March 2013 Newsletter

26 March 2013

Hello from all of us at Ackah Business Immigration Law! As always, there have been many developments on the immigration front and we continue to wait for the release of details on Canada’s revamped Federal Skilled Worker category for permanent residence applicants.

Feel free to contact us to discuss any questions arising from this newsletter.

IMMIGRATION AND THE 2013 CANADIAN BUDGET

Canada’s new budget released March 21, 2013, contains several hints of what is to come in Canada’s immigration and citizenship programs. Although details have not been confirmed, several changes are being introduced, including:

  • Increasing processing fees for work permits, temporary resident visas, permanent residence, and citizenship applications;
  • Requiring employers to pay a processing fee for Labour Market Opinion (“LMO”) applications which were previously free of charge;
  • Increase the recruitment efforts that employers must make to hire Canadians before they will be eligible to apply for temporary foreign workers, including increasing the length and reach of advertising.
  • and,
  • Restricting the identification of a non-official language as a job requirement for LMO applications.

It remains to be seen what the new fees will be or how the budget will be translated into new regulations and legislation. Once the government provides more information on these initiatives, we will be able to help you navigate these changes and ensure continued compliance with Canada’s immigration programs.

SEQUESTRATION IN THE US AND THE BUSINESS TRAVELLER

Effective March 1, 2013, significant spending cuts are impacting the provision of services by the federal government in the United States. These cuts will occur at the Department of Homeland Security (DHO), US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), both within the United States and at its posts abroad.

CBP and DHO have both stated that sequestration will not impact their primary mandates of interdicting terrorists and ensuring the security and safety of all goods and people transiting the United States. However, because of these spending cuts, there will be fewer resources allocated to services associated with the issuance of immigrant and non-immigrant visas. Currently, no border wickets or offices are closed but should this change, this information will be communicated by CBP to the media.

CBP has advised that there will be no impact on trusted traveller programs, including NEXUS, Global Entry, SENTRI, or FAST. Approved travellers will still be able to utilize fast track lanes at airports and land crossings. However, CBP has stated that new applications will be subject to longer processing times to deal with the reduction in officer hours dedicated to adjudicating these applications.

Current impacts at major airports and land crossings for travel inbound to the United States include:

  • Slower TSA screening of individuals and carry-on luggage
  • Wait times to be processed by CBP officers in United States airports and at pre-clearance posts at Canadian airports increasing by 50% resulting in waits of up to 4 hours at major airports, notably in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City
  • Wait times at land crossings into the United States, particularly the largest crossings in southern Ontario and British Columbia, are peaking at five hours

Accordingly, we advise travellers to schedule generous stopovers to avoid missed connections due to processing. Because any reductions in hours or the closing of wickets are being made at the local level, please contact the relevant port to confirm it will accommodate any special requests such as applications for advanced parole to enter the United States.

Should sequestration still be in effect as of April 1, 2013, CBP, DHO, and TSA will begin mandatory furloughs for all employees to contain costs. This will result in even more significant and negative impacts on travellers inbound to the United States.

TRUSTED TRAVELLER INITIATIVES

NEXUS is designed to expedite the border clearance process for low-risk, pre-approved travellers into Canada and the United States. Further, it can serve as an identity document in lieu of a passport. To become a member of this program, you must do the following:

  • submit an application and go through a registration process
  • satisfy the eligibility criteria
  • be admissible to Canada and the United States
  • pass risk assessments by both countries

To be eligible, you must be a citizen or permanent resident of Canada or the United States, be admissible under US and Canadian immigration laws, and not been convicted of a criminal offence for which you have not received a pardon, and, except under certain limited exemptions, have lived in Canada or the United States for the last three years.

*During this period of sequestration in the United States, being a trusted traveller can significantly reduce the time it takes you to cross the border. Please speak with us to determine if this program is right for you.

UPDATES IN IMMIGRATION LAW

Phasing Out of Pilot Program for Dependent Children in British Columbia

Since August 15, 2011, British Columbia has had a pilot project for the dependent spouses and children of temporary foreign workers to obtain open work permits in cases where they would not normally be eligible. Unfortunately, this program has now been ended for the dependents of low-skilled temporary workers in British Columbia. For high-skilled temporary workers, the program has been temporarily extended until February 14, 2014. To be eligible, individuals must meet the following criteria to obtain an open work permit:

  • The principal applicant must be currently employed in high-skilled position
  • The applicant must be a dependent child of a principal applicant
  • The initial work permit holder (principal applicant) must hold an employer-specific work permit that is valid for at least six months for an employer located in British Columbia
  • Dependent children must be aged 18-22 at the date of application, and eligible to work in British Columbia
  • Dependants are not eligible if they have held a work permit under the International Experience Canada Program

So long as the dependent children are eligible, they can be issued open work permits for the same duration as that of the principal applicant.

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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