April 23, 2014
2014 Federal Skilled Worker Program
Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander today announced new measures in key economic immigration programs to prepare for next year’s launch of Express Entry, Canada’s new active recruitment model. Express Entry will lead to a faster and more flexible economic immigration system that will address Canada’s economic and labour market needs.
To prepare for the launch of Express Entry in 2015, Citizenship and Immigration Canada will begin accepting applications under new caps for the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) and Canadian Experience Class (CEC), starting May 1, 2014. These measures will ensure a steady supply of skilled workers who are settling in Canada permanently and helping to supplement the Canadian workforce in areas where there are skills shortages.
With the FSWP backlog on track for elimination this year, a new cap of 25,000 applications will provide the appropriate number of applications to support expected admissions in 2015. The list of eligible occupations – reflecting the latest labour market needs – will be more than doubled, from 24 to 50 occupations.
To support Canada’s need for skilled trades people, the FSTP cap will be increased to 5,000 applications. All 90 skilled trades designated under the program regulations will now be eligible for consideration, although sub-caps remain in order to ensure appropriate representation of occupations.
The CEC cap will be re-set at 8,000 applications, as of May 1, 2014, to cover the transition period leading up to Express Entry.
April 11, 2014
Quebec Couple Arrested for Allegedly Running Illegal Immigrant Ring
Mounties have arrested two people suspected of facilitating the illegal immigration of Romanian nationals.
Georgeta Samson, 60, and her husband Felix Diaconescu, 69, both of Laval, Que., allegedly produced counterfeit documents, including birth certificates, for the purpose of facilitating the immigration of Romanian nationals to Canada. Samson is a translator and Diaconescu is commissioner of oaths. Police said they believe the pair used their positions to validate counterfeit documents.
When the couple’s home was searched, RCMP said they found a counterfeit document lab and a list of over 700 mostly Romanian names on paper and on computers. Police said the discovery of these names raises doubts about the actual identities of anyone they helped gain citizenship.
The couple faces several charges, including making false documents, forging trademarks, and identity information possession. They will appear in a Laval court at a date that is still to be decided.
April 10, 2014
McDonald’s and Temporary Foreign Workers
“There’s no doubt we’ve seen some abuses that really tick me off,” federal cabinet minister Jason Kenney said a few weeks ago. He was referring to the temporary foreign workers program and his irritation about the perceived abuses by that point had been growing for some time.
The “ticked off’ minister has landed on the restaurant owner with both feet. The allegations that the franchise owner was ignoring local job applications in order to make the case that hiring from off shore was permissible prompted an immediate and full-on reaction from the federal government.
The franchisee, as well as two other restaurants in Ontario and Newfoundland, are now publicly identified on a government shame list as having their hiring permits revoked or suspended. Victoria immigration lawyer Robbie Sheffman said the moves were sudden and immediate, but the government has been building the groundwork for them for a few years.
It became clear over that time that there wasn’t much in the way of enforcement rules when it came to issuing labour-market opinions and allowing temporary foreign worker permits. And the issue was becoming increasingly sensitive, with revelations that the Royal Bank of Canada had displaced Canadian citizens to make way for new hires from outside the country.
So legislation was adjusted and ministerial discretion was broadened to allow for the kind of swift action that was on display last weekend. Governments are not normally known for instantaneous responses to problems. But the reaction to the Victoria McDonald’s restaurant issue was a marvel of speed.
Kenney learned of the issue last Thursday. Federal inspectors were on hand the next day. They got enough evidence in short order that Kenney issued a news release, on a Sunday no less, outlining the tough action being taken. The labour-market opinions, which allow for the permits to be issued, were suspended. All the permits in process were cancelled.
And Kenney himself charged the owner had used false, misleading or inaccurate information in order to hire from offshore. He also raised the possibility of court charges, for offences that carry penalties of jail time and fines of up to $100,000.
Only the week previously, Ottawa announced an upcoming bill to toughen the penalties for misuse of such permits. But Sheffman said the more stringent approach has been in the works for some time.
The local restaurant permits are suspended, pending further process. But there’s not much doubt the hammer has come down irrevocably. McDonald’s waded into the issue, suspending the franchise ownership and taking over the three restaurants as corporately owned outlets.
Sheffman said it was part of a process to beef up enforcement. The laws are tougher and “ministerial instructions” can now be used to send inspectors into workplaces without warrants. “They’ve been working out and flexing their muscles,” he said. “Now they’re using them.” He said the system is now so mandated with mechanisms geared to enforcement that it’s slowing down. “Legitimate employers with real needs operate in a much slower environment. Cases are more difficult to expedite.”
All of which spells trouble for the B.C. economy. Temporary foreign workers are an indispensable part of the push for a mammoth new liquefied natural gas industry. There are already about 75,000 of them in B.C. and a lot more are expected.
The latest LNG update says thousands of workers will be needed as soon as 2017. And despite all the talk of ramped up training and local hires first, B.C.’s labour force “will simply not be able to meet the labour demand generated by the growth of the … industry.”
The plan now is to hire locally first, then from B.C., then from the rest of Canada. Foreign workers are a last resort, but there’s not much question they’ll be utilized.
And employers will have to make impeccable bulletproof cases there are no Canadians available before they can start the time-consuming process of hiring them.
April 08, 2014
Introduction to New “Express Entry” Immigration Program
Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander today announced that Canada’s active recruitment model for economic immigration will officially be called “Express Entry.” Set to launch in January 2015, “Express Entry” is a major step forward in the transformation of Canada’s immigration system into one that is fast, flexible and focused on meeting Canada’s economic and labour needs.
“Express Entry” will allow for greater flexibility and better responsiveness to deal with regional labour shortages, and help fill open jobs for which there are no available Canadian workers. “Express Entry” candidates who receive a valid job offer or nomination under the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) will be quickly invited to apply for permanent residency – a key distinction between “Express Entry” and the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, which is only used to fill temporary labour and skill shortages.
Formerly referred to as “Expression of Interest”, “Express Entry” will be open to skilled immigrants and allow the government to select the best candidates who are most likely to succeed in Canada, rather than those who happen to be first in line. It will also prevent backlogs and allow Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to better coordinate application volume with the annual immigration levels plan.
Qualified applicants can expect faster processing times of six months or less when invited to come to Canada in four key economic streams: the Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Skilled Trades Program, Canadian Experience Class, and a portion of the PNP.
With “Express Entry,” employers will have a key role in selecting economic immigrants and providing advice to the Government of Canada. To this end, Alexander also announced that over the course of spring 2014, CIC will work with provincial and territorial governments to hold a series of cross-Canada information sessions to provide employers with more information about this exciting new system.
March 29, 2014
BC Looks Beyond Borders to Fill 1 Million Openings by 2020
B.C. will see a million job openings by 2020 — most within the next three years — and it will be necessary to look beyond Canada’s borders to fill many of them, says the province’s deputy jobs minister.
There are 47 projects worth half-a-billion dollars or more on the books in the province today, Dave Byng told a business audience in Vancouver on Friday. Three quarters of the work associated with them will be in northern B.C., and most are related to liquefied natural gas. The projects will create two streams of jobs — construction and operations, he said.
The construction jobs are likely to be temporary in nature, peaking in 2016 and tapering off by 2018, Byng said. The operations jobs will start to come online as the projects are built and likely to be longer-term in nature, he added.
The government’s priority is to make sure that B.C. residents have first crack at those jobs, and to make sure schools and post-secondary institutions produce graduates to fill them, Byng said. But he predicted that the province would not be able to supply all of those workers.
The next step is to look across Canada, and several Eastern Canadian provinces have already expressed interest in sending B.C. their workers, he said.
After that, it will be necessary for the province to look offshore because employers, particularly in the LNG industry, need to be able to access specific skill sets quickly. This is where temporary foreign workers are likely to play a role, especially in the construction jobs, he said.
Byng acknowledged that the controversial temporary workers program has got “a little bit of a black eye” recently.
“There continue to be issues that percolate to the top, but the reality of it is, if we look at the projects that we’ve got going here in British Columbia, there will be a continued need and demand for access to temporary labour both from across Canada and from outside our borders,” he said. “And so you’ll most certainly see the province speaking from that perspective and working hard to ensure … access to temporary foreign workers.”
Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said changes to the federal program next year will bring skilled workers with job offers to Canada within six months. It will also allow British Columbia to exceed its federally-imposed quota of skilled workers that come in through the provincial nominee program, he added.
The “Expression of Interest” system for selecting skilled workers, who become permanent residents, will take effect Jan. 1, 2015. It will allow employers to select workers from a pool of candidates, who will still be assessed according to a points system. But those who are most in demand will have their applications processed first, Alexander said, rather than those who apply first. This will make the program more responsive to the needs of employers, he said.
“Those with a job offer, when a Canadian is not found … will have an almost automatic claim on our immigration system.”
March 20, 2014
45 Million People Want to Immigrate to Canada
Gallup World surveys found 700 million worldwide wants to permanently leave their home country — a total that is more than the entire adult population of North and South America combined.
March 17, 2014
Promoting Canada as Destinations for Chinese
Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander will travel to Hong Kong and Shanghai this week to highlight the many opportunities that exist for Chinese businesses, students and travellers in Canada.
The relationship between China and Canada continues to flourish. In 2013, more than 270,000 visitor visas were issued to Chinese travellers and almost 34,000 Chinese became Canadian permanent residents. For the last 15 years, China has been one of the top source countries for permanent residents to Canada, just one of many indicators of the strong people-to-people ties linking our two countries.
During the visit, Minister Alexander will promote the government’s efforts to build a fast and flexible immigration system with a primary focus on meeting Canada’s economic and labour market needs. Alexander will also discuss the current and future pathways to permanent residency that are available to businesses, families and students who wish to settle, study or do business in Canada.
In Hong Kong, Minister Alexander will meet with Lai Tung-kwok, the Secretary for Security for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, before laying a wreath at the Sai Wan Cemetery, where the graves of some 280 Canadian soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice are found.
In Shanghai, Alexander will focus on international education. Nearly 29,000 Chinese students entered Canada in 2013, marking the fifth consecutive year that China has been the top source country for international students to Canada. Alexander will speak at Fudan University and at the China International Education Exhibition Tour education fair, as well as participating in events at the Shanghai Redleaf Women’s Hospital and the Shanghai University of International Business and Economics to celebrate programs of co-operation, in nursing and finance, between those institutions and British Columbia’s Douglas College.
March 13, 2014
Impact of Unauthorized Immigration Consultants
The Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants, is issuing the following statement as a reaction to the practice of ‘unauthorized consultants’, where on multiple accounts, they have represented and advised would-be immigrants for a fee, regarding immigration services, without being members of ICCRC- a designated body under the Act.
Such cases are very damaging to the profession of regulated immigration consultants on multiple levels. On one level, unauthorized consultants, also known as ‘ghost consultants’, are breaching the criminal code by practicing without a license. Despite the fact that they do not possess the necessary training, they provide services for a fee to individuals that seek advice on their immigration applications. We encourage members of the public to report them to CBSA or to file a complaint at ICCRC.
This in turn, affects the image of immigration consultants overall. When individuals encounter unqualified consultants that charge a fee for their services without being able to provide the adequate services, their opinion of all consultants alike, will be inadvertently affected by their personal experience. But most important of all, is the trust that is destroyed by such cases; trust that is lost from the immigration consultants’ profession, and that could be prevented from happening by impeding such cases from occurring.
While ‘ghost consultants’ do not possess the necessary training, Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) are educated and have the expertise to assist clients with their cases. In fact, CAPIC members are best placed in the industry to represent clients as they follow the highest standard of Continuous Professional Development Education Programs and adhere to a more stringent code of ethics.
March 13, 2014
Don’t Become a Victim of Immigration Fraud
Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander today encouraged potential newcomers to use authorized immigration representatives to avoid becoming victims of fraud.
March is Fraud Prevention Month and this year Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has partnered with the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) and the Federation of Law Societies of Canada (FLSC) to promote awareness of authorized immigration representatives and what services they can provide.
Unscrupulous and unauthorized representatives weaken Canada’s immigration system, cost taxpayers money, and slow down the processing of valid applications. Under Canadian law, only authorized immigration representatives can charge a fee to help someone apply for a visa to come to Canada. If a newcomer uses an unauthorized representative, their application may be refused and they could risk becoming victims of fraud.
Regulations, which came into force on June 30, 2011, impose penalties on unauthorized representatives who provide, or offer to provide, advice or representation for a fee at any stage of an immigration application or proceeding. If the court finds a person guilty, the following penalties would apply:
- on summary conviction, the person is subject to a fine of up to $20,000, or up to six months imprisonment, or both;
- on conviction on indictment, they are subject to a fine of up to $100,000 or up to two years imprisonment, or both.
Bill C-24 reinforces the value of citizenship by cracking down on fraud and ensuring Canadian citizenship is only offered to those who play by the rules. Proposed measures include:
- stronger penalties for fraud and misrepresentation (a maximum fine of $100,000 and/or five years in prison);
- expanding the grounds to bar an application for citizenship to include foreign criminality which will help improve program integrity; and
- making it an offence for unauthorized individuals to knowingly represent or advise a person on a citizenship application or hearing for a fee.
March 06, 2014
Update on Canadian Visa Services to People in Ukraine
All temporary resident applications for those living in Ukraine can be submitted online or in person through a Visa Application Centre in Kyiv or Lviv.
Permanent resident applications also remain in process. Cancelled interviews will be re-scheduled once the security situation stabilizes. Canada continues to closely monitor the situation.
March 06, 2014
Opportunities for Irish and Canadian Youth
Young people from Canada and Ireland will have more opportunities to work and travel abroad, thanks to the signing of an amendment to the youth mobility agreement enjoyed between the two countries.
Today, Canada and Ireland signed an amendment that will expand on the existing agreement on youth mobility beyond the ever-popular Working Holiday category. Two new categories have been added to better meet the needs of participants and prospective employers and the total number of spots available is rising to 10,700 for 2014, a significant increase from the 6,350 spaces available in 2013.
Known in Canada as International Experience Canada (IEC), the youth mobility program provides opportunities for Irish citizens between the ages of 18 and 35 to travel and work in Canada for up to 24 months. In exchange, young Canadians can travel and work in Ireland. Young participants benefit from these opportunities by gaining a better understanding of the other country’s culture and society through their work and life experiences abroad.
With today’s announcement, two employer-specific categories have been added as options for young people from both countries. Young people with a pre-arranged contract of employment in support of their career development now have the option of applying to the Young Professionals category. Full-time students who have arranged a work placement or internship as part of their academic curriculum will now be able to apply to the International Co-op category.
February 21, 2014
Montreal Man Charged with Immigration Fraud
Daljit Singh Kalkat — who investigators have concluded provided advice to more than 250 people while acting as an immigration consultant — faces a March 3 court appearance in Montreal, the Canada Border Services Agency said Friday.
Kalkat was president of the India Canada Organization until fall 2012, and a prominent member of Montreal’s Indian community. He was also known as Baljeet Singh Wadyal.
Kalkat faces 11 charges under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, and three under the Criminal Code. He is accused of having induced, aided or abetted people to misrepresent themselves; having possessed and used forged documents; and having engaged in the trafficking and fabrication of false documents. In addition, he is accused of working without authorization and acting as an immigration representative in return for fees without authorization.
None of the charges have been proven in court.
The offences alleged took place between May 2004 and August 2012. Ten charges were filed last Dec. 30. The remaining four were added Feb. 18.
The CBSA launched an investigation in 2011 “after receiving complaints concerning an individual acting as an immigration consultant,” the news release stated. The CBSA raided Kalkat’s office in May 2012.
Persons acting as immigration consultants must be a member of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council.
February 21, 2014
Canadian Immigration Sharing Expands to the Five Other Countries
Canada’s immigration objective is to broaden the sharing of immigration information with the U.S and other central allies.The government is building an information technology system, which can be used for the exchange of biometric data such as fingerprints and iris scans.
Systematic sharing is a better and more efficient way to oversee case-by-case sharing. Canadian federal government has already been sharing immigration information for security purposes with the United States under the perimeter security pact. Due to former intelligent leaks from an American spy contractor, Edward Snowden, there has been surveillance on Canada’s security relationship with its close allies. Known as the Five Eyes, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States are all under the umbrella of the Five Country Conference.
Starting this year, fingerprints from Visa applicants to Canada from all over will be checked up against a system that contains immigration violators, criminals and suspected terrorists. Although the hope is to lead to more transparency and safety in immigration, the concern that the volume of information being sent oversees may not be able to be kept under control.
A protocol launched in 2009 has allowed for 3,000 fingerprints to be shared annually with each member state. Canadian immigration plans to raise this amount to 12,000 by fall of this year.
Although the new arrangement with the U.S is very important, Canada is creating a systematic sharing method that will support sharing with the other members of the Five Eyes as well. The main concern that exists is that once information is sent beyond Canadian borders, immigration information may be altered. Therefore, it is important for Citizenship and Immigration to use precise and pertinent information as determining factors in making concluding decisions.
February 20, 2014
DNA Sample Collection Pilot Project Extended
A pilot project to collect and assess DNA samples in India, that was originally scheduled to end in November 2013, has been extended to run until March 31, 2014.
Through this pilot project, the Panel Physicians network is authorized to take and assess DNA samples. The samples are used when Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) needs to establish a genetic link between parent and child for citizenship proof applications for children born through surrogacy. Panel Physicians, formerly known as designated medical practitioners, are the same doctors currently authorized to conduct immigration medical examinations for CIC in Canada and abroad.
CIC will assess the feasibility of using Panel Physicians to do DNA testing for citizenship proof applications for persons born in other countries.
February 15, 2014
Visa Requirement for Mexican Nationals Will Remain
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is not expected to lift visa requirements for Mexican travellers during a leaders’ summit in Mexico next week, a senior government source has confirmed to CTV News.
Canada imposed a visa requirement on Mexican travellers in 2009 in an effort to clamp down on the increasing number of false refugee claimants.
The matter may be a topic of discussion when Harper travels to Toluca, Mexico for a North American leaders’ summit with U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Feb. 19.
The Mexican government wants to see changes to the visa system, which they view as a “major irritant,” according to Mexican Ambassador to Canada Francisco Suarez. He said Mexicans have a much easier time obtaining visas to the United States and face no such restrictions in European Union countries. “The Canadians require 10 times more information than the Americans,” Suarez said.
Harper has said that he would like to lift the visa requirement, but says Canada must first reform its refugee system.
February 12, 2014
Canada To Open Bangalore Consulate General
Canada will open a consulate general office in Bangalore on February 26.
The office of the Consulate General of Canada, to be located at the World Trade Centre in the city, will house a Visa and Immigration Service point serving the entire south India. The services are expected to commence by April, according to officials in the High Commission of Canada in New Delhi.
The Consulate General’s office here, which will be third one in India apart from the offices functioning in Mumbai and Chandigarh, is expected to cater to not only Karnataka, but also Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.
Canada has a consulate in Chennai and trade offices in Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Kolkata.
The office of the Consulate General is scheduled for inauguration by the Governor General of Canada, David Johnston during his visit to the city.
February 12, 2014
Regina Doctor Cannot Raise Adopted Children In Canada
A Regina medical doctor has been barred from raising her newly adopted children in Canada after immigration officials ruled she unlawfully secured the children from a Ukrainian orphanage through an elaborate ruse.
“She is responsible for the position in which the children now find themselves,” reads a recent ruling by a Saskatchewan Federal Court upholding the decision of the Canadian Citizenship & Immigration Ministry, adding the unnamed children may be henceforth denied “a normal family life.”
The case concerns Svitlana Cheshenchuk, a Ukraine-born doctor, who came to Saskatchewan in 1998 and now has Canadian and Ukrainian citizenship.
In the summer of 2011, Dr. Cheshenchuk flew to her hometown of Vinnitsa, where she has an apartment, and adopted two children, a brother and sister, then aged three and four respectively. But when she tried to bring the children back to Saskatchewan, a citizenship and immigration officer at the Canadian embassy in Kyiv uncovered a “serious irregularity” in their adoption papers. The official concluded the adoption order would have never have been approved if Ukrainian authorities had known Dr. Cheshenchuk intended to take the children abroad.
Ukrainian law is quite strict about allowing foreign adoptions. Foreign parents, even if they are dual citizens such as Dr. Cheshenchuk, can only adopt children older than five. Even then, officials are reluctant to allow adoption of children who are not disabled or form part of a group of four to five siblings. An adoption fact sheet drafted by the Ukrainian embassy in Washington says it is “almost impossible” to adopt a healthy five- to six-year-old, or even a seven- to eight-year-old child with no siblings.
In what Canadian immigration officials would allege was a deliberate “misrepresentation,” Dr. Cheshenchuk applied for a domestic adoption. She did not mention her Canadian citizenship or her 13 years in Regina. And although she is married to a Canadian, Wojciech Ziarko, she also claimed she was a single mother, producing divorce papers from a previous marriage as evidence.
When all this became known to Canadian immigration officials, they denied her application for Canadian citizenship for the children, arguing “Ukrainian legislation on international adoptions was not respected.”
In a submission to Federal Court, the immigration ministry justified the decision by arguing Kyiv is strict about foreign adoptions for the precise purpose of keeping children in Ukraine. It added Ukrainian authorities would never have approved Dr. Cheshenchuk’s adoption “had [she] disclosed that she was a Canadian citizen residing in Canada, even if she also has connections to Ukraine and has been spending time in Ukraine.”
Ms. Cheshenchuk testified she went to Ukraine with no ulterior motives. She did not mention her Canadian residency, she said, because she was legitimately hoping to remain permanently in Ukraine and work as a translator. She changed her mind after her finances began to dwindle. As for her husband, she said at the time of the adoption they had legally separated because of “difficulties in their relationship,” but reunited after she returned to Regina.
Last month, a federal court judge called the explanations “unconvincing.” For starters, only three months before her purportedly permanent departure to Vinnitsa, Ms. Cheshenchuk had obtained approval from the Saskatchewan government to bring home two adopted Ukrainian children. In addition, the children had only been in Dr. Cheshenchuk’s care for five days before she called the Canadian embassy in Kyiv in a bid to get visas for them.
In October 2012, Dr. Cheshenchuk went to federal court in Regina to have the immigration ministry’s decision overturned.
Last month, the court not only dismissed the application, but forced her to pay costs. The court seems to be sending a strong message to prospective adoptive parents not to skirt local law and regulations regarding adoptions.
The children remain in Ukraine where they “are being cared for by a live-in nanny and members of [Dr. Cheshenchuk’s] family,” according to court documents.
The federal court decision acknowledged denying the children Canadian citizenship could “harm them” and cause them to be “unjustly penalized.” Nevertheless, this was no reason to overlook the “irregularities” of Dr. Cheshenchuk’s case. “The Ukrainian law on foreign adoptions cannot be disregarded in deference to some alleged greater good that the Court has no means of assessing,” it said.
February 11, 2014
Government Cancels Investor & Entrepreneur Immigration Programs
The decision, announced in Tuesday’s budget, will not, however, affect the Quebec investor stream, which has also come under fire for allowing wealthy immigrants to enter the country, invest in the province, then set up shop in British Columbia or Ontario.
The investor program has been temporarily shelved since July 2012, while the entrepreneur program has been on hold since July 2011. Those in the backlog were being processed during that time but the wait could take a decade in some cases.
About 59,000 immigrant investor applications will be tossed as a result of the decision, along with 7,000 entrepreneur applications.
The government is working on a pair of pilot projects, including a new Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Fund and business skills program to replace the streams.
The government previously introduced a start-up visa to lure entrepreneurs to Canada with the promise of automatic residency even if their venture failed.
February 10, 2014
Ex-Soldier Sentenced to 10 Years
A Canadian human rights group remains hopeful that a former Guatemalan special forces soldier sentenced to prison by a U.S. court will eventually be tried for the alleged massacre of villagers during his country’s civil war.
Jorge Sosa, 55, was arrested in Albrta in 2011 and on Monday he was sentenced to 10 years for lying on his U.S. citizenship papers about his alleged role in the killings. At least 160 people were killed in the village of Dos Erres in 1982.
Sosa had both Canadian and U.S. citizenship when he was arrested in Lethbridge, Alta., and then extradited. U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips stripped Sosa of his U.S. citizenship after handing down her sentence.
“Although we would have liked to have seen Sosa tried for war crimes, the fact that he got a 10-year sentence and will be spending several years in prison is a step in the right direction,” Matt Eisenbrandt, legal director for the Canadian Centre for International Justice, said from Vancouver.
Eisenbrandt said there is every reason to believe that Sosa will be deported to Guatemala once his sentence in the U.S. is complete.
A former member of the same unit, Pedro Pimentel Rios, was extradited from the United States to Guatemala and sentenced to 6,060 years in prison for his role in the killings.
February 06, 2014
Changes to Citizenship Rules
Canada will toughen citizenship rules to prevent foreigners from picking up Canadian passports of convenience without spending much time in the country, part of a sweeping package of reforms under legislation introduced yesterday.
Canada remains one of countries most open to immigration and plans to attract about 250,000 a year, in part because it needs workers to make up for a low birth rate. But the new rules would try to prevent abuse of the citizenship process.
The bill would crack down on fraud and give Ottawa the right to strip citizenship from dual citizens who engage in armed conflict with Canada or terrorism, while streamlining the system to reduce the processing time significantly.
“Our government is strengthening the value of Canadian citizenship. Canadians understand that citizenship should not be simply a passport of convenience,” Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said in a statement.
The new act will require immigrants to be physically present for four out of six years and declare an “intent to reside.” Currently they have to establish legal residence for three of four years but do not actually have to be physically present or intend to reside in Canada.
Applicants will need greater proficiency in English or French: they will no longer be able to use an interpreter when they take a test on knowledge about Canada. In addition, the age of those subject to language requirements will widen, to 14 to 64 years from the current 18 to 54.
Penalties for fraud will jump to a maximum of C$100,000 ($90,090) from the current C$1,000, and up to five years in prison instead of one year.
Among other changes:
- Applicants must be up to date on Canadian income taxes.
- A rise in adult citizenship application fees to C$300 from C$100, plus an unchanged right-of-citizenship fee of C$100 for successful applicants.
- A faster track to citizenship for those serving with the Canadian Armed Forces.
- A single-step process for citizenship instead of a three-step process, greatly reducing the need for citizenship judges.
The department has a backlog of 350,000 citizenship applications by permanent residents. The new system should cut down the processing time to less than a year by 2016, from the current 24 to 36 months.
February 06, 2014
Temporary Resident Visa Fee Changes
Visitors to Canada will automatically be considered for a multiple-entry visa, starting on February 6, 2014. Multiple-entry visas allow qualified visitors to come and go from Canada for six months at a time for up to 10 years without having to reapply each time.
The fee for the temporary resident visa (TRV) program will now be reduced from $150 to $100 for the processing of either a single- or multiple-entry visa. Study permit is now $150, work permits are $155. Extensions and renewals will also see a slight increase in processing fees.
February 04, 2014
Twice the Number of New Citizens Welcomed in January 2014
- In January 2013, 8,250 people obtained Canadian citizenship. In January 2014, more than 16,000 people became citizens at 244 citizenship ceremonies held across the country.
- The citizenship ceremony is the last step before becoming a Canadian citizen and taking on the rights and responsibilities that come with citizenship.
- The new Canadians welcomed into the Canadian family in January 2014 came from 190 different countries.
- In 2013, 10,745 people were granted citizenship, on average, each month.
- Since 2006, Canada has welcomed the highest sustained levels of immigration in Canadian history – an average of 257,000 newcomers each year. Accordingly, the demand for citizenship has increased by 30%.
- Census data show 86% of eligible permanent residents become Canadian citizens.
February 03, 2014
5,000 Complete Parent & Grandparent Applications Received
As promised, earlier this year, the government reopened the PGP program to accept 5,000 new applications. As Citizenship and Immigration Canada has now received 5,000 complete applications, new intake into the PGP program will again pause until next year. By the end of 2014, Canada expects to welcome an additional 20,000 parents and grandparents to Canada, marking a substantial reduction in wait times for all applicants.
Canada continues to have the most generous family reunification program in the developed world. With the Super Visa, parents and grandparents can visit their families in Canada more quickly and conveniently. To date, more than 28,000 Super Visas have been issued and almost 98 per cent of Super Visa applicants who met the requirements were approved.
The PGP program will re-open to new applications in January 2015. Further details will be available closer to that date.
January 30, 2014
Ontario Certificate Now Accepted by Citizenship and Immigration Canada
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will accept certificates from individuals who complete Ontario’s provincial language training program as proof of language ability for the purpose of applying for citizenship, Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced today. The acceptance of this language training program will facilitate access to citizenship for Ontario applicants.
Applicants for citizenship must provide evidence of language ability from CIC’s list of acceptable evidence, which includes results from third party tests, academic certificates, and certificates from government-funded language training programs. Ontario’s provincial Adult Non-Credit Language Training Program will now be accepted as proof that citizenship applicants meet language knowledge requirements.
January 29, 2014
Justin Bieber Deportation Petition
In the lighter side of immigration news…
More than 116,000 Americans have signed a petition asking the White House to deport Canadian pop star Justin Bieber, meaning the White House must now craft an official response.
Following his recent arrest and DUI charge in Miami, a petition was launched on the White House ‘We the People’ website on Jan. 23, asking American officials to revoke Bieber’s green card.
“We the people of the United States feel that we are being wrongly represented in the world of pop culture,” the petition reads. “We would like to see the dangerous, reckless, destructive, and drug abusing Justin Bieber deported and his green card revoked. He is not only threatening the safety of our people but he is also a terrible influence on our nation’s youth. “We the people would like to remove Justin Bieber from our society,” it continues.
The White House must provide an official response if a petition reached 100,000 signatures; the Bieber petition hit that crucial threshold on Wednesday morning. But the petition showed no signs of slowing down by mid-afternoon, when total number of signatures reached nearly 117,000.
Bieber’s Miami arrest is the latest in a string of recent missteps for the teenage pop star.
The pop star made headlines last year for clashing with a paparazzo, being photographed smoking marijuana, and abandoning a pet monkey in Germany. Earlier this month, detectives searched his California home looking for evidence that the singer was involved in an incident of egg-tossing vandalism that allegedly caused thousands of dollars in damage to a neighbour’s home.
Police have said that Bieber remains under investigation in that case, which could result in a felony vandalism charge. He is due to answer to the DUI charge in a Florida over on Valentine’s Day, after the judge set a Feb. 14 arraignment date.
January 27, 2014
Canada Border Services Agency to Increase Information Sharing
Questions were raised Monday over the new CBSA policy and privacy rights as the agency moves to share border information with other federal departments. It is being anticipated the information will be increasingly passed on so federal departments can pursue health card, immigration and tax violations.
Personal information collected by CBSA can include a traveller’s name, date of birth, nationality, sex, document type, document number, work location, date and time of entry.
Canada and U.S. currently share entry data at all land border crossings of third-country nationals, permanent residents, visitors, foreign students and those on work permits. Starting this summer, the program will include every Canadian travelling through land border crossings such as Windsor-Detroit.
Canada will also soon develop an exit record system – similar to the U.S. – where airlines are called upon to submit passenger info on outbound international flights.
The CBSA wouldn’t specify which departments would have access, but added the data wouldn’t be shared with the provinces.
January 27, 2014
Temporary Foreign Program Revision to Come
The Canadian government is preparing a second round of changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, as Canadian employers warn an overhaul last year has interfered with their ability to recruit top talent.
The federal government overhauled the program last April in a bid to see Canadians getting first crack at jobs. Since then, the time needed for an approval, known as a Labour Market Opinion (LMO), to bring in foreign workers of all skill levels has ballooned and now takes months – too long, in the eyes of many in the private sector.
Employment Minister Jason Kenney is now pledging a second round of reforms within the next two or three months, including the “likelihood” of a new fast-track system for high-skill positions. “I’ll ask those who are frustrated with the slow processing now just to be a little bit more patient,” Mr. Kenney told The Globe and Mail.
January 02, 2014
Parent & Grandparent Program Re-Opens
Today marks the re-opening of the highly popular Parent & Grandparent Sponsorship Program. Only the first 5,000 completed applications will be processed — the government has typically received about 40,000 parent and grandparent applications each year. ***Cap has been reached***