I have held many roles in my professional life that have had administrative components, but fortunately for me (and my employers), I have rarely had to be responsible for large amounts of paperwork.
For me, there is no greater torture in life than being tied to a desk, reading instructions on how to fill out a form or gathering up supporting documentation. I generally do whatever I can to avoid such tasks.
Most of the time, people like me are prone to missing application deadlines or letting documentation expire. Like my permanent resident card, which expired in December 2009 and my passport, which expired in January 2010.
Friends have been asking me for over two years if I’m going to BlogHer. My answer for the last two years has been no - I need to visit my family before I go to any conferences in the U.S. That was followed quickly by, “Besides, all my travel documents have expired.”
Then Lara and I started talking very seriously about going to Blogworld in Las Vegas in January 2013 for business. This was right around the same time that I decided that Brandon and I would be driving down to spend this Christmas in Florida.
I found that I could keep my commitment of not going to any major blog conferences in the U.S. before visiting the family. Just barely. I’ll get back to Ottawa on December 30th or 31st and I fly out to Vegas on January 5th.
Of course, when the decisions were all made, the only worry I had was getting my passport and permanent resident card renewed (with my married name on my passport this time!) in time to make both trips. I put Matt in charge of Brandon’s passport. I could only handle so much paperwork.
Then I got busy procrastinating. I said I was going to get the paperwork all completed by the end of Labour Day week. Every time I looked at it, I let the little details bog me down. By mid-October, I’d only completed a few small tasks related to both applications. At this point, I was risking both trips if there were any delays processing my applications. Buying my conference ticket, then plane ticket and booking the hotel were great motivators, though.
You see, when I first applied for a Permanent Resident card back in 2004, I submitted my application over four months prior to my planned trip - just as the site advised. I would have sent it eight months early had I known they wouldn’t look at it for four months. I finally called to check the status just three weeks before I was to fly down to Florida and was told that the day before the entire application had been returned to me to resolve an error.
There’s a good chance I cried when they told me that. I know I was really stressed. I was going to spend Christmas with my family for the first time since I’d moved to Canada and 2004 was one of my mom’s worst years for hospitalizations.
The error? One of the certified copies, signed by a P.Eng, had the year 1973 in the date, which was clearly a case of the person looking at Matt’s birthdate and just putting that year down by mistake. We had our P.Eng friend re-sign, date and couriered the whole package back right away.
The day before my flight was to leave, I received a call that my PR card was ready and I could pick it up between 9:00am and 2:00pm. The call came at 2:30. My flight was leaving the next morning before 9:00.
I got on my flight without the card. And 10 days later, when I nervously went through customs, the officer didn’t even blink when I handed him my passport sans PR card.
I would be lying if I said that I was relieved. No, I was actually kind of ticked that I’d jumped through so many hoops and stressed so much about this card that, apparently, didn’t matter as much as they said it did.
But life goes on and that silly card expired a short five years later.
I did the paperwork this time so carefully. I didn’t want any issues cropping up that would cause them to send back my application. Everything I copied was checked and double-checked to be sure that the copy was good and the date of certification was correct. All my ducks were in a nice, neat little row.
I was sure this time would go more smoothly.
I finally sent my application off exactly 90 days before I was to leave for Las Vegas, which also happened to be how long they said apps would take to process. I only need the PR card for commercial travel, so I don’t need it for Florida since I’m driving. I sent off an inch thick package of paper to the Government of Canada for this PR card and I sent a slim little envelope to the U.S. State Department with all original documents for my Passport. (Guess which application was WAY easier? Yes, the passport, which makes exactly zero sense to me.)
Two weeks after sending off my applications, my entire PR card app was returned to me. AGAIN.
After I double, triple (and possibly quadruple) checking that everything was done and ready and in the right order, I FORGOT TO SIGN IT!
We sent it back right away by courier (again) and just two weeks later, on the same day, my passport and PR card arrived in the mail. I was beyond thrilled.
Ten more years of not worrying about my passport and ideally, by the time the PR card is expired again I’ll no longer need it at all. After all, I’ve been eligible for Canadian citizenship for 9 years now.
Unfortunately, applying for citizenship requires me to do more paperwork.