Wednesday, June 05, 2013

IEN dreams of migrating to Vancouver

I received a question from an IEN originally from The Philippines. My long reply to her is below. I will appreciate if other IENs (who happen to read my blog) can share their opinions, views, or suggestions to this Anonymous commenter. Thanks!


hello Winking Doll, 
I am a registered nurse from Philippines and currently working here in Saudi Arabia as ICU nurse. I am contemplating to submit my documents for CRNBC as i am planning to register for CRNE finger crossed. Since going to Canada to sit for my SEC (as i know i will surely be advised for SEC by CRNBC) is very steep (tourist visa) i decided to enroll for a 10 mos program in vancouver. Though the program is quite expensive but i still got enough bucks on my pocket to finance the said schooling. I saw this avenue as the easiest way to visit Canada legally and hence sit for my SEC. Do you think part time jobs for IEN awaiting for their SEC report are available in Vancouver Canada? like janitor, waiter or jobs that are blue collared but worth trying for daily survival?..

Hi Anonymous at Tuesday, June 04, 2013 11:27:00 AM,

My answers will not make you happy, but I will state the facts, my observations and opinions, so that you can make an informed decision.

Canada closing door to immigrants
By Al Jazeera (English channel), published on 10-Jun-2013

Firstly, based on the May-2013 new Federal Skilled Workers Programme immigration visa list of wanted skills, Canada has enough nurses.

You can read the GNIE: RN Job Search Update series to see how challenging it is for my cohort of GNIE students (i.e. IENs who have Canadian permanent residency, completed 1 year of "Canadianization" nursing training, passed CRNE and obtained full, current practicing RN licence with the CRNBC) to get RN jobs in Metro Vancouver.

Secondly, there are a lot of paper-mills in Canada, especially in Vancouver. I am not sure which program you've signed up for, but please check the facts and accreditation so that you don't end up tossing good money and time on a useless venture. [I was ever advised by someone here to stick to the publicly-funded institutions and/or a few globally highly-ranked private universities if I want to pursue any Canadian paper qualifications to avoid ending up with a useless piece of paper.] I have met an IEN from South Asia who came on a (non-nursing related) student visa, lived here for a couple of years, attempted and passed the SEC and but failed the CRNE twice. She is heading for her 3rd and final attempt at the CRNE. IMHO, I do not think her approach is wise and I've told her as such, but she has decided to throw in her towel on her migration dreams should she fail this final attempt.

As for getting part-time jobs in Vancouver, (I may be wrong but IMHO) foreign students are the lowest on the pecking-order when it comes to job opportunities. Besides the Canadian youths and retirees, there are many professional immigrants (with permanent residency status) here who are actively seeking part-time/temporary survival jobs while they undergo the process of getting their qualifications accredited. You can read about my initial attempt at job search in Canada here, including the rejection of my job application as a janitor back in 2010.

In fact, some of the employers and/or job agents are unscrupulous knowing that foreign temporary workers (e.g. foreign students or working-holiday visa holders) are desperate for income for survival. They may try ways and means to squeeze such vulnerable employees beyond what is fair/legal. Do NOT trust anyone without analyzing the issues for yourself critically, not even if they are your "own countrymen". Also be forewarned that what is the "norm" in one's country of origin, may or may not be legal in Canada. [Click here for another blogger's personal experience.]

Just FYI, from what I know, the 2 peak seasons for getting casual (i.e. on-call) jobs are summer and the year-end seasonal holidays. Apply for such jobs early. E.g. start looking out in early/mid October for job hirings for the Christmas season. In addition, you will need certain certifications even for the "blue collar" jobs. E.g. Waiters need "Food Safe Level 1 Certification" and perhaps also "Serving It Right" (for premises that serves alcohol). E.g. Even volunteers at summer camps may need a current CPR Level C Certification from an approved B.C. authority.

Now that we get most of the negatives out of the way, the question is what is your ultimate goal? It sounds like to live/work in Canada. 

If I get it right, then my 2 cents suggestion is to think beyond Vancouver. Based on my observations, many IENs in Vancouver rely on an extensive social support network and/or have deep pockets in order to survive the long and arduous road to returning to their professional practice. You can check the CNA website for a list of nursing boards and see which Canadian province is easier to get into.

As for the BC, CRNBC (i.e. the BC nursing board) will provide you with an official letter for you to come to Canada as a visitor for the SEC. Besides the CRNBC letter, I understand from some IENs that Filipinos may need to show the Canadian immigration officers proof of sufficient funds and/or status of full-time employment in another country to actually obtain a visa for entry. The timing of all these applications can be a bit tricky. But should you choose to do it, the process should be:
  • apply for credential evaluation with the CRNBC, 
  • get their (CRNBC) reply that says you'll need to do the SEC, 
  • schedule the SEC (I heard it is a 3-6 months wait now), and 
  • then apply to CIC (Canadian Immigration) for short-visit visa.
IMHO, it is a good idea to start now, if you are sure that you want to live/work in Vancouver because life moves at a different pace here (i.e. it takes months for each of the above steps). Btw, I don't think I understand what your situation is since you wrote that "Since going to Canada to sit for my SEC ... is very steep (tourist visa)" and yet a "10 mos program in vancouver" as a foreign student within your affordability.

I have met other IENs whose ultimate goal was to obtain Canadian residency/citizenship status. A few did it by the long, slow, arduous route of first becoming a live-in caregiver, spend a couple of years to get their Canadian residency status approved while planning their return to nursing. The con is that they lose their skills during the long process, but the pro is that it is a stable route for those with limited finances and are willing take a long-haul view.

Frankly, the times have changed since the boom hey-days of pre-2005 when international nurses can get employment easily, and job opportunities have declined significantly especially after the 2007 Financial Crisis. Immigrants coming to Canada should enter with their eyes wide-open and consider what their options are in the worst-case scenario before arriving. Otherwise, one may find oneself as one of the immigrants languishing long-term at jobs that are not fulfilling (and/or minimum wage survival jobs) and yet are unable to save enough to return/re-establish oneself in one's country of origin either. [Note: I am not kidding you, I've met such immigrants.]–08

Best Regards, WD.


p.s. The following is an old video which has been around since the early 2000's. That said, I felt that having watched it (and read the now-defunct website of before coming to Canada helped me to be realistic in planning for my worst-case scenario when I planned for immigration. [Note: Click here for blogger Annares' post questioning the reality behind the website.]

p.p.s. Coincidentally, I mentioned to an American stranger today (whose attempt to obtain Canadian residency/citizenship failed) that there are always pros-and-cons to every policy depending on one's vested interests. I respect that Canada tightened its immigration policies given that the recent unstable global social/economic prospects have already impacted the job opportunities for its existing youth and elderly workers. IMHO, foreigners looking to live/work in Canada owe it to themselves to sniff out the realities of the Canadian economy and employment prospects instead of relying on hearsay, especially hearsay from those with vested interests (e.g. migration agents, job agents and/or private "paper-mill" schools).