Category Archives: News in Immigration
January 3, 2017 – Previously, applicants rushed to submit their Parent and Grandparent Program applications by courier, in hopes of being one of the first 10,000 applications to be accepted for processing; however, this method favoured applicants who were able to courier their application immediately. Under recent changes, applicants will now submit an online form to express their interest in the program, and they will have from January 3, 2017 to February 2, 2017 to complete and submit the online form. After this step, applicants will be entered into a lottery system, where IRCC will randomly select 10,000 applicants to submit their complete application package.
This development is part of the effort to ensure that all applicants will have equal opportunity to receive an invitation to apply. On the other hand, these changes will also create greater uncertainty, because applicants no longer have any way to secure their place amongst the first 10,000 applicants to be selected. Under the new program, those who receive an application to apply will have 90 days to submit their complete application package. Those who are not selected will be able to indicate their interest again in 2018.
– Written by Kate Paik, legal assistant and guest author on this site.
April 19, 2013 – The Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act, Bill C-43, proposes major changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act that will limit avenues of appeal to permanent residents with convictions, and give the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism much more discretion in matters of admissibility.
The Act passed its third reading in parliament in February, and entered its second reading in the Senate April 18, 2013.
Currently, admissibility appeals may be filed to the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD) of the Immigration and Refugee Board by permanent residents sentenced to less than two years in Canada. This would be limited to those who are sentenced to less than six months.
Those who have committed, or have been convicted of, a crime outside Canada that, if committed in Canada, would be punished by a maximum sentence of 10 years or more, could not appeal to the IAD.
A foreign national deemed inadmissible on grounds of security, human rights or international rights violations or organized criminality, would no longer be able to apply under Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds.
When considering a request for relief from inadmissibility, the Minister of Public Safety would not be able to consider Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds, but rather limit the scope to national security and public safety factors.
Those with a family member who is inadmissible on the grounds of security, human rights or international rights violations, or organized criminality would no longer be able to visit Canada even when traveling alone.
However, those with family members who are inadmissible on grounds of serious criminality, criminality, health, finance, misrepresentation or non-compliance would be able to enter temporarily.
Misrepresentation currently makes an individual inadmissible for two years; this number would be increased, and the foreign national would be prevented from applying for permanent residence or temporary entry for a period of five years.
In October, 2012, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism introduced changes that would give his office the power to bar foreign nationals from entering the country temporarily on public policy reasons for up to three years. The first instance where this power could be used would be in cases where a foreign national is proven to have made public statements to promote terrorism or terrorist violence, incite hatred against a specific group, or promote serious criminal activity. Secondly, the Minister could bar a foreign national who is or was a senior official of a government under sanctions, or a corrupt foreign official.
Other notable changes include the following:
- The Minister could set regulations imposing conditions on those involved in an application, such as employers or educational institutions.
- Regulations would set mandatory minimum conditions such as regular monitoring for those with a removal order from Canada on grounds of security, or who have a security certificate issued against them. Currently, such conditions are at the discretion of immigration officers, the IAD or the Federal Court.
- Applicants would have to attend an interview with CSIS if requested to do so by the Canada Boarder Services Agency.
- Permanent residents who wish to renounce their status would do so through an application rather than through an administrative process.
- Regarding Ministerial Relief for those who are inadmissible, a formal application process would be created (as opposed to an administrative one), although the Minister could still grant relief without an application.
- Whereas acts of espionage against “any democratic government, process or institution” currently make foreign nationals and permanent residents inadmissible, the new legislation would change this to acts of espionage against “Canada or contrary to the interests of Canada.”
– Written by Richard McKergow, a Paralegal licensed by the Law Society of Upper Canada and guest author on this site.
April 4, 2013 – By partnering with Canadian investors, those with a strong business concept who seek immigration into Canada may now consider applying to the Start Up Visa Program for Business Class applications, launched today as a five year pilot program by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).
The Start Up Visa was developed in light of an ongoing moratorium placed on the Federal Entrepreneur Program, which required that applicants own at least one third of a Canadian Business and create one full-time job within three years of immigrating. The only applications in this stream being processed are those that were received before July 1, 2011.
CIC expects that the Start Up Visa Program will have greater economic benefits, as those admitted through the program will have both investment and mentor-ship from the Canadian private sector.
Applicants must obtain a letter of support from a designated angel investor group or venture capital fund, as identified by either the National Angel Capital Organization (NACO) or Canada’s Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (CVCA) respectively.
The letter must have been issued within six months preceding the submission of the application.
Applicants must obtain a minimum investment in their business of either $75,000 from a designated angel investor group, or $200,000 from a venture capital fund. Once this agreement has been made, the organization making the investment will send a commitment certificate to CIC.
In either English or French, applicants must meet a Canadian Language Benchmark of 5 in each of speaking, reading, listening and writing. Test results, no more than two years old, can be used from the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program General test, the International English Language Testing System or the Test d’Evaluation de Francais.
The minimum educational requirement for this program includes proof of at least one year in good standing of post-secondary education. Excluding money from the investment, applicants must also show possession of enough personal funds to support themselves and their families upon arrival in Canada.
The number of applications processed per year is capped at 2,750, and only 5 people in total may apply under the same investment commitment. If more than one person applies through the same investment, each individual must submit a separate application.
Written by Richard McKergow, a Paralegal licensed by the Law Society of Upper Canada and guest author on this site.
April 4, 2013 – The Federal Skilled Worker Program will reopen May 4, 2013, with several fundamental changes to its criteria, since being paused July 1, 2012.
Although Federal Skilled Worker applications are currently being accepted in the Ph.D. stream and from those with a qualifying arranged job offer, applications under the program’s ‘points grid’ have not been accepted since the 10,000 cap in applications was reached between July 1, 2011, and June 30, 2012. During this time, applications were accepted in 29 different occupations listed from the National Occupation Classification list.
Federal Skilled Worker applications were measured on a ‘points grid’, 67 out of 100 being a pass. English or French proficiency, age, education, work experience, arranged employment (if applicable), and adaptability (including factors such as a spouse’s education, previous employment or study in Canada, or relatives who live in Canada) were all weighed in separate categories.
These same categories will apply on May 4, 2013. Although not all the specifics have been announced yet, the points system will break down as follows with the major changes noted:
- Language – 28 point maximum. Applicants will have to prove a minimum Canadian Language Benchmark of level 7. This is now the most heavily weighed factor.
- Age – 12 point maximum. Younger workers will receive more points than before, with the maximum award for applicants 35 and under. Each year older than 35 will lose a point, with no points awarded for those 47 and over (although these applicants are still eligible for the program).
- Education – 25 point maximum. Credential assessment organizations and regulatory bodies designated by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration will assess the applicant’s educational credentials for equivalence to Canadian educational credentials.
- Work experience – 15 point maximum. There will be fewer points awarded for work experience than from the previous grid, and more years of work experience will be required to receive the maximum points.
- Arranged employment – 10 point maximum. Employers will have to get a Labour Market Opinion from Human Resources Development Canada, proving the need for the worker, and their attempt to hire either a citizen or permanent resident from within the Canadian labour market first, in order to gain points in this category. However, an arranged offer of employment is not mandatory when applying under the points grid.
- Adaptability – 10 point maximum. There will be more points awarded for the primary applicant’s Canadian work experience. Whereas a spouse’s education awarded points in the previous grid, now a spouse’s language proficiency will award points instead.
Out of 100 points, 67 will still be a passing grade.
Written by Richard McKergow, a Paralegal licensed by the Law Society of Upper Canada and guest author on this site.
February 15, 2013 – Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) now has 35 countries listed as Designated Countries of Origin (DCO), 27 in effect as of December 15, 2012 and an additional eight as of February 15, 2013.
DCOs are considered not to be refugee producing by CIC, in that they offer state protection against persecution and have a good human rights record. This is according to the number of claims made and the number of claims abandoned. A country may be designated if in the previous three years there were less than 30 finalized claims within any consecutive 12-month period. Additionally, country conditions, including having an independent judiciary, the respecting of democratic rights and freedoms, and the existence of civil society organizations are considered.
However, DCO claimants have a shorter time to make a claim and fewer avenues of appeal than those making claims from non-designated countries.
DCO claims may still be heard before the Refugee Protection Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board. Yet DCO claims made inland will be heard in 30 days, and those made at a port of entry will be heard in 45 days. Non-DCO claimants will have 60 days to prepare for the hearing.
Additionally, DCO claimants do not have access to the newly created Refugee Appeal Division, but may seek judicial review of a negative decision in Federal Court. DCO Claimants in such circumstances will not receive an automatic stay of removal once judicial review is sought. This means that such a claimant may be removed while the court application is pending. However, a claimant in these circumstances may ask the Federal Court to stay their removal.
Although an application for a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) is barred to failed refugee applicants for one year of the rejected claim, DCO claimants cannot apply for a PRRA within three years after the claim has been rejected.
– Written by Richard McKergow, a Paralegal licensed by the Law Society of Upper Canada and guest author on this site.
January 2, 2013 – Citizenship and Immigration Canada is now accepting permanent residence applications to the newly developed Federal Skilled Trades Program. Its purpose is to recruit talent to compensate for the shortage of trades people within the Canadian labour market in all provinces except Quebec.
In its first year, 3000 applications will be accepted from 43 different trades. Of these trades, 17 are capped at 100 applications each. The following groups from the National Occupation Classification (NOC), in skill level B, are being accepted:
- industrial, electrical and construction
- maintenance and equipment operation
- supervisors and technical jobs in natural resources, agriculture and related production
- processing, manufacturing and utilities supervisors and central control operators.
Applicants need minimum language requirements in English or French at a Canadian Language Benchmark of 5 for speaking and listening, and 4 for reading and writing. Test results, no more than two years old, can be submitted with the application from either the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program, the International English Language Testing System or the Test d’évaluation de français.
Two years of full time (30 hours per week), paid work experience will be required within the five years preceding the application. These hours may be accumulated through part-time work, however apprenticeships do not qualify. The work must have been in the trade under which the worker is applying, and proof is needed that the applicant was qualified to work in the trade in that country or region.
Each of the 43 occupations being accepted has a description under the NOC, and all employment requirements expressed there must be met.
There are two methods of application; either a full time job offer for a period of one year from one or two employers, or a certificate of qualification for their trade given by a provincial or territorial body.
If applying with a job offer, and not currently working in Canada for the employer providing the job offer, applicants will need their prospective employer to apply for a Labour Market Opinion from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. Although licensing requirements are not required to apply under this category if applying with a job offer, workers must satisfy an immigration officer that they can perform the job being offered and that they can meet licensing or certification requirements if the occupation is regulated.
Applicants who wish to apply with a certificate of qualification should contact a provincial or territorial body that governs trades. In Ontario, applicants should contact the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities for information on certification in a specific trade.
Proof of funds to support the principal applicant and his or her family is also required upon landing in Canada.
– Written by Richard McKergow, a Paralegal licensed by the Law Society of Upper Canada and guest author on this site.
January 2, 2013 – The work experience required to apply to the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) has been eased for those applying as workers or students. Both streams now require 12 months within 36 months of full-time equivalent skilled work experience to apply to the CEC. Previously, worker applicants needed 24 months out of 36, and students needed 12 months out of 24. This new requirements makes both streams uniform in this respect, and more lenient for applicants.
The 12 month skilled work requirement is based on full-time (or part-time equivalent) work experience in a National Occupation Classification skill type O, A, or B; managerial occupations, professional occupations, or technical occupations and skilled trades respectively.
Applicants to the CEC must also reside outside Quebec, meet language requirements for English or French (Canadian Language Benchmark of 7 for NOC O or A occupations, and of 5 for NOC B occupations), and have been working or studying with the proper authorization while in Canada. If applying from outside Canada, applicants must do so within one year of meeting the work requirement.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada intends to accept as many as 10,000 permanent residents through the CEC in 2013, whereas this number was only 2545 in 2009.
December 28, 2012 – Changes to the International Student Progam have been announced, some of which are aimed at preventing fraud.
Under the proposed changes, schools would have to be designated by a provincial or territorial ministry of education in order to admit international students for programs longer than six months. Six-month programs do not require a study permit, as long as the foreign student has valid visitor status.
Additionally, a designated institution’s international student population would no longer have to apply for an off-campus work permit. Rather, international students could work off-campus on a part-time basis without the need for a work permit. Currently, international students may apply for an off-campus work permit six months into the first year of their program, and by keeping satisfactory academic standing while they work.
International students will also have to prove that they are actively enrolled and pursuing studies while in Canada. Citizenship and Immigration Canada reports that, currently, students only need to prove an intention to study, but might not follow through with the program for which they applied once in Canada on a study permit. The changes would introduce a way of tracking this and require students to study after their arrival. Students who do not comply with the conditions on their study permits may have removal orders issued against them.
Temporary residents at the preschool, primary or secondary level, or a course or program that is a prerequisite for acceptance at one of the designated institutions mentioned above, may apply for a study permit from within Canada.
Protected persons, refugee claimants and certain family members may be exempted from these proposed conditions on study permits.
December 15, 2012 – The newly created Bridging Open Work Permit allows those with an application in process for permanent residence in certain economic classes to continue working while awaiting a final decision on their application.
To be eligible an applicant must hold a valid work permit that will expire within 4 months, currently be in Canada, and have received Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s confirmation that their application is eligible in either the Federal Skilled Worker Program, Canadian Experience Class, Federal Skilled Trades Program or the Provincial Nominee Program.
This work permit is valid for one year from the date it is issued, and therefore extends the applicant’s temporary resident status for that additional time.
Open work permits were previously issued only to those from in-Canada streams including the Live-in Caregiver Class and Spouse or Common-law Partner in Canada Class. Individuals in these streams are still eligible for open work permits. The introduction of the bridging open work permit extends the advantages of an open work permit to the four economic classes noted above.
The purpose of the bridging open work permit is to simplify the options available to those whose wait for a decision on their permanent residence applications may be longer than their temporary work permit. Previously, if such a work permit was about to expire, the individual would have had only two options; either apply to stay in Canada as a visitor without a work permit, or have their employer apply for a Labour Market Opinion from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada in order to apply for an extension of their work permit.
With the exception of those applying under the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), the bridging open work permit does not restrict holders to any geographic region of Canada. Those applying under the PNP must work only in the province from which they seek nomination.
Applicants who have not taken a medical examination for the purposes of their current status in Canada or for their application for permanent residence are restricted from working in childcare, primary or secondary school teaching, health services, or agriculture.
April 25, 2012 – As a cost saving move, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program. Refugees, refugee claimants, victims of trafficking and others receive temporary coverage through the IFHP while either waiting for a decision from the Refugee Protection Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board or while waiting to qualify for provincial or territorial health coverage. Applicants must prove that they are unable to pay for services and do not have private health insurance.
CIC, which funds the IFHP, plans to cut supplemental health care benefits such as dental work, eyewear, and prescriptions, while keeping in tact basic care such as visits to the doctor’s office or the hospital. Medication and immunization, however, may be provided in order to prevent the spread of contagious illnesses. The changes take effect on June 30, 2012 and will apply to current and new beneficiaries as of that date.
There are several ways to qualify for the IFHP. Resettled refugees may currently receive coverage while waiting for provincial or territorial coverage for terms between 3 months to a year. The IFHP covers refugee claimants while claims are processed in the Refugee Protection Division and for up to three months after a favourable decision is reached. Detainees of the Canada Boarder Services Agency and victims of human trafficking are also covered, which may be up to a six-month term. Newborns share their mother’s coverage while waiting for provincial or territorial coverage. There are also special measures for certain classes of immigrants and foreign nationals. Coverage may be renewed in certain circumstances.
April 18, 2012 – Citizenship and Immigration Canada may be testing a new stream of applications for permanent residence in the Economic Immigration Class within a few months. The ‘start-up’ visa, for Business Class applications, would pair new permanent residents with business organizations that have experience mentoring start-up companies. Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenny announced that the start-up visa idea will be shaped by consultations with industry followed by a five-year trial period of the new program. Only 2,750 applications will be accepted in each of these five years.
The current Entrepreneur Class has been subject to a temporary moratorium since July 1, 2011 due to its popularity and a backlog in applications. Additionally, the federal investor program, another stream of economic immigration, was capped at 700 and is also not currently accepting any new applications.
Successful candidates of the Entrepreneur Class, as it is currently defined in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, would own and manage at least one third of a newly established business in Canada as a permanent resident and create at least one full-time job offered to either a Canadian citizen or permanent resident outside the family. These conditions must be met and continue for at least one year within the first three years of permanent resident status.
Although the government has put such programs on hold, Citizenship and Immigration Canada places great emphasis on the economic benefits of immigration and is focused on policies that maximize this benefit. Between 2006 and 2010, the percentage of permanent residents admitted under the Economic Immigrant Class, in comparison to other classes, has increased approximately ten per cent.
April 17, 2012 – Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenny announced that the Ministry would soon be enacting legislation that will give the Minister additional powers to allow certain applications to move forward in the queue, according to labour market needs. In addition to these new Ministerial Instructions, the legislative changes will also allow new regulations to be applied retroactively to applications currently in the queue. This means that recent and proposed regulatory changes will apply to those who have long since filed their skilled worker applications and have not yet received a decision.
Those seeking permanent residence currently have the option of applying as a Federal Skilled Worker with one year of full-time experience in one of 29 listed occupations in the National Occupation Classification.
In his announcement, Minister Kenny stated that the government will favour younger workers, Canadian work experience, and high proficiency in either English or French. Each of these is a factor in the current point system, a way of selecting candidates in the Federal Skilled Worker immigration stream. An applicant needs 67 out of 100 points. Age, work experience, language proficiency, education, and adaptability are all factors considered. The new regulations will modify some of these current requirements. Among the proposals are:
Applications in the Federal Skilled Worker category that were submitted before February 27, 2008, but not selected for processing by March 29, 2012, will be returned to the applicant.
Temporary foreign workers applying in the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) stream will need only 12 months of full-time work experience, down from 24 months, within the 36-month period preceding an application.
The government is currently developing the Federal Skilled Worker Program, which will look to recruit workers from the construction, transportation, manufacturing and service industries.
The Immigrant Investor Program isn’t taking applicants until July 1, 2012, and already reached its cap of 700 in 2011. The government is having round table discussions regarding this program, suggesting changes that would still attract investors while focusing on job creation. In the past, government has simply taken a five-year, interest free loan of $800,000 from each investor.
Only applications received before July 2, 2011 in the entrepreneur class will be reviewed. The Ministry is in consultation with various stakeholders, such as members within in the private sector, to develop a new Start-Up Visa. This will partner recently immigrated entrepreneurs with industry players in order to provide guidance for these new businesses.
April 16, 2012 – Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced a proposed change to the Canadian Experience Class program reducing the requirement for temporary foreign workers to have full-time work experience from 24 to 12 months within the 36 month period preceding an application. The proposal is part of a CIC initiative to retain workers with valuable skill sets needed in the Canadian labour market.
The Canadian Experience Class (CEC) program is open to students and Temporary Foreign Workers who meet the requirements. It is one avenue a foreign national may use to transition from a temporary visitor to a permanent resident.
Applicants must reside outside Quebec, be either a temporary foreign worker or graduate from a Canadian post-secondary institution, have worked under the proper authorization, apply while working in Canada (or within one year of a former job) and meet language requirements in either English or French. Currently, temporary foreign workers need the equivalent of 24 months of full-time skilled work and graduates need only 12. Applicants may apply with their spouse or common-law partner, and dependant children. More details on the proposed changes to this requirement will be available later in the year.
The ‘skilled work’ experience requirement to apply under the CEC refers to jobs that fall within the National Occupation Classification Skill Level O, A or B. These refer to managerial, professional and technical occupations, respectively.
Applicants do not need to apply from within Canada but, if outside the country, should apply within one year of leaving their former job as described above. It is possible for a foreign national to submit an application under two different streams in the Economic Class, such as the CEC program and the Federal Skilled Worker program.
April 10, 2012 – Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced plans for a new immigration stream for skilled trades people seeking permanent resident status in Canada, the Skilled Trades Program. Citing a labour shortage in the construction, transportation, manufacturing and service industries, CIC is responding by creating this additional stream of skilled worker applications. It will be launched sometime later this year.
One option for a trades person wishing to immigrate to Canada is to apply as a Federal Skilled Worker (FSW). The program’s existing selection criteria (which applies to applications made on or after July 1st, 2011) includes the need to show either an offer of employment (for a ‘skilled’ worker), at least two years of a PhD program completed, a PhD completed no more than 12 months before the application is submitted or a year of experience in one of 29 listed occupations in the National Occupation Classification (NOC).
Ultimately, a FSW application is measured on a point system; 67 out of 100 is a passing grade. To gain permanent residence in the FSW category, an applicant must demonstrate their education, English and/or French proficiency, work experience, age, arranged employment (if applicable) and adaptability (including factors such as spouse’s education, previous employment or study in Canada, or relatives who live in Canada).
For applicants applying in one of the 29 listed occupations, there is currently a cap of 10,000 applications per year starting July 1st, 2011, which has now been reached.
However, the new system would relax these requirements by giving less weight to factors such as formal education and a greater focus on practical training and work experience in certain trades. Minimum language requirements would remain.
April 1, 2012 – As part of the federal budget released on March 30th, 2012, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced that it will not process the majority of skilled worker applications submitted before February 27th, 2008. CIC explains that the reason for such a measure is due to the backlog of permanent resident applications. CIC predicts that this will affect approximately 280,000 applications. For those files that are returned to the applicants, fees paid will be refunded.
Applications are first selected for processing based on certain criteria and then processed to determine whether or not to grant permanent residence. Those submitted before February 27th, 2008 and not yet selected for processing by March 29th, 2012, will likely be returned. However, approximately 20,000 applications have passed the “selection criteria stage” and will be processed to determine eligibility for permanent residence.
This is the most recent in a series of very tough measures meant to reduce the total permanent residence application backlog.
Until February 2008, CIC was obligated to fully process each application. However, following CIC’s Action Plan for Faster Immigration, rules came into effect on February 27th, 2008 that limited the number of applications processed to only those that met new eligibility criteria. Only new applicants who met this selection criteria would have their applications processed, others would not. At that time, CIC stated there was a backlog of nearly 600,000 Federla Skilled Worker applications.
The existing selection criteria (which applies to applications made on or after July 1st, 2011) includes the need to show either an offer of employment (for a ‘skilled’ worker), at least two years of a PhD program completed, a PhD completed no more than 12 months before the application is submitted or a year of experience in one of 29 listed occupations in the National Occupation Classification (NOC).
In 2010, CIC imposed a cap on the number of new applications considered for permanent residence under the NOC category. Currently, the cap is 10,000 applications per year starting July 1st, 2011 (which has already been reached) and a cap of 500 applications per occupation listed.
March 28, 2012 – Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) applicants may soon have their educational credentials scrutinized much closer than before, according a proposal announced by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). Those who submit skilled worker applications in a regulated profession would be required to have an appropriate regulatory body assess their credentials and gauge their likelihood of being licensed in their chosen field and province of work. The screening would take place before the applicant arrives in Canada.
The “2011 Government of Canada Progress Report on Foreign Credential Recognition, Strengthening Canada’s Economy” notes that bodies such as the Medical Council of Canada and the Registered Nurses Professional Development Centre are two examples of institutions that have developed programs to assess international education and training.
In its announcement, CIC cited economic growth and the desire to work in one’s own field upon arrival.
Those seeking permanent residence status currently have the option of applying as an FSW with one year of experience in one of 29 listed occupations in the National Occupation Classification. However, there is a cap of 10,000 applicants in this category and 500 for each occupation in the twelve months beginning July 1, 2011.
An immigration officer then weighs an FSW application on a point system: 67 out of 100 is a passing grade. To gain permanent residence in the FSW category, an applicant must demonstrate their education, English or French proficiency, work experience, age, arranged employment (if applicable) and adaptability (including factors such as spouse’s education, previous work or study in Canada or relatives in Canada).
March 2, 2012 – Citizenship and Immigration Canada announced that sponsored spouses or partners are now barred from submitting sponsorship applications for 5 years – meaning one who is sponsored by a spouse or partner cannot subsequently sponsor a different spouse or partner themselves, for five years. This five-year period applies even if the sponsored person acquired citizenship during that time, and applies to applicants who made their application on or after March 2, 2012. Applicants who submitted their package before this date are not subject to this restriction.
This initiative is meant to deter ‘marriages of convenience,’ a union fabricated only to gain permanent residence in Canada under the Family Class category. Visa officers are trained to detect such false relationships. Before announcing the five-year sponsorship bar, regulations deterred marriages of convenience with a condition on the sponsor only, prohibiting a sponsor from sponsoring another spouse or common-law or conjugal partner until three years had passed since a previous partner was granted permanent resident status. These regulations are still in effect.
In addition to the five-year bar, CIC pre-published (not yet in effect) a related change on March 10, 2012 that the sponsorship between spouses, common-law or conjugal partners be subject to the condition that the couple live in a conjugal relationship for two years, beginning once the permanent residence status is granted. This condition would apply if the couple was in a two-year relationship and had no children at the time of the sponsorship application. Once in effect, if the condition is not met, the permanent resident status of the person sponsored, and their accompanying family members, could be cancelled. However, this condition would not apply if there were evidence of the sponsor abusing their sponsored spouse or partner, the children of either, or another relative living in the household. If the sponsor died during the two years, this would also lift the condition. CIC expects this change to come into effect sometime this summer.
A marriage inside Canada needs to be proven by a certificate, and a ceremony performed outside of Canada must be valid by both local law and Canadian law. In Ontario, a same sex partner can be sponsored as a spouse if the couple were married in Canada after June 9, 2003, or outside Canada as long as the marriage is recognized as legal in the country where the ceremony took place and is recognized as legal in Canada.
A marriage is not considered valid if: one member is under 16; either partner was married or in a common-law or conjugal relationship at the time the sponsor and sponsored person were married; the couple has lived apart for a year; the sponsored spouse should have been, but was not, examined as a family member of the sponsor when the sponsor immigrated to Canada originally; or if the three year period has not passed since the sponsor had previously sponsored a spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner.
Common-law partners are those who have been in a conjugal relationship for at least one continuous year with only short interruptions for business or family reasons. Providing documentation of joint services such as bank accounts, credit cards or utilities can prove this.
Conjugal relationships, in which the couple is not living together, are recognized as legitimate only if there exists the same level of commitment as in a marriage or common-law relationship. However, there has to be a compelling reason for the couple not to be residing together such as sexual orientation (where same-sex marriage is not allowed in the jurisdiction), marital status (if laws prevent one partner from divorcing a spouse, and therefore cannot be with their current partner), or an immigration obstacle that keeps the couple geographically apart.
December 1, 2011 marked the availability of a new option for temporary residency – the Parent and Grandparent Super Visa. The Super Visa grants qualifying parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens or permanent residents a 10 year visitor visa valid for entry into Canada as temporary residents for periods of up to two-years at a time. Spouses or common law partners can accompany the visa holder, however dependent children may not. Dependents must apply for a visa separately. The Super Visa is different from a common multiple-entry visa, which is usually granted for a shorter validity period and requires holders to renew their temporary resident status every six months if they wish to continue their visit.
The Super Visa was announced on November 5th, the same day Citizenship and Immigration Canada commenced what could be as long as a 24-month pause on the processing of new sponsorship applications for parents and grandparents, as part of an initiative to ease the backlog of these applications. This means that citizens and permanent residents of Canada may not apply as a sponsor for their parents or grandparents until the government resumes this option.
A visa officer at a Canadian Embassy or Consulate generally considers Super Visa applications. The applicant must be admissible to Canada and show that their true intention is to visit. Factors such as the reason for visiting, connections to the home country, as well as the economic and political stability of the home country can factor into the visa officer’s decision.
Parents and grandparents from countries whose citizens do not require a visa to enter Canada, but wish to have the option of temporary resident status for two-year periods, may also apply for the Super Visa. Those already in Canada on a six-month visit can apply within Canada to extend their stay for up to two years if they meet the same conditions required for the Super Visa.
The Super Visa application requires, among other things, documentation to prove that the child or grandchild who is extending the invitation meets the Low Income Cut-Off guidelines, the relationship between the applicant and their child or grandchild, that the visitor has purchased at least one year of medical insurance and has completed an Immigration Medical Examination. The expected time-frame for processing a Super Visa application is eight weeks.