Atlantic premiers and federal ministers announce immigration boost

 



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WATCH ABOVE: The Atlantic premiers along with the federal Liberals have announced details of a pilot project designed to spur the region’s lacklustre economy. Global’s Marieke Walsh has the details on a program that could bring 2,000 more immigrants and their families to the East Coast.
The Atlantic premiers have announced details of a first-in-Canada pilot project designed to boost the region’s flagging economy through immigration, with a particular focus on ensuring that newcomers don’t join the steady stream of outmigration to other parts of the country.

Under the plan, the government will accept up to 2,000 immigrant applications in 2017, with increased numbers in the following years depending on performance.
“So it could be something like 4,000 people, and that number is scheduled to rise in coming years, depending on how well we do,” said John McCallum, the federal minister of immigration.
He said the immigration component will be largely driven by the provincial governments and their specific needs.

“We will be open to a variety of skill classes, and we, in my office, will work with each government to develop a plan specific to their own province with a focus on particular occupations, particular regions and with a focus on engaging companies to not only recruit the immigrants but to undertake measures to keep them here,” he said.

The details were announced Monday at a meeting in Prince Edward Island of the premiers and a number of federal cabinet ministers.

Program to pilot in Atlantic Canada

McCallum said the two levels of government will look for ways to ensure that once immigrants arrive, they’ll stay in a particular region. He said that could include efforts to expedite credentials for different jobs.

He said while the program will be a pilot project in Atlantic Canada, it could be the model for the rest of the country in years to come.

When asked what’s being done to entice people who have left their provinces to return, New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant said attracting new people and repatriating residents is all part of the same effort.

Prince Edward Island Premier Wade MacLauchlan agreed.

“I truly believe by succeeding on immigration we will make Prince Edward Island a more attractive place in terms of repatriation,” MacLauchlan said.
He said the workforce in his province must grow in order to create sustained prosperity.

Existing unemployed residents won’t be overlooked

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball said while increased immigration is necessary, it doesn’t mean that existing residents that are unemployed will be overlooked.

“Newfoundland and Labrador will always continue to invest in our residents who are ready and looking for employment. We will continue to train those that are under-skilled and looking for work,” he said.

Ball also stressed that the immigration plan is only one of the five pillars in the new Atlantic Growth Strategy.

Details will later be announced dealing with innovation, clean growth and climate change, trade and investment, and infrastructure.

“Our fundamental goal is to increase the number of good paying jobs and opportunities here in Atlantic Canada,” said Navdeep Bains, minister of innovation, science and economic development.

He said the growth strategy won’t be just another report that gathers dust.

“It’s legitimately about us focusing on areas of action and we can really move the agenda forward in a collaborative manner where we align our priorities and resources and we are outcome driven,” he said.
© 2016 The Canadian Press

Canada’s new passport requirements come into effect this month


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WATCH: Here’s what you need to know about Canada’s new passport requirements coming into effect
Canada’s new passport requirements come into effect in late September, forcing Canadians with dual citizenship to carry a valid Canadian passport to enter the country when travelling by air.

Starting September 30, all air travellers must have the appropriate documents to travel to Canada before boarding their departing flight.
“A valid Canadian passport is the only reliable and universally accepted travel document that provides proof that you are a citizen and have the right to enter Canada without being subjected to immigration screening,” reads a statement posted on the Canadian government website.

READ MORE: Travelling to Europe? Canadians and Americans may require visas soon

The new requirement, known as an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), was introduced earlier this year but hasn’t been strictly enforced. However, the government had been encouraging dual citizens to obtain a valid Canadian passport.

“Leniency will be shown to travellers who are caught unaware until September 29, 2016,” reads a notice on the Government of Canada website.

Prior to the change, Canadians who hold dual citizenship were able to enter Canada with their foreign passports and use a driver’s licence or citizenship card to prove Canadian citizenship. Now, air travellers must have either a valid Canadian passport; a Canadian temporary passport; or a Canadian emergency travel document for proof of citizenship.

READ MORE: How easy is it to travel with a Canadian passport?

The new requirements only currently apply to air travel.

American citizens and American-Canadian citizens can still fly into Canada on a valid U.S. passport.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Canada no longer issuing long-term study permits for international students with conditional offers

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Canada no longer issuing long-term study permits for international students with conditional offers

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced last month that students who needed to complete a pathway or language program prior to continuing on to post-secondary study must now obtain separate study permits for each course.

Before this, students who were accepted to colleges and universities based on the condition that they first complete another course were issued a study permit for the duration of both courses, plus 90 days.

 

 

However, IRCC has said that it will no longer provide study permits for those with conditional offers, and will instead only issue a study permit for the duration of the first course.

A second permit for post-secondary study will then be allotted once the student has proven that they have fulfilled all prerequisites for further study.

According to the notice posted by the IRCC, there were concerns raised regarding the possibility of students abusing the system to find work in the country, as under the previous system, those who did not complete their prerequisite program would still be allowed to work under the study permit.

“Once the prerequisite program has been completed, the student can apply for a new study permit and demonstrate that the requirements of the first program have been met,” it said.

 

 

IRCC explained that the changes were meant to make compliance reporting easier for institutions, adding that “students will not be negatively affected”.

Higher education providers still have their concerns, however, particularly involving delays and additional costs.

Speaking to The PIE News, Gonzalo Peralta, executive director of national language education association Languages Canada, said: “The biggest concern we have, of course, is around delays.”

He said that a student taking a language course over the summer would have a short amount of time to secure a permit that would allow them to continue their studies, as the academic year starts in September.

Peralta estimated that tens of thousands of international students would be affected by the change.

“Are [IRCC] going to be able to handle processing and other 25-40,000 permit renewals per year?” he questioned.

 

 

The association was also worried that students and schools would have to bear extra costs as a result of needing to obtain a second study permit.

“There’s a cost attached to that which is passed onto the student for – we don’t believe – any valid reason, because it’s not going to actually provide any more integrity as far as we’re concerned,” argued Peralta.

Tina Bax, founder and president of CultureWorks, an English for Academic Purposes school, agreed with Peralta, saying: “Adding an additional regulatory hoop for students who want to go on as planned seems silly.

“We used to have that regulation 15 years ago in Canada. It seems as though we’re going backwards.”

 

 

Bax added that there were other methods that the IRCC could employ in order to keep tabs on students without having them apply for two permits.

“Why not require schools to report students who don’t show up, or who leave the program, to IRCC? IRCC could then track whether the student re-enrolled somewhere else,” she suggested.

Image via Unsplash

Source : Study International Staff

Aug 29th, 2016

The Billion Dollar Question: Does Canada Need Business Immigration?

Canada’s immigration minister John McCallum recently announced that the federal government is evaluating the merits of launching a new program to attract immigrant investors to the country.1

Entrepreneur and investor (“business”) immigration programs aim to stimulate economic growth by attracting investment capital, business savvy, and high-net-worth individuals (HNWI) to Canada.

On the one hand, these programs draw talent, investment capital, and spending power to Canada. Yet they have had only mixed success since Canada began to open its doors to business immigrants in 1978. In addition, the impact of such programs on housing affordability, the “sale” of Canadian citizenship, and the extent to which the programs benefit Canada’s economy and society have provoked public concerns.

These concerns raise a billion dollar question: Does Canada need dedicated business immigration programs? According to most Canadian governments, the answer appears to be yes. Today, such programs exist both federally and in 8 of 13 provinces and territories.

Measuring the Economic and Social Value

To what extent have business immigration programs benefitted Canada’s economy? The answer depends on one’s benchmark for success.

If the primary objective is to draw investment capital and spending to Canada, then the federal government’s Immigrant Investor Program (IIP), which was terminated in 2014, and the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program, which continues to operate, have been successful. Between 2007 and 2011, the two programs raised $6.42 billion in investment capital for the governments of Canada and Quebec.2 A 2010 study argued that the main economic benefit of the IIP was the purchasing power of immigrants, who spent significantly on homes, education, and goods and services in Canada.3

However, if the main aim is to attract individuals and investment capital that will lead to business and job creation, then much work lies ahead. Today, most of Canada’s programs set out to achieve this goal. To that end, Canada overhauled its business immigration programs in 2014, as government research found that business immigrants had only limited economic success in Canada, both in terms of their earnings and in running successful businesses.

The social value of the programs also merits examination. Canada seeks immigrants who will socially and culturally integrate into local communities and become engaged citizens. As such, Canada’s business immigration programs contain residency provisions which require foreign nationals to spend a certain length of time in the country to either qualify for or maintain their Canadian permanent resident status, or to become eligible for citizenship. This has created a persistent challenge, as residency requirements may conflict with the fact that entrepreneurs and investors are highly mobile and frequently travel around the world to tend to their business.

The Future of Business Immigration

Luckily, Canada’s extensive experience in this space provides stakeholders with lessons that can be applied when designing the business immigration programs of tomorrow. For these programs to meet Canada’s economic and social objectives, the following considerations must be taken into account.

Canada must be cognizant of the global competition. In the 1980s, Canada was an international pioneer in business immigration, competing with only a handful of countries. The field is much more crowded today, with about 30 countries offering such programs. Canada must continue to keep an eye on the competition in peer nations, and remain malleable enough to glean lessons learned and adopt global best practices at home.

Policy experimentation continues to feature prominently in the programs designed in Canada and elsewhere. Canadian policy-makers often adjust programs to try to create the right incentive structures and conditions for immigrants to facilitate business and job creation in Canada. Program monitoring, refining, and a bit of patience will help achieve Canada’s business immigration goals.

Determining appropriate business immigration intake levels to support economic growth, preventing fraud, limiting burdensome application requirements, and processing applications quickly all remain pivotal to success. At its termination in 2014, the IIP had a backlog of 65,000 applications that would have taken six years to process.4 It is essential to balance these important and challenging responsibilities if Canada wants to remain globally competitive and attract the best and the brightest.

Social issues such as housing affordability and residency requirements require additional scrutiny. Public opinion matters; for these programs to succeed, the Canadian public must be sold on their economic and social benefits to the country. Increasing public awareness of the social benefits, such as the fact that business immigrants are a significant source of charitable contributions, may help ease concerns.

While achieving the aforementioned tasks may appear daunting, Canada’s overall success with immigration should give stakeholders confidence that the country is fully capable of creating successful business immigration programs that benefit Canadians.

Help Shape the Future in December!

In December 2016, the Conference Board is hosting Canada’s first-ever Entrepreneur & Investor Immigration Summit in Toronto.

The two-day summit will convene domestic and international stakeholders from many sectors to discuss the economic and social implications of business immigration programs, and how Canada’s federal, provincial, and territorial programs can be improved.

Your recommendations at the summit will inform a major Conference Board National Immigration Centre report on this topic to be released in early 2017.

Make sure to sign up now!

Upcoming Conference Board Immigration Events: Toronto and Ottawa

This October, the Conference Board hosts Minister John McCallum at a major meeting in Toronto to discuss the future of Canada’s immigration system.

In May 2017, we are hosting our third annual Canadian Immigration Summit in Ottawa, a major two-day event that attracts participants from across the country.

Please contact us if you wish to get involved!

Cape Breton mayoralty candidate unveils immigration plan

Rankin MacSween points to P.E.I.’s success in attracting immigrants

By Wendy Martin, CBC News

Canadian immigration consultancy
Cape Breton Regional Municipality mayoral candidate Rankin MacSween says the island is losing the equivalent of the population of Louisbourg every year. (Wendy Martin/CBC)

A candidate for mayor in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality chose the picturesque but struggling community of Louisbourg, N.S., to unveil his plan for stemming the region’s population decline by increasing immigration.

The CBRM is shrinking by about 1,000 people annually.

Rankin MacSween told a group of supporters at the Louisbourg Fire Hall on Friday that it’s like losing a town the size of Louisbourg year after year.

“As a community, we are in a crisis,” said MacSween. “And don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.”

Losing people, losing schools

He pointed to the decision this spring by the Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board to close 17 schools over the next few years because of declining student enrolments.

MacSween said that, if elected, he would allocate $1 million a year from the municipal budget to try to reverse the population decline, by attracting more immigrants.

He wants to copy Prince Edward Island’s lead in developing a settlement strategy.

“As we’re in decline, they’re growing,” MacSween told about 40 supporters at his announcement.

CBRM mayoralty candidate Rankin MacSween
Cape Breton Regional Municipality mayoralty candidate Rankin MacSween outlines his immigration plan in Louisbourg, N.S. (Wendy Martin/CBC)

P.E.I.’s growing

P.E.I. had the largest population growth in Atlantic Canada over the 10-year period beginning in 2005, up 6.0 per cent to 146,283 in 2014.

That’s due in large part to people moving to P.E.I. from other countries, notably China.

“What’s also notable is that the data points to the fact that those immigrants have done a marvelous job of creating economic opportunity as they’ve come,” MacSween said.

He said while there are a couple of provincially funded positions in the CBRM to welcome newcomers to the area, there’s no one working actively to attract immigrants.

He sees that as a “critical” priority and said it would be worth the municipal investment.

Immigration vs. port development

“I mean, my priority is not to hire political staff. My priority is not to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars around some vague concept around the port, to spend that money on legal fees, and studies and consultants,” MacSween said.

CBRM mayoralty candidate Rankin MacSween in Louisbourg
CBRM mayoralty candidate Rankin MacSween addresses voters in Louisbourg. (Wendy Martin/CBC)

That’s a clear reference to the incumbent mayor, Cecil Clarke, who has made the development of Sydney’s port and the construction of a container terminal his top economic priority.

Jean Bagnell of Louisbourg says she welcomes any plan that might help reinvigorate the community.

“When I was a kid growing up, we had shipping here. The place was going and going, bus service and the trains, and all that went down the way,” said Bagnell.

Municipal and school board elections will be held across Nova Scotia on Oct. 15, 2016.

 

Canadian government signals renewed openness to international students

International graduates of Canadian universities are “the perfect candidates” for citizenship, says immigration minister

Canadian-educated international students are exactly the sort of would-be immigrants this country should be courting, the federal government has said as it moves on election promises to make immigration policy friendlier to international graduates of Canadian postsecondary institutions.

The government’s first step came in late February when it introduced legislation repealing changes made under the previous Conservative government’s controversial Bill C-24 of 2015. Although the Conservatives had made adjustments over time that generally made immigration policy more favourable to international students, Bill C-24, enforced in their last year in office, made it harder for international graduates of Canadian postsecondary programs to qualify for citizenship.

The federal Liberal government announced that it would reverse sections in C-24 that increased a residency requirement from three years to four and eliminated applicants’ ability to count half of their Canadian study time, up to one year, towards their residency, which was specifically mentioned in the Liberals’ fall election platform.

“International students are the perfect candidates to become Canadian citizens and we are seeking them out, as are other countries around the world,” immigration minister John McCallum told a news conference before the introduction of the new legislation, called Bill C-6. “It makes no sense for Canada to punch them in the nose by taking away their 50 percent [residency] credit.”

In mid-March, Mr. McCallum also told reporters that his department would be setting up talks between the federal government and provincial officials to look at how to reform Canada’s Express Entry system. That system, in place since June 2015, is often the first step to permanent residency for international students who have completed their Canadian postsecondary programs and who wish to live and work in Canada long-term.

Express Entry has been criticized for putting those graduates in direct competition with other skilled foreign workers, rather than assessing them as a separate category as they used to be, and not valuing their Canadian education as highly as before. Mr. McCallum said foreign students had been “shortchanged” by Express Entry and that more needed to be done to attract them to Canada and encourage them to become permanent residents. The federal-provincial review of the system was just getting underway as of early May.

The changes to citizenship requirements and the plan to review the path to permanent residency are “positive signals,” said Amit Chakma, president of Western University and chair of the federal government’s Advisory Panel on Canada’s International Education Strategy. The panel’s 2012 final report recommended that Canada double the 239,000 international students it receives within a decade to build the country’s future prosperity. As of 2014, Canada had 336,000 international students, nearly 80 percent of them at the postsecondary level.

When it comes to Express Entry, Dr. Chakma supports returning to a separate assessment category for international student graduates. “It all depends on what they [the government] come up with, but I certainly welcome their willingness to look at some of the challenges we are facing.”

Steffi Hamann, a PhD candidate from Germany, said the government’s announcements make her “feel really good” about her decision to continue her academic career in this country. Ms. Hamann came to the University of Guelph in 2012 on an Ontario Trillium Scholarshipdesigned to attract the best and brightest foreign PhD candidates.

Now in her last year of a doctorate in political science and international development studies, looking at food security, Ms. Hamann hopes to avoid the Express Entry competition to permanent residency by applying through Ontario’s Immigrant Nominee Program. It has a specific stream just for PhD graduates (most provinces and territories can nominate a certain number of permanent residency applicants that they feel best meet the province’s needs). That stream also eliminates the need for her to already have a year’s worth of full-time Canadian skilled work experience, generally required under Express Entry.

Still, while she says Canada is more welcoming than many countries, she said there was panic and disappointment last year when international students learned they would no longer be assessed in their own separate category for permanent residency, especially since many pay higher tuition fees that can reach beyond $40,000 a year for some programs. “There’s a sense … that we made this investment and [we’ve] clearly indicated that we value being educated in this particular country, so it was a bit of a slap in the face,” she said.

Slow processing times for study visas can also be a sore spot for international students. “There’s always complaints about that,” said Navneet Khinda, president of the University of Alberta Students’ Union, adding that clarifying and simplifying all the immigration processes international students face would help too. The Canadian Bureau for International Education reported a 30 per cent increase in study permit processing times in 2015. However Citizenship and Immigration Canada says processing times have improved, with an average of 38 days in 2015 compared to 48 days in 2013 and even fewer days for students from Canada’s top source countries, such as China and India.

The CBIE “hopes that the government will make it easier for international students to get study and work permits in a timely manner, as well as create clear pathways to permanent residency for those international students who choose to stay and contribute to Canada’s future,” said the organization’s president Karen McBride in an emailed statement.

International graduates of Canadian postsecondary programs reported having a harder time under Express Entry initially because they usually lacked a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) filed by an employer to show whether a foreign worker is needed to fill a job. While not required to apply for permanent residency, having an LMIA automatically gave a substantial boost to the number of points the applicant received under the Express Entry system. The immigration department has acknowledged that almost all those successful in the early rounds of the new system had LMIAs, but that has since changed. Some 22 percent of those invited to apply for permanent residency out of the Express Entry system in 2015 had previously held a Canadian study permit.

The CBIE commented that while the system initially seemed unfavourable to international students, the immigration department does seem open to making adjustments and that in the long run it may end up being even more beneficial to international students due to its faster processing time. It also said that it is too early to verify what the overall effect of immigration policy changes over the last year has been on international student choices vis-à-vis Canada.

Toronto immigration lawyer Guidy Mamann also had initial concerns about Express Entry but said it is shaping up to be a good system that will favour the Canadian experience international students already have. “Provided they apply properly and are properly advised, they are almost a shoe-in for Canadian permanent residency,” said Mr. Mamann, who has acted for thousands of international students over the years.

Regardless of the details though, sending out a clear, positive message of welcome to international students will make more of a difference to their choices than a process that may ultimately favour them but is too cumbersome to easily understand, said Dr. Chakma. “When they have other opportunities, anything that can be perceived to be a barrier becomes negative,” he said. “Signals matter.”

 

 

By MOIRA MACDONALD | May 10, 2016

Source : University Affairs

Changes to Canada’s immigration policy will benefit international students and families, says minister

New system will reduce wait-times for family reunification, says Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum

 

Immigration consultant Toronto
A townhall discussion on immigration topics was held at the Unifor Banquet Hall Thursday evening. Listening to community feedback, from left, Brampton South MP Sonia Sidhu, Brampton West MP Kamal Khera, John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Citizenship and Refugees, and Brampton East MP Raj Grewal. Sept 1, 2016.

International students pursuing post-secondary education in Canada are being short-changed by unfriendly policies and laws that make it difficult for them to become Canadian citizens, said Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum.

An announcement in the fall will change that scenario, the minister promised.

McCallum, who appeared in Brampton on Thursday for an immigration town hall hosted by Brampton West MP Kamal Khera also hinted at the possibility of other reforms including: an increase to the number of immigrants Canada will admit in the coming years, quicker processing of applications for family reunification program and increase in funding for resettlement programs.

“International students are not treated well in the current system,” McCallum said. “International students are among the most promising group of immigrants–they are young, can speak English or French and know about Canada. So, we’re going to give them more points under express entry and make it easier for them to become permanent residents.”

In a previous town hall meeting in Brampton, McCallum told media, the Liberals plan on admitting up to 305,000 newcomers in 2016, as opposed to the 285,000 the Conservative had earmarked for 2015.

Also, the current government hopes to issue up to 20,000 visas in the parent and grandparent sponsorship applications category.

“The single-most important commitment we made in the election campaign was to substantially reduce the processing time for the families,” the minister said. “We’re working right now to reduce the inventory of people waiting. We will be announcing a new system in the fall which will substantially reduce the processing time for family unification.”

Asked whether the government planned to do anything to create incentives and job opportunities for new immigrants to settle in other provinces and places instead of a few select cities, the minister said the government has been working with communities and companies across Canada to ensure they are immigrant-friendly.

In Atlantic Canada, the Liberal government has been working to introduce a system that would speed-up the accreditation process of foreign degrees, he said.

“Canada was built by immigrants and immigrants will continue to build the country, especially now since we have an aging population,” he said. “I have had consultations across the country throughout the summer and just about everywhere I go, including Alberta, people are saying, at least in the medium term, we need more immigrants.”

Brampton Guardian