Canada: Employment and Social Development Canada’s updates to provincial and territorial median hourly wage impact Labour Market Impact Assessment applications

Posted by Immigration Law Team|Canada Immigration
Apr 17
6


In brief

Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) has updated provincial and territorial median hourly wages, effective April 29, 2017. These updates will determine the type of Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) an employer applies for.

Analysis

When applying for an LMIA, an employer may do so through one of two streams: 1) Stream for high-wage Positions; and 2) Stream for low-wage positions. Positions with wages at or above the median hourly wage will fall within the high-wage stream, and positions with wages below the median hourly wage will fall within the low-wage stream.

This is particularly important as each stream has different requirements. For example, subject to certain exemptions, the high-wage stream will require the employer to provide a transition plan, in which the employer undertakes to reduce its reliance on temporary foreign workers.

When applying under the low-wage stream, an employer will be subject to a cap on the number of temporary foreign workers it employs.

It is important to note that as compared to last year’s median hourly wages, only British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Yukon experienced a decrease. All other provinces and territories saw an increase in median hourly wage, while Manitoba’s remained the same.

Impact

Given that the provincial and territorial hourly median wage determines the LMIA stream an employer must apply under, ESDC’s updates may impact an employer’s ability to hire temporary foreign workers. For example, an employer who expected to apply for an LMIA through the high-wage stream may now be subject to the low-wage stream’s cap if the median wage increased in his or her particular province or territory.

For more information on ESDC’s updates to the provincial and territorial median hourly wage and applying for an LMIA, please contact PwC Law LLP.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

United States: Increased Oversight of the H-1B Category

Posted by Immigration Law Team|US Immigration
Apr 17
6


 

In brief

Three federal agencies, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice and the Department of Labor, have announced plans to provide greater oversight of the H-1B category in an effort to prevent abuses and protect US workers.

Background

The H-1B program allows US employers to temporarily hire highly skilled foreign workers in specialty occupations.  In recent years, there has been growing concern that some US employers have abused the H-1B system by choosing to hire foreign workers instead of US workers and, in some cases, replacing US workers with H-1B employees. The Immigration and Nationality Act prohibits US employers from discriminating against US workers in their hiring, firing, and recruitment efforts.

In response to this concern and in an effort to protect US workers, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Labor, have all announced plans to increase oversight and scrutiny of the H-1B program.

Impact

In an effort to protect US workers from H-1B abuses, federal agencies will undertake the following actions:

– Increase scrutiny on all H-1B petitions
– Increase site-visits at the workplaces of H-1B holders specifically focusing on the following:
* Worksites of H-1B dependent employers – companies that have 15% or more of their US workforce on H1-B visas
* Worksites of H-1B employees who work at a different location from their employer, and
* Worksites for companies that do not readily have information about their business accessible through commercially available data
– ‘Rigorously’ use existing authority to initiate investigations of H-1B violations
– Investigate and prosecute H-1B abuses by ensuring greater coordination between federal agencies
– Consider changes to the Labor Condition Application in future H-1B cycles
– Seek improvements to the H-1B program by looking at legislative changes and existing statutory authorities

In addition, USCIS has established an email address to allow people to submit tips regarding alleged H-1B violations or cases of potential H-1B fraud or abuse.

Recommendations

Employers with H-1B employees should reach out to their legal counsel to initiate a review of internal procedures and processes and ensure compliance with all H-1B rules and regulations. Companies are also encouraged  to have a site visit preparation plan in place in the  event of a site visit.

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

For further details regarding the recent H-1B announcements, or any other immigration matter, please contact a member of our team. 

 


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

United States: H-1B Visa Program Update

Posted by Immigration Law Team|US Immigration
Apr 17
6


In brief

USCIS has started to accept H-1B cap-subject petitions for Fiscal Year 2018 and is expected to remain open to such petitions until April 7, 2017, assuming the available numbers are exhausted in the initial filing period. If the H-1B filing quotas are exceeded during this initial filing period, USCIS will conduct a random lottery to determine which petitions will move forward to adjudication.  Separately, USCIS’ temporary suspension of the Premium Processing Service for all H-1B petitions becomes effective April 3, 2017.

Discussion

Starting April 3, 2017, USCIS will begin accepting H-1B cap-subject petitions for Fiscal Year 2018 (“FY2018”).  USCIS will accept up to a maximum of 65,000 petitions under the H-1B general category for FY2018. Additionally, USCIS will accept up to a maximum of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the US advanced degree exemption. The H-1B cap filing window opened April 3, 2017, and will remain open for at least five business days, until April 7, 2017.

In the event that the H-1B quotas mentioned above are exceeded, USCIS will use a computer-generated selection process, or lottery, to randomly select the petitions which will be eligible for consideration.  Before running the lottery, USCIS will complete initial intake for all filings received during the filing period of April 3, 2017, to April 7, 2017.

If a lottery is required, USCIS will first run the lottery for petitions filed under the US advanced degree category. All US advanced degree petitions that are not initially selected will become part of the random selection process for the general category. Ultimately, if an H-1B cap-subject petition is not selected through the lottery, USCIS will reject the petition, and will return the filing fees unless it is deemed a duplicate filing.

Separately, USCIS’ temporary suspension of the Premium Processing Service for all H-1B petitions, including non-cap subject petitions, becomes effective April 3, 2017.  The length of the temporary suspension has not been formally announced, and as such, it is unclear when this option will re-open for H-1B petitions.  We will continue to monitor the situation and provide further updates as they are available.  For more information on the temporary suspension of Premium Processing on H-1B petitions, please refer to our prior Alert on this topic.

Recommendations

Employers using the H-1B visa category should ensure that their petitions filed from April 3, 2017 onward do not use the Premium Processing Service, until further notice.  Additionally, employers that have filed H-1B cap-subject petitions for Fiscal Year 2018 should stay tuned for further information from USCIS regarding the total number of petitions filed, and whether a lottery will be necessary to select petitions for adjudication.

For further details on the of H-1B visa category, or on any other immigration matters, please contact a member of our team.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

Canada: Express Entry Improvements: Spring 2017

Posted by Immigration Law Team|Canada Immigration
Mar 17
31


In Brief

On March 31, 2017, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada announced planned changes to the Express Entry system, set to come into effect on June 6, 2017.

Discussion

The newly announced changes, which will be supplemented by Ministerial Instructions, will affect those candidates with strong French language skills, and those candidates with siblings in Canada.

On or after June 6, 2017, candidates with strong French language skills will receive additional bonus points under the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS):

– Candidates with NLC 7 in all four French language abilities and an English test result of CLB 4 or lower will receive an additional 15 points

– Candidates with NLC 7 in all four French language abilities and an English test result of CLB 5 or higher will receive an additional 30 points

The points previously awarded to candidates for language ability will remain unchanged.

Additionally, candidates with siblings who reside in Canada as citizens or permanent residents will receive an additional 15 points. Siblings are considered to be a person who shares a mother or father with the principal applicant or their spouse or common-law partner.

Finally, the mandatory Job Bank registration requirement, previously required for all candidates without a provincial nomination or valid job offer in Canada, will no longer be required as of June 6, 2017. However, the Job Bank will remain a valuable tool for job-seekers and employers seeking to recruit strong employment candidates.

Impact

These changes follow the recent Budget’s commitment to ensuring the system is responsive to the needs of the Canadian labour market. Through programs targeting French speaking newcomers such as the Francophone Mobility program, Canada has long recognized that French-speaking newcomers contribute to the growth, vitality and prosperity of Francophone minority communities across Canada. The new changes will boost CRS scores of French speaking candidates, increasing the likelihood they will receive an Invitation to Apply.

Further, awarding additional points to candidates with siblings in Canada will make it more likely that those candidates ultimately granted Canadian permanent residence will be successful and remain in Canada. Having a sibling in Canada has been shown to improve health and social outcomes for newcomers, by accelerating their integration into Canadian life.

For more information on the Express Entry system and obtaining permanent residence in Canada, please contact PwC Law LLP.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

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.

 


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

United States: President Trump’s Revised Travel Restriction Suspended by US Federal District Courts

Posted by Immigration Law Team|US Immigration
Mar 17
16


In brief

Federal District Court judges in Hawai’i and Maryland issued nationwide restraining orders which temporarily suspend enforcement of President Trump’s revised Executive Order, specifically Section 2(c). This section suspends entry of nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen who, on March 16, 2017 were both outside of the US and without a valid visa, and who did not have a valid visa on January 27, 2017, unless they qualify for a categorical exception or waiver. The Executive Order was scheduled to take effect today, March 16, 2017, and was to last 90 days, but is not currently enforceable due to the temporary restraining orders. However, the Department of Justice has stated its intent to appeal the rulings shortly.

Background

On January 27, 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order suspending the entry of nationals of seven countries, with limited exceptions, into the United States as immigrants and nonimmigrants for 90 days. The initial travel restriction remained in effect until February 3, 2017, when the Federal District Court in Washington issued a temporary restraining order preventing the enforcement of the travel restriction. Despite a request for a stay of the temporary restraining order, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit unanimously denied such a request, thereby making the travel restrictions unenforceable. On February 16, 2017, the Trump Administration stated that the Executive Order would be replaced with a new one.

On March 6, 2017, a new Executive Order was signed, which revoked and replaced the previous Order, and which was to become effective today, March 16, 2017. The revised Order contained several changes that were supposed to address the deficiencies of the prior Order. Despite these changes, on March 15, 2017, Federal District Courts in Hawai’i and Maryland granted temporary restraining orders with nationwide effect, preventing enforcement of the travel restriction.

On March 15, 2017, at a Make America Great Again Rally in Nashville, TN, after learning about the temporary restraining order, President Trump stated: “We’re going to fight this terrible ruling. We’re going to take our case as far as it needs to go, including all the way up to the Supreme Court.” At the March 16, 2017 Press Briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer confirmed the Department of Justice’s intention to appeal the rulings, specifically to appeal the Maryland ruling and to seek clarification of the Hawai’ian decision prior to appealing that ruling.

Recommendations

Despite the rulings issued by the Federal District Courts, affected nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen who are physically present in the US are advised not to travel out of the country at this time (so long as they hold legal status), until the situation is further resolved. Those concerned that they are only eligible for entry as a result of the temporary restraining orders should seek counsel regarding entering the US as soon as possible. Additionally, affected nationals should closely monitor the situation over the coming days and weeks, as further developments unfold.

For further details regarding the travel restriction, or any other immigration matters, please contact a member of our team.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

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.

 


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

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.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »