Canada: CBSA Postpones Restriction on Flag-Poling During Certain Days

Posted by Immigration Law Team|Canada Immigration
May 17
4


In brief

On May 2, 2017, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) informally announced that it would no longer be permitting flag-poling at certain land crossings in the Southern Ontario Region during peak periods. CBSA has, today, clarified that the implementation of this initiative will be delayed until further notice.

Impact

CBSA has confirmed that this initiative, which would have prohibited the use of flag-poling to apply for an immigration status document or complete the permanent residence landing process at high volume ports-of-entry, including Queenston, Niagara Falls, Rainbow Bridge and Fort Erie (Peace Bridge) during peak periods (i.e. on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, or Mondays), will not be brought into effect until further notice. As the implementation of this initiative was postponed and not cancelled altogether, please stay tuned for more information.

(To read our earlier Alert outlining the restrictions that CBSA had initially announced, please click here)

For more information regarding this initiative or any other immigration matter, please contact a member of our team at PwC Law LLP.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

Canada: Flag-Poling Restricted During Peak Periods in Southern Ontario Region

Posted by Immigration Law Team|Canada Immigration
May 17
2


In brief

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) informally announced today that it will no longer be permitting flag-poling at certain land crossings in the Southern Ontario Region during peak periods, effective immediately.

Discussion

Foreign nationals who do not require a temporary resident visa to enter Canada are eligible to apply for an immigration status document (e.g. work permit, study permit, etc.) at a Canadian port-of-entry (e.g. land crossing or international airport). Further, all foreign nationals are eligible to complete the permanent residence landing process at a Canadian port-of-entry as an alternative to landing at an inland immigration office.

Qualifying foreign nationals who are present in Canada can enter the United States of America and then apply for their immigration status document or complete the permanent residence landing process upon re-entry to Canada. This process is colloquially referred to as “flag-poling” and is often advantageous due to lengthy processing times for applications and wait times for landing interviews within Canada.

To alleviate pressure at land border crossings, the CBSA informally announced today that it will no longer be permitting flag-poling at certain high volume ports-of-entry in the Southern Ontario Region during peak periods (i.e. on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, or Mondays), effective immediately. The ports-of-entry affected by this initiative include:

– Queenston;
– Niagara Falls;
– Rainbow Bridge; and
– Fort Erie (Peace Bridge).

If a foreign national attempts to flag-pole at the above ports-of-entry between Friday and Monday, it is likely that their examination will be deferred and they will be directed to return to that port-of-entry on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. If a foreign national’s immigration status has expired or will be expiring imminently, there is the added risk that their status document may not be renewed in a timely manner if their examination is deferred and/or they may be denied re-entry to Canada.

Impact

In light of this new initiative, any foreign national planning to flag-pole at the ports-of-entry listed above between Friday and Monday should consider re-entering between Tuesday and Thursday and/or consult with their legal counsel about re-entering at an alternative port-of-entry. Further, this initiative highlights the importance of maintaining valid immigration status and filing extension applications in a timely manner.

For more information regarding this initiative or any other immigration matters, please contact a member of our team at PwC Law LLP.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

Canada: Upcoming changes to age of dependents, PR conditions, and eTA requirements

Posted by Immigration Law Team|Canada Immigration
Apr 17
28


In brief:

On May 3, 2017, the Canadian Government is expected to publish amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) affecting age of dependents, permanent residence (PR) conditions, and eTA requirements in the Canada Gazette, Part II.

Discussion:

Age of dependent children

The Canadian Government is expected to publish amendments to the IRPR to amend the definition of “dependent child” from “less than 19 years of age” to “less than 22 years of age” Under current regulations, only children who are under the age of 19 (or, children 19 years of age or older and dependent substantially on the financial support of their parent due to physical or mental condition) can be included as a family member in their parent’s application for permanent residence or other status document.

Elimination of conditional permanent residence for sponsored spouses

On May 3, 2017, the Canadian Government is also expected to publish regulations amending the IRPR to eliminate conditional permanent residence for spouses, common-law and conjugal partners sponsored under the family class. Under the current regulations, certain spouses or partners must reside with their sponsor for two years after obtaining PR as a condition of their permanent residence. This condition applies to spouses or partners who have been in a relationship for two years or less and without any children in common, at the time of application.

Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) for Brazilian, Bulgarian and Romanian citizens

As of May 1, 2017, certain citizens of Brazil, Bulgaria and Romania will be eligible to apply for an eTA as opposed to a visitor visa to enter Canada by air. To be eligible to apply for an eTA, these citizens must:

– have held a Canadian visitor visa within the past 10 years, or

– currently hold a valid US nonimmigrant visa (e.g. B-1 Visa, B-2 Visa, etc.)

Those who do not meet this criteria or wish to enter Canada by car, bus, train, or boat, will require a visitor visa.

IRCC has announced that it intends to lift the visa requirement for all citizens of Brazil, Bulgaria and Romania effective December 1, 2017, at which time these citizens will no longer require a visitor visa to enter Canada, regardless of their past visa history or means of transportation.

Impact:

The amendment to the age of dependent children will allow foreign workers to bring their young adult children with them, enhancing Canada’s competitiveness in the global economy. This will also benefit companies who employ foreign nationals in that they would be able to retain top global talent for longer periods.

Eliminating conditional permanent residence for sponsored spouses may help reduce the vulnerability of certain spouses or partners, particularly those who may be in abusive relationships, by removing the requirement to cohabit with his or her sponsor for two years.

Lifting the visa requirements for citizens of Brazil, Bulgaria and Romania will make it easier to travel through Canada by air by allowing them to apply for an eTA rather than an entry visa or temporary resident visa. Processing times for eTA applications are typically much shorter than for visa applications. Additionally, lifting the visa requirements for these individuals would allow them to apply for work permits at the port of entry, allowing companies to bring in global talent faster.

For further details on the upcoming changes, or on any other immigration matters, please contact a member of our team at PwC Law LLP.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

United States: New Executive Order signed, calling for review of the H-1B visa program

Posted by Immigration Law Team|US Immigration
Apr 17
20


In brief

President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order on April 18, 2017 with a strong message to federal agencies to review protections for American-made products and American workers. This message echoes that which he stated throughout his campaign. The Order, entitled “Buy American and Hire American,” calls for greater limits on visas issued to foreign skilled workers and advises federal agencies to produce preliminary reports to propose improvements to the H-1B visa program. Most notably, the President seeks to crackdown on fraud and abuse within the H-1B program, to strictly enforce existing H-1B rules, and to propose changes to the current H-1B requirements such that the highest skilled and the highest paid applicants are favored for visa selection.

Note: No changes in H-1B policy or regulations have taken effect. The Executive Order is a preliminary step calling only for a review of the existing regulations and policies. Extensive changes to the H-1B program, such as those proposed, can only be implemented by an act of Congress.

Background

The H-1B program allows US employers to temporarily hire highly skilled foreign workers in specialty occupations, generally requiring the minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Built-in protections in the H-1B program, such as wage and educational mandates, are meant to protect US labor while encouraging the flow of foreign ingenuity and expertise into the US. However, fraud and abuse within the H-1B program has raised concerns that US employers are replacing American workers with low-wage foreign workers, contrary to the spirit of the H-1B program. This is an issue which has drawn much attention in recent years, and earlier this month, the Departments of Justice, Labor, and Homeland Security announced measures to deter and detect H-1B visa fraud and abuse.

Impact

In an effort to curb fraud and abuse in the H-1B program, the Executive Order calls on the Departments of Justice, Labor, Homeland Security, and State to take the following actions:

– Rigorously enforce and administer existing immigration laws of the United States

– Propose new rules and issue new guidance to protect the interests of United States workers, including the prevention of fraud and abuse, and

– Suggest reforms to the H-1B program to ensure the H-1B visas are awarded to the most-skilled or highest-paid foreign workers.

– The executive order is not expected to impact this year’s H-1B cap lottery.

Recommendations

Employers with H-1B employees should reach out to immigration counsel to review internal procedures and ensure compliance with all H-1B rules and regulations. Employers should continue to maintain close contact with immigration counsel should these objectives become implemented through agency and congressional action.

PwC Law continues to monitor these developments and will be sure to provide updates as changes occur.

For more information on the H-1B category and the lottery selection process, please contact a member of our team.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

Canada: Service Canada Stops Processing LMIA Applications in Alberta

Posted by Immigration Law Team|Canada Immigration
Apr 17
19


In brief

On April 19, 2017, it was announced that Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) will refuse to process Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) applications for certain high-wage occupations in Alberta, effective immediately.

Discussion

In an effort to promote hiring Canadians and Albertans first, ESDC has announced that it will not process LMIA applications for 29 high-wage occupations in Alberta, effective immediately. This moratorium is expected to last for 24 months and will impact the following occupations:

– Human resources managers

– Engineering managers

– Purchasing agents and officers

– Production logistics coordinators

– Civil engineers

– Mechanical engineers

– Electrical and electronic engineers

– Geological and mineral technologists and technicians

–  Civil engineering technologists and technicians

– Industrial engineering and manufacturing technologists and technicians

– Non-destructive testers and inspection technicians

– Contractors and supervisors, electrical trades and telecommunications occupations

– Machinists and machining and tooling inspectors

– Welders and related machine operators

– Electricians (except industrial and power system)

– Industrial electricians

– Plumbers

– Carpenters

– Contractors and supervisors, mechanic trades

– Contractors and supervisors, heavy equipment operator crews

– Construction millwrights and industrial mechanics

–  Heavy-duty equipment mechanics

– Motor vehicle body repairers

–  Transport truck drivers

– Contractors and supervisors, oil and gas drilling and services

– Oil and gas well drillers, servicers, testers and related workers

– Oil and gas well drilling and related workers and service operators

– Oil and gas drilling, servicing and related labourers

– Petroleum, gas and chemical process operators

Impact

As Alberta’s economy is highly connected to the resource sector, the decision to refuse to process LMIA applications for the above listed occupations, including a number of applied science professions and skilled trades, will have a significant impact on Alberta businesses. Employers should review their current foreign worker population to identify any employees who may be affected by this initiative within the next two years.

For further information on LMIA applications for these occupations in Alberta, please contact a member of our team at PwC Law LLP.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

Canada: Quebec Immigrant Investor Program will Re-Open on May 29, 2017

Posted by Immigration Law Team|Canada Immigration
Apr 17
17


In brief

Beginning May 29, 2017, eligible candidates will be able to submit their application for permanent residence through Quebec’s provincial Immigrant Investor Program.

Discussion

The Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP), part of Quebec’s economic permanent immigration class is designed to facilitate permanent residence for those high-net worth individuals with an intention to settle in Quebec. The program will accept applications from May 29, 2017 until February 23, 2018 or until the quota of 1,900 applications is reached, whichever occurs first. Within the quota, a maximum of 1,330 applications will be accepted from foreign nationals from China, Macao and Hong Kong.

In order to be eligible for permanent residence under the QIIP, an applicant must:

1.  Be at least 18 years of age;

2.  Have, alone or with an accompanying spouse, a net worth of CAD $1.6 million which has been obtained legally, and excludes donations made in the six months prior to the date the application was filed;

3.  Sign an agreement to make a passive investment of CAD $800,000 for a five year period with an authorized financial intermediary;

4.  Have at least two years experience within the last five years managing or owning a qualifying business;

5.  Declare an intention to settle in Quebec.

In addition to the above eligibility factors, applicants must obtain a certain number of points, awarded based on relevant factors including age, the nature and duration of any professional training, and language abilities; however,  if an investment agreement complies with program requirements, an applicant will be awarded more than half these points.

Although there is no minimum language requirement, those applicants with an advanced intermediate knowledge of French as demonstrated by a recognized French language test are not subject to the cap and may submit their application at any time prior to March 31, 2018.

Investors should note that while their investment, guaranteed by the Government of Quebec, is risk free, they will not receive any interest at the end of the five-year period. Any interest accrued on the investments is directed toward provincial growth initiatives. Further, once the investment is made, it cannot be revoked.

For those applicants who otherwise meet the program requirements but cannot make the $800,000 investment, financing options are available.

Impact

As Canada’s Federal investor program shut down in 2014, the QIIP remains the only option available for high-net worth individuals who wish to gain Canadian permanent residence through investment. As the zero-risk investment program provides qualifying applicants with a predictable route to permanent residence, it is expected that the cap will be reached relatively quickly.

Applicants should be aware that as this is a paper-based, provincial immigration program, application processing times are currently exceeding 41 months.

For more information on the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program, please contact a member of our team at PwC Law LLP.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

Canada: Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program to resume issuing Notifications of Interest for the Human Capital Priorities Stream during the week of April 10-14, 2017

Posted by Immigration Law Team|Canada Immigration
Apr 17
10


In brief

The Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) will resume issuance of Notifications of Interest (NOI) to qualifying applicants under the Human Capital Priorities (HCP) Stream during the week of April 10-14, 2017.

Analysis

The HCP Stream is one of two streams under the OINP which awards qualifying Express Entry candidates additional points towards their total Express Entry points score. It is open to skilled workers who intend to live and work permanently in Ontario.

In order to be eligible for this stream, an applicant must:

–  Have a valid profile in the Express Entry pool;
–  Qualify for one of the federal economic immigration programs under the Express Entry System;
–  Indicate an interest in immigrating to Ontario when creating his or her profile; and
–  Obtain a minimum of 400 points in the Express Entry system.

Candidates who are selected for the HCP stream will receive a Notification of Interest (NOI) from the OINP through their Express Entry account.  Not all candidates who meet HCP stream eligibility criteria will receive an NOI.

An NOI authorizes a candidate to submit an HCP application through the OINP’s online portal. If this application is approved, the candidate will then receive a Nomination letter from the Province of Ontario through their Express Entry account confirming their provincial nomination. This letter must be “accepted” within 30 days. Once the letter has been “accepted”, the candidate’s overall points score will increase by 600 points to reflect their provincial nomination.

During the week of April 10-14, 2017, the OINP will also be issuing NOIs to candidates who meet the above-referenced eligibility criteria and who are in high-demand skilled trades within the construction sector. These targeted occupations include:

–  Carpenters
–  Electricians (except industrial and power system)
–  Construction millwrights and industrial mechanics
–  Welders
–  Painters and decorators
–  Plumbers
–  Bricklayers
–  Roofers and shinglers
–  Sheet metal workers
–  Tilesetters
–  Boilermakers
–  Plasterers, drywall installers and finishers and lathers
–  Industrial electricians

Impact

The OINP will be issuing NOIs to qualifying candidates throughout the year until Ontario’s 2017 federal nomination allocation has been reached.  To potentially secure an NOI under the OINP’s HCP stream, interested candidates should submit Express Entry profiles and indicate their interest in immigrating to the Province of Ontario.

Candidates should keep in mind that an NOI is valid for 6 months. Candidates must register a profile for the HCP stream within that timeframe, and submit a complete OINP application within 14 days of registering their HCP profile.

For more information on the OINP’s HCP stream and how to apply, please contact PwC Law LLP.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

United States: USCIS reaches H-1B Cap for FY2018

Posted by Immigration Law Team|US Immigration
Apr 17
7


In brief

Earlier today, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it received sufficient H-1B cap petitions to commence the H-1B cap lottery selection process. USCIS received a sufficient number of H-1B cap-subject petitions for both the general H-1B filing category and the advanced degree exemption (US Master’s Cap).  USCIS will continue to accept H-1B cap-subject petitions received today, April 7, 2017, but will reject any such filings received on or after April 8, 2017.

Background

Each year, USCIS begins accepting new H-1B cap-subject petitions for the fiscal year on the first business day in April, subject to annual quotas of 65,000 visas for general petitions and 20,000 visas for petitions filed under the US Master’s Cap. During the initial filing period for Fiscal Year 2018, which began on April 3, 2017 and concludes on April 7, 2017, USCIS received more than enough H-1B cap-subject petitions to fill both the general and advanced degree quotas. As such, USCIS will not accept any new H-1B cap-subject petitions filed on or after April 8, 2017 for FY2018. The next filing period for H-1B cap-subject petitions is scheduled to begin April 2, 2018, barring any changes to the H-1B program under President Trump’s administration.

When USCIS receives more petitions than it can accommodate under the annual quotas, a lottery is conducted to determine which petitions will be adjudicated. In the coming days, USCIS will use a computer-generated lottery process to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and the 20,000 US Master’s Cap. The agency will conduct the selection process for the US Master’s Cap first. All unselected US Master’s Cap petitions then become part of the random selection process for the 65,000 general-category cap limit. USCIS will reject and return all unselected petitions with their filing fees.

Recommendations

Employers that have filed H-1B cap-subject petitions for Fiscal Year 2018 should stay tuned for further information from USCIS regarding the date of the H-1B lottery, as well as the total number of petitions filed.

For more information on the H-1B category and the lottery selection process, please contact a member of our team.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »