- I am Jinal Sanghavi, a Chartered Accountant from India now based in Canada.
- In 2018, my husband and I visited New Zealand. This was our first international experience and needless to say we were awestruck by the kind of lifestyle the kiwis enjoyed!
- We soon started dreaming of living in a country where we could have a work-life balance and yet experience a better quality of life…that is when we discovered about Canada and the MOU between ICAI and CPA Canada.
- Fast forward, in early 2020 our PR came through, all excited we quit our jobs and were ready to make Canada our new home when the lockdown was declared. What now?
- Here is our story of resilience.
Deciding to become a CA
When it was time to decide on my career path, I was sure I didn’t want to pursue Science nor Arts. So having selected the only option – Commerce, I knew that I would either end up pursuing Chartered Accountancy or maybe doing an MBA!
I was lucky to get selected in one of the most prestigious colleges in India. Here 190 of 200 students in my batch pursued CA. This had a big influence on me.
I spoke to a lot of seniors and concluded that this degree has a good value and recognition not just in India but worldwide…and that is when it became my dream to be a CA!
Fast forward, I qualified as a CA in 2015 at the age of 22 and started my career as a Credit Analyst with HDFC Bank (a leading private sector bank in India).
Within a year I realised that I wasn’t too fond of underwriting and I wanted to work with MNCs.
I changed jobs and was soon part of the Finance Team at JP Morgan wherein my major responsibilities involved controlling the accounting & finance operations of their Indian entities which I really enjoyed.
Decision to immigrate to Canada
On the personal front, in 2018, I got married. My husband Niket (who is also a Chartered Accountant) and I, visited New Zealand. This was our first international experience.
We were totally awestruck by its beauty, infrastructure, and foreign lifestyle. Like any young couple, we both wanted to explore opportunities outside India, enjoy a better lifestyle and work life.
Once we returned, we started considering options to move to a country that was open to immigrants.
Around the same time, through some of my friends, we got to know that ICAI has a Memorandum of Understanding with CPA Canada which would facilitate mutual recognition of each others’ qualifications.
We did our research on job opportunities for CAs in Canada and we realised that it was a land full of opportunities. That is when we decided to take a step towards this dream.
We both were equally excited as well as petrified with the thought of starting a new life abroad.
Fortunately, we have a few friends and cousins in Canada who gave us a lot of confidence that we will surely make it through and things would work out well.
The decision was made…Canada would now be our new home!
Applying for our PR and process timelines
My husband and I applied for the PR process all by ourselves, we did not go to any of the agencies as the process was straightforward, we did a lot of homework at every step.
(I was 26 when we started the PR process and my 3-year work experience helped us in getting the maximum scores on the age & work experience front.)
As a couple, we were supposed to show funds of around INR 9 lacs which was backed by our savings.
To crack IELTS, we went through a lot of study material available online and practiced a lot of modules that worked for us.
We got our desired points in the first attempt (the cut-off was 462 & our score was 471), by Sept’19 we got an invitation to apply. Woohoo!
We were highly proactive with our documentation and planning; we had kept all the documents ready for submission and in Oct’19 we were done with the submission.
The PR process went very smoothly for us and fortunately, after 112 days i.e. 22nd Jan’20 we got a request to submit our passport for visa stamping. We could finally see our dream coming to reality.
Moving to Canada amidst a lockdown
Once we got our visa in mid-February we resigned from our jobs and booked our flight for 1st July 2020.
We were really excited and then the unexpected happened, the world went into a lockdown!
By now we had already resigned from our jobs. We were completely clueless as to what should be our next move!
Every day we would hear a new story about lockdowns, increase in cases, layoffs, recession and we did realise that it was definitely a bad time to move to Canada.
We knew it would be 10 times harder to settle down during this period which was a slump but this was the dream that we were building since the moment we planned to immigrate.
With no surety of getting a job, we were skeptical, and we were constantly talking to people in Toronto from a similar background like ours to get an understanding of the situation.
We grabbed all the positive opinions and instead of looking out for a new job in Mumbai we thought of trying our luck in Toronto and booked the Vande Bharat Air India Delhi-Toronto flight for the 27th of June.
Our families were very supportive of our decision and encouraged us to follow our dreams!
Our 36-hour long journey was definitely not a pleasant one as we had a mask, gloves and face shield on throughout the flight!
However, the moment we landed at Toronto Pearson airport, there was a sense of accomplishment, the feeling that you get when you fulfill one of your dearest dreams!
Adjusting to your new life
We had booked an Airbnb for straight four months as we knew it will be difficult to find a place to stay during COVID and moving around would not be easy.
We had to quarantine for 14 days. Then came the next challenge of adapting to the very different Toronto culture of finding jobs, networking with professionals from similar backgrounds and contacting recruiters, opening up bank accounts, getting SIM cards and applying for Social Insurance Number(SIN).
Since we came during the pandemic, we could not find SIM cards at the airport and we then ordered it online. Even the SIN process has shifted online which made our lives simpler!
Finding a new job during COVID in Canada
Looking for a job in a new country in itself is a full-time job! I would invest almost 10-12 hours a day looking out for new opportunities.
Canadian experience is highly valued here and newcomers initially face rejections as they lack it, getting that foot in the door is very important.
I gave a couple of interviews and I was fortunate enough to find a full-time job in Accounts & Finance in 1.5 months post landing.
I had directly applied to the job posting on LinkedIn and the manager contacted me. I gave a telephonic interview while enjoying the view of the magnificent Niagara Falls as the call was completely unexpected and I could not have rescheduled it.
I was then called for a second round at the office and within 4 days I had the job offer in my hand.
We were so relaxed that at least one of us secured a job in such unprecedented times. Within three months of landing, Niket was also able to find a job in his field through networking.
Considering immigrating anytime soon?
It is just a matter of time when the borders will again open for immigrants already holding PR.
My suggestion for people who are stuck is, optimize LinkedIn. Send genuine personalized invites and don’t directly ask for jobs but try and gauge an understanding of the culture and job market.
Work on your resume and cover letter, it should highlight your achievements, efficiencies brought by you and the skills that you possess.
The keywords in your resume should match the job description. A cover letter is given a lot of importance here and it should be customized for each job.
Make sure you have enough money to cover yourself for the first 6 months.
Be open to contract opportunities as well.
Engage in courses that will help in strengthening your technical skills which can be put on your resume.
Soft skills are of major importance as most of the interviews here are behavioural rather than technical.
Networking has a very important role to play. (It is always advisable to network with seniors at the managerial level as they are in a much better position to answer questions.)
“Magic happens to those who believe in it”.
Canada is a land full of opportunities for those who are determined and willing to go that extra mile, one just needs to have faith in themselves.
The job situation in Canada is way better right now. They need people to revive their economy, so it is one of the best times for immigrants to move the moment things start off.
I would just say, it’s worth packing your bags and moving to this beautiful country which welcomes immigrants.
Self-doubts are obvious, but it is important to hold on to positive stories…in the end, good things happen to good people, so it is very important to be a good person no matter where you go.
Now It’s Your Turn…
Have your immigration plans delayed? Share your story and comment below to connect with Jinal.
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