nature and people. Even the choice of foods here is massive, and there are so many possibilities.
What sort of thing might you be able to get in or near the city you live in now that you wouldn’t be able to get elsewhere?
I live in Burlington, so I’m pretty close to the Bruce Trail, a hiking trail in Southern Ontario, and I’ve become quite interested in hiking and things like that. Last year I went camping with my family on Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron, where you can completely disconnect — you can go for hikes or down to the beach, and the weather is great for six months of the year.
Would you like to become a citizen of Canada eventually?
Yes, it’s the next obvious step. I love it here, and I don’t see myself being able to have the same opportunities if I went home. Even the job that I have here doesn’t exist in Ireland, so there is a much greater chance for me to progress if I stay in Canada.
Tell us a little about your job in Canada
It’s for a green chemistry company, who work with renewable bio-based alternatives to petrochemicals and harmful chemicals in general. I worked for large pharmaceutical companies for six years before I came to Canada, but this is a small company where you have much more exposure to different things. Although my background is chemistry-based and I do work in the lab, I’ve started now to be able to move into business development positions where I’m speaking with customers and trying to find out their needs. I’m taking on leadership roles in the company, which I wouldn’t be able to do at home. Because of the nature of the company, something like this doesn’t exist anywhere else.
Do you see your long-term future developing in Canada?
Yes, somewhere in the Greater Toronto Area where I am now.
Is Canada a good country to develop a professional career?
Definitely. You have exposure to a lot of different things. In Canada, if you go into a company and you are seen to be someone that will make the effort and step outside your comfort zone, they are more than happy to let you do that and let you grow into other positions.
What advice would you give to individuals looking to immigrate to Canada in the near future?
The best thing to do is to come with a positive attitude. It’s not always going to be easy. When I first came, I worked in a bakery shop in Orono, which was obviously not my dream career but you need Canadian experience to get any kind of position. Any kind of job you can get will help you. You can’t come to Canada, or any country, thinking that you’re just going to land your dream job straight away and everything is going to be rosy. It can be a hard slog and you have to be in the right place at the right time to get the positions. If you stick it out, the opportunities are there. It’s the land of immigrants, and they’re always looking for people that have different skill sets. If you come into it with the right attitude, that you’re willing to work hard and take on challenges, they’re happy to let you do that.
Do you think that the Express Entry system is good for selecting skilled immigrants?
Yes, definitely. I had heard a lot of horror stories [about previous immigration systems] that take years and years to get through, so I figured that because time was ticking on the visa that I had, even though it was valid until 2017, I didn’t want to have to wait. I can’t believe I’m the first person to get it through the new system!
What advice would you give someone who may immigrate to Canada through Express Entry?
A lot of it is about having all the information gathered together and being able to submit it quickly. If it had taken me two or three weeks to submit, then there are more people ahead of you in the queue, so to speak. I had all my information and documents to hand and was able to submit an application quickly. For example, they ask you where you have lived for the past 10 years and it needs to be exact, and you can’t just pull that out of nowhere.
Thanks Emma, and good luck!
To find out if you are eligible for any of over 60 Canadian immigration programs, including the federal economic programs that are processed under Express Entry, please fill out a free online assessment today.
What first drew Emma to Canada
– Aunt and Uncle immigrated from Belfast to Orono, Ontario
– She used to visit
– They have children and grandchildren, Emma’s Canadian family
Things that made Emma want to move to Canada
– Culture and choice of foods
– Nature and people
– World of possibilities
– Professional opportunities
– The chance to get PR and, eventually, citizenship
Things Emma couldn’t get elsewhere
– Nature and hiking
– Camping with family on Manitoulin Island
– Great weather six months a year
– The chance to take on leadership roles at work
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