Many people entering Canada find themselves at customs being constantly referred to secondary examination.  There, they are often told by the Canada Border Services Agency (“CBSA“) that their referral to secondary examination was the mandatory result of an enforcement flag being on their file.

Referral to secondary examination is time consuming.  Unnecessary referrals are a burden on both travellers and CBSA.  Because of this, CBSA was traditionally quite facilitative when it came to individuals requesting that an enforcement flag on their file be removed.  As a supervisor from the CBSA explained to me in an e-mail, enforcement flag removal works as follows:

The flag removal process doesn’t delete information, it merely closes the connection between the immigration database and the integrated system on the primary inspection line on that specific client.  The process is not visible to the naked eye – I use this analogy:

You get a lamp for a wedding present from “her” mom. You hate it. It’s a motion sensor lamp and it is hardwired into the wall. You can’t get rid of it, you can’t unplug it, you can’t take the light bulb out but you want the thing to stop lighting up every time you walk by. So, you unscrew the light bulb just enough that it doesn’t make contact. It’s still there, it’s still safe but it won’t ever light up again.

That’s what the flag removal does… we leave everything in place, but alter it slightly so that when the client shows up at the primary line, his name doesn’t light up!

As evidenced from the above e-mail, individuals could traditionally  e-mail the CBSA directly to ask that the enforcement flag be removed.  The CBSA almost always responded favourably within 48 hours.   It was excellent customer service.

 » Read more about: Enforcement Flag Removal Policy Change  »

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Santa is Canadian, and He’s Already Employed

In 2010 Jason Kenney, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC”), reaffirmed that Santa Clause is a Canadian citizen.

This year, CIC doesn’t  want us to forget, and they’ve displayed the “fact” that Santa is a Canadian on their front page.

cicsanta

Of course, we here in British Columbia already know that.  In fact, when he’s not delivering presents on December 25th, Santa is gainfully employed in the City of Abbotsford.

 

abbotsfordsanta

 » Read more about: Santa is Canadian, and He’s Already Employed  »

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The purpose of this blog post is to provide an overview of the changes to Pre-Removal Risk Assessments (“PRRAs“) resulting from Bill C-31 which are now in effect.  A PRRA is a paper application in which individuals can submit that they would be at risk of persecution, risk to life, or risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment if returned to their countries of origin.  For most applicants, a positive determination results in the granting of refugee protection and the opportunity to apply for permanent residence as a protected person.  Bill C-31, the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act, introduced several restrictions on the ability of people to apply for PRRA.

One Year Bar

A person may not apply for a PRRA if less than 12 months have passed since the Immigration and Refugee Board (“IRB“) rejected their refugee claim, or determined the claim to be abandoned or withdrawn.

A person may also no longer apply for a PRRA if less than 12 months have passed since Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC“) rejected the individuals previous PRRA application, or determined it to be withdrawn or abandoned.

The above bars apply retroactively to PRRAs currently being processed.

Applicants from certain countries are exempted from the one year bar.  These countries include the Central African Republic, Egypt, Guinea-Bissau, Libya, Mali, Somalia, Sudan, and Syria.  Nationals from these countries are exempt from the 12-month bar only if their IRB or PRRA decision (rejected, abandoned or withdrawn) was rendered between August 15, 2011 and August 14, 2012.  There are no exemptions to the 12-month bar for cases decided by the IRB or CIC from August 15, 2012, onward.

Designated Countries Of Origin

Rejected refugee claimants from a Designated Country of Origin are not eligible to apply for PRRA for 36 months after the date of their final decision at the IRB.  

 » Read more about: Overview of PRRA Changes  »

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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;

 » Read more about: Bridging Open Work Permits  »

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CIC Changes ATIP Consent Form

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC“) has very quietly announced that if you are making an Access to Information Act or a Privacy Act (both commonly referred to interchangeably as an “ATIP“) request on behalf of someone else, then the IMM 5476 – Use of Representative form and the IMM5475 – Authority to Release Personal Information to a Designated Individual form will no longer be accepted effective January 1, 2013 .

Instead, the new IMM5744 – Consent for an Access to Information and Personal Information Request, must be used.

The change is buried in Point 3 of Page 1 in the Access to Information a Personal Information Request – Instructions.

access

It is not clear why CIC determined that it was necessary to change forms.

It is clear, however, that unless CIC does a better job publicizing this change then they are going to be inundated with ATIP requests which use the old forms.  All of these applications will be returned several weeks later.  It’ll be a huge waste of both time and money for everyone involved.

We were lucky in that I stumbled upon this change while doing some research for a client.  I have since notified all Canadian immigration lawyers on the Canadian Bar Association immigration list serve, and have received many e-mails from lawyers thanking me for alerting them to a change that they may otherwise have missed.

However, considering there are literally thousands of individuals who routinely complete ATIP requests on behalf of others, I strongly recommend that CIC publicize this change unless they want to spend the first half of 2013 returning incomplete applications.

 » Read more about: CIC Changes ATIP Consent Form  »

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(Note from Steven: I met John at the Canadian Bar Association British Columbia branch annual conference in San Francisco.  He is currently involved in some fascinating litigation representing an individual who sponsored a spouse only to watch her  immediately divorce him after she immigrated.  She also left him on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in social assistance payments.  I invited John to some write articles for this blog, and here is the first of what will hopefully be many into this issue.)

Marriage fraud happens. You meet a nice person. They live in another country. You get along. They or one of their relatives suggest that you get married. So you get married. You sponsor your spouse’s immigration to Canada and sign an undertaking that you will supply the necessities of life for three years and pay any social assistance that that person takes from the government. All of a sudden, your new spouse leaves. And doesn’t come back. No explanation. No fight. It’s just over. You realize that they never had any intention of staying married. And in the worst case scenario, you get a bill three years later from the government for social assistance that your ex-spouse received without your knowledge or consent.

Where your spouse has separated from you and you suspect that the marriage was fraudulent, there are steps you can take to protect yourself:

  1. Inform Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Under new rules effective October 25th, 2012, a sponsored spouse who does not legitimately live with their spouse for two years may be deported.
  2. File for divorce.
  3. Find out if your spouse has applied for or is receiving social assistance.
  4. Consult a lawyer to determine if you can sue your spouse for fraudulent misrepresentation of marriage.

 » Read more about: Guest Post: Suing your Spouse for Fraudulent Marriage  »

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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,

 » Read more about: Federal Skilled Trades Class to be Capped at 3,000 Applicants  »

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It is commonly accepted that identification documents which rely on a person’s name, date of birth, and even photograph, are increasingly inadequate to detect fraud or to accurately confirm a person’s identity.  As such, the Government of Canada today announced regulatory changes which specify that certain foreign nationals will have to provide biometric information when applying to enter Canada and when actually entering Canada.

As indicated in the table below, starting in 2013, temporary resident visa applicants, study permit applicants, and work permit applicants from prescribed countries will have to have their biometric information collected overseas before they arrive in Canada.  This information will then be checked by the Canada Border Services Agency when the applicants arrive at a Canadian port of entry.  As well, the RCMP may analyze whether the person has previously made a refugee claim or been deported from Canada.

The biometric information which will have to be provided include fingerprints and a facial image.  Applicants will have to provide this information at Visa Application Centers.

The prescribed countries, and the dates by which foreign nationals holding travel documents from these countries will have to submit biometric information at Visa Application Centers, are:

List of Countries Whose Foreign Nationals Will Be Required to Submit Biometric Information Prior to Coming to Canada

Date
Countries

September 2, 2013
Haiti

Jamaica

October 15, 2013
Albania

Algeria

DemocraticRepublicofCongo

Eritrea

Libya

Nigeria

Saudi Arabia

Somalia

South Sudan

Sudan

Tunisia

December 7, 2013
Afghanistan

Bangladesh

Burma

Cambodia

Egypt

Iran

Iraq

Jordan

Laos

Lebanon

Pakistan

Palestine(document issued by Palestinian Authority)

Sri Lanka

Syria

Vietnam

Yemen

Children under the age of 14 and adults over the age of 79 will be exempted from the requirement to submit biometric information,

 » Read more about: Biometric Regulations  »

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On December 5, 2012, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness (the “Minister“) made his first designation of irregular arrival under Bill C-31, the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act.

The Washington Post is reporting that the 85 people were designated, including 35 children.  Thirty of the irregular arrivals have already been arrested thus far.  The refugee claimants appear to be Romanian, and arrived in Canada between February and October.

 » Read more about: First Designation of Irregular Arrivals  »

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