American in visa limbo has a message for fellow citizens hoping to move to Canada: 'There is a wall already'

Elianna Lev
American John McCool and his husband Jean-François Hould (in hat). Supplied image.
American John McCool and his husband Jean-François Hould (in hat). Supplied image.

U.S. citizens considering a post-election relocation up north take note: An American man in the process of legally moving to Canada wants you to know it’s not an easy escape.

John McCool is currently at what he hopes is the end of a 27-month journey through Canada’s immigration system, after moving to Montreal with his Quebec-born husband, Jean-François Hould, in June 2014.

The pair met in New York City in 2011, where they both worked and were eventually married. They decided to move to Canada when Hould was offered a job in Montreal.

When McCool first started to apply for permanent residency through the spousal sponsorship program, the wait time was said to be between 12 and 14 months.

“It’s not pleasant, but not bad. I thought I’d take the time to learn French, which I did,” McCool told Yahoo Canada News.

As he waits for his application to be processed, McCool isn’t allowed to work or study. He also isn’t eligible for health coverage. While he could have gone through the application process in the U.S., it would have meant being away from his husband.

“It’s a choice of evils there, really,” he said.

John McCool and Jean-François Hould celebrate their marriage. Supplied image.
John McCool and Jean-François Hould celebrate their marriage. Supplied image.

Since they started filing the paperwork, however, the wait time on Canada’s immigration site changed to 26 months to apply for a spousal visa. Over the past few years, McCool has had to follow several application processes with provincial and federal agencies. Both he and his husband have also gone through thorough evaluations, which involved medical exams and police background checks, he said.

To date, McCool has waited 27 months for his application to go through. He’s currently living as a tourist, and must leave the country every six months. He admits it usually takes longer for him at the border.

“The border control gets a little freaked out because they don’t see a visa in my passport,” McCool explained. “If I tell them I live in Montreal, I always get pulled aside, get taken back into the immigration room for questioning. Even with a letter from my lawyer.”

With all the rhetoric about immigration and building walls during the U.S. election, McCool felt it was an ideal time to address the issue of living in limbo while he awaits his papers. He penned a column, which has since been picked up by newspapers and websites across North America.

“What I think Canadians don’t realize is that there is a wall already, an invisible wall, and it’s extremely difficult to get a visa to Canada,” he said. “It has a profound affect on my life. It takes a toll on my marriage. I have to rely completely on my partner, which we weren’t prepared to do for this long. We can’t plan our future yet until we have the stability of a visa.”

McCool stresses he’s never felt entitled to a swiftly issued visa, but thinks the Canadian government owes it to his husband to help move the process along.

“They should at least look at what they can do to have more resources and help immigration authorities to reduce this backlog,” he said.