2016 Sept to Dec – Immigration News & Updates

December 15, 2016

Businesses Applaud Changes to Temporary Foreign Workers Program

Ottawa’s decision to scrap a controversial rule that limited how long foreign workers can stay in Canada is being welcomed by businesses, analysts and migrant worker advocates as the first step in a series of reforms they hope will ultimately transform the immigration system.

The government announced Tuesday afternoon it will allow migrant workers to continue filling jobs in industries ranging from meat-packing to tourism for as many years as their employers continue to renew their permit – in effect, making the presence of these temporary workers more permanent.

December 15, 2016

Faster Processing Times for Spouses and Partners

Family reunification is a key immigration commitment for the Government of Canada. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is speeding up processing for spousal sponsorship applicants. On December 7, 2016, we announced important changes to enable processing of most spousal sponsorship applications within a 12-month time frame. Cases that are more complex would need more time to process.

IRCC will process the majority (about 80 percent) of applications within 12 months from the day received.

If you’ve already started filling out an application using the old application package, you can still use it. IRCC will continue to accept new applications using the old package if IRCC receives them on or before January 31, 2017. After this date, IRCC will accept only applications using the new package.

In using the new application package, be sure to include all the forms and documents listed on the appropriate checklist. If you don’t include all the required forms and documents, IRCC won’t accept your application for processing, and it will be sent back to you.

As announced on December 7, 2016, IRCC is working to finalize the majority (about 80 percent) of applications already received within 12 months, by the end of December 2017.

If you’ve already been waiting to have your application finalized for some time, the new changes do not mean you’ll have to wait an additional 12 months. We will continue to process applications in the order they’re received.

Decenber 08, 2016

15 Clients of Fraudulent Immigration Scheme Deported

Fifteen former clients of an imprisoned B.C. immigration consultant have now been deported to China. And the failed appeals by two women who fought to remain in Canada provide a rare glimpse into the illegal tactics used to carry out what has been labelled as the biggest immigration scam in B.C. history.

Immigration Appeal Division transcripts obtained by CBC News detail lies and deceptions, including one immigrant pretending to attend university in B.C. while actually obtaining an education outside the country. Another fraudulently claimed to work for a fictitious B.C.-based company while in fact living in China.

The two unrelated women have been stripped of their permanent residency status for lying about their eligibility and will be unable to return to Canada for five years — unless they receive permission from immigration officials to come back sooner.

They were clients of Xun “Sunny” Wang and his now defunct companies New Can Consultants and Wellong International Investments. Wang is serving seven years in prison for immigration fraud.

The Canada Border Services Agency had previously reported Wang had 1,200 clients. It now says that number has “increased to over 1,600 as a result of further investigation.”

In updated figures supplied to the CBC, the CBSA alleges 318 of Wang’s former customers obtained permanent residency under false pretences. And more than 200 others may have lied in order to become Canadian citizens.

The CBSA says another 547 ex-clients remain under investigation, while 226 have “lost status through other processes”, including voluntarily giving up their permanent residency or Canadian citizenship.

That brings the total number of people deported or facing possible deportation to more than 1,300. So far, 44 removal orders have been issued, but some have pending appeals. Fifteen have been
forced to return to China.

December 05, 2016

International Students Praise Canada’s Openness and Affordable Fees

Great Canadian Gateway Canada ImmigrationCompetitive 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.

Jamal 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.

Canada MexicoThe 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 03, 2016

End of Leniency Period for Electronic Travel Authorization

Canada Immigration Great Canadian Gateway ImmigrateThe 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.

October 31, 2016

Cameras Replace Border Guards at Small Crossing

At a tiny crossing between Canada Immigration Great Canadian Gateway ImmigrateQuebec 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.

Great Canadian Gateway Canada Immigation

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.

“The peCanada Immigration Great Canadian Gateway Immigraterson 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.

October 03, 2016

Four Foreigners Kicked Out of Canada Over Driveway Paving Scam

Four foreign nationals are being booted out of the country for running what the Canada Border Services Agency describes as a “driveway paving scam” in Ottawa.

Canada Immigration Great Canadian Gateway Paving ScamOttawa police issued a warning on Sept. 20 about complaints of contractors who promised inexpensive paving work but charged a much higher price when the work was done — and pressured homeowners to pay. In these cases, no contracts were signed before the work as the prices were agreed upon verbally, police said.

Police described the workers as young, white men who spoke with an Irish accent.

Four men were arrested in the case on Sept. 24, and $70,000 in cash was seized, the CBSA said. The men, who were working without permits, were charged under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the CBSA said.

CBSA spokesman Chris Kealey said the men were all from the same country but did not say which one.

The men appeared before the Immigration and Refugee Board and were ordered out of the country. One man was given a deportation order, which is a permanent ban that can only be lifted with written permission from Canadian immigration authorities. The three other men were given exclusion orders, which is a temporary ban from the country for one to two years.

September 29, 2016

Illegal Immigrants Not Entitled to Injury Compensation

Illegal immigrants are not entitled to compensation from public funds for a motor vehicle accident, says Ontario’s court of appeal, which has rejected a hard-fought claim from a Brazilian man hurt in a hit-and-run when walking across a Toronto street.

Jarley Silva was run down in 2011 while he was walking across Bloor Street West. The driver was never identified.

Silva had arrived in Canada in 1992 using a fraudulent passport and lived partially off the grid — he obtained an Ontario driver’s licence but did not own a car or have insurance; he worked as a cleaner and then in construction, even registering his own drywall company, but did not report his income or pay tax.

In January, Justice James F. Diamond of the Ontario Superior Court sided with the government, declaring Silva’s “physical presence” in Ontario was the result of “deception.” Diamond did not believe the law was meant to give someone “the opportunity to reap the benefits of ordinary residency in Ontario via a clandestine life through the passage of time.”

Silva appealed the decision to the Ontario Court of Appeal, which last week upheld the decision, and ordered Silva to pay $5,000 in costs to the government.

“(The judge) recognized that de facto physical presence in Ontario, even if continuous, does not automatically establish ordinary residency in Ontario for the purpose of access to the Fund. The appellant was present in Ontario illegally, was subject to deportation on discovery and had already been deported once,” Justice Eleanore Cronk wrote on behalf of the appeals panel.

The case highlights limits placed on immigrants without legal status in Canada, said Toronto immigration lawyer Sergio Karas.

“This case should sound a cautionary note for those individuals who have obtained driver’s licences and drive motor vehicles without immigration status,” Karas said.

September 29, 2016

Canada Population Tops 36 Million

A record number canadiansof immigrants and refugees arriving on Canadian shores helped push Canada’s official population over 36 million as of July 1, Statistics Canada says. The data agency says there were 437,815 more people living in Canada than there were on the same day a year earlier, bringing the official population to 36,286,425.

In absolute terms, that’s the biggest annual surge since 1988. In percentage terms, the population grew by 1.2 %. The “increase is one of the largest increases since the baby boom in the 1950s,” BMO economist Doug Porter said, “although this recent increase is driven more by immigration.”

Indeed, the numbers show that some 320,932 immigrants arrived in Canada between the two Canada Days. More than 30,000 Syrian refugees are included in that figure, as they are classified as permanent residents by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

“The country had not received such a large number of immigrants in a single annual period since the early 1910s, during the settlement of Western Canada,” Statistics Canada said in a release.

September 26, 2016

Canada Reaches Border Deal with China Hastening Deportations

A fresh border agreement between Canada and China would speed up the deportation of Chinese nationals found to be inadmissible in Canada, according to a Canadian government spokesman.

Reuters reports that the deal will allow Chinese officials to travel to Canada to verify the identities and documents of citizens who are not permitted into Canada because of criminal records, serious health issues or falsified information on visa applications.

Scott Bardsley, a press secretary for Canada’s Public Safety Minister, said the new agreement — a one-year pilot program — would not immediately go into effect, but will be discussed again in November.

China already has a similar accord with the E.U.

September 26, 2016

Securities Commission Accuses Vancouver Consultant of Fraud

A Vancouver immigration consultant defrauded Chinese immigrants of $6.9 million that he used for personal expenses including renting luxury cars and paying his credit card bills, the B.C. Securities Commission has alleged.

In a notice of hearing posted on Monday, the Commission alleged that Paul Oei — a businessman featured in articles about Chinese investors in Vancouver by the New York Times and The New Yorker — used a number of companies to “perpetrate a fraudulent scheme,” involving 64 investments that raised a total of $13.3 million.

The fraud allegations have not been proven, the Commission notice states. And, in a response to a separate, but related, lawsuit filed by two people who allege they lost money, Oei and his wife, Loretta Lai, say they have not been “unjustly enriched,” in the deal and they “deny any conspiracy to defraud the plaintiffs.”

According to the Commission’s notice, Oei raised investor startup funds for Cascade Renewable, a proposed Abbotsford recycling plant, between July 2009 and November 2012.

Click here for full story.

September 21, 2016

Providing Greater Opportunities for Canadian and San Marino Youth

Canada Immigration Great Canadian GatewayYoung people from Canada and the Republic of San Marino, located in the Italian Peninsula, will now have more opportunities to work and travel abroad, thanks to the signing of a Working Holiday Youth Mobility Arrangement between the two countries.

This new arrangement, as part of the International Experience Canada (IEC) program, will allow Canadian and San Marino youth to take an extended holiday abroad and work to pay for their expenses for up to one year.

The IEC program facilitates bilateral, reciprocal youth mobility agreements and arrangements with other countries to allow travel and work opportunities for young Canadians and foreign nationals aged 18 to 35. This arrangement with San Marino will be Canada’s 33rd concluded youth mobility agreement.

September 20, 2016

Leniency Period for Canada’s new Electronic Travel Authorization Extended Until November 09

To give travellers and airlines more time to prepare for changes when flying to or transiting through Canada, the government is Canada Immigration Great Canadian Gateway Immigrateextending the leniency period for the Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) requirement until November 9, 2016. Starting November 10, 2016, Canadian citizens, including dual citizens, will need a valid Canadian passport to board their flight to Canada otherwise they will experience delays. All visa-exempt travellers (except United States [U.S.] citizens) will need an eTA to board their flight.

September 19, 2016

Canada to Join with UN, George Soros to Export Private Refugee Sponsorship

Canada is forming a partnership with the United Nations and billionaire George Soros to help other countries implement their own version of Canada’s private refugee sponsorship program.

Immigration Minister John McCallum told Rosemary Barton, host of CBC News Network’s Power & Politics, he knows of about 13 countries that are potentially interested in Canada’s model for private refugee sponsorship, adding he has already had talks with the United Kingdom.

McCallum said the program would be announced at the UN on Tuesday, but a news release issued by Citizenship and Immigration Monday outlined the initiative’s three main priorities:

  • Expanding the use of private sponsorship as a pathway for refugees.
  • Encouraging the expansion of resettlement by building the capacity among states, civil society groups and private citizens to launch private sponsorship programs.
  • Mobilizing citizens to directly support refugees and encourage “a broader political debate that is supportive of refugee protection.”

The release said the initiative will start by creating training modules for private sponsorship based on an analysis of the Canadian model and will offer countries “tailored advice” on how to adapt and implement the programs.

The joint initiative between the government of Canada, the UN High Commission on Refugees and Soros’s Open Society Foundations will have a kick-off meeting in Ottawa in December, the release said.

September 19, 2016

Recommendations to Improve Temporary Foreign Workers Program

Report of Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities

September 09, 2016

Calais Man Sentenced for Floating to Canada on Air Mattress

John Bennett said he was so driven to protect his girlfriend from an imminent threat that he was willing to break international laws trying to do it. His actions have cost him two months in jail, according to a report by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

Canadian officials say the 25-year-old Bennett, of Calais, was denied entry into the country at the border crossing in Calais/St. Stephen, New Brunswick, on Wednesday because of a pending criminal mischief charge in the United States. “He was told by the officer that until he got those cleared up, he wouldn’t be admitted into Canada,” prosecutor Peter Thorn told the CBC.

Officials said Bennett told police he circled back to the Wal-Mart in Calais, bought an air mattress, inflated it and used a wooden board to paddle across the St. Croix River into St. Stephen. A local resident spotted Bennett and called police. He was later arrested by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and charged with failing to appear at the border crossing as required by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

“He was wet and carrying his boots … (and) walking towards the town,” Thorn, a lawyer representing the federal Public Prosecution Service of Canada, told the CBC. The Calais resident told police he was worried about the safety of his pregnant Canadian girlfriend.

“He said she had an ex-boyfriend who was threatening her, but that hasn’t been confirmed by the other party,” Thorn told the CBC. Thorn also told the CBC that the judge in the case told the accused: “Pardon the pun, but it seems to me you wanted to get there, come hell or high water.” Canadian officials said Bennett will be deported when he completes his sentence.

September 05, 2016

Alberta’s Post-Secondary International Student Numbers Rise 40% in 5 Years

Enrolments over the past five years have grown almost 40 per cent, from 13,145 in 2011-12 to 18,203 in 2015-16, with international students now making up 6.8 per cent of the post-secondary student body in the province.

That’s in line with a national trend toward a steady rise in the number of overseas students arriving in Canada who, according to one government report, contribute more than $7.7 billion to the economy through “tuition, accommodation and discretionary spending.”

Across the prairies, Manitoba leads the charge, almost doubling its international students between 2011-12 and 2015-16, from 4,700 to 9,020. Saskatchewan has seen a more than 24-per-cent increase over the same five-year period.

In some parts of Eastern Canada, a decline in enrolments and resulting tuition cash drop has some universities relying on international students.

In Alberta, government has provided institutions with $16 million to cover the lost revenue associated with a two-year tuition freeze and educators say enticing overseas students isn’t about plumping coffers but building a global reputation and diversifying campuses.

However, international students do pay between two and three times as much as domestic students for undergraduate degrees. For a domestic student, tuition in the engineering faculty at University of Alberta starts at $8,000 per year, but that rockets to $26,000 if you’re an international student.

University of Calgary deputy provost Kevin McQuillan says for him, drawing international students isn’t about addressing a crisis, but strengthening his campus. Last year, U of C attracted 1,881 undergraduate overseas students and 1,570 graduate students, “modest growth” that is expected to continue this year.

With a touch more than 1,300 international students, MacEwan University is also hoping to slowly increase its international enrolments, says international executive director Kimberley Howard, but revenue generation isn’t the primary goal.

Internationals account for about seven per cent of the total undergraduate student population at both the University of Calgary and MacEwan, but at the U of A, that number is up to 14 per cent.

The U of A will welcome an estimated 4,200 international undergraduate students back this year, 1,200 of whom will be new students.

As acclaimed as the Canadian education system has become, another reason students are interested in studying in the Great White North is that education has become a gateway to living in Canada.

While many point to Canada and Alberta’s strong academic reputation and its safe, open and multicultural society, of the four major English-speaking education markets of Canada, United States, Australia and the United Kingdom, Canada is the only one that makes post-study immigration accessible.

“Students know they have the option to work and live here after they complete their education,” says MacEwan’s Howard.

September 02, 2016

Quebec to Clamp Down on “Deceptive” Wealthy Immigrants

The Quebec government is intensifying its efforts to crack down on wealthy immigrants who have been using the province’s previous regulatory regime as a convenient “trampoline” into Canada’s vibrant housing market.

Quebec, which is the only remaining jurisdiction that has the Immigrant Investor Program, has long been a favourite staging point for moneyed individuals who get accepted into the province—only to immediately move to other parts of Canada, CTV News reported.

A large proportion of these immigrants who are supposed to work and live in Quebec end up in B.C. and Ontario, officials stated.

The phenomenon has led to the provincial government tightening their criteria and review process, refusing entry to applicants showing signs of wanting to reside in another part of the country.

“If you have B.C. property, if you have a child attending a B.C. school, there is a question mark on your intent to settle in the province of Quebec,” Vancouver-based immigration lawyer Richard Kurland said. “Immigrant investor cases are now being refused because you have B.C. property or you have a child in a B.C. university.”

September 01, 2016

eTA Leniency Period Ends September 29, 2016

As of September 30, 2016, visa-exempt foreign travellers will no longer be able to board their flight without an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA).

eTA Great Canadian Gateway Canada ImmigrationOn March 15, 2016, Canada introduced a new entry requirement, an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), for visa-exempt foreign nationals flying to or transiting through Canada. Exceptions include U.S. citizens and travellers with a valid Canadian visa. An eTA allows the Government of Canada to check that travellers are admissible to enter Canada before they travel.

A six-month leniency period was put in place so that travellers caught unaware of the eTA requirement could still board their flight to Canada. This leniency period ends on September 29, 2016.

Although an eTA is a new step for travellers, applying for one is a simple online process that costs CAN$7. In most cases, an eTA is granted within minutes of applying.

Some applications can take several days to process, so travellers are advised to apply as soon as they start planning their trip. Find out if you need an eTA and apply before booking a flight to Canada.

Dual citizens: Have your Canadian passport ready

Starting September 30, 2016, Canadian citizens—including dual citizens—will need to show proof they are Canadian to board a flight to Canada.

A valid Canadian passport is the only reliable and universally accepted travel identification document for international travel that proves you are a citizen and have the right to enter Canada. If you present other documents, you may not be able to board your flight. If this happens to you, there are no quick fixes to help get you on your flight. To ensure travelling to Canada remains easy and stress free, travel with a valid Canadian passport!

American-Canadian citizens do not need a Canadian passport or an eTA to enter Canada but they must carry proper identification and meet the basic requirements to enter Canada.

This change is part of a broader Government of Canada initiative aimed at ensuring that all Canada-bound passengers have appropriate documents to enter the country before they board their flight.

International travellers: Be aware of non-official eTA websites

International travellers who need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to fly to or transit through Canada are advised to use only the official Government of Canada website, Canada.ca/eTA, and to be cautious of other websites that are charging more than CAN$7 to submit eTA applications.

A number of companies have established websites that charge additional fees to provide information and submit eTA applications on behalf of travellers. These companies are not operating on behalf of the Government of Canada.