Canadian Visa Offices Shut Down – Serious Implications for Foreign Nationals with Upcoming Travel Plans to Canada

Jul 13
29


Starting July 29, 2013, foreign service officers will be withdrawing all services at Canada’s 15 biggest visa processing centres abroad.  The federal government and the union representing immigration officers abroad, Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO), have been locked in a contract negotiation battle for months culminating in a failed attempt at arbitration and the union’s decision to strike.

Over the course of the last few months, the union began staging rotating strikes at different embassies and visa processing centres at different times as part of escalating job action measures.  This has slowed down work, resulting in fewer visas being issued and a growing backlog.  The strike will further delay visa processing times, leading to longer wait times and an expected delay in the arrival of foreign nationals to Canada.  In addition, those visa offices not engaging in the full withdrawal of services will continue to be involved in abrupt rotating strikes, without prior notice to the public.

In a statement issued by PAFSO, they state that “… PAFSO members will withdraw all services until further notice at Canada’s fifteen largest visa processing centres abroad.” The centres are:

•             Abu Dhabi

•             Ankara

•             Beijing

•             Cairo

•             Delhi/Chandigarh

•             Hong Kong

•             London

•             Manila

•             Mexico City

•             Moscow

•             Paris

•             Riyadh

•             Sao Paulo

•             Shanghai

The union is advocating for “equal pay for equal work,” asking for salary increases to keep foreign service officers on par with other public servants who do comparable work.  Meanwhile, the Treasury Board, the department responsible for contract negotiations, says the government has put forward a fair offer, one that is “fair to employees and fair for taxpayers,” according to a spokesman for Treasury Board President Tony Clement.  The two sides have been unable to come to a meaningful resolution, and after the last round of negotiation broke down with no resolution, they were also unwilling to enter into a binding arbitration process.

There is no indication of any planned negotiations, and how the government expects to proceed with so few resources devoted to the processing of visas.

Applications for visas and work permits may still be submitted to Visa Posts, however limited or no processing will take place until the strike is resolved. Companies who require foreign nationals to enter Canada in the next few months should file new applications as early as possible but plan for application delays and prepare to make arrangements for alternate resource solutions, if necessary. Foreign nationals with applications already in process at Canadian Visa posts should be prepared to postpone travel.

For more information on this or other Canadian or US immigration matters, please contact PricewaterhouseCoopers Immigration Law LLP – Immigration Lawyers at 1-800-993-9971 or pwcimmigrationlaw-info@ca.pwc.com

 


Posted by Karen » No Comments »

I hold an L-2 visa; am I allowed to work in the United States without a EAD card?

Posted by Mark Dey|Global Immigration
Jul 13
26


There is some confusion related to the question of whether an L-2 spousal status holder who is accompanying L-1 worker to the United States may work without an Employment Authorization Document (EAD card).

In answering this question, some may refer to the Socials Security Administration’s (SSA) website which, as of July 23, 2013, states the following:

“… [L-2 classification spouse] is also authorized to work without specific DHS authorization.”

While it is true that the SSA may issue a Social Security Number to an L-2 status holder without an EAD card, it may not necessarily mean that a SSN alone is sufficient documentation for an L-2 spouse to work in the United States.

Should one rely on the SSA’s interpretation of the following section of the Act concerning L Nonimmigrant Spouses?

“In the case of an alien spouse admitted under section 101(a)(15)(L), who is accompanying or following to join a principal alien admitted under such section, the Attorney General shall authorize the alien spouse to engage in employment in the United States and provide the spouse with an “employment authorized” endorsement or other appropriate work permit.”

Since the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the ultimate authority with respect to US Immigration matters, it would be wise to follow the DHS and US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) rules and policies in order to avoid being found in violation of immigration status and, as a result, having long-term negative consequences on one’s ability to travel to and/or remain in the United States.


Posted by Mark Dey » No Comments »

Pilot Project for Working-Age Dependent Children Extended until 2014

Jul 13
22


 

It has just been announced that the pilot project for working-age dependent children (aged 18-22) of skilled workers destined to Ontario and Alberta has been extended until July 31, 2014.

Ontario

The Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement, originally signed in 2008, will continue to provide authority to issue open work permits for accompanying dependents of temporary foreign workers.  The foreign workers will need to hold a work permit valid for 6 months or longer and be considered skilled workers under the National Occupation Classification (NOC).  The work permit will be limited to work in the province of Ontario and should expire the same date as the expiry date of the work permit of the principal work permit holder.

Alberta

The Agreement for Canada-Alberta Cooperation on Immigration, originally signed in 2009, will continue to provide authority to issue open work permits for accompanying dependents of temporary foreign workers.  The foreign workers will need to hold a work permit valid for 6 months or longer and be considered skilled workers under the National Occupation Classification (NOC).  The work permit will be limited to work in the province of Alberta and should expire the same date as the expiry date of the work permit of the principal work permit holder.

The rationale behind these two pilot projects is to attract international workers with in-demand skills with working age dependent children.

For more information on this or other Canadian or US immigration matters, please contact PricewaterhouseCoopers Immigration Law LLP – Immigration Lawyers at 1-800-993-9971 or pwcimmigrationlaw-info@ca.pwc.com.


Posted by Vian Sulevani » No Comments »

New Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Appointed

Posted by Vian Sulevani|Canada Immigration
Jul 13
15


Prime Minister Stephen Harper has announced eight new cabinet members today in a cabinet shuffle.  Toronto-area MP Chris Alexander was named the new minister of citizenship and immigration.  He replaces Jason Kenney, Harper’s long-time minister of citizenship and immigration.  Jason Kenney will now head “Employment and Social Development” (formerly Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC)).  It will be interesting to see how the new minister approaches this challenging role.

 


Posted by Vian Sulevani » No Comments »

Pilot Project for Working-Age Dependent Children Expiring Soon!

Jul 13
11


The Pilot Project where working-age dependent children of skilled workers destined for Ontario or Alberta receive an open work permit is set to expire on July 31, 2013. Thus far there is no indication on whether it will be extended once again.

The requirements of this pilot are that dependent children of foreign nationals must:

  • Be eligible to work in the province of Ontario or Alberta; and
  • Be a dependent child in accordance with the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, section 2; and
  • Be the dependent of a foreign national principal applicant entering Canada to work in Ontario or Alberta with a job-specific work permit (WP) with a minimum duration of 6-months in an occupation found within skill levels 0, A or B of the National Occupation Classification (NOC) system.

As of January 2014 the definition of a dependent child under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and Regulations will be reduced from 22 years of age to 18. Based on current information released by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, this will mean that children 18 years of age and older of skilled workers in Ontario and Alberta will have to apply for a visitor, study and/or work permit in the usual manner irrespective of their parents’ temporary status in Canada.

For more information on this or other Canadian or US immigration matters, please contact PricewaterhouseCoopers Immigration Law LLP – Immigration Lawyers at 1-800-993-9971 or pwcimmigrationlaw-info@ca.pwc.com.

 


Posted by Donna Habsha » No Comments »

Immigration Benefits for Same-Sex Spouses

Jul 13
8


The United Supreme Court in a landmark 5-4 decision stuck down provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which had defined marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman.  As a result, the door has been opened for recognition of same-sex marriages, such that they will be afforded the same treatment and benefits as traditional marriages.  As a result, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the federal agency responsible for immigration matters, will be able to accept family based sponsorship for same-sex spouses for permanent residency (green card status).  USCIS has announced that it will immediately review green card cases for same-sex marriage cases, and one case for a married same-sex couple from Florida has been approved.  Additionally, USCIS is further expected to reopen same-sex marriage based green card cases going back to February 2011 that had previously been denied.

For more information on U.S. or Canadian immigration, please contact our offices at 1-800-993-9971 or pwcimmigrationlaw-info@ca.pwc.com.


Posted by Mark Dey » No Comments »

Visa Application Centre (VAC) will be opening in New York City

Jul 13
4


A new VAC will be opening in New York City (NYC) on July 10, 2013. The VAC in NYC will accept:

  • Temporary Resident Visa (visitor visa) applications
  • Work Permit applications
  • Study Permit applications (ONLY for those applying from Bermuda)
  • Permanent Resident Travel Document applications

As of July 10, these applications should be submitted in person or by mail through the VAC in NYC.  The visa office in NYC will no longer accept mail-in applications and will only accept in-person submissions during limited hours.

Study permit applications (except for anyone applying from Bermuda) should continue to be sent to the visa office in Los Angeles.

Visitor visa, study or work permit may also be applied for on-line. Currently on-line processing times are approximately 25-50 days. Once the details with regard to in-person applications are released, strategic decisions regarding submissions will be able to be made.

Hopefully these new service options will lead to more efficient processing of temporary resident applications.


Posted by Donna Habsha » No Comments »

I-94 Card No Longer Provided at Airports

Posted by Ife Ashabo|US Immigration
Jul 13
3


On March 21, 2013, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced that it had submitted to the Federal Register a rule that will automate Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record to streamline the admissions process for individuals lawfully granted entry into the United States for a temporary period.

The Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record (“I-94”) is a status document that is issued by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP) officer when a non-U.S. citizen is admitted to the United States as a nonimmigrant (a nonimmigrant is an alien permitted to reside in the U.S. for a temporary period of time, and includes individuals who are lawfully permitted to work in the U.S., study in the U.S., and visit the U.S.).

The I-94 contains important information, including one’s particular nonimmigrant status (i.e. student, worker, visitor, etc.), the date the nonimmigrant entered the U.S. and obtained their I-94, and the date the nonimmigrant is required to leave the United States.   Nonimmigrants are issued an I-94 at a U.S. port-of-entry, or at the CBP preclearance point in an airport. Prior to clearing the traveler, the CBP officer will print the form and staple the document into the traveler’s passport.

However, in an effort to automate and streamline the admission of nonimmigrants into the United States, the CBP is no longer issuing Form I-94 at preclearance checkpoints located in international airport. “Automation of the I-94 will increase efficiency and streamline the admission process,” said CBP Deputy Commissioner David V. Aguilar. “Once fully implemented, the process will facilitate security and travel while saving CBP an estimated $15.5 million a year.”

Those who cleared U.S. immigration through a preclearance checkpoint at an airport and wish to obtain a physical copy of their I-94, as evidence of their status, are now required to print out their I-94 number on their own, rather than taking receipt of the form from a CBP officer prior to clearing immigration. Travelers can print their I-94 number at the following website: www.cbp.gov/I94.


Posted by Ife Ashabo » No Comments »