December 31, 2014
Changes to Citizenship Processing Fees
On January 1st, 2015, Citizenship and Immigration Canada is changing the citizenship application fee to have applicant fees more closely reflect the costs associated with processing citizenship applications.
In order to reduce the burden on Canadian taxpayers, the fee for adult grant and resumption applications will increase from $300 to $530. With this fee increase, applicants will now pay more than 90 percent of the cost to process a citizenship application, bringing the fee closer to its true cost.
Applications for a grant and resumptions of citizenship to a minor are exempt from this change. The $100 Right of Citizenship fee for successful applicants remains the same. Other fees for services, such as for citizenship proofs, are not changing.
The fee increase will only apply to individuals applying for an adult citizenship grant (including adult adoption) or resumption of citizenship. Fees for applications for a grant of citizenship to a minor child of a Canadian citizen will remain the same.
December 28, 2014
MP Suggests Longer Travel Visas to China
After the US recently agreed a deal for businesspeople to acquire ten year travel visas to China, a local MP is suggesting our government try and get a similar deal. According to MP Don Davies, the NDP’s Deputy Citizenship and Immigration critic, the existing situation is a competitive disadvantage.
“Canada gives Chinese nationals up to ten-year multiple entry visas when they come to Canada,” Davies says. “So we’re pushing the Canadian government to try and negotiate the same benefit for Canadians.”
Davies notes around 700,000 Canadians went to China last year. He’s also pushing for the feds to create a five-year student travel visa as well.
December 22, 2014
Pilot Program Launched for Spouses Waiting for Permanent Residency
The federal government will start issuing open work permits to help the spouses of Canadians already living in the country but waiting for permanent residency, under a one-year pilot program launched today.
The one-year pilot program comes after the CBC Go Public team reported that thousands of Canadian families are living in limbo, unable to work and without health coverage, due to lengthy processing times in their sponsorship applications.
December 19, 2014
Parent and Grandparent Program Re-Opening on January 2, 2015
Today, Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced that the parent and grandparent program (PGP) will re-open on January 2, 2015.
Alexander highlighted the success of the PGP, stating that Canada has welcomed more than 70,000 parents and grandparents since 2012. This number represents the highest level of parent and grandparent admissions in nearly two decades. Thanks to the government’s Action Plan for Faster Family Reunification, the backlog has already been reduced by nearly 54 percent.
Parents and grandparents who wish to visit their family in Canada can also apply for the Parent and Grandparent Super Visa. It remains a fast, convenient option for parents and grandparents wanting to spend an extended period of time in Canada with their families. To date, approximately 45,000 Super Visas have been issued with an approval rate of over 80 percent.
December 19, 2014
Windsor Man Sentenced for Passport Fraud
Windsor resident Mohammed El Shaer was sentenced Friday to 90 days in jail after pleading guilty to passport fraud, following travel around the world while on a U.S. no-fly list and under a court order to remain in Ontario.
El Shaer travelled at one point with fellow Windsorite Ahmed Waseem, a Pakastani Canadian who was of interest to the RCMP and who had earlier travelled to Syria but was wounded, before briefly returning home. Though leaders at the Windsor Mosque counselled Waseem to forget the conflict, he returned again on a false passport.
On Friday, El Shaer — a 28-year-old Canadian of Palestinian heritage — pleaded guilty to falsifying information on a Canadian Citizenship and Immigration questionnaire he filled out in Turkey in 2013, in order to obtain a replacement passport for one he said was damaged. He also pleaded guilty to breaking a court order not to leave Ontario, as well as failing to make a court appearance.
When asked if he had anything to say, El Shaer — who wore short hair and a beard, as well as a striped shirt and a black hoodie — told the court: “I made a mistake and I apologize for that. It won’t happen again.”
December 17, 2014
Cross Border Investigation Turns Up 15 Kilograms of Opium
The RCMP, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Canada Border Services Agency co-ordinated to arrest Abdolrahman Ibrahimi, 50, of Toronto, and charged him with three drug-related offences.
It started when American authorities inspected a package that came from Erbil, Iraq, and passed through Cincinnati, Ohio, on it’s way to a Toronto business.
Customs officials say they found large metal steel gears containing approximately 15 kilograms of opium. The steel gears were shipped to the RCMP, who conducted an investigation and arrested the suspect on Dec. 9 in the area of Lawrence Avenue East and Victoria Park Avenue.
The RCMP charged Ibrahimi with importing drugs into Canada, possession for the purpose of trafficking, and conspiracy to import a controlled substance
December 17, 2014
NEXUS Card Holders Can Speed Through Airport
Travellers who have undergone the special NEXUS screening program with the United States can use those cards to speed through airport security lines. They won’t have to take off their coats, belts or shoes or pull out their liquids or gels from carry-on bags.
Raitt said the new measures will also apply to those with so-called trusted travellers status who have been screened under global entry programs, as well as Canadian and U.S. military members and airline crew staff in uniform.
Raitt said the focus is on maintaining security while looking at convenience for travellers.
NEXUS travellers will have dedicated lines at four Canadian airports, including both terminals at Toronto’s Pearson airport. The other lines are in Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver. People can use expedited airport screening lines on flights to the United States, within Canada and for international travel. As well, special kiosks are in place for returning Canadians to speed up customs and immigration screening.
December 17, 2014
New Immigrants Do Best in Saskatchewan
From 2000 to 2010, the low-income rate among immigrants in Saskatchewan dropped significantly. The rate is a number based on StatsCan’s low-income cutoffs for after-tax income. In 2000, “recent immigrants” – those who had been in Canada for less than five years – had a low-income rate of 37.3. Ten years later, the rate was 14.7.
“There’s been a real focus on tying immigration to jobs that are existing,” Hopkins said. “Instead of people coming here to Saskatchewan with skills for which there may be no demand, we’re bringing in people where the skills that they have are in demand here.”
Hopkins was referring to the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP), an economically driven immigration stream that matches the province’s labour needs with the needs of potential newcomers.
Last week, the federal government increased the number of immigrants Saskatchewan can bring in through the SINP. Next year, 5,500 people can come through the program.
Since 2007, the number of people coming to the province through SINP has increased by 216 per cent.
December 16, 2014
Marina Operator Faces Multiple Charges
On December 16, 2014, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) charged Sean Horsfall and Len’s Cove Marina Limited with one count of employing a foreign national without authorization to work contrary to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA); one count of forgery, one count of using a forged document and one count of falsifying employment records under the Criminal Code.
Following a tip received by the Border Watch Line, CBSA officers arrested a worker at Len’s Cove Marina who was not in possession of a valid work permit. Further to an investigation into the individual’s employment status, the CBSA determined that Horsfall had taken steps to conceal the illegal employment, which included falsifying employment documents.
Horsfall will make a court appearance on the charges on January 23, 2015 at the Ontario Court of Justice in Brockville, Ontario.
December 16, 2014
Alberta Job Vacancy Rate Highest in Canada
In a new report, the group said 66,700 positions in the private sector were unfilled in the quarter, for a job vacancy rate of 3.9 per cent — the same as the previous quarter. Saskatchewan’s vacancy rate was second highest in the country, at 3.7 per cent, while the national average was 2.7 per cent.
Nationally, an estimated 322,000 private sector jobs were awaiting qualified employees.
The CFIB said the nationwide openings in full, part-time and temporary positions were up by 7,000 jobs compared with the second quarter, the largest quarterly increase measured by CFIB in the past two years.
“Alberta’s private sector job vacancy rate remains the highest in the country and has been on a slow, steady climb. The new breakdown by census division also clearly confirms hiring difficulties have been severe for employers across most of the province for the past couple of years,” said Richard Truscott, the CFIB’s Alberta director.
December 16, 2014
Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Pilot Program
Today, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced that Canada will unveil a pilot program in January 2015 to attract experienced business immigrants who can actively invest in the Canadian economy, stimulating innovation, economic growth and job creation.
The new Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Pilot Program is part of a series of transformational changes that build on the Government’s commitment to build a fast and flexible economic immigration system.
In addition to making an investment of $2 million for a period of 15 years and having a net worth of $10 million, immigrant investors will be required to meet certain program eligibility criteria related to language and education, and have proven business or investment experience. This will ensure that immigrant investors will have a strong impact on the Canadian economy, and that those admitted for permanent residence will be well prepared to integrate into the Canadian business landscape and society.
This new pilot program will begin accepting applications in late January 2015 and will provide a pathway to permanent residence for approximately 50 immigrant investors and their families.
December 12, 2014
CBSA Faces Hurdles with Crooked Consultants
Agency president Luc Portelance tells Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney in a newly disclosed memo that fraudulent activities involving unscrupulous consultants “threaten the integrity of Canada’s immigration program.”
The memo, released under the Access to Information Act, says the border agency has received more than 700 referrals of suspected consultant-related fraud for criminal investigation since 2008. About 140 of these have resulted in investigations.
Over the last six years, the Public Prosecution Service of Canada has accepted 22 cases, with 13 resulting in guilty convictions and several others still making their way through the courts, the memo adds. In 2013-14, the border agency opened 40 investigations into consultant fraud — the highest number in the last six years.
In August the border agency laid four charges against an Edmonton consultant who allegedly provided her clients with forged documents — charges that came three years after the agency received a complaint against her.
Priorities for the agency’s 200 criminal investigators include consultant fraud, human smuggling, marriages of convenience, export violations, weapons and tobacco smuggling, commercial trade fraud, and food, plant and animal offences, the memo reveals.
The aim is to tackle high-risk offences that will “have the greatest impact on the nation’s economic and social well-being.”
December 12, 2014
Ottawa Welcomes More Than 1,100 New Canadians
More than 1,100 individuals from 122 countries became Canadian citizens at 15 citizenship ceremonies in Ottawa this week, announced Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander today.
Alexander welcomed and congratulated Canada’s newest citizens at a special citizenship ceremony at Rideau Hall on Tuesday. The ceremony, which saw 50 new Canadians take the Oath of Citizenship, was hosted by the Institute for Canadian Citizenship and presided over by Governor General David Johnson.
Ceremonies like these demonstrate how the government is working to make the citizenship program more efficient and helping more people realize their dream of becoming Canadian sooner. Recent changes to the Citizenship Act, which received Royal Assent on June 19, 2014, are already improving the efficiency of the citizenship program. With the new streamlined decision-making process and other changes to the Citizenship Act, the government is on track to bring the processing time for citizenship applications down to under one year and reduce the citizenship application backlog by more than 80 percent by 2015-2016.
For a new Canadian, the citizenship ceremony marks their formal entry into Canadian society. A citizenship ceremony is a unique part of Canadian civic life. It is one of the few occasions where we formally reflect on the rights, responsibilities, privileges and benefits of being a Canadian citizen.
December 10, 2014
Temporary Closure of Visa Office in Cairo
Please note that for security reasons the office in Cairo is temporarily closed until further notice. CIC continues to monitor developments closely.
Temporary visa applications (visitors, students and workers) can be submitted online.
Applicants can also submit their documents and fees to Visa application centres (VACs) in Cairo. VACs improve service by helping clients avoid unnecessary delays due to incomplete applications, and by facilitating the reliable and secure transfer of documents between clients and visa offices.
December 10, 2014
New Rules for Expat Voters
Pierre Poilievre, the minister responsible for democratic reform, has tabled legislation that would require voters living abroad to provide proof of their identity, citizenship and past residence in Canada. And it would allow them to vote only in the constituencies in which they last lived, putting an end to the possibility of “riding shopping.”
The legislation, entitled the Citizen Voting Act, follows a court ruling last spring that struck down a law which stripped expats of their voting rights once they’d lived outside the country for more than five years.
The government is appealing that ruling.
But in the meantime, it is clamping down on the estimated 1.4 million expatriates who’ve regained their voting rights as a result of the ruling.
“The Citizen Voting Act will help ensure that only citizens vote, that their votes only count in their home ridings and that they show ID to prove both,” Poilievre said in a written statement Wednesday.
The bill would also attempt to ensure that non-citizens — an estimated 40,000 of whom are on the national voters registry, according to Elections Canada — are not allowed to cast ballots.
“For over two decades, Canada’s policy has limited to five years the length of time someone can be abroad and still vote. That is fair and reasonable.”
The five-year rule was struck down as unconstitutional last May by Ontario Superior Court Justice Michael Penny. The charter of rights is clear that citizenship, not residence, is the fundamental requirement for voting, he ruled, adding that it’s not up to the government to determine which citizens are “worthy” to vote.
December 04, 2014
Moratorium Ends on Deportations to Haiti & Zimbabwe
Immigration Minister Chris Alexander and Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said the temporary suspension of deportations to both countries has been lifted and migrants from Haiti and Zimbabwe can face removal after six months if they remain without legal status.
The decision leaves only three countries — Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Iraq — on Canada’s removal moratorium list.
“Canada is one of the most generous countries in the world, and we have extended that generosity for over 10 years to Haitians and Zimbabweans by allowing them to stay in Canada because of unsafe conditions in their countries,” Alexander said. “With the temporary suspension now lifted, the uncertainty has ended.”
In justifying the decision, Blaney said Canada is simply following the steps of its “allies” after a thorough review of country conditions. “Haitians and Zimbabweans have demonstrated tremendous courage in recovering from the earthquake of 2010 and years of political instability,” he said.
Immigration officials said as many as 3,200 Haitian and 300 Zimbabwean nationals could be subject to removal as a result.
Advocates for refugees were shocked by Ottawa’s decision, citing reports by the federal government itself and international aid groups that found little progress in those countries.
“The conditions have not improved at all,” said lawyer Raoul Boulakia, president of Refugee Lawyers Association of Ontario. “For Canada to lift the suspension of removals when things remain precarious, it’s a complete disregard of what’s happening there.”
The Canadian government currently has a travel advisory for Haiti, saying “the security situation is hazardous and very unpredictable.” A travel advisory for Zimbabwe says, “Crime, exacerbated by a very difficult economic situation, remains a serious problem for foreign visitors and residents alike.”
Ottawa said all affected individuals are given six months to apply for permanent residency based on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, a process critics say lacks clear criteria for acceptance. Meanwhile, border officials will defer any removal pending a final decision on their application.
However, both the refugee council and la Maison d’Haiti, a Montreal-based Haitian community group, urge the government to grant these people permanent residence if they have been here for three or more years.
December 04, 2014
Proposal to Raise Fees for Access to Information Requests
Conservative MPs are proposing that the government raise user fees for access to information requests, charging businesses and journalists more money to help mitigate a series of budget cuts that have damaged the already-ailing system.
The comments from several government MPs at a House of Commons committee Thursday came in response to pleas of poverty from Suzanne Legault, the information commissioner of Canada.
Legault told MPs that a rapid 30 per cent rise in her workload, as well as a shrinking budget to help government fight the deficit, has left her office in “crisis,” with little choice but to cut the number of investigators who deal with complaints from requesters about withheld or delayed information.
“Last fiscal year, I faced a 30 per cent jump in new complaints, which has brought the organization to a crisis point,” she told the committee. “Unless my budget is increased, I have only one option going into the next fiscal year … to cut the program.”
Money from access to information fees currently goes into general revenues, not to the information commissioner’s office, and there is no fee charged to file a complaint with Legault’s office. She recently reported to Parliament that she no longer has any room to manoeuvre in her budget, and that a simple computer-server failure could halt operations for lack of funds to replace it.
Any proposal to increase application fees would require extensive public consultations and hearings under the User Fees Act, passed in 2004.
Thursday’s meeting ended with an NDP motion asking the House of Commons to provide emergency funding to Legault’s office, but there was no agreement to extend the committee’s time to debate it.
Next month, Legault will release her recommendations to Parliament about how to reform the Access to Information Act, which has not had a major overhaul since it came into force in 1983, years before the digital age.
Legault told the committee she plans to recommend she be given the legal right to refuse to investigate some complaints from requesters. Currently, her office is compelled to open a file on each complaint she receives. Recent increases in the workload have meant she cannot even assign a file to an investigator for six or seven months.
December 01, 2014
Getting Ready to Launch Express Entry
Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander today confirmed it’s one month and counting until Express Entry launches a new phase of active immigration recruitment to meet economic and labour market needs. Potential candidates can create their profile on January 1st, 2015, with the first Invitations to Apply issued within weeks.
Express Entry will help select skilled immigrants based on their skills and experience. Those with valid job offers or provincial/territorial nominations will be picked first.
- Express Entry will manage applications for three federal economic immigration programs: the Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Skilled Trades Program and the Canadian Experience Class.
- Provinces and Territories will be able to use the Express Entry system to select a portion of candidates for their Provincial Nominee Programs.
- Express Entry will launch at 12 noon EST January 1st, 2015. The first draw for an invitation to apply is scheduled for the last week of January.
- Once candidates have been selected from the pool they will need to complete the immigration process, which includes health and security checks. Applications will be processed in six months or less.
- Canada is one of the most multicultural countries in the world, with clean and friendly cities, world-class universities, and business and job opportunities.
November 28, 2014
Relaunch of Investor Program in 2015
The Canadian government is poised to relaunch a program that grants permanent residency to foreign millionaires but a veteran immigration lawyer says he fears Ottawa is still underpricing what amounts to a path to citizenship.
Ottawa announced in February it would end the decades-old Immigrant Investor Program, saying the $800,000 investment required of newcomers, as well as other conditions, “significantly undervalued Canadian permanent residence.”
In the 2014 budget, the federal government said it would replace the program with one that would require foreign applicants to make a venture capital investment in early-stage start-up companies. This is an effort to ensure the money applicants invest in Canada has greater economic impact than the old program, which required foreigners to make what amounted to an interest-free loan to the government.
Richard Kurland, a Vancouver-based lawyer with decades of experience in the field, said he expects an announcement from Immigration Minister Chris Alexander within two weeks and predicts the minimum investment required under the revamped program will be about $1.5-million.
November 26, 2014
Ebola Questions at Canada Border Crossings
Cross-border bargain hunters will be met with a new slate of questions from Canadian border guards when they return home this week. Thousands of Canadians are expected to shop for deals on Black Friday in the U.S.
The Canada Border Service Agency has started asking travellers more pointed and specific questions about Ebola. Border agents at land border crossings have recently started asking those entering Canada if they have been in contact with someone suspected of having Ebola, have travelled to a location known to be dealing with the disease and whether they feel sick.
If travellers have been to an Ebola stricken country, they will be asked more in-depth questions.
“If somebody would say or we would feel the person is sick or the person actually looks like he is having fever or any kind of symptoms immediately the person would be isolated,” Fortin said.
There is no strict screening process at North America’s busiest land border crossing, the Ambassador Bridge, and the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel.
Dr. Wajid Ahmed, the unit’s public health adviser, says the fact border-crossers are in vehicles makes it even more difficult to identify sick people. “I don’t think that there is anything that we can do to protect ourselves, unless the person is really symptomatic and the border security forces identify them as an ill person and may contact us,” Ahmed said.
November 24, 2014
Canada Embraces 2,095 Yolanda Victims
The Canadian government has approved the applications for immigration and citizenship of at least 2,095 Filipinos who were directly affected by typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) that devastated parts of the Visayas region in November the previous year.
According to the Canadian Embassy in Manila, this number includes applications that Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) pro-actively identified who were affected by typhoon Yolanda but had applied prior to the tragedy on November 8.
Available data as of September 30 showed that Canada “approved and expedited” 95 percent of applications under its post-typhoon special measures.
Of the 2,095, a total of 1,540 Filipinos have entered Canada as of October 2014 as a result of the special measure, 1,484 of whom were permanent residents.
November 24, 2014
Extension of Temporary Resident Permit
The Government of Canada is balancing the need to protect the health and safety of Canadians while causing minimal disruption to travel and trade – and in doing so, helping to prevent Ebola from coming to Canada.
If you came to Canada from Guinea, Sierra Leone, or Liberia or are a citizen of one of those countries, please consider the following important information.
- In order to protect the health and safety of Canadians from the Ebola virus disease, the Minister of Citizenship & Immigration released Ministerial Instructions on October 31, 2014. These instructions pause the processing of new applications for temporary resident visas, of pending temporary resident visa applications, of new permanent resident visa applications, and withhold the issuance of permanent residence visas.
This applies to applicants who have resided in, travelled to, or transited through an Ebola affected country in the last three (3) months, or for applicants who intend to travel to an Ebola affected country. An Ebola affected country is one that has widespread and persistent/intense transmission of the Ebola virus disease as identified by the World Health Organization; at this time, these countries are Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.
November 22, 2014
Canada Lifts Visitor Visa Requirements for Chileans
As of 12:00 p.m. EST today, Chilean citizens no longer require a visa to visit Canada. This means that Chilean visitors and businesspeople can now stay in Canada for up to six months visa-free, which is consistent with all other visa-exempt travellers.
A recent visa policy review found that Chile meets Canada’s criteria for a visa exemption. This decision is based on a comprehensive assessment that evaluated a number of criteria. These include socio-economic indicators, migration trends, the integrity of travel documents, safety and security issues, border management, human rights, as well as bilateral relations.
The visa exemption will further deepen Canada-Chile relations and lead to increased tourism, as well as increased trade and economic opportunities. In 2013, 10,500 Chilean citizens were issued a visa to visit Canada and approximately 31,000 Canadians visited Chile during the same period.
November 22, 2014
St. Kitts & Nevis Citizens Now Need Visa to Travel to Canada
As of 12:00 p.m. EST today, citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis will require a visa to travel to Canada.
Canada is acting to protect the safety and security of Canadians and the integrity of our immigration system. The visa requirement will ensure that Canada will be able to properly determine the true identity of St. Kitts and Nevis passport holders and to deny entry to those who would otherwise be inadmissible to Canada.
Canada continues to welcome genuine visitors from St. Kitts and Nevis and has a number of programs, including a multiple-entry visa, to make it easy for such legitimate visitors to travel to Canada.
November 21, 2014
Changes to Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Today, Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced the coming into force of certain changes under the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act that will further protect the safety and security of Canadians and the integrity of Canada’s immigration system.
The Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act is expediting the removal of foreign criminals from Canada, while making it harder for those who pose a risk to Canadians to enter the country. The new changes will deter and prevent abuse of the immigration system and safeguard Canadians by:
- Increasing the penalty for misrepresentation from a two- to a five-year period of inadmissibility, as well as a five-year ban on applying for permanent resident status. This change will help deter fraudulent applications and sends a strong message to those who would abuse our system that giving false or misleading information has serious consequences.
- Barring temporary entry to immediate family members of those who are inadmissible to Canada on the most serious grounds, including national security, human or international rights violations or organized criminality. This new measure will ensure that individuals who pose a serious danger are unable to use their relatives to expand their networks in Canada.
November 07, 2014
Canada Gaining Popularity with International Students
Canada is on track to welcome a record number of foreign students this year, Canada’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Chris Alexander announced today.
103,999 study permits were issued from January to September this year, an 11-percent increase from the same period in 2013 (93,717) and a 26-percent increase for the same period in 2012 (84,207).
More than half of international students entering Canada in 2013 were citizens of the following five countries: the People’s Republic of China (29,414), India (13,758), South Korea (7,284), France (7,045) and the United States (4,847).
October 31, 2014
Canadian Caregiver Program Improvements
Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister, Chris Alexander, announced significant reforms to the Caregiver Program that acknowledges the valuable contributions caregivers make to Canadian families and the economy.
Changes to the program include ending the live-in requirement, and providing eligible caregivers with two pathways that will lead to permanent residence within six months.
One pathway features criteria for child care providers that are very similar to current requirements, but without the need for the caregiver to live in the home of their employer where they may be vulnerable to abuse.
In addition, caregivers in a variety of health care occupations, including registered nurses, registered psychiatric nurses, licensed practical nurses, nurse aides, orderlies, patient service associates and home support workers, will also have a pathway to permanent residence. Eligible caregivers in this stream would be able to gain their work experience either in providing in-home care or care in a health-care facility to an elderly person or a person with a disability or chronic medical condition. This pathway offers more career options for eligible caregivers, and targets workers in occupations that are expected to face labour shortages in the future. Applications in this stream would also be processed within six months.
The Government of Canada is taking aggressive action to reduce the backlog of applications for permanent residence through the Live-in Caregiver Program. As part of the 2015 Levels Plan tabled today in the House of Commons, Canada will welcome 30,000 new permanent residents in this category. Reducing the backlog and processing times will mean that eligible caregivers will be reunited sooner with their families.
Caregivers who have already applied for Live-in Caregiver Program work permits, and any who apply based on an employer’s approved Labour Market Impact Assessment submitted before November 30, will also be able to complete the work requirement on a live-in basis and eventually apply for permanent residence.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada will set an all-time record in the number of caregiver permanent resident admissions in 2014, with levels set at 17,500.
Both pathways will have a cap on applications of 2,750 each year, for a total of 5,500. This does not include spouses and dependants, and is consistent with the number of caregivers coming to Canada in recent years. From 2011 to 2013, about 4,500 principal applicants applied each year for permanent residence through the Caregiver Program.
October 30, 2014
Chinese Passport Seized in Richmond Citizenship Fraud Scheme
A Richmond man planned to help at least 165 people obtain Canadian citizenship by committing fraud, according to the Canada Border Services Agency.
Charges related to immigration fraud have been laid against Xun Wang, who is alleged to have been involved in a “significant” immigration scheme, said border officials. Wang is said to have lied about the applicants’ residency status by creating a fictitious appearance of permanent residency, a precursor to citizenship.
CBSA released a statement concerning the case on Thursday:
“The CBSA’s Criminal Investigations Section conducted a lengthy investigation into the activities of Wang’s two unlicensed immigration consulting businesses, which offered services in Metro Vancouver. During the execution of search warrants, CBSA investigators discovered a complex immigration fraud scheme. Wang has been charged with six Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) offences and four Criminal Code offences, including allegations of advising foreign nationals to provide misleading and untruthful statements on their permanent resident card renewal applications, forgery and fraud.”
Wang is also charged with one count of tax evasion and two counts of fraudulently obtaining refunds or credits under the Income Tax Act.
CBSA worked in conjunction with the Canada Revenue Agency to nab Wang on the charges.
“Immigration fraud is a criminal offence in Canada and damages the integrity of our immigration system. The CBSA takes this issue very seriously and works closely to identify, investigate, and prosecute those engaging in immigration fraud to the full extent of the law.” stated CBSA’s chief of investigations Doug Mossey.
The CBSA said it is “responsible for investigating cases of alleged contravention of the IRPA, including immigration consultant fraud, residency fraud, misrepresentation, marriages of convenience and employing foreign nationals without authorization.”
October 30, 2014
Ex-Citizenship Judge Sentenced
A retired citizenship judge has become the first in Canada to be imprisoned for breach of trust after illegally providing copies of citizenship exams.
Family members wept as Philip Gaynor, 71, was led away in handcuffs Wednesday following Ontario Court Justice Harvey Brownstone’s sentence of three years. He said Gaynor’s “reprehensible” and “appalling” actions went “straight to the heart of the integrity of Canada’s immigration system” and potentially tarnished new Canadians’ perception of the judiciary.
“In my 20 years on the bench, I have never had the misfortune to deal with something like this,” he said.
While still a citizenship judge in February 2012, Gaynor began stealing exam papers and providing them to Scarborough immigration consultant Li Ling, 49, whom he had meet in 2007, and her assistant Mo Sui Zhun, 58. Brownstone said this continued even after Gaynor’s retirement in September 2012, lasting until about April 2013. Li and Mo were charged with possession of stolen property last year. The status of those charges is unclear.
The papers were then given to citizenship applicants who went through Li’s consulting business. The court heard that Gaynor had engaged in a “social” and later “personal” relationship with Li — inappropriate given his position, said Brownstone — and was paid in cash for the papers. It is unclear how many applicants benefitted from this arrangement.
Gaynor was arrested in May 2013 and pleaded guilty earlier this year to breach of trust and fraud over $5,000, in relation to collecting EI benefits after his retirement but while still receiving income from Li. Brownstone noted that Gaynor did pay more than $11,000 in restitution last month. He sentenced Gaynor to 90 days for fraud, to be served concurrently with the three-year sentence.
October 27, 2014
Revocation Provisions for Canadian Citizenship
The Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act which received Royal Assent on June 19, 2014, included new grounds to revoke Canadian citizenship from dual citizens who are convicted of terrorism, high treason, treason or spying offences, depending on the sentence received. The changes also enable the government to revoke Canadian citizenship from dual citizens for membership in an armed force or organized armed group engaged in armed conflict with Canada.
The technical amendments to the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act under the Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act will allow the revocation and related provisions to come into force earlier than anticipated. These changes will help protect the safety and security of Canadians, and honour the contributions and sacrifices of those who serve Canada by ensuring those who are convicted of such crimes against Canada do not benefit from Canadian citizenship. Revocation is an important tool to safeguard the value of Canadian citizenship and to protect the integrity of the citizenship program.
Previously, the citizenship revocation process generally involved three steps: the Citizenship and Immigration Minister, the Federal Court and the Governor in Council. Under the new model, the Governor in Council will no longer have a role, resulting in a faster, more efficient process.
Under the new revocation process, the majority of revocation cases will be decided by the Citizenship and Immigration Minister, or his delegate. This will include cases involving residence fraud, concealing criminal inadmissibility, identity fraud or convictions of terrorism, high treason, treason or spying offences, depending on the sentence received.
However, given that war crimes and crimes against humanity cases raise complex issues of fact and law, these more exceptional cases, along with other cases involving security, other human or international rights violations and organized criminality, will be decided by the Federal Court. In these revocation cases decided by the Federal Court, the court could also be asked to make a finding of inadmissibility as well as deciding on the revocation. This will allow for a removal order to be issued earlier in cases involving serious inadmissibility.
In addition to the above listed cases, decisions on revocation of citizenship for membership in an armed force or organized armed group engaged in armed conflict with Canada will also be decided by the Federal Court. There will be a permanent bar against granting citizenship for individuals whose citizenship has been revoked because they were members of an armed force or organized armed group engaged in armed conflict with Canada. Those convicted of terrorism, high treason, treason or spying offences, depending on the sentence received, will also be permanently barred from acquiring citizenship.
October 21, 2014
Reducing Citizenship Processing Times
As a result of a $44 million investment in Economic Action Plan (EAP) 2013 to reduce processing wait times, and recent changes to the Citizenship Act, citizenship applications are taking less time to process.
The chart below shows how CIC’s backlog of grant applications is expected to be eliminated sooner than previously forecasted. By spring 2016, applicants can expect just-in-time processing and the shortest waits in more than a decade.
October 16, 2014
Complaints Filed Against Filipino Recruiter in Canada
A complaint was put forward by some Filipinos against a recruiter who operates a recruitment agency in Edmonton and Toronto without the proper authorization.
Edmonton-based recruiter Virgilio “Dhong” Cabilan recruits foreign workers for certain employers, and processes their Labour Market Opinions or LMO, for a certain fee, allegedly without the proper authorization and license.
The official website of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council or ICCRC is where all accredited and licensed immigration consultants are listed. Not to be in this list simply means one has no business being an immigration consultant in Canada.
Searching Virgilio Cabilan’s name in this website produces no result. But foreign worker Edgar Aguila said he was able to hire Cabilan to process his LMO. His sister referred Cabilan to him to do the job. Aguila said Cabilan even went to the Philippines to try and recruit people, including his family.
“They had trusted him, like my family, to process paper for the LMO and since 2012, 2013, 2014 they had been sending money to him but they never have come to Canada.” Aguila provided Balitang Canada with copies of the money transfers from the applicants in the Philippines amounting to about 15,000 to 20,000 dollars for the LMO.
Another complainant, a temporary foreign worker in Edmonton, who wished not to be identified, said he also sought Cabilan’s help in bringing his wife to Canada. According to him, Cabilan charged them about 6,000 dollars for the processing. However, he found out that Cabilan is not a licensed immigration consultant.
Cabilan refused to be interviewed on camera. However, during a telephone conversation with Cabilan who was in Toronto, he denied allegations filed against him. He further clarifies that the Western Union money transfers were payments of debts owed by Aguila’s sister. He states that the complaints are Edgar Aguila’s way of getting payback due to a personal disagreement between them. Aguila denies this and said he is exposing Cabilan to warn fellow kababayans.
“This Virgilio Cabilan should be stopped from scamming Filipinos and it is not right,” he said.
Balitang Canada is open for Cabilan’s statement for further clarification on the complaints against him.
Meanwhile, Philippine officials in Canada are reminding Filipinos to be very careful when seeking advice or help in processing their immigration applications, and make sure they are dealing only with authorized and qualified persons.
October 14, 2014
Citizenship Fast Tracked for Canadian Armed Forces Members
Thanks to the government’s recent changes to the Citizenship Act, Canada has now welcomed two new citizens under the recently-launched fast-track provision for members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), announced Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander today.
As part of Citizenship Week, Minister Alexander attended a citizenship ceremony today to welcome 50 new citizens and recognized the contributions of Lieutenant Commander Michael Cornish, who received fast-tracked citizenship in Halifax on October 2, 2014. At a separate event in Kelowna, British Columbia, Lieutenant Colonel Michael McGinty, who received his citizenship on September 12, 2014, was officially welcomed to the Canadian family by MP Ron Cannan.
The new fast-tracked provision was part of the government’s reforms to the Citizenship Act which became law on June 19, 2014. The new changes accelerate citizenship for permanent residents serving in the CF as well as foreign nationals on exchange with the CF. This measure honours the important contributions of those who serve our country, and demonstrates how the government’s recent changes to the Citizenship Act are allowing qualified applicants to become citizens more quickly.
October 10, 2014
Ontario Ends Safety Blitz with CBSA
Ontario will no longer allow the Canada Border Services Agency to join the province’s road safety blitzes, which federal agents have used to make arrests on immigration violations, the government announced Friday.
Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca sent a letter to federal Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney saying that partnering with the CBSA “does not align” with his ministry’s mandate to make roads as safe as possible.
Ontario’s Liberal government ordered the review of the partnership with the CBSA after a joint commercial vehicle roadside blitz in Toronto in mid-August led to the arrest of 21 undocumented workers.
“As a result, effective immediately, the ministry will no longer partner with the CBSA on commercial motor vehicle enforcement initiatives,” wrote Del Duca.
“The ministry will only partner on joint enforcement initiatives with road safety partners that have a shared objective to protect and ensure road safety and commercial carrier compliance.”
October 10, 2014
Business Express Program for Bulgaria and Romania Launched
Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander today announced the launch of a Business Express Program (BEP) in Bulgaria and Romania. The BEP will make it easier and faster for businesspeople from these countries to come to Canada.
The BEP will make business travel from both countries easier and visas quicker to get. Reliable companies whose employees frequently travel to Canada for business purposes will be invited by the Canadian Embassy in Bucharest, which covers both Romania and Bulgaria, to participate in the program.
The BEP is an important step in further strengthening Canada’s relations with both countries. It will also help ensure that Canada and the European Union fully benefit from the recent conclusion of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.
October 10, 2014
Additions to Designated Countries of Origin List
Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander today announced that Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Romania and San Marino will be added to Canada’s list of Designated Countries of Origin (DCOs), effective October 10, 2014.
Canada’s DCO policy helps deter abuse of our generous refugee system by people who come from countries that respect human rights, offer state protection and do not normally produce refugees. The government’s suite of recent immigration reforms ensures that those who genuinely need Canada’s protection get it faster, while those with unfounded asylum claims are sent home more quickly through expedited processing.
October 09, 2014
Supreme Court to Scrutinize Human Smuggling Cases
A cook who says he was forced into work on a human smuggling ship that showed up on the B.C. coast five years ago will be among several passengers and crew to have their cases heard by Canada’s top court. The Supreme Court said Thursday it plans to look at a number of cases calling into question the depth and breadth of Canada’s human smuggling laws.
Four of the five cases the court will consider together involve people connected to the arrival of ships full of Sri Lankan migrants off the coast of B.C.
The first ship arrived in 2009 with 76 Sri Lankan Tamils aboard; the second, the MV Sun Sea, came in 2010 with 492 migrants.
Their arrival prompted a national debate about Canada’s existing refugee and human-smuggling legislation, and spurred the government into promising a crackdown. Passengers on the ships paid between $30,000 and $40,000 for a berth on the voyage and made refugee claims upon their arrival.
But those who worked on the ships were arrested and charged as human smugglers. Those charges, along with the subsequent immigration proceedings, are what will be examined by the high court.
In three cases, the people claim they were forced to work on the ships after they were abandoned by the original crew, and as a result should not have been caught up under existing laws.
In a fourth case, four crew members argued that Canada’s human smuggling laws are simply too broad, and could result in humanitarian workers or even family members being charged for helping those in need.
The B.C. Supreme Court agreed, but that decision was overturned on appeal.
“Parliament intended to create a broad offence with no exceptions, directed to concerns of border control and the particular issue of deterring and penalizing those who assist others in entering Canada illegally,” B.C. Court of Appeal Justice Kathryn Neilson said in a written ruling.
The fifth case on human smuggling to be considered by the Supreme Court involves a Cuban man arrested for running a smuggling boat to the United States.
When he was deported, he made a refugee claim in Canada but was turned away because of his conviction.
October 02, 2014
Calgary Stampeder Quincy Butler No Longer Eligible to Work
The Calgary Stampeders have announced starting defensive back Quincy Butler has left the team after Canadian immigration officials confirmed the American import is no longer eligible to work in Canada.
Butler received the news on Wednesday. The fourth year defensive back is not expected to return to the team this season.
The cornerback, a Texas native who has been with the CFL team since 2011, was suspended by the club on June 1 following an assault outside of the Cowboys nightclub on May 15, 2014.
In August, Butler entered a guilty plea to a charge of assault causing bodily harm and received 18 months probation.
Butler was activated by the Stampeders in late August and has played in three games this season, recording thirteen tackles.
Jeremy Williams will start in place of Butler for the Stampeders in Regina on Friday night.
October 01, 2014
Canada Working to Resolve Bulgaria Visa Concerns
The EU’s ambassador to Canada Marie-Anne Coninsx on Tuesday expressed confidence a resolution is in the works in Canada for the concerns of the two countries which joined the EU in 2007, The Canadian Press reported.
The Toronto-based news agency highlighted fears expressed by some diplomats that if the visa requirement was not lifted, “one or both of those countries could block ratification of Canada‘s trade agreement with the EU.”
On August 5 Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that negotiators had finalized the text of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the EU. Canada and the EU had been negotiating the new free trade and investment pact since May 2009.
“This is an issue that’s not directly linked to the agreement, but this is something where it will have to be lifted,” she said. Coninsx added she hoped the visa issue will be resolved “in a constructive and concerted way” and agreed it was time Canada dropped the visa provision.
Also on Tuesday, an official with Citizenship and Immigration Canada said the federal government was working towards a visa-free Europe, The Canadian Press reported.
The official listed a number of criteria considered when deciding to introduce or scrap visas, including safety, security and immigration issues,human rights,border management and integrity of travel documents as well as the social and economic profile of a country.
Canada introduced visas for Romanian and Bulgarian nationals as well as citizens of the Czech Republic in a bid to halt an influx of bogus refugee claimants. The Czech visa requirement was lifted last year but Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said at the time the Romanian and Bulgarian ones would remain in force due to continued concerns over human smuggling and organized criminal groups.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy visited Ottawa last week. Both top EU officials appeared with Stephen Harper in an attempt to dispel concerns some European countries might derail the wide-ranging trade and investment pact with Europe, known as CETA.
The agreement will give Canada preferential access to the market of the 28-member European Union with its more than 500 million consumers.
September 11, 2014
Halifax Consultant Fined for Immigration Fraud
Ziad El Shurafa, 41, of Bedford pleaded guilty in April to five charges of counselling misrepresentation under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. He was sentenced Thursday in Halifax provincial court.
Judge Michael Sherar said immigration consultants are trusted and regulated to guide people from other countries through Canada’s “daunting” immigration process. “(An immigration consultant) has a privileged role to play in maintaining the integrity of Canada’s immigration system and the administration of justice,” Sherar said. “They must uphold the rule of law and act at all times honestly and in good faith toward immigration officials, without intent to deceive or undermine the integrity of the system, or assist others to do so.
The judge placed El Shurafa on house arrest for the first year of his conditional sentence. That will be followed by one year with an 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew. El Shurafa is still allowed to work while he’s serving the conditional sentence and can travel to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, for business purposes as long as he gets the court’s permission first. He’s also permitted outside his residence for between four and eight hours every week to attend to personal needs, if approved by his sentence supervisor.
The $75,000 fine must be paid within two years.
El Shurafa was the head of Canada 2000 Immigration and Business Services Inc., whose Halifax office was raided by the Canada Border Services Agency in May 2011. He and two other employees were charged with counselling misrepresentation. The charges related to potential immigrants from U.A.E., Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Saudi Arabia, dating back to January 2006.
“Over a five-year period, he assisted immigrants in falsifying their periods of residency in Canada,” Crown attorney Tim McLaughlin said of El Shurafa. “We identified five separate individuals or families that he did that for. None of them lived in Canada during the periods of time they said they lived in Canada. They were required to live in Canada for certain time frames to get permanent resident status or citizenship.”
El Shurafa told the court he regrets breaking the law. “What has happened was wrong,” he said. “It shouldn’t have happened. … It was a lesson well learned.”
The Crown asked for a two-year penitentiary sentence, while defence lawyer Jane Lenehan suggested probation with a fine and perhaps an order to make a charitable donation.
While he didn’t get exactly what he asked for, McLaughlin said the sentence was a “significant punishment” and will send a clear message of deterrence. “If there’s a cost of doing business for fraudulently getting your clients into Canada, it’s going to be very high,” the prosecutor said. “And it’s not just money.”
El Shurafa now works for an immigration services company called Elevay, which is based in Dubai and has offices in Halifax and other cities around the world.
September 08, 2014
Skilled Newcomers Face Hurdles Landing Jobs
The Conservatives have made the recognition of foreign credentials for new immigrants a top priority, but skilled newcomers have told government-commissioned researchers there are “huge obstacles” preventing them from finding jobs even when they’re qualified to work here.
In a report prepared earlier this year by Environics Research, newcomers in 12 focus groups across the country said other issues hinder their ability to get work.
The participants — including doctors, pharmacists and engineers — said language barriers and requirements for Canadian experience on some job postings pose the biggest problems. They said they suspected that Canadian experience requirements were “a coded way for employers to favour the Canadian-born,” the report said. The participants also pointed to a lack of Canadian connections or networks and “difficulty in general social interactions due to language and cultural differences.”
The participants didn’t feel the issue of formal recognition of credentials was a major barrier to employment. There were also differences of opinion on the value of foreign credentials, depending on the participants’ country of origin.
“Many Chinese participants believe their training and work experience from China are of limited use in Canada because they feel that everything in China is so radically different from Canada that there is no way it could be applicable,” the report read. “It was noted that a law degree from China in no way prepares anyone to practise law in Canada.”
Earlier this summer, Kenney announced an agreement with the provinces to recognize 10 new occupations, including welders, carpenters and electricians, to improve foreign-credential recognition. The government said one of the goals was to help lessen the need for temporary foreign workers by making better use of talent that’s already in Canada.
Two years ago, the Conservatives also introduced foreign credential recognition loans. They’ve issued more than a 1,000 of them to foreign- trained professionals to help them pay to have their credentials recognized in Canada through further training and instruction.
But the participants in the Environics report also urged the government to do more about raising awareness on credential issues. They recommended adding an education component to the immigration application process specifically focused on qualifications and working in Canada.
“From the participants’ perspective, the more details the better and the sooner they can find out about these details in their immigration process, the better,” the report said.
September 05, 2014
Morden, Manitoba Offers New Immigration Program
Morden, a city in Manitoba province has build a unique immigration program to attract people willing to immigrate to Canada. Variety of applicants including those who have not qualified within any of the immigration program can avail this program.
September 04, 2014
Things to Know When Applying for Visitor Visa
Visitors to Canada who hold passports from locations other than the U.S., U.K., European Union, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Israel, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand and certain Caribbean and island nations must apply for a visitor’s visa to enter Canada. This applies to both tourists and guests of Canadian residents. They must do so through the closest Canadian embassy or high commission.
What factors do Canadian immigration officers consider when deciding whether to grant a visa? Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland filed a freedom of information request to Citizenship and Immigration Canada to find out.
The following factors are positive aspects in assessing an application:
- citizen in his/her country of usual residence;
- country of usual residence is politically stable;
- stable, well-paid employment (proof is required in the form of a letter from the employer stating salary, position, date when employment commenced and vacation granted);
- spouse and/or children not accompanying applicant;
- owner of a substantial business (registration of business and, if necessary, financial statements);
- good financial situation (as proved by bank statements);
- previous trips to Canada;
- previous trips to countries as attractive to illegals as Canada (United States, France, United Kingdom, etc.);
- property in country of usual residence;
- host (particularly in family visit cases) with legal status in Canada (citizen, permanent resident, student with student authorization, etc.).
The following factors are negative aspects in assessing an application:
- host remained in Canada on visitor visa or student authorization or entered illegally (based on record of landing or previous files) — experience shows that where the host has already abused the system, it is highly likely that his/her guests will do the same;
- unmarried (particularly if young and chances of successful establishment in country of usual residence are poor);
- poor financial situation;
- poorly paid employment, or unemployed;
- host is a friend or distant family member with whom the applicant has had little contact;
- no previous travel abroad;
- has previously been denied a visitor visa (or student or employment authorization);
- has been denied a visa by another country;
- owns no property;
- wants to visit his/her fiance´(e) or spouse who is residing in Canada;
- listed in FOSS (national immigration database containing entries on all applicants who have violated the Act or regarding whom a report has been written).
“Naturally, no factor taken in isolation (unless it establishes inadmissibility) should result in approval or rejection of a visa application. The decision should be based on the overall assessment of all the factors.”
September 04, 2014
Changes to Pre-Removal Risk Assessment for South Sudan
Individuals from South Sudan may be eligible for a pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA) if they received a final decision from the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) or a final PRRA decision on or between August 27, 2013, and August 26, 2014. Prior to removing them from Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency will advise individuals from South Sudan if they are now eligible to apply for a PRRA.
Individuals from South Sudan are exempted from the bar on accessing a PRRA as conditions in that country have worsened. As a result, individuals could face a situation of risk that may warrant an additional assessment. It is important to note that the ability to apply for a PRRA does not guarantee the outcome of the risk assessment. Officers at Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will continue to decide cases individually, based on the information provided by the applicant.
It is the applicant’s responsibility to inform CIC of any changes to their application.
Note that individuals from South Sudan who receive a final IRB or PRRA decision after August 26, 2014, are not entitled to a PRRA for 12 months.
September 01, 2014
Statistics Estimate Jobs High In Demand Over Next Decade in British Columbia
|JOB TITLE||NUMBER OF JOB OPENINGS OVER THE NEXT 10 YEARS|
|REGISTERED NURSES AND REGISTERED PSYCHIATRIC NURSES||24,660|
|TRANSPORT TRUCK DRIVERS||16,300|
|FINANCIAL AUDITORS AND ACCOUNTANTS||13,450|
|EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATORS AND ASSISTANTS||9,050|
|CONSTRUCTION TRADES HELPERS AND LABOURERS||8,170|
|ELECTRICIANS (EXCEPT INDUSTRIAL AND POWER SYSTEM)||7,230|
|HEAVY EQUIPMENT OPERATORS (EXCEPT CRANE)||6,760|
|WELDERS AND RELATED MACHINE OPERATORS||3,890|