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

Posted by Immigration Law Team|Canada 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.

 


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

Posted by Immigration Law Team|Canada Immigration
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.

 


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Canada: 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.

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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.


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Canada: 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.


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Canada: Temporary public policy concerning foreign nationals affected by Executive Order

Posted by Immigration Law Team|Canada Immigration
Feb 17
2


In Brief

On January 27, 2017, the President of the United States of America signed an Executive Order prohibiting foreign nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, and Yemen from entering the United States of America for a period of at least 90 days.  Subsequently, on January 31, 2017, the Honourable Ahmed Hussein, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), announced a temporary public policy to assist foreign nationals  who are adversely affected by the Executive Order in applying for, or extending their, Canadian temporary resident status. This temporary public policy is set to expire at 11:59 p.m. EST on April 30, 2017.

Discussion

Foreign nationals from the aforementioned counties who are currently in Canada with valid temporary resident status (visitor, student, worker) and who hold valid temporary resident status in the United States of America may not be able to return to the United States of America during the prescribed period as a result of the Executive Order.  Further, those who were transiting through Canada on their way to the United States of America may not be able to enter the United States of America during the prescribed period as a result of the Executive Order.  Therefore, IRCC has implemented special measures to assist foreign nationals who are essentially stranded in Canada as a result of the Executive Order.

Citizens of the aforementioned countries require a Canadian temporary resident visa (TRV), or an electronic travel authorization (eTA) if they are a permanent resident of the United States of America, to enter Canada.  If a foreign national made arrangements to travel to the United States of America but is unable to do so as a result of the Executive Order, he / she may be able to apply for a Canadian temporary resident permit at a Canadian port-of-entry (e.g. international airport) to enter Canada if they do not have a Canadian TRV or eTA without having to pay the applicable processing fee.

If a foreign national is currently in Canada as a temporary resident and he / she  made arrangements to travel to the United States of America but is unable to do so as a result of the Executive Order, he / she may be able to apply for restoration and / or an extension of their Canadian temporary resident status without having to pay the restoration fee (if required) and applicable processing fee(s) and they may be able to apply for work authorization if they do not have sufficient means to support themselves during their temporary stay in Canada.

In order to be eligible for Canadian temporary resident status based on these public policy considerations, the foreign national must hold a visa or other document that is normally required to enter the United States of America and they must not be inadmissible to Canada other than for a failure to obtain a TRV or eTA.

Impact

IRCC will consider all applications subject to these public policy considerations on a case-by-case basis.  Therefore, all foreign nationals who are seeking to rely upon the public policy considerations should include a detailed explanation as to how they are affected by the Executive Order as part of their application and mark their application as “Urgent: Facilitation” for expedited processing.

For information about this temporary public policy, please contact PwC Law LLP.

 

 


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Canada: Atlantic Immigration Pilot opening in early March 2017

Posted by Immigration Law Team|Canada Immigration
Feb 17
2


In brief

Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will be launching the Atlantic Immigration Pilot in early March 2017 in an effort to stimulate Atlantic Canada’s economic growth. This pilot program consists of three employer-driven categories which will allow skilled immigrants and international graduates to pursue permanent residency in one of the Atlantic Provinces: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador. Beginning in early March 2017, IRCC will accept a total of up to 2,000 applications.

Discussion

In recognition of Atlantic Canada’s aging population and shrinking labour force, the Canadian government developed the Atlantic Growth Strategy as a means of ensuring the region’s continued economic success. The Atlantic Immigration Pilot is a key initiative within this strategy as it facilitates permanent residency for skilled immigrants and international graduates. These individuals can apply for permanent residency through one of three employer-driven categories:

1. The Atlantic Intermediate-Skilled Program (AISP)

2. The Atlantic High-Skilled Program (AHSP), and

3. The Atlantic International Graduate Program (AIGP)

Each category has its own specific eligibility requirements with respect to the duration of the job offer, level of education and related work experience. However, generally, applicants must hold a full-time job offer from a designated employer in order to qualify. Additionally, applicants must meet certain language requirements and obtain a letter of endorsement from one of the Atlantic Provinces. International graduates must have graduated from a publicly-funded institution in one of the Atlantic Provinces within the previous 12 months in order to qualify.

Prior to issuing a qualifying job offer to an applicant, an employer must first become a designated employer by meeting certain requirements which include committing to support the newcomer and their family as they integrate into life in Atlantic Canada. These requirements vary amongst the Atlantic Provinces.

Impact

The innovative Atlantic Immigration Pilot is expected to stimulate economic growth in Atlantic Canada by making it easier for employers in the region to attract and retain skilled immigrants. In recognition of the pressing labour needs of Atlantic Canada, employers will not need to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), which is often an onerous process. Employers, however, will be required to support the newcomer in his or her long-term integration, including connecting the newcomer and their accompanying family member(s) with a settlement organization to develop an individualized settlement plan. The Atlantic Provinces are now accepting applications to become a designated employer under the Atlantic Immigration Pilot. Therefore, any employers who are interested in participating in the Atlantic Immigration Pilot should apply to become a designated employer immediately due to the limited quota under this Pilot.

For information on the Atlantic Immigration Pilot, please contact PwC Law LLP.


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Canada: Special Authorization Period extended

Posted by Immigration Law Team|Canada Immigration
Feb 17
2


In Brief

On January 27, 2017, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced an extension of the Special Authorization program for dual-Canadian citizens, granting them additional time to acquire a valid Canadian passport.

Discussion

Following consultations with several stakeholders including major international airlines, IRCC has extended the Special Authorization program for an undefined period. This program, designed to minimize travel disruptions arising from IRCC’s new Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) requirement, allows dual-Canadian citizens who do not hold a valid Canadian travel document a short window to board their flight into Canada. Accordingly, dual-Canadian citizens with a passport from a visa-exempt nation and arranged travel plans to enter Canada within 10 days of their application may apply for a Special Authorization which, if granted, is valid for 4 days from the date of travel.

Impact

Due to Canada’s mobility rights, Canadian citizens are ineligible to apply for an eTA. Accordingly, IRCC’s announcement allows dual-Canadian citizens who hold a valid passport from a visa exempt nation to continue to benefit from the Special Authorization program until they can acquire a valid Canadian passport.

For information on obtaining a Special Authorization, please contact PwC Law LLP.


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Canada: Prime Minister Trudeau Announces new Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

Posted by Immigration Law Team|Canada Immigration
Jan 17
11


In Brief

On January 10, 2017, Prime Minister Trudeau announced changes to the Ministry, replacing several key Cabinet Members including the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. Mr. Ahmed Hussen was sworn in as the new Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.

Discussion

Mr. Hussen is currently the Member of Parliament for the Toronto South – Weston riding. Mr. Hussen gained his seat in Parliament in 2015 as the first Somali-Canadian elect.

Mr. Hussen immigrated to Canada from Somalia in 1993 and has a history of political involvement, most recently serving as National President for the Canadian Somali Congress. Mr.  Hussen is also a community advocate, serving on the Boards of the Global Enrichment Foundation and Journalists for Human Rights, and co-founding the Regent Park Community Council.

As a Member of Parliament, Ahmed Hussen sits on the Justice and Human Rights Committee and the Canada-Africa Parliamentary Association.

It is anticipated that previous Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Mr. John McCallum, will assume a diplomatic position, potentially serving as Canada’s ambassador to China.

Impact

While this cabinet shuffle comes as a surprise to some, Mr. Hussen’s appointment as Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship demonstrates an ongoing commitment to ensuring Canada’s immigration policy continues to fuel industrial growth, while ensuring both that families remain united and that Canada honours its  humanitarian commitments.

For information on your Canadian immigration matters, please contact PwC Law LLP.


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