After reading the story so far, a friend had the impression we are moving very soon, maybe before the year is out. We'll actually be here longer than that. Here's how it works.
Our applications are in a queue waiting to be assessed; right now that queue is 8 months long. (That time frame could decrease or increase at any time.)
When our applications come up for assessment, we'll receive notification of that. Then we will drink champagne. After that...
We'll have to get physicals, they'll run an FBI check to make sure we are not felons (note to self: do not get arrested at anti-RNC demos this summer), they may want to interview us, and they may contact people in our lives to inquire about us. (Please be kind.) This whole process could take a while, too.
A semi-interesting side note. In the US, the official medical exam for Canadian Immigration can only be done by three designated doctors - one in NYC, one in Chicago and one in L.A. If we didn't live in one of those places, we'd have to travel for our physicals.
After the assessment, we will be either approved to emigrate or not. We fully expect to be approved, but there is no guarantee. We think this might happen in summer '05.
If we are approved, we'll be issued a visa, which has an expiration date, by which we must take residency in Canada. After we do that, we can be issued the coveted Permanent Residence cards that enable us to work, get health care and eat donuts.
The Big Question is how long is the visa good for? Meaning, once we are accepted, how long do we have - when do we have to move? The answer to this question remains a mystery.
Some friends of ours who are considering emigrating read that the visa is good for one year after the medical exam. But I have also read that immigration procedures have changed recently, and that might no longer be true. It's not listed anywhere, on any application or website. I get the feeling it's different for different countries and at different times. We shall see!