Steps to take before immigrating to Canada
The profession of optometry is regulated in Canada. Provincial and territorial regulatory bodies of optometrists set the standards for entry into the profession and issue licenses to practice to those eligible.
By law, you are not allowed to practice as an optometrist in Canada, or use the title “optometrist,” if you haven’t been authorized to work from the regulatory body in the province or territory where you intend to work.
The Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO) is the national organization that includes ten provincial and territorial associations of optometrists. It represents the interests of over 4000 members across Canada.
To improve your chances of success to practice your profession in your future country, there are many steps that you can take before immigrating to Canada:
- Research and have a general overview of how your international qualifications may be viewed in Canada and have a general sense of the Canadian labour market and workplace culture.
- Contact the appropriate provincial or territorial regulatory body in the area where you intend to settle and work in Canada, and enquire about the specific licensing procedure to follow and the potential costs and time required to obtain a license. As well, ask about the steps in the licensing process that you can take prior to immigrating.
- To practice the profession, you need to have advanced English or French (depending on your destination province) language competency. Even if you’re a good speaker of English or French, it’s helpful to improve your language skills and enroll in language classes while you are in your home country and continue them after moving to Canada. You can assess your language skills by taking an online self-assessment test on the Canadian Language Benchmarks website.
- It is much easier for you to gather and organize your official education, work and identity documents while still in your home country. When contacting your provincial or territorial regulatory body, enquire about all documents you need to bring for employment purposes or to continue education and also verify the translation of these documents. You might need to use a professional translation service in Canada.
- Understand how the profession of optometry is practiced in Canada and familiarize yourself with the procedures, regulations, and legislation that govern your profession in the province where you will settle.
- Know the name of your job in Canada and make a list of potential employers.
- Enquire about the procedure to get a driver’s license in Canada and apply for it right after you land, as it would be very useful when you get a job or even to get a job.
Another helpful thing you can do is to attend a Canadian Immigrant Integration Program (CIIP) seminar which organizes “pre-departure orientation” and a Know Before You Go webinar to know more about life in Canada.