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Canada Has New Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
January 11, 2017
REPRODUCED FROM “THE GLOBE AND MAIL”
A former Somali refugee is now overseeing Canada’s federal immigration policies after a cabinet shuffle Tuesday.
Ahmed Hussen, who arrived in Canada as a refugee from Somalia at the age of 16, was sworn in as Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship at a Rideau Hall ceremony. He replaces John McCallum, who is leaving politics and heading to Beijing as Canada’s new envoy to China.
The rookie MP for the Toronto riding of York South-Weston is also the first Somali-Canadian to hold a seat in Parliament; his election made news across the world, including on BBC Africa and Al Jazeera.
Mr. Hussen arrived in Canada as a refugee in 1993 and settled in Toronto’s Regent Park community. While he is proud of his Somali heritage, he hopes to be more than the token Somali in the Liberal cabinet.
“As members of Parliament and members of the cabinet, each of us coming into public life are informed … by their different experiences that they bring to the table. And I’m no different in that sense. I’ll bring my experience as an immigrant to Canada, but also an immigration lawyer, someone who worked many, many years before running for office as a community activist, a community organizer and a community advocate,” Mr. Hussen told reporters on Parliament Hill Tuesday.
Mr. Hussen’s commitment to public service began after high school, when he began working for the Hamilton-Wentworth social-services department. He eventually returned to Toronto, where he completed an undergraduate degree in history at York University.
Returning to his roots, Mr. Hussen co-founded the Regent Park Community Council in 2002 and helped secure a $500-million revitalization project for the area.
His first foray into the political realm took place at the provincial level in Ontario, where he worked as an assistant to Dalton McGuinty, who was leader of the official opposition at the time. He followed Mr. McGuinty to the premier’s office after the Liberal win in 2003. Mr. McGuinty spoke highly of Mr. Hussen, describing him as a “natural leader.”
“He sees politics as public service and he is driven in large measure by a sense of indebtedness for the opportunity he found in Canada, his adoptive country. He’s just a great Canadian story. Canada welcomed him and now he will help us welcome others,” Mr. McGuinty said in an e-mail statement.
Mr. Hussen went on to attend the University of Ottawa’s law school and began practising in the areas of criminal defence, immigration, refugee and human-rights law. He continued to maintain links to his heritage as national president of the Canadian Somali Congress and, in that capacity, testified to the U.S. Homeland Security Committee on radicalization within the Canadian Somali community in 2011.
Mahamad Accord, who met Mr. Hussen eight years ago through their work with the Canadian Somali Congress, said Mr. Hussen was always bound for success.
“He’s a natural. He’s an advocate for human rights. He’s a warm-hearted person,” Mr. Accord told The Globe and Mail. “His personality is exceptional, but at the same time his experience, it shows.”
Mr. Hussen comes into his new role amidst growing anti-immigrant sentiments south of the border, as U.S. president-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office next week. Ruby Latif, a long-time friend of Mr. Hussen who worked with him at Queen’s Park, said Mr. Hussen is exactly who Canada needs as immigration minister at this time.
“The portfolio really needs somebody who understands what’s happening to vulnerable people in vulnerable communities, especially with what’s happening across the border,” Ms. Latif said. “Somebody like Ahmed understands the issues of immigrants, visible minorities.”
Mr. Hussen, a father of two boys, is fluent in English, Somali and Swahili.
Changes to Parent/Grandparent Sponsorships
December 14, 2016
Today, Wednesday, December 14, 2016, The Honourable John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced changes to Parent and Grandparent Sponsorships that, in his opinion, “will improve access to the application process, given that the number of applications accepted for intake is limited”.
Between January 3 and February 2, 2017, Canadian citizens and permanent residents who want to apply as sponsors must first complete an online form on the IRCC website to let the Department know they are interested in applying to sponsor their parents or grandparents. The online form will be available for 30 days, from noon Eastern Standard Time (EST) on January 3, 2017, to noon EST on February 2, 2017.
At the end of the 30 days, IRCC will remove the duplicates, randomly choose 10,000 people and ask them to complete the full application. IRCC will let everyone who completed an online form know whether they were chosen or not. Only those who were randomly chosen will be invited to apply to the Parent and Grandparent Program. Those who were invited to apply will have 90 days to submit their complete application to IRCC. The 2017 application kit and guide will be available on IRCC’s website on January 9, 2017.
Interested sponsors who are not selected will be able to indicate their interest to apply again in 2018.
If you are an existing client of Abrams & Krochak and were planning to apply to the Parent and Grandparent Program in January 2017, please contact Mr. Peter Krochak at email@example.com for further information.
Ministerial Announcement Regarding Parent/Grandparent Sponsorships Deferred to December 14, 2016
December 8, 2016
The Ministerial announcement regarding Parent and Grandparent sponsorships, which was anticipated today, Thursday, December 8, 2016 has been deferred to Wednesday, December 14, 2016. As soon as it is made, the contents will be made available on this website.
Minister Announces Improvements to Spousal/Partner Sponsorship Application Process
December 7, 2016
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) Minister, The Honourable John McCallum, made an announcement today, Wednesday, December 7, 2016, regarding improvements to the Spousal/Partner Sponsorship Application Process. Among the improvements are:
- processing times for all spousal/partner applicants, inside and outside Canada, will be cut from 24 to 12 months
- a simplified guide (reduced from 180 to 75 pages in simpler language)
- one checklist (not clear whether visa office checklists will be removed)
- one relationship questionnaire
- medical, criminality and security screening to be done after applying (no longer up front)
- a new application kit for use by all spousal/partner applicants. Applicants will no longer have to choose between two different kits depending on whether they live in Canada or outside Canada. All applicants will use the same application kit. Since some applicants may have already started filling out their application using the current kit, IRCC will continue to accept new applications using the current kit until January 31, 2017. After this date, only applications using the new kit will be accepted. Applicants are strongly encouraged to begin using the new kit, which is easier to use and understand, as soon as it is available on December 15, 2016.
- along with the new 12-month processing commitment, IRCC will extend its pilot program which gives open work permits to eligible spouses or partners who are being sponsored and are in Canada, giving them the freedom to work while their applications for permanent residence are being processed. This pilot program ensures applicants are able to work, provide for their families and contribute to the Canadian economy while waiting for their applications to be processed. The pilot, currently slated to end on December 22, 2016, will be extended until December 21, 2017.
These changes are to be online on December 15, 2016.
The Minister will be making another announcement tomorrow, Thursday, December 8, 2017 around the 2017 intake process and application kits for the Parents and Grandparents class and the announcement will be posted on our website just as soon as it becomes available.
Changes to Express Entry Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS)
November 11, 2016
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced changes to the Express Entry Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). The changes will affect those individuals who have submitted their candidacy for immigrating to Canada in the Federal Skilled Worker Class, the Federal Skilled Trades Class and the Canadian Experience Class. The changes will take effect on November 19, 2016.
What are the changes?
1. Job Offers
Previously, qualifying job offers supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) were worth 600 points under the CRS. Now, a qualifying job offer is worth either 200 points or 50 points. 200 points are awarded to qualifying job offers for a Senior Managerial Level Position (National Occupational Classification (NOC) Code starting with 00) OR 50 points are awarded to qualifying job offers in any other occupation with a skill level of 0, A or B.
Another significant change is that the following individuals will now be awarded points for a qualifying job offer:
Individuals with a work permit issued under an international agreement, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA);
Individuals with a work permit issued under the ‘significant benefits to Canada’ criteria, such as Intra-Company Transfers.
In both cases, the worker must have been working in Canada for at least one (1) year and the job offer must be made by the same employer named on the work permit in order to get the 200 or 50 points.
2. Canadian Study
The points that are to be awarded for Canadian educational credentials are as follows:
0 points if the candidate has only a secondary school educational credential;
15 points if the candidate has an eligible credential from a one-year or two-year post-secondary program; and
30 points if the candidate has either:
a. an eligible credential from a post-secondary program of three years or more,
b. an eligible credential from a university-level program at the master’s level or at the level of an entry-to-practice professional degree for an occupation listed in the National Occupational Classification matrix at Skill Level A for which licensing by a provincial regulatory body is required,
c. an eligible credential from a university-level program at the doctoral level.
Points are only assigned for Canadian study experience if, for the purpose of obtaining the credential, the candidate
a. studied in Canada at a Canadian educational institution;
b. was enrolled in full-time study or training for at least eight (8) months; and
c. was physically present in Canada for at least eight (8) months.
Before these changes, Immigration candidates who had completed a study program in Canada were not awarded additional CRS points. Through these changes, the Government of Canada is demonstrating its desire to find simpler ways for foreign students in Canada to obtain Permanent Residence.
3. Invitations to Apply
Candidates who receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for Permanent Residence will now have ninety (90) days (as opposed to the old sixty (60) days) to submit a complete Application to IRCC.
4. Impact of These Changes
When these changes take effect on November 19, many candidates in the Express Entry pool may notice no change to their individual CRS score; however, the upside to the changes is that these same individuals will now be more competitive when compared to candidates with qualifying job offers, who will see their scores drop up to 550 points. This is advantageous because the Express Entry system ranks candidates against each other and those with the highest CRS scores are invited to apply for Permanent Residence in Canada.
Illegal in U.S. and Wish to Immigrate to Canada?
November 10, 2016
Abrams & Krochak receives a significant number of inquiries from individuals, who have no legal status in the country in which they are residing and who wish to immigrate to Canada. The vast majority of these inquiries are from individuals in the United States and the number has increased substantially since the recent U.S. election and talk of mass deportations. The two (2) primary concerns for these individuals, when considering Canada, are:
1. Whether their illegal status in the United States will render them ineligible to immigrate to Canada; and
2. Whether the Immigration process can take place while they continue to reside in the United States, albeit illegally.
Insofar as eligibility is concerned, illegal status in a third country will not render an individual ineligible to immigrate to Canada unless issues of criminality are involved. Even then, there is not an automatic disqualification and Abrams & Krochak advises on a case-by-case basis.
Insofar as the Canadian Immigration process is concerned, all applicants in the Federal Skilled Worker and Federal Skilled Trades categories are processed under a system called “Express Entry”. With the assistance of Abrams & Krochak, applicants create an Express Entry Online Profile and if they are invited by Citizenship and Immigration Canada to apply for Permanent Residence in Canada, the majority of the Application process takes place online. Therefore, if no interview is deemed necessary by Immigration officials (which applies to the majority of cases filed by Abrams & Krochak, to date), the applicant’s place of residence is irrelevant. Place of residence only becomes relevant if the applicant’s file must be transferred to a Canadian visa office for further processing and/or the scheduling of an Immigration interview.
The general rule is this: if a file needs to be transferred to a Canadian visa office for further processing and/or the scheduling of an Immigration interview, it will be transferred to the Canadian visa office in the country in which the applicant is currently residing if (i) the applicant has at any point in the past lawfully resided in that country for a period of one (1) year or more OR (ii) the applicant is in possession of a valid visa, authorizing him/her to remain in that country for a period of at least one (1) year (such as an H1-B, J-1 or F-1 visa in the United States). Otherwise, the file must be transferred to the Canadian visa office which normally serves the applicant’s home country/country of habitual residence/country of citizenship.
As long as you are accurate about your qualifications when you complete Abrams & Krochak’s Online Eligibility Assessment Questionnaire at https://www.akcanada.com/assessment1.php, should you receive a favourable assessment from Abrams & Krochak, then it is worthwhile creating an Express Entry Online Profile since, as was stated earlier, if you are invited by Citizenship and Immigration Canada to apply for Permanent Residence in Canada, the vast majority of Abrams & Krochak’s cases are approved without the need for a personal interview and you will have the chance to begin a new life with legal status in Canada instead of continuing to live in fear of deportation from the United States.
Should an interview be deemed necessary in your case and should you be required to attend it in your home country/country of habitual residence/country of citizenship or a third country whose Canadian visa office serves your jurisdiction, you can evaluate your personal circumstances at that moment in time and then decide whether you are willing to take the risk of leaving the United States and travelling to attend your interview or abandoning your Canadian Immigration plans altogether. Keep in mind, however, the fact that abandoning your Canadian Immigration plans does not necessarily mean that you can apply at a future date, should your personal circumstances change. Canadian Immigration laws, regulations and policies are always subject to change at any time without advance notice.