Thursday, June 30, 2011

New law will regulate immigration industry

 
 
Ottawa's move to get toughwith "crooked" immigration consultants who falsely promise victims easy entry into the country at a steep price is being applauded by a local lawyer who often helps immigrants who get scammed.
Immigration lawyer Andrew Porter talks of unscrupulous consultants who travel overseas with Power Point presentations that feature Calgary with mountains in the background, vows of automatic medical care, plus cheaper gas and housing prices.
"They paint a real attractive picture," Porter said. "They entice people to sign over money, from $10,000 to $50,000. These consultants give the impression there is a way to jump the queue. They advise people to lie and manipulate.
"But what they are doing is taking people's money - often from those Joe Comartin in desperate circumstances - and give promises that can't be kept. It happens again and again and there is no one to hold them accountable or they disappear."
The new legislation, to regulate the industry in a similar fashion as the legal and medical profession, goes into effect Thursday, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced Tuesday in Mississauga.
"The Government of Canada has promised to crack down on crooked immigration consultants and their shady practices, and with Bill C-35, we now have the tools," said Kenney.
MP Joe Comartin (NDP - Windsor-Tecumseh) applauded the new federal law, saying it will clean up a system that has been "a total disaster," ripe with abuse and self-interest.
Oversight will now fall under the newly created Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council. It will be on the same level of regulatory enforcement as the law society or college of physicians, Comartin said.
Bill C-35 also strengthens rules for those who provide immigration advice and make it an offence for anyone besides an accredited representative or anyone not in good standing to conduct business.
"You have consultants doing a good job, but the previous (regulatory) agency was not doing anything to patrol and enforce the proper standards," Comartin said. "The new legislation puts into effect a new governing body with teeth and clear mandate to regulate.
"It's a significant improvement. I'm cautiously optimistic after several years of enforcement that with people who take advantage of victims we will force them out of business."
The most noteworthy case locally of alleged immigrant abuse revolves around former Windsor consultant Francesco Salvatore (Sam) Burgio, facing 28 criminal charges after allegedly bilking more than $1 million from immigrants hoping to become Canadians.
The RCMP, which investigated with Citizenship and Immigration Canada, have been in contact with at least 25 alleged victims. The amounts Burgio is accused of defrauding from his clients start at $1,300 and escalate to $394,080, according to court documents. The allegations haven't been proven in court.
Victims allege Burgio and Associates agreed to submit applications and accompanying fees on their behalf to Citizenship and Immigration Canada to help them gain status in this country. Burgio told the victims he had submitted the applications, but they eventually learned he had done no such thing, police said.
Burgio has maintained his innocence and is next scheduled to appear for a court preliminary hearing starting March 5.
But the largest amount of abuse is said to happen in the Toronto area, where consultants often operate in tandem with others inside the countries of origin.
Despite the good intentions of the new legislation, Comartin said it can't address the unscrupulous consultants based in other countries.
He indicated the next step is diplomatic agreements with nations overseas to allow enforcement.


Read more:http://www.windsorstar.com/news/Crooked+consultants+targeted/5021458/story.html#ixzz1Qp7CZ5zu

Alberta launches tool to evaluate foreign credentials

video
The province of Alberta has launched a free online tool, the Education Overview Guide, to help employers better understand the educational credentials of immigrants seeking to work in Alberta.
"This particular tool will allow an employer to look at a diploma or certificate, go on the website, look up that country and see where this diploma fits within the educational hierarchy ... and be able to draw a comparison to what this would mean in Canada," says Employment and Immigration Minister Thomas Lukaszuk.
So far, the guide includes 10 countries that have the most immigrants moving to Alberta, including India, Nigeria, and the Philippines. Lukaszuk noted that more countries will continue to be added to the list as necessary. With the expected labour shortage in Alberta, employers will be seeking to hire qualified individuals, especially foreign workers.

New online resource helps employers and human resources professionals understand foreign-earned education

A new tool will help employers and human resources professionals better understand academic credentials earned abroad. The online tool will improve the attraction and retention of newcomers which is an important part of addressing the province’s future labour shortage.
The Education Overview Guides are an online resource that explains how international education credentials compare to Alberta education credentials and standards. Employers, Human Resource professionals, potential immigrants, and recent newcomers can all benefit from understanding how foreign education credentials compare to Alberta standards.
Global competition for labour is a reality in many industries. There are talented, skilled individuals in Alberta, Canada and around the world, and this new tool can help employers interpret the international academic credentials of job applicants.
Whether you are an employer looking at a resume or an immigrant preparing to work in Alberta, the Education Overview Guides can help you. The Education Overview Guides are based on extensive research and well-documented standards and criteria. These recommendations are advisory in nature and indicate the general level of a credential in Albertan terms. Education Overview Guides are available for countries with the highest levels of immigration to Alberta:
The guides provide an overview of the country and the educational system within the country. The information contained in these brief summaries is an important first step toward understanding the educational patterns in each country.
The guides do not cover all credentials. International credentials not explicitly covered should be referred to International Qualifications Assessment Service (IQAS) for evaluation.
When using the Education Overview Guides, we recommend that you check the title of the award in the original language, as well as the translation, as English translations can sometimes be misleading. If the title of the award does not appear in either language, referring to the chart for an overview of the education system might help you locate the level of the credential or alternative titles.
If you are an internationally-educated individual looking to work in Alberta, there are resources to help you prepare:
  • Information on Working in Alberta – information on how to research job opportunities in your occupation in Alberta, as well as tips for job seekers and important details about workplace rights and responsibilities, employment standards and work-related resources.
     
  • International Qualifications Assessment Service (IQAS) – information about how IQAS assesses international educational credentials and compares them to educational credentials in Canada, as well as how to apply for an assessment.


Canada: The greatest country in the world

BY GEORGIALEE LANG, POSTMEDIA NEWS



Canada is the greatest country in the world. Of course, statistically, we know that’s true. The United Nations' Human Development Index, based on life expectancy, education, standards of living, and child welfare, has told us so for years.
But Canada’s greatness is not just about the “good life." Canada is the land of opportunity, where milk and honey flows, not just for the wealthy, but for anyone who dreams a dream and works hard.
There is no better example of this than my legal assistant, Justine Karungyi. Justine arrived in British Columbia from Uganda in 2006. She was 24 years old. She began her life in Africa while civil war raged and her family, including four siblings, became fractured. Her father was a local Chairman of the Uganda People’s Congress, which had governed Uganda for many years. He fled his home in Jinja, moving to his ancestral home in Mbarara with Justine and her sister.
The genocide of war kept Justine, her father and her sister in exile for over three years. Justine’s mother believed her husband and two girls were dead. After all, thousands of children were turned into soldiers and others were abducted, raped and murdered. Justine’s mother had moved on with her life with a new partner and more children. Losing her mother was as profound as the devastation of war.
As was the norm in Uganda, Justine’s father took his five children and settled in Masaka. Custody was not an issue. Children belonged with their fathers. No questions asked. In Masaka, Justine attended primary school and later, secondary school, at a private Catholic girls' boarding school. Her father paid the fees, but nothing else. Justine’s stepmother resented Justine and her siblings. They cost too much money and they interfered in her relationship with their father.
The school fed Justine a corn-flour and hot-water paste, called “posho,” and beans twice a day. She and her sister ended up on the streets begging for money to buy basics, including sugar, toilet paper and hygiene products.
Once she finished high school she enrolled in a two-year program to obtain an advanced certificate of education.
Justine’s Literature teacher talked about corruption, about standing up for people who could not speak for themselves, and about the law and what lawyers could do for their country and its citizens. At 15 years old Justine decided she would become a lawyer. But a legal education in Uganda was well beyond her reach.
She began working for KPMG as an administrative assistant and enrolled in Makara University Business School, attaining a bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management. But she never abandoned her dream.
One of Justine’s brothers had married a Canadian citizen and was raising a family in British Columbia. He invited Justine to come to Canada to assist with the care of his two children under a new immigration program for live-in caregivers. When she completed her caregiving stint, began working in my law office.
She told me her dream of becoming a lawyer. I told her she could do anything she wanted in Canada if she was prepared to work for it. She was.
Justine will start law school in two months at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. She still has no money, but Canada’s student loan program will see her through, just like it did for me 25 years ago. She is well on her way to living her dream. She is living proof that Canada is the greatest country in the world.
Georgialee Lang is a Vancouver lawyer and arbitrator named in “Best Lawyers in Canada.” She blogs at lawdiva.wordpress.com. Her website is georgialeelang.com

Studying in Canada: A welcome to keep you warm through winter

Among British students, Canada hasn’t ranked highly as a destination for education. Perhaps it’s the distance that makes applicants think twice. Perhaps it’s the cold winters. But it certainly isn’t the quality of education, cost of studying or standard of living.
Canadian degrees, awarded at 90 universities nationwide, are internationally recognised and respected, according tointernationalgraduate.net. Their education system offers “strong student support services, small classes and active campus communities”. And, as Canada spends more per capita on its education system than any other country in the world, tuition rates are lower for international students than they are in many other countries.
As for quality of life, Canada was ranked eighth in the UN’s worldwide Human Development Index 2010. Brits are welcome, too. According to Rob Norris, the minister of advanced education, employment and immigration in the province of Saskatchewan, “There’s a spirit of welcome across Canada. We want to make sure that our campuses and communities are increasingly diverse, international and cosmopolitan,” he says.
Saskatchewan puts its money where its mouth is. Norris explains: “We have made record investment of more than C$2.8bn (£1.8bn) in post-secondary education in the past three years. That includes a 3,000 per cent increase in funding for student housing, and new dollars in key areas where we want to be leading in innovation.” Namely, science and engineering, responding to the area’s wealth of natural resources, including arable land, uranium, oil and the mining industry.
Recession is not a word that appears in the Canadian dictionary. Within the province of Saskatchewan alone – an area the size of France – there are currently more than 9,000 job vacancies (saskjobs.ca). “We’re not shy about saying to international students there are career opportunities here,” says Norris. “In Saskatchewan, we’ve just made some improvements to our regional immigration system to allow [post] graduate students to stay for a couple of years [after completing their studies] to enable them to find career opportunities.”
There’s also the graduate retention programme, which enables graduates with honours degrees from Saskatchewan universities to qualify for up to C$20,000 (£12,800) back if they stay and work in the province for seven years.
But that’s jumping ahead. Students contemplating Canada as a destination should first consider fees, which vary greatly. British students pay around C$11,000 (£7,000) a year at the University of Winnipeg in Manitoba, C$18,000 (£11,500) at York University in Toronto, and $24,000 (£15,300) at the University of British Columbia, according to their websites. As for postgraduate study, costs range from $3,780 (£2,412) a year at Memorial University in Newfoundland to $17,500 (£11,039) at the University College of Cape Breton in Nova Scotia.
As for a visa, you shouldn’t need one. A study placement of up to six months is yours for the applying. For longer study, UK nationals need a permit, for which the Canadian High Commission requires you to have been accepted to a university in Canada, and have proof that you can pay for tuition fees and living expenses. It estimates the latter to be around $10,000 (£6,300) per year, plus CA$4,000 (£2,500) for the first dependant and CA$3,000 (£1,900) for each subsequent dependent. You need a clean criminal record and an equally clean bill of health. It takes eight to 10 weeks to process applications, and costs around £75, which is usually non-refundable, regardless of success.
For those applying to study in Quebec, things are a little different. You will need to get a certificate of acceptance from the Quebec government. Visit immigration-quebec.gouv.qc.ca/en/immigrate-settle/students/index.html for more information.
Overall, though, there are few immigration barriers to UK students. Dr George Maslany, from the University of Regina, confirms: “There’s not much red tape. It takes about two months, but usually anyone from Britain who applies for a permit gets it.”
Financial assistance may be available in scholarships and bursaries. These are numerous and most are competitive, awarded on academic merit rather than financial need. But at the Dr David Hannah, associate vice-president of student and enrolment services at the University of Saskatchewan, says: “We have a guaranteed entrance scholarship programme for undergraduate students, which gives them anywhere from C$500 (£320) to C$3,000 (£1,915) for their first year of study, depending on their academic qualifications. They don’t even have to apply for that, it’s automatic.”
Similarly, places on Canadian courses are almost exclusively awarded on academic qualifications. There are some exceptions, for example medicine often has an interview process. Hannah says: “It’s usually based on secondary school performance. With UK students, we typically look for three A-levels of at least D grades. In some courses it might be higher – for business courses, for example, we’re looking for B grades.”
With the strong and long-standing connections between Canada and the UK, students should have little trouble settling in. “We are very respectful of our traditions, including the monarchy and the Commonwealth, which plays a vital role within our culture and community,” explains Norris. “There’s an affinity here that, from the feedback we get from students and scholars from the UK, gives a tremendous feeling of being at home.”
Hannah agrees: “Because of our Commonwealth connections, our university system is derived from the English and Scottish systems. I think that would be a lot of comfort for students coming to any Canadian university.”
Another plus, for British linguists, may be Canada’s bilingualism: in parts of the country, it is possible to study in either French or English. Most, however, benefit from the lack of language barrier. Maslany jokes “British students don’t have any difficulty as Canadians are devoid of any accent, but UK students have a range of accents. It can take a little while for us to familiarise ourselves with those!”
And the big chill? “The first winter here can take some adjusting,” Hannah admits, “but all of our buildings at the University of Saskatchewan are connected through interior walkways, so you don’t have to spend too much time outside in the cold. In the summer, temperatures top 30C, and from the middle of April until mid October, it’s really very pleasant around here.”
Norris concludes: “The mood in Canada is one of real optimism. We are very student orientated, with universities that are held in high regard. This is a land that’s focused on the future.”

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

ICCRC Becomes New Regulatory Body for Immigration Consultants


TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 28, 2011) - The Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC/the Council) is pleased that the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism has designated the Council as the new regulatory body for immigration consultants.
This represents a new beginning for the immigration consultant profession.
The Council will work hard to regulate the industry fairly and effectively, enhance consumer protectionand uphold the integrity of the Canadian immigration system.
"This is an important day for immigration consultants across Canada," said ICCRC President and CEO Phil Mooney. "The Council has a clear plan and is ready to regulate this industry."
"The ICCRC has committed to accountability, transparency and good governance and has pledged to work to protect the interests of consumers," added Minister Kenney. "Their efforts, backed by strong new legislation, will allow us to better serve people through our immigration processes and protect potential immigrants, all while improving the integrity of Canada's immigration system."
The Council will also engage all stakeholders involved in immigration in order to develop new and innovative ways to protect the public, including newcomers to Canada, from unauthorized providers of immigration services.
We now invite all immigration consultants to register on our website to become members of the Council. Consultants in good standing with the former regulator as of March 19, 2011, will have 30 days to become members of the Council.
For the latest information on the Council's activities, please follow the updates on our website (www.iccrc-crcic.ca) and on our Facebook page. To view the announcement on Citizenship and Immigration Canada's website, please visit www.cic.gc.ca.
For Broadcast Use
"The Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (the Council) is pleased to become the new regulator for immigration consultants. The Council will work hard to regulate the industry fairly and effectively, enhance consumer protection and uphold the integrity of the Canadian immigration system."
Backgrounder
In August 2010, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) launched a competitive submission process to establish a new regulatory body for immigration consultants in Canada.
On March 18, 2011,the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC/the Council) was proposed as the new regulator for this profession. The Notice was published in the Canada Gazette and was followed by a 30-day comment period.
On June 28, 2011 the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism has designated the Council as the new regulatory body for immigration consultants.
Immigration consultants will have 30 days to become members of the Council. This quick transition will help protect consumers, uphold the integrity of the immigration system, and save immigration consultants money.
The Council will implement many newinitiatives designed to make positive changes to the regulation of this industry, guided by the principles of accountability, transparency and good governance.
The Council
The Council is led by a Board of Directors and a President and CEO representing all aspects of the industry, with significant experience in immigration issues. Biographical notes for Board members and the Council's President and CEO are available here.
No later than March 31, 2012, the first General Meeting will be held. At that time, an election will take place for all positions on the Board of Directors. After the first General Meeting, the Board will consist of fifteen directors, including three Public Interest Directors.
The geographical representation for the remaining twelve elected directors will be:
  • Ontario: 4
  • Quebec: 2
  • Western Canada: 4
  • Other: 2
Several committees have been formed to help the Council operate:
  • Admissions Committee
  • Appeal Committee
  • Communications Committee
  • Complaints Committee
  • Discipline Committee
  • Finance and Audits Committee
  • Governance and Nominating Committee
  • Outreach Committee
  • Practice Management and Education Committee
  • Practice Quality Review Committee
  • Review Committee
These committees are comprised of volunteers who have a keen interest in the subject area.

Tougher rules governing immigration consultants enacted and new regulator announced

Ottawa, June 28, 2011 — Legislation cracking down on crooked immigration consultants will come into force on June 30, 2011, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced today.
At the same time, oversight of the consultant community is being turned over to the newly created Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC). “The Government of Canada has promised to crack down on crooked immigration consultants and their shady practices, and with Bill C-35, we now have the tools,” said the Minister.
Bill C-35 strengthens the rules governing those who charge their clients for immigration advice or representation, making it an offence for anyone other than an accredited immigration representative to conduct business, for a fee or other consideration, at any stage of an application or proceeding. It also increases penalties and fines for unauthorized representation and allows for more government oversight in order to improve the way in which immigration consultants are regulated.
With the designation of the ICCRC as the regulator of immigration consultants, consultants who are currently members in good standing of the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC) can begin to register with the ICCRC on June 30, 2011.
Immigration representatives must be either members in good standing of a provincial or territorial law society, including paralegals; members of the Chambre des notaires du Québec; or members of the governing body for immigration consultants.
A 120-day transitional period will be put in place to ensure a smooth transition and continuity of service for both CSIC members currently in good standing and their clients during the transition to the ICCRC. The transition period will end on October 28, 2011.
After a notice was published on March 19, 2011, in the Canada Gazette, Part I, proposing the ICCRC be designated the regulator of immigration consultants, over 70 percent of the public comments received during the 30-day consultation period supported the proposal to establish a new regulator of immigration consultants.
“The ICCRC has committed to accountability, transparency and good governance and has pledged to work to protect the interests of consumers,” added Minister Kenney. “Their efforts, backed by strong new legislation, will allow us to better serve people through our immigration processes and protect potential immigrants, all while improving the integrity of Canada’s immigration system.”

Monday, June 27, 2011

As nation of immigrants, Canada must now confront its emigrants


DEMOGRAPHICS REPORTER

Canada has always thought of itself as a nation of immigrants. But new research suggests that among wealthy immigrant-receiving nations, Canada is one of the likeliest to see its own citizens move abroad.
Nearly 2.8 million Canadians (9 per cent of the population) live in other countries, according to a study by the Asia Pacific Foundation, proportionally about five times higher than the United States and roughly the same as Britain.
That demographic shift toward significant emigration will eventually force Canada to confront a long-established ambivalence to citizens living beyond its borders, the report’s authors say.
“There’s a very deep-seated self-image in this country that we are an immigrant country and a kind of instinct that treats Canadians abroad as either failed immigrants or disloyal Canadians,” said Yuen Pau Woo, CEO of the Asia Pacific Foundation.
“We’ve got to think bigger than that. … We stand to fall behind other countries that are actively courting their diaspora communities.”
Mr. Woo said Canadian government policy discourages attachment to Canada among its diaspora. Canadians who have lived abroad for more than five years lose their right to vote in Canadian elections, for example. And citizenship can only be passed on to the first generation born abroad.
Mr. Woo said he doubts Canada is actually ready to change its attitude toward emigrants, but he wants to start the discussion.
“Canadians abroad can be seen as a balance sheet. They often have been seen more on the liability side of the ledger than the asset side of the ledger,” he said. “The trick to determining whether they’re assets or liabilities in the end has to do with government policies. There’s a choice. We’re trying to encourage the right choice.”
Scotland, Australia, India, China and Singapore have all adopted policies designed to develop stronger links with their diasporas, from business networking groups to return tourism campaigns. Ireland has received hundreds of millions of dollars in philanthropic gifts from its diaspora.
Jonathan Gray, a Canadian citizen who lived in five countries during his childhood, did graduate studies in Britain and now teaches at the University of Wisconsin. He last lived in Canada in 1999 and hasn’t voted in a Canadian election in several years. Prof. Gray, 35, is also a British citizen and will soon be eligible to become a U.S. citizen.
He says his connection to Canada often feels like no more than a love of hockey and an affinity for fellow Canadians, but he visits Canada once or twice a year and follows Canadian politics. He said he still considers himself Canadian and would be interested in returning to Canada if the right job opportunity arose.
The Canadian government should build bridges with people like Prof. Gray, but it doesn’t, according to the study. Don DeVoretz, a Simon Fraser University economist who directed research on the study, said Canada doesn’t do much to engage its citizenry abroad and, as a result, is ignoring potential benefits.
“We don’t get any benefits as it stands now. You look around, you see countries like India, Australia, New Zealand or Ireland or Scotland, they have very aggressive programs to initiate contact and interchange with their overseas population,” Prof. DeVoretz said.
There is a widespread impression in Canada, though, driven in part by the costly evacuation of Canadian citizens from Lebanon in 2006, that Canada’s diaspora is more of a burden than an asset. There’s also a fear that our free public-health-care system will be used by people who haven’t contributed to Canadian tax rolls during their working years.
Prof. DeVoretz said those costs can be managed. One possibility is to create a fund for Canadians abroad to pay their share of future health-care costs, a kind of insurance fund.
The study calls for the government to support networks of Canadians abroad, citing the example of the C100 group in the Silicon Valley that brings together Canadian entrepreneurs and builds partnerships with universities and alumni groups.
The study suggests the trend toward a more mobile citizenship is accelerating as growing numbers of immigrants, particularly from Asia, stay in Canada long enough to obtain citizenship and subsequently move back to their native country or to a third country. Although a majority of Canadians abroad were born in Canada, immigrants who became citizens through naturalization were more than three times as likely to leave from 1996 to 2006.
Canada, unlike Australia, does not track who leaves its borders, so getting figures for Canadians abroad is difficult. Using census data from Canada and other countries, the study found that the largest number of Canadians abroad – more than one million – are in the United States. The next largest group, roughly 300,000, is in Hong Kong.
Who leaves?
The majority of Canadians abroad – 58 per cent – are Canadian born. But from 1996 to 2006, rates of exit were more than three times higher for naturalized Canadians. Immigrants from China and India, interestingly, had low exit rates, but the data go back only to 2005, when the economic boom in those countries was still accelerating and most mainland Chinese had only been in Canada a short time. Younger Canadians, aged 21 to 25, are most likely to leave. Second-generation Canadians from Eastern Europe, South Asia or the Middle East have high exit rates. Those who identify as French have high return rates, at 29 per cent. Immigrants from Taiwan and Hong Kong are most likely to leave, while those from the Caribbean, Britain and Portugal are among the least likely.
What do they think about Canada?
In a survey of Canadians in Hong Kong, two-thirds of them said they would like to have the same voting rights as those living in Canada and slightly more than half would like to see a central government agency co-ordinate services for Canadians abroad. Two-thirds said they had family connections to Canada, and more than 20 per cent said they think “all the time” about returning to live in Canada. Twenty-nine per cent said they intend to send their children to school in Canada, while another 14 per cent said they will send their children to schools with Canadian curricula. Nearly 20 per cent still pay taxes in Canada
What questions does it raise?
There is a view that Canadians abroad do not pay taxes and therefore shouldn’t reap the benefits of citizenship, such as free health care, should they return. The biggest loss to the Canadian treasury is when a Canadian male in his peak earning years, aged 36 to 61, leaves the country. This loss is compounded if the same Canadian returns after retirement, because people over 61 are unlikely to pay enough in taxes to make up for what they will eventually cost the health-care system. One possible solution would be to establish a fund which those who intended to return to Canada could pay into; another suggestion, similar to what is in place in the U.S., is that Canadian citizens abroad could be required to file annual tax returns.