5 pre-departure essentials

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Preparing for your impending immigration? For sure, this is a busy time for you. But in the rush of getting your finances, clothes and other baggage ready, don’t forget to prepare the most important part of this journey – yourself.

The following is a list of five activities that you can do before leaving your home country to help you get ready for living and working in Canada:

  1. Attend pre-departure orientation seminars

  2. Seminars such as the Canadian Orientation Abroad (COA) and the Canadian Immigrant Integration Program (CIIP) equip you with accurate information to prepare you for your arrival in Canada. Topics discussed are Canadian culture, employment, and getting the right settlement supports, among others. These seminars are important because they provide up-to-date information that will help you develop realistic expectations about living in Canada. They will also tell you about the skills necessary to be successful in your new home, based on studies, as well as from the feedback from their previous graduates. If you have questions and concerns related to your impending immigration, this would also be a good venue to raise them.

    Those who are in the final stages of their immigration (those who have an invitation letter from CIIP/COA, medical notification letter, visa pick-up notification letter, or visa but have not yet landed in Canada) can sign up for these free seminars by going to their webpages or contacting their regional offices (list of offices and contact numbers can also be found online).

    Settlement Online Pre-Arrival for Manitoba was introduced early this year precisely to get pre-arrivals job-ready as early as possible. It is an IRCC-funded program (so it’s free!) to provide the most reliable information to help immigrants arrive prepared. SOPA is an online program that provides personalized pre-employment guidance for immigrants. What is great about SOPA is that it does not only focus on the necessary tools in getting a job but in retaining a job as well. It gets you ready to build a career, not only an occupation. Aside from this, it also provides settlement guidance to help immigrants integrate in the shortest possible time. To register: Go to Entry Program or SOPA. For inquiries, email them at sopa@amanitoba.com.

  3. Learn job-ready English

  4. One of the most important aspects that will make or break your move to Canada is your ability to communicate in English. As language permeates all of your everyday activities, like acquiring information, getting help, and participating in community life, it is imperative to learn how to communicate well to survive in your new home. It is also essential for getting a job and staying in your job (read Learner Story: Rhea Bugarin). Before coming to Canada, you should start improving your reading, listening, writing and speaking skills in English, either formally (through lessons) or by practicing it in your everyday life (read 10 easy ways to improve your English for examples). You can also use the self-study materials on livelearn.ca. If you need further instruction, you can register with English Online once you arrive in Manitoba.

    English Online offers many free learning options for you, depending on your learning preferences or availability. And because it is online, you can easily access our materials whenever and wherever you are. Another advantage of learning with English Online is that our lessons are based on settlement topics. In this way, you learn basic things about living and working in Manitoba while honing your English skills as well. Check out our learning options here: Learn.

  5. Learn about living and working in Manitoba

  6. Pre-departure seminars and online research can provide general information about Canada. However, to know more information that is specific to the province or city that you are going to, you can connect with people who are living in that specific province or city. You can do this by joining forums or Facebook groups which you can search online. The great thing about these forums is that they can give you an idea about the concerns of new immigrants like you, advice regarding issues in career or day-to-day living, and other tips. Once you are a member, you can also question and get answers from the members. One caveat though, as these people are not immigration experts, advice should always be taken with a grain of salt.

    Another option is to avail of English Online’s free career and settlement mentorship service (you can register once you arrive in Manitoba). In this program, you will be paired up with a Career e-Mentor (if you need career advice on your specific profession) or a Settlement e-Volunteer (if your concerns are about life and culture in Manitoba). This is a one-on-one service done over Skype based on a schedule that you establish and agree on with your mentor. Aside from the personalized instruction, this program will also provide an opportunity for you to start building your network.

  7. Connect with SPOs

  8. Settlement Provider Organizations (SPOs) (or immigrant serving organizations) are agencies that assist immigrants in all the aspects of settlement. There are SPOs that concentrate on providing English language instruction, family services (like parenting, child-care, counselling etc.), housing, or job/career orientation and placement. Their services are usually provided for free to immigrants (permanent residents and refugees), as long as they are not citizens yet.

    Learning about SPOs and their services will help you map out your immediate plans when you reach Manitoba (you can check their websites). You can even contact some of these agencies while you are still in your home country to ask for help on housing options (for example, New Journey Housing).

  9. Connect with your professional association

  10. If your profession is regulated (read 5 steps to credentials assessment and licensing to know if it is), you should find out the requirements to become certified or licenced, before you come to Canada. Knowing all about the procedures and requirements ahead of time will help you prepare (credentials, papers, finances, etc.) for these necessary steps. Also, if some of these steps may already be done from your home country, it will help lessen expenses and shorten the amount of time it will take for you to be certified/licenced and ready to practice your profession in Canada.

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Community Resources

Read the article Your “before moving to Canada” checklist (and download the actual checklist) to guide you in your preparations.

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