1. How did you come up with the idea of going to Canada? by Sérgio

Well, back in 2005, Diego came up with the idea of doing a master’s degree abroad. At first, he researched some in Germany and even studied for a few months in German. But during our conversations, I pointed out that I probably couldn’t go, because we were at the beginning of dating and spending a year outside Brazil at that time seemed totally surreal to me. We kept talking about it and found ourselves researching other countries and came across the immigration processes for Canada and Australia. We concentrated our research in English-speaking countries, purely for convenience (since Diego already had mastery and for me was the least extraterrestrial of foreign languages at the time). Canada was closer to Brazil, the process a little clearer to follow and a proven, an excellent country We began to dive into the documents (plus Diego, I confess) and we thought: what if we were to live instead of just studying for a while. We have always thought that we would like new experiences, in different cultures and languages, combined with a place that would bring us more security, with a better quality of life earlier in our lives and with a little more social justice. Because then our saga of leaving a country where we knew everything was born, going to one that we knew very little about. 

2. How was your immigration process? Was it too hard? by Amanda

At the time we started (2006), the process was quite different. It was necessary to have sworn translation of all documents and all were sent from the outset, next to the opening of the proceedings. It took us many months to put it all together and translate everything (high cost to do that too). I remember that there were much fewer blogs and information about it on the web and because we were a little insecure, they chose to get help from a law firm that owned an immigration division. We paid them a fee to check our paperwork and make the necessary calls with the Canadian government (the Brazilian consulate in São Paulo did little to help at that time). Our process, after we sent all the paperwork, lasted 9 months to be sued and we’d be on a visa. Today, we see that we could have done it ourselves and saved a little. There is much more information these days and the process itself has evolved and has become much easier (even more laborious) to follow. Who wants to know more, can read our old posts of the time, where we count some steps (from May to September 2007, there in the archive …)

3. Can you tell me if, out there, an architect can work as an interior designer or the job openings are very specific to each training? What about the market for these areas in Gatineau? by Milena

An architect can work as a similar interior designer around here yes, even is what usually immigrant architects end up doing, either this or just making drawings in AutoCad or another program in the area, since the Brazilian diploma is not worth here (without the validation process). Architect graduated in Canada does not leave with the record in hand as in Brazil, also has a whole process to be able to call himself architect here. I can’t tell you how the market for interior design is in Gatineau, but ottawa has small offices and firms that hire (though it’s down well and are generally more accessible by indication than job sites). Th
e most common positions for expatriate architects are generally known here as architectural designer or draftsperson. It is always worth searching the sites indeed.ca, workopolis.com and monster.ca for vacancies in any area.  

4. About validation of the architecture diploma. By José e Fabiana

As I have commented on other questions, a foreign architect has no right to work or call himself such here in Canada. Even architects graduated in Canadian institutions have to go through a process to obtain the title of architect and be able to sign works and projects. The cabc.ca, which is the regulatory body of the profession in Canada, has a process called BEFA (Broad Experienced Foreign Architects) for validation of the diploma it demands, in summary:

  • That the candidate has formally graduated as an architect in the country of origin;
  • that the applicant has practised the profession in his/her country of origin;
  • That the candidate has at least 7 years of exercise after graduation in the last 10 years.
  • Have the candidate obtain at least 6 months of relevant Canadian experience prior to the evaluation interview that is part of the process. And this experience must have been obtained no more than 3 years before this interview.
  • The Canadian experience in question must be supervised and directed by a registered/licensed architect in Canada, within the province that the applicant will apply for registration.
  • The Canadian experience required is one that exposes the candidate to the practice and regulations of architecture in Canada. 

In addition, you must submit academic paperwork (diploma, performance) in registered copies and sworn translations. It is also required the curriculum (which will show an overview of his career as an architect) and a portfolio. To complement, a self-assessment of the candidado is required, which must be completed online and covers 12 areas of architectural practice in Canada.  After all these steps and verified the eligibility of the candidate, an interview will be scheduled, where there will be a board of architects who will debate and verify part of the self-assessment issues and part of the professional experience of the candidate in the country of origin and in Canada. The candidate must bring 3 projects in which he participated (not accepted in electronic format) for the interview to be discussed with the bank. Proficiency in English or French will be evaluated during the interview.   after the interview and proven the success of the candidate, he will receive a certificate of BEFA (Broad Experienced Foreign Architect) and may, together with cacb, enter the license process, with the provincial body.   Costs: – Eligibility assessment – CAN$ 847.50 (fees included) – Self-assessment – CAN$ 2,825 (fees included) – Interview – CAN$ 1,695 (fees included)   Fees are non-refundable.   These steps are for the diploma to be recognized in Canada. After having successfully performed all the steps, you must apply for the license with the province you intend to act in. Here is a summary of the steps for the province of Ontario:

  • Have an architectural degree;
  • Have the diploma/education recognized by CACB (process described above);
  • Have completed the admission course offered by the OAA (CAD$350);
  • Have successfully completed one of the following exams: 
  1. ExAC (Examination for Architects in Canada) by the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA);
  2. or, ARE (Architect Registration Examination) by NCARB (National Council of Architecture Registration Boards);
  3. or, a combination of oaa or ncarb tests, which is considered valid (vague medium…)
  • Have a total of 3720 hours of architectural experience (recorded under the terms of the Intern Architect Program (IAP) (it seems that part of the experience in your home country may be worth it). This experience should include at least 940 hours under the supervision of a professional licensed in Ontario (a mentor, also a prerequisite) during the last 3 years. At least 2780 hours must be under the supervision of a professional qualified/licensed to practice architecture in Canada.
  • To be considered a good guy with no criminal record.
  • Payment of fees (I could not find the value of this second part);

Okay, phew! Long process! I haven’t gotten excited
yet. I completely understand that it’s not right to let an architect trained in another country just come here and go out building things. The construction system and everything else involved is so different. I even think that Brazil should have a kind of examination to enter the order of architects, in order to better select the trained professionals (let’s say in passing, it is not only because the person graduated who is able to perform the function, right?!). But I also find this process a bit extensive here in Canada, especially the part of getting those hours of experience under a licensed professional. You’re going to try a spot for intern, then they ask for Canadian experience and to have Canadian experience you need to have a job in the area and the snowball
just grows. Anyway, it’s not impossible, but it’s laborious, costly and you have to be lucky to get into an architecture office right away and where bosses don’t bother “forming” more competition (I’ve heard you have it here in Ottawa, unfortunately).

5. I wonder how the job market is in electronic models around these parts… by Lidiane

I’ve done some electronic models around here. But I think the market for that is a little weak. Many small foreign offices (in India and even Brazil) charge much less than the amounts that would be charged here (to be worth the service). I also think that not all construction companies invest in good views and the interior offices, vixi, these do not even talk, very few have 3D quality for customers.

6. Which city is the best city to live by with issues of cost of living, home, employment? by Alessandra

That will depend on what your goals are coming here, your area of expertise and everything. Hard to say, every city has its ups and downs. Some have the better climate, others have more entertainment options, others have the higher cost of living. Here’s an article from MoneySense magazine that shows you the best places to live in Canada in 2012. The methodology of choice includes, in summary: walking/going by bike to work, climate, air quality, population growth, unemployment, housing, family income, new cars, provincial rates, crime, doctors, health professionals, public transportation, amenities and culture. The full list covers 190 cities and their ranking. Around you can get an idea and come across your immigration goals (I think I invented that word …).  

7. What is the minimum wage or value/hour in Canada? by Michele

Currently (2013), the minimum wage amount varies among Canadian provinces, the average is CAD$10/hour (for example, in Ontario CAD$10.25 and Alberta CAD$9.75).

8. How much should I take to Canada to get started? by Daiana

Look, it depends on the standard of living you want for yourself and how you come prepared to change it. We came with the minimum ordered by the immigration process, which at the time (2006/2007) was a CAD$12.7 thousand (today I don’t know how much is requested). We got jobs soon, which was super good, since the initial expenses of rent, set up the house and everything, consume a lot of initial capital.

9. I wonder about the cost of living in Canada, how much do things cost? by Renato

Cost of living is another very relative question, depends on the city, its lifestyle and its possibilities. I recommend this site that has the cost of things in several cities in the world. The link leads to Canada, then just choose the destination city and check the cost of food, rent and more. You can already get a good idea of the costs. There are these posts that I published a while ago, about food values in the supermarket. Post 1Post 2

10. I love your photos! What camera and lenses do you use? by Cibele

Thanks! We used a Canon Rebel XSi, but now we use the Canon T4i with 18-55mm and 50mm lenses. We also use the phone a lot (in this wave of everything wifi), to record moments of everyday life.

11. I wonder if you found the job still in Brazil or if you arrived in Canada first to look? by Angelica

We arrived in Canada without a job, as I say, with two hands in front and none in the back. However, on the second day on Canadian soil, we were already signing up for workshops, updating resumes and portfolio. I think we were lucky we both got a job in three months, but we went for the opportunities one way or another.

12. I wonder what immigration process can be done from Canada. by Rafaela

The process can be done on Canadian soil. Only the person must have a valid work or study visa (since the tourism visa is only worth 6 months and it is not enough time and such). Nowadays, with the most simplified process is not necessary an agent, applicants for immigrants are able to complete all stages of the process.

13. How was your immigration process (from the idea of immigrating…)? by Taís

Our process lasted about 12 months and went something like this:  

Idea of immigrating – September 2005

Opening of proceedings – 31 July 2006

Registered in Ecas – September 2006

Prospecting visit – October/November 2006

Request for medical examinations – 18 May 2007

Medical examinations done and sent- 01 June 2007

Medical examinations in Trinidad and Tobago – 11 June 2007

Passport srequest – 22 June 2007

Passports with immigrant visas in hand – 16 July 2007

Arrival in Ottawa – Canada – 24 September 2007

We wrote several posts about our process while we were still waiting for the visa (there at the beginning of the blog). This post can be interesting as it also highlights where to go as soon as you get here (in Ottawa).

14. And the gaucho churrasquinho, roll around? by Gaius

But of course!! We talked about barbecue in that post.

15. Where did you stay when you arrived and it was hard to find and rent? by Simone

I wrote a post about hosting in Ottawa in January 2012, telling a little of our experience. And I also got in touch with a homestay in Ottawa, where many acquaintances stayed when newcomers.

16. What’s it like living in a place where you don’t talk Portuguese? by Juliana

Everything is very relative in my opinion. It will depend a lot on the level you get here, your language aptitude and your willingness to learn. Fluency in English/French is one thing in Brazil and another thing when you arrive in another country. I wrote a little bit about language issues here and here as well.