Canada’s federal budget 2017: A balanced plan for immigration

Mar 17
23


In brief

Canada’s federal budget, released on March 22, 2017 by Finance Minister Bill Morneau and named ‘Building a Strong Middle Class’, focuses on the middle class and putting Canadians first while taking a long-term outlook that fosters innovation. In terms of immigration policy, Budget 2017 proposes changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and the International Mobility Program (IMP) while improving economic immigration options for permanent residence applicants.

Discussion

Temporary Residence

Budget 2017 commits $279.8 million over the next five years and an additional $49.8 million annually thereafter in order to facilitate proposed changes to and maintain delivery of Canada’s TFWP and IMP. These reforms and investments are expected to facilitate the temporary entry of high-skilled international talent into Canada, largely under the Global Skills Strategy, detailed in our blog post here.

In terms of temporary immigration, under the Global Skills Strategy, Budget 2017 proposes to:

– Support a 2-week processing standard for visas and work permits; and

– Introduce a new Short Duration Work Permit Exemption for work periods under 30 days per year or brief academic stays

More specifically, the proposed 2-week processing standard for visas and work permits will foster innovation and put Canadians first by targeting:

High-growth Canadian companies requiring access to global talent, in order to facilitate and accelerate investments that create jobs for Canadians and grow Canada’s economy; and

Global companies that are creating new jobs for Canadians through large investments, relocation or expansion into Canada, and establishing new production or expanding existing production.

The proposed Short Duration Work Permit Exemption to be introduced under the Global Skills Strategy will target foreign nationals entering Canada for work periods of less than 30 days, or brief academic stays. This exemption category will be used to facilitate short-term, inter-company work exchanges, study exchanges or the entrance of temporary expertise. In the long term, it is expected that the access to international talent provided by this new exemption category will facilitate the growth of the Canadian economy, and in turn, provide more jobs for Canadians.

Permanent Residence

In terms of permanent immigration, Budget 2017 proposes to:

– Amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) to ensure that the Express Entry system is responsive to the needs of the Canadian labour market; and

– Commit more resources and funding to reducing barriers to high-skilled employment opportunities through the Targeted Employment Strategy for Newcomers.

Given that the Express Entry system is used to manage Canada’s economic permanent residence programs, in order to ensure a long-term sustainable economic outlook, this system must recognize and respond to the needs of the Canadian labour market. As such, the proposed amendments to IRPA are expected to ensure that those candidates who are most likely to succeed economically in Canada are selected for permanent residence.

In recognizing that high-skilled foreign nationals often face barriers with respect to the recognition of their foreign credentials in Canada, Budget 2017 proposes the Targeted Employment Strategy for Newcomers to reduce these barriers and promote high-skilled employment. This strategy will involve three aspects:

– Improved pre-arrival supports enabling newcomers to begin the foreign credential recognition process before arriving in Canada;

– A loan program that will assist newcomers with the cost of having their foreign credentials assessed; and

– Targeted measures to test innovative approaches to help skilled newcomers gain Canadian work experience in their profession.

Finally, Budget 2017 proposes to amend IRPA to allow the Government to set relevant fees in a timely manner. It also highlights a commitment to make better use of digital technologies and integrated information in order to facilitate applications and decrease immigration processing times.

Impact

Budget 2017 confirms many of the previously disclosed details regarding Canada’s new Global Skills Strategy. The Short Duration Work Permit Exemption will allow companies in Canada more predictable access to professional services which may not be offered by Canadian citizens or permanent residents. Further, proposals to amend the Express Entry system will better align the selection criteria for Permanent Residents with Canada’s labour market needs and create new opportunities for foreign nationals seeking to come to or remain in Canada permanently.

Overall, allocating more resources to both the TFWP and the IMP will result in more avenues available to employers and foreign nationals seeking to enter Canada temporarily.

For more information on the federal budget and Canadian immigration, please contact a member of our team at PwC Law LLP.

 


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

President Trump’s Revised Travel Restriction Suspended by US Federal District Courts

Posted by Immigration Law Team|US Immigration
Mar 17
16


In brief

Federal District Court judges in Hawai’i and Maryland issued nationwide restraining orders which temporarily suspend enforcement of President Trump’s revised Executive Order, specifically Section 2(c). This section suspends entry of nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen who, on March 16, 2017 were both outside of the US and without a valid visa, and who did not have a valid visa on January 27, 2017, unless they qualify for a categorical exception or waiver. The Executive Order was scheduled to take effect today, March 16, 2017, and was to last 90 days, but is not currently enforceable due to the temporary restraining orders. However, the Department of Justice has stated its intent to appeal the rulings shortly.

Background

On January 27, 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order suspending the entry of nationals of seven countries, with limited exceptions, into the United States as immigrants and nonimmigrants for 90 days. The initial travel restriction remained in effect until February 3, 2017, when the Federal District Court in Washington issued a temporary restraining order preventing the enforcement of the travel restriction. Despite a request for a stay of the temporary restraining order, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit unanimously denied such a request, thereby making the travel restrictions unenforceable. On February 16, 2017, the Trump Administration stated that the Executive Order would be replaced with a new one.

On March 6, 2017, a new Executive Order was signed, which revoked and replaced the previous Order, and which was to become effective today, March 16, 2017. The revised Order contained several changes that were supposed to address the deficiencies of the prior Order. Despite these changes, on March 15, 2017, Federal District Courts in Hawai’i and Maryland granted temporary restraining orders with nationwide effect, preventing enforcement of the travel restriction.

On March 15, 2017, at a Make America Great Again Rally in Nashville, TN, after learning about the temporary restraining order, President Trump stated: “We’re going to fight this terrible ruling. We’re going to take our case as far as it needs to go, including all the way up to the Supreme Court.” At the March 16, 2017 Press Briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer confirmed the Department of Justice’s intention to appeal the rulings, specifically to appeal the Maryland ruling and to seek clarification of the Hawai’ian decision prior to appealing that ruling.

Recommendations

Despite the rulings issued by the Federal District Courts, affected nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen who are physically present in the US are advised not to travel out of the country at this time (so long as they hold legal status), until the situation is further resolved. Those concerned that they are only eligible for entry as a result of the temporary restraining orders should seek counsel regarding entering the US as soon as possible. Additionally, affected nationals should closely monitor the situation over the coming days and weeks, as further developments unfold.

For further details regarding the travel restriction, or any other immigration matters, please contact a member of our team.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

Ministers Bains and Hajdu announce launch date of Canada’s Global Skills Strategy

Mar 17
13


In Brief

On March 9, 2017, the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development, and the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, announced that the much-anticipated Global Skills Strategy, including the Global Talent Stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, will launch on June 12, 2017.

Discussion

The Global Skills strategy aims to decrease processing times with respect to  bringing workers into Canada, increase employer access to top international talent, and attract foreign investment through a dedicated service channel. While consultation with provinces and territories, industry stakeholders and businesses remains ongoing, it has been confirmed that the Global Skills Strategy will be a demand-driven program, not limited by industry, but targeted toward high-growth and innovation sectors. On December 1, 2016, PwC Law LLP published a blog post outlining the details of the proposed Global Skills Strategy, which can be found here.

Impact

In efforts to allow Canadian companies to respond more quickly to industry opportunities which will ultimately create jobs for Canadian citizens and permanent residents, today’s announcement confirms that the Government is committed to launching the Global Skills Strategy as early as possible to respond to employer needs and ultimately enable economic growth and facilitate new investment in Canada.

For more information, please contact PwC Law LLP.

 


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

Changes Announced to the Quebec Skilled Worker Program / Changements annoncés au Programme des travailleurs qualifiés du Québec

Posted by Immigration Law Team|Canada Immigration
Mar 17
9


Background

On March 8, 2017, the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Diversité et de l’Inclusion (MIDI) announced changes to the Québec Skilled Worker program eligibility criteria, with immediate effect.

The Quebec Skilled Worker Program is one of the most common programs through which foreign nationals residing in Quebec may apply for permanent residence to Canada. In order to qualify under this program, candidates must demonstrate that they meet certain eligibility criteria, assessed on the basis of several factors, including age; education; training and work experience; French language ability; and overall adaptability to establish in the province of Quebec.

Impact

MIDI has increased the number of points required to qualify for permanent residence under the Quebec Skilled Worker program as follows:

– For an single candidate, the minimum points have increased from 49 to 50

– For a candidate with a spouse or a common-law partner, the minimum points have increased from 57 to 59

MIDI has also made changes to their points matrix. Specifically, the weighting of points under the selection grid has changed as follows:

– Education – points have been reduced from a maximum of 10 to 8 for those who have a professional or technical diploma in a “Preferred Area of Training”

– Preferred Areas of Training – points have been reduced from 16 to 12 for those who have education in Section A, and they have been reduced from 12 to 9 for those who have education in Section B. In addition, a new list of “Preferred Areas of Training” has been released.

MIDI has announced that these changes were made in order to emphasize the importance of French language skills for those wishing to immigrate to Québec. With the increase of points required to qualify, and the decrease of points available under Education and “Preferred Area of Training”, it has become more difficult for those with no or beginner French language skills to qualify.

Recommendation

The changes to the Québec Skilled Worker program are effective immediately. Applicants who have already submitted an application through the Mon projet Québec portal and whose application has not yet gone through a preliminary review by MIDI will also be subjected to these changes and will be evaluated according to the new points’ matrix. These changes do not affect those applying under the Programme d’expérience Québécoise (PEQ).

For further details regarding the changes to the eligibility criteria and for support in applying for permanent residence under the Québec Skilled Worker program, please contact PwC Law LLP.

————————————————————————————-

Contexte

Le 8 mars 2017, le ministère de l’Immigration, de la Diversité et de l’Inclusion (MIDI) du Québec a annoncé que des changements étaient apportés aux critères d’admissibilité de son Programme des travailleurs qualifiés et que ces changements entraient en vigueur immédiatement.

Le Programme des travailleurs qualifiés du Québec est l’un des programmes que les ressortissants étrangers résidant au Québec utilisent le plus pour présenter une demande de résidence permanente au Canada. Pour se qualifier au titre de ce programme, les candidats doivent démontrer qu’ils répondent à certains critères, évalués selon plusieurs facteurs, dont l’âge, la formation, l’expérience de travail, les connaissances en français et la capacité générale de s’établir dans la province de Québec.

Répercussions

Le MIDI a augmenté le nombre de points requis pour obtenir une résidence permanente en vertu du Programme des travailleurs qualifiés comme suit :

– Pour un candidat célibataire, le nombre minimal de points requis est passé de 49 à 50

– Pour un candidat marié ou vivant en union de fait, le nombre minimal de points requis est passé de 57 à 59

Le MIDI a également apporté des changements à sa grille de pointage. Plus précisément, la pondération de la grille de sélection a changé comme suit :

– Formation – le nombre de points maximal accordé aux détenteurs d’un diplôme professionnel ou technique de la liste des domaines de formation privilégiés est passé de 10 à 8

– Liste des domaines de formation privilégiés – le nombre de points maximal accordé pour un diplôme de la Section A est passé de 6 à 12, et il est passé de 12 à 9 pour un diplôme de la Section B. En outre, une nouvelle liste des domaines de formation a été publiée.

Le MIDI a indiqué que ces changements avaient pour objet de souligner l’importance de connaître la langue française pour ceux qui souhaitent immigrer au Québec. Avec l’augmentation des points requis pour se qualifier au titre du Programme des travailleurs qualifiés et la diminution des points accordés pour la formation et les domaines de formation privilégiés, il est devenu plus difficile pour les immigrants ayant une connaissance élémentaire ou nulle du français de se qualifier.

Recommandation

Les changements apportés au Programme des travailleurs qualifiés du Québec sont en vigueur immédiatement. Les candidats qui ont déjà soumis une demande sur le portail Mon projet Québec et dont la demande n’a pas encore fait l’objet d’une analyse préliminaire par le MIDI seront également assujettis à ces changements et évalués selon la nouvelle grille de pointage. Ces changements n’ont aucun effet sur les candidats du Programme de l’expérience québécoise (PEQ).

Pour en savoir davantage sur les changements apportés aux critères d’admission et pour obtenir de l’aide lorsque vous faites une demande de résidence permanente en vertu du Programme des travailleurs qualifiés du Québec, veuillez communiquer avec PwC Cabinets d’avocats S.E.N.C.R.L./s.r.l.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

New Executive Order on travel restrictions has been signed – effective March 16, 2017

Posted by Immigration Law Team|US Immigration
Mar 17
6


In brief

President Donald Trump signed a new Executive Order on March 6, 2017 that suspends the entry of nationals from six designated countries including Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.   It does not include Iraq.  The travel restriction lasts 90 days from its March 16, 2017 effective date, but may be extended.

Background

On January 27, 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order suspending the entry of nationals of seven countries, with limited exceptions, into the United States as immigrants and nonimmigrants for 90 days from the date of the Order. In response to the January 27, 2017 Executive Order, the State of Washington filed a lawsuit alleging the unconstitutionality of the Executive Order and on February 3, 2017, a Federal District Court in Washington issued a temporary restraining order preventing the enforcement of the travel restriction.  On February 9, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit unanimously denied the request for a stay of the temporary restraining order, thereby making the travel restrictions unenforceable. On February 16, 2017, the Trump Administration stated that the Executive Order would be replaced with a new one.

On March 6, 2017, President Trump issued the new Executive Order that takes effect on March 16, 2017 at 12:01 am EDT, which revokes and replaces the January 27, 2017 Order. The new Order suspends the entry of nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen into the US for a 90 day period from the March 16, 2017 effective date.

Impact

President Trump’s new Executive Order makes the following significant changes to the previous Order:

– Foreign nationals from Iraq are no longer included in the travel restriction.
– The Order will only apply to foreign nationals of the six designated countries who are outside the US on March 16, 2017, who did not hold valid visas on January 27, 2017 at 5 pm EST, and who do not have a valid visa on March 16, 2017.
– Foreign nationals of these six countries who are US lawful permanent residents (green card holders) will not be restricted from entering the US.
– Dual nationals of these six countries who are travelling on the passport issued by a non-designated country will not be restricted from entering the US.
– Waivers may be available on a case-by-case basis.

Recommendations

While nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen with valid visas are no longer subject to the travel restriction, they are still likely to be subjected to heightened scrutiny at US borders. As such, it is advised that foreign nationals from these countries exercise caution and do not travel outside of the US unless necessary.  US immigration counsel should be sought before any travel.

PwC continues to monitor this matter and will be sure to update you as changes occur.

For further details regarding the executive order, or any other immigration matters, please contact a member of our team. www.pwc.com/ca/law

 

 


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

USCIS suspends H-1B Premium Processing effective April 3, 2017

Posted by Immigration Law Team|US Immigration
Mar 17
5


In Brief

USCIS has announced that it will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B petitions effective April 3, 2017. Premium processing is the mechanism by which an H-1B petition can be adjudicated within 15 calendar days, which can shave months off the normal adjudication processing time, for an additional governmental filing fee of $1225.

Discussion

The H-1B category is used by employers who wish to hire foreign workers in specialty occupations who hold at least a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent, and who will be working in a position which typically requires at least a Bachelor’s degree. Under normal processing times, H-1B petitions typically take between two and six months to adjudicate. Currently, an employer can request premium processing of any H-1B petition, which requests that USCIS render a decision, or a Request for Evidence, within 15 calendar days. H-1B employers use premium processing for several different reasons. For H-1B cap cases that are filed no sooner than April 1 for an October 1 start date, premium processing typically allows for an employer to know whether the H-1B petition has been approved by May or June – rather than waiting until August, September, October, or even later, for a decision to be rendered. Employers opt for premium processing in order to have better visibility as to which of their H-1B cap cases have been approved, for workforce planning purposes.

This year, the first day that employers can file H-1B cap cases is April 3, 2017. By choosing April 3, 2017 as the start date for the suspension of H-1B premium processing, USCIS has indicated that H-1B cap cases are not eligible for premium processing this year. Please note that premium processing does not affect selection in the H-1B lottery. For employees who are currently working for a US employer in H-1B status, premium processing allows for them to quickly know whether their extension petitions have been approved, often prior to their current H-1B expiration date. For H-1B workers who are looking to change employers, premium processing of H-1B change of employer petitions allows for employees to have certainty whether their cases have been approved before starting work with the new employer. All in all, premium processing of the H-1B category has been extremely useful to employers and employees alike, both from a workforce planning perspective, as well as for rapidly providing employees with certainty as to their immigration status.

Impact

In light of the above, the suspension of H-1B premium processing will have a negative impact on both employers and employees. Employers will be delayed in knowing whether or not their H-1B cap and extension cases have been approved, which can cause challenges in workforce planning. From the employee perspective, employees often need an approved H-1B petition in order to obtain driver’s license renewals, and to obtain new H-1B visas at Consular Posts abroad. Without the ability to premium process cases, employees could be left without the ability to drive to work and may have to postpone international travel plans until a later date, if they were relying on premium processing for speedy adjudications. Finally, those with otherwise approvable pending H-1B extension petitions are only authorized to work for 240 days beyond their H-1B status expiration date.

Although USCIS has indicated the temporary suspension is to assist with the adjudication of cases nearing the 240 day mark, by removing the ability of employers to upgrade cases nearing the 240 day mark to premium processing, some employees may have to cease employment until their H-1B cases are approved, which will cause disruption to both employers and employees.

For more information on the suspension of H-1B premium processing, please contact PwC Law LLP.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

Ontario’s Commitment to Modernizing Immigration for the New Economy

Posted by Immigration Law Team|Canada Immigration
Feb 17
27


In Brief

During an exclusive gathering on February 16, 2017, the Honourable Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Laura Albanese, and the Honourable Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development Deb Matthews announced changes to Ontario’s Provincial Nominee Program.

Discussion

In a renewed commitment to ensuring Ontario’s provincial nominee program addresses Ontario’s current labour market need, changes announced by Ministers Albanese and Matthews include the reopening of the Ontario Master’s, PhD, and Express Entry Human Capital Priorities streams, previously closed since May 2016. The Honourable Ministers also announced an increase in Ontario’s 2017 provincial immigration allocation from 5,500 to 6,000.

Ontario’s International Graduate stream provides international graduates of Ontario Master’s or PhD university programs the opportunity to settle permanently in Canada. Under the Master’s stream, graduates of qualifying Ontario universities who meet the requisite language requirements and are residing legally in Canada can apply for a provincial nomination without holding an approved job offer. PhD graduates can apply under the same conditions from anywhere in the world. Following today’s special announcement, qualifying candidates may be able to submit their application under one of these two streams as early as next week.

Minister Albanese also announced the reopening of Ontario’s Human Capital Priorities stream. Created in mid-2015, the Human Capital Priorities stream issues provincial nominations to those Express Entry candidates with a human capital score of at least 400, who indicate an interest in settling permanently in Ontario. With this nomination, Express Entry candidates will receive a 600-point increase, virtually guaranteeing them an Invitation to Apply under the next round of invitations. The Human Capital Priorities stream will also begin accepting applications next week.

Following in the footsteps of Ontario’s French Speaking Skilled Worker program which made the move to an online application intake system in late January, all three newly reopened streams will move online, facilitating access for qualifying candidates.

Impact

The re-opening of the Ontario Master’s, PhD, and Human Capital Priorities stream provides qualifying candidates with more and better opportunities to settle permanently in Ontario. However, those employers looking to capitalize upon Ontario’s provincial nomination programs will have to wait, as dates for the re-opening of the employer-driven streams are not expected until later in 2017.

For more information on Ontario’s provincial nomination programs, please contact PwC Law LLP.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

9th Circuit Upholds Suspension of President Trump’s Travel Ban

Posted by Immigration Law Team|US Immigration
Feb 17
10


In Brief

On February 9, 2017, The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied an emergency motion from President Trump’s administration, meaning that citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen with valid travel documents may continue to enter the U.S. for the time being.

Discussion

Previously, President Trump’s administration issued an executive order which prevented citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from traveling to the U.S., regardless of whether they possessed valid travel documents. The travel ban remained in effect until February 3, 2017, when a Federal Judge in Seattle, Washington issued a nationwide restraining order that temporarily blocked enforcement of the executive order. President Trump’s administration appealed the restraining order, arguing that the travel ban should be reinstated until the court made a final decision on the case.

However, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, and upheld the restraining order issued by the lower court. The decision was made unanimously by the three-judge panel, which discussed the public’s interest in free travel, avoiding separation of families, and freedom from discrimination. As a result, citizens of Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen are currently authorized to travel to the U.S. until further notice, provided they possess valid travel documents.

Recommendations

Despite the ruling of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen who are physically present in the U.S. are advised not to travel out of the country at this time, until the situation is further resolved. Additionally, citizens of the above mentioned countries who are currently outside the U.S., but who have immigrant or non-immigrant visas, are advised to return to the U.S. as soon as possible, while the travel ban is temporarily suspended.

For further details regarding the travel ban, or any other immigration matters, please contact a member of our team.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »