NEWS

New definition of age of dependants now in force

News Release

Expanded definition of dependent children will help more families stay together in Canada

October 27, 2017 – Ottawa, ON – The Government of Canada has changed the definition of the age of dependants from “under 19” to “under 22,” fulfilling a key mandate commitment of the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. This change will help more immigrant families stay together. When newcomer families are able to stay together, their integration into Canada, and their ability to work and contribute to their communities all improve.
This change applies to all new applications received by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on or after October 24, 2017. Parents who want to see if their child qualifies should first check our web tool.
To help even more families stay together, the government has introduced a public policy that would allow for the addition or sponsorship of some children whose parents had existing applications in process on May 3, 2017, or who have applied since that time.
Permanent residence applicants who wish to add or sponsor a child under the public policy can also check our web tool to see if their child qualifies – specifically, if they were 19, 20, or 21 years of age on May 3, 2017, or on the date we received the parents’ application, if between May 3, and October 23, 2017. Applicants should notify IRCC as soon as possible, using a web form, as the notification period will end on January 31, 2018.
Once IRCC has been advised, we will contact applicants directly to tell them what they need to do to sponsor or add their child to their application.
Those who do not qualify as dependants may still have several other options. Visit IRCC’s website to find out the ways someone may be eligible to immigrate to Canada.

Quotes

“By making our immigration program more inclusive, the Government of Canada is demonstrating its commitment to family reunification. Raising the age limit not only benefits immigrants whose families can stay together, it also helps to make Canada a destination of choice for immigrants, leading to significant economic and social benefits for our country.”
 – The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Quick Facts

  • Regulatory changes to increase the maximum age of a dependent child were published on May 3, 2017, with a coming-into-force date of October 24, 2017.
  • Children who are 22 years of age or older and who rely on their parents due to a physical or mental health condition will continue to be considered dependent children.

Determining who is eligible as a dependant under the Public Policy on the Age of Dependants

Backgrounder

Diagramme illustrant les critères d’admissibilité à titre de personne à charge en vertu de la politique publique sur l’âge des personnes à charge

PDF version of the public policy flow chart

When did Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) receive parent’s application for permanent residence?

Before May 3, 2017 (and PR application wasn’t finalized as of May 3, 2017):

Was child 19, 20 or 21 on May 3, 2017 and not married or a common-law partner?

  • No:
    Child not eligible for the public policy. Find out other ways someone may be eligible to immigrate to Canada.
  • Yes:
    Child eligible for the public policy if still not married or a common-law partner. Parent must submit web form before January 31, 2018 to notify IRCC that they want to bring the child to Canada.

    • Have parents been issued a visa or confirmation of permanent residence before they notify IRCC that they wish to include a child?
      • If yes: Parent may sponsor the child up to one year after they are granted PR.
      • If no: Parent may submit an application to add the child to their application (or sponsor the child after they are granted PR, if they don’t want to delay their application).

Between May 3, 2017 and October 23, 2017:

Was child 19, 20 or 21 on date IRCC received application and not married or a common-law partner?

  • No:
    Child not eligible for the public policy. Find out other ways someone may be eligible to immigrate to Canada.
  • Yes:
    Child eligible for the public policy if still not married or a common-law partner. Parent must submit web form before January 31, 2018 to notify IRCC that they want to bring the child to Canada.

    • Have parents been issued a visa or confirmation of permanent residence before they notify IRCC that they wish to include a child?
      • If yes: Parent may sponsor the child up to one year after they are granted PR.
      • If no: Parent may submit an application to add the child to their application (or sponsor the child after they are granted PR, if they don’t want to delay their application).

To accurately determine if a child is eligible as a dependant, please use IRCC’s web tool.

 


Shorter residency requirement for would-be Canadians set to take effect

Shorter residency requirement for would-be Canadians set to take effect

BRAMPTON, Ont. — Important changes to Canadian citizenship rules, including how long a newcomer has to be in the country to be eligible, will take effect next week, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen announced Wednesday.

Speaking in the highly diverse community of Brampton, Ont., just northwest of Toronto, Hussen said the changes undo barriers the former Conservative government put in place.

“Something happened in the last number of years whereby the previous government had deliberately put obstacles, real barriers, to citizenship for permanent residents,” Hussen said. “Those barriers were unnecessary. They prolonged people’s steps to join the Canadian family, they made it really hard.”

Under the changes that take effect Oct. 11, which Hussen called long-awaited, would-be citizens will have to have been in Canada for three of the last five years before they apply.

“That is really important because it will mean that many permanent residents will be able to apply for citizenship earlier and it will mean their path to citizenship will be eased,” Hussen said.

The government under former prime minister Stephen Harper had tightened the eligibility rules to require permanent residents to have been physically present in Canada for four years out of the last six immediately before applying for citizenship

Another rule, requiring applicants to be in Canada for 183 days each year, has been causing “real hardship” and is being scrapped under implementation of Bill C-6. Permanent residents will now be allowed to go abroad to study, work or for family reasons without losing access to citizenship eligibility.

Another key change also taking effect will be how time spent in Canada before foreigners become permanent residents is counted. Currently, the time people are in the country — studying, working, visiting, or as refugees — does not count as being present for citizenship-eligibility purposes, even if they have been here for years.

Hussen called that “unfortunate.” The new rules, he said, will allow such individuals to count half the time they have spent in Canada to a maximum of one year, meaning that once they become permanent residents, they would only need to be in the country for an additional two years to apply for citizenship.

Also as of Oct. 11, only newcomers aged of 18 to 54 will have to take and pass a citizenship knowledge and language test. Previously, the age range was 14 to 64, a problem Hussen said was particularly acute for those under 18 given their need to study for school exams.

The various changes are part of the same bill that previously scrapped the federal government’s ability to strip citizenship from dual nationals convicted of terrorism — another controversial change implemented under Harper.

The Liberal government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said it wants to simplify the process with the ongoing overhaul of the Citizenship Act. The government is also rewriting the citizenship oath to incorporate a reference to treaties with Indigenous Peoples.

Hussen, himself a Somali immigrant who came to Canada in 1993 as a 16-year-old, spoke of the importance of gaining citizenship to newcomers, the final step toward their integration into the “Canadian family.” He recalled “how moving” it was when he took his own oath 15 years ago.

“A lot of permanent residents have been eagerly awaiting these changes,” Hussen said.

At the same time, he said, immigrants are a crucial part of the country’s economy and social fabric, and the changes go a distance toward recognizing those facts.

Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press


Bill C-6 Receives Royal Assent

Backgrounder

Bill C-6, an Act to amend the Citizenship Act and make consequential amendments to another Act, received Royal Assent on June 19, 2017. This chart explains the changes that have been made to the Citizenship Act and indicates when these changes are expected to come into force.

Changes that take effect immediately upon Royal Assent on June 19, 2017
Previous Citizenship Act Citizenship Act with Bill C-6 Amendments
Citizenship could be revoked from dual citizens convicted of treason, spying and terrorism offences, depending on the sentence received, or who were a part of an armed force of a country or organized group engaged in conflict with Canada. This provision is repealed. Dual citizens living in Canada who are convicted of these crimes will face the Canadian justice system, like other Canadian citizens who break the law.
Applicants were required to intend to continue to live in Canada if granted citizenship. This provision is repealed. Applicants are no longer required to intend to continue to live in Canada once granted citizenship. This provides more flexibility to Canadians who may need to live outside of Canada for work or personal reasons.
The Minister had the discretion to waive certain requirements under subsection 5(1) of the Citizenship Act so a minor could obtain citizenship without a Canadian parent. Minors can now apply for citizenship without a Canadian parent, as the age requirement for citizenship has been removed under subsection 5(1). A person having custody of the minor or empowered to act on their behalf by court order, written agreement or operation of law, can now apply for citizenship on behalf of the minor, unless that requirement is waived by the Minister.
No provision existed to prevent individuals serving a sentence in the community (a conditional sentence order) from being granted citizenship, taking the Oath of Citizenship or counting this time towards meeting the physical presence requirements for citizenship. Individuals serving a conditional sentence will not be granted citizenship, take the Oath of Citizenship, or be able to count this time towards meeting the physical presence requirements for citizenship.
The Minister has the discretion to grant citizenship to a person to alleviate cases of special and unusual hardship, or to reward services of an exceptional value to Canada. Statelessness has been added as a stand-alone ground that can be considered for a discretionary grant of citizenship.
The Department has reasonable measures to accommodate the needs of citizenship applicants. However, there was no explicit reference to accommodate persons with disabilities in the Citizenship Act. The requirement to take into consideration reasonable measures to accommodate the needs of a citizenship applicant who is a disabled person is now included in the Citizenship Act.
The requirement for applicants to maintain the requirements for citizenship from the time they apply for citizenship until taking the Oath of Citizenship only applied to applications received on or after June 11, 2015. This requirement now also applies to all applications, including those received before June 11, 2015.
Changes expected to take effect in fall 2017
Previous Citizenship Act Citizenship Act with Bill C-6 Amendments
Applicants had to be physically present in Canada for four out of six years before applying for citizenship. Applicants must be physically present in Canada for three out of five years before applying for citizenship.
Applicants had to file Canadian income taxes, if required to do so under the Income Tax Act, for four out of six years, matching the physical presence requirement. Applicants must file Canadian income taxes, if required to do so under the Income Tax Act, for three out of five years, matching the new physical presence requirement.
Applicants had to be physically present in Canada for 183 days in four out of the six years preceding their application. This provision is repealed. Applicants no longer have to meet this requirement.
Time spent in Canada prior to becoming a permanent resident did not count towards the physical presence requirement for citizenship. Applicants may count each day they were physically present in Canada as a temporary resident or protected person before becoming a permanent resident as a half-day toward meeting the physical presence requirement for citizenship, up to a maximum credit of 365 days.
Applicants between 14 and 64 years had to meet the language and knowledge requirements for citizenship. Applicants between 18 and 54 years must meet the language and knowledge requirements for citizenship.

 

Changes expected to take effect in early 2018
Previous Citizenship Act Citizenship Act with Bill C-6 Amendments
The Minister was the decision-maker for most cases of citizenship revocation on the grounds of false representation, fraud, or knowingly concealing material circumstances. The Federal Court was the decision-maker for citizenship revocation cases involving false representation, fraud, or knowingly concealing material circumstances related to security, human or international right violations, and organized criminality. The Federal Court is the decision-maker in all revocation cases, unless the individual requests that the Minister make the decision.
There was no clear authority for Citizenship Officers to seize fraudulent or suspected fraudulent documents provided under the Citizenship Act. Clear authority for Citizenship Officers to seize fraudulent or suspected fraudulent documents is provided under the Citizenship Act.

Changes to Regulations Will See Age Increased for Dependent Child

News Release

May 3, 2017—Ottawa, ON – The Government of Canada has published regulatory changes to increase the maximum age of a dependent child which will allow more families to stay together. This change showcases the Government’s commitment to family reunification.

The new age limit of “under 22” will come into effect this fall, on October 24, 2017, raising it from the current “under 19” requirement. The increased age will apply to new applications for all immigration programs under Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, including for refugees. Children who are 22 years of age or older and who rely on their parents due to a physical or mental health condition will continue to be considered dependent children.

A higher age limit will have more positive social and cultural impacts by keeping families together. It will also better address humanitarian and safety concerns by enabling more family members of refugees to qualify as dependants. Increasing the age limit will also help to enhance Canada’s economy by making it a destination of choice for skilled immigrants who want to keep their families together.

Family reunification is a key immigration commitment of the Government of Canada. The Government has made a number of important changes to uphold this commitment. Regulations were recently published to eliminate the conditional permanent residence measure in recognition that most marriages are genuine and to reduce the vulnerability of spouses in the immigration program. Access to the parent and grandparent program was improved with changes to the 2017 application process to make it fairer and more transparent. In 2016, the number of parent and grandparent sponsorship applications accepted each year for intake was doubled to 10 000 applications, and the Government announced processing times for most sponsored spouses and partners would be reduced to 12 months.

Quotes

“Raising the age of dependants lets more families stay together. This will bring economic and social gains to our country as it enhances our attractiveness as a destination of choice for immigrants and refugees.”

– The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Quick Facts

  • The change is consistent with the global socioeconomic trend for children to stay home longer, including to pursue their post-secondary education. The change would allow older immigrant children, aged 19 to 21, to study in Canada thereby boosting the pool of applicants from which Canadian post-secondary schools can draw talented students. Upon graduation, these individuals would be equipped with a Canadian education and be able to contribute to Canada’s economy.
  • A higher age for dependants better aligns with two of the main objectives of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which are to see that families are reunited in Canada, and support the self-sufficiency and social and economic well-being of refugees through family reunification.

Related Products

Contacts

For media only

Bernie Derible
Minister’s Office
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
613-954-1064

Media Relations
Communications Branch
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
613-952-1650
CIC-Media-Relations@cic.gc.ca


Senate amends Liberal citizenship bill to allow court hearings in fraud cases

The Senate has voted to amend the citizenship law to allow Canadians the right to a court hearing before their citizenship is stripped for fraud or misrepresentation.

Sen. Ratna Omidvar says that by approving the amendment, "Senators have collectively said enough to uneven rights depending on a Canadian’s immigration history."
Sen. Ratna Omidvar says that by approving the amendment, “Senators have collectively said enough to uneven rights depending on a Canadian’s immigration history.”  (CHRIS SO / TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO)  

 

Advocates for immigrants and civil liberties are hailing an amendment to the Citizenship Act passed by the Senate that would give Canadians the right to a court hearing before their citizenship is stripped.

“If a Canadian gets a parking ticket, they have the right to a full hearing. But if a Canadian is at risk of losing their citizenship and being banished from their home country, they have no right to a hearing, and no opportunity to fully defend themselves,” said Josh Paterson of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association. “This amendment fixes that absurd situation.”

Before 2015, the law required immigration officials to first go before the Federal Court to prove a citizen had obtained the citizenship through fraud before the person’s name was presented to the Governor in Council (essentially Governor General acting on the advice of cabinet) for the actual revocation.

However, the former Conservative government streamlined the process so that an immigration officer would have the power to both determine whether there was fraud and if citizenship would be revoked.

No hearing is required and the proceedings are generally conducted by mail. A citizen only has access to the Federal Court to review the decision after the citizenship has been stripped.

In two years, 272 people have lost their citizenship, compared to a total of 167 people over the previous 17 years.

Although the Liberal government said Bill C-6 was intended to repeal what it said were “unfair elements” of its predecessor’s rules, the right to due process in citizenship revocation was not part of the changes it introduced.

“With this proposed law, naturalized Canadians will have a voice and receive a fair and just process,” said Alberta Sen. Elaine McCoy, who moved the amendment to Bill C6, which was passed by the Senate on Tuesday.

Her Ontario colleague, Sen. Ratna Omidvar, who sponsored the change, added: “Senators have collectively said enough to uneven rights depending on a Canadian’s immigration history. I call the Government of Canada and all members of Parliament to support the Senate’s amendment.”

The amended bill will be sent back to the House of Commons before Easter, and a final vote will follow.

Lorne Waldman of the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers said the group does not object to the government having the power to revoke citizenship that was obtained by fraud or misrepresentation, but people must have the right to challenge the decision in court.

“The current revocation process is unconstitutional, plain and simple,” said Waldman. “We have a single government official acting as investigator, prosecutor and decision-maker in citizenship revocation decisions. This is unjust and contrary to Canadians’ expectations.”

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen has said the existing revocation system is constitutionally sound and has enough safeguards, but he will carefully review and consider the proposed amendment.


Refugee board creates guidelines for deciding LGBTQ claims

The guidelines are meant to help decision-makers at the Immigration and Refugee Board with claims based on sexual orientation, which are hard to verify and validate.

Yvonne Niwahereza Jele, a Ugandan lesbian refugee claimant, had her deportation stayed after Canadian officials agreed to review her case. Her claim was initially rejected as not being credible.
Yvonne Niwahereza Jele, a Ugandan lesbian refugee claimant, had her deportation stayed after Canadian officials agreed to review her case. Her claim was initially rejected as not being credible.   (ANDREW FRANCIS WALLACE / TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO)  

A Nicaraguan man was refused asylum in Canada because he had not pursued gay relationships. A gay man from St. Kitts was denied because a refugee judge said cops in his home country could’ve protected him. A Ugandan lesbian refugee was denied because her story was ruled not credible.

Asylum claims based on sexual orientation are hard to verify and validate, as LGBTQ claimants are an invisible minority with no membership or specific physical appearance to prove their identity, presenting a huge challenge for decision-makers at the Immigration and Refugee Board.

That challenge has prompted the board to develop its first-ever guidelines on SOGIE — short for sexual orientation and gender identity and expression — to help decision-makers handle proceedings involving the LGBTQ population.

“Questioning an individual about their SOGIE can feel intrusive and may be difficult for the individual concerned. Questioning should be done in a sensitive, nonconfrontational manner. Open-ended questions should be employed where appropriate,” advises the guidelines, released this week.

“While an individual’s experiences and behaviours related to their SOGIE may be expressed in both the private and public spheres, an individual’s testimony may, in some cases, be the only evidence of their SOGIE.”

The board has published various guidelines that focus on specific groups including children, women and civilian non-combatants in civil war situations, as well as procedures on immigration detention, scheduling and conduct at refugee hearings.

Previously, proceedings involving sexual minorities were lumped into the general guidelines in handling what the board described as “vulnerable persons.”

“The guideline’s intended goal is to promote a greater understanding of the diversity and complexity of the situation of individuals with diverse SOGIE; establish guiding principles for decision-makers in adjudicating cases involving them; and provide parties with a clearer understanding as to what to expect when appearing before the IRB,” said refugee board spokesperson Anna Pape.

“The policy is not binding against decision-makers, but where it applies, they have to provide justifications for not doing that.”

The guidelines, which apply to all the tribunals under the board, are divided into 11 chapters, addressing the needs to protect sensitive information, use appropriate language, avoid stereotypes and assess credibility.

The refugee board said statistics of asylum claims received and granted based on sexual orientation were not available, but data obtained by Osgoode Hall Law School professor Sean Rehaag show that 2,371 or 13 per cent of all 18,221 asylum decisions made between 2013 and 2015 were based on sexual orientation, and that 70.5 per cent of them were granted compared to 62.5 per cent of all claims.

“This is such an important area of refugee law. In many countries around the world, sexual minorities continue to be persecuted, and all too often killed. This is exactly the sort of group that Canada’s refugee determination system should be protecting,” said Rehaag.

“The guidelines are a step in the right direction. Sexual minority refugee claims are among the most difficult cases the board is called upon to decide. There is a long history of decision-makers drawing on problematic stereotypes to make such decisions, and especially in determining whether claimants are ‘really’ gay.”

In cautioning decision-makers to be aware of their own stereotypes, the guidelines warn adjudicators that they should not assume LGBTQ people:

  • Have feminized or masculinized appearances or mannerisms;
  • Share the same dynamics and characteristics across cultures;
  • Have had same-sex sexual experiences or relations;
  • Have refrained from heterosexual sexual experiences or having children;
  • Would actively participate in LGBTQ culture in Canada, including frequenting gay-predominant areas and social establishments or join community groups.

“Our clients who are LGBTQ refugees have fled from horrific persecution where many have spent decades hiding their identity. They deserve to have their claim heard by a Canadian decision-maker who not only respects their identity, but ensures a level of openness in speaking about past trauma,” said Toronto immigration lawyer Adrienne Smith.

“There is an added-layer of sensitivity that is required when adjudicating these claims. The release of the SOGIE guidelines is one step towards this, however it remains to be seen how IRB members will adhere to the guidelines given their non-binding nature.”

Lawyer Aadil Mangalji, who represented the Ugandan lesbian claimant Yvonne Niwahereza Jele, said he particularly likes the highlights of the stereotypes against LGBTQ people and the guidelines’ caution against the assumption that the group receives equal access to state protection.

“These are especially beneficial to LGBTQ claimants before the board. It is a step forward,” said Mangalji, whose client’s deportation has been stayed after Canadian officials agreed to review her case.


Government of Canada Eliminates Conditional Permanent Residence for Spouses and Partners

News Release

April 28, 2017—Ottawa, ON – To uphold its commitment to family reunification and to support gender equality, the Government of Canada has removed the condition that applied to some sponsored spouses or partners of Canadian citizens and permanent residents to live with their sponsor for two years in order to keep their permanent resident status.

This change applies to anyone who was subject to the requirement, as well as to new spouses and partners who are sponsored as permanent residents.

Eliminating conditional permanent residence supports the Government’s commitment to gender equality and to combat gender violence. The regulatory change addresses concerns that vulnerable sponsored spouses or partners may stay in abusive relationships because they are afraid of losing their permanent resident status even though an exception to the condition existed for those types of situations.

The Government of Canada does not want any sponsored spouse or partner who is in an abusive situation to remain in it for fear of losing their status in Canada.

The change also supports family reunification, which is a key immigration commitment of the Government of Canada. Removing the condition recognizes that the majority of marriages are genuine and most spousal sponsorship applications are made in good faith.

Quotes

“We’re doing away with a measure that could have made a bad situation worse by possibly making people feel they needed to stay in abusive situations just to keep their status in Canada. Removing conditional permanent residence is another example of the Government’s commitment for family reunification and making it easier for immigrants to build successful lives in Canada”

– The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

“Our Government is committed to advancing gender equality and to reducing gender-based violence. By eliminating conditional permanent residence, we can help ensure that people coming to Canada are kept safe from gender-based violence as they seek a chance at a better life.”

– The Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister of Status of Women

Related Products

Contacts

For media only

Bernie Derible
Minister’s Office
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
613-954-1064

Media Relations
Communications Branch
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
613-952-1650
CIC-Media-Relations@cic.gc.ca


Operational Bulletin 640 – April 28, 2017

Repeal of conditional permanent residence

Issue

This Operational Bulletin (OB) provides operational guidance to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) employees regarding regulatory amendments that repeal the two-year period of conditional permanent residence for spouses and partners who are in a relationship for two years or less with their sponsor and have no children in common at the time of the sponsorship application. The condition required sponsored spouses and partners to cohabit with their sponsor for a period of two years after the day they became a permanent resident. This OB replaces the instructions provided in OB 480.

The following persons are affected by the repeal of the conditional permanent residence:

  • Permanent residents who have been issued a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) with a condition to cohabit with their sponsor for a period of two years and for whom the two-year period has not expired.
  • Permanent residents who are the subject of a report issued pursuant to subsection 44(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) for failing to comply with the requirement to cohabit with their sponsor for a period of two years, who have not yet been referred for an Admissibility Hearing at the Immigration Division (ID) of the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) pursuant to subsection A44(2) as well as those who have been referred but have not yet been issued a removal order.
  • Permanent residents who have been issued a removal order for failure to comply with the requirement to cohabit with their sponsor for a period of two years and have filed an appeal to the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD) of the IRB and for whom a decision has not been made on the appeal.

1. Background

On October 25, 2012, the Government of Canada put in place a conditional permanent residence measure for spouses and partners who were in a relationship for a period of two years or less with their sponsor and had no children in common at the time of the sponsorship application. The condition required sponsored spouses and partners to cohabit with their sponsor in a conjugal relationship for a period of two years after the day they became a permanent resident. The condition was intended to deter fraudulent applications, including marriage fraud in the family reunification program.

The condition applied to

  • spouses and partners who applied for permanent residence as members of the family class or the spouse or common-law partner in Canada class (including applicants who are eligible for processing under a public policy);
  • those who became permanent residents as an accompanying family member of someone who was subject to the condition; and
  • sponsored members of the family class of a permanent resident who was subject to the condition.

On October 29, 2016, the Government of Canada pre-published a proposal to eliminate the current conditional permanent residence measure so that new permanent residents would no longer be required to live with their sponsors for two years in order to maintain their permanent resident status. The repeal of the condition addresses concerns that conditional permanent residence may result in vulnerable spouses staying in abusive relationships. This change is in line with the Government’s commitment to reunite families and makes it easier for immigrants to build successful lives in Canada.

2. New regulatory amendments

Effective April 18, 2017, conditional permanent residence no longer applies to new and existing applicants for permanent residence under the spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner category, to their accompanying dependent children and to applicants who are being sponsored by permanent residents who were subject to the condition. The condition also no longer applies to sponsored spouses and partners who have already received permanent residence with the condition, including their accompanying family members and any sponsored family members.

2.1 Amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR)

Division 8 of Part 5 of the IRPR will be entirely removed beginning on the date of the repeal (sections 72.1, 72.2, 72.3 and 72.4).

  1. For greater certainty, the conditions set out in Division 8 of Part 5 of the IRPR as that Division read immediately before the date of the coming into force of these Regulations do not apply to sponsorship applications that are pending on that date.
  2. Any condition imposed on a person under Division 8 of Part 5 of the IRPR as that Division read immediately before the date of the coming into force of these Regulations is removed.

3. Scenarios and course of action

IRCC officers are to assess eligibility requirements for all permanent residence applications and determine if the applicant meets the requirements under the Act. For spousal and partner applications, officers must make a determination on whether the relationship is genuine pursuant to section R4. If the officer is satisfied about the bona fides of the relationship and is satisfied that the applicant is a member of the family class, the officer should enter the decision in the Global Case Management System (GCMS).

Possible scenarios of persons impacted by the repeal of the condition and course of action
Scenario Course of action
Eligibility has not been assessed on a new permanent residence application. The officer processes the application and selects “condition does not apply” in the Eligibility tab in GCMS

See GCMS functionalities and workarounds.

The application is in progress, eligibility has been assessed (passed) and the applicant would have a conditional permanent residence (“YES” already selected under “Conditional PR” in the Eligibility tab). The officer must enter a new eligibility decision in the Eligibility tab in GCMS to reflect that the condition does not apply.

See GCMS functionalities and workarounds.

The permanent resident is currently subject to the condition (has been issued a COPR with the two-year conditional permanent residence that has not expired). The permanent resident is no longer subject to the condition. The condition no longer applies, and no action is required.
The permanent resident has asked for an exception from the application of the condition due to the death of the sponsor or as a result of abuse or neglect during the two-year period, and no decision has been made on the request. The requests will be cancelled. Officers should inform persons requesting an exception that the condition has been repealed and they are no longer subject to the condition. If officers suspect that a person is affected by domestic violence or abuse in their relationship, they can find additional information on the IRCC website to assist them.

Note: If an officer receives a request for an exemption from a permanent resident and there is an active investigation for marriage fraud, the officer must inform the permanent resident that the condition no longer applies. However, the investigation for possible marriage fraud should continue, and a section A44 report may still be issued to the permanent resident on grounds of misrepresentation.

The permanent resident is subject to a section A44 report for failing to comply with the requirement of the conditional permanent residence that has not yet been referred for an admissibility hearing at the ID of the IRB as well as section A44 reports that have been referred but an admissibility hearing at the ID of the IRB has not yet been scheduled and no removal order has been issued. Where a report has not yet been referred to a Minister’s delegate, officers will conclude the examination as “no further action” in GCMS and will not refer the report to the delegate.

Where a report has been referred to a Minister’s delegate, the delegate will not refer the section A44 report for a hearing before the ID of the IRB.

The permanent resident will no longer be subject to the condition. A letter should be sent to the permanent resident informing them that the condition has been repealed and they are no longer subject to conditional permanent residence.

The permanent resident is subject to a section A44 report for failing to comply with the requirement of the conditional permanent residence, and an admissibility hearing at the ID of the IRB has commenced, but a decision has not yet been rendered. The Minister’s delegate will withdraw the referral based on mootness because the permanent resident is no longer subject to the condition.

A letter should be sent to the permanent resident informing them that the condition has been repealed and they are no longer subject to conditional permanent residence.

The permanent resident is subject to a section A44 report for failing to comply with the requirement of the conditional permanent residence and has been issued a removal order and filed an appeal at the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD) of the IRB, but a decision has not yet been rendered on the appeal. The Minister’s counsel should concede or request that the appeal be granted on the basis that the regulation was repealed and the permanent resident is therefore no longer subject to the condition. The removal order for non-compliance with the former regulations will no longer be enforced.

4. GCMS functionalities and workarounds

Important note: The Conditional field in the Eligibility Assessment view used to indicate if an individual is subject to the conditional permanent residence will not be changed in GCMS until the release in June 2017.

Instructions

Until the GCMS change is made, officers must manually enter “No” in the Conditional field to confirm that the condition does not apply for all new positive eligibility decisions.

For applications where a positive final decision has been made before the coming into force of the repeal and the applicant was subject to the condition but the COPR has not yet been issued, officers must go into the Eligibility Assessment view and remove the condition before issuing the COPR.

If a positive eligibility decision has been rendered before the date of coming into force of the repeal but a final decision has not yet been rendered, a new eligibility decision must be entered indicating that the condition does not apply.

5. COPR [IMM 5688]

Beginning on the date of the repeal, any special note under the section Conditions mistakenly added to the COPR regarding the conditional permanent residence will need to be removed. If an officer does not select “NO” and instead selects “YES” under the Conditional field in GCMS, a new eligibility decision must be entered and the officer must indicate “NO” in the Conditional field. If a COPR has been printed indicating the condition, a new amended COPR must be printed.

Transition period: There will be a transition period where COPRs issued before the date of the repeal have already been transmitted to future permanent residents. The condition may appear on the COPR but will not be valid. Officers at the port of entry or at local IRCC offices will verbally inform new permanent residents affected by this situation that they are no longer subject to the conditional permanent residence. In addition, a letter will be sent to everyone who became a permanent resident within the last two years and had the condition on their COPR to inform them that the requirement has been repealed.

Further information

Related operational instructions
  • OB 238 – Amendment to section 4 of the Regulations
  • OB 386 – Five-year Sponsorship Bar for persons who were sponsored to come to Canada as a spouse or partner
  • OB 396 – Instructions to visa officers on making determinations on membership in the family class
  • OB 480Conditional permanent residence measure for spouses and partners in relationships of two years or less and who have no children in common (Expired)
  • OB 613 – Instructions – Excluded relationship – Proxy, telephone, fax, internet or similar marriage forms where one or both parties not physically present

Acceptable documents to show identity for citizenship applications

Applicants must be able to prove that they are who they say they are.

Among the documents required for an application, they must provide at least two documents to establish their identity. Both pieces of identification must show the applicant’s name and date of birth, and at least one document must have a photograph of the applicant.

Applicants residing outside Canada may not be able to provide Canadian identity documents. Applicants can provide foreign identity documents that are equivalent to Canadian identity documents, such as a passport or government-issued identification documents.

Children of preschool age may not be able to provide two identity documents or an identity document that includes their photo. In such cases, an explanation letter must accompany their application. Officers may use discretion for preschool age children.

Officers must consider what documents are available in the foreign country and, where possible, seek appropriate confirmation of the authenticity of the identity documents through the Canadian consular mission that has the local expertise in the foreign country.

The following are some, but not all, of the documents that can be used to establish identity. This is not a complete list and it is not in order of priority:

  • age of majority card;
  • Certificate of Indian Status card;
  • driver’s license;
  • passport;
  • health insurance identification card;
  • senior citizen’s card;
  • travel document.

Documents not accepted as a piece of identification:

  • Birth certificate: used to establish the person’s date and place of birth and can also be used to establish parentage between a child and their parent(s).
  • Document establishing Canadian citizenship status: citizenship or naturalization certificate, retention certificate and certificate of registration of birth abroad.

Documents issued by the registrar of civil Status in the Province of Quebec (Directeur de l’état civil)

Only documents issued by the Registrar of Civil Status after January 1, 1994, are acceptable to apply for a proof document, a replacement of a proof document or a grant of citizenship. Clients submitting documents issued before January 1, 1994, should be directed to contact the Quebec government.


Legacy claimants’ hoping for long-awaited refugee hearings

New task force sets to work on backlog of refugee claimants

Margaret Ekelemu came to Canada as a refugee claimant in 2011. When her original claim was rejected, she appealed and the board agreed she deserved a second hearing. Years later she's still waiting.

Margaret Ekelemu came to Canada as a refugee claimant in 2011. When her original claim was rejected, she appealed and the board agreed she deserved a second hearing. Years later she’s still waiting. (Ashley Burke/CBC News)

Margaret Ekelemu left a painful past in Nigeria to start a new life in Canada in 2011. She became a registered practical nurse at a retirement home, joined her church choir and built a circle of close friends in Ottawa.

But more than five years on, Ekelemu still doesn’t know whether she’ll be allowed to stay, or deported to the country she thought she’d left behind.

‘I don’t want to be called tomorrow morning and be told, ‘Margaret you have to go back home.’ I have a life here.’– Margaret Ekelemu

Ekelemu is one of an estimated 5,600 so-called “legacy refugees,” claimants who’ve been waiting four years or more for a hearing to find out if they can become Canadian citizens.

They came seeking a better life, but instead they’re living in limbo, their futures uncertain.

Ekelemu appealed the original decision turning down her application and was granted a second hearing, but because of a backlog she’s still waiting.

“It’s been a long process,” she said. “It’s not been an easy road for me…. I’ve been waiting. I don’t want to be called tomorrow morning and be told, ‘Margaret you have to go back home.’ I have a life here.”

Legacy claimants

Ekelemu is among the backlog of legacy claimants, those who sought refuge in Canada before December 2012, when the federal government put in place new deadlines.

Under the new rules all refugee hearings must take place within 60 days. With the IRB scrambling to process new cases on time, legacy claimants keep falling to the bottom of the list when it comes to scheduling hearings.

Ekelemu’s lawyer, Ronalee Carey, likens the process to dining at a fast-food restaurant.

“If I walk into McDonald’s or any other fast-food restaurant and I try to place my order at the counter, priority might be going to people in the [drive-through],” Carey said. “So they’ve only got one person helping me at the counter, but they’ve got three people getting the orders ready for the people in the drive-through. So how is that fair?”

Huge backlog

There was already a backlog when the new targets came into effect in 2012 of 32,000 claims.

The government spent $7.9 million in an attempt to get rid of the backlog, but 5,600 legacy claimants remain waiting.

Now the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) has established a new task force to eliminate the backlog of legacy cases, with a two-year mandate to clear the list.

“The creation of a dedicated team will enable the IRB to significantly increase the rate at which it can process legacy claims while allowing the [refugee protection division] to continue to focus on new claims and current inventory,” the IRB said in a news release.

The task force will be funded with existing resources, the IRB said.

Refugee council skeptical

But without any new resources, refugee claimants and their supporters worry it won’t solve the problem.

The Canadian Council for Refugees is urging the government to allow legacy claimants to apply for permanent residency without a hearing.

Janet Dench

Canadian Council For Refugees executive director Janet Dench is skeptical the government’s new task force can eliminate the backlog of claims without new resources.

The executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugees, Janet Dench, said while it’s good news the government is giving attention to the issue, she’s skeptical the task force can make much of a difference.

“Realistically they wouldn’t be able to work through the current backlog of legacy claimants for years,” said Dench.

Dench said there aren’t enough existing resources to push 5,600 people through hearings.

‘We hear a lot about people feeling profoundly depressed, even needing treatment for these feelings. A sense of insecurity because they don’t know whether they’re going to be able to stay.’– Janet Dench, Canadian Council for Refugees

“That takes a lot of time and a lot of decision-makers,” said Dench. “And the board at present has not got enough decision-makers to even hear the claims of the new refugee claimants that are arriving. So it’s just a simple matter of math.”

For the past year Dench has been calling on the government to put in place special measures. The council, along with the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, want legacy claimants to be able to apply for permanent residence without a hearing.

Dench said the waiting and uncertainty can be “a devastating experience” for claimants who are unable to pursue higher education or travel, and who in some cases left children behind.

“We hear a lot about people feeling profoundly depressed, even needing treatment for these feelings. A sense of insecurity because they don’t know whether they’re going to be able to stay.” said Dench.

Eliminating the backlog would also save the government money, Dench said, because claimants granted permanent residence can get better jobs and contribute to the economy.

Hard to prove case 5 years later

Ekelemu’s refugee lawyer worries it could be difficult to win her case because of the time that’s elapsed.

“How can we show that she’s still at risk five years later?” said Carey. “There’s no evidence anymore. Memories fade, documents go missing. It’s very, very hard to establish a claim after it’s been that long.”

Margaret Ekelemu

‘It’s not been an easy road for me,’ says legacy claimant Margaret Ekelemu. (Ashley Burke/CBC)

​Ekelemu hopes her story will shed light on the problems facing legacy claimants, so they can forward with their lives.

“I want the government, if it can, [to] speed up the process,” said Ekelemu. “There are so many people like me who have contributed positively and who are still contributing to the country that need to be given a stay so they can continue their work.”

The new task force starts its work May 8.


Senate passes bill that repeals many Conservative citizenship changes

The Senate approved the Liberal government’s major citizenship bill Wednesday, after a nearly year-long legislative process resulting in changes affecting citizenship revocation, children’s rights and language requirements.

The Senate voted to pass Bill C-6 Wednesday, with 45 senators voting in support of the legislation, 29 against, and no abstentions. The wide-ranging bill would repeal many parts of the former Conservative government’s citizenship legislation, including a provision that revoked citizenship from dual Canadian citizens convicted of terrorism, treason or espionage.

An attempt by Conservative Senator Daniel Lang essentially proposing the government maintain that power was defeated Tuesday during debate in the Red Chamber.

Opinion: Canadian citizenship must be a constitutional right

If passed, the proposed legislation would automatically reinstate citizenship for dual nationals like Zakaria Amara, a member of the so-called Toronto 18 who planned to bomb downtown Toronto and had his citizenship revoked last fall under the Conservatives’ Bill C-24. The Liberals have continued to stand by the proposal amidst criticism from the Conservatives, with cabinet ministers and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau repeatedly saying that “a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.”

The bill now heads back to the House of Commons for review, where MPs can accept, reject or modify the Senate’s amendments. It’s not clear how the government will respond to the changes.

One amendment would give Canadians the right to a court hearing before their citizenship is stripped. Bill C-24 eliminated the right to a Federal Court hearing for individuals subject to revocation of citizenship when the revocation was based on fraud. Rather, the government sends letters informing the individual that their citizenship will be revoked, and that they have 60 days to respond in writing.

The initial version of the Liberals’ bill did not address this change – something the Senate managed to change.

Independent Senator Elaine McCoy tabled an amendment ensuring that a court hearing is given to people facing citizenship revocation on the grounds of false representation or fraud.

“It is the perfect example of the Senate doing exactly what their job is supposed to be, which is to look at the work the House of Commons has done on a bill and give it second thought,” said Josh Paterson, executive director of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association.

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen has said the government will consider the amendment when the bill comes back to the House. Meanwhile, the government continues to revoke the citizenship of Canadians who misrepresented themselves in their applications, without a hearing. Last year, Ottawa refused to grant a moratorium on revocations until Bill C-6 passed.

Another amendment, tabled by Conservative Senator Victor Oh, would allow minors to apply for citizenship without the help of their parents. Under current laws, parents and children are treated like a package deal when applying for citizenship. If the parent’s citizenship application is rejected, the child can’t get citizenship either, and has to wait until the age of 18 to apply again.

Richard Kurland, a Vancouver-based immigration lawyer, said the law is detrimental to children of immigrants who have grown up in Canada and wish to stay here, even if their parents don’t.

“If you have grown up in Canada your entire life, why can’t you sign your own Canadian citizenship application? Where’s the magic in having mummy and daddy sign for you?” Mr. Kurland said.

A third amendment, proposed by Independent Senator Diane Griffin, changes the age limit of language testing. Under the current law, immigrants aged 14 to 64 are required to meet language requirements in English or French. The Liberals proposed to change that age range to 18 to 54, but Ms. Griffin’s amendment upped the age cap to 60.

Mr. Hussen’s office would not say how it intends to respond to the bill’s amendments or anticipated timelines for its passage in the House. After the House approves the bill, it will go back to the Senate for rubber-stamping and become law.

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Illegal border crossings into Canada continue to rise

 

MONTREAL—The number of asylum seekers caught crossing illegally into Canada continues to rise, according to newly released figures.

The Canada Border Services Agency says that nearly half of the 1,860 migrants who have snuck across the Canada-United States border on foot rather than making a claim for refugee status at an official border crossing did so in March.

In total, 887 people were intercepted by the RCMP crossing the border last month, up one-third from the 658 who were arrested in February and more than double the 315 caught crossing in January.

In a statement, Public Security Minister Ralph Goodale’s office said that while the figures have risen, they are still relatively small and have not affected other aspects of the immigration system.

“Canadian authorities are managing the increase in asylum seekers in a sound and measured way, applying our laws and procedures to keep Canadians safe while fully respecting all of this country’s international obligations,” the statement said.

The rise in asylum seekers crossing the border illegally continued to be the most spectacular in Quebec, which has become Ground Zero for worried migrants fleeing the threat of harsh new immigration policies and an uptick in deportation activities in the United States.

Asylum seekers claiming to be from Yemen are arrested by RCMP officers after crossing the border from New York into Hemmingford, Que., on March 8.
Asylum seekers claiming to be from Yemen are arrested by RCMP officers after crossing the border from New York into Hemmingford, Que., on March 8.  (RYAN REMIORZ / THE CANADIAN PRESS)  

For the month of March, 644 people crossed the border into the province of Quebec — a 50-per-cent increase from February, when 432 people crossed illegally into Quebec.

But numbers of asylum seekers crossing into Manitoba — where some have suffered severe injuries and amputations due to the harsh prairie winters—showed signs of levelling off, with only 170 RCMP interceptions, compared to 142 in February.

Officials have anticipated that the end of winter could lead to a spring flood of people crossing the border. In Quebec, the main YMCA shelter that offers emergency beds and health services to newly arrived refugees has warned earlier this month that it may require increased funding if it is to cope with the increased demand.

The statement from Goodale’s office said that the CBSA and the Mounties have made “internal adjustments” to deal with the situation in recent months and will continue to do so.

“As the situation evolves, these professional organizations will advise as to what extra resources may be required.”

Immigration lawyers and refugee advocates have called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to suspend the 2004 Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States, which aims to clear backlogs by forcing asylum seekers from filing their claim in the country in which they first arrive.

The law does not apply to those who arrive in the United States and sneak across the border to make their claim while already on Canadian soil.

Government officials have raised the matter with their American counterparts, but have the Safe Third Country Agreement when questioned about it in the House of Commons.


Not Licensed? Not Legal!


Government Plans to Raise Maximum Age of Children on Immigration Applications to under 22

In a move that has been eagerly anticipated by Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and potential applicants to Canadian immigration programs around the world, the government of Canada has announced that it plans to raise the maximum age of dependent children who may be included on an application to less than 22 years of age.
If approved, the change is expected to take effect in fall 2017, and would apply to applications submitted on or after the regulation comes into force.
Currently, the child of a principal applicant is usually required to be less than 19 years of age in order to be included as a dependent on an application for Canadian permanent resident status, or be eligible as a principal applicant for sponsorship as a dependent child under the family class . The previous Conservative government lowered the maximum age for the definition of a dependent child on August 1, 2014. Before that, between June 28, 2002, and July 31, 2014, the maximum age was defined as less than 22 years of age. The proposed change simply reverts back to the regulation on the maximum age of dependent children that was in place at that time.
Between 2002 and 2014, 11 per cent of dependent children included on immigration applications were 19 years of age or older.

Family Reunification: an Ongoing Commitment

The Liberal Party, currently in government in Ottawa, has built its immigration policy in no small part on the principle of family reunification. Increasing the maximum age of dependent children means that more families can stay together in their journey towards Canadian permanent resident status.
The statement outlining the planned change, released by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), explains that the proposed change would open doors to permanent resident status for “young adults [who] would be unlikely to be eligible for permanent resident status as principal applicants under an economic immigration program, until they have completed post-secondary education and gained significant work experience.”
Consequently, not only does the planned change mean that more immigrant families can stick together — leading to faster and more successful integration into Canadian society — it also means that more young people will have access to an opportunity and a future in Canada that may have previously been denied to them.
In IRCC’s statement, education was also cited as a key factor in the decision to raise the minimum age.
“Given the importance placed on education, it is not unusual for some children to remain with their nuclear family while pursuing higher education before entering the labour market . . . The proposed increase of the maximum age of dependent children is consistent with the underlying socioeconomic trend that children remain at home longer with their parents, particularly those studying for lengthier periods,” the statement reads.
“Notably, the proposed higher age limit would enable many post-secondary students — who complete a degree at a median age of 24.8 years of age — to be eligible as dependent children through much of their undergraduate studies.”
Canada’s Minister of Immigration, John McCallum, has frequently voiced his support for international students coming to Canada to pursue post-secondary studies. If the planned change takes effect, many young people from across the world may have an opportunity to pursue post-secondary studies in Canada, which would be denied to them otherwise.

Focus: Number of fraudulent immigration consultants growing

Unlicensed representatives will continue to plague the Canadian immigration system until the national regulator of immigration consultants gets the power to go after rogues, says the president of an industry group.

The Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council can act on complaints and order disciplinary measures against its own licensed members, but it is powerless to deal with non-members who rip off prospective immigrants by claiming they can help them with their applications.

Complaints about fraudulent immigration representatives go instead to the Canada Border Services Agency, but Dory Jade, who heads the Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants, says cases are falling through the cracks because the agency has bigger issues confronting it.

“They are a big organization that has to deal with drugs, national security, terrorist attacks and all kinds of problems that come up at the border,” Jade says. “The problem of unauthorized representatives is a big one, and we believe it can be solved by the Government of Canada.”

Jade says he has been encouraged by some high-profile successes scored by the CBSA in recent times, such as the criminal convictions of several people associated with a fraud scheme run by Richmond, B.C.-based Xu Wang.

The unlicensed immigration consultant is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence for helping Chinese clients gain permanent residence in Canada using forged documents and falsified records. More than 1,000 of Wang’s former customers faced investigation, and some have already been deported. Many more face the prospect of removal if they are found to have lied on their applications.

And deportations resulting from Project Honeymoon, a long-term CBSA investigation targeting fake marriages involving Canadian sponsors paid to wed foreign immigrants, are also still working their way through the immigration appeal system years after the sting’s launch in 2008.

CBSA spokesman Nicholas Dorion said in a statement that the agency “works to identify, investigate and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law those who violate our immigration laws.”

In 2015, the CBSA opened 44 cases, of which 24 are still in progress. Of those that closed, 15 resulted in no charges, four saw charges laid and one more resulted in a conviction. For 2016, the total number of cases launched shrank slightly to 38. Just seven have run their course, none of which resulted in any charges.

However, Jade says hundreds more complaints have been lodged about fake consultants that don’t meet the threshold for investigation.

“The CBSA will go after the big fish, and they have done a good job there. But with due respect, they are not undermining the business,” Jade says. “When it comes to the person who has scammed maybe three or four vulnerable people, they will never go there. It’s too much for them. They don’t have the money.”

In Dorion’s statement, he said that “not all cases warrant a criminal investigation” by the CBSA.

“A number of factors including the availability of witnesses and evidence, severity of the offence and the public interest are taken into consideration when deciding which cases warrant an investigation,” Dorion added. “The cases that warrant a criminal investigation will be pursued with the resources that are required.”

According to Jade, the ICCRC could take some of the load off the CBSA if it was allowed to track down and tackle unlicensed consultants in the same way that law societies across the country take legal action against people engaged in unauthorized practice of the law.

However, that would require a legislative amendment to formally recognize the ICCRC’s role in the federal Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The immigration consultant regulatory body currently operates as a non-profit with powers granted to it under a ministerial designation.

“If they could file for an injunction in court just like the law societies can against people who hold themselves out as lawyers, that would help, and it could be done for a smaller fee,” Jade says.

Mario Bellissimo, a former president of Canadian Bar Association’s national immigration law section, says the problem of fraudulent representatives has improved noticeably since 2011, when the passage of Bill C-35 added extra offences and penalties for unlicensed consultants.

“The CBSA is active, but internationally, things can get much more complicated,” he says. “There have definitely been inroads made to curtail the problem, but it still exists, and it’s obviously devastating for the people caught up in it.”

Seamus Murphy, a lawyer with Ottawa immigration firm Gerami Law PC, recently acted for a Botswanan woman conned into believing her previous representative was a lawyer. An immigration officer rejected her pre-removal risk assessment application, the final bar to deportation, before she realized the man was neither a lawyer nor an immigration consultant.

Murphy took over and helped her launch an application for judicial review of the decision, claiming she had been denied a fair hearing due to the factually wrong submissions made to the officer by her old fake lawyer.

In her Dec. 8 decision in Mudongo v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), Federal Court Justice Elizabeth Heneghan granted the Botswanan woman a new hearing before a different officer.

“In the circumstances of this case and considering the submissions of Counsel, I am satisfied that the Applicant was denied her right to a fair hearing, arising from the actions of an imposter who passed himself off as a lawyer,” Heneghan wrote.

However, the judge declined to certify Murphy’s proposed certified question, which would have classified any fraudulently prepared PRRA application as a “miscarriage of justice” regardless of the applicant’s chances of success. He says that would have made it easier for other people conned by their representatives to overturn negative decisions in future.

“Applicants are generally held responsible for the information contained in their application, whether or not they have reviewed it, and the test for ineffective assistance of counsel is fairly restrictive,” he says. “You have to show that not only were you not competently represented but also that a miscarriage of justice occurred as a result. To me, justice is not just about the chance of success. There can be a miscarriage even if the person doesn’t necessarily have a great shot at winning their case.”

Murphy says it remains relatively easy for unscrupulous people to fly under the radar while holding themselves out as licensed representatives.

“They are targeting people without much money to begin with,” he says. “And if the client loses, especially in a PRRA case, then they could be out of the country within a few months. That allows them to go undetected for quite a long time. In this case, my client was only able to stay in Canada because the court granted a stay of her removal.”

Bellissimo says he fears all the focus on fraudulent immigration representatives. For example, the Government of Canada’s immigration page features several prominent warnings to prospective applicants about the dangers of fraud and the potential consequences for taking part in a scam.

“The overall portrayal of immigration representatives generally is negative,” Bellissimo says. “I think there should be some more balance, with something that talks about the value of good representation by a qualified professional during a life-changing process. There are a lot of good people out there who are very committed to their clients.”


Exclusive: Almost half of Canadians want illegal border crossers deported – Reuters poll

Nearly half of Canadians want to deport people who are illegally crossing into Canada from the United States, and a similar number disapprove of how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is handling the influx, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Monday.

A significant minority, four out of 10 respondents, said the border crossers could make Canada “less safe,” underlining the potential political risk for Trudeau’s Liberal government.

The increasing flow of hundreds of asylum-seekers of African and Middle Eastern origin from the United States in recent months is becoming a contentious issue in Canada.

Although there has been broad bipartisan support for high levels of legal immigration for decades in Canada, Trudeau is under pressure over the flow of the illegal migrants.

He is questioned about it almost every time he appears in parliament, from opponents on the left, who want more asylum-seekers to be allowed in, and critics on the right, who say the migrants pose a potential security risk.

Canadian opposition parties seized on the poll results, with both those on the left and the right saying they underscored their positions.

Canadians appeared to be just as concerned about illegal immigration as American, according to the poll, which was conducted between March 8-9. Some 48 percent supported “increasing the deportation of people living in Canada illegally.” (For graphics on asylum process, immigration poll see tmsnrt.rs/2nyY8CJ)

When asked specifically about the recent border crossings, the same number – 48 percent – said Canada should “send these migrants back to the U.S.” Another 36 percent said Canada should “accept these migrants”.

In the United States, where President Donald Trump was elected partly on his promise to boost deportations, 50 percent of adults supported “increasing the deportation of illegal immigrants,” according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted in the same week.

Illegal migrants interviewed by Reuters in Canada said they had been living legally in the United States and had applied for asylum there. But they fled for fear of being enmeshed in Trump’s immigration crackdown.

 

Kevin O’Leary and Kellie Leitch, top contenders to be leader of the official opposition right-leaning Conservative Party, both said the poll showed they were right to demand Ottawa deter border crossers.

Like Trump, O’Leary is a brash businessman and television personality with little experience of politics.

The left-leaning opposition New Democrats said given the poll showed Canadians wanted asylum seekers to cross the border legally, Ottawa should suspend an agreement with the United States whereby Canada turns back refugees from the United States if they try to make claims at border crossings.

WARMING WEATHER POSES RISK

Support for deportations was strongest among men, adults lacking a college degree, people who are older and those with higher levels of income.

“There are so many people in the world who want to come in and go through the right channels,” said Greg Janzen, elected leader of a Manitoba border municipality that has seen many crossers. “That’s what’s pissing most people off. These guys are jumping the border,” he said.

Forty-six percent feel the influx would have no effect on safety, while 41 percent said it would make Canada less safe, according to the poll.

“Refugees are much more welcomed when we have gone and selected them ourselves as a country, as opposed to refugees who have chosen us,” said Janet Dench, executive director of Canadian Council for Refugees.

Of those polled, 46 percent disagreed with how Trudeau was handling the situation, 37 percent agreed, while 17 percent did not know. In January, a separate Ipsos poll found 59 percent of Canadians approved of Trudeau, while 41 percent disapproved.

Trudeau faces no immediate threat, since the next elections are not until 2019. His office declined to comment on the poll.

Brian Lee Crowley, head of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute public policy think-tank, said the number of illegal migrants could spike as the weather warms, and “if people become convinced there’s a large uncontrolled flow of illegal immigrants, I think that will be a very serious political issue for the government.”

Authorities dismiss the idea they are being lax.

Dan Brien, spokesman for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, said trying to slip across the border “is not a ‘free’ ticket to Canada,” and noted all the asylum-seekers are immediately arrested.

“If they are found to be inadmissible without a valid claim, deportation procedures are begun,” he said when pressed on the poll. Those who cannot be identified, are a flight risk or pose a public danger can be detained, he added.

According to a separate Ipsos poll, 23 percent of Canadians listed immigration control as among the top national issues in March, up from 17 percent in December. It ranks behind healthcare, taxes, unemployment and poverty as top concerns.

Ottawa set an immigration target of 300,000 for 2017, or just under 1 percent of the population, the same level as 2016. It reduced the 2017 target for resettled refugees to 25,000 from 44,800 in 2016, when it welcomed 25,000 Syrian refugees.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online in English and French throughout Canada. It included responses from 1,001 people 18 years or older. Individual responses were weighted according to the latest population estimates, so that the results reflect the entire population.

The poll has a credibility interval, a measure of accuracy, of 4 percentage points.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren, Rod Nickel and Chris Kahn, additional reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny, editing by Amran Abocar and Ross Colvin)


The world’s best country? The results are in

The latest World Happiness Report rankings have been released, and the Nordics dominate the top 10. What will move the needle?

Chances are, if you live in the U.S., you feel worse today than you did 10 years ago. Don’t worry, it’s not you. This is a national problem: America’s rank on the happiness scale is falling.

When it comes to happiness, the U.S. ranked 19th among the 34 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development in 2016, down from third among 24 countries on a similar measure in 2007, according to the World Happiness Report, produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and funded by the Ernesto Illy Foundation.

Money, at least in the U.S., doesn’t buy happiness, the report found. Even as the country pulled off an economic turnaround, with increases in income and unemployment falling to historic lows, Americans are becoming less happy.

“The predominant political discourse in the United States is aimed at raising economic growth, with the goal of restoring the American Dream and the happiness that is supposed to accompany it,” wrote Jeffrey D. Sachs, one of the editors of the report. “But the data show conclusively that this is the wrong approach.”

The report is based on an annual survey of 1,000 people in more than 150 countries that simply asks them to rank, on a scale of zero to 10, whether they are living their best life.

Researchers then use six measures to try to understand the results: gross domestic product per capita, life expectancy, support from relatives or friends, charitable giving, freedom to make life choices, and perceived levels of government and corporate corruption.

Top-ranked countries by average levels of happiness from 2014 to 2016.

Rankings are created using the average of three years of surveys. Nordic countries, of course, were the happiest. In the list covering 2014 to 2016, Norway moved into the top spot as the happiest country in the world, followed by Denmark and Iceland. The least happy nations: Syria, Tanzania, Burundi and the Central African Republic. The U.S. ranked 14th on the most recent rankings average.

Improving happiness in the U.S. would be much easier to do through social change, the report found.

An increase in GDP would have much less of an impact on the U.S.’s overall happiness level than improvements in other aspects of life, researchers said. For example, there is more perceived corruption in the U.S. now than in 2006-07. To offset that increase, GDP per person would have to rise from about $53,000 to $62,000. Or, to offset what Americans see as a loss of social support since 2006, GDP would have to rise to $82,000.

Overall, if the nation were to focus purely on economic gains, per-capita GDP would have to increase to about $133,000 to get back to those 2006 happiness levels, the authors estimate.

Sachs suggested five means by which to improve social trust: campaign finance reform, policies aimed at reducing income inequality (such as public financing of health), improved social relations between native born and immigrant Americans, working to move past the fear of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and improved access to high-quality education.

“America’s crisis is, in short, a social crisis,” Sachs wrote. “Not an economic crisis.”


The world’s best country? The results are in

Can you spot the winner? - chungking - Fotolia
Can you spot the winner? – chungking – Fotolia

The world’s best country? According to an annual ranking by the media company US News, it’s Switzerland. Given its high GDP per capita (11th best in the world, according to the IMF, at $60,787) and life expectancy (2nd overall, at 83.4 years), history of pacifism, and fantastic Alpine scenery, that’s hardly surprising.

At a glance | Why is Switzerland so great?

Less expected is the country taking third spot: the UK. US News reckons Britain (which has the 28th best GDP per capita; 20th best life expectancy; a history of warfare; no Alpine scenery) is better than Germany, Japan, Sweden, Australia and Norway. What’s working in its favour? The rankings take into account nine categories: Adventure, Citizenship, Cultural Influence, Entrepreneurship, Heritage, Movers, Open for Business, Power and Quality of Life, but certain factors are more important. Citizenship (“cares about human rights, cares about the environment, gender equality, progressive, religious freedom, respects property rights, trustworthy, well-distributed political power”) contributes to 16.95 per cent of the overall ranking, for example, while for Heritage (“culturally accessible, has a rich history, has great food, many cultural attractions”) it’s just 3.17 per cent.

It turns out Britain is pretty awesome too - Credit: This content is subject to copyright./Loop Images
It turns out Britain is pretty awesome too – Credit: This content is subject to copyright./Loop Images

A total of 80 countries were considered; the top 50 is as follows:

  1. Switzerland
  2. Canada
  3. United Kingdom
  4. Germany
  5. Japan
  6. Sweden
  7. United States
  8. Australia
  9. France
  10. Norway
  11. Netherlands
  12. Denmark
  13. Finland
  14. New Zealand
  15. Singapore
  16. Italy
  17. Luxembourg
  18. Austria
  19. Spain
  20. China
  21. Ireland
  22. United Arab Emirates
  23. South Korea
  24. Portugal
  25. India
  26. Thailand
  27. Russia
  28. Brazil
  29. Greece
  30. Israel
  31. Poland
  32. Saudi Arabia
  33. Mexico
  34. Qatar
  35. Malaysia
  36. Turkey
  37. Czech Republic
  38. South Africa
  39. Indonesia
  40. Vietnam
  41. Panama
  42. Argentina
  43. Philippines
  44. Peru
  45. Egypt
  46. Hungary
  47. Costa Rica
  48. Morocco
  49. Croatia
  50. Sri Lanka

The list is at odds with last year’s Telegraph Travel Awards survey of more than 70,000 readers, who named New Zealand, for the fourth consecutive year, their favourite country. The Maldives came second, followed by South Africa, Japan and Burma.

Best countries

Our ranking, of course, was based on the experience for the traveller, rather than quality of life for citizens.

Each year a handful of organisations – including PwC, Mercer and The Economist – also rate the world’s cities, according to “liveability”. They placed London, Melbourne and Vienna, respectively, at number one. Your favourite city? That would be Cape Town.

Which really is the worlds best city?22 reasons why Cape Town is the world’s best city


Program delivery update – March 6, 2017

Launch of Three-year Atlantic Immigration Pilot Programs

Summary

Three new permanent residence pilot programs were launched through Ministerial Instructions on March 6, 2017 for workers who meet the requirements under one of the following programs:

  • Atlantic High-skilled Program (AHSP)
  • Atlantic Intermediate-skilled Program (AISP)
  • Atlantic International Graduate Program (AIGP)

Officers will assess the following eligibility requirements:

  • provincial endorsement from one of the four Atlantic Provinces,
  • education,
  • language,
  • work experience,
  • job offer from a designated employer,
  • settlement funds, and
  • intent to reside in the endorsing province.

IRCC aims to process 80 percent of complete applications in six months or less.

New instructions

Updated instructions


Refugee vetting in U.S. and Canada already ‘extreme,’ experts say

Canada and the U.S. are closely aligned when it comes to screening migrants.

A displaced Iraqi boy waits to receive food aid at the al-Khazer refugee camp. Canada and the U.S. have similar measures for screening refugees before they come to North America.
A displaced Iraqi boy waits to receive food aid at the al-Khazer refugee camp. Canada and the U.S. have similar measures for screening refugees before they come to North America.  (MAHMUD SALEH / AFP/GETTY IMAGES FILE PHOTO)  

U.S. President Donald Trump’s plans for “extreme vetting” of migrants may seem a stark contrast to Ottawa’s “openness” approach, but the two countries’ systems are more closely aligned than many people would like to believe.

Trump’s stance on immigrants and refugees cannot be more different from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s. That contradiction was on full display at their joint news conference at the White House after the two leaders’ recent first meeting in Washington.

“We cannot let the wrong people in and I won’t,” Trump told to reporters, vowing a program of “extreme vetting” for migrants. “It’s much more than toughness. It’s a stance of common sense.”

Trudeau added, “We continue to pursue our policies of openness towards immigration and refugees without compromising security.”

Despite the general impression that Canada has more tolerant and lax border security than its neighbour to the south, experts on both sides of the border say the countries have similar security screening processes to keep suspected terrorists and criminals out.

“We’ve had a very close partnership with Canada. Canadians are our trusted counterparts. Obviously there’s a tremendous amount of information-sharing between our intelligence and law enforcement services,” said John Sandweg, former acting general counsel to the Department of Homeland Security and former acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“I have never had a sense that there are any concerns about the quality of the Canadian screening. Certainly, there’s a sense in the U.S. that Canada is more open and welcoming than the U.S., but not in a way that compromised security or adopted lesser standards from the security perspective.”

In January, Trump created an international uproar when he signed the executive order to suspend America’s refugee program and immigration to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — out of terrorism concerns. The moves have been blocked by U.S. courts.

Sandweg said the U.S. already has a thorough screening system, especially for refugees, with multi-layered interviews, biographical information and biometrics matching, as well as multiple checks against databases and watchlists run by different intelligence and enforcement agencies.

The U.S. State Department, Homeland Security, National Security Directorate, National Counterterrorism Centre, FBI, Department of Defense, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement are all involved in the process, which includes at least three interviews, three fingerprint screenings and three background checks.

“I have no idea how you can enhance the vetting system (more) than it already is. It is run against the entire U.S. holdings. It is not just looking for just name matches. It is also looking for links and association of friends and family members to addresses and telephone numbers, any sort of matches that might raise suspicion,” said Sandweg.

Displaced people wait in line with their possessions to be relocated to other camps outside Mosul, Iraq, in November. Trump created an international uproar when he signed the executive order to suspend America’s refugee program and immigration to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries out of terrorism concerns.
Displaced people wait in line with their possessions to be relocated to other camps outside Mosul, Iraq, in November. Trump created an international uproar when he signed the executive order to suspend America’s refugee program and immigration to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries out of terrorism concerns.  (SERGEY PONOMAREV)  

“The officers are exceptionally versed in the conflict areas, in the history and culture. They are very skilled in terms of ferreting out people’s stories. Things like barring someone from the country could sound appealing to the public but I don’t think it is a real improvement in any way.”

Peter Showler, former chair of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, pointed out that none of the 19 terrorists in the attacks on the U.S. on September 11 were refugees and none were from the seven countries included in Trump’s travel ban. In European terror attacks, including those in Paris and Brussels, most were either born or raised in Europe, and many were of Moroccan descent.

Showler said Republican politicians and media in the U.S. like to paint Canada as “the weak link” in the North America’s security parameters and blame Ottawa for lax border enforcement.

“It is all fear-mongering nonsense,” said Showler, who recently worked as a consultant in Beirut for the United Nations Refugee Agency. “In Europe, those involved in the attacks were second-, third-generation immigrants who were petty criminals, disengaged in the host country and converted to be terrorists. It is so much easier to find a scapegoat than to look at the real security issues. It is easy to dump on the refugees.”

Toronto immigration lawyer Robin Seligman said the U.S. and Canada are much more aligned in their border enforcement since the Sept. 11 terror attacks on America.

Both countries have adopted similar measures, including the use of biometrics technology, to screen overseas travellers before they come to North America. In Canada, the global case management system has been in place for years to allow authorities to access migrants or visitors records for such things as criminality and personal details.

The U.S. and Canada systematically check the others’ visa and immigration databases for immigration and border related purposes, including visa and refugee resettlement applications, for third country nationals, said Immigration Canada spokesperson Nancy Caron.

In 2013, the bilateral information sharing based on a biographic match (name, date of birth and passport number) was implemented. The biometric-based information sharing began in 2015, which helps facilitate legitimate travellers and protect against identity fraud.

“The impression of us being lax in security is incorrect. Officials here know ahead of time if the person trying to come in ever had a deportation order or was a criminal,” Seligman said.

“Trump’s extreme vetting rhetoric is just for public consumption. It is not backed up by any substance. The hysteria is unjustified. Canada is doing a good job at vetting.”

Despite the general impression that Canada has more tolerant and lax border security than its neighbour to the south, experts say the countries have similar security screening processes to keep suspected terrorists and criminals out.
Despite the general impression that Canada has more tolerant and lax border security than its neighbour to the south, experts say the countries have similar security screening processes to keep suspected terrorists and criminals out.  (DELIL SOULEIMAN)  

How refugees get to Canada

Those destined for resettlement from camps overseas are first screened by the United Nations Refugee Agency, whose “refugee status determination” process includes detailed interviews, and biometric and anti-fraud measures such iris scanning. The registration data is then entered into a global system. War criminals are flagged.

The refugees are then triaged and about 1 per cent of them are selected for resettlement by countries like Canada and the U.S. The most vulnerable individuals such as women, children, the elderly and sick are given priority. The others will remain in their initial host country, with the expectation that they would be repatriated to their homeland when the circumstances change.

Canadian visa officers then interview the candidates, identify any inconsistencies in their stories, collect their biographical information and biometric data such as fingerprints and digital photos, and run their names through databases of the Canada Border Services Agency, Canadian Security Intelligence Service, RCMP and Interpol.

Upon arrival at the port of entry, the border agency again checks the identity of the new arrivals as the last gatekeeper. Enforcement officials retain the right to turn away travellers based on suspicions about their identity or documents.

Those refugees who make it to Canada on their own and then make inland asylum claims don’t have to go through the United Nations screening, but they must still undergo all the checks and clearances to be considered admissible to Canada before they are scheduled for an asylum hearing by the Immigration and Refugee Board.

Source: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

How refugees get to the U.S.

The same screening by the United Nations Refugee Agency applies to refugees destined for resettlement from camps. Candidates referred to the U.S. are interviewed by the Department of Homeland Security, which looks for fraud and considers credibility. Officers also verify the refugee’s biographical information, take fingerprints, and gather details on the individual’s history, refugee experience and other information. The officers then decide if the person qualifies for refugee status under U.S. law.

Multiple, detailed security checks are carried out by the State Department and Homeland Security based on the refugee’s information, comparing biometrics, personal data, and the refugee’s application against U.S. government databases and terrorism watchlists from security, counterterrorism, military and intelligence agencies. The process includes three background checks and three fingerprint screenings.

Cases are then reviewed at U.S. immigration headquarters, while some are referred for additional assessment before final approvals by Homeland Security.

Refugees must go through a final security check before leaving for the U.S. and upon arrival at an American airport.

Asylum seekers inside the U.S. must file their asylum claims within one year of their arrival. They must go through extensive fingerprinting, background and security checks to determine eligibility before their cases are reviewed by asylum officers.

Source: Department of Homeland Security, State Department, Human Rights First


Ontario law society cracks down on referral fees, lawyers’ ads

On the heels of a Star investigation into personal injury firms, the Law Society of Upper Canada voted Thursday to rein in high referral fees often charged to clients. It will also prohibit lawyers from using “bait and switch marketing.”

Star stories showed that law firms, including Diamond & Diamond, over the years used aggressive marketing campaigns to bring in clients and then farmed many of them out to other lawyers in return for hefty referral fees. The law society did not name specific firms in its report.
Star stories showed that law firms, including Diamond & Diamond, over the years used aggressive marketing campaigns to bring in clients and then farmed many of them out to other lawyers in return for hefty referral fees. The law society did not name specific firms in its report.  (RICK MADONIK / TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO)  

 

Ontario lawyers will no longer be able to take sky-high fees when they refer clients to other lawyers and they can no longer advertise for services they don’t intend to provide.

The Law Society of Upper Canada voted 35 to 9 at a meeting Thursday in favour of capping fees, rejecting a proposal to ban them outright.

The meeting, made up of lawyers who are elected “benchers,” also accepted recommendations released earlier this week by the law society’s Advertising & Fee Arrangements Issues Working Group that will give lawyers clearer guidance on what type of marketing breaks the rules — such as citing paid-for awards that are not genuine indicators of quality, or using “sexually offensive” marketing material to lure clients.

The law society will also prohibit lawyers from using “bait and switch marketing” — that is, attracting potential clients with services, prices or terms different from those ultimately provided. While the meeting did not single out a particular type of lawyer, the new policies will most often apply to personal injury lawyers.

Details of the cap have yet to be hammered out — they could be ready by April — but the working group’s recommendations suggest that referral fees be dramatically reduced, possibly to a maximum of 5 per cent to 10 per cent, and made transparent. Clients would have to consent in writing to a fee, be given a choice of lawyers to represent them and be able to decline the referral.

Malcolm Mercer, chair of the law society working group, said Thursday’s policy changes mean that “injured people in Ontario will be better protected by ensuring they have the information to make the choices that are in their interest.”

He said regulation and capping of fees, rather than an outright ban, could allow for “innovative and useful services to emerge and evolve.”

Thursday’s vote comes on the heels of a Star investigation into the referral fee and marketing practices of Ontario’s personal injury lawyers.

In one story, the Star looked at law firm Diamond & Diamond and found that for many years it has been attracting thousands of would-be clients and then referring cases out to other lawyers in return for sometimes hefty referral fees. Along the way, the firm’s marketing, which has included women in tight T-shirts and ads above urinals at the Air Canada Centre, has raised the ire of the law society, clients and some lawyers. Diamond & Diamond maintains it has a growing number of lawyers working on cases at the firm, but would not say how many cases are referred out.

In another story, the Star showed that the world of personal injury advertising is like a “wild west,” with many lawyers apparently breaking rules designed to prevent false and misleading marketing. The Star found that more than two dozen Ontario personal injury law firms described themselves as the “best” or “No. 1.”

The Star also found that for years, lawyers working on contingency for accident victims — “you don’t pay unless we win” — have been “double dipping,” taking more money from their clients than the law allows. As a result, the Star story said, many Ontario residents have been overcharged thousands of dollars and likely do not know it.

The vote at the law society’s Thursday meeting, a monthly event called Convocation, did not address concerns about contingency fee agreements, but the working group continues to explore that issue.

Read more:

In ‘wild west’ world of lawyers’ ads, personal injury firms make dubious claims

Face of Preszler Law Firm had role in Good Will Hunting

Double-dipping lawyers taking big slice of injury settlements

Diamond & Diamond under fireDiamond & Diamond under fire

Some critics of the policy changes the law society voted to adopt say that referral fees and misleading advertising are symptoms of larger issues with the contingent fee system, which could only be changed through legislation.

Some also argue that the new policy changes won’t put an end to so-called brokerage houses — firms that draw in clients with flashy ads only to refer them out for a fee to lawyers at different firms, often without the client’s consent. Those types of firms will find a workaround by restructuring or charging fees elsewhere, they say.

Hearty debate about whether to ban or cap referral fees filled a law society boardroom prior to the vote. Those in favour of a cap suggested referral fees are in the public interest because they ensure lawyers don’t keep cases they are not competent to work on. Others, such as lawyer Michael Lerner, said that referring out cases is part of a lawyer’s professional obligations and he finds such fees offensive.

“I have a great deal of difficulty paying someone for doing the right thing,” Lerner said.

In a written statement to the Star, Adam Wagman, president of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association, called the new policy changes “a clear step in the right direction,” but said he hopes the new rules come with a commitment to increased enforcement.

Malcolm Mercer, chair of a law society working group that proposed new rules, said Thursday’s policy changes mean that "injured people in Ontario will be better protected by ensuring they have the information to make the choices that are in their interest."
Malcolm Mercer, chair of a law society working group that proposed new rules, said Thursday’s policy changes mean that “injured people in Ontario will be better protected by ensuring they have the information to make the choices that are in their interest.”  (TODD KOROL FOR THE TORONTO STAR)  

Paul Harte, past president of the association, which represents about 1,600 personal injury lawyers, clerks and staff, said that the current rules regarding advertising were sufficient and adding guidance may not achieve compliance.

Law society rules state that advertising for lawyers’ services must be “demonstrably true, accurate and verifiable” and cannot be “misleading, confusing or deceptive.” Marketing must also be “in the best interests of the public” and “consistent with a high standard of professionalism.”

Cracking down on bad behaviour is key to curbing the use of misleading advertising, Harte said.

“If you want to deter behaviour. there have to be consequences to rule-breaking. Someone needs to be disciplined.”

When asked about enforcement, Mercer said the law society is currently investigating about 90 cases of advertising and referral fee complaints involving lawyers from various firms across Ontario.

He also said that Convocation deals with policy, not prosecution, and “it’s not for us as policy-makers … to comment on those issues.”

Michele Henry can be reached at mhenry@thestar.ca or 416-312-5605. Kenyon Wallace can be reached at kwallace@thestar.ca or 416-558-0645.


Ontario immigration website crashes as traffic surges

According to the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, the website ontarioimmigration.ca has received more than 117,000 visits since Tuesday.

Bowen Yang said it took him 18 hours in front of his computer to get onto the immigration ministry’s website.
Bowen Yang said it took him 18 hours in front of his computer to get onto the immigration ministry’s website.  (BOWEN YANG)  

 

Ontario’s immigration website has experienced a tenfold increase in visits since the province reopened its popular Provincial Nominee Program on Tuesday.

Applicants complained that ontarioimmigration.ca crashed almost immediately as they scrambled to compete for one of the 6,000 spots open for 2017. Once the annual quota is met, the system automatically stops taking applications.

Even those who were lucky enough to get a confirmation number and were invited to complete the online application in seven days said they have been unable to log onto the website.

According to the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, its website has received more than 117,000 visits since Tuesday when the so-called PNP program started accepting applications. The program was suspended last year while it was under review.

“We are aware that some individuals have been having difficulty with the online application system. This program is hugely popular and under significant demand, which we are doing our best to meet,” said ministry spokesperson Laura Sylvis.

The PNP allows provinces to select and recommend immigration candidates to the federal Immigration Department. In Ontario, the capacity has doubled from 2,500 in 2014 to 6,000 this year.

There are three streams under the provincial program: one for master’s graduates, another for PhD graduates, as well as a third stream for those whose skills are in demand in Ontario. The graduate streams are particularly popular because they do not require Canadian work experience.

Bowen Yang, an international graduate from Queen’s University’s biomedical engineering master’s program, said it took him 18 hours in front of his computer to get onto the ministry’s website Wednesday and receive his confirmation number.

However, since then, he has been unsuccessful in getting back into his preliminary profile to complete the full application.

“I kept refreshing my computer. Every time it just crashed again. I know of people who spent three days without sleep just to log on,” said the 27-year-old, who came to study in Canada from China in 2012. “Everyone is frustrated. I can’t log back on to complete my application. I am running out of time.”

Sylvis said the international master’s stream met the quota in less than 48 hours and the PhD program was also full by Friday.

“Both streams are now being paused to process these applications, but will reopen within the next three months,” she explained. “We have asked prospective applicants to check our updates webpage on May 1.”

She said the ministry is working closely with its IT partners to address the technical issues and will continue to communicate with applicants through the program website and social media.


Canada received 8,000 millionaire migrants in 2016: study

Canada received 8,000 millionaire immigrants in 2016: study
A Canadian passport is displayed in Ottawa on Thursday, July 23, 2015. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)

While Canada is known for being a beacon for migrants looking for a better life around the world, it’s also becoming a destination for the wealthy.

According to a new report from market research group New World Wealth, an estimated 8,000 millionaires moved to the country last year.

That number put it third overall, behind Australia and the U.S., who received 11,000 and 10,000 new arrivals with seven-figure bank accounts respectively.

Overall, Canada welcomed more than 320,000 migrants into the country from July 1, 2015 to the same date the following year.

And that will continue in 2017, as Canada is planning to grant permanent residency to a minimum of 300,000 people.

The report also found that millionaires globally are uprooting at an increasing pace, with 82,000 emmigrating last year, up from 64,000 in 2015.

Andrew Amoils, head of research at New World Wealth, told CNBC that millionaires are primarily drawn by the prospects of a better education for their kids and improved personal safety.

“They want the best schools for their children and to feel safe,” he said.

“Climate, health care and cleanliness all follow those top two.”

The report said that part of Australia’s appeal is its location near Asia, which makes it a good headquarters to do business in emerging markets, such as Hong Kong, South Korean, Singapore and Vietnam.

The authors also pointed to its robust health care system and relative immunity to “the turmoil in the Middle East and the related refugee crisis in Europe.”

The report said millionaires could also be flocking to Australia because they see it an opportunity to grow their fortune. It indicated that over the past 10 years, total wealth in Australia has jumped by 85 per cent compared to 30 per cent in the U.S. and 28 per cent in the U.K.

“As a result, the average Australian is now significantly wealthier than the average U.S. or U.K. citizen, which was not the case 10 years ago,” said the authors.

In 2012, Australia also created a new type of visa for wealthy foreigners who commit to investing millions in the economy.

Canada launched a similar effort as a pilot project in 2014, but, as of last year, it had only lured seven applicants and led to no permanent resident visas.

Meanwhile, countries such as France, China and Brazil are seeing a mass exodus of millionaires to the tune of 12,000, 9,000 and 8,000 respectively.

Amoils told CNBC that millionaires are fleeing France because of elevated taxes on the wealthy and growing religious tensions.

“At least in China, the millionaires who are leaving are being replaced by an ever larger number of new millionaires,” he said.

“But you could argue that France is not creating as many, so it’s a cause for concern.”

The authors also cited these religious tensions as reasons for the millionaire flight to Australia, Canada and the U.K.

The report only included millionaires who move to a country for at least six months. It did not track those who acquire property or citizenship in a country, but rarely live there.


Canadian citizenship applications decline after processing fees triple

Experts say prohibitive cost is causing some immigrants to delay becoming new Canadians

By Kathleen Harris, CBC News Posted: Feb 13, 2017 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: Feb 14, 2017 10:28 AM ET

The number of applicants for citizenship declined last year, and experts say the decrease is largely due to a hike in the application fee.

The number of applicants for citizenship declined last year, and experts say the decrease is largely due to a hike in the application fee. (Peter Power/Canada Day)

A sharp fee increase has helped fuel a dramatic drop in the number of immigrants applying to become Canadian citizens, according to immigration advocates.

In the first nine months of 2016, there were 56,446 applications filed for citizenship, a decrease of nearly 50 per cent from the same period a year earlier, when 111,993 applications were submitted.

The figures are included in a briefing by former Immigration and Citizenship director general Andrew Griffith prepared for the Senate social affairs, science and technology committee, which begins hearings this week on Bill C-6, a law to amend the Citizenship Act.

Griffith, an author on immigration issues and fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, calls it an “alarming” trend that can be linked directly to a steep increase in fees.

The processing fee jumped from $100 to $530 in 2014-2015, which amounts to a tripled price tag when the additional $100 “right of citizenship” fee is added.

“If you’re a professional doing reasonably well, you may not like it, but you pay it. It’s important to you,” Griffith told CBC News. “But if you are a struggling immigrant or refugee, suddenly $630 may become prohibitive, and especially if you’re talking about a family of four or more.”

Newcomers face other costs associated with the citizenship process, including language testing, he said. He recommends cutting the processing fee to $300, abolishing the right-of-citizenship fee, and considering a waiver for refugees and low-income immigrants.

Financial and other barriers

Griffith’s brief points to a broader pattern of declining naturalization rates. He warns that a growing part of the population may not fully integrate by becoming citizens due to financial or other barriers and that could lead to marginalization.

“We’ve always prided ourselves where we have a model where we don’t just encourage immigration, but we encourage immigrants to become citizens so they be fully part of society. They can take part in political discussions, they can vote and do all the things that are part of it,” he said.

Bill C-6 reverses reforms brought in by the previous Conservative government and takes steps to streamline and strengthen the integrity of the citizenship process. Those include reducing the time permanent residents have to live in Canada to become eligible for citizenship, counting time for work or study in residency requirements, and reducing the language proficiency requirements for younger and older immigrants.

Oath

A man raises his hand while taking the Oath of Citizenship at a ceremony in Mississauga, Ont. (Jonathan Castell/CBC)

But the government does not appear prepared to reverse the fee hike brought in by the Conservatives.

Bernie Derible, a spokesman for Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, said citizenship fees in Canada are “significantly less” than other comparable countries such as the U.K., Australia and New Zealand. Throughout the cross-country consultations last summer, there was little discussion or concern raised about the fee, he added.

Nancy Caron, a spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, said the extended residency requirement affected the number of applications and that fluctuations in numbers typically happen around changes to citizenship requirements.

When a new requirement is announced, there may be a surge of applications in advance of the new requirement coming into force and a corresponding decline afterwards, she said.

Fees were increased to reflect increasing costs to process demands.

“We continue to monitor the number of citizenship applications received and possible adjustments may be explored as necessary,” she said in an email.

Dory Jade, CEO of the Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants, said he has heard from plenty of clients who are delaying citizenship because they can’t afford the fees.

Make process ‘accessible and easy’

“If we want to bring immigrants, especially under a Liberal government which believes in nation builders, making it accessible and easy to become members of your society is a big, big issue,” he said.

Jade has met with officials from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to propose a way to address the financial burden.

He said he was told by officials that the current fees are not cost-recovery, which means they are still financed in part by the tax base despite the increase. But he suggested the government could ease the cost barrier by adopting a tax-like formula based on income, developing a loan program, or capping the total fee for a family.

Stephen Green, a Toronto-based immigration lawyer, said he has not heard of the fee being a significant factor in seeking citizenship. He said many of his firm’s clients who don’t currently qualify under the existing law are anxiously awaiting C-6 to become law so they can apply for citizenship.

The Senate social affairs committee hearings will be held Wednesday and Thursday this week, with a number of immigration and refugee lawyers and academics scheduled to testify.

On-campus employment:

Full-time post-secondary students may work without a work permit on the campus of the university or college at which they are a full-time student [R186(f)]. This authorization is valid for the period for which they hold a study permit at the institution and during which they are enrolled in full-time studies.

This regulation applies to students who are:

  • engaged in full-time studies (regardless of the course or program of study at a university, community college, collège d'enseignement général et professionnel (CÉGEP), publicly funded trade or technical school, or private institutions authorized by provincial statute to confer degrees);
  • working at any number of jobs on-campus, as well as students working as research or teaching assistants at facilities off-campus in research related to their research grant. These facilities could include teaching hospitals, clinics, research institutes, etc., that have a formal association or affiliation with the learning institution.

Definition of "on-campus work"

"On-campus" is defined as employment facilities within the boundaries of the campus. The students are only allowed to work on the campus of the educational institution at which they are registered in full-time studies. If an institution has more than one campus, the student can work at different locations on those campuses provided they are within the same municipality. If an institution has campuses in different cities, the student is restricted to working on the institution's campus where they are registered as a full-time student.

Students may work on campus as teaching or research assistants and may be located at a library, hospital, or research facility affiliated with the institution but located outside the physical boundaries of the institution's campus. This is allowed provided that the work is strictly related to the student's research grant.

The employer can be any of the following:

  • the institution;
  • a faculty;
  • a student organization;
  • the students themselves (self-employment taking place on campus);
  • a private business;
  • a private contractor providing services to the institution on the campus.

Some universities and colleges are located in city centres. On-campus employers include those whose businesses serve the general public, as long as the place of business is located on the institution's campus.

Note: Students need a social insurance number (SIN) to work in Canada. To apply for a SIN for on-campus employment, they must have a valid study permit. Students can apply for a SIN before or within the first three days of employment.

Temporary residents: Inland applications for permanent residence and temporary resident status extension

In situations where an applicant who has visitor status submits an application for permanent residence to a case processing centre in Canada and, at the same time, submits an application for a work permit [pursuant to paragraph R207(b)], the visitor may be considered to have requested an extension of their temporary resident status [in accordance with subsection R183(5)]. They are considered to have implied status as a visitor, until a decision is made on their work permit application.

When no application for a work or study permit is received with the application for permanent residence, the applicant is obliged to apply to extend their visitor status.

Extending a visit after a work or study permit refusal

If a visitor in Canada applies for and is refused a work or study permit, their visitor status is not affected. Upon receiving notice of the work permit or study permit refusal, the visitor must submit a separate application to extend their temporary resident status as a visitor before the expiry date of their temporary resident status, if they wish to remain in Canada.

If their status at the time of the work permit or study permit refusal was valid due to the application of subsection R183(6) (i.e., it was "implied status"), then they will have to apply for a restoration of visitor status if they do not wish to leave Canada.

Express Entry draw list: 2017

  • Lowest CRS points in any Express Entry draw: 447
  • Highest CRS points in any Express Entry draw: 886
  • Lowest CRS points in a 2017 Express Entry draw: 447
  • Highest CRS points in a 2016 Express Entry draw: 768

Invitations to Apply issued Number of invitations to apply issued Minimum CRS points required
Draw 51 January 4 2,902 468
Draw 52 January 11 3,334 459
Draw 53 January 25 3,508 453
Draw 54 February 8 3,664 447

Express Entry draw list: 2016

  • Lowest CRS points in a 2016 Express Entry draw: 453
  • Highest CRS points in a 2016 Express Entry draw: 786

Invitations to Apply issued Number of invitations to apply issued Minimum CRS points required
Draw 24 January 6 1,463 461
Draw 25 January 13 1,518 453
Draw 26 January 27 1,468 457
Draw 27 February 10 1,505 459
Draw 28 February 24 1,484 453
Draw 29 March 9 1,013 473
Draw 30 March 23 1,014 470
Draw 31 April 6 954 470
Draw 32 April 20 1,018 468
Draw 33 May 6 799 534
Draw 34 May 18 763 484
Draw 35 June 1 762 483
Draw 36 June 15 752 488
Draw 37 June 29 773 482
Draw 38 July 13 747 482
Draw 39 July 27 755 488
Draw 40 August 10 754 490
Draw 41 August 24 750 538
Draw 42 September 7 1,000 491
Draw 43 September 21 1,288 483
Draw 44 October 12 1,518 484
Draw 45 October 19 1,804 475
Draw 46 November 2 2,080 472
Draw 47 November 16 2,427 470
Draw 48 (PNP) November 30 559 786
Draw 49 December 16 1,936 497
Draw 50 December 22 2,878 475

Express Entry draw list: 2015

  • Lowest CRS points in a 2015 Express Entry draw: 450
  • Highest CRS points in a 2015 Express Entry draw: 886

Invitations to Apply issued Number of invitations to apply issued Minimum CRS points required
Draw 1 January 31 779 886
Draw 2 February 7 779 818
Draw 3 February 20 849 808
Draw 4 February 27 1,187 735
Draw 5 March 20 1,620 481
Draw 6 March 27 1,637 453
Draw 7 April 10 925 469
Draw 8 April 17 715 453
Draw 9 May 22 1,361 755
Draw 10 June 12 1,501 482
Draw 11 June 27 1,575 469
Draw 12 July 10 1,516 463
Draw 13 July 17 1,581 451
Draw 14 August 7 1,402 471
Draw 15 August 21 1,523 456
Draw 16 September 8 1,517 459
Draw 17 September 18 1,545 450
Draw 18 October 2 1,530 450
Draw 19 October 23 1,502 489
Draw 20 November 13 1,506 484
Draw 21 November 27 1,559 472
Draw 22 December 4 1,451 461
Draw 23 December 18 1,503 460




Immigration fuels Canada’s population growth of 1.7 million in five years: latest census

Data from the 2016 census shows Canada is the fastest growing country in the G7. Here’s a look at some of the census numbers, which show the country’s population is up to 35.15 million as of last year.(THE CANADIAN PRESS )

OTTAWA—Immigration, urbanization and a burgeoning west.

That’s the story of the nation, revealed Wednesday as Statistics Canada began its year-long roll-out of data collected in the 2016 census.

Statistics Canada counted 35,151,728 people in its May 2016 census, a 5 per cent increase over the 2011 national count, and 14 million private dwellings, up 5.6 per cent.

Toronto held its title as Canada’s largest city, with 2,731,571 residents, 7.8 per cent of the country’s population. That’s one million more than Montreal, the second-place city, with 1,704,694 residents.

Four cities in the Golden Horseshoe — Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton and Hamilton — ranked among the top 10 largest Canadian cities.

The new numbers reveal that Canada’s population grew by 1.7 million people since the last census in 2011. Immigrants accounted for two-thirds of the increase and the so-called natural increase — the difference between births and deaths — accounted for the rest.

Statistics Canada counted 35,151,728 people in its May 2016 census, a 5 per cent increase over the 2011 national count, and 14 million private dwellings, up 5.6 per cent
Statistics Canada counted 35,151,728 people in its May 2016 census, a 5 per cent increase over the 2011 national count, and 14 million private dwellings, up 5.6 per cent  (DARRYL DYCK / THE CANADIAN PRESS)  

Over the coming years, newcomers to Canada will account for more and more of the country’s population growth due to low fertility and an aging population.

“Deaths will be catching up to the number of births in Canada . . . the large baby boom cohort is moving to older ages where mortality is higher,” said Laurent Martel, director of the demography division at Statistics Canada.

“Fifty years from now, basically all population growth in Canada will be related to another factor which will be immigration. We know already that natural increase will no longer be a key contributor,” he said Wednesday in an interview.

Canada’s population growth slowed in the last five years, compared to the previous census period when the country grew by 5.9 per cent, but still led all G7 nations.

2016 CENSUS - G7 GROWTH RATES

In the census done five years ago, the story was of a nation growing and going west. That’s the story this time around too, with Canada’s surging western provinces all recording above-average increases in population.

Population growth accelerated in both Manitoba, up 5.8 per cent, and Alberta, which led all provinces with an 11.6 per cent increase, despite the oil patch slowdown that has slowed its economy.

Urban areas in the west were also fast-growing with Canada’s fastest growing urban areas were in the west with Calgary leading the way (up 14.6 per cent), followed by Edmonton (13.9 per cent), Saskatoon (12.5 per cent) and Regina (11.8 per cent).

Ontario — Canada’s most populous province with 13.5 million people — grew by 4.6 per cent. It’s the second census in a row that the province’s growth rate has been below the national average.

“Are we seeing a new pattern for Ontario where growth will be slightly lower than the national average? Who knows,” Martel said.

Still, Guelph, Oshawa, Toronto, Barrie, Ottawa and the Kitchener-Waterloo region were among the larger Ontario centres that saw above-average growth.

Immigrant settlement is behind much of the regional differences in population growth.

“We know that the geographic distribution of immigrants has changed slightly over the last few years. More are going towards Saskatchewan and Manitoba and less to Ontario and that explains in large part why the population growth in Ontario has decreased,” he said.

New Brunswick was alone in seeing its population actually drop, falling by 0.5 per cent. The population of Saint John fell by 2.2 per cent, blamed on people moving out of the province.

Indeed, Atlantic Canada’s share of the population has dropped over the years because of lower population growth. In 2016, 6.6 per cent of Canadians lived in the region, compared with 10 per cent in 1966.

Population growth slowed in Ontario and Quebec but the two provinces still accounted for 61.5 per cent of the Canadian population.

Nunavut took top spot as the fastest growing province or territory, seeing its population jump by 12.7 per cent, to 35,944 residents, thanks to the highest fertility level in the country. Women in Nunavut give birth to 2.9 children on average, compared to the national average of 1.6 children.

The census numbers track the changing fortunes of towns and cities across the nation. Warman, Sask. took the prize as the country’s fastest growing town or city with a 55 per cent jump in its population to 11,020. Shelburne, Ont. saw its population jump by 39 per cent.

At the other end of the scale were towns like Bonnyville, Alberta, Flin Flon, Manitoba, and the Ontario communities of Espanola, Kirkland Lake and Elliot Lake, which all lost residents.

2016 CENSUS - LARGEST GAINS AND LOSSES

Still, the latest census data confirms the continuing urbanization of Canada with 83 per cent of its population now living in cities. And the large urban areas grew by 7.9 per cent, faster than the overall growth in population.

“Canada was a rural country 150 years ago at Confederation. Now, we’re among the countries in the world with the largest proportion of the population living in metropolitan areas,” Martel said.

Read more:

Census shows big population gains in Toronto, Milton and Brampton

Canada’s 2016 census shows growth rate of new dwellings slowing down

Canada’s fertility rate continues to put pressure on immigration

The census data also shows that population growth was higher in so-called peripheral municipalities (up 6.9 per cent) compared with central municipalities (5.8 per cent). “This is very valuable information for those who are planning public transportation,” Martel said.

2016 CENSUS - CANADAS POPULATION

Canada had just 3.9 people per square kilometre in 2016, compared with 35.3 people per square kilometre in the United States. But the country’s population is highly concentrated with two out of three people living within 100 kilometres of the U.S. border.

The census is the twice-a-decade snapshot of the nation, providing an in-depth look at the size of the population, its make-up and details of how Canadians live.

Wednesday’s release is the first set of data from the 2016 census. Over the coming months, Statistics Canada will release other information from the census on age and sex of Canada’s population, income, language, immigration and ethocultural diversity, marital status, education and commuting patterns.

Quick facts

  • the population count in 2016 was 10 times greater than in 1871, when the first census after Confederation recorded 3.5 million residents in Canada. By 1967, the population had grown to 20 million.
  • Canada’s annual population growth rate of 1 per cent between 2011 and 2016 led G7 nations and ranked eighth among the G20 countries.
  • there are 5,162 municipalities in Canada. Of these, 24 had a population of at least 200,000 residents.
  • close to two in five Canadians live in the 15 largest municipalities.
  • with birth rates declining, immigration has fuelled Canada’s population growth since the end of 1990s.
  • Quebec’s population surpassed the 8-million mark for the first time in census history. However, the province’s population growth has lagged the national average for the last 40 years and its share of the country’s population has dropped to 23 per cent, from 29 per cent in 1966.
  • Vancouver had the highest population density in Canada, with more then 5,400 people per square kilometre. Toronto had 4,334 people per square kilometre.
  • Canada’s population grew by 3 per cent a year between 1901 and 1911, the fastest rate in its history.

Canada’s New Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program a Fresh Opportunity

Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program – 2017

Through this program, the federal government — together with the governments of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island — aim to welcome 2,000 newcomers and their families to the Atlantic region of Eastern Canada in 2017. Much of this region is sometimes referred to as ‘the Maritimes’.

Background

In July, 2016, Canada’s Minister of Immigration met with the provincial premiers (heads of government) of the four Atlantic provinces. Together, they worked to establish a new immigration pilot program for the region. The federal and provincial government alike recognize that these provinces need more newcomers who can establish themselves in the labour market and local communities.The three-year pilot program has been established to help address resource gaps that sectors are facing, and to help businesses attract and retain global talent. The program will also support population growth, help to develop a skilled workforce, and increase employment rates in the region.The pilot program forms part of an overall Atlantic Growth Strategy that will focus on the following five priority areas:

  • skilled workforce and immigration;
  • innovation;
  • clean growth and climate change;
  • trade and investment; and
  • infrastructure.

According to the targets announced in Canada’s 2017 Immigration Plan, the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program will facilitate the entry of 2,000 principal immigrants into Atlantic Canada in 2017.

Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program: the next steps

All principal applicants arriving in Canada under the pilot program will have a job offer from a designated employer and an individualized settlement plan for themselves and their family.Starting in early March, 2017, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will begin accepting applications for permanent residence through this program.

How the pilot program works

This is an employer-driven program, with significant involvement from employers in the provinces.

Once a designated employer finds a candidate who meets their employment needs and the program criteria, that employer will need to first offer them a job. Employers do not need to go through the process of obtaining a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) under this program.

Once the candidate has accepted the job, the employer will connect the candidate with a designated settlement service provider organization for a needs assessment and to develop a settlement plan. Employers will also support the long-term integration of the new immigrant and his or her family, if applicable, so they can reach the goals of their settlement plan once they arrive in Canada.

Employers that need to fill a job vacancy quickly will have access to a temporary work permit, so that the candidate and his or her family can come to Canada as soon as possible. In order to obtain this work permit, candidates will need:

  • a valid job offer;
  • a letter from the province; and
  • a commitment to apply for permanent residence within 90 days of the temporary work permit application.

Employer designation

Employers that would like to hire skilled immigrants under the pilot program must apply to the province(s) in order to receive designation. Employers with locations in multiple provinces will require separate a designation for each province. Employers must meet certain requirements, including a commitment to support the newcomer and his or her family as they integrate into their new life in Atlantic Canada.

Nova Scotia employer designation requirements New Brunswick employer designation requirements Newfoundland employer designation requirements Prince Edward Island employer designation requirements

Candidate requirements

The Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program has two programs for skilled workers:

  • Atlantic High-Skilled Program
  • Atlantic Intermediate-Skilled Program and one program for international student graduates:
  • Atlantic International Graduate Program (graduates must have graduated from one of these institutions).

The work experience, education, and job offer required will depend on whether the individual is applying as a worker or as an international student graduate. The other requirements are the same for both.See the table below for a review of the requirements.

 
Atlantic Intermediate-Skilled Program (AISP)
Atlantic High-Skilled Program (AHSP)
Atlantic International Graduate Program (AIGP)
Job offer from a designated employer
  • Full time
  • Indeterminate
  • NOC 0, A, B or C
  • Full time
  • One-year contract
  • NOC 0, A or B
  • Full time
  • One-year contract
  • NOC 0, A, B or C
Skilled work experience
  • One year in occupation related to job offer
N/A
Education
  • Completion of at least high school
  • Educational Credential Assessment or Canadian credential is required
  • Two-year post-secondary diploma from a publicly funded learning institution in the Atlantic region
Language
Level 4 of the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) in English or the Niveau de compétence linguistique Canadien in French
Provincial endorsement
Letter of endorsement

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.


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.


Express entry 2016

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has revamped the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) for its Express Entry immigration selection system. The changes, which had been expected for some time, will have a major effect on candidates for immigration to Canada through the three federal programs managed through Express Entry, namely the Federal Skilled Worker Class, the Federal Skilled Trades Class, and the Canadian Experience Class.

The new instructions on Express Entry, which were published in the government of Canada’s official Gazette, come into force on November 19, 2016.

The significant changes to job offers are:

  • A qualifying job offer is now worth 200 points if the offer is in an occupation contained in a Major Group 00 of the National Occupational Classification (senior managerial level position). These occupations are:
    • 0011 Legislators
    • 0012 Senior government managers and officials
    • 0013 Senior managers – financial, communications and other business services
    • 0014 Senior managers – health, education, social and community services and membership organizations
    • 0015 Senior managers – trade, broadcasting and other services, n.e.c.
    • 0016 Senior managers – construction, transportation, production and utilities
  • A qualifying job offer is now worth 50 points if the offer is any other qualifying offer of arranged employment.

Previously, qualifying job offers supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment were worth 600 points under the CRS. As of November 19, there will be new ways of being awarded either 50 or 200 points without the need to obtain a LMIA (though points will continue to be awarded to individuals with a new or existing LMIA). The new regulations also allow the following individuals to be awarded points for a qualifying job offer:

In both above cases, the worker must have been working in Canada for at least one year and the job offer must be made by the same employer named on the work permit.

Canadian study now a factor

The points that are to be assigned for a Canadian educational credential are the following:

  • 0 points, if the foreign national has a secondary school educational credential;
  • 15 points, if the foreign national has an eligible credential from a one-year or two-year post-secondary program; and 30 points, if the foreign national has either:
    • an eligible credential from a post-secondary program of three years or more,
    • an eligible credential from a university-level program at the master’s level or at the level of an entry-to-practice professional degree for an occupation listed in the National Occupational Classification matrix at Skill Level A for which licensing by a provincial regulatory body is required, or
    • an eligible credential from a university-level program at the doctoral level.

Points are only assigned for Canadian study experience if, for the purpose of obtaining the credential, the foreign national:

  • studied in Canada at a Canadian educational institution;
  • was enrolled in full-time study or training for at least eight months; and
  • was physically present in Canada for at least eight months.

Before these changes, there were no additional points available for international students/graduates who had completed a study program in Canada. The changes reflect the government’s goal of providing simpler pathways to permanent residents to international students and graduates in Canada.

Invitations to Apply

Candidates who receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence will have additional time to submit a complete application to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Whereas previously an ITA was valid for 60, candidates will now have 90 days to submit an application after they receive an ITA.

The consequences for candidates in the pool

On November 19, IRCC will automatically implement these changes for profiles already in the Express Entry pool. In many cases, candidates may notice that the number of CRS points awarded to them has not gone up. However, candidates without a job offer in particular should note that their profile — even though it may state the same number of points as before — may become more competitive, particularly next to candidates with LMIA-based job offers who see their scores dropping by up to 550 points.

The Express Entry pool is a competitive environment, where candidates’ profiles are ranked against each other and the highest-ranked candidates are in a stronger position to receive an ITA when a draw is made. As of November 19, the value of a job offer will go down from 600 points to either 200 or 50 points (depending on the position offered).

Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) Now The Most Valuable Factor

It should be noted that candidates who obtain an enhanced nomination certificate through a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) category will continue to be awarded 600 points. Additionally, candidates should note that IRCC’s recently-released Immigration Plan for 2017 revealed that the government of Canada aims to welcome around 51,000 new immigrants through the PNPs next year, a seven percent increase on the target for 2016. With more enhanced PNP categories opening and changing over time, it is arguably more important than ever before for candidates to stay up to date on these immigration programs.