Newsletter - June 24, 2014

26 June 2014

The Ackah Business Immigration Law

Summer is finally here! The Ackah Business Immigration Law June newsletter is delivered to you every month to provide you with current updates regarding Canadian and NAFTA US Immigration law. And as always – there have been significant changes you need to be aware of as you plan ahead for your business and recruiting needs. 

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UPDATES IN IMMIGRATION LAW

Major Changes to Temporary Foreign Worker Program

On June 20, 2014 Employment Minister Jason Kenney announced major reforms to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program that will have significant impacts for all employers that utilize the Labour Market Opinion (now called Labour Market Impact Assessment – LMIA) process. The size of the TFWU program will be substantially cut, reducing the total number of foreign workers that will be accepted overall. The main announcement was that the freeze on hiring temporary foreign workers in the food-services sector is now officially over – see link: http://www.esdc.gc.ca/eng/jobs/foreign_workers/lmo_ref/index.shtml
Other significant changes can be found below:

  • Employers in the accommodation, food and retail sectors in areas where unemployment is above 6% will not be allowed to bring foreign workers into Canada for low skilled jobs (Alberta’s unemployment rate is currently below 6% so we expect this won’t apply for now)
  • Employers with 10 or more employees will face a cap on the number of low-wage foreign workers they can hire at each of their worksites: maximum of 30% of a worksite’s employees, falling to 10% by July 2016
  • Employers seeking to hire a temporary foreign worker must detail how many Canadians applied for the job, how many were interviewed and why the Canadians were not hired
  • Employers will be required to re-apply every year for approval to hire low-wage temporary foreign workers, instead of every two years
  • Employers looking to hire high-wage temporary workers must show an increased effort to hire Canadians, including higher wages, investments in training and more active recruitment across Canada
  • The length of time a foreign worker can be in Canada has been reduced to 2 years (for high skilled), and in some cases only 1 year (for low skilled)
  • An immediate increase to $1000 in application fees for each worker requested – it used to be $275 and a year ago, it was free to submit an LMO application – this will apply for all applications currently – whether low-skilled or live in caregiver application;
  • Introduction of 10 day processing times for certain occupations in the high skilled and highest paid categories or skilled trades where the wage offered is at or above the provincial prevailing wage;
  • Review of LMIA-exempt categories – such as NAFTA, GATS work permit categories and new fees to come for work permits
  • Posting of number of foreign workers approved for LMIA and names of employers employing LMIA approved workers
  • Open work permits will now have a privilege fee of $100 added to the cost of the work permit
  • Median hourly wages are the consideration of what is low-wage and what is high-wage position – in Alberta the median hourly wage is $24.23 per hour
  • Employers of high-wage positions must now submit transition plans to demonstrate how they plan to increase efforts to hire Canadians so as not to rely on the LMIA process
  • Stronger enforcement – ESDC is aiming for 25% of all employers to be inspected each year

In addition to the tightening the existing rules, the reforms also focus on enhanced audits and reviews of employers and applicants to reduce the perceived abuse in the program. The government will publish the names of employers who can hire foreign workers and the number of workers they can hire. Employer inspections will also become more frequent, and those who abuse the program face hefty fines of up to $100,000. Please see below link for detailed information that may affect you or your employees.

http://www.edsc.gc.ca/eng/jobs/foreign_workers/index.shtml

Timeline of Changes Coming into Force

 Activity                                                          Implementation Date

  • LMIA Fee                                                   Effective Immediately
  • Introduction of Cap                                    Effective Immediately
  • High-Wage Transition Plans                    Effective Immediately
  • Launch enhanced Tip Website
    for non-complying employers                   Effective Immediately
  • New guidelines for Intra-company
    transferees – specialized knowledge      Effective Immediately
  • 10-day Processing Times for certain
    occupations                                                 Effective Immediately

Changes to Intra-Company Transfer Program

As of June 9, 2014, more stringent requirements are being introduced in the assessment of Intra-company transfers pursuant to the Specialized Knowledge category. The criteria under this labour market exempt category will include a more rigorous definition of “specialized knowledge” as well as a mandatory wage requirement for some intra-company transfers. Now the knowledge requirements have changed so that workers must demonstrate advanced proprietary knowledge as well as an advanced level of expertise. Additionally, the salary requirements are stricter. Applicants must now be paid at a level befitting their level of expertise as determined by the Canadian prevailing wage and not the prevailing wage from their home country. While the Intra-Company Transfer Program may still be a good option for some individuals, namely managerial and executive transfers, some technical employees may be negatively affected.

http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/manuals/bulletins/2014/ob575.asp

Canadian Citizenship Act Reforms

As Bill C-24 enters its final stages of approval, extensive changes to the Canadian Citizenship Act are expected. The proposed bill would tighten the eligibility requirements to obtain Canadian Citizenship. One important change is the lengthening of the period during which a permanent resident must reside in Canada before applying for citizenship (used to be 3 years in a 4 year period – and now it will be changed to 4 years within a 6 year period). As well, more applicants will have to pass knowledge and language tests as the age range for taking the tests has expanded to 14-64, whereas currently it is at age 55 when you can be exempted from the tests. The legislation would also bar applicants with foreign criminal charges from obtaining citizenship. Additionally, adult applicants will be required to file Canadian income taxes to be eligible for citizenship. While these reforms are aimed at reducing fraud and ensuring immigrants have a real connection to Canada, they have been met with significant criticism. Human rights advocates argue that the changes will create increasing barriers to immigration and that the prolonged permanent resident period will create a second class of citizen. In particular, there is opposition to the provision that would allow the government to revoke citizenship entirely from dual citizens found guilty of major crimes. The government has defended this provision on security grounds, but critics worry that this provision along with the rest of Bill C-24’s reforms undermine the value of Canadian citizenship. It is expected that these new citizenship reforms will become effective July 1, 2015. Anyone considering applying for Canadian citizenship should do so as soon as they qualify to avoid being impacted by these new provisions.  For a summary of the changes being introduced:

http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?crtr.sj1D=&crtr.mnthndVl=12&mthd=advSrch&crtr.dpt1D=6664&nid=832259&crtr.lc1D=&crtr.tp1D=930&crtr.yrStrtVl=2008&crtr.kw=&crtr.dyStrtVl=1&crtr.aud1D=&crtr.mnthStrtVl=1&crtr.page=2&crtr.yrndVl=2014&crtr.dyndVl=31

For updates on the progress of Bill C-24

http://www.parl.gc.ca/LegisInfo/BillDetails.aspx?Language=E&Mode=1&Bill=C24&Parl=41&Ses=2

Decrease in Age of Dependent Children for Immigration Purposes

The definition of “dependent child” under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act will change as of August 1, 2014. As of that date, someone will only be considered a “dependent child” if they are less than 19 years of age or if they are 19 years or older and are unable to be financially self supporting due to a physical or mental condition. This means that if a child is 19 or over and financially dependent (i.e. still a full-time student), they will no longer be considered dependent children unless they have a physical or mental condition. This change will only affect applicants who submit a sponsorship and/or permanent resident application on or after August 1, 2014. This is a major change that could further upset the permanent residence or sponsorship plans for foreign workers. 

The current definition of dependent is someone under 22 years of age and does not have a spouse or partner or is a full-time student – even over the age of 22 that largely depends on a parent`s financial support or is 22 years of age and older and has a physical or mental condition. The below link provides additional information.

http://gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p2/2014/2014-06-18/html/sor-dors133-eng.php

Federal Skilled Worker Intake Caps Beginning to Fill

Recently, Citizenship and Immigration Canada has set caps on the number of applications accepted into the Federal Skilled Worker Permanent Residence program. The overall cap has been set at 25,500 applicants, and as of June 2014, 157 completed applications have been accepted. There are thousands likely in the pipeline for processing that have yet to be assessed as completed, so this number is quite misleading. However, the program only considers 50 eligible occupations and no more than 1000 applications will be accepted for one eligible occupation. Therefore, even if the total cap has not been filled, individuals may miss out on their chance to apply if their occupation category fills up early. Currently, the most popular (fastest filling) occupations are Financial and Investment Analysts (NOC 1112), Computer Programmers and Interactive Media Developers (NOC 2174), and Software Engineers and Designers (NOC 2173). If you or your employees are considering using the Federal Skilled Worker category as a route to permanent residence, you must be sure to check if there are spaces available in your occupation category before you submit your application.

http://www.cic.gc.ca/English/immigrate/skilled/complete-applications.asp

Please don’t keep our boutique law firm a secret!  We are very appreciative of any referrals and recommendations you send our way. Thank you very much!

FROM ALL OF US AT ACKAH BUSINESS IMMIGRATION LAW…

We hope that you have found this newsletter both helpful and informative. We look forward to hearing from you if you have any question about the content. Please let us know how we may be of assistance and how you can leverage our expertise in helping to meet your business needs. Should you wish to discuss further the impact of any of the above-referenced policy changes, we encourage you to contact our office.

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

ave found these presentations both helpful and informative. We look forward to hearing from you if you have any question about the content. 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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