US: Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will be winding-down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program

Posted by Immigration Law Team|US Immigration
Sep 17
6


 

In brief

In a statement on September 5, 2017, President Donald Trump announced that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will be winding-down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Background

Enacted by former President Barack Obama in 2012, DACA granted two distinct benefits to foreign nationals who entered the US before the age of sixteen without valid status or who overstayed their valid status. Foreign nationals who were enrolled in high school or a GED program, have obtained a high school degree, or completed a GED program were eligible to request protection from deportation and employment authorization

Impact

Pending applications for initial DACA requests that were received by Tuesday, September 5, 2017, will continue to be processed.  Any applications received after this date will not be processed.

Individuals who have already been granted DACA benefits that will expire between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018 should submit DACA renewals before October 5, 2017 in order to extend their benefits for an additional two years.  Applicants who have already filed renewals should expect the benefits to be processed per the standard timeframes.

All existing DACA approvals and associated Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) will be honored until their date of expiration.

Recommendation

We recommend that eligible DACA recipients timely file extensions and all limit their international travel, regardless of whether they have an approved Advance Parole document. If international travel cannot be avoided, a consult with an attorney is highly recommended to discuss the risks.

In the meantime, President Trump has advised DHS that DACA recipients continue to remain a low enforcement priority, unless they are criminals, involved in criminal activity, or members of a gang. The President has asked Congress to legislate the question of DACA benefits within the next six months, and has subsequently announced that he will “revisit” DACA if Congress has not acted.

For further details regarding the recent change in policy regarding DHS and DACA, or any other immigration matters, please contact a member of our team.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

Canada: Changes to the Parent and Grandparent Sponsorship Program

Posted by Immigration Law Team|Canada Immigration
Sep 17
5


In brief

On September 1, 2017 Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) published updates to the Parents and Grandparents Sponsorship Program.

Discussion

IRCC announced an update to the newly implemented application intake process for the Parents and Grandparents Program. Under the new process, which took effect January 3, 2017, Canadian citizens and permanent residents who wanted to sponsor their parents and grandparents to reside in Canada had to first complete an online form and join a pool of applicants from which they would be randomly selected.

As of this year, 10,000 individuals were selected and invited to submit an application to sponsor their parents and grandparents. They were given 90 calendar days to submit their applications which fell due on August 4, 2017. However, IRCC did not receive 10,000 complete applications by the deadline and thus a second round of emails will be sent on September 6, 2017, to invite additional potential sponsors to submit an application.

In this second round of invitations, only those who have been randomly selected will receive an email inviting them to submit an application. These potential sponsors will have until December 8, 2017 to submit their completed applications to IRCC, excluding those potential sponsors who were invited in the first round, but did not submit their applications. Those potential sponsors will not have another chance to submit their applications in 2017.

As of September 6, 2017, potential sponsors can confirm whether or not they have been selected by looking up their unique Confirmation Number and comparing it to the list of numbers that were randomly selected.

Impact

Those who were not randomly selected in the first round of invitations now have an opportunity to submit an application, if they are selected in this second round of random selection. Potential sponsors should check their Confirmation Number as well as their emails, to see whether they have been selected to apply.   

For more information on sponsorship applications under the Parent and Grandparent Program, please contact PwC Law LLP.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

US: Interviews to be required for all Employment-Based Green Card Applicants

Posted by Immigration Law Team|US Immigration
Aug 17
30


In brief

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has confirmed that as of October 1, 2017, an interview will be required for all employment-based green card applicants. This includes applicants in the EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3 visa categories. Interviews will also be required for individuals requesting refugee and asylee status.

Background

The law currently provides that all green card applicants should be interviewed unless USCIS waives the interview.  For many years USCIS’s policy has been to waive interviews for employment-based green card applicants where: (1) the applicant is employed by the same petitioner who submitted the approved underlying employment-based visa petition; (2) the applicant has been approved as a person of extraordinary ability or exceptional ability; or (3) the applicant has been approved as a multinational executive/manager and has a continuing offer of employment from the same petitioner who submitted the underlying approved petition. This policy resulted in a majority of employment-based green card applicants having the interview requirement waived.

As part of President Trump’s Executive Order 13780, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States”, USCIS has confirmed that there is now a new directive whereby all employment-based green card applicants will be required to appear for an interview prior to the adjudication of their green card applications.

Impact

On October 1, 2017, USCIS will begin to schedule interviews for employment-based green card applicants and refugee/asylee petitions. USCIS is also planning on an incremental expansion of interviews for other types of green card applicants in the future.

The USCIS has not yet clarified whether the interview requirements will be mandated for existing cases, or whether the interview requirements apply only to new applications.  We expect further guidance from the USCIS will be released in the coming weeks.

This new directive will impact approximately 180,000 people a year and is likely to increase processing times for employment-based green card applications.  To mitigate the delay in processing times , USCIS plans to implement enhancements in training and technology, and transition certain aspects of case management.

Recommendation

Should you receive a notification that an interview has been scheduled for your permanent residency matter, applicants are encouraged to reach out to their legal counsel for support and further guidance.  While PwC Law should receive all notifications of scheduled interviews for applications it has filed, there is no guarantee that we will always receive them, so it is imperative for applicants to stay vigilant and let PwC Law know immediately when a notice has been received.  

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

For further details regarding the recent change in policy regarding green card interviews, or any other immigration matter, please contact a member of our team.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

Canada: Changes to passport and immigration documents

Aug 17
25


In brief

The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has formally announced that the Government of Canada will be working to implement an “X” gender designation in Canadian passports and other documents issued by the IRCC.

Discussion

This proposal will allow the government to support the LGBTQ2 community, as well as advance their agenda on gender equality, diversity and inclusion by implementing an “X” gender designation, making it easier for people who do not identify as female (“F”) or male (“M”) to acquire passports and other government-issued documents that better reflect their gender identity.

Starting August 31, 2017, IRCC will be the first Government of Canada department to introduce interim measures, which include allowing individuals to add an observation to their passport stating that their sex should be identified as “X,” which indicates that it is unspecified. These interim measures will be available until IRCC is able to print official documents with an “X” gender designation. More information will be published by IRCC on August 31, 2017.

Impact

Minister Hussen’s announcement follows steps to protect Canadians in their right to the gender identity of their choice, and freedom of gender expression. In the coming months, the Government of Canada will continue working on developing a consistent approach to how it collects, uses and displays sex and gender information so Canadians can have their gender more accurately reflected in government documents while also protecting their privacy.

For more information on the future changes to passports and other immigration documents, or any other immigration matter, please contact a member of our team at PwC Law LLP.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

Canada: Changes made to the Start-up Visa Program

Posted by Immigration Law Team|Canada Immigration
Aug 17
21


In brief

On August 19, 2017, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) published updates to the Start-up Visa Program.

Discussion

These revisions have amended both the technical elements of the Start-up Visa Program as well as the list of designated entities.

A number of new entities have been added to the Designated Business Incubator list, the Designated Angel Investor Group list, and the Designated Venture Capital Funds list. Some entities previously included in these lists have now been removed.

In addition to the designated entities lists, further technical changes include the Minister’s ability to temporarily suspend an entity from the program upon giving notice, and updated review requirements against which to assess a designated entity’s commitment to an Applicant’s business. Further, deciding officers now hold the discretion to refuse to issue a permanent resident visa when they are of the opinion that the designated entity did not assess the Applicant’s business in a manner sufficient with industry standards. These changes will apply as of August 19, 2017.

Impact

While these changes are largely technical in nature and do not impact the initial eligibility requirements of the program, updates to the list of designated entities will ensure that those partners trusted with the authority to grant access to the start-up visa program represent those organizations with the requisite expertise and experience to do so. These new changes also impact the Minister and Minister’s delegates’ oversight of the program.

Based on these changes, prospective applicants to the Start-up Visa Program are advised to review the updated list of designated entities to ensure the organization with whom they wish to work remains designated for the purposes of the Program.

For more information on Canada’s Start-up Visa Program, or any other immigration matter, please contact a member of our team at PwC Law LLP.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

Canada: Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) to launch Pilot Program targeting Construction and Agriculture Sectors

Posted by Immigration Law Team|Canada Immigration
Aug 17
10


In Brief

The OINP is expected to launch an Employer Job Offer In-Demand Skills Pilot Program for certain occupations described in the National Occupation Classification (NOC) Matrix as C- and D-level occupations, during the week of August 14, 2017.

Discussion

In response to feedback received from various stakeholders in Ontario, the OINP will be launching the Employer Job Offer In-Demand Skills Pilot Program, targeting certain NOC C- and D-level occupations within the construction and agriculture sectors. As discussed during a technical briefing, the eligible NOC codes are as follows:

– NOC 7441 – Residential and commercial installers and servicers
– NOC 7521 – Heavy equipment operators (except crane)
– NOC 8431 – General farm workers
– NOC 8432 – Nursery and greenhouse workers
– NOC 8611 – Harvesting labourers
– NOC 9462 – Industrial butchers and meat cutters, poultry prepares and related workers
– NOC 7611 – Construction trades helpers and labourers

The specific eligibility criteria for both employers and foreign workers will be published in detail in the application instruction guide, which is expected to be released shortly.

Impact

This pilot program may be beneficial to employers who employ or intend to employ foreign workers falling within the above NOC codes. Employers should keep in mind that the OINP may set quotas for this pilot program, and as such, the program may open and close, as quotas are met.

For more information on the OINP’s Employer Job Offer In-Demand Skills Pilot Program, please contact PwC Law LLP.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

Canada: New recruitment requirements applicable to high-wage and low-wage LMIAs (Update)

Posted by Immigration Law Team|Canada Immigration
Aug 17
8


In brief:  Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) has formally released new recruitment requirements which will apply to both high-wage and low-wage Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs).

Discussion:  With limited exceptions, employers are required to advertise a foreign worker’s proposed role on the National Job Bank before filing an LMIA application.  Effective August 28, 2017, employers applying for a high-wage or low-wage LMIA will be required to provide evidence that they have utilized the National Job Bank’s new “Job Match” service as part of their recruitment efforts.

The Job Match service will match candidates with an active profile on the National Job Bank with positions that are being advertised on this platform. The Job Match service will assign each candidate a rating of one to five stars based on the compatibility between the candidate’s qualifications and the qualifications required for the position. The higher the rating, the greater the compatibility between the candidate’s qualifications and the qualifications required for the available position.

For high-wage positions, employers will be required to invite any candidates to apply for the position who are: (a) matched within the first 30 days of posting; and (b) are rated four stars or more in terms of compatibility between the position’s requirements and the candidate’s skillset. For low-wage positions, employers will be required to invite any candidates to apply for the position who are: (a) matched within the first 30 days of posting; and (b) are rated two stars or more in terms of compatibility between the position’s requirements and the candidate’s skillset. 

Impact: Employers filing high-wage or low-wage LMIA applications prior to August 28, 2017 will not be required to use the Job Match service. However, employers submitting LMIA applications after this date will be required to provide evidence that they have used the Job Match service in accordance with Service Canada’s new recruitment requirements.

For more information on the minimum recruitment requirements for LMIA applications, or any other immigration matter, please contact a member of our team at PwC Law LLP.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

US: Proposal for immigration reform receives endorsement from President Trump

Posted by Immigration Law Team|US Immigration
Aug 17
3


On August 2, 2017, President Donald Trump provided an endorsement of a new bill in the Senate intended to reform the current employment-based immigration system and reduce certain non-employment categories within the current immigration framework.

The Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act (the RAISE Act) is a modified version of a bill previously introduced by Republican Sens. Tom Cotton (AR) and David Perdue (GA) which would replace the current employment-based immigration system with a skills-based points system.  President Trump heralded the RAISE Act as prioritising immigrants based on skills while safeguarding the interests of American workers.

The RAISE Act would eliminate the Diversity Visa lottery program and limit refugees offered permanent residency to 50,000 per year.  Family-based immigrant categories offering permanent residency to extended family and grown adult family members of US residents would also be eliminated under the RAISE Act, and a renewable temporary visa would be established for US residents who need to bring elderly parents to the US for care taking purposes.  Spouses and minor children of US residents would continue to be eligible to immigrate.The RAISE Act would also condition naturalisation on the immigrant fulfilling its obligation to reimburse the federal government for means-tested public benefits, as required under current law, and immigrant households arriving through the points system would be ineligible for federal means-tested benefits for a period of 5 years.

The RAISE Act would fundamentally change the current immigration system, and estimates project a 50% reduction in overall immigration levels over 10 years, primarily by slashing immigrants entering the US through family connections.  Though touted as prioritizing skills-based immigration, the proposal would maintain the current levels of employment-based immigration at 140,000 per year.  Modeled after the merit-based immigration system used by Canada and Australia, the RAISE Act’s immigration system would award points for education, age, English proficiency, extraordinary achievement, high-paying job offers, and entrepreneurial initiative.

Under the points-based system, applicants would require a minimum number of points to enter the pool of potential immigrants from which U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) would invite the highest scorers to file applications every six months.  To be eligible to enter the applicant pool, immigrants without a degree higher than a bachelor’s would require a job offer with an annual salary of at least 150 percent of the median household income in the State in which the applicant will be employed.

Although the prospects of the proposed bill appear to be limited, the endorsement may draw increased attention to legislative efforts to modify the existing immigration laws.  While the RAISE Act would have the effect of increasing the proportion of employment-based green cards through cutting other family-based categories, actual employment-based immigration levels would remain largely unchanged.

As changes within the political and immigration landscape in the US continue to develop, PwC Law LLP will remain at the forefront of these changes and keep our clients informed. The reforms proposed in the RAISE Act face opposition from both parties in Congress, and in the unlikely event that the legislation succeeds, the implementation of such changes would not be immediate. Understanding the impact of future policy changes on businesses is essential to making strategic decisions from a global mobility perspective, and PwC Law will ensure clients are kept abreast of any developments.

For further details regarding the recent immigration proposals, or any other immigration matter, please contact a member of our team.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »