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Emigration waiting game: What to do when Canada leaves you on ‘Read’

By Claire Badenhorst

“So when are you leaving?”

“Still not heard anything?”

“Gosh, it must be tough living in limbo.”

This has been the soundtrack of my life since roughly May 2020. Shortly after we got married in 2019, my husband and I began our application for Permanent Residence in Canada as Federal Skilled Workers. To do this, we completed an Express Entry profile, which is supposed to be the quickest way to immigrate to Canada. Normally, the processing time is six months or less before you get a Visa. We’ve been waiting to hear something for more than eight months now.

The final step of your application (after English tests, a medical, and piles of paperwork) involves capturing your biometrics. Of course, Covid turned the whole world into a place we don’t recognize anymore, so despite completing our applications in May, we were unable to go until November last year when the Visa application centre finally opened.

We were confident we’d hear something by December or January so that we could book our flights for February. We had it all worked out. Of course, if we’ve learnt anything since March 2020 it’s that there’s not much point in ‘planning ahead’.

We are still in South Africa with no clue of when we’ll hear something.

While we are most definitely not in the worst position (some people have been waiting since 2019), it’s still frustrating to have your life put on hold. We could hear something at any moment, but we could also NOT hear anything for a few months. Maybe longer. It’s completely out of our control (and I sort of like being in control).

We are trying to carry on with our lives as much as possible, and don’t get me wrong; I’m very grateful for the extra time with friends and family but it’s difficult to know what to do next. When do you sell your stuff? When should you book movers if you’re taking a container? Should I take that promotion at work? Will I be wasting my company’s time and resources? When should I resign?

The chronic overthinker in me believes there must be something wrong with one of our documents. I feel deflated, confused, and anxious. I feel like Canada has left me on ‘Read’ with no intention of texting back. 

If you’re in the same boat, all I can say is DON’T PANIC. I get it. Know that you are not alone – there are hundreds of Facebook groups and forums for people like us and I find it very comforting to see how many people feel the way I do. If you are in this process (or know of a fellow South African who is going through this) there’s a brilliant group I’ve discovered on Facebook called SA2Canada. It’s a safe space to ask immigration questions with great advice from other Saffas who are in the same situation.

We are living in unique times and as I’ve said before, immigrating during a pandemic is not for the faint-hearted. Travel to Canada will open for tourists in September, so many of us are optimistic that that will kick things into gear once again. For now, we must just take this crazy journey one step at a time and know that it WILL work out. A friend recently said to me that immigration is a marathon, not a sprint. There will be many bumps in the road. There will be highs and lows, but the feeling of elation we’ll experience at the end will make it all worthwhile. For now, take care of yourself and get that bottle of bubbly on ice, my friend.

Considering a move to Canada? Check out these links to get a better idea of what is involved. Or, let our team reach out and chat to you – contact us at

Related articles:

Emigrating to Canada from South Africa: Know your WHY

My immigration journey: Trading boerewors for beaver tails

How did we end up in Canada?

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