Changes to Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program Announced

Posted by Melodie Hughes|Canada Immigration, Temporary Residence
Dec 13
31


Effective December 31, 2013, amendments to Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) come into force, and new Ministerial Instructions issued by the Minister of Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) come into effect.

As a result, employers who want to apply for a labour market opinion (LMO) as of December 31, 2013, need to be aware of the new powers and duties conferred on the Minister of ESDC, and the new conditions employers will be required to comply with, including:

  • Prohibition on the issuance of LMOs to employers in the sex and sex-related trades
  • New LMO Forms and Conditions imposed on employers
  • Greater authority for ESDC to conduct inspections
  • New ministerial instructions to suspect and revoke LMOs, or to refuse to process LMO applications

 

Prohibition on the issuance of LMOs to employers in the sex and sex-related trades

Effective immediately, ESDC will no longer issue an LMO to any employer seeking to hire a temporary foreign worker where the employer’s business involves offering striptease, erotic dance, escort services or erotic massages on a regular basis. This prohibition is designed to protect foreign workers from the risk of abuse and exploitation.

 

New LMO forms and conditions and imposed on employers

As part of the regulatory amendments, employers applying for an LMO will now be required to retain any document relating to the terms and conditions of the foreign worker’s employment for a period of at least 6 years, beginning on the first day of the period of employment for which the foreign worker’s work permit was issued.

In addition, employers will now have greater responsibility in ensuring that reasonable efforts have been made to provide a workplace that is free of abuse, as well as demonstrate efforts to hire or train Canadian citizens or permanent residents, if that was one of the factors that led to the issuance of a positive LMO and work permit.

In line with these changes, ESDC has also introduced new LMO application forms that include modified questions and additional attestations. Effective immediately, all employers seeking to apply for an LMO must complete and sign the new, updated forms.

 

Greater authority to conduct inspections

ESDC/Service Canada officials now have the authority to conduct inspections to verify an employer’s compliance with the conditions of Canada’s immigration regulations, including the terms and conditions of employment confirmed in the company’s previous LMOs and annexes. These inspections are separate from employer compliance reviews and will authorize officers to:

–          Require employers to provide documents that relate to compliance going as far back as 6 years

–          Conduct on-site inspections of any public space or dwelling without a warrant

–          Interview foreign workers and Canadian employees, by consent

For on-site inspections, ESDC has advised that in the majority of cases, advance notice will be given to employers. In the event an employer is found to have been non-compliant without justification or corrective action, employers may be subject to the following repercussions:

–          Bar from hiring foreign workers in Canada for 2 years;

–          Have the company name, address and period of ineligibility published on a public ban list;

–          Receive a negative decision on any pending LMO applications; and/or

–          Have previously-issued LMOs revoked.

 

New ministerial instructions to suspect and revoke LMOs, or to refuse to process LMO applications

As a result of the introduction of new Ministerial Instructions, ESDC may now suspend or revoke LMOs, or refuse to process LMO applications, under identified public policy considerations. ESDC has advised that decisions governing the LMO suspension or revocation will not be taken lightly and that employers facing a suspension or revocation of their LMOs will be contacted and provided an opportunity to respond. ESDC/Service Canada may also refuse to process LMO applications based on the public policy considerations provided in the Ministerial Instructions for selected sectors; regions; or occupational groups.  ESDC will publish on its website, in advance, any information related to any decision made by the government regarding the refusal to process LMO applications for any specified groups. As of December 31, 2013, no such publications have been made.

For more information or to discuss how these changes may impact your business, contact PricewaterhouseCoopers Immigration Law LLP to speak with one of our Canadian immigration professionals.


Posted by Melodie Hughes » No Comments »

The M-1 Visa: Enter the U.S. as a Vocational or Non-Academic Student

Posted by Ife Ashabo|Global Immigration
Dec 13
24


General

The M-1 non-immigrant category permits students to enter the U.S. to participate in a technical or vocational study program.  A vocational/technical school is one where students are taught skills and practical knowledge needed to perform a specific type of job as opposed to academic or theoretical knowledge.

Requirements

  • To enter the U.S. as an M-1 student, you must meet the following requirements:
  • You must be admitted and enrolled in a full-time course of study in a qualified institution, such as a community college, vocational school, or business school that grants associate degrees
  • You must be entering the U.S. to learn a particular trade and/or skill, which means you may not participate in a general studies program
  • You must be able to demonstrate that you have the financial capacity to cover your schooling expenses, residence, and cost of living while in the U.S.

What are the Limitations of an M-1 Student Visa?

The M-1 visa has numerous limitations compared to its F-1 counterpart, which include the following:

  • You may not transfer from one school to another without authorization from the USCIS
  • You are not permitted to change your course of study
  • You are not permitted to work legally off-campus without authorization from the USCIS
  • You may not transfer over to F-1 status

As an M-1 student, you are also prohibited from working while in the United States, but you may participate in Optional Practical Training (OPT) upon completion of your studies. However, unlike with F-1 status where you may work for 12 – 29 months under OPT, as an M-1 student you may only work one month for every four months of schooling you completed while on your M-1, and for no more than 6 months in total.

Length of Stay

M-1 students are admitted into the United States for a fixed time period rather than the duration of their status.  Thus, unlike with F-1 status, M-1 students are given a set date of departure.


Posted by Ife Ashabo » No Comments »

Working in the U.S. While Under an F-1 Student Visa: Curricular and Optional Practical Training

Posted by Ife Ashabo|US Immigration
Dec 13
24


In general, foreign nationals in the United States on an F-1 student visa are not permitted to work in the U.S.  However, there are a few exceptions to this rule, two of which are Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training.

CURRICULAR PRACTICAL TRAINING

General

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a type of employment authorization that allows an F-1 student to obtain employment in an area that is directly related to his/her studies. Also, the student must receive school credit for such work.

Requirements

To be eligible for CPT, you must have been enrolled full-time in a U.S. academic institution for at least one full academic year.  Therefore, you may not work pursuant to CPT during your first year of study. An exception exists for graduate students whose programs require immediate participation in an internship, a practicum, or other employment.  CPT is not available for F-1 students in language learning programs.

The CPT program permits you to work for an employer within a field that is an integral part of an established curriculum and directly related to your course of study.  Your employment must be pursuant to an internship, cooperative education program, practicum or any other type of arrangement where your course of study permits you to receive credit through employment.

Terms of Employment

F-1 students can engage in CPT on a part or full-time basis.  CPT students who obtain part-time employment may not work more than 20 hours per week.  As long as you maintain your F-1 status, there is no limitation on the length of time you may participate in part-time Curricular Practical Training.

F-1 students may work full-time pursuant to CPT during University breaks, including summer break and holidays.  You may also engage in full-time employment under CPT during your dissertation or thesis stage of schooling or while taking a class where full-time employment is required for the completion of the course.

Full-time CPT allows you to work more than 20 hours per week, and there is no limitation upon the length of time you may participate in the full-time employment. However, if you participate in 12 months or more of full-time CPT, you will not be eligible for Optional Practical Training, which is explained below.  The exception to the bar on Optional Practical Training after completing one year of full-time employment applies to F-1 students enrolled in graduate studies that require immediate participation in Curricular Practical Training.

OPTIONAL PRACTICAL TRAINING

General

F-1 students who participate in Optional Practical Training (OPT) may work in the U.S. in a field that is directly related to their course of study for a total of 12 – 29 months, depending on the student’s major.

Students Who Graduate with Degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (“STEM” Students)

Students who have received a degree in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (“STEM” students) may work in the U.S. under the OPT program for a total of 29 months. Non-STEM students may work in the U.S. under the OPT program for no more than 12 months.

Employment need not be for School Credit

The employment you obtain pursuant to OPT need not be pursuant to an internship, practicum, or anything to that effect.  In fact, the employment may be totally independent of your schooling as long as it is directly related to your course of study.  For example, an F-1 student studying business at a university in the U.S. may work part-time at a consulting firm during the school year, full-time at the firm during the summer, or full-time at the firm after graduating even though the work is not an internship and she is not receiving any credit for her employment at the company.

Duration of Employment

Optional practical training is available both during and after the completion of your academic program. However, the total amount of practical training permitted is 12 months (or 29 months for STEM students). For example, if, prior to graduation, you have worked for 4 months under the OPT program, and you are not a STEM student, you will only be eligible for 8 more months of post-graduation OPT work.

Also, work done under CPT counts towards your OPT period.  Therefore, if you work for a total of 12 months under CPT while in school, and you are not a STEM student, then you will not be able to work under OPT upon graduation.

OPT As a Path to Obtaining an Employment Visa

One of the main benefits of the OPT program is that it can be used as a path towards obtaining an employment visa after graduation.  For example, if an employer in the U.S. hires you to work in a field directly related to your area of study under OPT, the employer may also sponsor you for an H-1B, TN, or any other non-immigrant visa you are eligible for during the course of your employment.

Can I Change Jobs?

You may change employers while working in the U.S. pursuant to OPT as long as the new job is directly related to your field of study.

Can I Work at More Than One Job?

With OPT you may have as many jobs with as many employers as you wish.

Unemployment upon Graduation

F-1 students who wish to obtain employment in the U.S. under OPT, and who have thus obtained their OPT registration, have up to 90 days to find a job.  Thus, upon graduating from a U.S. institution as an F-1 student, you may stay in the U.S. for an additional 90 days to look for work that is directly related to your field of study.  STEM students have 120 days to obtain a job in the U.S. upon graduation.


Posted by Ife Ashabo » No Comments »

Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program Announces List of Occupations for International Skilled Worker Category

Posted by Vian Sulevani|Global Immigration
Dec 13
23


The Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP) has finally released information on the changes to the international skilled worker category coming into effect on January 2, 2014.  The SINP will accept 250 applications in 2014 from applicants without an offer of employment whose high skilled occupation is in demand in Saskatchewan.  These occupations must have “good” or “fair” employment prospects as per Saskatchewan’s Detailed Occupational Outlook (2013-2017). 

Unlike the Federal Skilled Worker program, which only has 24 eligible occupations, the SINP’s list of higher skilled occupations with good/fair prospects is over 200.  The list is varied from managerial occupations, business and finance, natural sciences, medical technicians, teachers, to the skilled trades.   However with only 250 applications being accepted next year, it is best to apply early. 

For more information on this or any 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 »

Delay in Proposed Changes to Definition of Dependent Child

Posted by Nina Modi|Canada Immigration
Dec 13
20


In May 2013, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) proposed regulatory amendments that would reduce the age of dependents from under 22 years old to under 19 years old and remove the exception for full-time students.  The changes were originally expected to become effective January 1, 2014; however, it now appears that these changes will not be taking effect immediately, but will rather come into force at a later date.  

It is anticipated, but not yet confirmed, that the new definition to dependent child will be implemented in May 2014.  However, as we have seen in the past, CIC can make changes without any notice nor any warning to the public.  With this in mind, we urge you to consider filing your application immediately if you think you will be impacted by the change to the definition of dependent child. 

The delay will benefit individuals who are hoping to include their dependents who are 19 years and older or are full-time students in either their temporary or permanent resident applications. 


Posted by Nina Modi » No Comments »

VAC in New York City closed

Posted by Vian Sulevani|Canada Immigration
Dec 13
16


Effective December 13, 2013, the Visa Application Centre (VAC) in New York is closed until further notice.  Citizenship and Immigration Canada has advised that applications that are currently in process with the VAC will continue to be processed and any passports that must be returned will be returned by the visa office directly. The VAC was recently opened in July 2013 to help streamline the intake of applications at the Consulate in New York.

The closure of the VAC is expected to result in lengthier processing times for new applications filed through New York and as such, applicants are recommend to start the application process well in advance of their anticipated travels to Canada.

For more information on this or any 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 »

Labour Market Opinions and the New Era of Compliance

Dec 13
13


Applying for a positive Labour Market Opinion (LMO)  is becoming increasingly challenging with new requirements and more detailed information being requested all the time.  In addition, the introduction of compliance reviews in 2011 requires that employers keep increasingly detailed and accurate records of both the information provided to Service Canada and how the LMO conditions are continuing to be met throughout the lifespan of the LMO based work permit.  This journey into the territory of compliance continues to progress and we are expecting new compliance requirements to be introduced in 2014.

One of the more interesting changes to LMO compliance reviews  is when an LMO application is completed, and a company advises that the foreign worker will be benefitting the Canadian economy by on of the following: 1) Filling a labour shortage, 2) Transferring new skills to Canadian citizens or Permanent Residents, or 3) Creating new jobs for Canadian citizens or Permanent residents, upon a compliance review, Service Canada will be looking for established training plans, that skills have been transferred to Canadians, and / or new jobs have been created based on the  employment of the foreign worker.  These items may be very difficult to prove and it is yet to be seen how Service Canada plans to practically carry out this mandate.

Compliance reviews up until now have been triggered when a new LMO has been requested for the same employer.  Going forward Service Canada can contact an employer for a compliance review at any time for any of the following reasons:

1) If CIC of Service Canada have reason to suspect that the employer is non-compliant;

2) That the employer has a history of non-compliance; and

3) The employer is randomly selected for verification compliance.

Given the measure to be implemented above, 2014 proves to be another challenging year for Canadian Immigration, particularly in regards to obtaining LMO based applications.


Posted by Sarah Adler » No Comments »

U.S. Visa/Status Classifications – what are the various types?

Posted by Mark Dey|US Immigration
Dec 13
12


The United States offers a broad range of visa classifications, indeed, an alphabet soup, to foreign nationals seeing to enter the U.S. from “A” (diplomats) to “U” (victims of criminal activity).  These are:

A Diplomats and Foreign Government Officials
A-2 Foreign military personnel stationed in the U.S.
B-1 Business Visitor (including amateur & professional athletes competing for prize money only; domestic employees or nanny accompanying foreign employer)
B-2 Tourism, vacation, pleasure visitors, visitors for medical treatment
BCC Border Crossing Card for Mexicans
C Transiting the U.S.
D Crewmembers (air or ship)
E-1 Treaty Trader
E-2 Treaty Investor
E-3 Australian professional specialty
F-1 Student – academic
G1 – G5 Employees of designated international organizations
H-1A Nurses
H-1B Specialty occupation workers
H-1B1 Free Trade Agreement Professionals – Chile and Singapore
H-2A Temporary agricultural workers
H-2B Temporary workers performing other services or labor of a temporary or seasonal nature
H-3 Training
I Media, journalists
J-1 Exchange visitor – professor, scholar, teacher; trainee; intern; physician; au pairs
K-1 / K-3 Fiancé(e) / Spouse of U.S. citizen
L-1 Intra-company transferees
M-1 Vocational students
NATO NATO personnel
O Foreign nationals with extraordinary ability in the Sciences, Arts, Education, Business or Athletics
P Performing athletes, artists, entertainers
Q International cultural exchange visitors
R Religious workers
S assist US law enforcement to investigate and prosecute crimes and terrorist activities
T Victims of human trafficking
TN NAFTA professional
U Victims of criminal activity

Each of the above visa classifications has its own unique purposes and requirements which must be met for the granting of the visa and/or admission to the U.S. For more information on this or any other US or Canadian immigration matters, please contact PricewaterhouseCoopers Immigration Law LLP – Immigration Lawyers at 1-800-993-9971 or pwcimmigrationlaw-info@ca.pwc.com.


Posted by Mark Dey » No Comments »