January 2013 Newsletter

1 January 2013

Happy New Year and all the best to you for 2013 from all of us at Ackah Business Immigration Law!

This month's newsletter has some important immigration updates that may impact your organization and your foreign workers. As you are aware, Canadian immigration law is constantly changing, so it is important to stay up to date or in touch with your immigration counsel on a regular basis.

Feel free to contact Evelyn or Helen to discuss any questions arising from this newsletter.

All the best for 2013!

UPDATES IN IMMIGRATION LAW

Canada’s ‘Expression of Interest’ in Transforming Economic Immigration

Canada has announced a new program based on one successfully implemented by New Zealand and Australia, the ‘Expression of Interest’ (EOI) system. Under EOI, prospective immigrants will complete an online form indicating their interest in coming to Canada, including questions on language proficiency, work experience, and assessed education credentials. Assigned points and ranked, the EOI can be used to create a pool of potential applicants from which the best match may be drawn to meet regional or national needs. Currently, consultations are underway with provinces, territories, and stakeholders, including employers, to develop an EOI system that meets Canada’s needs. As we continue the shift to an electronic immigration system, this may be a useful tool in expediting qualified candidates to permanent resident status.

Bridging Open Work Permits for Certain Federal Economic Class Applicants

Due to the lengthy processing times for most permanent resident applications, foreign nationals already in Canada on a work permit may find that their current temporary status is expiring prior to their permanent residence applications being finalized. To prevent foreign workers from going through the often onerous process of obtaining a further work permit, CIC is introducing open work permits for permanent residence candidates to bridge this gap. Effective December 15, 2012, qualifying foreign nationals who have submitted an application for permanent residence under the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), Canadian Experience Class (CEC), Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), and Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) may receive open work permits under this bridging system under certain circumstances. To be eligible, applicants must:

Be currently in Canada;

  • Hold a valid work permit which is set to expire in less than 4 months; and,
  • Have received a positive eligibility decision on their PR application*.

* An applicant has received a positive eligibility decision when they are sent an Acknowledgement of Receipt email from the Centralized Intake Office for FTSP, CEC, and PNP applications or a Final Determination of Eligibility letter / email for FSWP applications.

For open work permits issued to PNP applicants, they will be restricted to their nominating province. However, for all other applicants, there will not be a geographic restriction. These work permits will only be issued for one year at a time. Should applicants not be landed as permanent residents by the expiration of their open work permit, they may reapply for further open work permits.

New Federal Skilled Trades Program for Permanent Residence

CIC has announced the opening of a new stream for foreign nationals wishing to apply for permanent residence in Canada effective January 2, 2013. The new program will admit applicants in a skilled trade occupation in demand in Canada and covers 43 different jobs. The final list of eligible jobs can be found at http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/trades/applications.asp.

This new program will have a quota of 3000 for 2013, with sub-caps of 100 in certain jobs, but it is hoped that this will be increased in future years, depending on the success of the program. To be eligible, applicants must:

  • Have an offer of employment or a certificate of qualification from a provincial / territorial apprenticeship authority;
  • Meet a minimum language proficiency requirement, which will be lower than that required under the FSWP;
  • Have a minimum of two years of work experience in an eligible trade occupation; and,
  • Possess the skills and experience found in the National Occupation Classification (NOC B) for an eligible occupation.

This program, in combination with the LMO exemptions for certain skilled tradespeople inbound to Canada, should greatly help to alleviate labour shortages, particularly in Western Canada.

Global Launch of Electronic Applications for Temporary Residents

CIC is now deploying a system to support Electronic Applications (e-Apps) for foreign nationals outside of Canada to apply for work permits, study permits, and temporary resident visas. However, this new system is not mandatory and paper applications will still be accepted by visa posts and Visa Application Centres worldwide. To be eligible to use e-Apps, applicants must:

  • Be able to pay the fee via the e-Payment system (credit cards only);
  • Have a valid email address;
  • Have access to a camera or scanner to make electronic images of documents in PNG, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, and PDF formats; and,
  • Submit an application that is completely in French or English (Any documents not in these languages must be accompanied by translations).

CIC has advised that the system can only handle a maximum family size of 6. Should there be more than 6 people in your family, multiple applications must be submitted. Further, for individuals under 16 years of age, their applications must be submitted on their behalf by a legal guardian.

Using the “Come to Canada” wizard on the CIC website, applicants will complete a series of questions that will determine the appropriate category and generate the list of required forms and documents. As with all online applications at CIC, each applicant will require their own GCKey which they will create, if they do not already have one.

Updates on the New Federal Skilled Worker Program

CIC has announced that the new FSWP will open on May 4, 2013. The final changes to the selection criteria include:

  • Minimum official language threshold of Level 7 on the Canadian Language Benchmark with increased points for official language proficiency, thereby making it the most important factor in selection;
  • Increased emphasis on younger immigrants who are more likely to acquire valuable Canadian experience and be better positioned to adapt to a new country or a changing labour market in addition to spending more years contributing to Canada’s economy;
  • Introduction of the Educational Credential Assessment so that education points awarded reflect the true value of the credential in Canada;
  • Changes to the Arranged Employment Opinion process to allow employers to hire quickly when there is a demonstrated need (and also streamline such that the AEO can also be used in place of an LMO to support a work permit in certain situations); and,
  • Additional adaptability points for spousal language ability and Canadian work experience.

These are welcome changes to the program for many employers in Canada. As this new program will not be rolled out for another five months, we expect that there will still be adjustments made before the final version of the program is ready to accept applicants in the spring, including a more detailed breakdown of the points necessary to qualify. As new developments are released, we will keep you updated.

Changes to Spousal Sponsorship

In an attempt to combat marriage fraud, CIC has introduced several measures that impact the Spousal Sponsorship program. However, these new regulations do not apply if the relationship between sponsor and spouse is more than two years old or if the sponsor and spouse have children in common.

Should none of these exemptions apply, spouses must remain in a committed relationship with their sponsors for a period of two years after being granted permanent resident status. Due to the conditional nature of the permanent residence granted to these spouses, should the relationship end before two years elapses, the conditional permanent residence is revoked. However, as a humanitarian gesture, in cases of abuse or neglect, the sponsored spouse will not lose their permanent residence.

FROM ALL OF US AT ACKAH BUSINESS IMMIGRATION LAW…

We hope that you have found this both helpful and informative. Please let us know how we may be of assistance and how you can leverage our expertise in helping meet your business needs. Should you wish to discuss further the impact of any of these changes, we encourage you to contact either of our offices in Alberta and British Columbia.

*Please note that this immigration alert has been created for informational purposes only and cannot be relied upon as legal advice.

Our addresses:

CALGARY OFFICE
Ackah Business Immigration Law
1105, 550 11 Avenue SW
Calgary, AB T2R 1M7

RICHMOND OFFICE
5811 Cooney Road
South Tower, Suite 305
Richmond, BC V6X 3M1


Contact us:

Email:
   contact@ackahlaw.com

Phone:
   Calgary: (403) 452‑9515
   Vancouver: (604) 985‑9512
   Toronto: (416) 643‑7177

   North America: 1 (800) 932‑1190


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