This Indian CA immigrated to Canada in his late 20s in search of work-life balance. Here is how he went about it.
Azhar is a Chartered Accountant of India who immigrated to Canada in his late-20s. He was in search of a better standard of living and chose Canada as it has more advantageous immigration option.
- Azhar Sakriwala is a Chartered Accountant (CA) of India and a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) of Canada and Australia.
- Considering Azhar was working in a Big 4 firm, his life was comfortable, but at the cost of the demanding work hours.
- In 2017, he started his search for a country that offers a better work-life balance and a proper working structure.
- For anyone who dreams about making a career in Canada, here’s a step-by-step guide by Azhar, who made that dream his reality.
In search of the perfect work-life balance
Born and brought up in a business-oriented family in Mumbai, discussions around finance and tax were common. This encouraged me to pursue my career as a chartered accountant.
Fast forward in 2014, I qualified as a CA and started my career at a Big 4 accounting firm: a dream for many.
As a Deputy Manager, I was providing tax compliance and advisory services to corporates and high-net-worth individuals. However, the demanding work hours and the inquisitiveness to live in a new country set me on a path to explore immigration pathways to other countries.
After much thought and research, I narrowed it down to Australia and Canada as these two countries have a clearer immigration process in place.
However, I found Canada to be the more advantageous immigration option, considering the following factors:
- Pro Immigrant Government.
- Canada intends to create a huge talent pool which would in time attract prominent tech and finance conglomerates to set up operations and an outsourcing hub.
- Health care and education are included as part of the social security structure.
Moving to Canada
The first step of moving to any country is doing the groundwork, and the same goes for Canada.
I started my immigration process through the express entry program route and started the document collation process in March 2018.
After many discussions and even paying some assessment fees to immigration agents in India, I realized that the role of the agents is extremely minimal.
The instructions provided on the Canadian Immigration site are extremely clear and self-explanatory; hence I proceeded with the process on my own.
Express Entry: Express Entry is a point-based system. It is used by the Canadian government to manage Canadian permanent residence applications, for filling labor gaps through certain economic immigration programs.
Generally, an Indian Chartered Accountant with a B.Com degree, 3 plus years of work experience along with an IELTS score of 8+, stands a very good chance of qualifying for the Express Entry program.
Get your documents ready: You would need to get your education credentials assessed by the designated authorities, to determine parity with the Canadian education system. Further, you would also have to prove your English language proficiency by appearing for the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam.
Education Credential Assessment (ECA): The World Education Service (WES) provides for Education Credential Assessment, required for the express entry program. Generally, WES takes about 4-5 months to provide the credential assessment.
Submit your profile: Post completion of the ECA evaluation and IELTS results you can create and submit your express entry profile on the Canadian immigration site. This will in turn give you a CRS estimate in your case.
Receive Invitation and apply for permanent residence: Once you receive your Invitation to Apply (ITA), you have to start collating all the requisite proofs and documentation. Then submit the same within 60 days of receiving the application, for immigration officers to assess your case.
Post submission of the documents, the passport stamping request is received within 6 months, if all documents are in order.
Moving to Canada was risky, but worth it
After receiving my permanent residency confirmation, I decided to spend more time with my Indian organization rather than quitting immediately.
I also tried to network with my Canadian counterparts to understand the skills needed to be absorbed within the firm network in Canada.
The discussions with my Canadian peers helped me develop a better understanding of the job market, and I spent time understanding Canadian tax laws which were a requisite for my profile.
Post discussion with the management and with a possible extension of my notice period I was able to create a case for an interview with the Canadian team.
But yes, I had to sacrifice my promotion back in the previous organization, but that was a small price to pay for a better future.
An internal transfer to a Canadian branch/subsidiary of your organization can always be an added advantage, as it saves the hassle of starting afresh in a new country.
But internal moves are difficult and may require many stages of approval.
The interview process in Canada
A Canadian job interview is not extremely technical but is focused more on conceptual understanding, and your ability to demonstrate how impactful your role can be in the organization.
I must say, my interview with Deloitte Canada went pretty well, and I was able to land a job at Deloitte Canada as a senior tax analyst.
The way you communicate is extremely important as they first want to gauge if you are the correct cultural fit for the company. You must be a patient listener and a concise communicator for cracking the interview.
One must have a thankful approach throughout the interview process. Thank the person at the beginning for taking out the time, and post the interview.
Ensure you arrive at least 30 mins before the interview. In Canada, punctuality means before time and not on time!
Work culture in Canada
The Canadian work culture is very professional and efficiency-oriented, which I appreciate the most. Here you are expected to work for designated hours productively.
There is a great deal of flexibility in your day-to-day office hours if you meet the deadlines.
Canadians are extremely kind, but chatting during work hours is frowned upon. If you must, you need to plan a non-work discussion separately.
And the most important of them all, do not gossip about your previous company or boss. The said action is seen in a very bad light and can affect your growth in the company.
What kind of Salary can you expect in Canada?
If you want to figure out what your salary in Canada would be like, there is an easy tip; multiply what you get in India by 5.
Let's say in India your salary is 15 lac Rupees, then your Canadian salary would be approx 75,000 Canadian Dollars per annum.
You need to have a gross pay of around 60K CAD to live a decent life with minimal savings, in Toronto and Vancouver
But you should also note that Taxes in Canada are higher than in India since you need to pay social security and provincial and federal taxes.
The take-home pay can be slightly lower compared to Indian terms.
For your first job in Canada, you may get a lesser salary than what you used to get in India, but it is still advisable that you take the job, to accumulate Canadian work experience.
Rent is the biggest expense in Canada.
In major cities like Toronto and Vancouver, the rental expense can be as high as 50% of your take-home pay.
Transportation including personal car payments is another major expense due to high insurance costs and maintenance.
Try to have home-cooked meals as frequently as possible. It is very cost-effective. And keep a tab on your takeaway expenses as they can eat up your savings quickly.
Things you wish someone told you before moving to Canada
It is difficult getting a job in Canada when you are sitting in another country. The reason is pretty simple; they prefer candidates who are easily available for an interview.
CPA Canada has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. As per the memorandum, once you register as a student or as a member of ICAI, you are exempted from all examinations, and all you have to do is give The Common Final Examination (CFE).
That is what I did.
Apart from these, here are some additional tips:
1. Make sure that you have a year’s worth of savings before moving to Canada as settling costs will eat up your capital and you would get into a desperate position. Come to Canada with a 30K CAD equivalent savings buffer.
2. Permanent Residency does not mean you leave your stable Indian job and relocate immediately. It is advisable to do a soft landing (i.e. arriving in the country to collect the PR Card) and spend the time exploring. That will give you a first-hand experience of what it’s like living there.
3. Canada is beyond Toronto and Vancouver. There are many good places to settle in Canada such as Halifax, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Quebec, Edmonton, Ottawa, etc. where competition is less, and the cost of living is low.
4. If you have kids, you should relocate first and find a well-paying job, while your partner stays back. When everything is settled only then bring your family to the new place. This makes the transition much easier.
5. And last but not least, if you cannot live with snow and freezing weather, Canada is not the place for you!
The Finance Story has prepared an in-depth report - on everything about Immigrating to Canada and Finding a job. Fill up this form https://forms.gle/rEQzLBLAtT2njE7W6 and we will email you the same over the weekend.