Immigrant Welcome Centre

Free Professional Services for Immigrants & Newcomers


I am Robin Kaminski.  I was born in the USA and came to Canada as a visitor in 1986 via the Peace Arch using my Oregon driver’s license as the document to enter Canada.  I came to Canada to be with my husband who was born in the USA but was a permanent resident of Canada. 


My husband bought a boat and this became our home in Desolation Sound.  We cared for some vacation homes and worked on oyster farms.  We went to Campbell River once a month to buy supplies.



In 1990, my wallet was stolen; all my identification cards were in that wallet. It was also during this time that my husband was diagnosed with a blockage in his heart and was under very expensive medical treatment.  At this time my husband was on income assistance.  According to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) a person on income assistance is not qualified to sponsor.


I wanted my stay in Canada to be legal.  It was in 2000 that I first visited the Immigrant Welcome Centre (IWC) in Campbell RiverRobin (CR).  As I did not have a photo ID, I was told that they could not find a way to legalize my stay even if my husband would vouch for me.  My father also came to visit me and to vouch for me at the US consulate.  Still, the US consulate did not accept this proof; not even a notary would vouch for me. The consulate checked all the rules and suggested that I get a yearbook where they can find my name and photo.  The consul told me that documents like birth certificates, marriage certificates, etc. are too easy to forge but a whole yearbook would be hard to forge.


I did not have a yearbook when I graduated from high school.  I connected with friends and found one who had kept her yearbook.  She sent it to me and I used this to apply for my US passport.  During this time, we had a choice to have a booklet type passport or a card type. My father chose the card type as it was cheaper (he was the one who paid for it).  The passport card type was valid only for international land and sea travel between United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda.


Sometime in 2011- 2012, my husband was on medical disability and no longer on income assistance.  As such he was now qualified to sponsor me.  We immediately sought the assistance of CR IWC to help us with the sponsorship.  The sponsorship/PR application required submission of the booklet-type passport. The card-type passport was not acceptable. I was told I had up to Mar 2013 to complete my documentation.  


IWC again came to the rescue.  The Settlement Practitioner phoned the US consulate in Vancouver and was told that they were already booked up to March 2013.  He phoned other US consulate offices and finally was able to book the appointment in the Calgary US consulate office on Dec 2012.  It was winter, my husband was very sick and we had a dog that needed care as well.  This was a dilemma for me to leave but I had to do it.  It was my future that was at stake. So I immediately booked a flight to Calgary.


I got my passport booklet and became a permanent resident on 2013 Mar 27.  My husband died 3 months after the final processing of the sponsorship.  It was about 20 years journey before I got my permanent resident status.  I sold our boat and bought a mobile home from the proceeds of the sale.  I became a proud, law abiding Canadian citizen on August 30, 2018.  Looking back, it was the yearbook of my friend and the assistance of the Immigrant Welcome Centre in Campbell River that helped me attain my status in Canada.  I am forever grateful to them as I love Canada and am now living and enjoying my retirement in beautiful Campbell River, BC.



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