Immigrating to Canada turned out to not entirely be what I expected.Part 1:I landed in Toronto-Pearson International Airport (YYZ) this past Monday afternoon, excited to begin my yearlong journey as an AI Resident at Uber ATG. Everything mostly went according to plan initially - I got off the plane, filled out the customs form, told the border officer I was applying for a temporary work permit, and went into the immigration room. Here the wait time was longer, but I waited ~40 min and got called up by an officer. Then I gave him all the necessary materials to process. After ~10 more minutes, he told me to go to the cashier to pay the work permit fee.The cashier and I had a short conversation. Then he asked me what I’ll be doing. “I’ll be doing AI research on self-driving cars,” I said.“Didn’t those self-driving cars kill someone a while back? And you’re bringing them into Canada?”“Well…”“I swear to god, if one of these self-driving cars comes and hits my house…my car…my family…my cat….I’m coming after you.”He also said some other things that I’d rather not repeat. He said all of this in a laughing manner so I laughed along but in the back of my mind I was thinking “Does he actually know where I live I just got here I don’t wanna die.”I took the receipt and went back to the immigration officer processing my application. As I’m standing there I see the cashier come out of his office, around the corner to where the immigration officer is sitting, and then point to me: “Do you see this fucking guy? This fucking guy is working on self-driving cars - he’s gonna kill us all.” They both laughed. “Remember, if you hit anybody in Canada, I’m coming after you,” the cashier repeated.I’m not the type of person who’s easily offended and to be honest the whole situation was pretty funny (I don’t actually feel threatened), but still that conversation was a bit strange. It was not a conversation I expected to have with Canadian immigration. Anyways, I got my work permit and headed out to the arrivals floor, and that was that! Right?Nope. While weird, my interactions with the officers didn’t cause me any actual inconvenience. But my immigration experience wasn’t over.Part 2:I woke up bright and early the next morning at my Airbnb and went down to the nearest Service Canada center at 8:45am to apply for my Social Insurance Number (SIN), which is similar to the SSN in the US. I need to have a SIN for basically everything involved with a long-term stay in Canada: getting paid, opening a bank account, signing a lease, paying taxes. I waited half an hour until my number was called, and then I went to the desk of the service rep and gave my work permit and passport.Within 30 seconds she told me that the country of birth on my work permit was incorrect. I double checked my permit and indeed it was. Somehow the immigration officer had filled it in wrong, even though the country of birth was listed right there on my passport. “Unfortunately you’ll have to get your work permit revised, and we can’t give you a SIN right now,” she said. Jesus.There was a number that I could call in the back of my permit for more information. I tried to call with my cell phone and got an automated message saying something like, “Your number is blocked because it’s not from a recognized area.” My phone plan had free roaming in Canada, but my number was still a US number. So I went back to the Service Canada center and asked if I could borrow the landline. Luckily they had one available. I sat in the chair and called the number again. After spending a bunch of time navigating through the phone menu, I finally found the number to speak to a human. “There are too many calls in the queue right now, please call back at a later time.” I waited 5 minutes and called again. “There are too many calls in the queue right now, please call back at a later time.”“Do you need any help?” The lady who assisted me asked. She picked up the phone and called the number for the third time. Somehow this time it finally got through, and she handed the phone back to me. Estimated wait time: 30 minutes. I sat for 30 minutes in this cramped chair, clutching the landline in the Service Canada office, waiting for a human to respond.Finally someone picked up. I explained to him my situation.“The only way you can make a change to your work permit is by mailing it in,” he said gruffly.“Um ok. How long would that take to process?”“1 month.”“1 month?? Are you serious (are you fucking kidding me)?? Can I not just go back to the airport?”“It won’t work.”“Are you sure?”“They can’t fix the work permits there. You can try, but it won’t work.”I hung up the phone. I was starting to panic. It was now 10:45–11am, and I had planned to open a bank account / start viewing apartments later that day, all those plans had vaporized. I double checked the web instructions for mailing the work permit in. In order to even mail in the work permit, I had to print and fill out two other forms and send everything in an envelope. How did postage even work in Canada? Also if it took 1 month for me to get the work permit fixed, I wasn’t even sure if I’d be allowed to be employed at that point. The research program was only supposed to last 1 year, and this 1-month delay would cut into that substantially. How was I going to live in this country? Was I going to be shipped back to the US?I frantically emailed my recruiters telling them about my situation. I then remembered that the immigration firm Uber partnered with, who helped me apply for the work permit, left the contact info of one of the lawyers, so I immediately called the number. Both times he didn’t pick up, and the second time I left a voicemail. In the meantime, I was pondering my backup options. One option was to actually mail in the work permit, but that was less than ideal. Moreover I didn’t entirely trust what the human operator said, it seemed ridiculous to me that the border agents couldn’t give me a revised work permit, given that they created the initial copy for me. I was contemplating going back to the airport to speak to the border agents anyways.5 minutes later, the lawyer called me back.“Go back to the airport to get your work permit fixed,” he said. “We’ll work everything out.”Oh my god. Something in his calm, assured voice told me everything was going to be alright.I walked out of Service Canada and took an Uber straight to YYZ (these Ubers aren’t cheap either, they’re about $50 CAD each) to the departures hall of Terminal 1. I followed the lawyer’s instructions on the phone to go to the back of the terminal, behind the bathroom, around a few corners, and finally to a metal door with a buzzer. I called the buzzer and said I needed to get my work permit fixed. The immigration agent let me in and told me to take the elevator down one floor.While the departures hall was bright, modern, and lit with sunshine, this room I stepped into was dim, cramped, and small. I told the border agent behind the glass barrier that I needed to get the country of birth on my work permit fixed.“I’m not sure this is possible to fix here,” he said. “Have you tried calling the number in the back?”“Yes I did.”“Well I don’t know if we can help.”“But I was on the phone with our immigration firm and they told me I could come here. Would you be able to take a look and just see if it’s possible? Please?”I was practically begging at this point. He took my work permit somewhat reluctantly and went into a back room. I waited. And waited for about 40 minutes.Finally, a separate border agent came up to the glass window. “We’re on the phone with [the immigration firm],” she told me. “We’ll try and get it fixed.”Thank god. I waited another 30–40 minutes and finally the agent came back with a new work permit. “You’re all set now.” I checked the new permit and indeed, the country of birth field was now correct. I then spent some time looking over every other detail so I didn’t have to go through the same experience again. I breathed a giant sigh of relief.By the time I got back to the Service Canada office, it was around 2pm. I immediately booked another appointment and managed to get my SIN that same day, though I didn’t have enough time afterwards to make an appointment to open a bank account before the bank closed. But that wasn’t a big deal. I was just incredibly relieved and happy that I would actually be able to work in this country.There are a few people that I wanted to thank. Thank you, Uber’s immigration firm, for helping me get my work permit revised in a timely fashion. They essentially helped me bypass a ton of official government bureaucracy, I’m honestly not sure what the border agents would have done if I had just shown up at the airport without the firm’s help. Thank you border agents for actually helping to revise my permit on the spot. Thank you Uber HR for responding quickly and helping to loop the relevant people in. Thank you to the service Canada rep who asked how I was doing and helped to give me advice. And thank you to the two Uber drivers to/from the airport who I was venting to.Moral of the story? I’m not sure, but maybe double check that your papers are correct right after you get them from immigration, because getting them fixed is a huge pain. I was incredibly fortunate that I was able to work with an immigration firm, and I understand that many others are not so lucky. I was also fortunate that I had not yet started work, and so had ample time to get set up - figuring that out while working would have created an additional mental burden and taken much longer. I’m still befuddled that a small mistake by an immigration officer can seriously affect your ability to live and work here if you don’t have the right means to tackle it.