Thursday, December 12, 2013

Five Common Immigration Mistakes You May Be Making

English: Passport Stamp issued by Immigration ...
English: Passport Stamp issued by Immigration Canada at Toronto Lester B. Pearson Airport. Category:Passport stamps of Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Canada has over 60 immigration programs, each with its own unique set of criteria. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) makes every effort to create programs with requirements that are clear. Nevertheless, every year applications are returned or rejected due to mistakes made by applicants.
These mistakes are often made accidentally by the applicant. Sometimes, mistakes can be corrected and an application resubmitted. Other times, a mistake can result in serious repercussions and possibly mean the end of an individual’s chances for Canadian immigration.
Below are five mistakes that applicants for permanent residency, temporary work, and even visitor visas should look out for.
1) Inconsistencies in Personal and Educational History – Applications for permanent residency, as well as some applications for temporary residency, require individuals to list in detail their travel history, personal history, and/or educational history. There should be absolutely no gaps in this history. Unexplained periods of time, even as short as a week, must be accounted for.
How to avoid: Even short vacations should be noted on a travel history. For personal history, periods of time when you were unemployed should still be accounted for. You should double- and triple-check this part of your application to make sure that dates align properly. These dates should also correspond with supporting documents such as letters of reference.
2) Language Test Scores are Insufficient – Most Canadian permanent residency programs require proof of proficiency in either English or French. Proficiency is defined according to the Canadian Level Benchmark (CLB) system.
Different standardized tests may be accepted for proof of language ability depending on the immigration program one is applying under. However, applicants must meet minimum CLB levels in all language abilities being evaluated for a program. These abilities include reading, writing, speaking, listening, or a combination of the four.
For instance, the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is one of the tests accepted as proof of English proficiency for the Federal Skilled Worker Program. Applicants submitting IELTS scores must meet at least CLB level 7 in all four language abilities. This amounts to a score of 6.0 in each language ability. If even one ability is scored less than a 6.0, the applicant will be deemed ineligible for immigration through this program.
How to avoid: Double-check the language requirements for your specific program. Make sure that you meet or exceed the minimum levels in each language ability.
3) Listing Ineligible Dependents – For Canadian permanent residency applications, only spouses, common-law partners, and/or eligible biological or legally adopted children may be listed as dependents by the principal applicant. However, some applicants misunderstand this limitation and list other family members such as parents or siblings as dependents. These individuals may not be included on an application, and doing so may slow down and application’s processing time.
How to avoid: Make sure that only your eligible dependents are listed as dependents.
4) Employment Letters Do Not Comply with Requirements – Most programs require that work experience be proven by providing an employment letter. These letters, by current and/or previous employers, explain the kind of work an individual has performed on a day-to-day basis.
The following must be included in reference letters:
  • Position held
  • Hours
  • Salary and working conditions
  • Description of job duties
  • Employer’s signature
  • Printed on company letterhead
  • Company information such as address and contact information
If the above requirements are not met, an employment letter may not be recognized as proof of the applicant’s work experience.
How to avoid: Check your employment letters after receiving them. Providing an employer with a basic template outlining these requirements can also help.
5) Using an Unauthorized Representative – In order to minimize mistakes like those above, many individuals choose to hire a representative to assist them with their application. Representatives may be paid or unpaid, but if paid they must be a lawyer or immigration consultant authorized by the government to assist Canadian immigration applicants.
Unfortunately for applicants, there are many fraudsters claiming to be immigration representatives, when in fact they are not authorized to represent individuals. These phony representatives are not accountable to the government or a professional order, and will often request large sums of money for a ‘guaranteed’ visa.
Avoid this mistake: If looking for a representative, do not hesitate to ask for their professional credentials. An immigration lawyer must be registered with the law society in their province of residence and an immigration consultant by the ICCRC (Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulation Council) .
In Conclusion
“With so many immigration programs currently subject to intake caps, it is of the utmost importance that applicants get it right the first time,” said Attorney David Cohen. “It would be a shame to see an application returned because of an avoidable mistake, only to then have the applicant become ineglible for immigration because their program cap has filled.”
The process of coming to Canada, whether as a visitor, worker, student, or permanent resident, can result in a life-changing opportunity for applicants and their families. Because of this, it is of the utmost importance that individuals complete their applications with care. With a little work and careful planning, they can make sure that their goals are not dashed by an easily avoidable mistake.
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Quebec Applications Outpacing Federal Applications

The Quebec Skilled Worker (QSW) program has received a surprisingly high number of applications since it introduced a cap on overall application intake. Since August 1, 2013, a total of almost 4,000 new QSW applications have been received by the Province of Quebec, out of an overall cap of 20,000. This outpaces the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program, which has received just 3,100 applications in twice the amount of time.
Why is there an intake cap?
A number of Canadian immigration programs currently have application intake caps in place. By limiting the number of applications that will be accepted for processing, authorities can ensure that processing times remain low and no application backlogs are created. This is part of a broader push that the Canadian government has made in recent years to transition its immigration system to one that is “faster and more flexible”, thus serving the best interests of Canadians and potential immigrants alike.
The Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program, which facilitates immigration to provinces outside of Quebec, has been subject to caps since 2008. However, this is the first year that the QSW has followed suit.
The FSW and QSW are two of the most popular Canadian immigration programs. The FSW program has, in the past year, greatly restricted its eligibility requirements. This includes limiting eligibility to workers with experience in just 24 occupations, as well as limiting application intake to 5,000 overall between May 4, 2013 and April 30, 2014. Because of these restrictions, immigration to Canada through the already popular QSW has in recent months seen an upswing in popularity.
Who is affected by the cap?
Applicants applying to the QSW program before March 31, 2014 will be subject to the cap. We do not know what will happen after that date.
At present, an applicant is eligible to apply to the QSW as long as he or she has at least high school level of education and achieves a sufficient number of points on a points grid specific to the program. The points grid assesses factors such as work experience, age, French and English language proficiency, and family information.
“The Quebec Skilled Worker system favours experienced workers as well as families,” said Attorney David Cohen. “The province is looking to bring in the next generation of talented, driven Quebecers. However, they want to make sure that all prospective immigrants are processed quickly and fairly. It is for this reason that the government has instituted an intake cap on the program.”
Advice for applicants – be proactive
Preparing and submitting an application to the QSW can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. While there is still time to submit an application before the cap closes, applicants should be aware that the 20,000 limit is steadily filling.
“We do not know what the Quebec Skilled Worker program will look like after March 31, 2014,” said Attorney David Cohen. “Therefore, applicants who are eligible today should make an effort to submit their applications as soon as possible. The Canadian immigration system rewards those who are organized and driven to succeed.”
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Healthcare Professionals – Options for Canadian Immigration

Canadian Provinces and Territories
Canadian Provinces and Territories (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
CIC News has, in the past, discussed the high demand for nurses in Canada, as well as their many options for immigration. In addition to nurses, Canada is looking for workers in a number of other healthcare fields. In fact, Canadian immigration programs across the country have been structured to specifically attract healthcare practitioners with a wide range of expertise.
This article is a brief overview of the many immigration options currently available for professionals in the field of healthcare services:
Canadian immigration options for medical occupations
Individuals with healthcare expertise are needed in virtually every province and town in Canada. This need is reflected by the abundance of immigration programs geared towards such professionals.
Because of the diversity of programs currently open to healthcare practitioners, successful applicants will have the option to apply to the program most suited to their strengths, and to settle anywhere in the country they choose.
The following programs are particularly favorable to healthcare workers:
The Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program – The FSW program is currently limited to 24 eligible occupations. Of these occupations, a full nine are related to the healthcare field. They are as follows:
  • Audiologists and speech-language pathologists;
  • Physiotherapists*;
  • Occupational therapists;
  • Medical laboratory technologists;
  • Medical laboratory technicians and pathologists’ assistants;
  • Respiratory therapists, clinical perfusionists and cardiopulmonary technologists;
  • Medical radiation technologists;
  • Medical sonographers; and
  • Cardiology technologists and electrophysiological diagnostic technologists.
A maximum of 300 applications will be accepted in each eligible occupation. However, as of the time of print all occupations (*with the exception of physiotherapists) are still open and accepting applications.
The Quebec Skilled Worker (QSW) program – This program is open to all skilled workers and semi-skilled workers. In order to be eligible, individuals must score a minimum number of points on theprogram’s points grid. Applicants with educational backgrounds in healthcare are in luck, because many of these occupations receive very high points, thus boosting the application.
Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) – Most Canadian provinces and territories run their own PNPs. These programs allow individual provinces to nominate targeted candidates to the federal government for Canadian Permanent Residency. All PNPs have a stream focusing on skilled workers, under which many healthcare professionals may be considered. However, some have even gone so far as to dedicate specific streams to bringing in health professionals. These include:
British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) – The Health Care Professional stream of the BC PNP was created to retain medical workers in the following fields:
  • Physicians;
  • Specialists;
  • Registered nurses;
  • Registered psychiatric nurses;
  • Nurse practitioners; and
  • Allied health professional s(such as: diagnostic medical sonographers, clinical pharmacists, medical laboratory techs, medical radiation techs, occupational therapists, physiotherapists)
  • Applicants to this program must have a job offer from a British Columbia-based employer.
Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP) – The SINP has similarly created a category for physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. Applicants must already be working full-time in the province for at least six months in order to be eligible.
Applying to a program
In addition to demonstrating their work experience, healthcare professionals must also meet other eligibility requirements. Depending on the program, this can include meeting minimum requirements for education, English or French language skills and personal funds. In addition, interested candidates should take special note of the following:
Licensing/Certification– Many, if not most, healthcare occupations are regulated in Canada. This means that before practicing in Canada, individuals must hold the necessary Canadian certification, licensing or authorization. Some immigration programs require that applicants already obtain, or be in the process of obtaining, the necessary certification before applying.
Educational verification – Many immigration programs require that applicants have their educational credentials assessed prior to submitting an application. Individuals should take care to make sure their foreign education is sufficient to practice in their desired occupation in Canada.
Organizations – Many health professions are governed by professional societies, organizations, or unions in Canada. Applicants should do research and learn how to become a member of these organizations, if necessary.
Once in Canada
Once a successful applicant has arrived in Canada, he or she may take advantage of the country’s world-class settlement services and robust job market. Though applicants must declare the province where they intend to initially land as immigrants, Canadian Permanent Residents may live and work anywhere in the country. This means that healthcare professionals have the luxury of finding the job and location that best suits them and their families, regardless of where this may be in Canada.
“Healthcare workers have gone through the processes of obtaining valuable skills,” said Attorney David Cohen. “In Canada, these skills are truly regarded in high esteem. This esteem is reflected in high salaries and workplace mobility, which is why our country continues to be a top choice for healthcare professionals from around the world.”
While salaries vary depending on the field and an individual’s experience, workers in Canada in general experience some of the highest wages in all G8 countries. Health professionals can often expect salaries of over $40-50 per hour, depending on their field and location in the country. Wages are only expected to rise in upcoming years, as current workers retire and the competition to attract younger professionals increases.
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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Being Admitted to Canada as a Business Visitor

found photo: business leaders
found photo: business leaders (Photo credit: squareintheteeth)
In Canada, certain individuals can enter the country to conduct business or trade activity without needing a work permit. These individuals, known as business visitors, are an important but often overlooked aspect of Canada’s international business.
This article is a brief primer on who may generally enter Canada as a business visitor, and what prospective business visitors should be aware of before coming to Canada.
Who is a Business Visitor?
Business visitors may enter Canada for a variety of reasons, but all must meet the following criteria:
  • They must have no intent to enter the Canadian labour market. That is, they will not be gainfully employed by a Canadian employer during their time in Canada; and
  • Their activity must be international in scope. It is assumed that a business visitor is engaging in cross-border business activity of some sort
In addition, for business visitors it is presumed that the following are true:
  • Their primary source of remuneration is from outside of Canada;
  • Their principal place of employment remains outside of Canada; and
  • The accrual of their employer’s profits are located outside of Canada.
Business visitors usually fall under one of the following common sub-categories. They are:
  • Employees of foreign companies contracting Canadian companies;
  • After-sales service providers;
  • Trainers and trainees, including intra-company training;
  • Attendees of board of director’s meetings; and
  • Employees of short-term temporary residents (such as caregivers or personal assistants)
Before Coming to Canada
Prospective business visitors should be aware that if a Canadian visa officer classifies them as foreign workers and not as business visitors, they may require a work permit in order to come to Canada. Should this prove to be the case, they will have to undergo the process of receiving all necessary documentation before beginning their work in Canada. This can take up to a few months.
In order to make certain that visa officers understand that one intends to enter Canada as a business visitor, it is prudent to present documentation that attests to this. Such documentation can include letters of support from companies both inside and outside of Canada, as well as other evidence that speaks to the nature of the business activities that will be conducted in Canada.
Depending on the applicant’s country of citizenship, he or she may require a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) in order to enter Canada. A list of TRV exempt countries can be found here. Individuals who require a TRV should apply for and receive this visa before traveling to Canada.
Admissibility to Canada
Like all temporary residents, business visitors will be assessed for criminal and medical admissibility to Canada. It is not uncommon for individuals, especially those from TRV exempt countries like the United States, to be unaware that they are inadmissible to Canada until arriving at the border.
To mitigate this, applicants who have received a criminal conviction, even for a minor offense, should find out whether this offense will render them inadmissible to Canada. The same goes for individuals who have past or present medical conditions.
Oftentimes, inadmissibility can be resolved before an individual travels to Canada. However, the process can take several weeks and therefore steps should ideally be taken well in advance of any business trips to the country.
In Conclusion
Allowing business visitors to enter Canada without a work permit allows Canadian businesses to receive valuable expertise and services. International businesspeople, on the other hand, can conduct business in Canada without hassle.
Business visitors can come to Canada as many times as they need to conduct their activities, provided that each time they enter they continue to meet eligibility requirements.
“I speak to many clients who are unaware they may be eligible to enter Canada as business visitors,” said Attorney David Cohen. “When they find out how simply they can come to Canada, they are usually very excited. This option is truly a win-win for both Canadians and international professionals.”
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The Scope of Family Sponsorship in 2014

Grandparents
Grandparents (Photo credit: Wm Jas)
2014 is set to be an important year for family sponsorship. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) anticipates that 68,000 family members of Canadian citizens or permanent residents will immigrate to Canada in the next calendar year, accounting for 26.1% of total immigration. Of this number, approximately 48,000 new immigrants will be spouses, partners or children, while the remaining 20,000 will be parents or grandparents.
Family sponsorship applicants in 2014 can look forward to streamlined processes and fast processing times across the board. This is thanks to efforts that CIC has made to prioritize the processing of family applications, thus making good on its stated commitment to family reunification. Historically, Canada has operated one of the most welcoming family sponsorship programs in the developed world, and it appears that the trend will continue in 2014.
This sponsorship stream will continue accepting high levels of spouses, common-law and conjugal partners. Two major changes came into effect in roughly the last 12 months, and it is anticipated that they will remain in place for 2014. They are:
  • Five year sponsorship ban – An individual who has been sponsored as a spouse is banned from sponsoring another spouse in turn for 5 years after receiving Canadian Permanent Residency; and
  • Two year legitimate relationship regulation – Spouses or partners who have been in a relationship for two years of less, and who have no children together, will receive conditional permanent residency. They must prove that they continue to live with their spouse or partner in Canada, in a legitimate relationship, for two years before full permanent residency is received.
Because application numbers in this stream are liable to fluctuate, there is at present no cap on the number of applications that are or will be accepted. However, submitting an application as early as possible is the best way to ensure that partners are brought to Canada in the speediest way possible.
For the first time in recent years, the Parent and Grandparent Sponsorship stream will open and begin accepting applications on January 2, 2014. There will be a cap of 5,000 applications accepted for the upcoming time window.
After facing growing backlogs in this stream, in 2011 CIC implemented the Action Plan for Faster Family Reunification. Thanks to this plan, backlogged applications have been steadily worked through and waiting times have reduced dramatically. By 2014, CIC anticipates that parents and grandparents will have to wait only 2 – 2.5 years to receive a permanent resident visa. This time period is expected to e decrease to 1-2 years in 2015.
Although only 5,000 new applications will be accepted, a total of 20,000 parent and grandparent visas are expected to be issued as CIC continues to process remaining backlogged cases.
“The reopening of the parent and grandparent stream is long awaited,” said Attorney David Cohen. “I have no doubt that the application cap will fill up quickly. Families who wish to bring their elders to Canada as permanent residents would be well advised to start preparing their applications today.”
Canada has introduced another option for families that wish to bring their parents and grandparents to Canada. The Super Visa provides parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens and permanent residents with a visitor visa that can be renewed for two years at a time, for a period of up to 10 years.
This program is already open and enjoying great popularity, which is expected to continue in 2014. With an acceptance rate of 87%, the program is one of the country’s most welcoming to applicants. CIC announced that it currently issues over 1,000 new Super Visas each month.
As always, Canada welcomes the children of Canadian citizens and permanent residents year-round. There is no cap on child sponsorship, and children both biological and adopted may come to Canada through this program. Approximately 2,000 foreign adoptees become Canadian permanent residents each year, in addition to other dependents.
The Final Word
Family reunification is a stated goal of Canadian immigration policy. It builds strong communities and affirms the country’s commitment to human rights, quality of life, and commitment to its residents’ happiness. 2014 will see this practice of welcoming families from all over the world continue in earnest.
“Canada is always welcoming to family members, and in recent years we have seen this policy expand greatly,” said Attorney David Cohen. “As more immigrants settle within our borders, the demand to bring loved ones from abroad grows steadily. Thankfully, our country remains steadfast in its stance that family sponsorship helps strengthen our society at its core.”
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Immigrants Head West for Canadian Job Opportunities

Map of the Western provinces. See Image:Canada...
Map of the Western provinces. See Image:Canada provinces blank vide.png for additional information. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Results from a recent Statistics Canada survey, released this past Monday, have revealed a growing trend of migration to the country’s western provinces. These provinces, especially Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, are currently seeing an upswing in employment and economic growth. Workers from across Canada and across the world have taken note of this prosperity, and are relocating westward in unprecedented numbers.
Why the West?
Western provinces have recently seen great economic expansion, largely due industries such as mining and natural resources management (including oil and natural gas). Thousands of workers have answered calls for specialists in these industries, and along with their arrival has come a renewed need for workers in complementary fields such as construction and food services.
However, despite recent migration these provinces are still in acute need of workers of all kinds. Last November, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business assessed the job vacancy rate in Alberta alone to stand at around 276,000 unfilled part- and full-time jobs.
Of course, those who answer the call for workers will not be traveling to the ‘wild west’ of yesteryear. Instead, they will have the opportunity to settle in some of Canada’s most cosmopolitan cities, such as Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg.
“Over the years, I have seen what we call the ‘prairie provinces’ become major drivers of Canada’s economy,” said Attorney David Cohen. “
Alberta – Canada’s Powerhouse
Nowhere can this population increase be more clearly felt than in the Province of Alberta. So many workers have arrived in the province that the number of 30 to 44 year olds, relative to its overall population, is quadruple that of any other part of Canada.
When it comes to immigration, Alberta is also seeing an all-time high. This past year over 36,000 newcomers settled in the province, the largest number in its history.
The cities of Calgary and Edmonton, as well as their surrounding towns, are home to approximately three quarters of the province’s population. Here, according to a 2003 study by TD Bank, high salaries allow many residents to obtain a “US level of wealth” while maintaining a “Canadian-style quality of life” with social services such as public healthcare.
Immigration: A Large Role to Play
This year, the provinces of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Alberta had the highest immigration rates, relative to their populations, in all of Canada. In the past few years, their total numbers have slowly chipped away at Ontario’s place as the top destination for immigrants.
Part of these provinces attraction lies in the way they have structured their immigration programs. Most Canadian provinces and territories operate Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs), which allow provinces to nominate eligible applicants to the federal government for permanent residency.
PNPs have been a particularly central part of western Canada’s success story. This is in part because each province is given the liberty to tailor their programs to attract immigrants who are most likely to succeed in their unique communities and labour markets.
Immigration programs can vary greatly from one province’s PNP to another. For instance, the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP) has dedicated streams for food service workers, graduates of Canadian educational institutions, engineers, tradespersons, and even self-employed farmers. The Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP), on the other hand, has streams for long-haul truck drivers, family members of Saskatchewan residents, farm owners and operators, health professionals, and hospitality workers.
“Western provinces have had great success bringing in qualified immigrants from around the world,” said Attorney David Cohen. “Immigrants that arrive through one of these programs integrate quickly and usually find high-paying jobs in their fields. Because of this, many provinces have been lobbying the federal government for greater power to select the immigrants they want.”
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