12 January 2017.

The government of Ontario has made a number of important announcements regarding its Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP), one of Canada’s Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs). Through these programs, provinces may welcome newcomers who will be able to settle into life in the region and effectively contribute to the community. As Canada’s most populated province, Ontario continues to be a popular immigration destination.
On January 12, the provincial government stated the following on its website:
‘The Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) has fulfilled its 2016 federal nomination allocation. The OINP will continue to process applications. Any additional nominations will go towards Ontario’s 2017 allocation. The OINP will continue to introduce online application systems in 2017 to make it easier for clients to apply and improve processing times.’
The move towards more online application systems is in line with the latest trends in Canadian immigration processing at the federal and provincial levels. The most well-known example of this move toward online processing is the federal Express Entry selection system. Indeed, the OINP includes two streams aligned with Express Entry: the Human Capital Priorities Stream (currently closed to new applications) and the French-Speaking Skilled Worker Stream (currently open to new applications).
In May, 2016, the OINP announced that is was placing a temporary pause on the intake of new applications under certain streams. The province stressed the temporary nature of this pause, and it is expected that streams will reopen or be launched in the near future.
The current status of OINP may be reviewed in the table below.
OINP Stream Status Additional Notes
Human Capital Priorities Temporary pause on Notifications of Interest (NOIs) being sent as of February 16, 2016. Aligned with federal Express Entry system.
French-Speaking Skilled Worker Open — OINP continues to accept and process applications. Aligned with federal Express Entry system.
Temporary pause in effect as of May 9, 2016. Job offer not required.
Temporary pause in effect as of May 9, 2016. Job offer not required.
International Student with a Job Offer Open to eligible candidates whose job offer has been approved through the Employer Pre-screen application process. Previous education requirement is not Ontario-specific; graduates who studied in any province may be eligible.
Foreign Worker Open to eligible candidates whose job offer has been approved through the Employer Pre-screen application process. Job offer must meet the prevailing wage level in Ontario for that occupation.
Corporate Open — OINP continues to accept and process applications. Successful applicants obtain Temporary Work Permits before Permanent Resident status may be obtained.
Entrepreneur Open — OINP continues to accept Expressions of Interest. Successful applicants obtain Temporary Work Permits before Permanent Resident status may be obtained.

New application package from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) clarifies the application process for sponsoring a spouse or common-law partner.

Canada’s spousal and common-law partner sponsorship immigration program has been responsible for reuniting many thousands of couples and families, and is one of the many progressive features of Canada’s immigration system that set it apart from other nations’ policies. However, the spousal sponsorship immigration program is monitored to detect what are known as “marriages of convenience.”
A marriage of convenience is defined as a relationship that is entered into primarily for the purposes of immigration, and therefore is not genuine. Visa officers have a number of tools at their disposal to detect marriage fraud, including document checklists, interviews, and home visits. Coupled with these measures, IRCC has recently released detailed application packages for individuals sponsoring a spouse or common-law partner. These application packages, introduced in December 2016, clarify the document requirements for applicants.

By the numbers

According to the latest data from IRCC, 2,288 applications for spousal sponsorship were refused in 2015 because the applicants were deemed to be in a marriage of convenience. This represents 6.1 percent of all permanent residence applications that were refused that year. Between 2013 and 2015, 119,838 permanent residence applications were refused, of which 5.1 percent were in the spousal sponsorship class. As of January 8, 2016, 778 applications were being investigated under suspicion of a marriage of convenience.
The data clearly demonstrates that the vast majority of applications to sponsor a spouse or partner are recognised as genuine. IRCC’s overview as of June 2016 showed an approval rate of 86 percent for applications submitted under spousal/common-law partner and dependent child sponsorship classes.
There are two grounds for refusal of an application for spousal or common-law partnership, centred around the definition of a genuine relationship. A visa officer may refuse an application on the grounds that the relationship was entered into for the purposes of immigration, or is not genuine — i.e., a marriage of convenience. A second grounds for refusal occurs if a person breaks off a genuine relationship in order to enter into another relationship for the purposes of immigration, and then resumes the former relationship in order to sponsor that spouse/common-law partner for permanent residence.

Proving a genuine relationship

Genuine couples may provide a wide range of documents and proofs of their relationship during the application process. Documents proving shared finances and shared property ownership or rental carry weight in an application, but a couple does not have to be living together at the time of submitting an application in order to prove a genuine relationship. Photographs, travel itineraries, insurance policies, wills, and further documents may all be considered in the processing of an application.
As the above brief overview of document requirements demonstrates, visa officers take a wide range of documents into account when assessing the genuineness of a relationship. If an officer is in doubt, he or she may request further documents. The applicants may also be called to interview — in which case, the spouses or partners are generally interviewed separately. Under the principle of procedural fairness, further documents or an interview are requested before a refusal may be issued, and the results of further documents or an interview may also result in a positive outcome for the applicants.

Commitment to reunification

The government has set itself a target to welcome 64,000 new Canadians applying through the spousal/common-law partner and dependent child sponsorship classes in 2017. IRCC has introduced measures to improve the application and settlement process for sponsored spouses and common-law partners. These measures include decreasing application processing times to 12 months, and a commitment to repealing the conditional permanent residence clause in 2017.

About 1,400 immigrants a year ordered removed from Canada for residency non-compliance

The number of permanent residents issued removal orders at port of entry has risen from 605 in 2008 to 1,413 in 2014.

An average of about 1,400 Canadian immigrants are intercepted at the border each year and ordered removed from the country for not fulfilling their residency obligations, the Star has learned.

Although these newcomers can appeal to a tribunal to restore their permanent resident status under humanitarian considerations, only one in 10 succeeds in the process, according to government data.

“The tribunal is supposed to be immigrants’ last resort as the Parliament has given it the discretionary power to give immigrants a second chance if they breach the law,” said immigration lawyer Lawrence Wong, who obtained the data through an access to information request.

“But that second chance in reality is hard to come by. The national sentiment is pretty much the same. If you are an immigrant, don’t make a mistake. If you do, we want to see you kicked out.”

It’s believed to be the first time data about the loss of permanent residency at ports of entry has been made public, revealing the extent of residency noncompliance among immigrants trying to get back to Canada after lengthy stays overseas, said Wong.

Canada’s immigration law requires permanent residents to be physically present in Canada for at least 730 days in every five-year period in order to maintain their status. Otherwise, their residency will be revoked.

According to the Canada Border Services Agency, on average 1,423 permanent residents a year were stopped at the border for failing the requirement from 2010 to 2014, the most recent statistics available. During the period, Canada accepted some 260,000 newcomers annually.

The number of removal orders issued against these individuals had risen sharply to 1,413 in 2014 from 605 in 2008, when former Conservative Immigration Minister Jason Kenney took over the department and cracked down on fraud.

Across Canada, Quebec had the highest detection rate; more than a third of the removal orders were issued in the province against the non-compliant immigrants returning to Canada.

Between 2008 and 2014, a total of 3,575 immigrants were slapped with removal orders for residency non-compliance at Pierre Elliot Trudeau airport in Montreal, dwarfing the 439 and 972 people respectively intercepted at Toronto’s Pearson airport and the Vancouver International Airport.

The numbers do not include those who had their permanent residency revoked due to criminality and misrepresentation, who were refused travel documents to return to Canada or who applied to voluntarily relinquish their permanent residence.

While all these immigrants who lost their status can appeal to the immigration appeal division based on errors in law or humanitarian and compassionate grounds such as hardship from separation with family in Canada, the border services agency data show their success rate hovers at about 10 per cent — and has declined in the past few years.

Those who successfully restored their permanent resident status dropped significantly from 127 or 17 per cent of 746 appellants in 2008 to 78 or 7.7 per cent of 1,008 people in 2014.

“Once you are issued a removal order, the chances of saving your permanent status are really very limited,” said Wong.

Ontario to Introduce Online Immigration Application Systems and Improve Processing Times

The government of Ontario has made a number of important announcements regarding its Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP), one of Canada’s Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs). Through these programs, provinces may welcome newcomers who will be able to settle into life in the region and effectively contribute to the community. As Canada’s most populated province, Ontario continues to be a popular immigration destination.
On January 12, the provincial government stated the following on its website:
‘The Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) has fulfilled its 2016 federal nomination allocation. The OINP will continue to process applications. Any additional nominations will go towards Ontario’s 2017 allocation. The OINP will continue to introduce online application systems in 2017 to make it easier for clients to apply and improve processing times.’
The move towards more online application systems is in line with the latest trends in Canadian immigration processing at the federal and provincial levels. The most well-known example of this move toward online processing is the federal Express Entry selection system. Indeed, the OINP includes two streams aligned with Express Entry: the Human Capital Priorities Stream (currently closed to new applications) and the French-Speaking Skilled Worker Stream (currently open to new applications).
In May, 2016, the OINP announced that is was placing a temporary pause on the intake of new applications under certain streams. The province stressed the temporary nature of this pause, and it is expected that streams will reopen or be launched in the near future.
The current status of OINP may be reviewed in the table below.
OINP Stream Status Additional Notes
Human Capital Priorities Temporary pause on Notifications of Interest (NOIs) being sent as of February 16, 2016. Aligned with federal Express Entry system.
French-Speaking Skilled Worker Open — OINP continues to accept and process applications. Aligned with federal Express Entry system.
Temporary pause in effect as of May 9, 2016. Job offer not required.
Temporary pause in effect as of May 9, 2016. Job offer not required.
International Student with a Job Offer Open to eligible candidates whose job offer has been approved through the Employer Pre-screen application process. Previous education requirement is not Ontario-specific; graduates who studied in any province may be eligible.
Foreign Worker Open to eligible candidates whose job offer has been approved through the Employer Pre-screen application process. Job offer must meet the prevailing wage level in Ontario for that occupation.
Corporate Open — OINP continues to accept and process applications. Successful applicants obtain Temporary Work Permits before Permanent Resident status may be obtained.
Entrepreneur Open — OINP continues to accept Expressions of Interest. Successful applicants obtain Temporary Work Permits before Permanent Resident status may be obtained.