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.
Number of 2017 New Arrivals to Canada to Remain the Same; Greater Percentage Economic and Family Class Immigrants
November 1, 2016
On October 31, 2016, the Government of Canada announced in the Canadian House of Commons that it will bring in 300,000 new arrivals in 2017. That is the same number that was established in 2016 to accommodate an influx of Syrian refugees.
While Canada will not increase the number of new immigrants being welcomed to the country next year, the Government claims that it is laying the foundation for a bigger boost in levels in the coming years.
Within this plan, the number of permanent residents selected in economic programs (i.e. Express Entry/Business Class/Provincial Nominee Programs, etc.) will increase. The Government also intends to increase Family Class (i.e. family sponsorship) levels to reduce processing times and reunite more families.
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports that Immigration Minister John McCallum to reveal ‘substantially’ higher newcomer targets
October 30, 2016
The article, below, appeared this morning on the website of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. If the announcement is true and, once more information becomes available, Abrams & Krochak will publish it on our website.
Canada is expected to “substantially” boost the number of immigrants it welcomes to the country each year, but experts warn that any increase must be matched with more robust resettlement assistance.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum is expected to reveal new targets Monday, one day before Finance Minister Bill Morneau presents his fall economic update.
The new levels will seek to offset projected demographic challenges in Canada, including an aging population and growing labour gaps. In 2016, the target was to permit 300,000 newcomers to the country.
The government’s economic growth advisory council has recommended ramping up immigration levels to 450,000 people a year over the next five years, with a focus on skilled, highly educated and business-oriented people. McCallum has suggested that target may be overly ambitious, but said the government will “substantially” raise the number.
There has also been debate among the Canadian public — and among Liberals — about hiking immigration at a time of high unemployment, especially among young Canadians. There are also questions about whether adequate levels of support are in place.
Immigrants worse off?
As the government welcomes more immigrants, it must take steps to ensure smooth integration into communities, said Emily Gilbert, director of the University of Toronto’s Canadian Studies Program. That includes employment that meets their skill levels, so families don’t face undue financial hardship, she said.
“I’m not at all against raising the level, I’m in full support of that. But we’ve had a tendency in the last decade or so for newcomers to Canada to be much worse off economically,” she said.
She’s concerned about the potential emphasis on bringing in business and professional class immigrants.
“I’m worried that the thrust of the levels seems to be to boost Canada’s economy and I’m worried it would be on the shoulders of those who arrive,” she said.
Gilbert said ramping up numbers too quickly without enough supports could lead to potential social and economic problems down the road. She also warned against gearing targets based on economic status.
Not only does that contribute to a “brain drain” in other countries, but it ignores the fact that it takes all kinds of people to build the country, she said.
Raise living standards
The advisory council’s report recommends tapping top business talent and international students to maximize economic benefits from immigration policy that, “if done right, can raise living standards for all Canadians.”
Noting that public opinion to date is largely favourable toward immigration, the report warns that policy makers must be aware of limits.
“Public support is likely to wane if integration of new immigrants is not managed effectively,” it reads. “The recommended increase of 150,000 permanent economic immigrants is not expected to strain public education, transportation, or healthcare systems over the course of the five-year ramp up period, though it should be expected that higher population growth will eventually require increased investments in public services and infrastructure by all levels of government.”
In addition to boosting immigration levels, the council recommends:
- Reducing red tape to attract and expedite entry for foreign talent.
- Easing rules to allow more international students to become permanent residents.
- Improving accreditation processes to help skilled workers find work in their profession.
Dory Jade, CEO of the Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants, expects the government will significantly increase the annual target and numbers in various categories. He said it’s difficult to measure actual capacity for newcomers in communities because there are so many regional variations.
But Jade said any increase in numbers must come with supports ranging from more staff to process applications to a “big injection” of aid to help integrate new arrivals, even though that capacity is hard to determine.
“That’s the big dilemma for the government,” he said.
NDP Immigration critic Jenny Kwan said Canada could reasonably have a policy to bring in a higher number of immigrants, up to 500,000 annually.
Along with setting new targets, she urged the government to bring in policy changes that would help fill regional labour gaps and give live-in caregivers and temporary foreign workers greater and faster opportunities to become new Canadians.
“I think we’re at the juncture in 2016 to look at our immigration policy and say, ‘If you’re good enough to work here, you’re good enough to stay,'” she said.
Kwan also said Canada’s policy should not be geared to favour those with business and professional credentials.
“There’s value to all the different classes,” she said. “All of us contribute to the rich fabric of who we are, and our immigration policy should reflect exactly that — broad-based, diverse groups of immigrants from around the globe.”
Conservative Immigration critic Michelle Rempel said setting immigration levels must not be “arbitrary” and that targets should be established after consultation with the provinces and territories. She hopes to to see an increase in economic immigration to the Atlantic provinces and consideration to Francophonie targets.
Rempel said she is proud that because of a Conservative motion, Yazidi victims of ISIS genocide will be among the priority groups brought in to Canada.
“Our previous Conservative government oversaw the highest sustained levels of economic immigration in Canada’s history, while working to ensure persecuted ethnic, religious and sexual minorities were able to resettle in Canada,” she said in an email.
“We protected the integrity of our fair and generous immigration system by cracking down on crooked consultants who exploit prospective immigrants. Along with introducing the Parent and Grandparent Super Visa, we also enhanced the Caregiver program to ensure faster processing, reunification and more protection against abuse.”