During the last two weeks of March, 2020, the Government of Canada implemented many measures in response to the COVID19 pandemic. In the immigration context, these measures included travel bans, the suspension of biometrics and the transition of most Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) officers to remote work. The changes were frequent, dramatic and difficult to keep up with. They have left a lot of prospective immigrants wondering what exactly is open with regards to Canada’s immigration programs.
Please note that this article was written on April 1, 2020.
Canada is currently denying boarding to most foreign nationals on flights to Canada. There are, however, numerous exemptions to this.
First, individuals who are travelling from the United States who have been in the United States for at least 14 days before they try to travel to Canada by land, sea or air, can travel to Canada if they are asymptomatic. Such individuals must show that they are coming to Canada for essential reasons and not for reasons that are optional or discretionary, such as tourism, recreation or entertainment.
Second, all temporary foreign workers, as well as international students who have a valid study permit or who were approved for a study permit before March 18, 2020, and foreign nationals who were approved for permanent residence before March 18, 2020, but who have not yet travelled to Canada to land as a permanent resident, can travel to Canada.
Third, the immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents can travel to Canada. Immediate family members includes spouses, common-law partners, children under the age of twenty-two and parents.Read more ›
On July 31, 2018 Canada is imposing new biometric requirements on individuals wishing to visit Canada.
Biometrics refers to the taking of fingerprints and a photograph.
Biometrics collection is being expanded to include all persons (with certain exemptions) applying for temporary or permanent residence, including all those applying for a temporary or permanent resident visa or status, work permit, study permit, or temporary resident permit.
The Government of Canada is also introducing systematic fingerprint verification for all biometrically enrolled travellers at Canada’s major airports and expand fingerprint verification capacity at additional ports of entry.
Finally, Canada will enhance biometric information sharing between Canada and the United States and introduce biometric information sharing with other the Migration 5 partners, which are Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
The change is part of a worldwide trend. More than 70 countries worldwide have implemented or are planning to implement biometrics in their immigration and border programs, including allies such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and the European Union.
Who is Required to Provide Biometrics
Since 2013, citizens of 29 visa-required countries and one territory have been required to provide biometrics. Biometrics have also been collected from overseas refugee resettlement applicants since late 2014.
As of July 31, 2018, subject to certain exceptions, all persons applying for a temporary or permanent resident visa or status, work permit, study permit, temporary resident permit, or refugee protection, whether claimed inside or outside Canada, must provide biometrics.
There are numerous exceptions.
First, Americans are exempted.
Second, a person who is eligible to apply for an electronic travel authorization (an “eTA”), rather than a temporary resident visa, is not required to provide their biometrics if they are travelling to Canada as a tourist.Read more ›
Last updated on March 5th, 2020
On July 2, 2015, the British Columbia Provincial Nomination Program (“BC PNP“) re-launched with new program requirements and processes. The BC PNP remains divided into the Skills Immigration stream and the Entrepreneur Immigration stream.
The most significant changes to the BC PNP include:
- Introducing an online application process with an electronic payment system;
- Streamlining the Business Skills and Regional Business programs into one Entrepreneur Immigration stream based on an expression of interest model similar to Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s (“CIC”) Express Entry program;
- Capping the intake in the Skills Immigration program to 200 new applications in 2015 (Express Entry BC, the Health Care Professionals Stream, and the North East Pilot Project are excluded from this cap); and
- Requiring in the Skilled Immigration Stream that applicants with job offers in National Occupational Classification (“NOC”) B positions pass an English language test.
Skills Immigration and Express Entry BC
The Skills Immigration is divided into the following substreams:
- Skilled Worker
- Health Care Professionals
- International Graduates
- International Post-Graduates
- Entry Level and Semi-Skilled
- North East Pilot Project
As well, the Express Entry BC stream is divided into the following substreams:
- Skilled Worker
- Health Care Professional
- International Graduate
- International Post-Graduate
Most of the requirements to the Skills Immigration streams and sub-streams remain largely unchanged. However, in addition to requiring that applicants apply online, the following are new program requirements:
- In the Skilled Worker substream the BC PNP has clarified that “several years of directly related work experience” means two or more years;
Last month, a British Columbia Provincial Nomination Program (“BC PNP”) officer requested that one of my employer clients provide payroll documents for individuals who were not a part of the BC PNP application. We politely pointed out that the employer could not do this without the third party employees’ consent, as to provide the documents without their consent would be contrary to BC’s Personal Information Privacy Act. Alternatively, the BC PNP had to at least provide the statutory authority to compel the production of these third party documents The British Columbia Office of the Information & Privacy Commissioner confirmed that we were correct. The BC PNP officer respected our position, and the events left me confident in the Province of British Columbia’s respect for personal privacy.
We were of course not the first to navigate the complicated intersection between the government’s administering its immigration programs the right to privacy, which pursuant to numerous Supreme Court of Canada is a quasi-constitutional right. For example, as noted in the following “Findings under the Privacy Act,” Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC”) recently agreed with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada that it was an unreasonable breach of privacy for CIC to request the tax information of potential employers of Live-in Caregivers:
Three individuals who wished to employ live-in caregivers from the Philippines complained to this Office that the Canadian Embassy in Manila was asking them to provide sensitive income tax information before it would issue visas to their prospective caregivers. The individuals were worried about sending tax documents containing their social insurance numbers (SINs) and detailed information about their financial situation to a foreign country, especially with identity fraud having become such a major concern.Read more ›
Last updated on September 12th, 2019
The Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (“IRPR“) provide that an immigration officer may issue a negative substituted evaluation and refuse an application where the officer is not satisfied that a provincial nomination certificate is an appropriate indicator of whether an applicant will be able to successfully establish themselves economically in Canada. Subsections 87(3) and (4) of the Regulations state that:
Substitution of evaluation
(3) If the fact that the foreign national is named in a [provincial nomination certificate] is not a sufficient indicator of whether they may become economically established in Canada and an officer has consulted the government that issued the certificate, the officer may substitute for the criteria set out in subsection (2) their evaluation of the likelihood of the ability of the foreign national to become economically established in Canada.
(4) An evaluation made under subsection (3) requires the concurrence of a second officer.
I have reproduced below an excerpt from the recently decided Federal Court decision Kousar v. Canada, 2014 FC 12, which illustrates this point. Because Kousar was a Federal Court case, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s (“IRCC”) refusal reasons become part of the public record. Accordingly, while I was not the lawyer involved with either the initial application or the court case, I was able to obtain and publish the refusal decision.
Kousar involved a refusal based on an officer’s determination that the applicant’s overall IELTS band-score of 3.5 indicated that the applicant was unlikely to establish herself economically in Canada. The applicant was unable to overcome the officer’s concerns. The officer’s refusal states:
The issue of IRCC refusing provincial nominees due to language concerns despite the provinces having approved their provincial nomination applications has become common enough that there is developing jurisprudence on it.Read more ›
The Saskatchewan Queen’s Bench (the “Court“) in Kaberwal v. Saskatchewan (Economy), 2013 SKQB 244 has released a decision clarifying the procedural fairness owed by provincial nomination programs to immigration representatives accused of fraud. To the best of my knowledge, it is the first decision on this issue.
The Facts of the Case
On December 31, 2012, Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Economy, Immigration Services (the “Ministry“) suspended an immigration consultant’s (the “Consultant“) right to submit applications to the Saskatchewan Immigration Nominee Program (“SINP“) for a period of two years. SINP officials accused the Consultant of fabricating job offers for employers who informed SINP that they never saw or signed the job offers that the Consultant submitted to SINP without their knowledge.
The Ministry sent the Consultant a letter which, amongst other things, stated the following:
We have reviewed seven job offers from Saskarc Industries that you submitted on behalf of seven applicants that have you listed as the third party representative. Part of the review of the application includes verifying the validity of the documents and information included in the application. As a representative, you have signed and agreed to the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP)’s Code of Conduct for Representatives which states that you will provide truthful, accurate and complete information to the SINP and that you will be personally accountable to the SINP for all aspects of the application.
Our view of job offers from Saskarc Industries Inc. included contacting the company to confirm their validity. Our conversations with Saskarc revealed that they did not issue these seven job offers and they are not written in their standard format. Furthermore, they have indicated that these job offers are fraudulent.
We would like to give you an opportunity to respond to this information.Read more ›
Demonstrating once again why it is important for representatives to contain “change of law” clauses in their retainer agreements, the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (“BC PNP“) has effective immediately suspended the Fast Track nomination option in the business immigration stream.
The suspension will affect applications in processing. Applicants with applications in processing who as of November 15, 2012, had not signed performance agreements with the Province of British Columbia (the “Province“) will not be eligible for the Fast Track option. Such applicants can either (1) continue under the regular nomination process, or (2) withdraw their application and receive a refund of their application fee.
Through the Fast Track option, BC PNP business applicants who obtained PNP supported work permits and who had arrived in British Columbia to set up their respective businesses could request immediate nomination for permanent residence if they posted a $125,000 performance bond with the Province. The bond was returned without interest to Fast Track nominees when they fulfilled their respective PNP performance agreements, but was forfeited by nominees if they failed to meet their performance obligations.
According to the Province, since 2007, only 26 Fast Track nominees successfully completed their performance agreements, compared with 261 business applicants nominated through the regular nomination process who fulfilled their performance agreements.
As any British Columbia immigration lawyer can confirm, since the Government of Canada suspended the Federal Immigrant Investor Program, the amount of inquiries about the BC PNP business applicants Fast Track Option have sky rocketed. Many of those inquiries came from individuals who clearly had no intention to actively manage a business in British Columbia.
Indeed, because of this, those law firms (such as ours) which enjoyed meeting with and representing entrepreneurs who were passionate about their business idea in British Columbia will likely welcome the changes that the BC PNP makes to preserve the integrity of the business program.Read more ›
On December 1, 2011, Citizenship and Immigration Canada released a new document check-list for people intending to apply for permanent residency as provincial nominees. Gone are the days when a province’s nomination certificate demonstrated that an individual could establish themselves economic establishment in Canada. Now, in addition to the nomination certificate, applicants will have to submit copies of educational diplomas and transcripts, as well as reference letters from all employers for the past ten years.
Sections 3.6-3.8 of Annex B of the Canada – British Columbia Immigration Agreement states that:
3.6 Canada agrees to process economic class applicants nominated for permanent resident status by British Columbia on a priority basis and as expeditiously as possible with a view to achieving Canada’s annual levels plan.
3.7 Canada will consider a nomination certificate issued by British Columbia as evidence that British Columbia has conducted due diligence in exercising its authority to assess and nominate candidates pursuant to section 3.1, 3.2 and 3.3 of this Annex.
Section 3.8 goes on to note, however, that Canada retains the right to substitute a negative evaluation if it disagrees with the province’s assessment. It states:
3.8 British Columbia is responsible for conducting the due diligence to ensure that the applicant has the ability and is likely to become economically established in British Columbia. Notwithstanding the foregoing, Canada retains the right to substitute its evaluation of the applicant’s ability to become economically established in Canada pursuant to subsection 87(3) of the IRPR. In exercising its responsibilities under sectionsC.2 and C.4 of Appendix C of this Annex, Canada may also seek clarification from British Columbia on its assessment, the record of which is required under sections 3.4 and 5.3.4 of this Annex.Read more ›
The British Columbia government has released a report on the province’s Provincial Nominee Program (“BC PNP”). Introduced in 2001, the BC PNP has become one of the most preferred routes for people immigrating to Canada. I personally believe that the number of people admitted to the program’s current cap of 3,500 nominations should be increased with a corresponding decrease in some of the federal programs.
The Strategic Occupations Stream
The report reached the following conclusions about the Strategic Occupations Stream, which consists of numerous programs designed to attract skilled or future-skilled workers to British Columbia.
- From 2005-2010 (mid-year), the BC PNP nominated almost 10,000 workers who were employed by over 4,600 employers. The top 5 source countries in order for the BC PNP Strategic Occupations Stream during this period was the United Kingdom, China, the Philippines, the United States, and Korea.
- 25% of nominees settled outside of the Metro Vancouver region. This is significantly larger than the 10% of Federal Skilled Workers who immigrate to British Columbia that settled outside the Lower Mainland, and the incredibly small 6% of Federal Business Class immigrants.
- 94% of people nominated continue to live in British Columbia. 86% of people remain in the community where they planned to live at the time of nomination. 87% of nominees where still working in the same occupation as when they were nominated. 77% were working for the same employer.
- 94% of nominees surveyed were working full time. BC PNP Skilled Workers reported an average annual pre-tax income of approximately $88,200 in 2009, compared with $64,000 for Federal Skilled Workers.
- 2% of BC PNP Skilled Workers and 7% of BC PNP Entry Level and Semi-Skilled nominees had incomes that did not meet the Statistics Canada Low Income Cutoff.
On March 14, 2011, the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program expanded the Strategic Recruitment Stream to include both Compulsory and Designated Trades. Under the program, temporary foreign workers in Alberta can apply for permanent residency if:
- They intend to and be able to live and work permanently in Alberta.
- They have an Alberta Qualification Certificate in a compulsory or optional trade.
- They have an AINP invitation letter from Alberta Industry Training.
- They are residing in Alberta at the time of application and possess valid work permits from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) in the trade in which they are certified.
- They are either currently working in their trade for an Alberta Employer or have previously worked in their trade with an Alberta Employer for a minimum of six months in the past two years.
A list of the compulsory and optional trades can be found on the Alberta government’s website here.Read more ›
Please note that none of the information on this website should be construed as being legal advice. As well, you should not rely on any of the information contained in this website when determining whether and how to apply to a given program. Canadian immigration law is constantly changing, and the information above may be dated. If you have a question about the contents of this blog, or any question about Canadian immigration law, please contact the Author.
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