Hello from all of us at Ackah Business Immigration Law! We are sending our February newsletter to provide you with more information on the constant stream of changing immigration laws and policies in Canada. If you think it’s hard to keep up with the changes, imagine the challenges we face as applications are being directly affected while in the process of being drafted. It’s never boring in the field of immigration law – that’s for sure!
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
Federal Government – Strengthening and Modernizing the Citizenship Act – Bill C-24
On February 6, 2014, Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister, Chris Alexander revealed upcoming changes and reforms to the Citizenship Act. According to the Minister, these reforms are meant to reinforce the value of Canadian citizenship and protect the integrity of Canada’s immigration system. The emphasis is placed on the physical presence in Canada of the applicants, their language skills, their overall knowledge of Canada and integration into Canadian society. In fact, applicants will be required to be physically present in Canada for a total of four years within a six year period. Moreover, they must be physically present in Canada for 183 days per year for at least four of the six years. Additionally, the language requirements will be strengthened, targeting applicants from age 14 to 64 who must demonstrate language proficiency in English or French before being granted citizenship.
Parent and Grandparent Sponsorship Applications – Now Closed
33 days after the program reopened, Minister Chris Alexander announced on February 3, 2014 that the Parent Grandparent Sponsorship Program is now closed as they have reached their annual quota of 5000 applications already.
You may recall on January 2, 2014, the Parent and Grandparent Sponsorship Program reopened to accept a total 5,000 applications for 2014. The criteria of eligibility was:
There has been a strong reaction to the announcement as many people had been in the process of applying when the news arrived. People are questioning the controversial message sent out by the Federal Government promoting the importance of family reunification while still setting out restrictive boundaries that will prevent them from spending time with their loved ones.
Although the program is closed until next year, 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.
New CIC Fee Schedule for Temporary Resident – Effective February 6, 2014
As of February 6, 2014, the new CIC processing fees for Temporary Residence will be effective. The changes consist of the following:
New Regulations for Study Permits – Effective June 1, 2014
As of June 1, 2014, study permits will be issued to successful applicants who are enrolled in and continue to pursue their studies at an educational institution designated to receive international students in Canada. Study permit holders will be authorized to automatically work off-campus for up to 20 hours per week during their academic session and full-time during scheduled breaks without needing to apply for a separate work permit.
A study permit is invalid 90 days following the completion of the studies unless the holder possesses a valid work permit or another authorization to remain in Canada.
Only international students who are pursuing their studies at a secondary school or a designated institution may apply for a Co-op Work Permit if a co-op placement is an integral part of their course of study.
Visitors may apply for a study permit while being in Canada provided that:
Current Processing Times – Canadian Immigration
The average processing time for Service Canada LMOs is between 8 to 10 weeks. Depending on the province, processing time may increase to 13 or 16 weeks for a complete LMO application. For applications requiring more information or details, the processing time can be even longer - up to 28 weeks.
For online work permit applications submitted within Canada, the average processing time is 15 business days (3 weeks). For paper applications submitted to CIC Vegreville, work permits are taking 50 to 60 business days for processing (10 to 12 weeks).
What’s Ahead for Canadian Immigration?
There are rumours that further changes to immigration policies are coming down the pipe in early April 2014 that may impact foreign workers. Employment Minister (former Canadian Immigration Minister), Jason Kenney has been musing about bringing back a limited fast track program (similar to the former A-LMO) for workers in high-demand professions in regions of the country with low unemployment. The next round of changes appear to be aimed at addressing complaints from businesses, trade associations and even some labour unions regarding the procedural red tape and lengthy delays they experience with the current foreign worker system. Stay tuned, spring should bring some interesting developments.
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. Feel free to forward this newsletter to any colleagues or contacts that you think may be interested.
*Please note that this immigration alert has been created for informational purposes only and cannot be relied upon as legal advice.