How this Accountant Immigrated to Canada From Nigeria and Quickly Found a Finance Job

  • Are you a finance expert thinking of immigrating and finding a finance job in Canada?
  • Do you live in Canada already and you’re searching for a well-paying Canada finance job? Or are you curious about knowing what ACCA salary in Canada is, so you’d know how to build careers in finance?
  • There is no better person to help than real immigrants in Canada who can share with you how they went about the entire immigration process—settling in Canada and making it their new home.
  • Today, I want to introduce you to – Ivy Anigbogu who not only immigrated to Canada in July’18 but also found a Finance job in Canada within one month (in Aug’18) of moving in. This makes her pretty much the right person to teach us the same process.
  • She is a qualified ACCA and CPA Canada.

Humble Beginnings - Studying and Working with Small Kids 

Before deciding on immigrating to Canada and building a career in finance in this new country, I had 3 years of experience as an Accountant and Auditor in my home country Nigeria. Here is the timeline.

2007. I obtained my B.Sc. in Public Administration in 2007.

2008-2012. After my graduation with bachelor’s honors, I worked for 4 years as a customer service officer and then as an administrative officer. However, in 2012, I decided to quit my job and pursue my passion for Accounting and start a career in finance.

2010. I got married in 2010, to the love of my life. I married at the age of 23 and we had our first child a year later.

2013. I began studying Accounting in 2013 with The Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria and qualified as a Chartered Tax Practitioner.

2015. I then moved on to pursue ACCA in 2015 and secured an accountancy finance job as a part-time Accountant in the same year. My career in finance was underway. I also enrolled for a bachelor’s in Accounting (a 3-year course from 2015-18).

By the time I started my ACCA studies, I was 28 years old and had two small kids to manage. I was working part-time while attending lectures for my ACCA exams and studying almost all through the nights. On days when I did not have to go to work (since I was working part-time), I studied during the day after I had dropped my children at school. My study time was limited because of my kids but I knew I had to make it work.

I had no house help or babysitter while I was studying and coming from a Nigerian background, I had to do most of the household tasks for my family. However, I was very lucky to have a very helpful and caring husband. He helped with the kids and house chores when I had to study.

I wasn’t earning much but my husband, Henry Chuka Anigbogu single-handedly took it upon himself to pay my way through my ACCA and B.Sc. in Accounting studies. He believed so much in me. He is my greatest cheerleader and I call him my RARE GEM.

All my efforts eventually paid off and I completed 13 papers in ACCA within 2 years. Now, I could secure an even better accountancy finance job.

Deciding to Immigrate to Canada and Start All Over 

So let’s talk about the reason why I immigrated and continued my Finance Career in Canada.

I am from Delta State, in the South-South region of Nigeria. I had a good finance career, my husband was also doing well in his career, so we had no immediate pressures to leave. However, my husband and I always wanted to immigrate to a developed country for better career prospects and a better life for our kids.

We were particularly interested in immigrating to Canada although we were also open to other countries. However, in 2016, when my spouses’ cousin (who was studying for her Ph.D. at the time) told us about the Canadian Express entry process, we were quite excited about the opportunity.

I researched the process and actively started preparing my documents in June 2017 so we could immigrate to Canada. Oh, the prospect of securing finance jobs in Canada was thrilling! I had read a lot about ACCA's salary in Canada, and I couldn’t just wait to start earning that much.

One major reason I decided on immigrating to Canada was that ACCA has a Memorandum of Understanding with CPA Canada. So you could also say I already had my eyes set on ACCA jobs in Canada.

In addition, unlike the immigration requirements of other countries, Canada has more realistic requirements for immigrants to attain Permanent Residency. That was another bonus for us to consider immigrating to Canada. Of course, the ACCA salary in Canada was a tempting prospect too.

Applying for my Canadian Permanent Residency (PR) Visa 

Once we decided on making Canada our new home, we straight away started collecting the documents needed for this process. A friend of mine, Esther Adole told me about a Nigerian forum known as Nairaland-Canada Express entry forum—where I could get information about Canada Express Entry for free.

If you’re Nigerian planning on immigrating to Canada, you may already be familiar with Nairaland, but if you’re not, you can just google Nairaland Canada Express Entry Forum or check out Canadian Express entry Nairaland and join the forum. You will have the same access to unlimited resources which was most beneficial to me in successfully completing the Canadian immigration process.

The forum hosts Nigerians worldwide who are currently in the process and those who have already immigrated. Interested persons are encouraged to read the forum from page 0 and questions that have not been previously answered can be asked with responses obtained almost immediately. I learned about all the required documents for PR visa, which included:

  • Transcript from my universities (My institutions directly forwarded my transcript to World Evaluation Services (WES) and obtained a report stating the equivalent of my degrees in Canada)
  • Writing IELTS general exam
  • Valid International Passport
  • Police report
  • Medical report
  • Employment letter
  • Proof of funds (mine was a term deposit letter which I fixed in the bank for 3 months at the time of application).

With the support of this forum, we processed our application from start to finish without ENGAGING THE SERVICES OF AN AGENT. The entire process—from submitting my transcripts to my universities, to sending my passport to get it stamped with the PR Visa— took me 10 months (June 2017-March 2018).

Simplified Process of Immigrating to Canada

STEP 1. The process of immigrating to Canada starts with checking your eligibility for the process. You can do this online on the Canadian government website.

STEP 2. Next is to begin gathering documents needed to enter the Express Pool. This is a point-based system where rating depends on certain factors such as – Age, English score, education, and the likes. You can find more details about this on their website.

For education, it is advisable to have a Master’s degree / two or more certificates recognized by the evaluation body. This could help boost the candidate’s points.

STEP 3. The next step is to send transcripts to an evaluation body in Canada. When the report is received, the individual can enter the pool with a favorable IELTS result.

When an individual enters the Express Entry pool, he or she is allocated a score based on a few factors and age is one of them. Every birthday that the individual remains in the pool, the score for age reduces by 5 points. The only time a person’s age is locked-in is when the Canadian government sends an Invitation to apply for Permanent Residency (PR).

I failed the listening section of the IELTS test twice before I finally passed on the 3rd attempt. I felt really pressured to get a high score because I was the principal applicant and my birthday was drawing close (as my birthday was approaching, my score for age would reduce by 5 points if I stayed in the pool). However, I did not let this weigh me down.

So what did I do after failing IELTS? Once I viewed my result online and saw I had fallen short of my target point by a few marks, I immediately logged onto the British Council website and registered for the next exam. I did this the first and second time I failed until I finally got the score I wanted in the listening section. That was on my 3rd IELTS attempt.

Don’t be discouraged, failure is an opportunity for you to get better and to obtain your visa at the right time.

STEP 4. If the individual’s score reaches the cut-off point when the draw happens, they will receive an invitation to apply for Permanent Residency (PR). 

I submitted my final application for the PR status and the processing of the application took 1 month (29th January 18 – 28th February 18).

At this stage, you also will have to submit all the hard copies of the information you submitted when entering the pool—including additional documents such as Police Check reports, medical reports, and proof of funds.

When I entered the Express Entry pool, my point still dropped by 5 points because my birthday was just around the corner. Luckily, I still met the cut-off points to apply for Permanent Residency.

The financial capital you need to settle in Canada is listed on the Canadian government website based on your family size. We had savings that we had put aside from our employment income and business ventures. We also sold all of our land, car, and other properties.

STEP 5. After the individual submits this final application, it’s a waiting game from there on—awaiting the grant of the Permanent Resident status by the Canadian government.

It took me 10 months (June 2017 –March 2018) from when I started gathering my documents to enter the Express Entry Pool until when I was granted Canadian PR status.

On the 1st of March 2018, I received an email from the Canadian government stating I had been granted my PR. I moved with my husband and kids around mid-July 2018. I had 3 years of work experience as an Accountant and Auditor in Nigeria. Being from Delta state in Nigeria, you could as well say I became a Delta immigration accountant. And having completed my ACCA, I looked forward to applying for ACCA jobs in Canada.

"What Research Did I Do Before Immigrating to Canada?"

I arrived in Canada with my family in mid-July 2018 and it has been a wonderful experience since then.

did a lot of online research before I could move from Nigeria to Canada. So, when I arrived in Canada, I had a lot of knowledge on – how to settle down, where to register for government services and search for employment. This is what I did:

  • While still in Nigeria, I participated in some Canadian preparatory programs such as Can PrepAccess employmentPrepCanand the likes.
  • We were opportune to also attend a ‘Planning for Canada’ session organized by the Canadian Government while in Nigeria.
  • How did I find these programs? Google “These programs are also listed on the Canadian government website” under – How to Immigrate.

Sending my CV for jobs while I was still in my home country:

I started searching for Canadian finance jobs when I was in Nigeria. 

  • While in Nigeria I got some contact information about recruiters from a LinkedIn friend. I attached my resume to these emails and sent them to as many finance jobs in Canada as I could get. I received some responses from the recruiters and some of them set up appointments so they could meet me in person. I spoke to some of them via Skype and telephone.
  • While still in Nigeria, I got an interview call for a job in Canada. However, the interview date was set before my arrival date in Canada so I emailed the company to let them know about the situation. Unfortunately, I was asked to reapply for the position whenever I arrive in Canada as they could not reschedule the interview for me.
  • My advice is that you should research about recruiters and jobs before arriving in Canada. However, do not expect to find a job before landing in Canada. Some people do get jobs before they leave their home country but if it doesn’t work out that way, don’t be discouraged.

When I arrived in Canada, I sent emails to the various recruiters with my resume explaining how I obtained their contact information.

I also mentioned to them that I was an Accountant who recently immigrated and that I was seeking for accounting and finance graduate jobs in Canada.

"How Important is Networking in Your Job Search in Canada?"

Finding a job in Canada becomes easier when you network with a lot of helpful individuals.

Joining the above programs (CanPrepAccess employmentPrepCan) helped me understand the Canadian workplace. It also helped me in preparing my resume and cover letter in the ‘Canadian format.

I also learned from these programs about the importance of social media and networking in Canadian society, especially with LinkedIn.

When I went through those pre-arrival services in my home country, I was told that social media is a big part of the North American system—especially LinkedIn for professionals.

Networking on LinkedIn helped me a great deal when immigrating to Canada.

While still in Nigeria, I proceeded to clean up my LinkedIn profile. I started sending out strategic connect requests to people in and out of my profession. I also included a brief note of who I was while sending these requests.

That is how I also met Dweep Mehta, an Indian Chartered Accountant who had immigrated to Canada a few years back. He advised I focus on networking and told me to connect to recruiters for Canadian finance jobs. This advice helped me greatly.

I also got past and present colleagues to write reviews about my work with them and this boosted my LinkedIn page.

My advice is to start small by sending a connection request to people in your field and grow your network from there.

The first thing I Did When I Arrived in Canada from Nigeria

Immediately I immigrated from Nigeria to Canada, I spend the first week registering for various services

Firstly, I registered for most of the government services and book appointments.

I googled Service Ontario and settlement agencies near my location. There, I was guided to the government offices to visit to complete the below registrations.

I registered for several services. They are:

  • Childcare benefits for my kids at a Settlement agency
  • Driver license
  • Kids school
  • Health insurance card.
  • Also the very day we touched down at the airport, we registered for our Social Insurance number.

My second week in Canada – Finding a job 

The second week after I immigrated from Nigeria to Canada was spent visiting recruiters for Canada finance jobs and distributing my resume.

When I arrived in Canada and attended the interviews, I was often asked about my goals and what I aimed to achieve. These recruiters have links with various organizations and it was through one of them I eventually secured my present employment.

By the second week in August, I attended an interview organized by a recruitment agency and got the job. I resumed work on September 4, 2018.

I also wrote various applications for many other finance jobs in Canada which were available on LinkedIn and other job portals at the time. Everyone’s case is peculiar and I advise anyone to try all available avenues to secure a job—including applying through job portals or making use of recruiters.

To make use of recruiters, you can search them out on LinkedIn and send a connection request with a short pitch about your person and profession. I also subscribed to LinkedIn premium service so that I could send In-mails to the job poster after I apply for a job.

Job sites like LinkedIn, IndeedWorkopolis and Canada government job bank are some of the sites that constantly post jobs.

Tips for preparing CV when looking for jobs in Canada

Having a proper CV with a cover letter is very important if you want to find finance jobs in Canada (or any other job in Canada).

I obtained the format for Canadian CV and cover letter from one of those online preparatory programs I attended before immigrating to Canada from Nigeria.

During the program, you have the opportunity to send your CV and cover letter to have it reviewed by a professional who will access it and give guidance on how to correct it.

Interview tips for getting a job in Canada

You can find a lot of videos on YouTube about job interviews in Canada.

But from ‘my little’ experience, I have some interview advice for you:

  • Do a thorough study about whichever company you are applying and use this knowledge in answering your interview questions
  • Study the job description and practice how your skills match the job,
  • When asked how much you want to earn just answer that ‘you are confident the company offers a competitive package’ (If you give an amount you might be too high or low and this might disqualify you for the next interview stage).
  • For an ACCA certified accountant such as myself, you should be careful to research the range of salary before the interview. Because the ACCA salary in Canada is different from other countries.
  • Visit payscale.com to get a salary range for the position you are applying for. You can mention this range in the interview and state your source so the interviewer would know you have done your research.  

Finding a Place to Live When I Immigrated to Canada 

I decided on a city by searching for a location where my profession had more scope. I was also looking for a city with a warm climate and affordable accommodation.

I landed in Toronto and stayed at Mississauga—in an Airbnb apartment which I had researched online when I was in Nigeria. I also had made payment for the apartment for a duration of 3 weeks from Nigeria online (the site charges in USD).

From Mississauga, I moved to an apartment in Brampton (where I currently reside). These places are all within the Greater Toronto Area.

Airbnb is a site where individuals put up their homes for a temporary period of stay and the advantage is that most of these apartments are furnished, serviced apartments where you can prepare your own meals and do your own laundry.

I came to Canada knowing no one so I had to stay in an Airbnb apartment.

I couldn’t rent my own apartment because most landlords are hesitant to give you an apartment when you are not yet in the country. They want to physically meet whoever they are renting out their place to.

Also, you should come with more than enough settlement funds because some landlords require advance payments of about 6 months from newcomers since they have no jobs or references.

If you have a friend or family already in Canada, you might want to engage their help in viewing and securing an apartment before you arrive.

MoU CPA Canada and ACCA 

  • ACCA has an MoU with CPA Canada where its members are only required to undertake the Canadian Tax and Law course to be considered for CPA membership.
  • I started the process of CPA Canada in February 2018 while still in Nigeria. I did the Tax and Law course online and submitted my certificate to CPA Canada.
  • I self-studied for CPA Canada for about 1 hour per day.

In Conclusion…

  1. Immigrating to Canada from Nigeria is a conscious decision that you must make with all seriousness, focus, and determination
  2. The amount of capital indicated on the Canadian website as the minimum for each member of your family should be the least you should bring when immigrating. This is because many landlords would not rent out their houses unless you can pay at least 6months of rent in advance.
  3. Watch as many youtube videos as possible when preparing for IELTS exams. Depending on your age (32 or less) you should aim at obtaining a minimum score of 8 in listening, 7 in Speaking, 7 in Reading, and 7 in Writing.
  4. Aim to have a Master's Certificate or a B.Sc. plus Advanced Diploma before entering the Express pool. This will give you higher points.
  5. Even if you fail the IELTS exam, reapply immediately to rewrite on the next available date. Do not be discouraged. I failed the listening test and passed other sections of the test twice and was only able to pass it on the 3rd attempt. I needed 8 in Listening but in my first and second attempts, I scored 7.5. I wasn’t discouraged and I immediately registered for the next exam and today I am in Canada with my family by God’s grace. Life is not without challenges.
  6. Do a lot of research about where you would want to settle in Canada. During your search, ensure you settle for a place that favors your profession. I personally did that by putting ACCA jobs in Canada in mind.
  7. If you are from Nigeria, read through the Nairaland Canadian Express entry forum from page 0 before you ask any questions on the forum. Almost all of your questions would have been answered previously.
  8. Make accommodation arrangements before you leave Nigeria for at least one month. If you are like me with no relatives or friends in Canada, then book an Airbnb apartment before you arrive. It is cheaper than a hotel because it’s serviced apartments (you can cook your own food unlike in a hotel).
  9. Read through gc.ca thoroughly for all the information and benefits for new immigrants. There is a lot of information that will guide your decision making.
  10. You don’t need to apply for a Government photo card when you arrive. Simply apply for a driver's license and take the knowledge test for a G1 license. You will get a temporary license paper and the original one will be sent to you by mail.
  11. When you touch down at the airport, please provide a valid address to where your PR card will be sent to. In case you are using an Airbnb apartment, be sure you will still be at the location when it is sent because the card might take two months to arrive.
  12. Please do not lie on your application. If you have been denied a visa previously into any country, give the details because investigations are carried out into the information provided.
  13. Lastly and most importantly, PRAY PRAY PRAY and seek God’s face before making the decision to immigrate.

Talk to us!

Do you have any questions about immigrating to Canada?

Are you in search of ACCA jobs in Canada or any other kind of Canadian job?

Have you already gotten a Canadian job and you want to tell others how you did it?

Get into the comment section to ask your questions and share your experience.

(Image edited by Ankit Lodhi)

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