Canadian Citizenship – Testing

Posted by Nina Modi|Canada Immigration
Jan 14
24


There has been a decline in the number of Canadian citizenships granted over the last few years, from 176,572 in 2008 to 113,142 in 2012, according to a report by University of Ottawa sociology professor Elke Winter.  Meanwhile, during the same period, the number of citizenship applications received grew from 242,400 to 317,440.  The numbers would indicate that the process is getting longer and harder. 

One of the difficulties is that there is a more demanding citizenship test as well as stricter language requirements.  This has led to a backlog and lengthened the processing times.  It is currently taking over two years to process routine Canadian citizenship applications and three years for cases where applicants are required to fill out a residence questionnaire to prove their physical presence in Canada.

Despite these rigid measures, more than 75 per cent of Canadian permanent residents are eventually granted citizenship.

Naturally the citizen examination process contributes significantly to this backlog.  To remedy this, CIC issued a statement on 16 January 2014 outlining their policy regarding re-testing applicants who fail the written knowledge test.  CIC has indicated that there will be three options available to the Applicant: Re-test; Withdraw; or Split their file.   

Following all test sessions, CIC staff will communicate to the applicant the results of their test. The staff will provide the applicant with the actual test score, which will allow the applicant to gauge their performance, consider the option to withdraw their citizenship application or to retest. If the applicant fails on their first time, then they may re-write the citizenship test after 4 to 8 weeks. Applicants are only given one opportunity to re-write, and if they fail the test a second time they will be scheduled for an oral interview with a citizenship judge.  These wait times are very long.

If there is more than one applicant on the file, and one of them passes, then CIC will split the file to allow the successful family members to proceed through the rest of the process immediately, rather than waiting for the hearing of other family member(s) to be completed.

If the Applicant is 55 years of age or above, the application can be removed from the hearing inventory and be referred to the judge for a paper review and decision if there are no other concerns with the file.

CIC has implemented this “triage” process in order to expedite the hearing process; and since the pathway to citizenship is well over two years, we can only hope that the measures are effective. 


Posted by Nina Modi »

SINP Cap Reached

Jan 14
20


As of January 10, 2014, the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP), category for international skilled workers without a job offer has been filled. This is the first year for this category and the cap was set at 250 applications.  This category is the first to fill its quota for 2014.   Applications submitted after the quota has been filled will not be held in a queue, they will be returned to the applicant.  All other SINP immigration categories remain open, except for the Entrepreneur Category which remains under review.

Given the popularity of this category, it will be interesting to see if the international skilled workers without a job offer category remains the same or if caps will be increased in 2015.

For more information on this or any other Canadian or US immigration matters, please contact PricewaterhouseCoopers Immigration Law LLP – Immigration Lawyers at 1-800-993-9971 or pwcimmigrationlaw-info@ca.pwc.com


Posted by Vian Sulevani »

Canada-India Immigration Numbers

Posted by Vian Sulevani|Canada Immigration
Jan 14
13


Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has released a statement that Canada continues to be the destination of choice for visitors, students and business travelers from India.  Minister of State (Multiculturalism), Tim Uppal, said that “Canada and India share close people-to-people ties, which are demonstrated by the large numbers of Indians coming to Canada to work, study and visit.” CIC confirmed that between January and December 2013, 84,672 visitor visas were issued and 13,613 study permits were issued.

In addition, the Business Express Program (BEP), which has been in place since June 2008, is open to businesses invited by the High Commission, that have good immigration track records and who have a significant number of business visitors destined to Canada.   Businesses registered can submit visa applications through the facilitated process, which includes less paperwork, priority processing of visa applications, and a dedicated service to respond to the needs of those within the program. Between January and December 2013, 2,793 visas were issued under the BEP.

These numbers demonstrate Canada’s continued commitment to facilitating linkages with India in 2014. 

For more information on this or any other Canadian or US immigration matters, please contact PricewaterhouseCoopers Immigration Law LLP – Immigration Lawyers at 1-800-993-9971 or pwcimmigrationlaw-info@ca.pwc.com.


Posted by Vian Sulevani »

CIC Urged by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce to Speed Up Applications

Posted by Nina Modi|Canada Immigration
Jan 14
10


The Ontario Chamber of Commerce has issued a statement saying that Ontario employers are at a disadvantage in acquiring the services of foreign skilled workers due to the high processing times of applications.  This is highlighted by the fact that other countries are processing similar types of applications in just two months. 

How can Ontario realistically expect to attract the world’s most talented individuals when they have to wait an exorbitant amount of time?  The lengthy processing times force potential employees into untenable situations where they cannot plan for this future, this is made especially difficult when they have families who are likely to accompany them.  Meanwhile, employers often have to wait for years before they can have their desired employee begin working with them as a permanent resident. 

CIC has announced the opening of the Expression of Interest (EOI) Program which will be replacing the old “first-in, first-out” program that has led to long queues for immigrants.  However, the processing time of the EOI is still expected to be over six months, which when compared to Australia’s 58 days, is still quite high. 

Ontario’s unemployment rate is historically high, yet many employers are unable to find skilled workers.  Despite our human capital, Ontario is suffering from a labour shortage and this is acting as a barrier to economic growth and prosperity. In order to address this and to be in line with a 21st century workforce, there not only needs to be renewed focus on building our domestic labour force, but also, it means building a fast and responsive immigration system that attracts the best and brightest to Ontario.  

It is hopeful that CIC heeds the calls from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce for the EOI to have reduced processing times, which will ultimately represent an opportunity to Ontario and its employers. 


Posted by Nina Modi »

Happy 2014! New Year – New Immigration

Jan 14
3


Citizenship and Immigration Canada has taken the new year as an opportunity to update, introduce, and amend a variety of Canadian Immigration programs.  The start of 2014 has been very busy in the Immigration world and below I provide a summary of the changes we have seen over the last week.

1.  The reopening of the Parent and Grandparent Family Class sponsorship Programs, which has newly established annual caps on applications to be accepted, higher financing requirements, as well as longer financial support obligations;

2.  Issuance of New Labour Market Opinion forms requiring employer undertakings to review salaries and positions on an annual basis to ensure continuing compliance, and to allow Service Canada to perform onsite spot checks; and

3.  New Ministerial Instructions for the LMO applications to be refused or revoked, as well as the resulting work permits based on unresolvable non-compliance with the LMO conditions.

 

We were also anticipating that the age of dependent children would also be changed at the beginning of 2014 from 22 (or 24 if continuously a fulltime student), to under 19.  This changes has been temporarily postponed and we currently anticipate that the change will be implemented around May 2014.

Other changes that we can anticipate during 2014 are the following:

1.  Changes to requirements to qualify for citizenship; and

2.  Changes to the requirements for work permits based on Intra-company Transferees.

 

In addition, when we look back at 2013 we also see changes such as the loss of the Accelerated LMO, the regular closing of a variety of visas posts around the world, the movement toward electronic application filing, the re-introduction of the new Federal Skilled Worker Permanent Residence Program and changes to the Canadian Experience Class Permanent Residence Program.

 

It feels like Canadian Immigration has completely changed on almost all fronts in the last year and 2014 promised more of the same.  Immigration in Canada is moving quickly and steadily across all Immigration sectors.  When planning relocations and changes of Immigration status in Canada it is becoming increasingly important to seek professional assistance as Canadian Immigration becomes more complex and demanding.


Posted by Sarah Adler »

Changes to Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program Announced

Posted by Melodie Hughes|Canada Immigration, Temporary Residence
Dec 13
31


Effective December 31, 2013, amendments to Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) come into force, and new Ministerial Instructions issued by the Minister of Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) come into effect.

As a result, employers who want to apply for a labour market opinion (LMO) as of December 31, 2013, need to be aware of the new powers and duties conferred on the Minister of ESDC, and the new conditions employers will be required to comply with, including:

  • Prohibition on the issuance of LMOs to employers in the sex and sex-related trades
  • New LMO Forms and Conditions imposed on employers
  • Greater authority for ESDC to conduct inspections
  • New ministerial instructions to suspect and revoke LMOs, or to refuse to process LMO applications

 

Prohibition on the issuance of LMOs to employers in the sex and sex-related trades

Effective immediately, ESDC will no longer issue an LMO to any employer seeking to hire a temporary foreign worker where the employer’s business involves offering striptease, erotic dance, escort services or erotic massages on a regular basis. This prohibition is designed to protect foreign workers from the risk of abuse and exploitation.

 

New LMO forms and conditions and imposed on employers

As part of the regulatory amendments, employers applying for an LMO will now be required to retain any document relating to the terms and conditions of the foreign worker’s employment for a period of at least 6 years, beginning on the first day of the period of employment for which the foreign worker’s work permit was issued.

In addition, employers will now have greater responsibility in ensuring that reasonable efforts have been made to provide a workplace that is free of abuse, as well as demonstrate efforts to hire or train Canadian citizens or permanent residents, if that was one of the factors that led to the issuance of a positive LMO and work permit.

In line with these changes, ESDC has also introduced new LMO application forms that include modified questions and additional attestations. Effective immediately, all employers seeking to apply for an LMO must complete and sign the new, updated forms.

 

Greater authority to conduct inspections

ESDC/Service Canada officials now have the authority to conduct inspections to verify an employer’s compliance with the conditions of Canada’s immigration regulations, including the terms and conditions of employment confirmed in the company’s previous LMOs and annexes. These inspections are separate from employer compliance reviews and will authorize officers to:

-          Require employers to provide documents that relate to compliance going as far back as 6 years

-          Conduct on-site inspections of any public space or dwelling without a warrant

-          Interview foreign workers and Canadian employees, by consent

For on-site inspections, ESDC has advised that in the majority of cases, advance notice will be given to employers. In the event an employer is found to have been non-compliant without justification or corrective action, employers may be subject to the following repercussions:

-          Bar from hiring foreign workers in Canada for 2 years;

-          Have the company name, address and period of ineligibility published on a public ban list;

-          Receive a negative decision on any pending LMO applications; and/or

-          Have previously-issued LMOs revoked.

 

New ministerial instructions to suspect and revoke LMOs, or to refuse to process LMO applications

As a result of the introduction of new Ministerial Instructions, ESDC may now suspend or revoke LMOs, or refuse to process LMO applications, under identified public policy considerations. ESDC has advised that decisions governing the LMO suspension or revocation will not be taken lightly and that employers facing a suspension or revocation of their LMOs will be contacted and provided an opportunity to respond. ESDC/Service Canada may also refuse to process LMO applications based on the public policy considerations provided in the Ministerial Instructions for selected sectors; regions; or occupational groups.  ESDC will publish on its website, in advance, any information related to any decision made by the government regarding the refusal to process LMO applications for any specified groups. As of December 31, 2013, no such publications have been made.

For more information or to discuss how these changes may impact your business, contact PricewaterhouseCoopers Immigration Law LLP to speak with one of our Canadian immigration professionals.


Posted by Melodie Hughes »