Ivy Anigbogu is a successful accountant in Toronto, Canada.
In this blog post, she recounts how she immigrated with her family from Nigeria to Canada. She also provides pre-arrival advice for other immigrants looking to make a similar journey.
In 2017, my husband, Henry, and I began to consider immigrating to Canada from Nigeria, our home country. The year before, a friend had told us about Canada’s Express Entry Federal Skilled Worker Program for experienced professionals. Excited about the opportunity, we soon began researching the process. We wanted to pursue better career opportunities and a better life for our children.
With Henry’s eight years of experience working for the government as a human resources professional, and my three years’ working as an accountant and auditor, we were convinced that we would be good immigration candidates. A big plus, we hoped, was my having qualified as a Chartered Accountant with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).
We started the immigration process that June. By the following March, my family and I had been granted permanent resident status. But in between we did a lot of preparatory work that paved the way for us.
Although we were open to other countries, we were keen to immigrate to Canada. One main reason is ACCA’s memorandum of understanding with Chartered Professional Accountants (CPA) Canada. The memorandum of understanding allows ACCA members to take the Canadian tax and law course, submit transcripts, and apply for membership.
In addition, Canada’s immigration process for skilled workers is straightforward and easy to navigate.
Resources like the government’s useful guide for prospective immigrants, pre-arrival programs that prepare immigrants for life in Canada, and the Immigration and Citizenship website were all a bonus for us.
Preparing to Immigrate: Pre-arrival Activities
Before immigrating, we did a lot of online research. As a result we already knew how to register for government services, enroll our kids in school, and search for employment by the time we arrived.
We decided on a province after considering career advancement prospects as well as quality of life concerns, such as the weather, cost of living, family-oriented neighborhoods, and cultural diversity.
While still in Nigeria, I participated in a social media forum that helped me better understand Canada’s immigration requirements. I interacted with like-minded people who were also immigrating to Canada from Nigeria, and learned from those who had already immigrated.
I also participated in Canadian preparatory pre-arrival programs, which I found through internet searches as well as on the Immigration and Citizenship website. I registered for CanPrep (now called Canada InfoNet), ACCES Employment, and PrepCan through the government of Canada website. A case worker met with me regularly over Skype to discuss my action plan and offer integration tips. These programs taught me how to prepare Canadian-style cover letters and résumés, as well as how to adapt to Canadian workplace culture. One program assigned me a professional mentor who advised me on the accounting profession in Canada.
A month before we left Nigeria, we were fortunate enough to attend a full-day Planning for Canada session that was organized and hosted by representatives of the Canadian government. We learned about the different provinces, the climate, multicultural diversity, and government services. We were also briefed on the country’s taxes, child welfare and benefits, savings and investment, education, and the rights and responsibilities of a permanent resident.
We soon began connecting with professionals in our occupations in Canada. These new connections gave us insight into the expectations of employers in our fields.
As a member of ACCA, I researched the process of obtaining the professional designation for accountants in Canada, beginning the CPA Canada membership process, and even completing the online tax and law course, a requirement for Chartered Accountants, before we emigrated. I then asked ACCA to send my transcript to CPA, and paid the applicable fees. All these preparatory steps resulted in a successful integration into our new environment once we arrived.
Experience So Far
We arrived in July to give ourselves time to adjust before winter set in. Since then, living here has been an exciting experience.
We settled in the Greater Toronto Area. A month later I landed a job as a finance project coordinator. In the fall of 2019 I was promoted to financial reporting accountant. I obtained the CPA designation I had begun working toward in Nigeria just five months after we arrived.
Henry got a job this year as a senior human resource coordinator. Unlike many immigrants, we got jobs in our respective fields. Our kids have settled into their schools, and I’ve even found time to participate in one of my favorite hobbies—soccer. We are thankful for the many opportunities availed to us and believe that our pre-arrival preparation made all the difference.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of World Education Services (WES).