Newsletter - January 2014

10 December 2013

Celebrating Our Three Year Anniversary

Happy New Year! From all of us at Ackah Business Immigration Law, we hope that you had an enjoyable and restful holiday season and that 2014 is shaping up to be a great year for you and your loved ones.

As we look forward to year four of the firm, we would like to thank each and every one of you for being part of our success over the past three years – we would not be here without you and we are very grateful and appreciative of your trust in our expertise. We will continue to strive to keep improving and exceeding your expectations. Please don’t keep our little boutique firm a secret! We are very appreciative of any referrals and recommendations you send our way.

UPDATES IN IMMIGRATION LAW

Service Canada – Constant Change – Lack of Flexibility

Effective December 31, 2013, amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) come into force, and new Ministerial Instructions issued by the Minister of Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) come into effect. As a result, employers who want to apply for a labour market opinion (LMO) as of December 31, 2013, need to be aware of the new powers and duties conferred on the Minister of ESDC, and the new conditions employers will be required to comply with, particularly:

1.  New conditions imposed on employers - The amendments to the IRPR will create new conditions employers will be required to comply with, particularly, they will be required to:

  • retain any document that relates to compliance with the conditions set out in IRPR (and confirmed in the LMO letter and annexes) for a period of 6 years, beginning on the first day of the period of employment for which the work permit is issued to the foreign worker. For this same period, the employer must be able to demonstrate that any information they provided in the context of an LMO application was accurate;
  • make reasonable efforts to provide a workplace that is free of abuse; and
  • hire or train, or make reasonable efforts to hire or train, Canadians or permanent residents, if that was one of the factors that led to the issuance of the work permit.

Starting December 31, 2013, employers will be required to complete an updated LMO application form that includes modified questions and additional attestations.

2. New authority to conduct inspections

ESDC/Service Canada will have the authority to conduct inspections to verify an employer's compliance with the conditions in IRPR (and confirmed in the LMO letter and annexes) for a period of 6 years, beginning on the first day of the period of employment for which the work permit is issued to the foreign worker (unlike an employer compliance review (ECR) that occurs in the context of the assessment of an LMO application).

During an inspection, employers will be required to demonstrate that they are compliant with the conditions set out in IRPR (and confirmed in the positive LMO letter and annexes). In order to verify compliance with the conditions, ESDC/Service Canada will have the authority to:

  • require employers to provide documents that relate to compliance with those conditions
  • conduct on-site inspections without a warrant (private dwellings excluded and in the majority of cases, advance notice will be given to employers); and
  • interview foreign workers or Canadian employees, by consent.

Employers who have failed to comply with the conditions set out in IRPR (and confirmed in the LMO letter and annexes) will have the opportunity to provide a justification and to take corrective action, where applicable, before a determination of non-compliance is made.

Following a determination of non-compliance, employers will:

  • be deemed ineligible to hire foreign workers for 2 years, and have their name, address and period of ineligibility published on a public ban list;
  • be issued negative LMOs on any pending LMO applications; and/or
  • may have previously-issued LMOs revoked.

Note: Changes to the ECRs, which are conducted as part of the LMO assessment at the time of an LMO application, have also been made, including increasing the period of time that ESDC may review an employer's compliance (regarding wages, working conditions and occupation) from 2 to 6 years.

3. Ministerial Instructions to suspend and revoke LMOs, or refuse to process LMO applications

As a result of Ministerial Instructions, ESDC may suspend or revoke LMOs, or refuse to process LMO applications, under identified public policy considerations. Decisions governing the LMO suspension or revocation will not be taken lightly. Employers facing a suspension or revocation of their LMOs will be contacted and provided an opportunity to respond.

 Parent and Grandparent Sponsorship Applications – Now Accepted

On January 2, 2014, the Parent and Grandparent Sponsorship Program has been reopened to accept applications. There is a cap of 5,000 applications that will be accepted this year. The program was closed in 2011 due to a growing application backlog.

Although only 5,000 new applications will be considered in 2014, a total of 20,000 visas are expected to be issued this year, as visa officers continue to bring down the backlog. As the backlog is reduced, so too are processing times for the program as a whole.

Program Eligibility

In order to be eligible as sponsors under the current program, Canadian citizens and permanent residents must meet the following criteria:

  • Demonstrate their relation to the sponsored individual(s);
  • Be 18 years of age or older;
  • Sign a sponsorship agreement committing to provide financial support for relative(s), if necessary; and
  • Meet minimum financial criteria for the past three years.

Another option to consider is the Parent and Grandparent Super Visa. This allows parents and grandparents to stay in Canada for an extended period of time as visitors. They may reside in Canada for two years at a time, for a period of up to ten years in total.

Communicating with Government Ministers – Lobbying for your Business or Industry

Since the fall, we have noticed a definite change in the level of flexibility and facilitation by Service Canada officers across the country. The new immigration Minister, Chris Alexander is sending a clear message that the TFW Program is going to be more limited and less accommodating to employers – this could affect how you do business – even if you are looking for highly skilled employees. As a result, we strongly suggest that you, our clients, consider writing letters or sending emails to share your concerns or complaints on immigration related matters.

Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

The Honourable Chris Alexander – chris.alexander@parl.gc.ca
365 Laurier West Avenue
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 1L1


Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Multiculturalism

The Honourable Jason Kenney – jason.kenney@parl.gc.ca

325 East Block
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

 For our Alberta-based clients, you can also contact

Alberta’s Minister of Human Services:

The Honourable Dave Hancock – edmonton.whitemud@assembly.ab.ca

224 Legislature Building
10800-97 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta
T5K 2B6

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 in 2014.  Should you wish to discuss further the impact of any of these changes, we encourage you to contact our office.

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



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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