Hello from all of us at Ackah Business Immigration Law! We are sending our July newsletter on the heels of Stampede and hoping everyone has had a great month so far.
Like many others in Alberta, we were affected by the flooding that took place at the end of June. We had to evacuate our offices for about 10 days. We are now back up and running and we are grateful for the understanding of our clients as we worked to get back on track.
As you know, immigration law is constantly changing. We are pleased to share with you some recent developments in Canadian immigration law.
As we reported last month, the Professional Association of Foreign Services Officers (PAFSO) union is continuing to take strike action at visa and immigration offices in Canada and overseas.
This strike activity has affected visa application processing times and is leading to significant delays. The processing times available on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website are only a guide and we cannot guarantee timelines because of stoppages caused by PAFSO’s strike action.
To avoid lengthy delays, we recommend that businesses should plan ahead as much as possible and build in an additional three to four months of processing time for any upcoming applications to avoid interruption of services. This means initiating work permit extensions 6 to 7months in advance to ensure no disruption to provincial health coverage, SIN cards or provincial drivers’ licenses.
Current Processing Times:
CIC Vegreville – Online applications (28 business days – for both new employers and existing employers)
CIC Vegreville – Mail in applications (58 business days for a new employer and 66 business days for existing employers)
Service Canada LMO – Alberta and BC – 60 to 90 business daysService Canada LMO – Ontario 60 to 80 business days
Added to the unpredictability of PAFSO’s strike action, the recent Alberta floods have impacted the processing times of temporary foreign worker and permanent resident applications in the province. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced on July 2nd that immigration deadlines will be extended and fees will be waived in an attempt to help temporary and permanent residents affected by the floods. Alberta hosts the third largest number of temporary foreign workers in Canada. This announcement helps temporary and permanent residents who can demonstrate that they have been affected by the floods to have their status extended or restored until September 19th, 2013.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada has set up a dedicated phone line for people affected by the floods. We have confirmed that there is no deadline as to when this phone line will be closed as CIC will monitor the situation in Western Alberta before deciding that. CIC applicants affected by the flood should call 1-888-242-2100 and select 7 from the menu, for more information.
Processing times for temporary work visas can be found at the below link:
All travelers entering the U.S. via air or sea ports of entry should be aware that the former process of receiving a hard copy I-94 upon entry into the United States is now slightly different. I-94 numbers will still be assigned to these travelers, but a paper copy will no longer be provided. Those travelers needing to see their I-94 number will have to log on to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s website to retrieve their I-94 number once they have arrived in the U.S. Every person entering the U.S. will be issued an I-94 number, but only those entering through land or train POEs should expect to have a paper I-94 issued and stapled in their passports.
The U.S. CBP has issued a newsletter explaining that automation will save time, eliminate paper and streamline the admission process.
We have confirmed that the fee of $6 for the actual I-94 card is still charged for entries through land and train ports of entries, but it is not charged for travel by air or ship.
Please see below for more information:
The Alberta Government is reaching out to Temporary Foreign Workers in the province to notify them that the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program has expanded to assist Temporary Foreign Workers to become permanent residents sooner, which in turn should help the Province’s economy grow.
The Alberta Work Experience Category of the AINP lets eligible foreign workers apply to nominate themselves for permanent residency. The key requirements are that the temporary foreign worker must have two years of Alberta work experience in a key, in-demand occupation and meet other program and federal government criteria.
It is very important to note that this is a limited time offer and applicants’ completed application packages must be postmarked or delivered in person to the AINP office in Edmonton on or before November 28, 2013.
Please see the link below for more information and how to apply:
On July 9th the Consulate General of Canada in New York announced the opening of a new VAC in NYC on July 10th. As with all VACs this VAC will be managed by a private company, Computer Sciences Canada as per the formal agreement with CIC. This means like with many other consulates around the world, direct access to the consulate will be limited to those wanting to proceed by way of “walk in” status. Most times, they will need to proceed by way of the VAC. This VAC in NYC will accept the following types of applications:
Information about this VAC provided by the Consulate is limited at this point. Please see the link below for more information:
VFS is a privately owned global outsourcing and technology company that provides administrative support to consular sections of diplomatic missions worldwide.
We have recently experienced issues with VFS offices rejecting travel document applications as incomplete because they do not include certain forms. VFS has then required the applicant to complete additional information forms that are not official CIC forms.
We have also heard that other practitioners have encountered similar problems with VFS.
These additional forms are not posted on the CIC website, or VFS’s website for that matter, and this adds to the frustration of essentially having to submit an application, have it rejected, and only then having VFS supply the additional forms.
We think this is an issue that needs to be brought to CIC’s attention so that immigration law practitioners can be made fully aware of CIC’s position on this unilateral action taken by VFS.
If you’ve encountered similar issues please consider informing the CIC head office of this and perhaps VFS will rectify what we see as an added expense and inconvenience to our clients.
We hope that you have found this newsletter 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 our office and speak with one of the members of the Ackah Law Team.
*Please note that this immigration alert has been created for informational purposes only and cannot be relied upon as legal advice.