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Toronto is having a big tech moment

January 21, 2018

The following article, which appeared on CNN’s website on January 20, 2018, speaks volumes about Toronto both in terms of the strength of its technology sector and the cultural/ethnic diversity of the city.  The article makes specific mention of the fact that the percentage of foreign-born residents in the Greater Toronto Area region — 39.7% — exceeds every other city in North America.  Toronto is praised for both its education system and for being the benefactor of Canada’s generous Immigration program.  The article is reproduced in its entirety from the CNN website and is a recommended read for immigrants and intending immigrants, considering where to reside in Canada and whether to settle in Toronto.


After promising to search North America for the perfect home for its next headquarters, Amazon has narrowed its list to 20 cities — 19 of which are in the United States. The one exception? Toronto.

An outlier on Amazon’s list, Toronto has earned the attention of the technology world due to its diverse population, talent pool and welcome stance on immigration.

 “It’s got this incredible aspiration for inclusivity,” Dan Doctoroff, CEO of Sidewalk Labs, the urban innovation arm of Google’s parent company which is developing a Toronto neighborhood, said at an event Wednesday. “If Amazon sees what we see here, it won’t even be a close call.”

Toronto is the fourth largest city by population in North America, with 2.8 million people. Its percentage of foreign-born residents in the region — 39.7% — exceeds every other city on Amazon’s list. Its population has grown by more than 400,000 people in the last five years.

Toronto’s appeal to the tech sector, which relies on foreign workers, has grown amid diverging stances on immigration from the U.S. and Canadian governments. Last year, Canada launched a program to process work permits and visa applications for skilled workers within two weeks.

The Trump administration has moved to tighten access to H-1B visas, a popular route to tech jobs for foreign workers. Its 2017 travel ban for six majority-Muslim countries also rattled the tech industry, triggering foreigners to give more serious consideration to education and work outside the U.S.

“The more inclusive we are, the more we will win against communities that are trying to exclude any group of talent,” Karen Greve Young, vice president of corporate development and partnerships at Mars, a Toronto organization that supports startups, told CNN Tech.

In 2017, the University of Toronto’s computer science program saw a 50% increase in graduate school applicants, according to its director of professional programs, Matt Medland.

The university is also home to a superstar in the world of artificial intelligence, professor Geoffrey Hinton. Tech giants such as Google and Amazon see artificial intelligence as essential to the future of their companies.

In its bid to host Amazon’s second headquarters, Toronto promised to boost the number of the students graduating with STEM degrees. Toby Lennox, CEO of Toronto Global, which organized Toronto’s submission, believes talent is why Toronto was the only non-U.S. city to make Amazon’s list.

“We’re able to meet their needs across the board,” Lennox said. “Once you match that with an immigration system and an education system that is so welcoming, it makes for large employers a real opportunity.”

Lennox said he heard from a company interested in Toronto because it needed workers who could speak four different Portuguese dialects.

“We’ve just made the playoffs,” Toronto Mayor John Tory told CNN Tech. “But it’s a long way to the prize.”

Parents/Grandparents Sponsorship Program to Reopen in New Year

December 22, 2017

In 2017, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) introduced a new process for application intake for sponsoring parents and grandparents. Now, potential sponsors must first notify IRCC that they are interested in sponsoring their parents and grandparents by submitting an “Interest to Sponsor” form. Using a random selection process, IRCC will then invite potential sponsors to apply to sponsor their parents and grandparents.

Today, the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced that the Program will reopen in 2018 and that the “Interest to Sponsor” form will be available at noon EST on January 2, 2018. Those who wish to apply to sponsor their parents and grandparents in 2018 must first fill out this online form. It will be available until noon February 1, 2018.

Abrams & Krochak will be contacting all of its clients with pending Parent/Grandparent Sponsorship Applications at the beginning of January 2018.

Multi-Year Immigration Levels Plan Announced

November 2, 2017

On Wednesday, November 1, 2017, the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC), announced the Government of Canada’s multi-year Immigration levels plan that will grow the number of permanent residents Canada welcomes annually.

Beginning with 310,000 new permanent residents in 2018, the plan will grow to 330,000 in 2019 and 340,000 in 2020, trending towards one percent of the population by 2020.

Each Immigration class will see a steady increase over the three-year period. The majority of the increase will be in economic programs.

New Definition of Age of Dependants Now in Force

November 2, 2017

On Friday, October 27, 2017, the Government of Canada has changed the definition of the age of dependants from “under 19” to “under 22,” as it had promised to do.

This change applies to all new applications received by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on or after October 24, 2017.

IRCC also announced that it would allow for the addition or sponsorship of some children whose parents had existing applications in process on May 3, 2017, or who have applied since that time.

Permanent residence applicants who wish to add or sponsor a child who was 19, 20, or 21 years of age on May 3, 2017, or on the date IRCC received the parents’ application (if between May 3, and October 23, 2017) should notify IRCC as soon as possible, using a web form, as the notification period will end on January 31, 2018.

Once IRCC has been advised, they will contact applicants directly to tell them what they need to do to sponsor or add their child to their application.

More Changes to Express Entry Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS)

April 4, 2017

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 June 6, 2017.

 

What are the changes?

 

1. French Language Ability

On June 6, 2017, Express Entry candidates with strong French language skills, with or without English language skills, will be awarded additional points by the CRS.

A total of 15 additional points will be awarded for test results of the Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens (NLC) at level 7 in all four language skills in French (listening, speaking, reading and writing) and an English test result of Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 4 or lower.

A total of 30 additional points will be awarded for test results of the NLC at level 7 in all four skills in French and English test results of CLB 5 or higher.

 

2. Sibling (Brother/Sister) in Canada

Previously, the system did not award any points to candidates with siblings in Canada. On June 6, 2017, the Express Entry system will award 15 points to candidates with siblings in Canada.

To get these points, candidates will need to show that the sibling is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident who is living in Canada and is 18 years of age or older.

The sibling in Canada must share a mother or father with the principal Express Entry applicant or their spouse or common-law partner. This relationship can be through blood, marriage, common-law partnership or adoption.

 

3. Job Bank

Previously, candidates were required to create a Job Bank account (after creating their Express Entry Online Profile) if they did not have a valid job offer or a provincial or territorial nomination before they were placed in the pool and became eligible for an invitation round.

On June 6, 2017, Job Bank registration for Express Entry candidates becomes voluntary for all candidates.

Candidates who meet the minimum entry criteria for Express Entry will be automatically placed into the pool and immediately eligible for invitation rounds. If they do not currently have a job in Canada and would like to start their job search, they will be able to register for Job Bank.

Employers will still be able to use all of their existing recruiting methods, including Job Bank, to find Express Entry candidates and Abrams & Krochak will continue to create Job Bank accounts for its clients as part of its services.

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.