Sunday, February 21, 2010

fingerprinting...

First, these snow sculptures have little or nothing to do with this post. It's just that I don't have any photos to go with what I'm writing, and it would be a shame to waste such fascinating and ephemeral art! My favorite sculpture was the one of the parasols. It was so elegant and I've no idea how the artist kept it all aloft. The temperatures here have been just a little below freezing (-4C was the high, so in the 20's F) so I'm glad we saw the sculptures at the beginning of Festival! The ones around town are beginning to look a bit less crisp around the edges--droopy even.

One of the less glamorous details about moving to Manitoba has been dealing with immigration. We've met U.S. citizens who moved before the days of increased security...and apparently, it never used to be very difficult to move here. Either that...or they've all blocked it out.

Most people apply for permanent residency before they move to this province. In our case, we had to wait until the professor was officially approved for his job. Then, we had to rush everything to get packed and moved in time. We were granted work permits, and so we're facing the complications of applying for residency while living here.

There are many stages. We filled out paperwork listing everywhere we'd lived since age 18. (a lot of places.) We made copies of all sorts of official documents. The professor had meetings with the appropriate university official who goes through the details.

On Friday, we went to the downtown police department--for fingerprinting. For us, this was sort of a fun adventure. It was snowing some, and we navigated ourselves through rush hour and got a parking space directly in front of the building. (After all, who wants to visit the police department first thing? Us!) The fingerprints are sent to the FBI. They check to see if we're upstanding citizens. In fact, if the powers that be warrant it as a secondary check, they can ask us to do this for every single state we've lived in since we were 18. For the professor, that's 3 states, for me, it's 4, and the professor did a graduate degree abroad, so that's... (never mind.) For 2 sets of fingerprints each, it was $110 Canadian. You can imagine, the costs add up.

I think we entertained the police clerk as we weren't in any trouble, and I even had previous experience being fingerprinted! I worked briefly during college for the U.S. Justice Department, so I'd been fingerprinted and even had a lie detector test at the FBI in Washington, D.C. once before.

The bureaucracy of all this is actually logical. There's no mystery to it, it's spelled out and clear. It is apparently harder to move to Ontario (a heavily populated province) than it is to move to Manitoba. We've been assured that as long as we are good souls, this isn't a lottery and we'll be welcomed to the province officially as permanent residents. Although it costs a fair bit, from what we hear, it doesn't cost as much as it costs to move to the U.S. This whole process has made us aware of how hard it is for immigrants and refugees who move to North America every year.

We're lucky. We speak English, we read English, and we're mostly capable of understanding how things work in this culture. We're educated, and we got to move here with warm winter coats and boots. We got to bring all our belongings, our cars and our dogs. We weren't escaping danger or hardship.

So, while the hoops we're jumping seem to take up a lot of time, we realize it's no worse and probably a lot easier for us than for many other immigrants we've met. In fact, when we compare it to our families' immigration stories, (dated anywhere from 1840 to 1950) who took boats to the U.S. and landed without a lot of English, well, we have it pretty ok.

We also now realize that the average person (Canadian or U.S. citizen, or whatever) doesn't have a good idea of what this is like. We're often asked if "We're all settled in now..." and we wonder whether to just say, "yes thanks" or explain what's really happening. The other immigrants just smile and nod knowingly and ask what we're up to in the process.

Each day we live here, we learn something new. Some days, we learn two things...On Friday, I learned 10 important details.

When I had my fingerprints done by the FBI, I seem to remember that the ink was permanent and I scrubbed like crazy to get it off. In Canada, at the Manitoba police station, the ink isn't permanent. They have a solvent nearby. That ink comes right off.

See? No one knew that I got fingerprinted on Friday unless I told them. That's definitely an improvement on last time.

Did you learn something new today? Do tell....seems like every day around here is a chance to learn new vocabulary, customs, or about fingerprinting ink!

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7 Comments:

Blogger Freyalyn said...

I learned that jackdaws fly in pairs...

February 22, 2010 at 2:49 AM  
Blogger GrandmaMoo said...

I just thought you might like to know that when you get fingerprinted here (in Ohio), it's done electronically, no ink at all! The only bad part is that you have to have it redone time after time for different jobs... So it does get expensive... But to get a job working with children, you have to do it.
Loved the pictures of the festival!

February 22, 2010 at 3:33 PM  
Blogger Joanne said...

You know, that's a good point! I think they have electronic fingerprinting here too, but it is only for criminals! Apparently very few people get fingerprinted on the special paper forms for the FBI--so the province saw no point in getting an electronic reader just for that. We asked!

February 22, 2010 at 4:15 PM  
Blogger Geek Knitter said...

I learned that it's actually possible to walk past a plate of home-made cookies in the break room without snarfing half a dozen of them. I'd been told this was possible, but had never attempted it myself.

February 22, 2010 at 5:40 PM  
Blogger Willow said...

I've been fingerprinting, oh, maybe ten times because I've lived in Indonesia and needed to have my visa renewed several times. Then, when you are a teacher and change school districts you have to be refingerprinted. Here in SoCal, I've been printed electronically three times in seven years.

I didn't learn anything new, just had memories brought back of all those trips to imigrasi. :)

February 23, 2010 at 12:15 AM  
Blogger Marie said...

My father used to ask every evening at dinner what we had learned that day, and everybody had to give at least one example.
I'm not sure what I've learned today - but the day isn't over yet!

February 23, 2010 at 5:41 PM  
Blogger Alison said...

I had to embiggen it--those are snow umbrellas? How cool is that! I haven't learned yet how someone DID that!...

--AlisonH

February 23, 2010 at 10:08 PM  

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