2017 Jan to April – Immigration News & Updates

April 28, 2017

Conditional Permanent Residence for Spouses & Common Law Partners Removed

The Government of Canada has removed the condition that applied to some sponsored spouses or partners of Canadian citizens and permanent residents to live with their sponsor in order to keep their permanent resident status.

Under the old regulation, you had to live with your sponsor for two years if, at the time you applied:

  • Your relationship was less than two years; and
  • You had no children in common.

The condition was introduced as a means to deter people from seeking to immigrate to Canada through non-genuine relationships. By removing the condition, the Government recognizes that, while cases of marriage fraud exist, the majority of relationships are genuine and most spousal sponsorship applications are made in good faith.

Eliminating conditional permanent residence upholds the Government’s commitment to family reunification and supports gender equality and combating gender violence. As a result of the requirement for the sponsored spouse or partner to live with their sponsor, an imbalance between the sponsor and the sponsored spouse or partner could have been created, potentially making the sponsored spouse or partner more vulnerable.

April 28, 2017

ETA Update

Starting at 9 am EDT on May 1, 2017, citizens of Brazil, Bulgaria and Romania who have held a Canadian visa in the last 10 years or who currently hold a valid United States (U.S.) non-immigrant visa will be eligible to apply for an eTA, instead of a visitor visa, to travel to Canada by air. Those who do not meet these criteria or are travelling to Canada by car, bus, train, or boat will still need a visitor visa.

April 19, 2017

New Immigration Stream

The federal Liberals began work on a new immigration program to attract highly skilled labour before U.S. President Donald Trump took office. But what they’ll be watching for now is whether the planned June launch of their Global Talent Stream program could be a way to benefit from what Trump has done in his tenure so far.

The president added more uncertainty to the future of U.S. immigration policy this week, ordering a review of the American H-1B visa program, which he argues allows tech companies to avoid hiring American workers in favour of cheaper international ones.

The review bodes well for Canada, said Robert Watson, president of Information Technology Association of Canada. “Even if the executive order is just to do a review of it, it becomes tone from the top,” he said. “Companies have to start looking elsewhere and ensure there’s something better to do.”

April 11, 2017

Changes to Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Employers will be required to do more to recruit Canadians, particularly those who are typically under-represented in the workforce, such as youth, newcomers, women, Indigenous people and people with disabilities.

To fulfill its commitment to better protect vulnerable foreign workers, the government will also increase on-site inspections of workplaces that employ foreign workers. It will also work with community organizations devoted to the protecting vulnerable foreign workers to ensure they are informed of their rights and protections when they arrive in Canada.

At that time, the government took early action to respond to the report by:

  • eliminating the four-year cumulative duration “four-in, four-out” rule, effective immediately
  • maintaining the cap on the proportion of low-wage temporary foreign workers at 20 per cent for employers that accessed the program prior to June 20, 2014, and at 10 per cent for new users of the program
  • extending the cap for seasonal industries for up to 180 days until Dec. 31, 2017
  • committing to further develop pathways to permanent residency so eligible applicants are able to more fully contribute to Canadian society
  • requiring low-wage employers, where appropriate, to advertise to more than one, and up to four, under-represented groups in the workforce (such as youth, people with disabilities, Indigenous people and newcomers).

Employers will be advised when these changes are to come into effect.

March 27, 2017

More Students Look to Head North

Applications from international students have increased at universities across the country, said Paul Davidson, president of Universities Canada.

The number of international students coming to Canada doubled in the past decade. But in the last year, a number of events globally have added to its appeal for some students. The Brexit vote for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, and the U.S. election, seem to have been factors, Davidson said.

Traffic to the Universities Canada website, an entry point for many people looking for more information about schools in the country, has doubled since November. Many of the most elite Canadian universities had large increases in applications from the United States.

March 22, 2017

Pre-Removal Risk Assessment – Ethiopia

Nationals of Ethiopia are exempt from the 12-month bar if their Immigration and Refugee Board or previous pre-removal risk assessment decision was made between July 28, 2015, and July 27, 2016. Nationals of Ethiopia with a decision made after July 27, 2016, are subject to the 12-month bar.

March 22, 2017

Pre-Removal Risk Assessment – Turkey

Nationals of Turkey are exempt from the 12-month bar if their Immigration and Refugee Board or previous pre-removal risk assessment decision was made between February 16, 2016, and February 15, 2017. Nationals of Turkey with a decision made after February 15, 2017, are subject to the 12-month bar.

March 20, 2017

Facial Recognition Coming to Ottawa Airport

Starting Monday, passengers arriving on international flights to the Ottawa airport are encouraged to use a self-serve kiosk, called a primary inspection kiosk, to speed up and streamline the arrival process.

To verify a traveller’s identity, the newGreat Canadian Gateway Canada Immigration Immigrate kiosks will a take a photo and compare it to their passport picture. Travellers can either complete an on-screen declaration at the kiosk, or use the newly launched mobile app. Once downloaded, travellers can use it in airplane mode, allowing them to fill it out before they land. They’d then scan their phone at a kiosk before continuing on to baggage claim.

NEXUS members will not be able to use the app, but still continue to use the NEXUS kiosks

March 18, 2017

Canada Border Detaining Record Number of Mexicans

Canada’s border authorities detained more Mexicans in the first 67 days of 2017 than they did annually in any of the three previous years, according to statistics obtained by Reuters.

The spike comes immediately after Canada’s federal government lifted its visa requirement for Mexican citizens in December.

Many Mexicans looking north have shifted their focus from the United States to Canada as President Donald Trump vows to crack down on America’s undocumented immigrants, about half of whom are Mexican. On Friday, Reuters reported, immigration judges were reassigned to 12 US cities to speed up deportation.

March 07, 2017

Growing Number Renouncing Canadian Immigrant Status

More than 21,000 people with permanent resident cards who had the opportunity to become Canadian citizens have turned their back on the quest in the past two years. The highest number of “renunciations” are from citizens of China, India and South Korea.

People who renounce their permanent resident status no longer have to prove they’re spending significant time in Canada when they cross the borders or fly into an airport, say immigration lawyers in Vancouver.

Nor do Canadian immigration process dropouts have to give up the passport of their homelands, where many continue to work or run businesses. And they are not expected to declare their foreign assets to Canada Revenue Agency.

“Their children often remain in Canada to complete school and to begin their careers.”

Another reason foreigners renounce the Canadian immigration process, according to Hyman, is so family breadwinners won’t have to give up their passport and citizenship privileges in economically vibrant homelands like China and South Korea.

China and India do not allow their citizens to hold two passports, and South Korea only in rare cases.

March 06, 2017

Some Canadian PR’s Can Be Barred From US Under Trump Order

Permanent residents of Canada with citizenship from any of six Muslim-majority countries can be denied entry to the United States under the new version of U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban.

The revised ban, signed by Trump on Monday, explicitly says that a “landed immigrant” from Canada needs to apply for a “waiver” that “may” be granted, on a “case-by-case basis,” at the discretion of a consular officer or another official from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

March 06, 2017

Launch of 3 Year Atlantic Immigration Pilot Programs

Great Canadian Gateway Canada Immigration Express EntryThere are three new permanent residence pilot programs were launched through Ministerial Instructions on March 6, 2017 for workers who meet the requirements under one of the following programs:

  • Atlantic High-skilled Program (AHSP)
  • Atlantic Intermediate-skilled Program (AISP)
  • Atlantic International Graduate Program (AIGP)

Officers will assess the following eligibility requirements:

  • provincial endorsement from one of the four Atlantic Provinces,
  • education,
  • language,
  • work experience,
  • job offer from a designated employer,
  • settlement funds, and
  • intent to reside in the endorsing province.

IRCC aims to process 80 percent of complete applications in six months or less.

March 02, 2017

Facial Recognition Technology Is Coming to Canadian Airports

Facial recognition technology is coming to major Canadian airports as part of a new traveller screening program under development by Canada Border Services Agency, CBC News has learned.

The technology will be part of a new generation of self-service border clearance kiosks for travellers entering or returning to Canada. The kiosks are being pitched as part of a broader effort to modernize and streamline clearance procedures at Canadian airports, and will eventually replace the more limited kiosks currently in use.

“The new kiosks will improve border security, as well as assist in reducing wait times and congestion at Canada’s busiest airports,” a statement from CBSA reads.

The kiosks will begin appearing at Ottawa International Airport this spring, according to multiple sources, and the rollout will continue into 2018, CBSA says.

February 26, 2017

Families, Children Cross Illegally from US Into BC Seeking Refugee Status

On Saturday morning, two Turkish nationals crossed just steps away from the Peace Arch Border Crossing, on 0 Avenue in South Surrey. The man and woman walked two blocks north before they were handcuffed by police and turned over to Canadian Immigration.

A family of four was detained on Sunday after crossing the border illegally from the U.S. in the same area, which borders a park and has minimal security.

It’s happening all across Canada: foreign nationals concerned about the political climate in the U.S. are jumping the border to seek asylum here. There’s no guarantee Canada will be more welcoming than the U.S: if the detained families aren’t accepted as refugees they will be deported.

February 24, 2017

Ontario Immigration Website Crashes As Traffic Surges

Ontario’s immigration website has experienced a tenfold increase in visits since the province reopened its popular Provincial Nominee Program on Tuesday.

Applicants complained that ontarioimmigration.ca crashed almost immediately as they scrambled to compete for one of the 6,000 spots open for 2017. Once the annual quota is met, the system automatically stops taking applications.

Even those who were lucky enough to get a confirmation number and were invited to complete the online application in seven days said they have been unable to log onto the website.

According to the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, its website has received more than 117,000 visits since Tuesday when the so-called PNP program started accepting applications. The program was suspended last year while it was under review.

The PNP allows provinces to select and recommend immigration candidates to the federal Immigration Department. In Ontario, the capacity has doubled from 2,500 in 2014 to 6,000 this year.

There are three streams under the provincial program: one for master’s graduates, another for PhD graduates, as well as a third stream for those whose skills are in demand in Ontario. The graduate streams are particularly popular because they do not require Canadian work experience.

February 17, 2017

Refugee Claims at Canada-US Border Have Doubled Over Past Two Years

The number of refugee claims made at thGreat Canadian Gateway Canada Immigratione border has more than doubled over the past two years, surging to 7,023 in 2016, according to the Canada Border Services Agency.

By comparison, 4,316 people sought refugee status in Canada at land border crossings in 2015 and another 3,747 did in 2014.

February 17, 2017

Immigration Department Cracks Down on Unlicensed Consultants in China

In what’s believed to be Canada’s biggest crackdown on unlicensed “ghost” consultants operating abroad, Ottawa has rejected en masse dozens of immigration applications filed from the address of a company in China.

A group of 57 of the rejected applicants has already filed an appeal to the Federal Court of the Immigration Department’s decision, claiming they hired Beijing-based Flyabroad for its translation and clerical services, and that the firm was not their authorized legal representative.

Clients of Flyabroad are among a growing number of immigration applicants flagged and rejected by Canadian visa posts in Beijing and Hong Kong for employing the services of unregistered consulting firms in China, the Star has learned.

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act stipulates that only licensed Canadian lawyers and immigration consultants registered with the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council can offer immigration advice and services for a fee.

In a letter to the rejected applicants, Canadian visa offices said the applicants were “inadmissible” because they had used an unauthorized immigration representative without submitting the use of a representative form, which constitutes “misrepresentation.”

“The Government of Canada takes any kind of citizenship or immigration fraud seriously. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada does not deal with non-authorized citizenship and immigration representatives in Canada or from abroad,” said department spokesperson Carl Beauchamp.

February 15, 2017

Changes to Pre-Removal Assessment for Turkey

Individuals from Turkey may be eligible for a pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA) if they received a final decision from the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) or a final PRRA decision on or between February 16, 2016, and February 15, 2017. Prior to removing them from Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency will advise individuals from Turkey if they are now eligible to apply for a PRRA.

However, individuals from Turkey 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.

February 13, 2017

Proposed Legislation to Heighten Powers of US Border Guards in Canada

A new bill being prepared for passage during Parliament’s current sitting has Canadian immigration lawyers worried and concerned.

Bill C-23 would give U.S. border guards new powers to question, search and even detain Canadian citizens on Canadian soil. The bill would enshrine in law a reciprocal agreement for customs and immigration pre-clearance signed by the two countries in 2015, but some immigration lawyers say it goes too far.

Pre-clearance allows Canadian visitors to the U.S. to clear U.S. Customs and Immigration while still in Canada at a Canadian port of departure.

A Canadian going to the U.S. through a pre-clearance area [on Canadian soil] can turn around and walk out

Under the new proposed bill, they wouldn’t be able to walk out. They can be held and forced to answer questions, first to identify themselves, which is not so offensive, but secondly, to explain the reasons for leaving, and to explain their reasons for wanting to withdraw.

Bill C-23 has other wide-ranging provisions, including the right of a U.S. officer to conduct a strip search on a Canadian traveller in a Canadian airport if a Canada Border Services Agency officer is unavailable or unwilling to do so.

And It would also allow U.S. officers to carry sidearms while on duty in Canada, if they’re working in an environment where CBSA officers are normally armed.

It could also affect the standing of Canadian permanent residents by threatening their automatic right to enter Canada by allowing a CBSA agent posted at a U.S. airport the right to prevent the resident from boarding a flight to Canada.

The resident would have the option to drive or find a ride to a land border, where their legal right to enter Canada would still apply.

February 03, 2017

US Revokes All Nexus Cards from Canadian PR’s with Citizenship in Restricted Countries

Nexus memberships have been revoked from all Canadian permanent residents with citizenship in any one of the seven majority-Muslim countries affected by the U.S. travel ban, the Canada Border Services Agency has confirmed to CBC Toronto.

Citing U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a CBSA spokesperson said in an email that FAST memberships have also been revoked from all such individuals. FAST is a program similar to Nexus that is meant to speed up commercial shipments across the border.

The email goes on to say that memberships of dual citizens have not been cancelled. But CBC Toronto has learned of multiple Canadian-born and dual citizens who have reportedly had their Nexus memberships revoked in the wake of a U.S. executive order barring entry to passport holders from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

The development comes just hours after CBC Toronto reported that two men from either side of the Canada-U.S. border — one a Syrian with Canadian permanent residence status, and the other an Iranian citizen with a green card — suddenly received notice Wednesday that their Nexus cards were being revoked long before they were set to expire.

February 03, 2017

Update to Exemptions to 12 or 36 Month Pre-Removal Assessment Bar

Nationals of Yemen are exempt from the 12-month bar if their Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) or previous pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA) decision was made between June 18, 2014, and June 17, 2015. Nationals of Yemen with a decision made after June 17, 2015, are subject to the 12-month bar.

Nationals of Burundi are exempt from the 12-month bar if their IRB or previous PRRA decision was made between August 13, 2014, and August 12, 2015. Nationals of Burundi with a decision made after August 12, 2015, are subject to the 12-month bar.

February 01, 2017

Update to Transit Without Visa Program – China

The instructions on the Transit Without Visa Program and the China Transit Program have been updated to include Calgary International Airport as an approved Canadian airport and Hainan Airlines as an approved carrier.

For the China Transit Program, two cities, Osaka and Nagoya, have also been added to the list of approved last points of embarkation, as per the eligibility criteria.

January 27, 2017

New Trend: Adults with Families Coming to Study in Canada

Canadian immigration offices in Asia are reporting that “mature adults” are increasingly applying to come to Canada as foreign students, especially those who want to live in Metro Vancouver.

It is a result of the Canadian government’s recent decision to classify foreign students among the front-runners to become permanent residents, particularly through Ottawa’s new “fast-track” program.

Although it has been technically possible for a while to study in Canada as an adult foreign student, Canada’s busy immigration office in the Philippines reports it’s becoming an increasing popular way for entire families to gain entry to Canada and, importantly, go to the front of the line for citizenship.

“At the most recent study fair in the Philippines, most questions were from mature, married clients with children, who were interested in open work permits for their spouse and study permits for their children,” said an internal immigration staff memo.

“They do not fit the profile of a typical international student,” reported the office in Manila, which handles hundreds of thousands of applications from throughout East Asia.

January 27, 2017

Special Authorization for Dual Canadian Citizens Extended

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is extending the period of time that eligible dual Canadian citizens can apply for a special authorization. This extension follows consultations with our partners, including airlines.

On November 10, 2016, the Government of Canada implemented a system to electronically verify that travellers have the appropriate travel documents to fly to, or transit through Canada before boarding their flight. As a result, Canadian citizens, including dual citizens, need to present a valid Canadian passport, temporary passport, or emergency travel document to board their flight to Canada.

To help minimize travel disruptions for dual Canadian citizens, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada introduced the special authorization form as a short-term, facilitative measure that allows eligible dual citizens with imminent travel to Canada to board their flight using their non-Canadian passport.

Despite the extension of the special authorization, dual Canadian citizens without a valid Canadian passport are strongly advised to obtain one before booking a flight to Canada to avoid any travel disruptions. A valid Canadian passport is the only reliable and universally accepted travel document that provides proof that you are a Canadian citizen and have the right to enter Canada.

Dual Canadian citizens who are not eligible for the special authorization will need to contact the nearest Government of Canada office abroad to obtain the appropriate travel document to board their flight to Canada.

January 23, 2017

Top 10 Countries That Send Immigrants to Canada

A total of 271,660 people immigrated to Canada in 2015, a steady increase from the previous year, and the nation does not intend to stop here. As per its immigration targets for 2016, Canada intended to absorb 280,000 to 305,000 people in the year 2016. The actual statistics for this year are not yet available, but it is highly probable that the targets were met. In fact, Canada may even have gone over and above these numbers.

10. Nigeria
9. United Kingdom
8. France
7. USA
6. Syria
5. Pakistan
4. Iran
3. China
2. India
1. Philippines

January 21, 2017

US Can Search Mobile Phones at Border

U.S. authorities are entitled to search the mobile devices of Canadians seeking to cross the border, a spokesman for Ralph Goodale, Canada’s public safety minister, said on Saturday.

“When entering another country, including Canada, it has always been the case that goods accompanying a traveler may be searched to verify admissibility,” Scott Bardsley, the minister’s press secretary, said in an emailed statement.

“Every country is sovereign and able to make its own rules to admit people and goods to manage its immigration framework, health and safety,” he added.

January 11, 2017

New Canadian Immigration Minister, Ahmed Hussen

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen’s Canadian journey started from the most humble place possible when he arrived, by himself, as a 16-year-old refugee.

TheGreat Canadian Gateway Canada Immigration Somali-Canadian, first elected in 2015, is now in charge of the same program under which he came to Canada from Mogadishu in 1993. Since then, he pumped gas to put himself through York University, according to a 2015 Toronto Star profile, worked at the Ontario Legislature, and did his law degree at the University of Ottawa.

“I’m extremely proud of our country’s history as a place of asylum, a place that opens its doors and hearts to new immigrants and refugees, and I am especially proud today to be the minister in charge of that file,” Hussen told reporters on Parliament Hill Tuesday.

“I’ve always prided myself as a Canadian. I’m also proud of my heritage, but I think the two can work together. I think Canada is one of the few countries that that can actually happen so I’m especially proud to be given this role.”

January 05, 2017

Canadian Immigration Applications Could Soon be Assessed by Computers

Since 2014, the Immigration Department has been developing what’s known as a “predictive analytics” system, which would evaluate applications in a way that’s similar to the work performed by officials today.

The plan — part of the government’s modernization of a system plagued by backlogs and delays — is to use the technology to identify the merits of an immigration application, spot potential red flags for fraud and weigh all these factors to recommend whether an applicant should be accepted or refused.

At the moment, the focus of the project is on building processes that would distinguish between high-risk and low-risk applications, immigration officials said.

“The goal is to improve client service and increase operational efficiency by reducing processing times while strengthening program integrity.”

The project was approved by the former Conservative government cabinet in February 2013. Wemp said there is no firm timeline on when automated decisions might be a viable option.

Immigration officials said no job losses are anticipated, as officers who are no longer working on low-risk applications would be reassigned to “higher value-added activities” such as reducing backlogs elsewhere.

January 03, 2017

Changes to Parent and Grandparent Program

***The 2017 Parent and Grandparent Program (PGP) re-opens today.***

Starting today at noon Eastern Standard Time (EST), if you want to sponsor your parents or grandparents, you must start by completing an online form. This year, sponsors will be chosen at random from among those who complete the online form.

There is no rush to complete the online form right away. You have 30 days (from January 3, 2017, to February 2, 2017, at noon EST) to let us know you’re interested in applying to be a sponsor in the PGP.