Amar’s newcomer story: From quarantining at home to finding a job during the pandemic
Amar Desai moved from India to Canada in June 2020. “My family and I landed during the pandemic, but we were prepared, nonetheless. The Planning for Canada team equipped us with lots of information and contacts of agencies in Toronto that supported us from Day 1. In no time, I had a job, too,” says Amar. Here’s his story of immigrating to Canada and finding a job during the pandemic:
Country of origin: India
Immigrated to Canada in: June 2020
Currently lives in: Brampton, Ontario
Occupation: Product production management and planning
Why did you decide to immigrate to Canada?
In 2017, a few of my colleagues moved to Canada through different immigration programs, such as the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) and Express Entry. They shared their experiences with me about life in Canada, work opportunities, etc. I got interested, read up more online, and felt surer about immigrating, for growth in my field and a better standard of living for my family.
What do you like about Canada? Is there also something you dislike?
Like: The cultural diversity! Everyone is also so polite and nice. After landing in Canada, we (Amar, his wife and their son) stayed at an Airbnb. In the first few weeks of our stay, I found a survival job. Our landlords, who were very welcoming, threw me a backyard party on a weekend. It was so nice of them to do that. Also, in Brampton, a lot of people are from my community, so Canada feels like a home away from home.
Dislike: Nothing really! We immigrated during COVID-19, so we did not get a chance to explore much.
What was it like to move to Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic?
We received the Canadian visa in March 2020, but India entered a nationwide lockdown, and we were unable to book a flight to Canada. Later, when some flights were made available, we immediately booked our tickets and took precautions while traveling.
Did you face any specific challenges after you landed in Canada?
Yes, there were a few disadvantages because of COVID-19. Firstly, that excitement to move to a new country was missing; we were scared of catching the infection while traveling. Then after we landed here, we had to quarantine for 14 days before we could apply for a health card or driver’s license. These processes also took longer; there would be big lineups outside the centers. Buying a car was a priority for us because I did not want to commute through public transit with our two-year-old son. And lastly, the job market was impacted – businesses were closing down and there were fewer work opportunities.
When did you avail of Planning for Canada’s pre-arrival services? Was the time that you had enough to absorb all the information?
I took it just two weeks before our flight was scheduled, but I wouldn’t advise that to anyone. Although Planning for Canada provided excellent service and gave us a lot of information, I didn’t have enough time. I should have reached out to them at least a month earlier.
What was Planning for Canada’s role in your immigration preparation?
Once we got our Canadian visa, I asked our friends in Canada for tips and also joined some social media groups. A friend told me about Planning for Canada. I’m glad I connected with them because not only did they guide me about the culture in Canada and what work-life is like, they also provided me with a personalized planning session. A dedicated advisor understood my requirements and advised a tailored action plan which I executed after landing in Canada. The Planning for Canada team also told us about networking and a mentorship program. And during our orientation session, I was able to connect with a few other new immigrants.
How did these services assist you in your settlement and integration journey in Canada?
In the pre-arrival sessions, Planning for Canada shared a lot of valuable information, such as how I could prepare to enter the job market. They also connected me with an employment agency in Toronto. The agency helped me build a Canadian-style resume, told me about workplace communication, etc. All this was done remotely through webinars because I was quarantining for the first two weeks. This way, I was able to utilize my time very well. The employment agency further connected me with a community center that provided settlement support and answered my questions about rental options and neighborhoods.
Please tell us about your employment journey in Canada.
I started a survival job a few weeks after I landed in Canada but soon after that, I found employment as a production leader in a mattress manufacturing firm. In India, I used to work in the planning and project management area of a manufacturing company, so I was able to use my tacit knowledge as well as explicit knowledge in my job in Canada.
Any tips or learnings that you’d like to share with future immigrants?
I will advise them to assess their professional skills to decide early if they need any certification or exam to get a head start in their career here. Also, be as prepared as you can – create your resume in the Canadian style while you’re still in your home country. Also, be prepared financially to meet your expenses without a job for at least a few months after landing.
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* Planning for Canada, funded by Immigration, Refugees, Citizenship Canada, provides pre-arrival services to economic and family class immigrants before coming to Canada. For more information and to register, visit: www.planningforcanada.ca.