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Posts Tagged ‘US’

I like to travel. I don’t go anywhere internationally, but I like to get away, mostly back home to visit my friends and family. And eat pizza and bagels. As an American in Canada, in order to travel, I need my US passport and a special document known as the Permanent Resident (PR) Card. Technically, I can leave Canada without this card; I just won’t get back in.

US Passport and Canadian Permanent Resident Card

My Travel Documents

Both of these came up for renewal recently. Warning to other permanent residents in Canada: while renewing my passport was a breeze, having to renew the PR card has proved nothing short of miserable.

The forms needed are no longer available at local Service Canada offices nor are you able to order them by calling the Service Canada Permanent Resident Card Call Centre. You are now directed to their recently re-developed website; their very confusing new website. Trying to navigate this website is like finding your way in the dark without a flashlight.

My mother, known in these pages as my Brooklyn Mama, also had her documents up for renewal. She’s a complete technophobe who hates using the internet. “I’m not doing it this way” she insisted. She decided to call the Service Canada number. They informed her that while she cannot pick up forms nor have them mailed to her, she can go to a Service Canada office where they will print off all the forms she needs. “Ha”, she said to me. “I told you someone would help me”.

She returned to proudly show me the forms while telling me the Service Canada rep had a terrible time finding which forms to print out. I then had to tell her she was one form short. You need an additional form which you only find out about after you print out the first. Why they don’t just include all the pages as one form, I have no idea.

After we went through the forms, we realized there isn’t a form that allows you to pay at a bank. Back to the website I went. You have to pay online I told Brooklyn Mama. She hates to pay anything online, doesn’t trust that stuff she always says. If you don’t wish to pay online, you can ‘order’ a form to bring to the bank. How do you order that form Mom wanted to know? On the website. However, it says you can call the call centre number if you have trouble ordering it. She proceeded to call the Call Centre, only to be told you can’t order a payment form over phone, despite what the website says. Mom agreed to let me help her pay online.

Now it was time to gather all the documents needed. You must also send a check list with the items checked off. Where do you get this list? That famous website of course. Note: The website must also be referred to for details of the required documents since the forms do not include instructions.

Required documents:
Both forms- As mentioned above, not easy to find, but-check
Receipt of payment- Also see above-check
Two recent photos- Had this taken care with photo with passport-check
Photocopy of main identity document-Just got my new passport-check
Proof of Residence-Still have tattered but original landing papers-check
Two Secondary identity documents-Drivers license, tax documents- check
Additional residency documents-???????

What do they mean by additional residency documents? I double checked the website. They would like photocopies of every page of every passport I have held in the last five years. I just got a new passport so that means I have had two, each having about 25 pages. I don’t travel internationally. None of these pages have stamps. They don’t even have anything indicating they are my passports. They wanted me to send copies of 50 blank pages?

OldPassport

Blank pages of my old passport.

My New Passport

Blank pages of my new passport.

I called that Service Canada number once again to ask if they really wanted me to send 50 pages even if they’re blank. Yes, they replied every page even if empty. I still can’t believe they mean that. On the website I was able to find an alternative number and decided to give that a try. “How did you get this number” the voice on the other end asked? From your website I answer. Well, she cannot help me but advised if I go to a Service Canada office they will be able to answer any questions I might have in filling out these forms.

I decided to make a trip down to one of these offices, with my Brooklyn Mama in tow. Finally an explanation we thought. We arrived at this office to be told by a smiling worker, that they no longer deal with Permanent Resident Cards at this or any other Service Canada office. They no longer know how to fill out these forms. He did attempt to provide an answer to my question about the 50 blank passport pages. Well, he said after some thought, “maybe they want to see that your passport didn’t need to be stamped”. He is very sorry he can’t be of much help. But he offered one more piece of advice “this might help” as he handed us a sheet of paper “it’s a link, to our website” he said.

Post Script: I sent in my forms without the copies of the blank pages, sending alternative identification. Will have to see what happens. Either I won’t be going anywhere or I won’t be back.

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Brown Sugar Pop Tarts

Most of you who have read these pages before know I have some beefs with the lack of availability of some foods here in Canada, decent pizza, bagels, etc. But there is another area that needs to be discussed. I’m talking about foods that can be purchased here but only in limited selections. I may live in a country that offers freedom and opportunity but I don’t have access to a wide choice of Pop-Tarts®.

Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts® have got to be one of the greatest foods ever invented. Enjoyed both warm out of toaster or straight out of the package they are the perfect example of food that is both tasty and convenient. Great at home or on the go. Don’t get me wrong I am very happy that they are available for sale here in Toronto, but why the limitations on flavors? At last count, there were 29 flavors available for sale in the USA.  In Canada: seven flavors. Not to mention the shortage of special collections like the Ice Cream Shoppe line or even packages of minis, which opens up a whole new world of Pop-Tart® enjoyment. US varieties also offer unfrosted and special seasonal editions like Pumpkin Pie and Sugar Cookie. There are even lower fat versions and one’s with added fiber, which speaking from personal experience have proven quite effective when need arises.  But here in Canada with the exception of S’mores and Chocolate Chip you are basically left with just your traditional chocolate fudge, a childhood favorite, and your fruit flavored fillings, never a big hit with me.

Canada is a multi-cultural country with people from all corners of the world. Yet, we can’t even feature a double-digit amount of flavors of Pop Tarts®. Why not some special Canadian only Pop-Tart® introductions? Then again these are people who thought Ketchup and Dill pickle made for good Potato Chip selections so maybe its best to keep them out of the toaster pastry business.

Do you have a favourite Pop Tart flavor? Maybe a traditional favourite or a now retired variety? How do you like to eat them hot or cold? I have even heard of people eating them frozen. That daring I’m not. I’d love to hear what you have to say so leave me a comment.

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I know I had promised not to get too political in these postings. However, circumstances have occurred that have caused me to question myself. I may be writing this blog under false pretenses. I may not be an American citizen after all.

Recently, as seen all over the news, Donald Trump has called into question the actual birthplace of President Barack Obama and demanded the release of his birth certificate. President Obama eventually held a press conference to display his ‘long form’ birth certificate after the commonly issued ‘short form’ version showing his birthplace as Honolulu, Hawaii still left doubts in “The Donald” ‘s mind.

After looking at my own Pennsylvania issued birth certificate, I now have questions concerning my own citizenship. I know I still would  have obtained US citizenship through my Brooklyn born parents, but I always considered myself a natural-born citizen. The Pennsylvania birth certificate is very basic. Identifying me not as child, but as “SUBJECT”, it’s a small, simple, yellow diploma like document listing only my name, date of birth, county of residence, and that I am female. It makes no mention of how much I weighed, what time I was born, what hospital I was born at or even the names of my parents. I guess I can’t even prove my citizenship that way. Although I’ve always been envious of my mother’s New York and my brother’s California birth certificates with all their details and information, I’ve never felt mine made me less of an American. My birth certificate with its embossed state seal has always been accepted when I applied for a passport or drivers license. It has drawn stares at times, especially when compared to the credit card style of birth certificate some people here in Ontario have. 

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Division of Vital Records, this certificate qualifies as valid proof of birth. It should and would allow me to vote, apply for a passport, return to live and work in the USA and possibly, sometime in the future, hold the highest office in the land. Take that Mr. Trump.

I’m interested in learning about birth certificates from other states, provinces and countries. Do you have an unusual or different looking birth certificate?  You can learn a great deal by looking at the birth certificates of your ancestors. What information does yours tell? Let me know by leaving me a comment below.

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