Bridging Open Work Permits

Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s (“CIC“) International Mobility Program containing an bridging open work permit program for temporary foreign workers currently working in Canada who have submitted permanent residence applications under the Federal Skilled Worker Program (“FSWP“), the Canadian Experience Class (“CEC“), the Provincial Nominee Program (“PNP“), or the Federal Skilled Trades Program (“FSTP“).

Bridging open work permits are a huge and positive development for Canadian employers with employees who have filed permanent residence applications under one of Canada’s economic programs.  CIC’s introduction of bridging work permits removes a significant issue which many temporary foreign workers previously encountered, namely that they were unable to extend their work permits during CIC’s processing of their permanent resident applications without their employers first having to obtain positive Labour Market Impact Assessments, an uncertain process which often takes months.

Eligibility

Temporary foreign workers currently working in Canada are eligible to apply for a bridging work permit if they:

  • are a foreign national in Canada;
  • have valid status on a work permit that is due to expire within 4 months;
  • received a positive eligibility decision on their permanent residence application under either the FSWP, the CEC, the PNP, or the FSTP; and
  • they have applied for an open work permit.

The following individuals are not eligible for open bridging work permits:

  • foreign nationals in Canada working in Canada who are work permit exempt;
  • foreign nationals who have let their status expire and must apply for restoration in order to return to temporary resident status;
  • foreign nationals whose work permits are valid for longer than four months and/or who already have a new Labour Market Impact Assessment that can be used as the basis for a new work permit application;
  • foreign nationals applying for a bridging work permit at the port of entry;
  • spouse and dependants of the principal permanent resident applicant; and
  • provincial nominees who have not submitted a copy of their nomination letter with the application for a bridging work permit, or whose nomination letter specifically indicates employment restrictions.

That last point is an important one for provincial nominees.  Provincial nominees whose nomination certificates stipulate conditions or restrictions indicating that they must work for a specific employer, or work under a specific NOC code, will not be eligible for bridging open work permits.

For the purpose of determining whether a positive eligibility decision has been made, the following must have occurred:

  • For FSWP applicants,  CIC must have sent a positive Final Determination of Eligibility Letter, or set the “Ministerial Instructions” status to “Met.”
  • For PNP applicants, the Central Intake Office must have sent the applicant an Acknowledgement of Receipt Letter, or changed the “Eligibility EC-QC/PNP” status to “Passed.”
  • For CEC applicants, the Central Intake Office must have sent the applicant an Acknowledgement of Receipt Letter, or changed the “Eligibility CEC” decision to “Passed.”
  • For FSTP applicants, the Central Intake Office must have sent the applicant an Acknowledgement of Receipt Letter.

Although no guidelines have been posted regarding Express Entry, CIC has indicated on numerous occasions that the Express Entry “Acknowledgement of Receipt” which says that CIC is performing a completeness check does not make an individual eligible for an open bridging work permit.  Rather, it is when CIC’s Global Case Management System is updated to indicate that the Express Entry application is complete.

Applicants will be issued open work permits valid for a duration of one year.  They can be renewed on a case-by-case basis if the permanent residence application has not been processed within that time.

FSWP, CEC, and FSTP applicants’ work permits will be valid for work in any province.  PNP applicants’ bridging work permits will be limited to the applicant’s nominating province.

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Immigration Applications are not Processed in the Order that they are Received

[Editor’s Note: The following appeared in the September 2012 version of The Canadian Immigrant.  In drafting a blog post about a similar topic I realized that I had never posted the article below to my blog. I am therefore posting this today. The title in The Canadian Immigrant article was “What Applicants Should Look for In New Immigration Rules.“]

People who follow Canada’s immigration system have undoubtedly had trouble keeping up with the rapid changes that Citizenship and Immigration Canada has introduced in the past several months. From the termination of 300,000 federal skilled worker applications to the proposed “Start-up Visa,” the announcements have been fast and furious, and each one has been debated extensively.

In discussing each individual change, however, the public discourse has largely missed the shift in the forest by focusing on each tree. There is a fundamental transformation underway in Canada’s immigration system, and it is important that anyone submitting a visa application understand this before applying.

First in, first processed

Traditionally, Canada’s immigration system operated on a first-come first-processed basis. Our immigration legislation created programs under which eligible applicants could apply. People submitted applications under various programs with the understanding that while they would have to wait in the queue behind those who applied before them, they could be certain that the Canadian government would process their applications before anyone who applied after them. Importantly, they could also be certain that their application would actually be processed according to the criteria that existed when they applied.

Enter the ministerial instructions

In 2008, however, the Government of Canada began abandoning the first-come first-processed system by introducing what are now commonly referred to as ministerial instructions. Ministerial instructions are directives by the minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). They allow CIC to accelerate the processing of some applications, set quotas on how many applications in a program will actually be processed, and introduce additional program requirements not found in Canada’s immigration legislation.

It was through ministerial instructions that CIC reduced, capped, and in 2012 suspended the acceptance of most new applications in the skilled worker program. While the Government of Canada recently published legislation saying that the skilled worker program will reopen on Jan. 1, 2013, and published a new points system, no one knows what additional requirements and restrictions the minister will impose on the skilled worker program through ministerial instructions. Ministerial instructions also enabled CIC to prioritize processing of applications such that people who applied to the skilled worker program after 2010 can expect their applications to be processed faster than those who applied before. It was also through ministerial instructions that CIC capped the number of investor applications, suspended the entrepreneur program, and put a two-year moratorium on parent and grandparent applications. The minister was able to introduce all of these significant changes without having to consult Parliament, without having to amend Canada’s immigration legislation and without having to provide any notice of the changes.

The 2012 Budget Implementation Act introduced further changes to Canada’s immigration system that expand the scope of ministerial instructions. Ministerial instructions will soon allow the minister to unilaterally establish new immigration programs and to govern how they are processed. Importantly, changes to such programs can be made retroactively. As well, the 2012 Budget Implementation Act specifically provides that ministerial instructions can set the number of applications that will be processed in a given immigration program at zero.

Terminating the skilled worker backlog

Perhaps the biggest indicator of how far Canada has moved away from a first-come, first-processed immigration system was the government’s decision to terminate all skilled worker applications that were submitted prior to Feb. 27, 2008. Approximately 300,000 applications are being returned to people who applied to immigrate and patiently waited in the queue.

As of writing, there are several lawsuits underway that will determine whether the 300,000 skilled worker applications are ultimately terminated. However, it is important for the potential visa applicant to understand that their application can be terminated after it is submitted or that CIC will simply not process it.

Applicants beware

The Canadian government appears to want the ability to choose which visa applicants it will admit after the applicants have already applied to immigrate to programs under which they are eligible. It wants the ability to process applications in response to the immediate and ever-changing needs of Canadian society. It is simply not interested in processing applications under programs that it does not feel will address these needs.

Applicants accordingly need to beware that, contrary to their reasonable expectation, applying for a visa under a program in which they are eligible to immigrate does not mean that they will be admitted. Their eligible application could be pushed back in processing priority, subject to a cap of zero or, worst of all, terminated.


Questions & Answers – FSWP Education Points and On-Campus Work Permits (IR-04)

The following is an e-mail exchange between an immigration representative and Citizenship and Immigration Canada regarding Education Points under the Federal Skilled Worker Program, as well as a question about On Campus Work Permits.

Please note that what I have reproduced below should not be viewed as legal advice.  The reproduction of question and answer has not occurred with the affiliation of the Government of Canada, nor with the endorsement of the Government of Canada.

Question – May 06, 2013

Dear Sir / Madam,

I have two questions:

1. For submissions under the Federal Skilled Worker Program, do applicants need to submit proof of completion of secondary school if their highest level of education is a bachelor’s degree (or higher)?  In other words, is documentation required for all secondary and post-secondary students, or just for the highest level of education claimed?

2. Is there a maximum number of hours that a student with a valid study permit can work ON campus?  I understand that Off-campus work permit holders can only work 20 hours and I was wondering if the same restriction applies to On-campus work.

Best regards,

Answer – May 27, 2013

1) As noted in the Federal Skilled Worker Program application guide, in order to meet the minimum education requirement, all applicants must submit proof of:

  • a completed Canadian secondary or post-secondary credential, or
  • a completed foreign educational credential and an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) report issued by an organization designated by CIC if their educational credential was obtained outside Canada.  The ECA report must confirm the equivalency of the completed foreign educational credential to a completed Canadian secondary or post-secondary educational credential.

An applicant submitting proof of a Canadian post-secondary educational credential (or an equivalent foreign educational credential) does not need to also submit proof of completion of a secondary educational credential.

2) There is no restriction on the number of hours that a student with a valid study permit can work on campus.

However, as per section 5.21 of OP12, “to be eligible for employment on campus, the student:

  • be registered full-time at a public university, community college, CEGEP, publicly funded trade/technical school or private institution authorized by provincial statute to confer degrees; 
  • be in possession of a valid and subsisting study permit; and
  • work on campus at the institution where they are registered, whether for the institution itself or for a private business located on campus.

 


Federal Skilled Trades Class to be Capped at 3,000 Applicants

As previously discussed here, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC“) will be introducing a new Federal Skilled Trades Class (“FSTC”), which will facilitate the immigration of certain skilled tradespersons in Canada.  The Government of Canada originally “announced” the creation of the FSTC in August through the publication of regulatory changes, however, CIC today released new information which will be relevant to prospective applicants.

The FSTC will be open to individuals with experience in the following National Occupation Classification (“NOC“) B occupational areas:

  • Industrial, Electrical and Construction Trades;
  • Maintenance and Equipment Operation Trades;
  • Supervisors and Technical Occupations in Natural Resources, Agriculture and Related Production;
  • Processing, Manufacturing and Utilities Supervisors and Central Control Operators;
  • Chefs and Cooks; and
  • Bakers and Butchers.

Applicants to the FSTC will be required to meet the following four minimum requirements:

  1. Be working in Canada, or possess a LMO-supported offer of employment from up to two employers in Canada of at least one year duration, or possess a Certificate of Qualification from a provincial or territorial Apprenticeship Authority;
  2. Meet the same minimum language threshold as required by the concurrently to be introduced new Federal Skilled Worker Class, namely a 7.0 on every language ability;
  3. Have twenty-four months of work experience (after qualification/certification in the country where the work was performed, where applicable) in the same skilled trade as which they are applying under in the last five years; and
  4. Have qualifications that satisfy employment requirements as described by the NOC, except for certification and licensing requirements.

The FSTC will be capped at 3,000 applications in its first year.

Individuals who are keenly anticipating the launch of the new Federal Skilled Worker Program (“FSWP“) should note that when the Government of Canada in August announced the creation of the FSTC, they did not indicate that the program would be capped.  The capping of the FSTC will presumably be done through Ministerial Instructions.  I strongly believe that at the same time that these Ministerial Instructions will be published officially capping the FSTC, concurrent Ministerial Instructions will also be published capping and limiting who can apply to the new FSWP.  Prospective applicants should be aware of this possibility while they prepare their FSWP applications.

 


IELTS Tests Mandatory for British and French

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Yes. Just what are they speaking in England?  Apparently, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC“) is not too sure, and will now be requiring that all British people and French people take language tests to prove that they speak either English or French if the immigration program that they are using requires proof of language.

So to the people of England, you may have invented the language, but as your former colony, we’re putting you on notice that we’re not quite sure how well you speak it.

And to the international student who graduated from a Canadian university with a honours degree in English, well, we’re sorry, but we’re not confident that our universities know how to teach the language.

Imagine the scene at the reception area of a French testing center in Paris where Parisians have to pay and sit an exam to prove that their French is sufficient for Quebec.

And to those that have said that this brings Canada in line with the practices of our “competitors,” including the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, a quick glance at their laws reveals that no it doesn’t.

Australia exempts applicant’s whose native language is English and who are passport holders of the United States, Canada, the UK, Ireland, or New Zealand.

The UK exempts applicants who are nationals of the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the former British West Indies from taking language tests.

New Zealand exempts applicants who have a post-secondary qualification taught entirely in English, and applicants who have worked in skilled employment in New Zealand for at least 12 months.

And do you know why these countries have these exemptions? Because it’s so obvious that they’ll pass the English test that they don’t want to insult their potential immigrants by making them pay and sit an English test.


The Federal Skilled Worker NOC List

Image by wburris

As part of its recent changes to the Federal Skilled Worker Program (“FSWP“), the government has changed which National Occupational Classification (“NOC“) categories are eligible under the program. In short, the FSWP requires that a prospective immigrant either have a job offer or sufficient experience in a designated NOC occupation. These are typically occupations of which there are a shortage of skilled Canadians.

The following table shows the eligible NOC categories before and after the changes. It shows which occupations have been removed, and which have been added.

NOC

Before

Now

0213

Computer and information systems managers

0311

Managers in health care

0631

Restaurant and food service managers

Restaurant and food service managers

0632

Accommodation service managers

0711

Construction managers

1111

Financial auditors

2113

Geologists, geochemists, geophysicists

2143

Mining engineers

2144

Geological engineers

2145

Petroleum engineers

3111

Specialists physicians

Specialist physicians

3112

General practitioners and family physicians

General practitioners and family physicians

3141

Audiologists

3143

Occupational therapists

3142

Physiotherapists

Physiotherapists

3151

Head nurses

3152

Registered nurses

Registered nurses

3215

Medical radiation technologists

Medical radiation technologists

3233

Licensed practical nurses

Licensed practical nurses

4121

University professors

4131

College and other vocational instructors

6241 Executive chefs Executive chefs

6242

Cooks

Cooks

7213

Contractors and supervisors (pipes)

7215

Contractors and supervisors, carpentry trades

Contractors and supervisors, carpentry trades

7216

Contractors and supervisors (mechanic trades)

Contractors and supervisors (mechanic trades)

7241 Electricians (except industrial & power system) Electricians (except industrial & power system)
7242 Industrial electricians Industrial electricians

7251

Plumbers

Plumbers

7252

Steamfitters and pipefitters

7265

Welders

Welders

7312

Heavy-duty equipment mechanics

Heavy-duty equipment mechanics

7371

Crane operators

Crane operators

7372

Drillers & blasters

Drillers & blasters

8221

Supervisors (mining)

8222

Supervisors (oil & gas drilling)

Supervisors (oil & gas drilling)

9212

Supervisors (refineries, chemical plants)

0811

Primary production managers

1122

Professional occupations in business services to management

1233

Insurance adjusters and claims examiners

2121

Biologists and related scientists

2151

Architects

3113

Dentists

3131

Pharmacists

3222

Dental hygienists & dental therapists

4152

Psychologists

4152

Social workers

 


Changes to Language Requirements

New Language Requirements for Citizenship and PNP Applications

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC”) has introduced new language requirements for citizenship applications and certain provincial nominee applications.  For citizenship applications, the changes will introduce objective language requirements for most applicantions.  For certain provincial nominee program (“PNP”) applications, the changes will introduce mandatory language testing.

The Citizenship Langugage Requirements  

Applicants for Canadian citizenship are required to demonstrate that they have an adequate knowledge of either English or French.  Currently, this is done through a multiple choice written test known as the Citizenship Exam, which also tests knowledge of Canada and the responsibilities of citizenship.

On April 21, 2012, the Government of Canada introduced regulatory changes that when they take affect will require that citizenship applicants enclose proof that they meet the language requirement with their citizenship application.  Acceptable means of proof will include:

  • A language test result from an authorized testing agency;
  • Evidence of completion of secondary or post-secondary education in English or French; or
  • Evidence of completion and achievement of a certain level in a government-funded language training program.

Applicants submitting test results from an authorized testing agency will have to achieve a minimum standard of Canadian Language Benchmark (“CLB”) 4 in English or Niveaux de comeptence linguistique canadiens (“NCLC”) level 4 in French.  The areas that will be tested are speaking and listening.  For those familiar with the International English Language Testing System (“IELTS”), currently required for many permanent residence applications, this translates into a 4 in each category.

Applicants who provided mandatory language testing results as part of their permanence residence applications can submit those test results with their citizenship application, and will not be required to be re-tested.

The change will affect all adult citizenship applicants between the ages of 18 and 54.

More information about the change, and the other details of the regulatory changes, can be found at the Canada Gazette here: http://www.gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p1/2012/2012-04-21/html/reg1-eng.html  

The PNP Langugage Requirements  

On April 11, 2012, CIC announced that most PNP applicants for semi- and low-skilled professions that fall under Naitonal Occupational Classification (“NOC”) Skill Levels C and D  will have to take mandatory language testing of their listening, speaking, reading, and writing.  They will be required to meet a minimum standard across all four of these categories.

Acceptable tests will include the IELTS, the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (“CELPIP-General”), and the Test d’evaluation de francais.  The minimum standard required will be CLB 4.  No other evidence of language profiency will be accepted.

The change will take effect on July 1, 2012.  However, CIC has announced that any temporary foreign worker who arrives in Canada on or before July 1, 2012, and who subsequently gets nominated no later than July 1, 2013, will be exempted from the requirement.  It is important to note that while CIC has allowed this exemption, it is still unknown whether provincial governments will nonetheless start requiring language testing sooner.

It should also be noted that in January, 2012, CIC indicated that intends to introduce language testing across all PNP streams by the end of 2012.

More information about the change, and the other requirements of the program, can be found at the WelcomeBC here: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/department/media/backgrounders/2012/2012-04-11.asp