On February 12, 2014, the Government of Canada stated that it had made regulatory amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (“IRPR”) which will take affect on June 1, 2014. The changes will alter Canada’s international student landscape.
The new rules are being introduced because the Government of Canada has been concerned that some educational institutions have been taking advantage of international students. (One of my biggest annoyances is meeting with international students who state that their private post-secondary schools misled them into thinking that they would be eligible for post-graduate work permits.) The government has even suspected some educational institutes are little more than “visa mills” whose primary purpose is to get students work permits. As well, there has been an increasing tendency of internationals students using study permits as a means to enter Canada for purposes other than study, including employment, and, allegedly, criminal purposes. Canada’s reputable post-secondary institutions, which have to compete for the best and brightest international students, have been unamused with how some of the unscrupulous behaviour has impacted their ability to market.
The changes are:
New regulations, as of June 1, 2014
Applicants must show that they intend to pursue studies in Canada when applying for a study permit.
Applicants must enrol in and actively pursue their course of studies in Canada. The failure of a study permit holder to do so could lead to removal from Canada. The Government of Canada has amended IRPR s. 228 so that inadmissibility reports based on international students not actively pursuing studies in Canada do not require a referral to the Immigration and Refugee Board. Instead, an officer can directly issue an Exclusion Order. There are several exceptions to this removal possibility, including study permit holders who possess study permits because they are the family members of foreign workers, » Read more about: Study Permit Regulations to be Overhauled June 1, 2014 »
Ever since the Federal Court dismissed a class-action lawsuit over the Government of Canada’s decision to terminate the Federal Skilled Worker Program backlog, many immigration practitioners have wondered if the government would do the same thing to the Federal Immigrant Investor Program (“FIIP”) backlog. On February 11, 2014, the governing Conservative Party of Canada stated that it would. The 2014 federal budget, called Economic Action Plan 2014, states that the Government of Canada intends to return and refund “certain” FIIP applicants who applied before February 11, 2014.
Under the FIIP, Canada offers permanent residence in exchange for a guaranteed $800,000 loan (before 2010, the amount was $400,000). The FIIP has long faced criticism. In 2010, Ryan Rosenberg, a Partner at our firm, wrote in The Canadian Immigrant that:
Many savvy investors, like my client, look at a $400,000 investment without interest as a lost opportunity and, instead of investing the full amount, seek out financing from one of a number of government-authorized financial intermediaries (“banks”).
For years now, the banks themselves, consultants and lawyers have promoted a financing option at $120,000. For $120,000, a bank will lend an investor funds required for investment under the program and facilitate the investment itself. The investor is also required to sign an assignment of the $400,000 refund from the government to the bank at the end of the five-year term.
The $120,000 covers all interest charges and bank fees associated with the investment and at the end of the five-year term the investor receives no money in return. So where does all that money go?
Based on today’s interest rates (which we know are going up sometime soon), the cost to finance a $400,000 loan for five years is about $1,000 a month in interest alone.Read more ›
On February 6, 2014 the Government of Canada introduced Bill C-24, The Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act. If passed, Bill C-24 will significantly change the requirements for Canadian citizenship. Prospective citizenship applicants who may not meet the new requirements once Bill C-24 passes are encouraged to apply for Canadian citizenship as soon as possible. The new residency provisions described below will come into effect on June 11, 2015.
The following is a summary of the main changes that the Government of Canada is introducing.
Residence and other Basic Requirements
Under Canada’s current system, a permanent resident can apply for Canadian citizenship if he/she has resided in Canada for three out of the four years preceding the citizenship application. Because the definition of “residence” is not defined, it has been possible for permanent residents who have not been physically present in Canada for three out of four years to obtain citizenship if they could show substantial ties to Canada.
As well, each day that an applicant lawfully resides in Canada before becoming a permanent resident counts as a half-day towards the residency requirement. This means that many people can apply for citizenship 2 years after obtaining permanent resident status.
Finally, Canada’s current citizenship requirements do not require permanent residents to have an “intention to reside in Canada” once they are granted citizenship. Indeed, it is not uncommon for citizenship applicants to apply for citizenship and then leave Canada during the entirety of the processing of their application.
Under the proposed system, a permanent resident will be able to apply for Canadian citizenship if he/she has been physically present in Canada for four out of the six years preceding the citizenship application, rather than three out of four. Applicants will also be required to have a minimum of 183 days of physical presence per year in four out of the six years preceding the application.Read more ›
[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).Read more ›
Although it is not directly related to immigration, one of the questions that we are often asked is whether someone’s child is eligible for publicly funded education in British Columbia. Many school board websites, such as the Vancouver School Board‘s, state which documents certain foreign nationals and permanent residents should provide so that their children may attend publicly-funded elementary and/or secondary school. However, many people (including some staff at these school boards) are unaware of the “why” or the policies behind the information on these websites. The predictable result is uncertainty as soon as scenarios which are not listed on school board websites occur.
Section 82 of British Columbia’s School Act provides that school boards must provide education free of charge to every student of school age if the student and the student’s guardian are ordinarily resident in British Columbia. It states:
82 (1) A board must provide free of charge to every student of school age resident in British Columbia and enrolled in an educational program in a school operated by the board,
(a) instruction in an educational program sufficient to meet the general requirements for graduation,
(b) instruction in an educational program after the student has met the general requirements for graduation, and
(c) educational resource materials necessary to participate in the educational program.
(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), a student is resident in British Columbia if the student and the student’s guardian are ordinarily resident in British Columbia.
Because the School Act does not define “ordinarily resident,” the British Columbia government created a policy titled “Eligibility of Students for Operating Grant Funding.” It outlines the circumstances in which British Columbia’s Ministry of Education will provide operating grant funding to boards of education for students enrolling in their district.Read more ›