2016 May to August – Immigration News & Updates

August 23, 2016

DDO Immigration Consultants Face Fraud, Forgery Charges

Two brothers from Dollard-des-Ormeaux charged with immigration fraud, Rajinder and Resham Singh, appeared briefly in a Montreal courtroom Tuesday morning.

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) arrested the two men in May. They’re each facing three charges:

  • counselling persons to misrepresent information in their immigration applications.
  • forging and using counterfeit documents.
  • acting as immigration representatives without authorization.

The two run an immigration consulting business in the West Island suburb.

The CBSA says the two men were taking advantage of people who wanted to come to Canada.

The case will be back before a Quebec Court judge on Oct.11.

August 19, 2016

Canadian Dual Citizens Must Have Canadian Passport

Canadian expats who have dual citizenship are being reminded that from September they will only be able to fly into the country if they have a Canadian passport.

Currently those with dual citizenship can use the passport of the other country where they have citizenship but Canada’s new electronic screening system that is currently being rolled out will no longer recognise them. Dual Citizenship Great Canadian Gateway Canada ImmigrationBut from 30 September only a valid Canadian passport will be able to be used with the new electronic screening being used at airports.

‘The Government of Canada is implementing a new electronic system to assist airlines in verifying that all travellers have the appropriate documents to travel to or transit through Canada by air,’ said a spokesman for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

‘Air carriers are obligated by law to confirm that all persons seeking to travel to Canada carry both proof of citizenship and proof of identity. A valid Canadian passport satisfies these requirements for Canadian citizens, and is the only acceptable travel document for the purpose of air travel,’ the spokesman added.

Official figures show that some 2.9% of Canadians, 944,700 people, have multiple citizenships, mostly from the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Poland.

‘If you are a Canadian citizen who currently uses your non-Canadian passport to fly to Canada, you cannot apply for an eTA. This is because eTA was set up to screen foreigners for admissibility to enter Canada on a temporary basis,’ the spokesman explained.

August 12, 2016

John McCallum Wants to Substantially Increase Immigration to Fill Canada’s Labour Needs

If Immigration Minister John McCallum gets his way, Canada will significantly increase immigration beyond its current record level as a way to fill the country’s labour needs.

Pointing to an aging population and looming labour shortages, McCallum made the pitch in Manila during a speech to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines on Friday.

“So why not substantially increase the number of immigrants coming to Canada? And that is, I think, I hope, what we are about to do,” McCallum said, according to a transcript of his remarks obtained by CBC News.

The Canadian government is already seeking to admit between 280,000 and 305,000 new permanent residents in 2016 — a record increase from the 260,000 to 285,000 newcomers the previous Conservative government had planned to welcome by the end of 2015.

August 11, 2016

Minister of Immigration Touts Reforms to Protect Caregivers and Improvements

Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship spoke to his country’s “biggest customer” – the Filipinos – on Thursday, touting improvements in facilitating the entry of immigrants, including shortening the processing time for sponsored applicants, and related reform measures to protect workers.

He promised to cut the processing time of the applications of sponsored spouses, partners, and children, given that it is “way too long” at present. The usual two years will be shortened to reunite families more swiftly, with the target to be announced in the fall.

One of the improvements involves removing the labor market impact assessment for many of the applicants. Usually, economic immigrants have to prove that no Canadian can do the job that they have been offered. Removing this requirement will make it easier for them to go to Canada.

Another improvement is giving more points to international students since they are “very valuable contributors” to the country and would make “very good Canadians” in the future, McCallum said. Certain other restrictions will also be removed for such applicants. Doing so will bump up the proportion of students going to Canada under Express Entry compared to other applicants.

August 10, 2016

Ottawa Poised to Ease Rules for Temporary Foreign Worker Program

The federal government is setting the stage for a loosening of temporary foreign worker rules after vocal complaints from Canadian employers.

A House of Commons committee has completed a report on options for altering the controversial program and will make the recommendations public next month when Parliament resumes.

The report is expected to acknowledge the need for temporary foreign workers in specific sectors and will stress the importance of providing foreign workers with options to become permanent Canadian residents. The number of foreign-worker approvals has been on the decline in recent years in light of a softer jobs market in some regions and tighter rules brought in by the Conservatives after high-profile allegations of abuse in the program.

The report by the human-resources committee was completed in June but wasn’t made public in time for the summer recess. The government has said it is waiting on those recommendations before moving ahead later this year with changes to the program. However, Immigration Minister John McCallum tipped the government’s hand this week in an interview with The Globe and Mail in China when he said the Liberal government will make it easier for companies to bring in foreign workers.

“We’re also going to reduce some of the barriers and the silly rules … in order to give companies freedom to bring in the best and the brightest,” said Mr. McCallum. “We’ll get rid of many of these [required] labour-market impact assessments which slow things down enormously.”

A spokesperson in Mr. McCallum’s office said the minister’s reference to silly rules relates to some of the restrictions that apply to visiting professors. The spokesperson also noted that the minister has said the government is looking at waiving labour-market impact assessments in certain cases where that would help attract top talent to come to Canada.

“What the minister wants to do is just find a middle ground,” said the spokesperson.

August 09, 2016

Candidate for UN Secretary Among Those Denied Visa to Montreal’s World Social Forum

A candidate to succeed Ban Ki-moon as United Nations secretary Montreal World Social Forum Canada Immigration Great Canadian Gateway Immigrategeneral is among those denied a visa by Canadian immigration officials for this week’s World Social Forum in Montreal.

Aminata Traoré, a high-profile anti-globalization activist and a former minister of tourism and culture in Mali, said the visa controversy is a stain on Canada’s reputation as an open country.

“Honestly I wasn’t expecting this,” Traoré told Radio-Canada in an interview. “Especially since I’ve been to Canada several times to give conferences on the same themes.”

Traoré said she was told her visa application did not meet the requirements, but wasn’t told why. She said she recently sent her documents for a third time to the Canadian embassy in the Senegalese capital of Dakar, where the visas are processed. But at this point, she said, the back-and-forth process has made her question her desire to attend the conference.

For its part, Citizenship and Immigration Canada has blamed the denied visas on WSF’s organization and says the applications were not filled out rigorously.It says organizers should have sought private assistance to complete the applications.

Organizers dispute that applications were not filled out properly and added that not all the invited participants could absorb the extra cost of private help.

August 04, 2016

New Gender-Neutral Ontario Health Cards Make it Harder to Get Passports

Ontario Gender Neutral IDOntario’s decision to issue gender-neutral health cards is making it more difficult for some of the province’s residents to get a passport, since the federal government wasn’t consulted on the switch.

Beginning in early 2017, drivers will also have the option on their licences to select X, instead of an M for male or F for female.

The province’s Liberal government said it is making the changes “to ensure the fair, ethical and equitable treatment of people with trans and non-binary gender identity.”

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada spokesperson Lindsay Wemp told CBC News that “IRCC was not consulted as part of this initiative from the government of Ontario.”

Christine Burke, spokesperson for Ontario’s Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, says ServiceOntario has been working with the federal government to address this situation. “No consultations took place with the federal government prior to the change, as we were unaware that the photo health card was being used and accepted as an identity document by Passport Canada,” she said in an email.

Kwok Wong, spokesperson for the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario, told CBC News that the ability to just mark an X for gender on an Ontario licence complies with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards for machine-readable official travel documents.

It appears that a licence marked with an X would not be able to be used to obtain a passport, as proof of gender is still one of the requirements.

August 04, 2016

PEI MP Renews Plea for Island Passport Office

Charlottetown MP Sean Casey is hopeful he can convince his government that P.E.I. should have a passport office. Prince Edward Island is the only province in Canada that doesn’t have one.

“Passport demand cannot sustain a full passport office in P.E.I.,” wrote a spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada in an email. The department encourages Islanders to use venues that accept applications, such as Service Canada or Canada Post, but admits they cannot be fast-tracked as they can at a Passport Canada office.

Despite hearing this response, Casey isn’t willing to give up. He hopes now that a Liberal government is in power, ears in Ottawa will be more open to considering the need.

July 30, 2016

Ontario’s International Master’s and PhD Student Provincial Nominee Program Suspended

Ontario is pausing the Provincial Nominee Program that allows international graduate students to gain Permanent Residency (PR) upon completion of their degrees.

“As a result of changes Ontario has made to more closely align the streams of the program with the needs of its labour market, the province has already received the sufficient number of [Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP)] applications to meet its 2016 federal allocation,” read a message on the OINP website. “This is further proof that Ontario remains a very sought after destination for highly-skilled workers.”

The change took effect on May 9, 2016; any applications received after 5:00 pm that day will not be considered.

Federal Immigration Minister John McCallum has spoken repeatedly about the importance of keeping international students in Canada and creating more pathways to citizenship for international students. He acknowledged that through the implementation of Express Entry, international students are having a harder time transitioning to PR.

In November 2016, OINP is expected to make an announcement regarding their plan for 2017.

July 27, 2016

Changes to Pre-Removal Assessment for Ethiopia

Individuals from Ethiopia may be eligible for a pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA) if theyGreat Canadian Gateway Canada Immigration Immigrate received a final decision from the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) or a final PRRA decision on or between July 28, 2015, and July 27, 2016. Prior to removing them from Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency will advise individuals from Ethiopia if they are now eligible to apply for a PRRA.

Individuals from Ethiopia are exempted from the one-year 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 PRRA does not guarantee the outcome of the risk assessment. Officers at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will continue to decide cases individually, based on the information provided.

Individuals from Ethiopia who receive a final IRB or PRRA decision after July 27, 2016, are not entitled to a PRRA for 12 months. Any recent changes in country conditions will have been considered when the refugee claim was decided or during the PRRA process.

July 25, 2016

British Columbia Imposes 15% Tax on Foreign Home Buyers

Great Canadian Gateway Canada ImmigrationBritish Columbia introduced a new 15 percent property transfer tax on foreign real estate buyers in Vancouver on Monday, one of new measures geared at increasing affordability in the city’s red-hot housing market.

The new tax will drive up costs for foreign investors, mostly from mainland China, who have helped make Vancouver Canada’s most expensive property market. It takes effect on Aug. 2.

The new law comes weeks after the province released preliminary data showing that foreigners invested some C$1 billion ($756.7 million) in British Columbia housing from June 10 to July 14, with about 86 percent of that in Vancouver.

The tax echoes measures taken by cities like Hong Kong, Singapore and Melbourne, which have all introduced some sort of additional stamp duty on foreign buyers.

Critics said savvy buyers could find loopholes to avoid the tax, noting it would not capture foreign money flowing into the Vancouver market via newcomers with resident status.

The City of Vancouver will now be able to administer a tax on vacant homes. According to city data, there are some 11,000 homes that have been sitting empty for at least 12 months.

July 19, 2016

Judge Order Couple to Pay Back $100,000

Great Canadian Gateway Canada ImmigrationA judge has ordered a Langley couple to pay a Chinese couple who were their friends more than $100,000 for committing civil fraud while helping them with immigration services.

Bi He Zhao and Rui Du, a husband and wife whose home base is China, argued in court that Yubin Dong and Bing Ji of Langley offered to assist them as friends with their immigration to Canada. Dong and Ji claimed during a two-week trial in B.C. Supreme Court that they had an oral agreement to provide the services.

Zhao, a lawyer with a successful practice in China, testified that sometime in late 2008, he was contacted by Dong, a former law school classmate in Beijing. That contact eventually led to Dong offering to help them come to Canada.

Zhao testified that Dong said she would contact a friend who had an immigration consulting firm and that she would not charge him a fee; instead, she would be paid a commission by the company. Dong, who described herself as a businesswoman who had been working in the field of immigration services for several years, was neither a registered immigration consultant nor a lawyer in Canada. Instead, Dong had an association with a Vancouver-based immigration consultant business called Can Achieve Consultants, court heard.

Over the course of several years, the plaintiffs paid the defendants $193,897 to help them with the immigration process.

In a ruling released Tuesday, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Martha Devlin concluded that of that amount, only $82,000 in costs were legitimately associated with and distributed to Can Achieve by Dong for their services and the settlement of the Chinese family in Canada.

A total of $111,897 remains unaccounted for, the judge found in her 27-page ruling. “I find that Ms. Dong knew that she overcharged the plaintiffs to keep the excess payment for herself. She knew this was strictly wrong and would be unacceptable to the plaintiffs. “I find that the plaintiffs have proven that Ms. Dong committed fraud on them to the requisite standard of proof of civil fraud.”

In reaching that conclusion after assessing the sharply contrasting version of events between the parties, the judge found that Dong was not an impressive witness, her testimony “riddled with inconsistencies and improbabilities.” The judge found that Dong had fabricated a document in a “desperate” attempt to account for overpayment of $17,000 from $32,000 she requested to help with the Chinese couple’s son’s study permit application and related fees.

When pressured by the Chinese couple to explain the apparent overpayment, Dong phoned police, claiming that Du and her young son had tried to intimidate them by tossing rocks at her front door. Dong claimed that she called police because she was genuinely concerned about her safety and that of her family, and that problems arose once she was advised by Zhao that he had a criminal record for murder and he had not revealed that in any of his applications. But the judge rejected that assertion.

“There is no merit in this explanation. Indeed, Mr. Zhao explained that his conviction in China was with respect to an accidental shooting while he was in the military. I accept his testimony that his criminal record was expunged.” The judge concluded that Dong had concocted reasons to contact the police about the plaintiffs to create problems for them in an effort to distract them from pursuing her for misrepresenting what she did with the funds they forwarded to her.

“Overall, I find that she presented as an angry and defensive woman whose pride appears to have blinded her from accepting the consequences of her actions. “I also give little weight to the testimony of Mr. Ji. He basically parroted Ms. Dong’s testimony regarding what he did to assist with the plaintiffs when they arrived in Canada.” Devlin found that Zhao and Du were credible and reliable witnesses.

July 19, 2016

Expect Major Changes to Canada Immigration in Fall

Great Canadian Gateway Canada ImmigrationThe Trudeau government is ready to introduce changes to the current immigration system, minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship John McCallum announced Wednesday while visiting Peel region.

In Brampton and Mississauga, the minister met local members of parliament and stakeholders and discussed issues related to immigration. Top of the agenda is speeding up the process of family class immigration.

“We’re working to meet our single most important commitment to reduce the processing time for family class,” said McCallum. “Right now, it takes approximately two years for a husband and wife to be reunited… it is unacceptable.”

The new system – with changes to family and skilled class, economic category as well as visitors’ visa policy – is expected to be introduced in the coming fall season.

“We want to streamline the admission of economic immigrants as well as refugees and family class. We are going to make it much easier for international students to become permanent residents,” said the Markham-Thornhill MP.

“International students are at the top of the government’s list to become permanent residents because they are young, educated, and fluent in English or French,” said McCallum, adding the government is also working to improve visitors’ visa procedures.

July 18, 2016

Romanians and Bulgarians No Longer Need Visa to Enter Canada

The government of Canada is set to expel Romania and Bulgaria from the list of nations whose citizens require visas in order to visit Canada. Immigration Minister John McCallum is in Brussels this week, where it is expected that progress will be made on determining a long-standing visa debate with the two Eastern European nations, both of which are individuals from the European Union.

July 15, 2016

Canadian Government Very Concerned About Fake eTA Websites

Great Canadian Gateway Canada ImmigrationThe Canadian government is “actively monitoring” fake websites that scam travellers into paying exorbitant fees — as much as 17 times the actual cost — for Electronic Travel Authorization, an online registration that’s soon to be mandatory for many foreign visitors to Canada.

At least 10 such websites exist “but there could be more,” said Nancy Chan, a spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. She said some scammers have charged up to 85 euros — about $121 — for a service that actually only costs $7.

The department has handled almost 500 complaints so far. Some of the complainants paid the unnecessary fees, believing they were dealing with the Canadian government, while others simply reported what they believed were suspicious websites.

“IRCC is very concerned that travellers are getting caught unaware. Not only may they be unknowingly paying unnecessary fees, but they are also providing personal information to these companies,” Chan said.

Travellers are “advised to use only the official Government of Canada website, Canada.ca/eTA” and “to be cautious of other sites that appear legitimate,” said an advisory sent out by the Canadian High Commission in Trinidad and Tobago via Facebook last week.

eTAs became a requirement in March for visa-exempt travellers. There’s a “leniency period” in effect right now — until Sept. 29, travellers can still board their flights without having submitted an eTA form.

The authorization, which is electronically linked to people’s passports, can be valid for up to five years, or until passports expire. Similar systems have been used for years by other countries, including Australia.

Those who need to obtain eTAs before boarding flights to Canada include U.S. Permanent Residents and citizens of most European and Caribbean countries, Australia, New Zealand, Israel and some Asian and South American countries.

July 11, 2016

Quebec Launches $750,000 Campaign to Promote French

Great Canadian Gateway Canada ImmigrationA new campaign by the Quebec government is underway to encourage more immigrants to take French-language courses.

Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil announced the launch of the $750,000 campaign this afternoon. Of that total, $250,000 will be spent promoting the free classes through social media and advertising until August.

“French is the official language of Quebec,” Weil said in a statement Monday. “Our collective language, the language of work and an indispensable vector of integration.”

The classes are offered at both a part-time or full-time level, as well as online.

The money is part of a $4 million set aside in the last budget to increase and diversify opportunities for French language education for immigrants.

July 08, 2016

Immigration Lawyer Found Guilty of Fabricating Refugee Claim

Windsor immigration lawyer Sandra Saccucci Zaher is guilty of a criminal offence for fabricating a refugee claim, a judge ruled Friday.

Zaher was also found guilty of two Immigration and Refugee Protection Act offences for misrepresenting facts in a refugee claim and helping someone to make a false claim for refugee status.

Zaher’s legal assistant, Diana Al-Masalkhi, who had been facing identical charges, was found not guilty. As Superior Court Justice Renee Pomerance reached the end of her 76-page decision, family members and friends in the courtroom smiled boldly at one another and at Al-Masalkhi.

With the case looming over her since 2012, Al-Masalkhi finally received the justice she deserved, said her defence lawyer Laura Joy.

“This was a young lady who was working for (Zaher) and who got caught up in these charges as a result of her employment. She was a young employee” said Joy. “Having this hang over her head for as long as it has and having to go to court and defend these types of very serious significant charges has been very hard on her.”

Zaher, represented in court by lawyer Patrick Ducharme, ran an immigration practice until 2012. Zaher had her license to practice law suspended after being arrested in March of that year.

She and Al-Masalkhi were arrested at the end of an RCMP sting operation. The investigation was launched after a local lawyer tipped off police that Zaher had allegedly filed a fraudulent refugee claim for a client.

The RCMP investigation involved an officer posing as a Sikh man working illegally in Canada and a second officer posing as a translator. The two men met with Zaher on several occasions and each meeting was recorded. The RCMP also tapped Zaher’s phones.

A date for Zaher’s sentencing is to be set in August.

July 05, 2016

National Conversation on Immigration Launched

The Government of Canada is asking Canadians about what they think immigration means for Canada, and how we can continue to grow our nation through immigration.

Starting today until August 5, 2016, Canadians can get involved by providing an on-line written submission. Other consultation activities include cross-Canada round-table discussions led by the Minister and Parliamentary Secretary, stakeholder engagement by departmental officials; and, public opinion research.

Canada’s strength lies in its diversity. Our diversity is closely tied to immigration and is a valued part of Canada’s story—we are asking Canadians to help us write the next chapter.

The feedback gathered from Canadians will be used to help guide decisions on how many people we will welcome in the coming years and the future of immigration in Canada.

Immigrants have always been a central part of Canada’s success. The contributions of newcomers result in jobs, innovation and economic growth. Immigrants also strengthen our country socially and culturally.

The Government of Canada is committed to an immigration system that supports Canada’s diversity and helps grow our economy as it strengthens our society. This is an ambitious undertaking that will help determine the way forward on immigration to Canada.

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June 22, 2016

Canada Lift Visa Restrictions for Mexico

Great Canadian Gateway Canada ImmigrationCanada will lift visa restrictions for Mexican travellers effective Dec. 1, providing that President Enrique Pena Nieto offers assurances there won’t be a flood of people from Mexico claiming refugee status.

But government insiders say the Trudeau government is prepared to reimpose the restrictions if the number of asylum seekers jumps above a set level.

Sources say officials in Citizenship and Immigration opposed the move, warning that Mexico’s low standard of living, poor human-rights record and high crime rates will drive Mexicans to seek refuge in Canada.

Sources say Mr. Nieto, who arrives in Canada on Monday, has assured the Canadian government that Mexico will share security and background information on Mexicans travellers, similar to what is done between Canada and the United States.

Mexico will also issue travel warnings to its citizens, explaining that Canada is not an easy country in which to seek refugee status and they must abide by Canadian laws, sources say.

June 17, 2016

Canadian Pre-Clearance Bill Will Speed Cross Border Traffic

Great Canadian Gateway Canada ImmigrationThe Canadian government introduced legislation Friday expanding the pre-clearance of goods and people crossing the U.S.-Canadian border, a step expected to accelerate freight shipments and trade.

The legislation would implement a new pre-clearance agreement signed by President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in March to expand pre-clearance to new locations, including several airports and the Montreal Central Station rail hub. Similar bipartisan legislation was introduced in the U.S. Congress in March.

When pre-clearance legislation is passed in both nations, U.S. customs officials will be able to clear southbound freight and travelers in Canada before they reach the border, reducing border congestion. Canada will be able to station customs and immigration officials in the U.S. to do the same.

June 15, 2016

New Border Control Measures

The Trudeau government is stepping up the exchange of traveller information with the United States to help catch social-benefit cheats, better track suspected terrorists, and identify people who remain in Canada past visa-expiration dates.

The government introduced legislation Wednesday to implement the final phases of the data-collection system, which is two years behind schedule, with the aim of saving tens of millions of dollars annually.

Under the 2011 perimeter security pact, Canada and the United States agreed to set up co-ordinated systems to track the entry and exit information of travellers. For the moment, the system involves exchanging entry information collected from people at the land border — so that data on entry to one country serves as a record of exit from the other.

The first two phases of the program have been limited to foreign nationals and permanent residents of Canada and the U.S., but not citizens of either country.

Under the new legislation, the initiative would be expanded to include information-sharing on all travellers crossing the land border.

The data includes the traveller’s name, nationality, date of birth and gender as well as the country that issued their travel document.

In addition, Canada plans to begin collecting information on people leaving by plane — something the United States already does — by requiring airlines to submit passenger manifest data for outbound international flights.

The government says the information will help officials:

  • Track the departure plans of known high-risk travellers such as fugitives, suspected terrorists, registered sex offenders, smugglers and exporters of illegal goods;
  • Respond more effectively to missing-child alerts;
  • Identify people who overstay their authorized time in Canada;
  • Focus immigration enforcement on people in Canada as opposed to those who have already left;
  • Verify whether people have complied with residency requirements as well as determine their entitlement to social benefits, which may require a presence in Canada.

June 14, 2016

Ottawa to Table Bill to Monitor Citizens Travels

The federal government is set to table legislation to enact new exit controls on Canadians leaving the country, fulfilling a promise made during Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to Washington last March.

The changes will create a log of travellers that will be used by and shared among law-enforcement agencies on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border. The legislation will plug a long-standing hole in Canada’s security system, giving the government a clear record of who is leaving the country.

The lack of exit controls has exposed instances in which Canada failed to track when citizens who joined terrorist groups abroad, for example, had left the country. At this time, Canada is the only member of the “Five Eyes” group of countries with integrated intelligence services, which also includes the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, that does not keep a record of its own citizens’ foreign travel.

The bill is expected to be tabled in the House on Wednesday, but would only be passed by Parliament in the fall at the earliest. The coming legislation has created concerns among privacy experts over the extent to which the information would be shared with government agencies such as the Canada Revenue Agency.

June 13, 2016

Border Security TV Show Cancelled

Great Canadian Gateway Canada Immigration

Border Security Canada TV Show

Canada’s border agency is pulling the plug on the controversial reality TV program Border Security after the federal privacy commissioner found the agency violated the rights of a construction worker filmed during a raid in Vancouver.

Privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien recently informed the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, which spearheaded a complaint on behalf of Oscar Mata Duran, that the Canada Border Services Agency breached the Privacy Act by allowing production company Force Four to film the agency’s examination of the migrant labourer.

In light of the well-founded complaint, Therrien’s office recommended the border agency end its participation in the television program, which the agency agreed to do. Agency spokeswoman Esme Bailey confirmed that Border Security: Canada’s Front Line would not return for a fourth season.

June 13, 2016

Government Addresses Spousal Backlogs and Wait Times

As part of its commitment to family reunification, the Government of Canada will grant permanent residence to more spouses, partners and dependent children of Canadian citizens and permanent residents this year. This will significantly reduce the backlog of existing applications and speed up processing times going forward.

This year, the Government increased the number of spaces allowed for spouses, partners and dependent children by 14 000, bringing it up to 62 000 spaces.

June 10, 2016

Guelph Named One of Best Places In Canada for New Immigrants

Guelph has just been named as one of the best places in Canada for newcomers by MoneySense magazine.

Some of the criteria for making the list was based on affordability, unemployment rate and ethnic make-up of the city.

June 08, 2016

Canadian Government Use Facial Recognition to Detect Fraud

Great Canadian Gateway Canada ImmigrationCanada’s Federal government officials revealed they used facial recognition technology to identify 15 suspects wanted on immigration warrants, who all used false identities to apply for travel documents, according to a report by Times Colonist.

Based on this success, the Liberal government is considering permanently using the facial recognition technology to help locate and arrest individuals ineligible to stay in Canada as a result of being involved in terrorism, organized crime or human rights violations.

Federal officials began using facial recognition technology following concerns that people wanted by the Canada Border Services Agency might assume fake names to attain otherwise authentic Canadian travel documents from the Immigration Department’s passport program, according to internal memos released under the Access to Information Act.

“Genuine Canadian passports and other travel documents are of high value to persons who seek to establish false identities,” said a memorandum of understanding between the border and immigration agencies. “Individuals who have outstanding immigration arrest warrants can evade detection by law enforcement by using false identities to travel, or to live within communities while retaining access to benefits and services.”

Although the privacy commissioner’s office has not been consulted on the project, both the border agency and the passport program have shared information regarding other facial-recognition initiatives with the commissioner.

Passport officials have been using the technology for years to identify those individuals who have applied for multiple travel documents under different identities.

Additionally, the border agency has been collaborating with other agencies since at least 2011 to test the ability of devices in extracting usable facial images from video footage.

May 23, 2016

CBSA Considers Electronic Tracking

The Canada Border Services Agency is looking into tracking detainees electronically, rather than keeping them in custody.

A government tender posted online this month asks industry for feedback on how to manage alternatives to detention, “including a community supervision program supported with electronic supervision tools,” for people detained under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

In the criminal justice system, electronic supervision usually means using an ankle bracelet or something similar to track people via GPS or cellular data. It’s used in several Canadian jurisdictions, including Nova Scotia and Ontario.

The CBSA has the oft-criticized — and largely unchecked — power to hold non-Canadians in migrant detention centres indefinitely. There are usually about 600 “clients” in custody, according to the tender.

May 16, 2016

Ontario Pauses Intake Applications for International Student PNP

An Ontario program that gave international students a quick pathway to residence in Canada has stopped accepting applications as it tries to address a backlog of thousands of people – yet more evidence that Express Entry has made immigration to Canada more difficult for some groups.

Last week, the province announced it was temporarily closing the provincial nominee program (PNP) for master’s and doctoral grads who earned their credentials from an Ontario university. The program aims to attract highly skilled and educated immigrants to the province by promising a streamlined, faster process to become a permanent resident in Canada.

Since 2007, about 40 per cent of Ontario’s 5,000 PNP entrants held master’s or doctoral degrees, and could expect to become permanent residents within a year.

This year, the province greatly increased the number of spots available, but it was flooded with applications and is now working its way through 7,000 applicants. About half are estimated to be recent grads, a source from the Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade said.

May 16, 2016

Alberta Wildfires Special Assistance for Passport and Travel Documents

As a result of the wildfires, Canadian passports and travel documents may have been lost, damaged or destroyed.

To support those affected by the wildfires, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, John McCallum, announced that special measures have been put in place for the issuance and replacement of passports and travel documents.

For more information, please visit: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/department/media/notices/2016-05-16.asp

May 13, 2016

Immigration Call Centre Users Frustrated

For people with inquiries about immigration applications, the 300 call centre agents in Montreal are the only channel of live communication to address their concerns as the department moves towards a paperless online operation. But those with case-specific problems say they find the service unhelpful to say the least.

The call centre is at the forefront of customer service at the 5,000-employee department while immigration applicants count on these call centre agents for guidance and information, though those with case-specific problems say they find their assistance unhelpful to say the least.

With an annual budget of $13.5 million, the call centre handles 5.2 million client contacts, via phone or email, with questions pertaining to anything from citizenship to permanent residence.

About 40 per cent of callers choose to use the automated service rather than asking to speak to an agent. While the year-to-date call handling time is six minutes and 35 seconds, on average a caller has to wait 12 minutes to speak with a live agent, said department spokesperson Faith St-John.Great Canadian Gateway Immigration Canada

“In an effort to ensure clients have the information they need when they need it, the department strives to make as much information as possible available online where it can be accessed 24/7,” St-John noted.

“For case-specific information, many clients have access to a personalized online account that includes information such as the current status of their application. Unfortunately, not all of our services are currently available through this online account, though the intent is to roll-in all lines of businesses in the next few years.”

May 05, 2016

New Passport Rule for British Flying to US

Birthday presentsTravellers with an old style British passport are being warned they will be refused entry to America. Since April 1, new airport rules came in meaning only people holding a biometric e-passport are allowed through. It comes amid a security clampdown in the wake of recent terrorist attacks.

May 05, 2016

Start-Up Visa Continues to Grow

As of May 2, 2016, 51 entrepreneurs had become permanent residents of Canada through the program, representing 26 start-ups that have launched or will be launching in communities across Canada, including Sydney, Halifax, Fredericton, Toronto, Mississauga, Waterloo, Thunder Bay, Calgary, Whistler, Vancouver and Victoria.

“The start-up visa started slowly but has steadily picked up steam,” Arif Virani, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, said today. “Every start-up that is established here has the potential to provide jobs and economic opportunity for Canadians, contributing to our country’s growth and diversity.”

This five-year pilot program allows entrepreneurs who have the support of a designated Canadian entity to apply for permanent residence as they establish their company in Canada. Demand for this program is growing, with more than 50 additional permanent resident applications still in process from entrepreneurs from around the world who have the support of a designated Canadian venture capital fund, angel investor group or business incubator to launch their start-ups in Canada.