You’ve obtained your work visa to come to Canada as a Temporary Worker and your flight to Canada (with a return ticket in most cases) has been booked and paid for. What you need to do now is prepare for your landing at your Port of Entry (POE), which is usually one of Canada’s main international airports: Toronto Pearson International Airport; Montreal-Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport; or Vancouver International Airport.
This is a key and often overlooked part of your path to working in Canada, and if you don’t prepare well for dealing with the Border Services Officers, (officers of the Canada Border Services Agency), and IRCC officials at your POE, you may find yourself unable to enter Canada.
More than likely, the process will go smoothly but you must remember that whenever responding to questions by these officers you should:
- Always answer truthfully, AND
- Always be consistent with your answers.
Essentially, the officials want to ensure that the answers you give are consistent with the information in your application for a work permit and in the supporting documents that you provided with your application, which you should have official copies of when you land in Canada.
Let’s review the interview process – that is, the questions you may likely be asked by CBSA or IRCC officials at your Port of Entry (POE). It should be noted that these are only possible and likely questions you may be asked, but they cannot cover all questions that you could be asked. Just like studying for an exam, you can’t predict what all the questions will be, but you can prepare carefully to avoid problems when you land in Canada.
The Arrival Process at your Port of Entry
Possible Questions You Will be Asked in the Initial Interview at the POE
- You will generally be asked how you are. Be polite and relaxed and try not to be intimidated. The border offices and immigration officials are generally approachable and polite.
- Next you will be asked to show your passport and visa, or instead of your passport any other travel documents you may have. Remember to renew your passport so that its expiry date is later than the expiry date of your work permit. If not, your work permit will be adjusted so that it is valid until your passport expiry date.
- You should be familiar with all the personal details in your passport. Obviously, any answer you give that is inconsistent with the personal information in your passport will delay your interview and could in the worst of cases result in your being inadmissible to Canada.
- If you are travelling with any family members, the Border Services Officer will check their travel documents to ensure they are valid and do not expire before your work permit does.
- You often may be asked about whether you have ever visited Canada before and, if so, when and for how long and under what conditions. Always answer truthfully. Ant attempt to conceal previous visits will likely result in your being denied entry to Canada. Keep a record of all your travels abroad from your home country – regardless if they were to Canada or to some other country. Be sure you are familiar with and can remember your past travels to foreign countries.
- You will then be asked questions about your health. Remember you must have health insurance and must obtain workers compensation insurance (accident insurance for workers) in order to work in Canada. You will have undergone a medical exam before coming to Canada, so you should ensure you are familiar with the results, especially if the doctor examining you has found anything abnormal in your health. Be complete and honest in your answers about your health.
- You will often be asked details about your job offer in Canada for which you have been given a temporary work permit. The Border Official will want to make sure it is a valid and legitimate job offer, so they will ask you about both the company offering you the job and the nature of the job itself.
- You should make sure you are familiar with the company you will be working for, including who your immediate boss will be (title and name) if possible. The more details you can give on this matter, the better.
- Be prepared to answer questions about why your work experience and education qualifies you for the job. Make sure you mention any certificates, diplomas, or degrees that you possess which are relevant to your job in Canada.
- As well, you must have clear plans to return to your home country or country of residence once your work permit expires. A return plane ticket is best, but proof of funds and specific travel plans to return to your home country may also be acceptable.
- As a related question, you will often be asked how long you plan to stay in Canada. You should be clear that you will be returning to your home country after your work permit expires. You should say this, even if you are thinking about gaining full-time employment and applying for permanent residence during your stay in Canada. The rules are that you must return to your home country or country of residence, and then apply for permanent residence.
- You will usually be asked if you have ever been convicted of a serious crime in your home country. Clearly if you have and have lied about this in your application, you are inadmissible to Canada unless you have applied for rehabilitation after the required waiting period (normally 5 years after your sentence has been completed). Lying about your criminal record is a serious crime in Canada.
- You will almost always be asked about your funds. As you will realize from your application, you will be required to have sufficient funds to live in Canada for the first few months of your stay. If you are carrying CAD$10,000 or more in cash or equivalent, you will have had to declare that on the forms you fill out on your flight to Canada. You may also be asked questions about your source of funds – where the money is and how you will access it while in Canada. You should ensure you know how you will transfer the required funds to Canada before you travel, and thus be able to answer questions about your source of funds.
- You will generally be asked questions about your family; both those of your family who are travelling with you and those who remain in your home country or in other countries. Be sure you are clear and precise about who they are, what they do for a living, and where they live.
Further Questions in the Second Part of the Interview
These are questions about what you are bringing to Canada with you. While this is more relevant to those arriving with a Permanent Residence visa, they apply to temporary visitors as well. This stage may include the following questions:
- The Border Services Officer will ask to see your declaration card. You may be directed to another area to answer the questions or the same official may continue the interview.
- You should have a list of goods you are travelling with, and a list of goods that will be arriving later, if applicable. The officer will view these lists and ask you a series of questions.
- They will ask you what you are bringing with you to Canada. Answer completely and truthfully.
- You will be asked if you have any live animals or plants with you. Answer truthfully. Clearly, it is much easier if you do NOT travel with plants or live animals.
- They will ask you if you have any firearms, ammunition, or fireworks with you. Do not travel with these unless they are a necessary part of your work.
- They will ask you if you have any meat or dairy products with you. In general, do not travel with these as there are restrictions.
- You will be asked if you have any fruits or vegetables with you. Again, do not travel with fruits and vegetables. You can buy just about any food from anywhere in the world in Canada (at least in the major metropolitan centres). Why bother?
- You will also be asked if you have any endangered species with you. Do not even consider this option, unless you will be working for a zoo or some other specialized occupation that involves exotic species.
The interviews generally go smoothly if you are honest and well-prepared, so don’t worry. They are just a final check by immigration officials to make sure you are who you say you are, and you are arriving in Canada for legitimate purposes.