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:
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.
Timeline of Changes Coming into Force
Activity Implementation Date
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.
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:
For updates on the progress of Bill C-24
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.
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.
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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.