2016 Sept to Dec – Immigration News & Updates

December 14, 2016

Changes to 2017 Parent and Grandparent Application Intake Process

Family reunification is a key immigration commitment of the Government of Canada. The Parent and Grandparent Program brings together thousands of families each year. For 2017, the Honourable John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, today announced changes to how sponsorship applications will be submitted under the program.

In recent years, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada limited the number of parent and grandparent applications it would accept, in order to manage intake and interest in the program, and keep the number of applications from growing. Rather than the January rush to submit applications by courier or mail, those wanting to bring their parents or grandparents to Canada will now have 30 days to fill out an online form to indicate their interest. IRCC will then randomly choose 10,000 individuals from those who filled out the form, and those people will be invited to send in their complete application package.

The online form will be available starting January 3, 2017. Sponsors will have 30 days to submit the form.

December 07, 2016

Government of Canada Delivering Faster Processing and Shorter Wait Times for Spousal Reunifaction

The Government of Canada is making it faster and easier for Canadians and permanent residents to reunite with their spouses.

At the direction of the Minister, earlier this year Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) began a concerted effort to reduce processing times. From the start of 2016 to the fall, processing times were reduced by 15 percent for in-Canada applications and just over 10 percent for applications outside Canada.

Starting today, processing times will be reduced even further with most spousal applications now being processed in 12 months. Complex cases may require more time.

Applicants who already filed an application will not have to wait an additional 12 months to have them finalized. IRCC will continue to process applications in the order they have been received. Most families who have been waiting should have a decision on their sponsorship application no later than the end of December 2017.

These new changes are expected to benefit more than 64 000 applicants by the end of 2017, and are the latest measures to bring families together.

December 05, 2016

International Students Praise Canada’s Openness and Affordable Fees

Competitive fees and attractive post-study work options are some of Canada’s most magnetic features drawing international students to its shores. Word of mouth recommendations, however, remain powerful influences when students are choosing a study destination.

Canada Immigration Great Canadian Gateway ImmigrateJamal Yayha from Yemen recounted his surprise at the competitive edge Canada has over other destinations – especially the US. When it was time to apply for university, he wanted to study overseas but he had no interest in studying in Canada, Yayha told delegates. While US culture is ubiquitous, he had no reference points to know what Canada is like. “I thought it was just a white piece of land covered in snow,” he explained. “Movies, celebrities, they’re all from the States.” His interest in Canada was so low that he even considered going to Denmark instead. But in the end, it was Canada’s cheaper tuition fees and simpler visa process compared with the US that convinced Yahya to apply there. Happily, he related that “even a month after I came to Canada, I loved it,” and would enthusiastically recommend it to others.

Ana Isabel Reyes Flores from Mexico agreed that anyone who studies in Canada will find themselves recommending it. “You will fall in love with Canada,” she said.

Students related that they found Canada to be safe, friendly and welcoming, and that its citizens lived up to their national stereotype of being very polite.

December 01, 2016

Canada Lifts Visa Requirement on Mexico

As of 00:01 EST today, the Government of Canada has lifted the visa requirement on Mexico.

The visa lift underscores the great importance Canada places on its friendship with Mexico, and the closer ties that will come from lifting the visa. The removal of the visa requirement is expected to improve Canada’s overall competitiveness as a tourism destination, as well as encourage continued growth of air travel between the two countries—benefitting the Canadian tourism and air travel sectors.

November 10, 2016

Canadian Officials Preparing for Potential Flood of Mexican Immigrants After Trump Wins Presidency

Canada Immigration Great Canadian Gateway ImmigrateThe federal government is preparing for a potential surge in Mexican migrants coming to Canada after Donald Trump’s election victory, CBC News has learned.

Sources confirm high level meetings took place this week with officials at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and in other departments.

The news comes as Canada prepares to loosen rules for Mexicans to enter the country by lifting a visa requirement on Dec. 1. That restriction has been in place since 2009.

Government officials had suggested the visa requirement could be reinstated if the number of asylum claims from Mexico reaches 3,500 in any given year. But a news release announcing the policy did not mention any conditions attached to the change.

November 10, 2016

Electronic Travel Authorization Now Required To Fly To or Transit Through Canada

Canada Immigration Great Canadian Gateway ImigrateStarting today, travellers who do not need a visa to enter Canada will need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to fly to or transit through Canada.

Although the eTA requirement adds a new step for travellers, applying for one is a simple, inexpensive (CAN$7) online process that takes just minutes to complete. All travellers need is a passport, a credit card, an email address and access to the Internet. Travellers have been able to apply for an eTA since August 1, 2015.

November 03, 2016

Electronic Travel Authorization – End of Leniency Period

The Government of Canada is reminding travellers to get the appropriate travel documents before booking a flight to Canada.

Starting November 10, 2016, visa-exempt travellers (except United States [U.S.] citizens) will need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to board their flight to Canada. Canadian citizens, including dual citizens, will need a valid Canadian passport to fly to or transit through Canada.

To help minimize travel disruptions for dual Canadian citizens, a short-term measure is available to dual citizens whose second citizenship is from a visa-exempt country. These dual citizens can apply for a special authorization that will let them board their flight to Canada using their valid non-Canadian passport.

This short-term measure, which will be available until January 31, 2017, is open to dual citizens who have an imminent flight to Canada (leaving in less than ten days) and whose Canadian citizenship can be verified by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). If approved, the authorization will be valid for four days from the date of travel indicated in the application. Those not eligible for the authorization will need to contact the nearest Government of Canada office abroad to obtain the appropriate travel document.

October 31, 2016

Thousands of Immigrants Quietly Giving Up Permanent Residence

Ottawa’s new program that allows immigrants to voluntarily give up their permanent resident status has attracted a lot of interest since its inception in November 2014, despite a lack of any publicity.

According to government data, 5,205 applications were submitted in 2015 from immigrants who wanted to relinquish their permanent resident status for various reasons. Only 17 were rejected.

In the first six months of this year, officials received 7,378 applications — 7,146 were granted, 20 rejected and the rest are pending a decision.

The renunciation program was introduced by then-immigration minister Chris Alexander as a way out for newcomers who failed to meet the residency obligation and have no desire to remain in Canada as permanent residents, but still wish to visit Canada to see friends and family without being barred from entry.

In other cases, individuals may be required to provide proof that they have given up Canadian permanent resident status in order to obtain benefits from their country of origin or a third country, such as accepting a diplomatic posting, renewing civil documents (national identity cards, health or pension coverage) or entering military service.

October 31, 2016

Cameras Replace Border Guards at Small Quebec Crossing

Canada Immigration Great Canadian Gateway ImmigrateAt a tiny crossing between Quebec and Vermont, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is testing out new technology experts say could be the future of border control for small and remote crossings across the country. Others say the pilot project sets a dangerous precedent and presents a threat to public security.

When you arrive at the Morses Line crossing from the U.S. side after 4 p.m., you aren’t greeted by border guards. Instead, non-commercial travellers drive into a garage equipped with powerful cameras, operated by a border agent hundreds of kilometres away, in Hamilton, Ont.

Canada Immigration Great Canadian Gateway Immigrate“The person in Hamilton has complete control of the port of entry,” said Claudia Rosetti, a superintendent for the CBSA in an interview. “They have access to the same systems in order to make the verifications as if the office were open, and the officer were on site.”

Under a pilot project launched last January, travellers pull up to a kiosk outfitted with a microphone, cameras and document readers.

The border agent in Hamilton asks questions and can use the cameras to zoom in and inspect the vehicle. Exits and entrances to the facility are protected by fencing and crash-proof gates. If an in-person inspection is needed, the Hamilton agent orders the travellers to stay put, while border officers are dispatched from the next-closest crossing, about 13 km away.

The one-year pilot project included a new building at Morses Line and, along with the technology, cost $16 million to implement.

October 31, 2016

Ottawa Man Gets 43 Months Sentence for Forging Immigration Documents

An Ottawa man who forged documents to allow hundreds of immigrants to enter Canada has been sentenced to three-and-a-half years behind bars.

Mohamed Farah Abdulle, 54, was sentenced Monday after being convicted last November on five charges relating to the immigration fraud scheme, according to a statement from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

According to the CBSA, Abdulle had filed more than 170 fraudulent sponsorship applications for 528 people, all while collecting fees from the applicants for his services.

He was found guilty on Nov. 18 on four criminal code charges: making false documents, using false documents, possessing identity documents to commit offences, and misrepresenting material facts.

Abdulle was also convicted of bribery under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the border agency said. He was sentenced to 43-and-a-half months in jail.

October 31, 2016

BC Prepares to Open Doors Under Ambitious Federal Immigration Plan

The federal Liberal government had already declared its intention to reach the 300,000 threshold this year, which if achieved would mark the first time since just before the First World War that the total number of immigrants and refugees hit that mark.

Immigration Minister John McCallum said Monday it will be the target again for 2017 — and become a “baseline” for subsequent years.

“The 2017 levels plan will put Canada in a strong position for the future and support our overall economic and social development as a country,” McCallum said in a statement.

The 2017 total is made up of an estimated 172,500 economic immigrants, primarily skilled workers and professionals.

Another 84,000 will be “family” reunification applicants such as spouses, children, parents, and grandparents. The remainder will comprise 40,000 refugees and 3,500 people admitted on “humanitarian and compassionate” grounds.

October 31, 2016

Canada Announces Intention of Visa-Free Travel for Romanians and Bulgarians on December 1, 2017

Canada Immigration Great Canadian Gateway ImmigrateThe Honourable John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced today the Government of Canada’s intention to lift the visa requirements for Romanian and Bulgarian citizens on December 1, 2017. It demonstrates the importance that the Government of Canada places on its relationship with both countries and with the EU more broadly.

In the lead-up to the full visa lifts, Canada intends to implement partial lifts for eligible Romanian and Bulgarian citizens travelling to Canada for May 1, 2017. Romanian and Bulgarian citizens who have held a Canadian temporary resident visa in the past 10 years or who currently hold a valid United States (U.S.) non-immigrant visa would not require a temporary resident visa and would be able to fly to or transit through Canada with an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) instead of a visa.

After the visa lifts, Canada would reserve the right to re-impose the visa requirement on Romania or Bulgaria should irregular migration trends increase significantly from either country.

October 28, 2016

Massive Immigration Fraud Detailed at Sentencing

Great Canadian Gateway Canada ImmigrationThe details of one of Canada’s largest immigration scams were laid bare at a sentencing hearing Friday for three Richmond women who helped hundreds of Chinese applicants lie and cheat their way to permanent residency and citizenship.

The Crown says Jin ‘Fanny’ Ma, Wen ‘Vivian’ Jiang and Ming Kun ‘Makkie’ Wu should spend three years behind bars for the work they did as employees for two unlicensed immigration consulting businesses. All three have pleaded guilty to immigration offences, fraud and falsely claiming tax refunds.

The mastermind behind the scheme, Xun ‘Sunny’ Wang, has already been sentenced to seven years in jail. He lost an appeal several weeks ago. The scheme’s discovery has resulted in reviews of more than 1,200 immigration files.

“Largely, the clients of Mr. Wang and the consultants were making illegitimate applications to Canada for either permanent residency or citizenship,” Crown prosecutor Bonnie Macdonald told the judge. “He was the engine and the consultants were the wheels on this car.”

The scheme started to unravel in 2010, when immigration officials in Edmonton noticed a strange coincidence concerning applications for renewal of permanent resident cards: 63 people appeared to be living in one house. The trail led back to Wang’s immigration consultancies. Canada Border Services agents raided his home and the offices of both businesses — New Can Consultants and Wellong Investments.

They seized 90 boxes of files,18 computers and 200 passports, ultimately ending up with 12 terabytes of information, including tens of thousands of emails. It took a year to get everything translated.

Macdonald said the records detailed fraud relating to passports, immigration, employment and taxation.

Many of the files were opened on behalf of so-called ‘astronaut’ families: situations where a wife and children live in Canada, but the husband works in China.

Immigration rules require a permanent resident to spend two out of five years in Canada. But many applicants were only here for days — as evidenced by the stamps on their passports.

Wang and his consultants offered to change the records. They advised clients on how to get two Chinese passports: one they travelled back and forth on and another they showed to Canadian officials.

Macdonald said they would also send passports to China to be manipulated with false stamps showing frequent entries and exits.

In Canada, the consultants worked with “address providers” who would rent apartments, set up phone lines and then answer calls from immigration authorities trying to reach the applicants registered to those addresses.

Wang also incorporated shell companies which appeared to hire his clients as proof they were working in Canada. They gave him money which he paid them back as salary. They filed income tax returns and received benefits and tax credits in return.

None of the women were licensed to work as immigration consultants. And to make matters even worse, all three earned hundreds of thousands in commission which they didn’t declare to Revenue Canada.

An immigration official in the courtroom indicated that all 1,200 files in the case are under review. As investigators uncover evidence of fraud, they may act to strip citizenship or permanent resident status.

October 28, 2016

Proposed Regulatory Changes — Maximum Age of Dependants

Canada Immigration Great Canadian Gateway ImigrateThe Government of Canada is committed to family reunification. Draft regulatory changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations outlining the proposed change to the definition of a dependent child have been published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, for a 30-day comment period.

The current definition of a dependent child came into effect on August 1, 2014, and changed the maximum age from “less than 22” to “less than 19” years of age. The proposed regulatory change would return the maximum age to “less than 22”.

October 28, 2016

Proposed Regulatory Changes — Conditional Permanent Residence

Canada Immigration Great Canadian Gateway ImigrateThe Government of Canada is committed to family reunification. Draft changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations which outline the proposed change to remove the conditional permanent residence regulatory requirements have been published in the Canada Gazette Part I for a 30-day comment period.

Currently, certain spouses or partners of Canadian citizens and permanent residents must live with their sponsor for two years as a condition of their permanent residence. The condition is placed on a sponsored spouse or partner who is in a relationship of two years or less with their partner and have no children in common at the time of their sponsorship application.

The Government is proposing to eliminate the current conditional permanent residence measure so that these individuals are no longer required to live with their sponsors for two years in order to maintain their permanent residence status.

October 27, 2016

5 Companies Charged in Telephone Scam That Targeted Canadians, Americans

They bought Internet phone devices in bulk, used thousands of prepaid debit cards to launder money from North America to India and left behind elderly victims who were bullied into forking over thousands of dollars.

U.S. authorities announced on Thursday that they had charged 56 people and five companies operating call centres in India in a case that offers a peek into a widespread telephone scam that has swindled millions of dollars from people in Canada and the United States.

She added that the number of complaints to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre had dropped significantly following recent crackdowns against Indian call centres.

Earlier this month, after 70 suspects were arrested in Thane, near Mumbai, the RCMP said scammers who impersonated IRS officers were running identical schemes in which they claimed to be from the Canada Revenue Agency.

“The difference is that the pitches are tailored to the specific country,” the RCMP said in a communiqué last week.

October 27, 2016

Changes to Family Sponsorship

Immigration to Canada is not for the faint of heart. Some come here in search of a better life, leaving their family behind, with plans to reunite later on in Canada. Imagine finding out that after you have invested in and built a new home, you are barred from sponsoring a family member for the rest of your life because of a little-known regulation in Canada’s immigration system.

The issue of family reunification is currently before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship John McCallum has appeared before it and pledged to make changes. For example, he promised to raise the maximum age for dependent children to under 22, recognizing that persons in post-secondary education may still need support from their families and can contribute positively to the Canadian economy. He also committed to eliminate the conditional permanent residence measure for spouses, recognizing that spouses may be subject to exploitation and abuse if their partners can threaten to take their status away during the conditional period.

The minister also said that it does not make economic or humanitarian sense to not allow the best and brightest “to bring their families in without substantial delay.” If he is serious about this commitment, he must make one more very specific and important change: eliminate section 117(9)(d) of the regulations.

October 22, 2016

Petition to Parliament Calls to End Automatic Citizenship

Thousands of Canadians have signed an electronic petition urging the government to restrict automatic citizenship rights for babies born in Canada to foreigners in an effort to stop what they call “birth tourism.”

The petition was presented in Parliament this week by B.C. Conservative MP and former cabinet minister Alice Wong.

The 8,886 signatories want to change Canada’s birthright citizenship law they say “enables an abusive and exploitative practice” where “expectant mothers who are foreign nationals with no status in Canada can gain automatic citizenship for their children born within Canada.”

The petition notes that Canada is one of only two developed countries that have not moved to end automatic citizenship due to “widespread abuse.”

The other is the U.S., where Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has controversially called for an end to “anchor babies.”

But the issue of “birth tourism” is flaring up in other countries as well. The U.K. does not have birthright citizenship, but British Prime Minister Theresa May recently suggested establishing passport checks on pregnant women at hospitals to crack down on the growing number travelling from other countries to take advantage of free hospital services.

October 21, 2016

Temporary Public Policy for Some Refused Post-Graduation Work Permit Applicants

Canada Immigration Great Canadian Gateway ImigrateImmigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum has approved a temporary public policy that affects some foreign nationals whose applications for post-graduation work permits were previously refused.

Under this public policy, foreign nationals can apply for an open work permit that will be valid for up to three years and, if applicable, restoration of status by March 17, 2017, if they meet these conditions:

  • Their application for a post-graduation work permit was refused between September 1, 2014 and March 15, 2016,
  • The reason for the refusal of the application was because the applicant completed the majority of their coursework by distance learning, and
  • The officer did not consider the entirety of the applicant’s program of study, including transfer credits, when they determined that the majority of the applicant’s coursework was by distance learning.

October 19, 2016

Trial Begins for Men Accused of Smuggling 492 Tamils Into Canada

Canada Immigration Great Canadian Gateway ImmigrateMore than six years after a rickety vessel with nearly 500 Sri Lankan Tamils aboard arrived off the coast of B.C., four men charged with human-smuggling saw their trial open Wednesday in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver.

Lesly Emmanuel, Kunarobinson Christhurajah, Nadarajah Mahendran and Thampeernayagam Rajaratnam have pleaded not guilty to the offence under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

In his opening statement, Crown counsel Peter LaPrairie told a 12-member jury that the migrants were charged a fee, generally a $5,000 down payment, to be on the boat, with an additional $25,000 owing when they arrived in Canada, for a total of $30,000.

“A Sri Lankan national who wishes to enter Canada must have a valid passport and a visa issued by the Canadian government to come to Canada,” said LaPrairie. “None of the 492 persons aboard the MV Sun Sea had the required travel documents.”

“A Sri Lankan national who wishes to enter Canada must have a valid passport and a visa issued by the Canadian government to come to Canada,” said LaPrairie. “None of the 492 persons aboard the MV Sun Sea had the required travel documents.”

October 11, 2016

New Passport Processing System Exposed to Security Gaps

Great Canadian Gateway Canada Immigration News and Updates ImmigrateThe federal department that processes Canadian passports didn’t take proper security precautions when it implemented a new system for issuing the travel documents, according to an audit of the program.

An internal review of the Global Case Management Program found the project was “not sufficiently structured and did not include a plan for security requirements.”

The audit, which was completed in February 2016 and quietly posted to the departmental website a few months later, said IRCC leveraged expertise from industry and other federal departments and established several oversight mechanisms to track key project areas. But identified risks were not consistently monitored and addressed, the report said.

It also found there was no evidence that the information technology security plan was being followed, and that key security measures were missing, including a preliminary threat- and risk-assessment.

One year ago, the department suspended its use of a new system to process passport applications after CBC News reported on widespread glitches with the program.

The department said it was “pausing” the processing of passports through the GCMS in order to incorporate “lessons learned” during the testing phase.

No passports are currently being issued through the GCMS, but the department confirmed that refugee travel documents have been processed through the system since fall 2015.

At least 1,500 Canadian passports had been produced under a flawed new system that opened the door to fraud and tampering, according to documents obtained by CBC/Radio-Canada.

October 08, 2016

Immigration Study Suggests Tripling Canada’s Population to 100 Million

In what could be a great news for those seeking immigration to Canada, a new study suggests that Canada should increase its current population from 36 million to 100 million by the year 2100 to sustain the current levels of economic growth.

The study – titled `A long-term view of Canada’s demographics: Are higher immigration levels an appropriate response to Canada’s aging population’ – by the Conference Board of Canada (CBOC) says that if the current levels of the country’s population growth continue Canada will still face economic problems in the coming decades.

Why? Because Canada’s aging population is also growing fast and the government will have to spend more and more on their healthcare and old-age security.

At its current rate of population growth, Canada will only have 53.5 million inhabitants by 2100. Since this projected population of 53.5 million by will have a much higher percentage of old people, the Canadian governments be spending a lot more money on both healthcare and Old Age Security (OAS) of its senior citizens.

This increased spending on its aging population will slow Canada’s current economic growth rate of 2 percent to 1.6 percent by 2050 and average just 1.5 percent from 2050 to 2100.

To meet this challenge, Canada should almost triple its population from 36 million to 100 million population by 2100, according to the study.

October 06, 2016

Increased Immigration Urged

Ottawa will need to raise its annual immigration level by one-third to 407,000 by 2030 to sustain its economic growth amid an aging population, says a new report on Canada’s demographic trends.

Currently, Canadians 65 and over account for 16 per cent of the total population, but the ratio is expected to rise to 24 per cent in the next two decades, according to the report by the Conference Board of Canada, released Thursday.

With a birth rate hovering around 1.55 children per woman and a longer life expectancy, researchers examined five scenarios of population targets between now and the year 2100, and their impact on labour force growth and government expenditures for health care and old age security benefits.

“The aging of Canada’s population will have a significant impact on Canada’s potential economic growth. Weaker labour force growth will have a negative impact on household spending, while a more slowly expanding economy will engender less investment spending,” warns the 54-page report.

“Weaker economic growth over the long term will limit the amount of revenue that governments in Canada collect over the forecast period at a time when the aging of Canada’s population will require significantly more expenditures. . . Higher immigration can increase the growth of Canada’s labour force over the long term and generate higher economic growth.”