BURLINGTON, Ont. – Robert W. Young, a partner at Eisenberg & Young LLP, Hamilton area’s largest law firm practicing exclusively Immigration, Citizenship and Refugee Law, addressed over 100 attendees on “New Immigration System and Settlement Sector Challenges” on January 19, 2015. The free event was organized and hosted by The Centre for Skills Development & Training (The Centre) as part of its role in educating, updating and creating awareness among its stakeholders and the general public.
Young highlighted opening and re-opening of parent/grandparent sponsorships and “super visas”, changes to refugee processing, changes to Citizenship act and the new rules about sponsorship of spouses, common-law partners and children. He also discussed the new “Express Entry” system, the current and proposed work permit procedures and some of the common problems encountered when applying for temporary visas.
“Lots of citizenship and immigration legislations have been dropped on us over the last eight months,” said Young. “Some immigration categories got terminated such as the Federal Immigrant Investor and Entrepreneur Programs and many new procedures are now in place.”
In the recent past, there used to be community groups and churches that signed contracts with the government to sponsor refugees. Now, the only way to access the refugee program is getting the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR) to admit a specific person as a refugee. “This is impossible with what is going on in the world right now,” said Young.
According to the new refugee system taking place in Canada, nationals from Designated Countries of Origin (DCO) have reduced rights in the refugee process. More than 40 countries from Europe, Australia and America have made the list. The aim of the DCO policy is to deter abuse of the refugee system by people who come from countries generally considered safe. Refugee claimants from DCOs will have their claims processed faster to ensure that people in need get protection fast, while those with unfounded claims get back to their countries quickly through expedited processing.
Additionally, Young addressed the new measures for Canadian employers and foreign workers. He explained that there are two kinds of foreign workers in Canada – those who need a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), and those who are LMIA-exempt. An LMIA shows whether Canadians are available, or if there is a need for foreign workers.
Young also spoke about the Temporary Foreign Worker Program review, which resulted in a number of changes being introduced for foreign workers in Canada and the Canadian employers who are hiring them. Among the changes, LMIA-exempt foreign workers will now be part of the newly named International Mobility Program. This will distinguish them from foreign workers who need a LMIA to enter Canada through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. “To get an LMIA, employers must advertise in three places for four weeks on the Job Bank, on a country wide online job board such as Workopolis and on any other program of their choice,” said Young.
The Citizenship Act has also witnessed many changes. For example, a permanent resident is now required to live in Canada for four out of six years instead of three out of four years for citizenship eligibility. Moreover, a person should be physically present in Canada for a minimum of 183 days per year in four out of six years which was not previously a requirement. Under the new Citizenship Act a person cannot count time spent as a non-permanent resident toward residence for citizenship though he/she used to be able to count that time in the past.
As of January 2015, Young continued, CIC introduced a new electronic system called Express Entry to manage applications for permanent residence under certain economic immigration programs.
Potential candidates can complete an Express Entry profile at any time with no specific deadline and no caps on the number of candidates that will be accepted to the pool. Anyone who is accepted into the Express Entry pool could get an invitation to apply for permanent residence. Draws to invite candidates will take place regularly over the course of each year. Only top ranking candidates will be picked. Candidates will have 60 days to submit a complete application for permanent residence online. The first draw for an invitation to apply is planned for the last week of January 2015.
Changes also occurred on family sponsorship. Starting Aug. 1, 2014 Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has changed its definition of a dependent child for its immigration programs. “Parents will only be able to sponsor children under 19 and unmarried with the exception of disabled children, said Young. “This is hurtful to families.”
On the other hand, Young said that parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens and permanent residents intending to obtain temporary residence to visit their close relatives may apply for extended visitors’ visas known as Super Visas. Eligible parents and grandparents can apply for a single entry or multiple entries Super Visa. The maximum validity date for the multiple entries Super Visa is ten years, or one month prior to the applicant’s passport’s expiry, whichever is earlier. Within that time, Super Visa holders can remain in Canada for periods of up to 2-years. In comparison, a regular visitor visa is usually valid for a maximum period of 6-months.
“Immigration applications are becoming more and more complicated now,” said Young. “Make sure to capture every family member on the application. No future sponsorships are allowed.”
This article summarizes the presentation Robert Young gave to the audience of The Centre for Skills Development & Training on “New Immigration System and Settlement Sector Challenges”. Information in this article is not intended as an alternative to legal advice provided from an appropriately qualified professional. People with specific questions about citizenship and/or immigration matters should consult an appropriately qualified professional.
Robert W. Young, B.A., LLB, C.S., is a certified specialist in Citizenship & Immigration Law: Immigration/Refugee Protection at Eisenberg and Young LLP. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org