After bouncing around in different degrees and jobs, Ran Yi is confident he’s finally found his purpose: helping others join him in calling Canada home.
By Caora McKenna
“I never thought I would become an immigrant here,” says Ran Yi, 29, who founded Easypass Immigration and Education Consulting Inc. in 2015. Now, working in the immigration industry from his office on Dresden Row in Halifax, “I found I really help people,” he says.
The young entrepreneur came to Canada for university in 2006. At Mount Allison University in New Brunswick he began studying computer science, then tried bio-chemistry, environmental science, chemistry, even psychology. He graduated with a degree in business and math moved to Halifax to find work. He figured some international experience would help him when he returned to China.
He worked in retail, furniture, insurance, the hotel industry, and real estate, and even moved back to his home city in China, Zhengzhou, to start a business like the one he has now in Halifax.
Each time he changed his mind and tried something knew, he trusted that he was on the right path, even if it wasn’t a straight or simple one.
“Enjoy the moments you are struggling in so when you are successful you can be thankful,” says Yi. “That moment helped you.”
His business in China closed a year after it started. He was pulled back to Canada’s East Coast. Atlantic Canada was “where I grew up,” says Yi. Where “I formed my knowledge of how the world works.”
He’s been to every dot on the map in Nova Scotia and fallen in love with Halifax’s waterfront. The city is where he plays point guard in the Halifax Chinese Basketball League, met his girlfriend — an entrepreneur too — Mengyi Bian, and hopes to start an Halifax activity league.
“Whatever you do makes up the whole you,” says Yi. He knew Halifax was where he would stay.
Halifax’s size and unique “fusion of cultures” means Yi’s niche business — the only immigration consulting service for mainland Chinese immigrants other than universities and immigration lawyers — is paving its own path.
His experience as an international student taught him the importance of good advice, and in Halifax, he felt the potential for success in a market that “people hadn’t touched yet.”
It’s “a baby city,” he says. “But a growing city.”
There were 353,000 international students in Canada in 2015 and 34 per cent of them were from China. The number of Nova Scotian international university students increased by 5.1 per cent this past school year. The numbers were telling him his services were in demand.
After two years Yi has helped 50 clients get their permanent residence status, with a success rate of 100 per cent. Word of mouth referrals have kept him busy, and he’s finally found something he really wants “to do all the time.”
Every time he helps someone to get their permanent residency and can see their happiness he is reminded of this. He is helping them, and the province.
“Mostly, if I can retain them, help them to settle here in Nova Scotia, that is when I think my work is worth it,” says Yi.
He works closely with the immigration office in Nova Scotia. He says it’s one of the best in the country. When his first case was approved, he got a personal phone call congratulating him, telling him the case was perfect.
“I just said ‘wow’,” says Yi, “I was really moved. I never thought they would call me to say congratulations and keep up your work.”
Since then he has become an employer in the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program, and plans to hire both Canadian citizens and international staff to keep the city growing. He says the “fusion” of cultures in Halifax is what makes it unique, and hopes to help change people’s opinions about immigration.
“A lot of people think immigrants are taking their jobs,” he says. “But I want them to think that one day their daughter or grand-daughter can be working for an international office, and understand the importance of immigration.”
Yi says everyone is a citizen of the earth. He works hard so that everyone can experience the freedom to travel and explore that he has. Even helping people get visitors visas so they can see new landscapes “feels like something,” he says.
Yi never stopped looking for what he wanted to do, and travel — within Nova Scotia and across the country — helped pave the way to finding it. Looking back on his toughest job, driving all over the province selling insurance, it’s still one of his favourite experiences. The hours in the car were long, but driving out to reach a house at the top of Cape Breton National Park, taking in the view, was worth it.
It’s one of the moments he remembers to enjoy.