Nine months ago, in January, I was finally eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship. To be able to apply you need to have been exactly 3 years (1,095 days) physically in Canada, and since I was quite often in the Netherlands and the US after my immigration, it took some months after my 3 year anniversary for me to be eligible.

I filled out all the forms, paid a fee, made special pictures and wanted to send it off. The forms included a checklist and I duly checked all the items before putting them in the envelope.

Everything was there.

But wait, one of the items on the checklist said AND not OR.
So I needed two items of paperwork for that checkbox and I only had one.

The paper I was missing was my Record of Landing, a big, legal sized, piece of paper that they stapled into my passport when I arrived in Canada. They told me that I didn’t need that paper anymore because it was going to be replaced by a new, wallet-sized, Permanent Resident Card, that I had to buy for $100. That card indeed was sent to me a couple of months later and I removed the crumpled Record of Landing from my passport. I now was officially in Canada I thought, with a shiny ID-card with my photo on it.

But it turned out I really need that piece of paper, and that the Permanent Resident Card replacement is only for travel purposes, even though it is issued by the same organization that does the citizenship procedure, and there is no way I could have received that Permanent Resident Card without a Record of Landing.

So I paid another 30$ to get a duplicate Record of Landing. I filled out an application form and mailed it to the Citizenship and Immigration office in Montréal that handles duplicate forms.

And then the waiting began. After 2 months, in March, I thought it was taking an awful long time to make me a copy of a form so I call. They tell me that the processing time for duplicate forms is now 4 months, so I just have to wait.

After 5 months I get a letter. Ah, finally, my Record of Landing has arrived!
Nope, it is only a letter saying that my file has been sent to another office in Ottawa and the processing time will be 5 months.

I must say, they are quite fast in Ottawa, because it only took them 4 months to make me a photocopy of my Record of Landing and mail it to me. Tomorrow I’m going to make a photocopy of the photocopy and then I can finally sent my application to become a citizen of this fine country. A country were all official documents/applications/forms seems to be done on paper, and everything has to be processed by humans because none of the forms is machine readable. I fill out the forms on my computer and then I have to print them (and of course Adobe Acrobat spits out 5 copies) and someone on the other end has to enter all my info into another computer. This whole thing can be so much more efficient. It would save so much time and money. Why is Canada a third world country when it comes to bureaucracy?

When I looked first into this procedure, when I just had arrived in Canada, the processing time to become a Canadian citizen was 10 months. By the time I was eligible it was already 12 months, and now it is 15 months. So maybe in March 2009 I will become a Canadian citizen. And maybe not. Watch this space. Patiently.