Getting an Englishman into Canada isn’t as simple as I thought it would be. Even if we have been married for almost 13 years. Even if he is The Love Of My Life. Even if he is the father of our Canadian-Australian children.

Ok. Spousal Visa 101.

The process is onerous and complex, not to mention daunting. And the most frustrating thing is that I could not find one real person in any Canadian government offices to talk with, counsel me or even help. There is no Canadian Consulate in Brisbane and when I phoned the office in Sydney I was referred to the webpage. Most emphatically. The Government of Canada website  (if you dare!) is complicated and difficult to understand. This was before the government delivered in December 2016 it’s new application kit designed to keep most processing times to 12 months. (I’ve looked through that kit and it still in need of a Real Person Hotline.)  Now if I speak English and French fluently and I’m Canadian, but haven’t lived there for a couple of decades, how would someone decipher this information when they don’t speak the languages well, or are newly Canadian? Why aren’t we allowed to talk to a human being?

Oh I see, we are.

We need to pay for it. After several aborted attempts to decipher the online situation (and conversations with other people who’d had trouble getting spousal visas) we hired a company. My husband is, after all, the main earner. He needs to be able to work. While I am raking it in with royalties from my award-winning and other essays, and magazines like The New Yorker keep pestering me to write for them, I still somehow can’t creep up to anything as prestigious as The Poverty Line. And I know I’m lucky. If I didn’t have The Love Of My Life as my Pen Patron (Yes, in a world that doesn’t want to pay for art, Patron deserves a capital.), I’d have to go back to journalism. Ick. Or financial editing. Double Ick.

The spousal visa process costs CAD7,500, before all the government and documentation fees, but we’re hoping to have the visa a year after we filed our documents, which was August 2016.

Ahhh. That brings me to my next point. Documents.

For a virgo, nothing may beckon more than the allure of admin and file folders but for me, it’s like taxes but worse. Think trying to gather up all the evidence of your life and package it into a box.

Besides all passports, marriage and divorce certificates, birth certificates, all bank account details, traffic records for the past decade, police records, we had to provide:

  1. Proof we intend to live in Canada (job searches, looking at properties to buy… really affordable and easy to do from Australia)
  2. A copy of my husband’s work contract and salary
  3. My employment and earnings
  4. Information on all our siblings and parents
  5. Employment history for both of us
  6. All the addresses we have lived at, separately and together
  7. A description of our 2004 wedding and honeymoon with photos
  8. A “relationship narrative” documenting our 19-year relationship including how we met, and when each of us met each of the other person’s family members
  9. Photo proof of our 19-year relationship
  10. Letters from family and friends outlining how long they’ve known us, when they’ve seen us together and their opinion of our relationship
  11. The exact date we will return to Canada
  12. The date of birth and address of my ex-husband in France (huh?)

I’m sure there was more but I’ve wiped it from my mind. Like taxes and admin.

I love my husband, but so far it’s been much easier and half the cost to organise a luxury flight and accommodation for our geriatric dog.