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Sponsorship for foreign spouses gets tougher

Canadian citizens applying to sponsor their foreign spouses will be hit hard by the government’s doubling of processing time due to a backlog of applications.

Applicants in Canada will now have to wait 11 months, up from six months, to get past the first stage, which, if approved, will let the foreign spouse work in Canada and access health care while phase two is being finalized.

Spouses

Currently, Canada allows a foreign national married to a Canadian to apply for sponsorship in the country if they’re already here legally with valid temporary status. They also have the option to return to their homeland and apply from there, but most couples prefer the in-Canada route.

The recent unexpected delays in inland sponsorship processing have caused both emotional and financial hardships for thousands of these Canadian couples because the foreign spouses lack full status here.

It’s not known how many inland spousal applications are backlogged, but more than 8,000 new in-Canada applications (one-fifth of all spousal cases) are processed each year.

While immigration officials have said applicants are free to choose whether to apply in or outside Canada, a letter from Chris Alexander’s office obtained by the Toronto Star stated the government’s preference: “It is always in the client’s best interests to apply abroad.”

Student visas for Canada processed despite ongoing strike

students

While we are all aware of the on-going strike that is causing serious delays in processing times, we expect that less files will be processed.  However, it’s not the case when it comes to Study Permits for Canada.

The Canadian government has issued more student permits for Canada in the last three months than it did during the same time last year.

More than 45,000 international student visas for Canada were issued between May and July (the busy season for those seeking to begin studies in Canada in the fall.  Last year, the number was approximately 39,000.

Of the total number of study visa applications visa offices received, only approximately 81 per cent received a decision.  By end of July there were approximately 13,000 visa applications yet to be processed.

There are currently thousands of study permit applications in process awaiting decisions.  If you are interested in submitting a study permit to Canada, you must remember that these applications can be refused for many different reasons and hiring a representative to support and represent you on your application is crucial.

Feel free to contact me directly should you have any questions regarding the study permit application process or our representation services.

Nir Rozenberg, RCIC
Regulated Immigration Consultant – 416-665-3939

Bridging Open Work Permit for Skilled Workers

A new program has been introduced to allow skilled workers working in Canada to continue working as they wait for their permanent residence application to be processed. The new Bridging Open Work Permit will benefit skilled workers who have applied for permanent residence under one of the following Canada immigration options:
  1. Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)
  2. Canadian Experience Class (CEC)
  3. Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)
  4. Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP).
This program will allow you to receive an open work permit should your current work permit expire before you receive permanent residence in Canada. The Bridging Open Work Permit will prevent skilled workers from losing status and being unable to work in Canada if their application for permanent residence is still in process and their work permit is about to expire.
Prior to the introduction of the Bridging Open Work Permit, Canadian employers would have to submit an application for a Labour Market Opinion and the skilled worker could submit a request for extension of their work permit only if the LMO was issued. The Bridging Open Work Permit will prevent “unnecessary disruption in the lives of newcomers who are already contributing and successfully integrating into the Canadian economy,” declares Minister Kenney. Open work permits are already available in other immigration streams and this new Bridging Open Work Permit gives foreign skilled workers a chance to apply for permanent residence with less worry of processing times.
If you are a skilled worker who is currently working for a Canadian employer and interested in submitting an application for permanent residence, you may take our free assessment to see which of the Canada immigration options will best meet your needs. If you have a work permit that is close to expiring and would like more information about the Bridging Open Work Permit, you should contact us to speak to a qualified immigration consultant.
Share your opinions on the new Bridging Open Work Permit by commenting on our blog or visit us on Facebook and Twitter to share, like, comment or tweet about the Bridging Open Work Permit.

Canadian Embassy in Tel-Aviv may experience interference in operations

In light of the recent unrest in Israel, the Canadian Embassy in Tel-Aviv may experience interference in normal operations.  If you have applied for a visa to Canada through the Embassy in Tel-Aviv, you can expect processing times to increase.

Can-Am Immigration is committed to providing updated information regarding the Canadian Embassy in Tel-Aviv.  We will continue to post information and updates on this blog as the events unfold.

 

Updates to Parent and Grandparent program will reunite families faster than ever before

In an effort to reunite families in Canada, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has been working on a new plan to allow parents and grandparents to receive permanent residence in Canada. With the changes in the Parent and Grandparent (PGP) Program, the old processing time of up to 8 years will be greatly reduced and will allow acceptance of nearly 35,000 parent and grandparent applications. In response to strong complaints from Canadian residents and citizens, CIC has stepped up to fix the Parent and Grandparent Program. The very popular Parent and Grandparent Super Visa has allowed families to reunite with their loved ones for extended visits of up to two years at a time. Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney expects “to reunite up to 35,000 parents and grandparents with their families next year. This is a significant achievement and the highest number in nearly two decades.”

The plan to fix the current Parent and Grandparent Program began with some national public consultations which were started by the CIC in March of this year. A high response to an online consultation received by the CIC in May showed that many Canadians were unhappy with the current system in place for the Parent and Grandparent Program. The new 2013 Levels Plan will allow up to 25,000 parents and grandparents to enter Canada next year which is 60% more than the number of parent and grandparent acceptances in 2010.
With the introduction of the Parent and Grandparent Super Visa in December 2011, over 10,000 visas were issued to allow entrance into Canada for the parents and grandparents of Canadians. With an acceptance rate of 87 percent for the Parent and Grandparent Super Visa, it is obvious that many families are being reunited as a result of this plan. Therefore, the CIC is putting together a new, more modern Parent and Grandparent Program to allow these families to stay together in Canada by allowing parents and grandparents to apply for permanent residency. This is excellent news for Canadians with family abroad who have been waiting for years to reunite with their parents and grandparents. Minister Kenney also expects a great reduction in the backlog and wait times for parent and grandparent applications as this new plan is put into action. The new Parent and Grandparent Program is expected to launch within a year with a more modern approach to allow faster processing of parent and grandparent applications.

If you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident with family abroad, you may call our office to find out more about bringing your parent or grandparent into Canada using the Parent and Grandparent Super Visa and for more information about Canada immigration options for you and your family. Can-Am Immigration has been helping families reunite in Canada for years. Our dedicated immigration consultants can help you bring your parent or grandparent to Canada quickly and easily.

Updated Federal Skilled Worker program allows 55,300 new applications in 2013

In an attempt to clear up the backlog of Federal Skilled Worker applications, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) issued a pause on all new Federal Skilled Worker applications as of July 2, 2012. This pause prevented thousands of federal skilled workers from applying for immigration to Canada as it requires foreign workers to have a qualifying job offer or to qualify under the PhD stream.

Many actions have been taken by the government in order to fix the backlog of Federal Skilled Worker applications and allow more federal skilled workers and their families to immigrate to Canada. The Action Plan for Faster Immigration of 2008 was the first step taken by CIC to limit the number of federal skilled worker applications to only occupations which were a priority. CIC took further action to limit the federal skilled worker applications in 2010 and again in 2012 with the Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act. The final step to put a stop to the backlog problem was to place a pause on all new federal skilled worker applications.

Now, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has announced a new plan which will allow for faster processing times for federal skilled worker applications as well as the possibility of faster processing times for additional immigration programs. In an effort to attract federal skilled workers from around the globe and promote economic growth, CIC will be introducing an Expression of Interest (EOI) system for federal skilled workers. With this system in place, federal skilled workers and their families will have the option of immigrating to Canada and having their immigration applications processed in a period of 12 months or less. This is a huge improvement over the old system which made federal skilled workers wait for years, some as long as eight years, to have their applications processed.

As a result of this new immigration program and the steps taken over the last few years, the backlog of federal skilled worker applications is expected to be cleared by the end of 2014 which will allow new applications for the Federal Skilled Worker Program to be processed as they are received. This new system for processing applications – “a just in time system” – will bring between 53,500 and 55,300 Federal Skilled Workers and their families into Canada. Minister Kenney has stated that “Immigration plays a vital role in our country’s long-term prosperity. By improving our economic immigration system, we can ensure that Canada is competitive on the world stage.” Allowing federal skilled workers to enter the work field more easily and quickly will contribute to Canada’s economic growth and allow Canadian employers to fill shortages in high skill occupations. This new plan is excellent news both for Canada and for federal skilled workers wishing to immigrate to Canada.

More information regarding this new system along with the final regulatory changes and the new selection criteria for the Federal Skilled Worker Program will become available later this year.

We would like to hear from you. Tell us what you think about this new immigration system for federal skilled workers and their families. If you are a federal skilled worker or you know anyone who may benefit from this new plan, we urge you to share, tweet, like, and comment on this issue.

For more information about immigration to Canada under the Federal Skilled Worker Program, contact our office to speak with a certified immigration consultant and find out if you qualify as a federal skilled worker.

Applying for Citizenship? Processing times are slow

Current Processing times for Citizenship applications

If you submitted your application for Canadian citizenship expect to wait a really, really, really long time.  Citizenship & Immigration Canada (CIC) is currently taking approximately 19 months to complete an application for citizenship.

From the time you submit your application it will take approximately one (1) year for you to be called to write the “knowledge-of-Canada” test, also known as the citizenship test, if you require one.  After you take your citizenship test you can expect to wait another 7 months to be called for the ceremony.

If you have submitted your citizenship application and already received your acknowledgment letter you may check the status of your application online at the following link: https://services3.cic.gc.ca/ecas/?app=ecas&lang=en

Canadian immigration applications will continue to be processed

It is now official.  Canada will continue to process those Federal Skilled Worker applications submitted prior to February 27, 2008.

Over 900 applicants under the Skilled Workers’ program sued Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and Ottawa for violating their promise to process their applications in a timely fashion.  The Federal court’s decision this week ordered the Minister and the federal government to continue processing those eligible for the program.  The Minister still remains with the power to return applications of those applicants who are deemed not qualified.

CIC wanted to return all application caught in the backlog to reduce the backlog and open the space for other more recent applications based on the current immigration policies.

This is a setback for Ottawa who wanted to clear the backlog, but now cannot. The court has already ordered several applications to be finalized by October 14, 2012.

In this case, Canada did what is fair… in our opinion. We are very interested in what our readers have to say.

We appreciate you sharing this article and commenting below.

 

BREAKING NEWS! Government of Canada will return your Federal Skilled Worker immigration application if you applied before February 27, 2008

On March 22 we posted an article in which we discussed what Citizenship & Immigration Minister Jason Kenney considered would be an option to reduce the current processing times and never-ending backlog.  Today, we are continuing our discussion on this topic.

In releasing Canada’s Budget on Thursday March 29, the Department of Finance revealed that Immigration Canada intends to bar the door to applicants who submitted their Skilled Worker applications before 2008.  We were under the impression that Minister Kenney’s ‘consideration’ was only such; however we are now beginning to understand more about the “Economic Action Plan of 2012”.

In a media release the Government of Canada is “proposing to return applications and refund up to $130 million in application fees paid by certain federal skilled worker applicants who applied under previous criteria established prior to February 27, 2008”.  Canada’s commitment to transforming Canada’s immigration system to a faster and more flexible one will kill the hopes and dreams of thousands of foreign nationals who have been waiting for their applications to be processed for years, some waiting for more than 10 years.

In order to reduce long processing times and a large backlog, Citizenship & Immigration Canada introduced a new set of criteria under Bill C-50.  The changes included a yearly quota of 20,000 applications in certain preferred occupations.  A year later CIC reduced the quota to 10,000 applications per year.  As a result less applications were filed, however the large backlog still remains and those in the pipeline are and will continue to wait for an indefinite period of time.  Now we know that these applicants will never have their applications processed.  They will be returned and money they paid will be refunded.

A class-action law suit was filed against the Federal Government by several applicants which has now grown to more than 600.  We are expecting this number to continue to climb as applicants become aware of this news.

Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes:

  • Taking further actions to strengthen the immigration system to make it truly proactive, targeted, fast and efficient in a way that will sustain Canada’s economic growth and deliver prosperity for the future.
  • Announcing the Government’s intention to better align the Temporary Foreign Worker Program with labour market demands and to ensure that businesses look to the domestic labour force before accessing the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
  • Signalling the Government’s intention to support further improvements to foreign credential recognition and to work with provinces and territories to identify the next set of target occupations for inclusion, beyond 2012, under the Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications.
  • Proposing to return applications and refund up to $130 million in fees paid by certain federal skilled worker applicants who applied under previous criteria established prior to February 27, 2008.

Tell us what you think!   We want to hear from you – comment and share this article below!

Did you submit your application prior to February 27, 2008? How long have you been waiting? How do you feel that your application will never be processed?

Redesigning the Parent and Grandparent immigration program

The government of Canada has decided to redesign the parent and grandparent sponsorship immigration program.  With long processing times and an ever increasing backlog, Citizenship & Immigration Canada (CIC) is now consulting with stakeholders, including the public on how best to solve these issues.

On March 23, 2012, CIC Minister Jason Kenney announced that he will hold online consultations as well as multicity in-person meetings for public comment.  “Our government is fully committed to helping families reunite,” said Minister Kenney. “The feedback provided by Canadians will guide our government in creating a new program in which future applications will be processed quickly and backlogs will not develop. It will also help ensure the program can operate on an efficient and sustainable basis.”

In November of 2011 CIC announced the Action Plan for Faster Family Reunification.  As Phase 1 of this plan, CIC placed a temporary freeze on the parent and grandparent sponsorship program; however, they did increase the number of sponsored parents and grandparent they will approve by sixty (60) per cent to 25,000 for the 2012 immigration year.  Also part of Phase 1 was the implementation of the Parent and Grandparent Super Visa, a visa that will allow permanent residents and Canadian citizens to sponsor their parents and/or grandparents to visit Canada for two (2) years at a time, valid for up to ten (10) years.

Family reunification is extremely important for Canada and therefore a revamp of the program is necessary.  The current pause until 2014 may help to reduce the processing and wait time as well as help clear the backlog, but unless the demand for parent and grandparent sponsorship to Canada is managed, both the processing wait times and the backlog have the potential to quickly grow again to unmanageable numbers.

Different options are being considered to address  a number of questions:

  1. Should we try to ease the economic impact of parents and grandparents by, for example, requiring sponsors to be financially responsible for their parents and grandparents over the Parent and Grandparent immigration programs lifetime, applying a fee, or requiring sponsors to have a higher income?
  2. Should we redefine the eligibility of family members who accompany parents and grandparents by, perhaps, focusing on parents rather than on the siblings of sponsors, or by applying a “balance of family test” in which parents and grandparents would be required to have from half to the majority of their children living permanently in Canada?
  3. Should we emphasize a commitment to Canada on the part of sponsors by, for example, making it mandatory to be a Canadian citizen (and not just a permanent resident) in order to apply?
  4. Should we focus on special needs or exceptional cases by, for example, requiring that the parent and grandparent be widowed or have other exceptional needs?

What is your opinion on the above questions?  Do you have any recommendations for the Canadian government on how to better improve the parent and grandparent sponsorship program?

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