Foreigners seeking to stay and work in Canada need to understand the process
Many who call Whistler home have gone through it, but almost everyone who comes here from another country to work has contemplated it.
Such is Whistler's beauty that most foreigners that arrive here will contemplate getting a visa extension or even immigrating to Canada.
Many of these people, like Ben (not his real name), find the process too obtrusive and stay here illegally. Others try to get around the process, or at least attempt to speed it up, by getting married earlier than they might have planned.
Then there are those people, like Alex Hester, who spend time on the Immigration Canada Web site, print all the forms, pay the fees and wait patiently for the reply.
Ben's case is a common one that frustrates many capable young people in Whistler who plan to come for a short time and realize too late they need to do some research if they want to stay.
"I know you have to pay a fair amount before you even start and it can take a year to go through the process," Ben said.
"Then you've only got a 50 per cent chance of getting it, so it's a bit of a shot in the dark I think.
"I reckon at least 10-15 per cent of people who work here are here illegally but they get all the sh--- jobs done."
Ben has been successful with several job applications since arriving in Whistler but he was forced to quit most of those jobs because he is an illegal worker.
"I think this place would struggle without us because I don't know many people who want to rough people up in nightclubs or shovel snow, but that's what a lot of us have to do," he said.
"I'd say 75 per cent of jobs I apply for I can't get because I don't have a visa.
"I understand they have to have some protection but I don't think that just because you're not a Canadian citizen you shouldn't be given a chance to earn a descent living if there's work there."
Ben's other concern with immigration is that he is now engaged to a Canadian citizen.
"I know a lot of people who have gotten married to get around it (immigration)," he said.
"But I'm not getting married just because it makes it easier for me to stay - they're the wrong reasons."
Hester confirmed that getting married or even being in a long-term de-facto relationship can make things easier when attempting to immigrate, but the process remains extensive regardless of how or why people apply to stay.
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