Canada announces changes to the Express Entry System

Posted by Immigration Law Team|Canada Immigration
Nov 16
11


In brief

Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has released proposed instructions including several sweeping changes to the points allocation structure for permanent residence under the Express Entry program. Effective November 19, 2016, a new points system will be applied, impacting international students, senior executives, and certain LMIA-exempt work permit holders.

Based on the new points allocations which account for highly valued experience and skills not previously recognized by the CRS, foreign workers previously not meeting the cutoff score may, as of November 19, 2016, receive higher rankings in the pool of candidates, and be more likely to receive an ITA.

Background

The launch of the Express Entry system on January 1, 2015 by the Department of Citizenship and Immigration represented a major shift in the way Canada selects and processes applications for permanent residence. Moving from a system of first in line to best in line, candidates are selected according to a ‘Comprehensive Ranking System’ (CRS) which allocates points based on metrics designed to reflect Canada’s economic immigration policy goals. While Express Entry has, so far, successfully decreased application processing times, early outcomes and stakeholder feedback have revealed areas for improvement.

In response, IRCC has published proposed ministerial instructions, including several significant changes to the Express Entry system, which will apply to all applications in the candidate pool as of November 19, 2016.

Overview and impact of changes

Invitation to apply – Validity period

Current Candidates issued an ‘Invitation to Apply’ (ITA) have 60 days to submit their electronic application for permanent residence (e-APR).
New Candidates issued an ITA will have 90 days to submit their e-APR application, commencing the day after their ITA is issued.
Impact The additional 30 days will provide applicants with more time to gather the extensive documentation required to submit their e-APR. However, applicants are still advised to begin gathering their documentation well in advance of receiving their ITA, keeping in mind that some documentation such as police records or medical examinations should be no more than twelve months old.

 

Skills transferability – Calculation of points for education

Current In order to obtain the maximum number of points available for education within the Skills Transferability matrix, individuals with more than one post-secondary education credential from a foreign institution would have to obtain Education Credential Assessments (ECAs) for all of their degrees.
New Going forward, individuals with a credential at the Master’s, Professional, or Doctoral level will only need to obtain an ECA for their highest level of education (if completed outside of Canada) in order to be awarded the maximum points available for education in the matrix.
Impact Awarding skills-transferability points based on the level of education and not the number of degrees held relieves candidates from having to obtain two ECAs, which previously increased both administrative costs and complexity for candidates. This change may also relieve pressures on designated organizations, and decrease the processing times for ECAs.

 

Additional factors

Current Up to 600 points may be issued to individuals for ‘additional factors’, having either a provincial nomination or a qualifying offer of employment based on a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).
New ‘Additional factors’ for which bonus points are awarded now include a provincial nomination or a newly defined qualifying offer of arranged employment; or Canadian education credentials.
Impact Broadening the category of additional factors for which bonus points will be awarded recognizes skills and values previously unaccounted for in the old system.

 

Arranged employment – “Qualifying job offer”

Current Only a LMIA will “validate” a job offer and provide an applicant with an increased points score and a candidate will automatically receive 600 bonus points for holding a qualifying job offer.
New A job offer in a skilled occupation will provide candidates with additional points if it is made pursuant to a positively issued LMIA; made to a skilled worker with a valid LMIA-based work permit, if the offer is made by the same employer that is currently specified on their work permit; or made to a skilled worker with a valid LMIA-exempt work permit issued under a Free Trade Agreement (e.g. NAFTA) or pursuant to the Significant Benefit or Reciprocal Employment category (e.g. Intra-Company Transferee), if the offer is made by the same employer that is currently specified on their work permit, once the candidate has at least one year of continuous full-time (or equivalent part-time) Canadian work experience with that employer.

Candidates holding one of the above qualifying job offers for employment in a position classified under the National Occupation Classification (NOC) matrix Major Group 00, including Senior Management occupations, will receive an increase of 200 additional points.

Candidates with a qualifying job offer for a NOC 0, A, or B position will receive an increase of 50 additional points

Impact The bonus points awarded to a candidate with a qualifying offer of employment virtually guarantee that they will receive an ITA, despite their human capital score. As such, candidates with high human capital scores not reaching the cutoff are excluded despite possessing characteristics highly valued by the CRS. The new system will address this issue and will allow candidates with high human capital scores but without an approved offer of employment a better chance of receiving an ITA. Removing employers’ obligation to obtain an LMIA prior to extending a qualifying job offer will facilitate their ability to permanently hire their current foreign worker employees, and simplify long-term strategic planning. Finally, candidates with approved job offers in low wage occupations will no longer be guaranteed an ITA which will leave more room for skilled candidates.

Candidates with an open work permit, such as those issued to accompanying spouses, International Experience Canada participants, or graduates of Canadian institutions won’t be eligible to receive bonus points unless their job offer is based on a positive LMIA.

 

Candidates with Canadian education credentials

Current Candidates having obtained an education credential in Canada do not have any advantage over those who studied outside of Canada and individuals with Canadian education credentials are not awarded any bonus points.
New Bonus points will be awarded in addition to those already awarded under the CRS to individuals who have studied at a Canadian educational institution in a full-time program of at least eight months, and were physically present in Canada for at least eight months.

If more than half of the program was comprised of learning English or French, or distance learning, or if the credential was obtained pursuant to a scholarship or fellowship which required the candidate to return to their home country upon graduation, then the additional points are not applicable.

15 bonus points awarded to individuals with an eligible credential from a Canadian post-secondary program of one or two years.

30 bonus points awarded to individuals with a credential from a post-secondary program of three years or more, or a Master’s, professional, or Doctoral degree obtained in Canada.

Impact Recognizing that candidates with Canadian education credentials are often well-suited to settle permanently in Canada, the award of these bonus points will give Canadian-educated candidates a competitive edge, and will increase the number of Canadian-educated candidates receiving ITAs. Specifically benefitting from this change will be those candidates holding a post-graduate work permit who may be ineligible to receive bonus points for a qualifying job offer, as they won’t hold an employer-specific work permit.

 

Recommendations

Employers should re-examine their foreign worker population, taking into account the new CRS structure, to determine whether any foreign workers who previously did not qualify could now benefit with a permanent job offer.

Accordingly, those employers who are considering making job offers to foreign workers, or who may do so in the future, are advised to incorporate these new changes into their long-term strategic outlook as they may now be able to capitalize upon this newly accessible section of the labour market.

For further details on the changes to the Express Entry system or any other permanent residence matter, please contact PwC Law LLP.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

Trump declared US President: How will this affect immigration?

Posted by Immigration Law Team|US Immigration
Nov 16
9


In brief

After emerging victorious in several key battleground states, Republican candidate Donald Trump has declared victory as the winner of the 2016 US Presidential race.  Republicans also retained control of the Senate and the House of Representatives.  An overview of Trump’s platform and the immigration implications of his election are outlined below.

Background – Trump’s immigration platform

Donald Trump’s campaign spoke extensively on the issue of immigration, primarily in relation to concerns around illegal immigration, and included propositions for the following:

– Building a physical wall to divide the United States and Mexico

– Deporting criminal aliens, in joint operation with local, state, and federal law enforcement, and tripling the number of ICE agents

– Suspending the issuance of visas in areas deemed to not have adequate screening mechanisms in place

– Ending President Obama’s executive actions, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), resulting in the deportation of the beneficiaries of these programs

By comparison to Trump’s platform on illegal immigration, he spoke sparingly in relation to his corporate immigration platform.  Throughout various stages of the campaign, however, Trump’s platform included propositions for the following:

– Increasing wage requirements for H-1B visa holders in an effort to encourage US companies to hire more Americans for entry-level jobs

– Increasing usage of the E-Verify program, resulting in required participation for all US companies in order to verify employment authorization status prior to an individual commencing employment within the US

– Renegotiating and potentially considering the abolition of NAFTA, under which certain classifications of professionals are eligible to transfer between the US, Canada and Mexico for employment purposes

– Suspending US visa issuance from Muslim regions, as determined necessary by Trump

Impact – What does this mean for immigration?

 

US immigration implications

While difficult to predict whether the above will occur in the proposed form or an altered form, it seems likely that Trump will attempt to take robust action at the outset of his presidency in relation to illegal immigration, with potential changes to corporate immigration to follow.   Action instituted by Trump, however, could be met with delays in Congress.

With the GOP retaining control of the House of Representatives (236 to 191) and the Senate (51 to 47), Trump may benefit from a united Republican Congress.  Trump’s relationship with many congressional republicans, however, has been described as uneasy and is not expected to lend itself to automatic agreeance on key immigration topics.  Further, many of Trump’s proposed policies will require approval from Congress for the significant costs involved, likely resulting in periods of lengthy delays before any changes to immigration are felt.  Based on the anticipated debate expected to occur on many key immigration fields, including the costs associated with Trump’s platforms on illegal immigration and corporate immigration, change will likely occur slowly. Thus, unless Congress also supports Trump’s position, changes to corporate immigration will likely occur slowly following periods of significant debate.

Canadian immigration implications

As the votes were cast and ballots counted, the website for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada experienced such high volumes on election night that it ultimately crashed, leading to widespread reports that many US citizens unhappy with the results of the election are seriously contemplating moving to Canada on a long-term basis. While the Canadian government has mandated immigration to be more facilitative as a means to foster economic growth and diversity across the country, the process of obtaining permanent residence in Canada remains a relatively lengthy one with eligibility to apply on economic grounds being based largely on the particular candidate’s age, education, work experience, language proficiency, and whether or not they hold a valid job offer. As such, long-term or permanent relocation of American citizens to Canada will not be immediate, and is unlikely to occur en masse.

From a corporate immigration perspective, the changes proposed by Trump are likely to impact businesses not only in the US, but also those in Canada and particularly those engaging in cross-border business.  As noted above, Trump’s platform has been highly protectionist, and he has spoken at length pledging to remove the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), if the document is not amended to his liking. It remains to be seen how Trump and his advisors will attempt to amend NAFTA, however any amendments will first need to be agreed to by all member nations, which will not be a quick or seamless process. If the United States eventually removes itself from NAFTA, however, cross-border travel and corporate global mobility programs will be deeply impacted, as such a decision will affect millions of citizens from Canada, the United States and Mexico, who currently utilize the NAFTA work permit category to move seamlessly across borders to work  in NAFTA member countries.

Recommendations

In light of Trump’s win, we recommend that employers assess their global mobility program and long-term foreign worker needs both in the US and Canada, and budget for potential increases to wage requirements and processing times accordingly.  Companies who employ or are intending to employ foreign nationals under the NAFTA may also wish to consider applying now for their NAFTA-based work permits for the maximum work permit duration to avoid disruption to business services, and ensuring their employees continue to take advantage of working in NAFTA member countries while NAFTA remains in effect.

For more information on the President-elect’s immigration platform, please read our Insight.

For questions relating to immigrating to Canada or the US, please contact PwC Law LLP.

Please note that PwC Law does not endorse any specific political opinions or views.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

Electronic Travel Authorization: Short-term measure for dual Canadian citizens introduced

Posted by Immigration Law Team|Canada Immigration
Nov 16
9


In brief

As of November 10, 2016, dual Canadian citizens will need a Canadian passport to board their flight to Canada, with the exception of American-Canadian dual citizens. However, under a newly-introduced short-term measure, available until January 31, 2017, qualifying dual Canadian citizens may apply for a special authorization to travel with their valid non-Canadian passports.

Background

As discussed in our previous client alert, the Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) requirement leniency period comes to an end on November 10, 2016.  This means all visa-exempt travellers, except U.S. citizens, will need to obtain an eTA in order to fly to or transit through Canada. Dual Canadian citizens cannot obtain an eTA, and instead must obtain a Canadian passport. That being said, American-Canadian dual citizens need not obtain a Canadian passport to fly to Canada and can enter Canada with their U.S. passport, as long as they meet certain basic requirements to enter Canada.

Impact

The newly introduced short-term measure, available until January 31, 2017, affects all other dual Canadian citizens.  It will allow eligible dual Canadian citizens to apply for special authorization to travel to or transit through Canada by air using their valid non-Canadian passports. This special authorization is available to dual Canadian citizens whose:

– Second citizenship is from a visa-exempt country

– Travel date to Canada is imminent (leaving in less than 10 days), and

– Canadian citizenship can be verified by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)

An individual can apply for a special authorization online via IRCC’s website. Each applicant’s information will be verified in IRCC’s electronic system to confirm Canadian citizenship. Each individual applying for a special authorization must ensure that all information is entered correctly when applying for this authorization, as mistakes in information can lead to a delay or refusal of this authorization. Without this special authorization, the individual will not be able to board their flight to Canada.

In addition, it should be noted that a special authorization is valid only for one person. If a family is travelling together, each family member will need to apply separately for their special authorization.

Once his/her application is approved, the special authorization will be valid for 4 days from the date of travel indicated in the application.

Given that applying for a Canadian passport can take time, particularly if the applicant is required to obtain proof of Canadian citizenship prior to applying for their Canadian passport, this short-term measure will help reduce travel disruptions for certain dual Canadian citizens travelling to Canada by air.

Recommendations

In advance of flying to or transiting through Canada, travellers need to be fully aware of the eTA requirements that apply to their unique situation to ensure that they do not experience issues with reaching their destination.

For further information on eTA requirements or on obtaining this special authorization, please contact a member of our team.

 

 


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

Can you have your cake and eat it too?

Posted by Sarah Adler|Canada Immigration, Permanent residence
May 16
24


I just received an interesting call from one of my colleagues regarding the intersection of Immigration and Tax matters in Canada.  The question posed was if you don’t file an income tax return in Canada based on the fact that you were a non-resident , can you still renew your permanent residence status as you have officially stated to the government that that you are not a resident of Canada.  The definition of resident for immigration purposes and tax purposes are different and one is not necessarily exclusive of the other.

On its website, the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) states that residency status for tax purposes is based on facts and circumstances and that the individual’s whole situation, including residential ties, purpose and permanence of travel in and out of Canada, and ties abroad must all be considered.   Particularly if you have been physically present in Canada for 183 days or more in the tax year with no other significant ties to Canada you may be deemed a Canadian resident for tax purposes.

For the purpose of maintaining your Canadian permanent residence (PR) card an individual is required to remain in Canada for a full two years, or 730 days, in the five year period preceding the application. Although one of the documentary requirements for renewing your PR card is your Notice of Assessment (NOA) from CRA during the relevant period, this does not preclude individuals not having filed income taxes from making a successful PR card renewal application.

If you do the math, you can see that it is possible to meet the 730 day residency requirement for a PR card renewal without triggering tax residency based on physical presence in Canada of 183 days or more in the tax year. Should an applicant be asked to complete a Residency Questionnaire during a PR card renewal application an applicant’s ties to Canada will then be under consideration and the immigration and tax policies then begin to converge.  It is important to note that the issuance of follow up Residency Questionnaire on PR card renewal application is common for all but the most straightforward of cases.

In order to qualify for Canadian citizenship, an individual must be physically present in Canada for four full years out of the previous six years, and in each qualifying year the applicant must be physically present in Canada for at least six months. As such, an individual will qualify as a tax resident when preparing to apply for Canadian citizenship.  Although the qualifying requirements for Canadian citizenship are set to change in the coming year, the new requirements will likely still trigger tax residency.

Individuals in this situation need to carefully consider which is more important to them given their particular circumstances: the tax savings or the ability to live in Canada as a permanent resident. They must then weight the risks on both sides accordingly.  In the end, trying to maintain your Canadian permanent resident status while not qualifying as a resident for tax purposes, is possible but tricky.  So maybe you can have your cake and eat it too!


Posted by Sarah Adler »

Immigration and the Economy

Posted by Sarah Adler|Canada Immigration
Apr 16
27


I always thought it would be interesting to research and write an academic article about the correlation between waves of immigration and economic cycles. Maybe when I am retired and my children are grown I’ll actually find the time to make this dream come true. Most business people probably know the final result of this research.  For the sake of immigration policy, and our unemployment rates, it would be helpful to prove and formalize what I see as an existential truth: Immigration drives economic growth.

After watching the Conservative government in Canada unfold its “Canadians First” policy over the past several years, I even more firmly believe that immigration is the key to revitalizing a slow economy. The Conservative government’s “Canadians First” policy sought to ensure that Canadians were first considered for employment positions in Canada, with the intent of reducing unemployment.  This decision seemed to be based on the premise that employers don’t want to hire Canadians, and the myth that foreign workers cost less.  The response I observed from employers is that they would much prefer to hire locally because relocating individuals from abroad is much more expensive.

The reality is that employers seek foreign workers to obtain new skill sets and to stimulate business growth in emerging markets. This results in increased employment opportunities for Canadians.  Unfortunately, the result of the “Canadians First” policy deterred business development as employers found it too difficult to obtain the skill sets they needed from abroad to build their businesses.  The result was these businesses were either established elsewhere or never started.  In my opinion the Conservative policy has further damaged the Canadian economy as opposed to reducing unemployment as intended.

As we see the new Liberal government rise to the current economic challenges in Canada, I am hopeful that our government will acknowledge the importance of immigration in establishing a healthy and growing economy.


Posted by Sarah Adler »

The best laid plans…

Posted by Sarah Adler|Global Immigration
Apr 16
18


I have recently been reading about the future of global mobility and how relocation and transfer policies can be used in new ways to support strategic business efforts, controlling expenditure, optimally using specialized skill sets in a global marketplace and developing leadership. Keys to moving forward into the new age of global talent management include well defined business strategies, high end leadership support, knowing your employee population, and access to and knowledge of mobility metrics such as who is traveling, where and when are they traveling, what is the total program expenditure, etc. This all requires careful planning and the coordination of various stakeholders.  Not an easy task and a big accomplishment when it is done well. However, when mobility intersects with immigration, the business loses control of the process and becomes subject to the political machine that can often be unpredictable and time consuming even when HR has done everything right. It’s disheartening to see all that work, planning and the expectations of the business and the individual evaporate in the spotlight of bureaucracy. This situation gives rise to social tension between outward expansion of business and governments protectionist perspectives given global security and unemployment concerns. The question is how do we manage challenging government requirements and still maintain the integrity of hard won business strategies. Immigration concerns need to be central to the mobility strategy and not be considered only after the international assignment has been finalized. Businesses and immigration service providers need to partner in the assignment planning process to ensure governmental requirements can be strategically met.  Business and service providers can also work together to establish processes that can pull business information required by the government accurately and efficiently.  This requires a robust centralized immigration system with stakeholder commitment to keeping data up to date. Service providers also need to be flexible and creative within the confines of the immigration programs. There needs to be a keen focus on the business objectives while creatively navigating the gauntlet of governmental requirements.


Posted by Sarah Adler »

Parent and Grandparent Sponsorship Program Closed

Posted by Pinaz Farzadi|Global Immigration
Jan 16
8


Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) made an announcement on January 3, 2016 that the Parent and Grandparent Program (PGP) will reopen on January 4, 2016. IRCC indicated that 5,000 new and complete applications will be accepted, and that all applications received above the limit will be returned to the applicant.

On January 7, 2016, IRCC closed the PGP as they received more than 14,000 applications. The intake of further applications is now closed, and the first 5,000 complete applications received will be placed in the inventory queue.

IRCC have stated that they are trying to increase the number of parent and grandparent sponsorship applications from 5,000 to 10,000 per year, and therefore will retain the first 10,000 complete applications.


Posted by Pinaz Farzadi »

Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program Closures and the Introduction of New Business Streams

Posted by Pinaz Farzadi|Global Immigration
Dec 15
18


The Government of Ontario recently announced that applications under the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program’s (OINP) Investor Component will no longer be accepted. All Investor Component applications received on or before October 29, 2015 will be accepted, however any applications after that date will be returned. This affects all applicants who were pursuing an OINP Investor Component.
The Government of Ontario is still accepting applications that fall under the under the Ontario Express Entry Streams, specifically the Human Capital Priorities and Ontario French Speaking Skilled Workers Stream.

Redesigned Business Streams
OINP is introducing two redesigned business streams specifically the Corporate and Entrepreneur streams. The exact dates for these programs to go live have not been issued yet, however once they are a further update will be provided.
Corporate Stream – This stream helps and supports established international corporations looking to expand into Ontario or buy an existing business.
Entrepreneur Stream – This stream supports individuals from outside of Canada who are looking to implement a new business initiative or buy an existing business in Ontario.


Posted by Pinaz Farzadi »