The goal of every new immigrant (or newcomer) is smooth transition into his new country. This becomes even more important if you don’t have any family or friend in your new location. While the process can be terrifying, it can be smooth with access to the right support system. One of such support systems available for new immigrant is settlement organizations. This article focuses on the settlement organizations in British Columbia for new immigrants. It will also highlight the available services and what to do immediately you arrive.
If you are landing in Alberta, you should read about the settlement organizations available in Alberta. There are also settlement organizations available in Saskatchewan for new immigrants. There will be other articles to address the settlement organizations available for those arriving in other provinces and territories.
BEFORE YOU ARRIVE IN B.C.
While you make arrangements for your flight ticket, take a few steps to prepare for your arrival in B.C. You can start by reading these two articles
- Things to do before you arrive in Canada as a new immigrant and
- what to do before you arrive in Canada as a new immigrant Part 2
In addition, do the following:
- If you don’t have a family member or friend that can host you, find a place where you can stay when you first arrive.
- Learn more about the community where you would like to move.
- Check out information about local schools, housing, the local economy and social services. This is very important if you are coming with children.
- Read about the local weather so that you bring the right clothing for you and your family.
- Learn about the important documents you will need and bring any information you need to get those documents.
- It is most likely you are not arriving with a job offer. So, have your job search strategy in place. This includes
- Researching employment opportunities in advance.
- contacting the regulatory body to find out how to become licensed or certified if you will be joining a regulated profession.
- Translating all your documents into English for use in B.C. (if they are not in English).
- Read the Newcomers’ Guide to Resources and Services.
- If English isn’t your native language, start improving your English.
AFTER YOU ARRIVE IN B.C.
There are a number of things you need to do as soon as you arrive in B.C. The best approach is to have a plan of how you will go about them as soon as you arrive. If possible, try to do them within your first week of landing in Canada. You can always consult the British Columbia Newcomers’ Guide for more information and assistance. For new immigrants in B.C., the list below will serve as a guide
- Register with one of the settlement organizations in British Columbia for new immigrants.
- Find a place to live.
- Make arrangement to get the following identification.
- Register for the Medical Services Plan (MSP).
- Open a bank account.
SETTLEMENT ORGANIZATIONS AND SERVICES
Settlement organizations (or agencies) offer a variety of services to help new immigrants settle in their new location. They are available in every province and territory. These services they offer include
- assistance in finding a place to live,
- help in finding a job or starting a business,
- help with daily life, such as filling out forms and applications
- referral to language classes,
- information about community services, such as mentoring, and
- short-term crisis counselling.
Settlement organizations will help answer your questions and explain things that may be different from what you know. To find out more about settlement services, read “get help before you arrive in Canada: pre-arrival services“.
New immigrants mostly face challenges entering the labour force because their skills and qualifications may not be recognized in B.C. In addition, some need English-language training while others may need support finding a job. These are some of the challenges that the settlement organizations address. Below are supports and services available to new immigrants
- WorkBC.ca provides British Columbians, including immigrants, with access to information about employment services, training and education, jobs and careers, labour market information and employer resources.
- WorkBC Employment Services Centres provide job search resources, employment planning, skills assessment, training, work experience placement and more..
- The Canada-B.C. Job Grant (CJG) is an employer-driven cost-sharing program that helps employers invest in training for their current or future employees. The funds are available to employers to support the training and employment of newcomers, including refugees.
- The Career Paths for Skilled Immigrants program helps skilled and job ready immigrants:
- connect with jobs
- reach or progress towards a job that utilizes the experience and training they obtained prior to coming to Canada
- progress towards getting a Canadian credential for a regulated occupation
- gain relevant Canadian work experience through a practicum or temporary job
- advance their English language skills specific to in-demand jobs in B.C.
HOW TO FIND SETTLEMENT SERVICES
Go to settlement services to find what services are offered near you. If you are not eligible for these programs, you can still get help from B.C. services, such as:
- information and referral services provided by immigrant serving agencies for those who have become naturalized citizens, provincial nominees awaiting approval for permanent residency, and temporary foreign workers across B.C.
- information, referral and trauma support for refugee claimants in Metro Vancouver.
FINDING COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS
As a new immigrant, you can learn about activities with local residents and life in B.C. in general. Your settlement services agency may have a community connections program to help you meet achieve this goal. These services are most provided by community centres. Contact the settlement organizations in British Columbia for new immigrants near you to find out about how to access these services.
Community centres offer programs and facilities for newcomers and others, often in a variety of languages. Their programs help you meet people, make new friends, learn new activities and stay active. They also offer courses and programs including languages, physical activities and arts. To find a community centre near you, search online or ask your settlement services agency.
On the NewToBC Library Link for Newcomers website, you will find links to online immigrant settlement guides. These include
- WelcomeBC.ca, the B.C. Newcomers’ Guide,
- WorkBC.ca, language resources,
- health guides and
- a citizenship study guide.