If all goes well and the visa officer handling your application has no further questions or requests, they will issue a passport request. This is the second to the last process in acquiring an immigrant status (PR), the last being able to land in Canada and securing a PR card.
By default, passport requests come from the Ottawa visa office (VO). The letter that you will receive, in both your personal mail and MyCIC mail will instruct you to send your passport/s (including your dependents) to Canada. This is not the case for applicants outside Canada. They initially send a template mail, which may not be applicable to all applicants. You should email CPC-CTD-Ottawa@cic.gc.ca that you are requesting to change the visa office that will issue your visa. For instance, if you live in the Philippines, you should request the Ottawa office to change the visa issuer to the Manila visa office. I work in Singapore and my dependents live in the Philippines, so my request was for me to have the visa issued here in Singapore and my dependents in Manila. They responded within the day. You’ll know that your visa office has changed when you get another Passport Request Letter from the visa office that you requested to be transferred to.
Now that you have the letter, you only have 30 days to submit your passport. If you’re VO is from Singapore and Manila, you cannot submit the passport directly to the visa office, you need to pass it through VFS Philippines and for my case VFS Singapore. They are the only accredited passport transport service by the Canadian embassy.
Since I was in Manila during the first week of August, I was the one who submitted my wife and daughter’s passports in VFS Manila. Note that each VFS offices have a specific time on when you can submit and collect the passports (you can check it on their website). We have to learn it the hard way when we came in at 3:01 PM and the cutoff was 3:00 PM. Well, we were not allowed to enter so I need to come back the next day.
Be sure to bring the following:
- At least two copies of the Passport Request Letter
- The passports that you will be submitting; and
- The photos that conform to the standards suggested in the Passport Request Letter (bring the letter to a reputable photography studio for the instructions on photo size).
I suggest not bringing any other stuff (including phones) as these are not allowed inside the center. You may rent a temporary bin though for PHP 100. Staffs were very polite and helpful. You can opt to have your passports delivered for a fee of course, or you can collect them. We chose to have it delivered. Total cost was PHP 1730 for my wife’s and daughter’s passports, including the delivery charge.
As soon as I was in Singapore, I passed my passport in VFS Singapore. They are not so strict here as bags and mobile phones were allowed inside the center. Manila and Singapore centers have almost the same process except that there is no option to have your passports delivered (not so sure about this since the staff that I talked to didn’t offer me this service). The cost here in Singapore is SGD 33.20.
After two weeks, my wife and daughter got their passports already, mine was available for pick-up after three weeks. You will receive your passport with visa as well as the Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) document that you will need to present to an immigration officer in a Canadian port where you will be landing.
So, after 220 days (plus ECA and IELTS review and result), we have acquired our visa. We have been really lucky to be able to have acquired a visa in less than a year. Previously, it will take year. Take this as a testament that Express Entry works. It may be a new system, but the Canadian government is working hard to continuously improve it. You can’t discount the help given by the forums, blogs and online guides since these are true stories, stories and experiences that are unique to each applicant, but if you’ll search hard enough and invest time in researching, you’ll have a greater understanding of the process.
What’s left for us is to plan our moving date, buy plane tickets and pack our things. All of which will entail lots of work.
I’ll keep everyone posted.