Showing posts with label Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Show all posts

Changes Expected to the Federal Skilled Worker Program

The flags of Canada and the United States of A...Image via Wikipedia(CIC) recently announced they are consulting with relevant stakeholders about changing various aspects of the Federal Skilled Worker Program. CIC is considering changing the number of points awarded in three of the six selection factors. CIC is also proposing changes to educational requirements and stricter rules for assessing the validity of Canadian job offers. According to CIC, these suggested changes are meant to reflect the current needs of the Canadian economy and enable immigrants to better integrate into the Canadian economy.

Points Changes in Selection Factors

Applicants will still be required to attain at least 67 points out of 100, in addition to meeting eligibility requirements, in order to qualify for the Federal Skilled Worker Program. CIC is proposing to change the maximum number of points applicants can receive in the following three selection factors: language, age, and work experience. Currently, applicants can receive a maximum of 24 points for their first and second official Canadian language, a maximum of 10 points for age if an applicant is between the ages of 21 and 49, and a maximum of 21 points for paid skilled work experience within the past 10 years.
i. Language

One proposed change would increase the number of points applicants can receive for a first official Canadian language (English or French) to 20 points, rather than the current 16. CIC is also considering establishing minimum language requirements for certain occupational skill levels. A higher minimum language requirement would be required for applicants with work experience in professional occupations, such as doctors, nurses, and engineers. Applicants with work experience in skilled trades would have a lower minimum language requirement.
ii. Age

CIC is proposing to increase the number of points in the age factor from 10 to a maximum of 12 points. Rather than maximum points being awarded until age 49, the suggested change will only allow applicants to gain maximum age points until the age of 35.
iii. Work Experience

CIC is proposing to lower the maximum points for work experience from 21 to 15 points and increase the years of experience required to obtain maximum points. CIC has noted that foreign work experience is not a strong indicator of success in the Canadian labour market and the additional points would be more beneficial in the language and age factor.
Other proposed changes

In order to make the Federal Skilled Worker Program more accessible to applicants with trade skills, CIC is proposing to reduce the number of years associated with education for those with a trade or non-university certificate. Currently, applicants who have a one year trade diploma must have also completed 13 years of full-time education in order to claim maximum points for that diploma under the education factor. Applicants who have a two year trade diploma must have completed 14 years and those with a three year trade diploma must have completed 15 years of education. If the proposed change is accepted, applicants with trade diplomas would be able to claim maximum points for their education with fewer years of full-time education.
CIC is also considering requiring applicants to prove their credentials are recognized by the appropriate Canadian authorities if their profession is regulated in Canada. For example, engineering is a regulated profession in Canada. Under the proposed change, any applicant who has work experience as an engineer would be required to have their credentials recognized by a Canadian professional licensing body before they submit their application for Canadian permanent residency.
Finally, CIC is proposing to establish clearer regulations for assessing employers and assessing whether a job offer is genuine. The Arranged Employment factor is an important aspect of the Federal Skilled Worker Program and CIC has noted that applicants who have Arranged Employment fare better upon arrival in Canada compared to those who do not have Arranged Employment. There have been numerous cases of fraudulent job offers from employers looking to exploit immigrants for money. With clearer guidelines for assessing job offers and employers, CIC is hoping to deter potential fraud.
Attorney David Cohen warns of a potential challenge with the proposed changes, “CIC will not be giving advanced warning of when these proposed changes will come into effect. If these changes are made to the program, applicants who are over the age of 35 and have lower language proficiency levels could have difficulties qualifying for the Federal Skilled Worker Program. If you qualify now for immigration under the current Federal Skilled Worker Program, you should submit your application as soon as possible as you may not qualify once the changes have been implemented.”
While CIC has not announced when they expect to change the Federal Skilled worker Program, and will report on any information as soon as it is revealed.

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New immigrant program for P.E.I.

Locator map for Prince Edward IslandImage via WikipediaThe P.E.I. government is finally set to announce a new Provincial Nominee Program.
Innovation Minister Allan Campbell said Tuesday there have been extensive discussions with Citizenship and Immigration over the fall and winter, and a new immigrant investors' program will be rolled out in about a month.
But, he said, there will be rule changes.
"The federal government has established a cap on the number of nominations that we can have here in the province for this year," Campbell said.
"They've established that number at 400, and we're obviously aspiring to hit those targets and hopefully see them increase."
The old PNP program allowed immigrants to invest $200,000 in a P.E.I. business and receive a Canadian visa. It ran from 2001 to 2008, attracting controversy when nearly 2,000 immigrants were pushed through in its final year.
Under the new rules, immigrants will have the choice of buying a one-third ownership in a company, or investing $1 million for five years as a loan.
Campbell said the precise rules to qualify are still being worked out, but some businesses are concerned they'll be too strict.
"I wouldn't say that it'll be tougher to access, but certainly the number of nominations that we'll see here will be lower," he said.
Provincial Opposition Leader Olive Crane spoke with federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney last week during a trip to Ottawa about a new program for P.E.I.
"We all know what this government's record is in terms of administering the program, and we certainly will be looking forward to the details of who will be eligible and how they plan on managing it," she said.
One significant change is that farmers and fishermen will now be eligible under the program.
"We want to see investment in our primary sectors here in the province, and we hope, and we're confident that this program will do that," Campbell said.
The original program was plagued by controversy.
Government MLAs and senior civil servants took advantage of immigrant investment, and Citizenship and Immigration complained about the quality of companies approved for investment.
A 2009 report by the University of Prince Edward Island showed that of the 44 immigrant families that arrived in the province through the PNP in the last four months of 2006, only 11 were still on the Island 2½ years later — a retention rate of 25 per cent.
Many of the immigrants reported that they were unhappy with how they had been treated by the province.

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A Guide to Canadian Immigration

A Canadian Customs and Immigration service signImage via WikipediaBy David Cohen
Canada Immigration Expert

This guide is aimed to help you understand the process in place for you to live and work in Canada.

There are two main paths to Canada. One way is to obtain a permanent residence visa. The other way is to come to Canada on a temporary work permit.

What does it mean to be a Canadian Permanent Resident? Once you are issued a Canada Immigration Visa for permanent residency, you have most of the same rights and obligations as Canadian citizens. As the name suggests, you may hold this status indefinitely, so long as you accumulate 2 years of residency days in each 5 year period. After 3 years of Canadian residency, you may apply for Canadian citizenship. Canada recognizes dual citizenships, so you do not have to give up your current passport.

There are a few differences in practice between permanent residency and citizenship in Canada. The first is that as a permanent resident you may not vote in elections. The second is that while citizenship is a right that may not be taken away, as a permanent resident you may be deported if you commit a serious crime.

There are 6 main categories of Canadian Immigration. The categories are Federal Skilled Worker, Quebec Skilled Worker, Provincial Nominee Program, Family Sponsorship, Business Immigrant and Canadian Experience Class. Each category caters to a slightly different group of immigrants, and comes with its own set of requirements. You can also come to Canada under the Asylum category or the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Read below to find out about which category applies to you.

Federal Skilled Worker

The requirements of the skilled worker category are intended to assess applicants, who are likely to become economically established in Canada after arrival.
To be eligible, applicants must either:

  • Have at least one year of continuous full-time or equivalent paid work experience in the past 10 years in one of the 38 qualifying occupations; or

  • Have been living in Canada with legal status as a Temporary Foreign Worker or an international student for at least one year; or

  • Qualify for Arranged Employment with a full-time permanent job offer from a Canadian employer.

In addition to that, there are three other characteristics an individual must possess in order to be eligible to immigrate under the skilled worker category. The first is a minimum level of work experience. A skilled worker must have at least one year of continuous full-time employment (or the equivalent in part-time). This work experience must be of a skilled nature, satisfying either Skill Type 0 or Skill Level A or B in Canada’s National Occupation Classification (NOC) system. This work experience must have come within the 10 year period prior to applying.

The second element of the skilled worker category is one of financial resources. This is a straightforward requirement – an applicant must demonstrate that they have sufficient financial resources to support themselves and their dependents for 6 months after arrival in Canada. If you have an approved job offer, this requirement is waived.

The third element of the skilled worker category is a points-based assessment. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) uses a points-based system to measure an applicant’s potential for establishing themselves in Canada. Applicants are awarded points based on six different selection factors. An individual must reach 67 points on this assessment to qualify for immigration to Canada. A satisfactory score on this evaluation does not however guarantee approval, as Canadian Immigration Visa Officers may use their discretion to approve or refuse an application based on a substituted evaluation.

The selection factors that make up the assessment are:

Education (maximum 25 points)
  • Ranges from 5 points for completing high school to 25 points for completing a master’s or Ph.D.
  • The system also gives credit for trade certificates or apprenticeship programs.
Language Skills (maximum 24 points)
  • Canada uses both English and French as official languages, and you may receive credit for proficiency in either one, or both.
  • Marks are awarded separately for abilities to listen, speak, read, and write each official language.
Experience (maximum 21 points)
  • Full points for four or more years of experience at an appropriate level.
Age (maximum 10 points)
  • Full points for being between the ages of 21-49.
Arranged Employment (maximum 10 points)
  • If you hold a permanent job offer from a Canadian employer, or are applying from within Canada and hold a temporary work permit you may receive credit for your Canadian employment.
Adaptability (maximum 10 points)
  • This category brings in a number of factors related to an applicant’s ability to adapt to living in Canada, including previous experience working or studying in Canada, or having family in Canada.

Altogether these three elements, along with other requirements such as security clearances and medical examinations, make up the bulk of the requirements to come to Canada under the Skilled Worker category. If you are applying to live or work in Montreal, or elsewhere in Quebec however, you must meet the selection criteria of the Province of Quebec, outlined below.

Quebec Skilled Worker

According to an agreement between the Province of Quebec and the Government of Canada, the Province of Quebec has its own selection process for the skilled worker category of immigration. If you intend to live in Quebec upon arrival in Canada you will be assessed based on the Quebec Selection criteria and not the evaluation used by CIC. The application process for immigration to Quebec uses a similar points-based system but with slightly different criteria.

Like the federal system, Quebec uses a points-based system to assess potential immigrants. To qualify for a Quebec Selection Certificate, single applicants must score at least 60 points from the ten selection criteria, while an applicant with a spouse or common-law partner must score a minimum of 68 points.

The selection factors for immigration to Quebec as a skilled worker are:

Training (maximum 29 points):
  • Points are awarded separately for both education and job-related training.
  • Additional points are awarded for having more than one area of specialty.
Validated Employment Offer (maximum 10 points)
  • Points are awarded for having a job offer from an employer in Quebec, with greater points awarded for a job outside of the area of Montreal.
Experience (maximum 9 points)
  • Full points are awarded for four or more years of experience at the appropriate skill level according to the NOC.
Age (maximum 18 points)
  • Full points are awarded for being between the ages of 18-35.
Language Proficiency (maximum 22 points)
  • French is the official language of the Province of Quebec. The Quebec selection criteria place value on oral language abilities rather than written comprehension. Up to 16 points are available for oral interaction in French, with an additional 6 available for oral interaction in English.
Stay and Family in Quebec (maximum 9 points)
  • Having previously spent time living, working, or studying in Quebec, as well as having family in the province will help a prospective immigrant establish themselves more easily. Points are awarded for both of these areas.
Spouse’s Characteristics (maximum 18 points)
  • If an applicant is accompanied by a spouse or common-law partner, points may be awarded for the spouse’s education, training, work experience, age and language.
Children (maximum 8 points)
  • Up to the maximum, 4 points are awarded for each child under 12 years of age, and 2 points for each child between 13 and 21.
Financial Self-Sufficiency (1 point)
  • One point is awarded for having sufficient funds for financial self-sufficiency upon arrival. However without satisfying this requirement the application is automatically refused.
Adaptability (maximum 8 points)
  • This category uses an overall assessment of the applicant’s ability to adapt to life in Quebec.
Satisfying these requirements will lead to the issue of a Quebec Selection Certificate, which is recognized by CIC for immigration to Quebec. The applicant must still pass a security clearance and medical examination.

Provincial Nomination Program

One way to speed up the process of immigration to Canada is through the Provincial Nomination Program (PNP). The PNP consists of partnerships between the Government of Canada and provincial governments to select individuals who wish to immigrate to Canada and settle in that particular province. Most provinces in Canada have agreements in place to participate in this program. Under the terms of these agreements, provinces may nominate applicants who are in occupations in high demand, or who will otherwise make important contributions to the province.

To immigrate to Canada under the PNP, an individual must first apply for a Provincial Nomination Certificate to the provincial government where they would like to reside. Each province has different requirements based on their particular needs. To learn more about each province’s requirements, click here. After receiving the Provincial Nomination Certificate, an individual then must apply for a Canadian Permanent Resident Visa. Provincial nominees receive priority processing for their permanent residency applications.

The following provinces currently participate in the Provincial Nomination Program:
  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
  • Manitoba
  • New Brunswick
  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Nova Scotia
  • Ontario
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Saskatchewan
  • Yukon
Provincial nominees are not assessed on the six selection criteria of the Federal Skilled Worker Program.

Family Class Sponsorship
The Family Class Sponsorship program allows Canadian citizens or permanent residents who are at least 18 years of age to sponsor close family members, who wish to immigrate to Canada. To sponsor a relative for Family Class immigration to Canada, a Canadian citizen or permanent resident must sign a contract promising to support the family member who wishes to immigrate for a period of three to ten years after their arrival. The length of the agreement depends on the age of the family member being sponsored, and the nature of the relationship. To apply for Family Class immigration, the sponsored relative must also sign a contract promising to make every effort to be self-sufficient.

To be eligible to sponsor a relative, a Canadian citizen or permanent resident must demonstrate financial ability to provide for the essential needs of the sponsored relative, should that be necessary. As a general rule, the sponsor must also be physically residing in Canada in order to sponsor. An exception is made for Canadian citizens, who wish to sponsor a spouse, common-law partner or children if the sponsor can demonstrate an intention to reside in Canada by the time the sponsored relative lands in Canada.

Family members eligible for sponsorship are:
  • Spouses or common-law partners.
  • Parents or grandparents.
  • Dependent children (must be under 22 years of age unless substantially dependent for financial support because they are a full-time student, or because of disability).
  • Children under 18 whom you plan to adopt Orphaned brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews whom are under 18 and unmarried.
  • A relative of any age if you do not have any of the family members listed above.
The Province of Quebec, according to its agreement with the Government of Canada on immigration, has a role in determining the eligibility of sponsorship applicants for residents of Quebec. This role however takes effect only after CIC has completed its initial assessment of the sponsorship application.

Business Immigration

The Business Immigration Program is designed to seek out individuals who are in a position to contribute to Canada’s economic development through their investment and managerial skills. Individuals who apply under this category have financial resources that will strengthen the Canadian economy and help create more jobs. Individuals with business experience and relatively high net worth may apply under one of three categories of the Business Immigration Program. Each of these categories targets a different contribution to the Canadian economy, and has its own requirements.
  • Immigrant Investor Program:  This program seeks to attract experienced businesspeople willing to make substantial investments in the Canadian economy. Applicants under this program must establish a net worth of at least CAD$1600,000, and demonstrate that this wealth was legally obtained. In addition, Immigrant Investors must make an investment of CAD$800,000, which the government of Canada will return to them at the end of five years, with no interest. To qualify as an Immigrant Investor the applicant must also have managed a qualifying business, as defined by Canadian Immigration authorities. Applicants destined to province of Quebec may qualify under a similar Investor Program administered by that province.
  • Entrepreneur Program:  The Entrepreneur Program is geared towards business immigrants who plan to have a hands-on role in their contributions to the Canadian economy. The net worth requirements for the Entrepreneur Program are lower than for Immigrant Investors (CAD$300,000 rather than CAD$800,000). Applicants under this category of the Business Immigrant Program must commit to both managing and owning at least one third of a Canadian business, which will create or maintain employment, within three years of landing in Canada. Applicants destined to province of Quebec may qualify under a similar Entrepreneur Program administered by that province.
  • Self-Employed Persons Program:  The Self-Employed Persons Program is in place for individuals with relevant experience and skills in business, culture, athletics or farming who are able willing to support themselves and their dependents through self-employed income. To apply under this program an individual may need to demonstrate experience, net worth and/or artistic qualifications depending on the criteria under which they are applying. Applicants destined to province of Quebec may qualify under a Self-Employed Program administered by that province.

Canadian Experience Class
The Canadian Experience Class caters specifically to Temporary foreign workers and international students who wish to become Canadian Permanent Residents. Having obtained a Canadian education and/or Canadian work experience, these individuals have already settled into Canadian society and have established important networks in their communities and their careers.

The Canadian Experience Class requirements are based on a pass or fail model. There are separate minimum requirements for the two types of applicants:

International Graduates with Canadian Work Experience

Applicants must have:
  • Successfully completed a program of study of at least two academic years at a Canadian post-secondary educational institution;
  • Obtained at least one year of skilled, professional or technical work experience within 24 months of the application date; and
  • Moderate or basic language skills, depending on the skill level of their occupation.
Temporary Foreign Workers
Applicants must have:
  • Obtained at least two years of skilled, professional or technical work experience within 36 months of the application date; and
  • Moderate or basic language skills, depending on the skill level of their occupation.
An applicant who has met the minimum requirements and is still in Canada on either a Post-Graduate Work Permit or a Temporary Work Permit may apply from within Canada. For individuals no longer in Canada, the applications must be submitted within one year of leaving their job in Canada.

As a world leader and champion of human rights issues, Canada also recognizes a responsibility to grant asylum to refugees who face danger, persecution and violations of their human rights in their country of nationality or habitual residence. Canada’s refugee system offers protection to thousands of such individuals each year. Refugees may be government-assisted or may be privately sponsored by individuals or organizations in Canada.

There are two main components to this program:
  • Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program:  This program is aimed at refugees currently outside of Canada who seek resettlement. CIC selects refugees seeking resettlement, determining first if they may be safe to remain where they are currently located or to return to their country of nationality. Selection depends heavily on recommendations from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, but also requires security and medical screening.
  • Asylum in Canada:  This program offers protection to individuals currently in Canada who fear returning to their home country. These cases are assessed by Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board.
Temporary Foreign Worker Program

For individuals who wish to come work in Canada, they may apply for a temporary work permit through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. As a general rule these work permits require a valid job offer from a Canadian employer, though there are exceptions. In most cases it is possible to extend work permits from within Canada, but some work permits have a maximum duration.

In many cases work permits require that the employer obtain Labour Market Opinion from Human Resources and Social Development Canada which confirms that the employment will not adversely affect Canadian workers. There are a number of exemptions to this rule.

Spouses and common-law partners of individuals who hold a Canadian work permit may accompany the work permit holder to Canada. In many cases spouses are eligible to apply for an open work permit, which allows the holder to work for any employer in Canada.

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Canada: New Employer Compliance Requirements Take Effect Soon

"Memorial to Commemorate the Chinese Rail...Image by Shaun Merritt via FlickrEmployers should be prepared for new restrictions on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program taking effect April 1, 2011. Employers will be required to demonstrate past compliance with program rules and commitments in order to participate in the program. Further, some foreign workers will be subject to a four-year limit on employment in Canada.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will introduce new restrictions for the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) effective April 1, 2011. Employers will be required to demonstrate their past compliance with program rules and commitments, and risk suspension from the TFWP for past program violations. In addition, some foreign nationals will be subject to a four-year limit on the time they can work in Canada under the TFWP.
New Compliance Requirements for Employers

Effective April 1, 2011, employers seeking to hire foreign workers will have their compliance with TFWP requirements over the preceding two years assessed. CIC will examine whether a sponsoring employer has provided its TFWP workers with wages, working conditions and an occupation that were substantially the same as the terms and conditions of the job offer that supported the work permit application.
An employer who does not meet the terms and conditions of the job offer may be subject to a two-year probationary period during which it may not hire a foreign worker under the program, unless the employer can show its earlier noncompliance was justified. Acceptable justifications to excuse noncompliance can include:
  • A change in federal or provincial laws;
  • A change in the applicable collective bargaining agreements;
  • A good faith error in interpretation by the employer concerning its obligations to the foreign worker, so long as the employer subsequently provided compensation or made sufficient attempts to do so to all foreign workers who were affected by the error;
  • An unintentional accounting or administrative error made by the employer, so long as the employer subsequently provided compensation or made sufficient attempts to do so to all foreign workers who were affected by the error;
  • If the employer implemented measures that did not disproportionately affect foreign workers in response to dramatic economic changes directly affecting the employer, or
  • Similar or related circumstances.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada will also maintain a public list of noncompliant employers on its website.
Though these new regulations do not take effect until April 1, they will apply to employers retroactively. As such, employers should review all work permits obtained on or after April 1, 2009 to ensure that the wages, working conditions and occupation have remained substantially the same as disclosed in the employer’s original offers of employment. If necessary, remedial action must be taken by the employer to ensure compliance with the regulations.
Four-Year Employment Limit for Some Work Permit Holders

The new TFWP rules will limit some work permit holders to a cumulative maximum period of four years of work in Canada. Once the four-year cap is reached, these individuals will not be eligible to apply for another work permit for a period of four years. However, the new cap will not apply to certain workers who enter in a category that is exempt from the Labour Market Opinion (LMO) requirement. This includes foreign nationals holding work permits that are issued pursuant to an international trade treaty, such as NAFTA or the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), or those holding positions that are exempt from LMO requirements because they create or maintain significant benefits for Canadians (such as intra-company transferees, among others).
Note that the four-year limit applies to employment authorization. It does not limit a foreign national’s stay in Canada to four years. In theory, those subject to the four-year work limit may be eligible to obtain another form of immigration status, such as student or dependent status, if they qualify. However, employers should still plan ahead and explore options for permanent residence for those foreign employees who may be subject to the four-year cap.

Source: Fragomen

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Common-Law Couples & Immigration to Canada

Maggie & James - WeddingImage by seanmcgrath via Flickr
By Katherine at Legal Language
Posted 02/02/2011
In Immigration
anada is one of only a few countries to allow common-law couples to take advantage of the family immigration process.
Proving the validity of a common-law relationship can be difficult, however, and Citizenship & Immigration Canada will deny applications that don’t meet some strict criteria.

Definition of Common-Law Marriage in Canada

Couples whose relationships are defined as marriages or common-law marriages are eligible for immigration to Canada through family sponsorship if one person is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
Citizenship & Immigration Canada, Canada’s federal immigration agency, defines a common-law marriage as two people of the opposite or same sex who have lived together for at least one full year and have significant commitments — emotional, financial — to one another.
While the definition of a common-law relationship may seem lenient, it is important to be aware of certain criteria to be met in order for a common-law marriage to be accepted by immigration officials.

Common-Law Marriage & Immigration Regulations

Common-law marriages are closely inspected and scrutinized by Citizenship & Immigration Canada for the same reason that US Citizenship and Immigration Services rejects them outright — many people lie about the nature of their relationship just to be eligible for immigration.
Though CIC’s definition of a common-law relationship may be lenient, it does require extensive proof that the relationship is real — and this can pose problems even for bona fide couples.
Evidence that you are in an emotional relationship, share a home and support each other financially will need to be provided.

Proof of a Common-Law Marriage

The key to this is preparation and timing.
As soon as you know you will want to apply for immigration to Canada you should look at mortgage or rental agreements, utility bills (such as those for electricity, gas, water, internet and television), bank accounts and investments. Make a list and note whose name is included on each.
Many couples split the cost of living, which Citizenship & Immigration Canada accepts as proof of a common-law marriage.
However, many couples do this by assigning certain bills to an individual person instead of putting two names on the account. Immigration officials may view this as “roommate behavior” instead of the behavior of a financially and emotionally invested couple. Citizenship & Immigration Canada will be looking for utility bills that include the names of both parties.
This also goes for leases, deeds or other evidence of home ownership or rental. While you may have rented or bought a place before a second person moved in, it’s very important to add your partner’s name to the paperwork. Establishing the amount of time you have spent living together is vital to determining if your relationship can be deemed common-law.
Joint bank accounts are also good evidence of a committed couple, as are birth certificates of any children you may have had or adopted together. To a lesser degree, photos, correspondence and even travel tickets and itineraries can be used as proof of a common-law marriage.
This is not to say you must have both names on everything — Citizenship & Immigration Canada understands that not every couple will share absolutely everything. Many legally married couples, for example, have separate bank accounts or a house in one name.
But keep these tips in mind while you’re filling out an application — Canadian immigration officials are more likely to question or even deny an immigration application that a common-law couple submits.

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Immigration drives construction, provincial economy

Ross Fountain and geraniums, Butchart Gardens,...Image by Martin LaBar via Flickr
When you want to see how strong B.C.’s construction industry is going to be, look at the number of people deciding to call British Columbia home.
The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association examined the link between immigration, construction and the economy in its recently released Winter 2010-11 edition of Construction Monitor.
“Almost everyone in Canada will tell you that immigrants built this country. They came to this nation and built lives for themselves and their children,” said ICBA president Philip Hochstein. “But people might be surprised to hear that immigrants are still driving the economy – especially in B.C. and especially in construction.”
Hochstein said the link between immigration and construction is clear – and its importance will only grow.
“Instead of taking jobs away, immigrants help grow the job pool and drive construction – housing, commercial and industrial,” Hochstein said. “Of all provinces, the construction sector is the largest contributor to the economy here in B.C. Immigration can help keep that strong.”
Immigration will continue growing in importance for our economy as declining birthrates flip B.C.’s natural rate of increase to a natural rate of decrease.
“Other provinces may track other economy-driving indicators like oil, agriculture, or manufacturing and financial services, but it’s clear that B.C. needs to keep an eye on immigration,” Hochstein added. “All British Columbians will win if we continue to see people from across the globe decide to call B.C. home.”
A full copy of the report is at

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Canada Immigration Processing Times Dropping

The Kuala Lumpur City Hall (Dewan Bandaraya Ku...Image via WikipediaDue to the recent efforts of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), processing times for a number of immigrant application tracks to Canada have been significantly reduced.
Processing times for the Federal Skilled Worker track (allowing Permanent Residency via the economic class in the Asia and Pacific offices have been reduced as follows:
2010 Processing Times in Months
Beijing ( China) 42 9
Hong Kong (China) 51 13
Islamabad (Pakistan) 77 11
New Delhi (India) 79 10
Colombo (Sri Lanka) 57 11
Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) 44 10
Manila (Philippines) 70 11
Processing times for the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) track in Asia and Pacific offices are also currently operating at a similar pace:
Visa Office Processing Times in Months
Beijing ( China) 11
Hong Kong (China) 21
Islamabad (Pakistan) 23
New Delhi (India) 6
Colombo (Sri Lanka) 25
Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) -
Manila (Philippines) 11
Processing times for the Investor track however, remain unacceptably high. This explains why the CIC has recently indicated that, after lifting the moratorium on this class last month (after imposing it to clear its backlog), it will be working to reduce processing times in the coming term:
Visa Office Processing Times in Months
Beijing ( China) 38
Hong Kong (China) 37
Islamabad (Pakistan) 43
New Delhi (India) 28
Colombo (Sri Lanka) -
Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) -
Manila (Philippines) 44
There is also a significant difference in processing times as between paper applications versus online applications:
Type of Application (Paper) Processing Times
Canada Visitor Visa 115 days
Canada Work Permit (Same employer) 94 days
Canada Work Permit (New employer) 31 days
Canada Study Permit 58 days
Canada Off-Campus Work Permit 31 days
Protected Person Status Document 16 days
Type of Application (Online) Processing Times
Canada Visitor Visa 48 days
Canada Work Permit (Same employer) 48 days
Canada Work Permit (New employer) 48 days
Canada Study Permit 48 days
Canada Off-Campus Work Permit 20 days
Protected Person Status Document Not Applicable
The reduced processing times ought to be of significant importance for, and an important appeal to, those persons considering immigrating to Canada through any of the above immigrant application tracks.

By Manjit Singh, Associate, Cambridge LLP International Legal Services Group
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Immigration to Canada Through Family Sponsorship

Immigrant families tell their storyImage by United Way of the Lower Mainland via Flickr By Katherine at Legal Language
Posted 01/19/2011
In Immigration

Canadian citizens as well as permanent residents are eligible to sponsor most family members who wish to start the immigration process to Canada.
While the regulations governing family immigration to Canada are more lenient than the regulations surrounding family-based green cards in the United States, there are still plenty of rules to keep in mind before you start filling out legal forms.

Who Is Eligible for Family-Based Immigration to Canada?

Family members who are eligible to be sponsored include:
  • Spouses
  • Common-law or same-sex partners 16 years of age or older
  • Parents
  • Grandparents
  • Dependent children under the age of 22, including children to be adopted, if they are not married or in a common-law relationship
  • Children over the age of 22 if they are full-time students at accredited institutions of higher learning or if they are mentally or physically challenged
  • Orphaned relatives, including brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces

Who Is Eligible to Become a Sponsor?

Family members who wish to be immigration sponsors must reside in Canada and have valid legal status as a citizen or permanent resident. Canadian permanent residents who are eligible to become immigration sponsors typically include students and workers.
Sponsors typically reside in Canada, while the family member being sponsored for the immigration process lives in his or her home country.  Only spouses or common-law partners of Canadian citizens or permanent residents can apply from within Canada.
If you are living in Canada with your spouse or partner and wish to begin the family immigration process, your partner faces some stricter rules governing whether or not he or she can be a sponsor. He or she must:
  • Have valid legal status in Canada as a visitor, student or temporary worker
  • Have lived with you for at least one year
  • Be living with you in Canada
  • Have a valid passport or travel document
  • Be 16 years of age or older
  • Be your bona fide spouse or common law partner for genuine reasons (not just for the purpose of receiving permanent residence in Canada)

Additional Family Sponsorship Requirements

Sponsors must make a pledge to the Canadian government that they will support their family members for at least three years so that they can establish themselves in Canada. Dependent children must be supported for 10 years or until they turn 25. This is similar to the United States’ I-864 Affidavit of Support that is required for family green card cases.
To be a sponsor, you must meet an income requirement. Like the US, the Canadian government does not want to be responsible for public charges — people who require government assistance. Medical documents must be obtained and included in the application, especially where adopted children are concerned.
If in the past you have sponsored a family member, and that relative is currently receiving money or other assistance from the government of Canada, you may not be eligible to sponsor another person.

What Is the Family Immigration Process?

One of the first things to do is download and read a guide to assist you in applying. Legal Language has the following three guides available:
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Minister Kenney Makes it Easier for Haitians in Canada to Work

Ottawa river (Ottawa City, Ontario, Canada).Image via WikipediaOTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Jan. 18, 2011) - Haitians in Canada temporarily can now apply for work permits more easily, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced today.
"Given the continued health and safety concerns in Haiti, ensuring that Haitian nationals who are currently in Canada temporarily can work and support themselves while they are here is paramount," said Minister Kenney. "It's important for Haitians already in Canada to know that if they need a work permit, they can now obtain one much more easily."
The Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations generally require work permit applications to be accompanied by a determination by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada that there is no adverse impact on the labour market. This is known as a labour market opinion, or an LMO. By removing this requirement, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is making it easier for Haitians who are here to work and maintain their immigration status.
Haitian nationals applying to extend their work permit will also receive continued coverage under the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP). New applicants who are eligible for these measures will now also benefit from the IFHP.
These measures will take effect immediately and will apply to all Haitian nationals who were in Canada prior to January 13, 2011, and who are applying for a work permit or extending a work permit. The requirement for an LMO will remain in place for all those who arrived in Canada after that date.
Eligible individuals will have until September 1, 2011, to apply. Work permits are normally valid for one year.
For further information on work permits:
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Going to Live and Work in Canada as a Skilled Migrant: Update

A map of Canada exhibiting its ten provinces a...Image via WikipediaIf you’re thinking about starting a new life in Canada, and you’re going to apply for a visa as a skilled migrant, the latest news from the jobs market and immigration department will be of interest and use to you

If you’ve decided that 2011 is the year you finally turn your dreams of relocating abroad into reality, and Canada is your destination of choice, this update on the jobs market, employment landscape and changes to immigration rules in Canada is for you.

As a skilled migrant hoping to move to live, work and start a new life in Canada, it’s imperative that you keep abreast of any changes that could impact on you.  As we all know, Canada’s economy has faired far better than America’s or Great Britain’s over the past few years, but the latest job statistics show that some employment sectors are cutting workers.
Depending on your skill set and where you want to work in Canada, it may be time for you to speed up your visa application and get moving before job opportunities dry up.  Alternatively, if you’re hoping to work in some regulated professions in Canada, there is good news relating to skill matching and international qualifications recognition.
The unemployment rate in Canada in December held steady at 7.6% - but if you look much more closely at the statistics, you can see some notable developments.  For example, the construction sector seems to be constricting, which is not good news if you’re a skilled migrant potentially planning on working in the construction trade.
To date Canada’s property market has been relatively steady compared to our own for example, but a sharp downturn in numbers employed in the construction industry in December 2010 suggests that this sector could be weakening.  27,000 jobs were lost in this sector alone at the end of 2010, and the number of new starts was down.
Other sectors that saw a decline in numbers included healthcare and social assistance, wholesale and retail trade, business building and agriculture – although this may be a seasonal downshift.
The good news in terms of increasing jobs numbers and employed persons is to be found in the following sectors however: - manufacturing, transportation, warehousing and natural resources – and there has been a really marked increase in the numbers of Canadians working in private sector jobs.  The public sector has held steady in terms of the number of employed persons, and there was a fall back in terms of the numbers of self-employed in Canada.
Employment has increased most notably in Quebec, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador.
In terms of other positive marked changes to make note of, there has been a steady increase in the numbers of both young people and those over 55 who are in paid employment.  Therefore, no matter what age you’re at, you should not face any discrimination based on your date of birth!
Reviewing employment figures along with certain immigration statistics recently resulted in Canada Statistics revealing that there is a strong and disappointing mismatch between skilled migrants’ qualifications and professional training, and the jobs they end up doing once they move to live in Canada.
The delivery of the report has proved very positive however, as it has led the authorities to make some key changes.  Canada Immigration is now beginning to implement a fast track system of recognising foreign professional qualifications and credentials to knock down the barriers many professionals face when trying to get work in their sector in Canada.
So, whether you’re a doctor, a dentist, a teacher or a lawyer, in future your professional accreditation should be recognised in Canada, allowing you a smoother path into work in your chosen sector.
According to Canada Immigration: “The first group of occupations, which includes accountants, medical laboratory technicians, occupational therapists and pharmacists, will get access to the programme by the end of the year with the remainder of the professions such as doctors, engineering technicians, nurses and teachers having access by the end of 2012.”
All in all, by the end of this fast track scheme’s implementation at the end of next year, 15 occupations will be evaluated under the system.
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Skilled Workers Have a Path to Citizenship in Canada

Esplanade in Sydney, Nova Scotia, looking sout...Image via Wikipedia By Katherine at Legal Language
Posted 01/05/2011
Canada needs more skilled workers. To encourage immigration, the Canadian government has established a quick path for qualified workers to obtain permanent residence.
Skilled workers must meet specific criteria before their applications are processed, however — not to mention the specific list of occupations that qualify for this immigration path.

Which Occupations Are Accepted?

If you are interested in coming to Canada as a skilled worker, but you do not yet have an offer of employment, the very first thing you should do is find out whether or not your occupation is acceptable for this particular route to immigration.
Canada allows people of any occupation to immigrate as skilled workers if they have an employment offer from a Canadian business. If you do not have an offer, Canada will accept skilled workers from the following occupations:
  • Primary production managers
  • Professional occupations in business services to management
  • Insurance adjusters and claims examiners
  • Biologists and related scientists
  • Architects
  • Specialist physicians
  • General practitioners and family physicians
  • Dentists
  • Pharmacists
  • Physiotherapists
  • Registered nurses
  • Medical radiation technologists
  • Dental hygienists and dental therapists
  • Licensed practical nurses
  • Psychologists
  • Social workers
  • Chefs
  • Cooks
  • Contractors and supervisors in carpentry trades
  • Contractors and supervisors in mechanic trades
  • Electricians
  • Industrial electricians
  • Plumbers
  • Welders and related machine operators
  • Heavy-duty equipment mechanics
  • Crane operators
  • Drillers and blasters in surface mining, quarrying and construction
  • Supervisors in oil, gas drilling and related services

Further Eligibility Requirements

If you have a job offer or if you have worked in one of the above occupations, you must still meet additional eligibility requirements before your application can be processed.
These include:
  • Taking a language proficiency exam — you must be fluent in one or both of Canada’s official languages, English and French
  • You must have worked for at least one year, either full time or the equivalent in part time, continuously, within the last 10 years
  • You must have been compensated for your work
  • You must prove that you have enough money to support yourself and any dependents during the move to Canada
If you meet the above minimum requirements, your application will be processed according to the six selection factors in the skilled worker points grid, which are:
  • Your education experience
  • Your language abilities
  • Your work experience
  • Your age
  • Whether you have arranged employment in Canada
  • Your adaptability

How Skilled Workers Can Apply

To apply as a skilled worker, you will need to download and fill out the following forms:
Once the forms are filled out truthfully and to the best of your ability, you must mail them, along with fees and proof of language proficiency, to the Centralized Intake Office for Federal Skilled Worker Applications in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Keep in mind that Citizenship and Immigration Canada will contact you about going through medical, criminal and background checks.

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