Wow. Thank you, you guys. Thank you to everyone who left comments or emailed to congratulate us. It really means a lot.
OK, our plans.
The immediate next step is to get our photos taken again - all we do is get our pictures taken for this thing! Then we send our passports and the photos to Buffalo in a special envelope that came with yesterday's letter. The passports are returned to us stamped with our visa. (Yippee!!) The visa has an expiration date, by which time we must take residence in Canada or lose our chance.
How long we get has been the big question of this process. We've known that, at some point, the clock will start ticking and there will be a "must move by" date, but have never known with certainty what that time frame will be. The fact that it's not published anywhere tells me it must change, and probably varies for people from different countries and at different times.
Right now, based on the experience of other Americans who emigrated to Canada fairly recently, we believe we'll have six months. But we won't know for sure until we get our visas.
Once we have our visas in hand, we start looking for a place to live. We know exactly what we're looking for, and we've decided that if we find the Perfect Place early on, we're packing up and going. (Argh!) If we don't, we'll need to decide how long to look for Perfect Place before taking Less Than Perfect Place and moving again during our first year. More about Perfect Place later.
Ideally, I'd like to move around the beginning of September, but I don't expect to be able to fine-tune things that precisely.
Since some of you asked, I will tell you unequivocally: yes, I will continue blogging throughout. I warn you that wmtc is likely to get really boring, as I blather about our moving plans, and then later, our settling in and our impressions of our new home.
But believe it or not, I originally started this blog as a way to keep in touch with friends and family through the immigration process and after we moved. Little did I know it would morph into this wonderful little community. Hopefully by now you're all hooked and will keep reading through the boring bits. One nice thing about blogging: reading is always voluntary, so I don't have to apologize for boring you. (Though I probably will.)
I'm still quite overwhelmed by yesterday's news. Someone said this anonymously in comments yesterday: "It seemed as though your blog would forever be about the desire to immigrate to Canada. Now the Big Shift happens, where all your entries will move on to, well, moving on."
In fact, I said something very similar to a friend just the other day. It felt as if I'd be saying "I'm moving to Canada" forever. The transition has been going on for so long - in my mind at least - that it seemed permanent. It's hard to believe (or so I thought, just a few days ago) that one day it would actually happen: we will drive ourselves and our dogs out of New York City, and go live somewhere else.