Monday, November 22, 2010

Canada re-opens Immigrant Investor Program

 Effective December 1, 2010, Citizenship and Immigration Canada will once again accept applications under the federal Immigrant Investor Program.
Under the new program criteria, investor applicants will need to have a personal net worth of $1.6 million, up from $800,000 under the old criteria, and make an investment of $800,000, up from the previous requirement of $400,000.
“These changes were necessary,” said Minister Kenney. “The requirements had not been increased in more than a decade and we need to keep pace with the changing economy.”
Canada’s old immigrant investor criteria were the lowest when compared to other countries with similar programs.  The new criteria now align it more closely with other immigrant-receiving countries. 
The investor program was suspended in June, in part because the high volume of applications was leading to wait times that were too long.  Raising the requirements will help reduce the flow of applications while ensuring we attract experienced businesspeople who can make a more substantial contribution to the economy. Higher personal net worth criteria mean the program is now better positioned to attract investors with valuable business links and the resources to make secondary investments in the Canadian economy. 
“Higher investment amounts mean provinces and territories will receive more investment capital to put toward job creation and economic development projects,” added the Minister. 
Canada’s Immigrant Investor Program offers several benefits to international investors, including permanent resident status up front and guaranteed repayment of the investment. 
Under Canada’s old criteria, the volume of applications submitted under the Program had grown exponentially and processing times had increased. By stopping applications between June 26, 2010, and December of this year, the government prevented further delays. Applications received on or after December 1 will be subject to the new criteria and will be processed alongside the old ones. In this way, Canada can begin to realize the benefits of the changes as soon as possible.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Canada will welcome more economic immigrants in 2010

Each year, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) sets out a plan for the number of immigrants it intends to welcome within economic, family and humanitarian immigration categories. The planned range for 2010 is 240,000 – 265,000 immigrants. CIC generally achieves the midpoint of this range. In 2010, CIC anticipates achieving the upper end of this range, allowing Canada to welcome more immigrants in the economic category than originally planned. This includes federal skilled workers and record-level numbers of provincial nominees, without reducing the number in the family or humanitarian immigration categories.

Even with higher numbers of economic immigrants, Canada still receives many more applications than can be processed in a timely way. As a result, the department is limiting the number of new applications it will consider in the federal skilled worker category every year.

“Canada will continue to welcome historically high numbers of immigrants, but we need to manage the number of new applications or risk creating new backlogs and longer processing times,” Minister Kenney said. “We have more than enough applications on hand now to fill many of our needs, and we want to be fair to those people who have been waiting the longest.”

Effective immediately, to be eligible to apply as a federal skilled worker, applicants must either have a job offer, or they must have experience in one of 29 in-demand occupations. These occupations were identified through analysis of updated labour market information and consultations with provinces, territories, stakeholders and the public.

For those applying under the occupation list, the government will limit the number of applications considered for processing to 20,000 per year as a way to better manage the supply of applications with labour market demand. Within the 20,000 limit, a maximum of 1,000 applications per occupation will be considered. The limit does not apply to applicants with a job offer.

Improvements affecting temporary foreign workers, including live-in caregivers

Ottawa, August 18, 2010 — New rules to strengthen Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program were announced today by the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.

Changes that were initially published in the Canada Gazette Part 1 on October 9, 2009 are now being implemented.

“The government is taking action to protect temporary foreign workers, including live-in caregivers, from potential abuse and exploitation,” said Minister Jason Kenney. “We owe it to them, their employers and all Canadians to ensure that the program is fair and equitable. After all, they are an essential element of Canada’s economic success.”

“These changes represent an important step. Temporary foreign workers help the Canadian economy by filling labour needs in sectors where Canadians or permanent residents are not readily available,” said Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development. “Our government is taking action to improve the integrity of the program while ensuring that these people are afforded the necessary protections.”

Highlights of the changes, which come into effect on April 1, 2011, include:

•a more rigorous assessment of the genuineness of the job offer;
•a two-year prohibition from hiring temporary foreign workers for employers who fail to meet their commitments to workers with respect to wages, working conditions and occupation; and
•a limit on the length of time a temporary foreign worker may work in Canada before returning home.

Employers seeking to hire temporary foreign workers, including live-in caregivers, will now be assessed against past compliance with program requirements before authorization can be granted. Employers found to have violated worker rights may be refused authorization to hire a foreign worker.

Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program helps address temporary labour shortages by allowing employers to hire foreign workers when sufficient numbers of Canadian workers are not readily available. Without access to temporary foreign labour, many small businesses would not be able to function and would be forced into insolvency.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Kenney tables bill to crack down on crooked immigration consultants

OTTAWA - Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is tabling new legislation to crack down on unscrupulous consultants who exploit Canada's immigration system.

The bill targets consultants who charge a fee for immigration advice, but also encourage applicants to lie or make up stories about persecution in their home countries.

"While most immigration consultants working in Canada are legitimate and ethical, it is clear that immigration fraud remains a widespread threat to the integrity of Canada's immigration system," Kenney told reporters.

Kenney says the bill would make it a crime for unauthorized people to charge such fees. It would also amend existing immigration and refugee law so that only authorized consultants, lawyers and notaries in good standing could charge immigrant fees.

The minister said he also wants to set up a new body to regulate immigration consultants and possibly replace the existing Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants.

The bill would also close a loophole that for now prevents authorities from sharing information about immigration consultants.

"Crooked immigration consultants victimize people who dream of immigrating to Canada," Kenney said.

"Worse still, there is evidence that these individuals encourage prospective immigrants to lie on their immigration applications, to concoct bogus stories about persecution when making refugee claims, or to enter into sham marriages with Canadian citizens and permanent residents."

Such abuse undermines the integrity of Canada's immigration system, Kenney said.

The government is particularly concerned about so-called "ghost" consultants who charge huge fees and deceitfully promise immigrants high-paying jobs or fast-tracked visas.
New Democrat MP Olivia Chow called the legislation a step in the right direction, but only if there are resources to enforce the law.

"For too long the Conservatives have been soft on crimes committed by fake consultants who take advantage of innocent people wanting to make Canada their new home," said Chow.

"We need a regulatory body that has integrity and commands the public trust. We need to have the muscle to enforce the regulations and protect new immigrants from being ripped off."

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants Announces New Initiatives to Combat Ghost Immigration Agents

Toronto – As part of National Immigration Protection Day the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC) announced new initiatives today to protect consumers from ghost immigration agents.

Ghost agents provide immigration services without holding the mandatory CSIC membership. They don’t have to prove their competence and they’re not accountable to anyone.
“Immigrants come to Canada because we have a reputation for protecting the vulnerable. And yet many immigrants arrive here only to be exploited by a ghost agent,” said John Ryan, CSIC Chair and Acting CEO. “Our mandate is to protect consumers of immigration consulting services through the accreditation of our members. Today we’re taking further action to protect consumers from these unscrupulous individuals.”

CSIC is taking ghost agents head-on with its national advertising campaign. The ads feature the image of a shark eating a seal, a startling reminder that ghost agents see consumers as their prey.

The ads promote CSIC’s new toll free referral line, which makes it easier than ever for immigrants to find a fully accredited Certified Canadian Immigration Consultant 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Unfortunately ghost agents have been able to thrive by exploiting legal loopholes. Today, CSIC released detailed recommendations for the Federal government that would help put ghost agents out of business.

“We’re doing our part to fight the ghost agent problem. We look forward to working with the government to put an end to the serious problem of ghost agents,” said Ryan.

The Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants is the professional regulatory body for immigration consultants in Canada. Established in 2004 it currently has more than 1600 members. CSIC’s mandate is to protect consumers of immigration consulting services. Consequently, it is responsible for ensuring the education, competency testing and the discipline of its members. CSIC also requires its members to carry errors and omissions insurance and to contribute to a compensation fund

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Government of Canada introduces special immigration measures in response to the earthquake in Haiti

Ottawa, January 16, 2010 — Canada will expedite immigration applications from Haitians with family in this country, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced today. Haitians in Canada temporarily will also be allowed to extend their stay.

“I want to express my deepest sympathy and support for the people of Haiti,” said Minister Kenney. “Canada has welcomed a large community of Haitians to this country and is working to reunite families affected by this disaster as quickly as possible. Haitian nationals who are currently in Canada will also benefit from special measures.”

Effective immediately, priority will be given to new and existing sponsorship applications from Canadian citizens, permanent residents and protected persons who have close family members in Haiti. They must, however, identify themselves as being directly and significantly affected by the current situation and notify Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). Priority consideration will also be given to pending adoption cases with the visa office in Port-au-Prince.

New sponsorship applications should have “Haiti” prominently written on the mailing envelope. Sponsors and applicants presently in Canada who have applications in process should notify the CIC Call Centre at 1-888-242-2100 (in Canada only, from 7 am to 7 pm ET Monday through Friday) or by email at to identify their existing applications, if they or the family they have sponsored have been adversely affected.

We are making an effort to restore basic services and CIC will respond on a priority basis for those in Haiti who were directly affected by the disaster. However, the Embassy of Canada has suffered significant damage as a result of the recent earthquake and services are extremely limited. The Government of Canada’s current priority is to work with its partners to provide assistance to Canadians in the area.

CIC is making arrangements to resume visa and immigration services as soon as the situation permits and we have the capacity, including opening another office in the area. As services resume at a location other than the Embassy of Canada, CIC will provide information on where people normally served by the office in Port-au-Prince should submit their questions and applications.

Also effective immediately, CIC has put in place special immigration measures for Haitian nationals who are currently in Canada. Temporary residents already in Canada may apply to extend their temporary status according to normal procedures. These applications will be considered on an expedited basis and fees associated with these applications will be waived. Those who are unable to support themselves may also apply for a work permit.

Further, all removals to Haiti have now been temporarily halted. Although normally the Government of Canada does not deport people to Haiti except in limited circumstances, this now applies in all cases.