Temporary Foreign Worker Program Overhaul: What Workers Need to Know

On June 20, 2014 the Government of Canada announced major changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). These changes have significant repercussions for Canadian employers across the country as well as current and future foreign workers.

The recent TFWP overhaul affects Canadian employers. Of course, many of these changes also have a significant impact on how foreign workers obtain their work permits, as well as what will happen during and after arrival in Canada.
Following is detail of the most important changes and what they mean for current and future foreign workers in Canada.

Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs)

In most cases, Canadian employers need to obtain government approval before hiring a foreign worker. This approval comes in the form of a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), formerly known as a Labour Market Opinion (LMO).
In the eyes of the government, the responsibility for securing an LMIA rests solely with the employer in Canada. The LMIA process assesses whether the employer is eligible to hire from abroad.
If you are a foreign worker who has received a job offer in Canada, especially from a small or medium sized employer, you should be prepared for the employer to possibly question whether they want to go through this process at all.

LMIA-Based Work Permit Restrictions

In addition to increased LMIA requirements, there are now new time limits placed on work permits that require LMIAs. Individuals whose Canadian job offers are considered ‘low-wage’ under the new LMIA system (that is, individuals who will be paid less than the provincial median wage) will be issued work permits valid for no longer than one year in length. In addition, low-wage applications that were submitted before June 20, 2014 will not be processed. They will be returned with a refund of government processing fees. Employers are welcome to re-apply following the new rules for low-wage LMIAs.
The government has also implied that the maximum work permit length for ‘high-wage’ workers, who are paid a salary that meets or exceeds provincial median wages, will also be reduced. It has been reported that the maximum length will be cut to two years, although this has yet to be formally implemented.
Options remain in place to renew work permits that are set to expire, as well as to transition from temporary worker status to permanent resident status.
Moratorium Lifted for Food Service Work Permits
On April 24, 2014, the government announced a moratorium on LMIA and work permit issuances for certain occupations in the food services sector. As ofJune 20, this moratorium has been lifted and workers in the food sector may once again apply for work authorization.

LMIA-Exempt Work Permits

Work permits that do not require LMIA approval are now known as ‘International Mobility Programs’.
Certain work permits are LMIA-exempt but remain tied to a specific employer. These sorts of permits most commonly pertain to individuals applying under the NAFTA Program and the Intra-Company Transfer Program.
Currently, individuals are able to apply for their LMIA-exempt work permit once they obtain a job offer from a Canadian employer. In the future (date unknown), Canadian employers will be required to submit their job offers for approval to Citizenship and Immigration Canada before the foreign worker can apply for the work permit. Employers will be required to pay a $230 processing fee to have their job offer evaluated.
The foreign worker must still pay the standard $155 work permit application fee when submitting an application.

Open Work Permit Fees

In the future (date unknown), recipients of Open Work Permits will be required to pay a $100 ‘privilege fee’ in addition to the standard application fee of $155. Individuals who are eligible for open work permits include the spouses of foreign workers and students in Canada as well as participants in certain work exchange programs.
All new fees will help to cover government services such as work permit processing and employer compliance inspections.

Working in Canada Today

It is important to note that individuals who are currently in Canada on a work permit will not see any changes made to their current permits. However, any requests to renew or extend their work permits will be subject to the new rules. ——————————————————————————————-
One of our licensed immigration consultants can speak with you in person, online or on the phone about your unique immigration situation and give you a breakdown of your options.
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Big changes to the Canadian Foreign Worker Program – In Detail

navigating-temp-foreign-worker-programImproving Clarity, Transparency and Accountability of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program

To offer greater clarity and transparency, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) is being re-organized into two distinct programs (TFWP and IMP). This will reduce confusion and better reflect the major differences between the various streams.

On Friday, June 20, 2014 a significant overhaul of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program was announced at a lengthy media conference with both Minister of Employment and Social Development Jason Kenney and CIC Minister Chris Alexander presiding.

Background to Changes

The Ministers’ announcements come after what has been a long and grueling controversy surrounding the Program and its administration. In particular, there have been noted employers in the news as of late whose employment practices have been called into question. Stories of replacing Canadian workers with temporary foreign workers to employer abuses in terms of promises of wages and accommodation for their foreign workers have plagued the evening news.

With the new changes that have been made, the Government hopes to strike the right balance between ensuring that the TFWP is flexible enough to respond to Canada’s labour shortages while also protecting the rights of both temporary foreign workers and Canadian citizens.

TFWP Going Forward

The TFWP will now refer to only those streams under which foreign workers enter Canada at the request of employers following approval through a new Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). The new International Mobility Programs (IMP) will include those streams in which foreign nationals are not subject to an LMIA, and whose primary objective is to advance Canada’s broad economic and cultural national interest, rather than filling particular jobs. These new categories will improve accountability, with Employment and Social Development Canada being the lead department for the TFWP, and Citizenship and Immigration Canada the lead department for the IMP.

Temporary Foreign Worker Program Objective:
Last resort for employers to fill jobs for which qualified Canadians are not available

International Mobility Programs Objective:
To advance Canada’s broad economic and cultural national interest

Based on employer demand to fill specific jobs Not based on employer demand
Unilateral and discretionary Base largely on multilateral/bilateral agreements with other countries (e.g. NAFTA, GATS)
Employer must pass Labour Market Impact Assessment (formerly LMO) No Labour Market Impact Assessment required
Lead department ESDC Lead department CIC
No reciprocity Based largely on reciprocity
Employer-specific work permits (TFWs tied to one employer) Generally open permits (participants have greater mobility)
Majority are low-skilled (e.g. farm workers) Majority are high skill / high wage
Last and limited resort because no Canadians are available Workers & reciprocity are deemed to be in the national economic and cultural interest
Main source countries are developing countries Main source countries are highly developed

In the interest of greater transparency and accountability, data for the TFWP and IMP have been re-organized so that statistics on the two distinct programs can be accurately tracked going back 10 years. Of the 221,273 foreign nationals entering Canada in 2013, 62 percent (137,533) came in under the IMP, the other 38 percent, or (83,740), came in under the TFWP.

Using Wage Instead of National Occupation Codes

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) will now be administered based on wage instead of the National Occupational Classification (NOC). The Government has found that Wage is a more objective and accurate reflection of skill level and labour need in a given area. Temporary foreign workers being paid under the provincial/territorial median wage will be considered low-wage, while those being paid at or above will be considered high-wage.

Median Hourly Wages by Province/Territory

Province/Territory

Wage ($/hr)

Newfoundland and Labrador $ 20.19
Prince Edward Island $ 17.26
Nova Scotia $ 18.00
New Brunswick $ 17.79
Quebec $ 20.00
Ontario $ 21.00
Manitoba $ 19.00
Saskatchewan $ 21.63
Alberta $ 24.23
British Columbia $ 21.79
Yukon $ 27.93
Northwest Territories $ 32.53
Nunavut $ 29.96

Source: Labour Force Survey, 2013

The primary categories under the new TFWP

Under the new TFWP, there will be a priority focus on the following occupational streams:

High-wage:positions at or above the provincial/territorial median wage; examples of high-wage occupations include managerial, scientific, professional and technical positions as well as the skilled trades.

Low-wage:positions below the provincial/territorial median wage; examples of low-wage occupations include general labourers, food counter attendants, and sales and service personnel.

Primary Agricultural Streamincludes positions related to on-farm primary agriculture such as general farm workers, nursery and greenhouse workers, feed lot workers and harvesting labourers, including under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program, which enables the entry of foreign workers from Mexico and a number of Caribbean countries to meet the temporary, seasonal needs of agricultural producers.

Highest-demand, highest-paid or shortest-duration: Labour Market Impact Assessments for in-demand occupations (skilled trades), highly paid occupations (top 10%) or short-duration (120 days or less) entries will be provided within a 10 business day service standard. As for all requests to hire temporary foreign workers, LMIAs would only be granted after a rigorous review of all of the elements of the employer’s application in each of these cases.

Live-in Caregiver Programno change.

New Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) Snapshot

The labour market test that allows employers to bring temporary foreign workers to Canada is being transformed from a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) to a new Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), a process that is more comprehensive and rigorous. Employers must provide additional information, including the number of Canadians that applied for their available job, the number of Canadians the employer interviewed, and explain why those Canadians were not hired. Employers must now also attest they are aware of the rule that Canadians cannot be laid-off or have their hours reduced at a worksite that employs temporary foreign workers.

New and better sources of labour market information will be used to determine if there are Canadians who could fill these positions.

LMIAs are conducted and processed by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). ESDC will refuse to process applications when there are concerns that temporary foreign workers may or will have a significant negative effect on the Canadian labour market.

Current numbers and statistics show that the TFWP is no longer being used as it was intended to be used — as a last and limited resort to allow employers to bring foreign workers to Canada on a temporary basis to fill jobs for which qualified Canadians are not available. The reforms are being implemented to end the growing practice of employers building their business model on access to the TFWP.

Accordingly, the Government of Canada is introducing a cap to limit the proportion of low-wage temporary foreign workers that a business can employ. The cap will significantly restrict access to the TFWP, while ensuring that Canadians are always considered first for available jobs, reducing employer reliance on the program and increasing wages offered to Canadians. It is expected that this measure alone will nearly cut in half the number of low-wage temporary foreign workers once fully implemented.

Employers with 10 or more employees will be subject to a cap of 10 percent on the proportion of their workforce that can consist of low-wage temporary foreign workers. This cap will be applied per worksite of an employer and is based on total hours worked at that worksite. To provide employers time to transition and adjust to this new cap, it will be phased in over the next couple of years.

Effective immediately, employers that are applying for a new LMIA will be limited at 30 percent or frozen at their current level, whichever is lower. This transition measure will be further reduced to 20 percent beginning July 1, 2015 and reduced again to 10 percent on July 1, 2016. The Government may consider lowering the cap further in the future. Temporary foreign workers currently working at work sites over the cap will be allowed to continue working at those sites until their existing work permits expire.

The caps will ensures that large employers with multiple locations cannot be over their limit for low-wage temporary foreign workers at any one of their locations. For example, a large employer with an overall national workforce comprised of 5 percent temporary foreign workers cannot justify bringing in larger volumes of foreign workers at specific locations and having the temporary foreign worker staff at those locations exceed the cap.

The cap sends an important message—temporary foreign workers cannot be used as a business model and employers must do more to recruit, hire and train Canadians. This measure will help drive down the overall number of low-wage temporary foreign workers in Canada and end the distortion in the labour market caused by their prevalence in some sectors and regions.

Refusing Applications in Areas of High Unemployment

Effective immediately, the Government will begin the process of refusal of certain Labour Market Impact Assessment applications in the Accommodation, Food Services and Retail Trade sectors. Specifically, any applications for positions that require little or no education or training will not be processed in economic regions with an unemployment rate at or above 6%.

Reducing the Duration of Work Permits set out in Labour Market Impact Assessments

Effective immediately, the duration of work permits set out in Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) will be limited to a maximum of one year for all low-wage positions, rather than the 2 year duration that existed previously. Employers of low-wage temporary foreign workers must reapply every year for an LMIA, better-accommodating for changes in labour market conditions that might have occurred.

Reducing the Length of Time a Temporary Foreign Worker can Work in Canada

The TFWP is to be used as a last and limited resort, and to encourage employers to make even greater efforts to ensure foreign workers are coming in on a truly temporary basis and that Employers are encouraged to hire and train Canadian workers before seeking temporary foreign workers. In order to facilitate this transition, the Government will reduce how long a temporary foreign worker in the low-wage stream can work in Canada. This measure will not apply to temporary foreign workers currently in Canada on valid work permits.

Changing the Provincial/Territorial Temporary Foreign Worker Annexes

Five provincial/territorial governments (Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Yukon) currently have annexes to their immigration agreements with the Government that establish Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) exemptions in their jurisdiction. In these cases, the provinces and territories may propose LMIA exemptions for certain occupations and pilot projects involving exemptions to the LMIA process can be initiated.

Transition Plans for High-Wage Positions

Employers who want to hire temporary foreign workers in high-wage occupations will be required (with limited exceptions) to submit transition plans with their Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) application to ensure that they are taking steps to reduce their reliance on temporary foreign workers over time. This underscores the purpose of the program — which is to operate as a last and limited resort to address immediate labour needs on a temporary basis when qualified Canadians are not available.

Highest-Demand, Highest-Paid and Shortest-Duration Occupations

LMIAs for highest-demand occupations (skilled trades), highest-paid (top 10 percent) occupations or short-duration work periods (120 days or less) will now be provided within a 10-business-day service standard. As is the case for all requests to hire temporary foreign workers, LMIAs would only be granted after a rigorous review of all of the elements of the employer’s application in each of these cases. This service standard will be met by processing these applications first, not by reducing the thoroughness of these LMIAs.

Labour Market Impact Assessment Fee of $1,000

As with the proposed changes and the more rigorous measures to be implemented in the new Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), this will substantially increase the cost of delivering the program. The costs for administering the TFWP, including all of the reforms outlined above, will be borne entirely by employers who use the program, and not by Canadian citizens and tax payers. As a result, the LMIA fee is increasing from $275 to $1,000 for every temporary foreign worker position requested by an employer.

The following chart illustrates the increase of the fee over the past few years:

 Year

 Assessment Fee

1973 – 2013

 $0

July 2013

 $275

June 2014

$1,000

The fee will be evaluated on an ongoing basis, and necessary adjustments will be made to ensure that it continues to fully cover the costs of the TFWP.

Additionally, the Ministry of Employment and Social Development will be seeking the authority to impose an estimated $100 privilege fee on employers applying for LMIAs to offset the costs of Government of Canada investments in skills and job training.

Better and More Labour Market Information

The new Labour Market Impact Assessment will be made more effective with the introduction of more and better labour market information. As part of this structure, a new enhanced Job Matching Service will allow Canadians to apply directly through the Canada Job Bank for jobs that match their skills and experience. As employers applying for temporary foreign workers must post their jobs on the Job Bank website, the new Job Matching Service will be able to match unemployed Canadians with employers offering available jobs that match their skills in their region. Furthermore, program officers will be better aware of the number of potential applicants and how closely their skills align with the available job, which will allow for more rigorous assessment of LMIA applications.

Increasing the Number and Scope of Inspections

Given concerns over abuse of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), the Government is making a significant investment in its TFWP inspection regime.

Beginning in fall 2014, the Government will impose fines of up to $100,000 (depending on the severity of the offence) on employers who break the rules of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). As part of the Government’s efforts to improve the transparency and accountability of the TFWP, the Government will publicly disclose the names of employers who have been fined and the amount of that fine on the Blacklist.

In Conclusion

The changes to the TFWP serve to increase the commitment of the Canadian employer to train an already available Canadian labour force while resorting to a smaller avenue where they could hire a temporary foreign worker as a last resort, if needed, after all other avenues have been exhausted.

Employers will see that the system is set up still to facilitate a foreign worker immigration process, should it be the genuine requirement of their business. As well, there are many other streams for immigration that are available to the Employer should the TFWP not fit with their hiring goals. There still remains within the system great flexibility within the current immigration program offerings across Canada.

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One of our licensed immigration consultants can speak with you in person, online or on the phone about your unique immigration situation and give you a breakdown of your options.
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Federal Skilled Worker Program Cap/Quota Counter Released

As the federal skilled worker program applicants continue to prepare their applications for submission, one question continues to make most people anxious; “Will I have enough time to meet the quota?”

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has released a page where the counter is updated about once a week to show how many complete applications under the 50 eligible occupations have been received.

As of today, June 9, 2014, 157 applications out of 25,000 that they will accept have been received. The occupations with the highest accepted applicants are Financial and Investment Analysis (43), Computer Programmers (39) and Software Engineers (20).

Last year, the occupation to first reach the cap limit of 300 was Computer Programmer and that was reached just over 4 months after the occupations were released.

Licensed Immigration Consultant and partner at CICS Immigration, Alex Khadempour believes that there is still time: “If last year is any indication, those who are looking to apply, even in the popular occupations like computer programmers,  should still have a few months left.”

Applicants are encouraged to focus on getting their IELTS exam and their Educational Credential Assessment as they take time to be prepared.

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One of our licensed immigration consultants can speak with you in person, online or on the phone about your unique immigration situation and give you a breakdown of your options.
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The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and allegations of abuse

McDonalds and Tim Hortons employ over 9000 foreign workers. Their numbers are in par with the overall increase of foreign workers between 2006 to 2012. The number of approved foreign worker positions in accommodation and food services grew from 4,360 to 44,740.

Immigration Canada is once again being accused of failing to protect Canadian workers by allowing big fast food chains, such as McDonalds Canada to hire underpaid foreign workers in favour of Canadian workers. The new allegations also paint the grim reality of how the foreign worker program is also failing to uphold Canadian values and treat foreign workers at the same standard as Canadians.

In recent weeks, news of serious allegations of abuse of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, centering McDonalds Canada have surfaced. This on the heels of a year where the program was given negative publicity after a number of news came out accusing the program of failing to measure up to the standards that former Immigration Minister and now Employment Minister, Jason Kenney and the Canadian Government have repeatedly said it wants to uphold. In April of 2013, there was a public outcry over Royal Bank of Canada replacing a small group of Canadian staff with temporary foreign workers. Ottawa in turn, announced several measures intended to close loopholes in the program. They included temporarily suspending the accelerated labour market opinion process, which allowed approved employers to bring in foreign workers faster, and removing an option that allowed employers to pay foreign workers up to 15 per cent less than the average comparable wage in the region.

The Government of Canada has decided in the midst of these latest allegations, to launch an extensive investigation in order to determine the facts and decide whether or not actual abuse of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program has been committed by the Restaurant Industry and its employer participants. The Labour Market Opinions in this area and industry have therefore been suspended, and employers in question have been given notice of the pending investigation into the abuse of the Labour Market Opinion process.

This decision has taken many by surprise, including businesses as they decried a lack of consultation and said the move would force some employers to close shop. There are also the thousands of foreign workers whose work permits are about to expire and they are not able to apply for an extension and may be forced to leave Canada. This latest spotlight on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program has also shed light to what many see as abuse of foreign workers who receive a lower average salary than a Canadian or a permanent resident.

“I knew a shoe was going to drop, but this was both shoes. This is a far bigger reaction than what I thought,” said Dan Kelly, head of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

“In the minister’s province of Alberta many small businesses will teeter on [the brink of] survival based on this decision.”

Jason Kenney said his office will not process any new or pending labour market opinion applications in the food sector. The opinions are required before permission is granted to hire a temporary foreign worker. As well, any restaurant that has already obtained an LMO but hasn’t yet filled the position will be unable to do so.

“Abuse of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program will not be tolerated,” Kenney said in the statement.

Ian Tostenson, president of the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association, said he agreed the program needs review but that Kenney has overreacted. “There are a lot of small business people in British Columbia who are wondering what this means for them. It’s chaos. We would have really liked a heads up.”

Vancouver based Immigration Consultant and managing director of CICS Immigration Consulting Inc., Alex Khadempour, also agreed that a review of the program is needed. However, he believes a bigger issue needs to be looked at and talked about. ”Do Canadians want to continue to go towards the direction where many foreign workers, especially in certain sectors, being treated as second class? Not only are we seeing a declining working environment, including lower pay, but we are also seeing the Canadian government closing the doors on them becoming permanent residents.” His comment refers to the recent changes in the Canadian Experience Class, a permanent residency program, where food service supervisors where removed from the program.

Which Canadian Employers are directly affected by the moratorium?

To be affected by the moratorium, employers must meet 2 criteria.

The employer MUST be:

Classified under North American Industry Classification System 722, defined as establishments primarily engaged in preparing meals, snacks and beverages, to customer order, for immediate consumption on and off the premises. This subsector does not include food service activities that occur within establishments such as hotels, civic and social associations, amusement and recreation parks, and theatres. However, leased food-service locations in facilities such as hotels, shopping malls, airports and department stores are included.

AND

Currently applying for LMOs for occupations related to specific National Occupational Classification codes(NOC 2006). List of NOC codes occupations affected by the moratorium in the Food Services Sector (NAIC 722):

  • 6641 Food Counter Attendants, Kitchen Helpers and Related Occupations
  • 0631 Restaurant and Food Service Managers
  • 6212 Food Service Supervisors
  • 6453 Food and Beverage Servers
  • 6611 Cashiers
  • 6241 Chefs
  • 6242 Cooks
  • 6252 Bakers
  • 0611 Sales, Marketing and Advertising Managers
  • 0621 Retail Trade Managers
  • 0632 Accommodation Service Managers
  • 0651 Other Services Managers
  • 6211 Retail Trade Supervisors
  • 6213 Executive Housekeepers
  • 6214 Dry Cleaning and Laundry Supervisors
  • 6215 Cleaning Supervisors
  • 6216 Other Service Supervisors
  • 6221 Technical Sales Specialists – Wholesale Trade
  • 6251 Butchers, Meat Cutters and Fishmongers – Retail and Wholesale
  • 6411 Sales Representatives – Wholesale Trade (Non-Technical)
  • 6421 Retail Salespersons and Sales Clerks
  • 6451 Maîtres d’hôtel and Hosts/Hostesses
  • 6452 Bartenders
  • 6484 Other Personal Service Occupations
  • 6622 Grocery Clerks and Store Shelf Stockers
  • 6623 Other Elemental Sales Occupations
  • 6651 Security Guards and Related Occupations
  • 6661 Light Duty Cleaners
  • 6662 Specialized Cleaners
  • 6663 Janitors, Caretakers and Building Superintendents
  • 6681 Dry Cleaning and Laundry Occupations
  • 6682 Ironing, Pressing and Finishing Occupations
  • 6683 Other Elemental Service Occupations

Which Temporary Foreign Workers are affected by the moratorium?

Temporary foreign workers already in Canada who have a valid work permit issued under a Food Services Sector LMO may continue working as per their present work permit conditions.

Temporary foreign workers who have been approved for a work permit by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) but have not yet arrived in Canada will not be affected. They will remain eligible for a work permit at a port of entry, if they are otherwise admissible to Canada.

Foreign nationals who have not yet had a decision made on their work permit application will be affected. Foreign nationals who submitted their work permit application prior to the suspension will be notified that their work permit application is suspended until a final decision is made on the LMO.

Foreign nationals who apply directly at a port of entry, a visa post or inland office for a work permit after their LMO has been suspended cannot be issued a work permit based on that LMO.

What happens to a person who is currently in Canada and whose work permit from an affected occupational area is about to expire, and who was about to apply for an extension?

The LMO will have been suspended; therefore the processing of the work permit extension application will also be suspended until a final decision on the suspended LMO is made by ESDC.

When their original work permit expires, a person in this situation may have implied status if their work permit application was submitted prior to the expiry of their present work permit. This means that they will be able to remain in Canada and continue working for the same employer that appeared on their original work permit. People in this situation will continue to have implied status until a final decision is made on their work permit extension application.

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Before you start on your path, be sure that you know what to expect. We can assist you by giving you a clear picture of the immigration environment, your options and the steps to take. Once you have a better understanding, then you can decide whether you want to hire our team to handle your full application.

One of our licensed immigration consultants can speak with you in person, online or on the phone about your unique immigration situation and to give you a breakdown of your options.

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Program that speeds up visas for Mexicans traveling to Canada becomes permanent

Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced on May 12, 2014 that there will be policy changes coming that will make it easier for Mexican citizens to travel and visit Canada. The Minister was quoted in saying:

“Our government is opening the door to economic growth while protecting the integrity of Canada’s immigration system. By making the CAN+ program permanent, our government is making it easier and faster for Mexican travelers to come to Canada to do business, visit family or friends, or bolster Canada’s tourism industry. This will further strengthen relations with our valued NAFTA partner and will help foster economic growth in both our countries.”

Chris Alexander, Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister

Under the CAN+ program, Mexican nationals who have travelled to Canada or the United States within the last 10 years will be eligible for expedited visa processing. By fast-tracking a large number of applications, CAN+ is freeing up visa officers to work on other more complex cases. The program intends to improve overall processing times for all Mexican travellers who will see their visas processed in 10 days or less.

The Minister of CIC highlighted how the government wishes to increase legitimate trade and travel to Canada from the region. The success of the Canada’s Multiple-Entry Visa (MEV) program is another example of ways the government is providing fast and convenient options for travellers wishing to visit Canada. In April 2014 alone, more than 95,000 MEVs, which allow visitors to come and go from Canada for six months at a time for up to 10 years, were issued to individuals coming to Canada on vacation or to spend time with family.

Canada seeks to strengthen ties with Mexico, its NAFTA partner:

More than 2 million Canadians visit Mexico each year. Whereas, historically, the number of Mexicans traveling to Canada has been significantly lower. However, that has been changing and Canada’s close tourism ties with Mexico continue to grow with more than 34,000 visitor visas, study and work permits issued to Mexican visitors, students and workers between January and April 2014; a 20 percent increase from the same period in 2013.

The CAN+ program will speed visa processing for an expected 50 percent or more Mexican travellers to Canada.

A six-month pilot of the CAN+ program delivered excellent results: visas were issued in seven days or less with an approval rate of over 95 percent.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada also offers three “Express” programs that help Mexican business people, tourist groups and students come to Canada faster:

1. Business Express expedites business travel from Mexico with visas issued within days with a near-perfect approval rate for those registered in the program.

2. Travel Express offers a fast, simplified visa application process for tourists who use travel agencies registered with the Canadian Embassy.

3. Mexican Student Pilot fast-tracks the processing of study permits with a near-perfect approval rate for those who study at participating Canadian educational institutions.

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Before you start on your path, be sure that you know what to expect. We can assist you by giving you a clear picture of the immigration environment, your options and the steps to take. Once you have a better understanding, then you can decide whether you want to hire our team to handle your full application.

One of our licensed immigration consultants can speak with you in person, online or on the phone about your unique immigration situation and to give you a breakdown of your options.

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Breaking News: New 2014 Occupation List and Cap limits for Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) and Canadian Experience Class (CEC)

Breaking News FSWP 2014April 23, 2014 —  Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander today announced new measures in key economic immigration programs to prepare for next year’s launch of Express Entry, Canada’s new active recruitment model.

To prepare for the launch of Express Entry in 2015, Citizenship and Immigration Canada will begin accepting applications under new caps for the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) and Canadian Experience Class (CEC), starting May 1, 2014. These measures will ensure a steady supply of skilled workers who are settling in Canada permanently and helping to supplement the Canadian workforce in areas where there are skills shortages.

Federal Skilled Worker Program:

Federal Skilled Workers are chosen as permanent residents based on their ability to prosper in Canada. They are assessed according to a selection grid made up of six factors, including language, education, work experience, etc.

  • Overall cap of 25,000 applications in eligible occupations stream
  • Cap of 500 applications for PhD eligibility stream
  • No limit on applicants who have a valid job offer from a Canadian employer
  • Sub-caps of 1,000 applications for each of the 50 eligible occupations below (their 2011 National Occupational Classification (NOC) code is included in brackets):
  1. Senior managers – financial, communications and other business services (0013)
  2. Senior managers – trade, broadcasting and other services, n.e.c. (0015)
  3. Financial managers (0111)
  4. Human resources managers (0112)
  5. Purchasing managers (0113)
  6. Insurance, real estate and financial brokerage managers (0121)
  7. Managers in health care (0311)
  8. Construction managers (0711)
  9. Home building and renovation managers (0712)
  10. Managers in natural resources production and fishing (0811)
  11. Manufacturing managers (0911)
  12. Financial auditors and accountants (1111)
  13. Financial and investment analysts (1112)
  14. Securities agents, investment dealers and brokers (1113)
  15. Other financial officers (1114)
  16. Professional occupations in advertising, marketing and public relations (1123)
  17. Supervisors, finance and insurance office workers (1212)
  18. Property administrators (1224)
  19. Geoscientists and oceanographers (2113)
  20. Civil engineers (2131)
  21. Mechanical engineers (2132)
  22. Electrical and electronics engineers (2133)
  23. Petroleum engineers (2145)
  24. Information systems analysts and consultants (2171)
  25. Database analysts and data administrators (2172)
  26. Software engineers and designers (2173)
  27. Computer programmers and interactive media developers (2174)
  28. Mechanical engineering technologists and technicians (2232)
  29. Construction estimators (2234)
  30. Electrical and electronics engineering technologists and technicians (2241)
  31. Industrial instrument technicians and mechanics (2243)
  32. Inspectors in public and environmental health and occupational health and safety (2263)
  33. Computer network technicians (2281)
  34. Nursing co-ordinators and supervisors (3011)
  35. Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses (3012)
  36. Specialist physicians (3111)
  37. General practitioners and family physicians (3112)
  38. Dietitians and nutritionists (3132)
  39. Audiologists and speech-language pathologists (3141)
  40. Physiotherapists (3142)
  41. Occupational therapists (3143)
  42. Respiratory therapists, clinical perfusionists and cardiopulmonary technologists (3214)
  43. Medical radiation technologists (3215)
  44. Medical sonographers (3216)
  45. Licensed practical nurses (3233)
  46. Paramedical occupations (3234)
  47. University professors and lecturers (4011)
  48. Psychologists (4151)
  49. Early childhood educators and assistants (4214)
  50. Translators, terminologists and interpreters (5125)

Federal Skilled Trades Program:

This program is for people who want to become permanent residents based on being qualified in a skilled trade.

  • Overall cap of 5,000 applications
  • All 90 skilled trades from the following NOC Skill Level B groups are eligible (with sub-caps of 100 applications each):
    • Major Group 72: Industrial, electrical and construction trades;
    • Major Group 73: Maintenance and equipment operation trades;
    • Major Group 82: Supervisors and technical occupations in national resources, agriculture and related production;
    • Major Group 92: Processing, manufacturing and utilities supervisors and central control operators;
    • Minor Group 632: chefs and cooks;
    • Minor Group 633: butchers and bakers.

Canadian Experience Class:

This program is for people who already have skilled work experience in Canada and want to immigrate permanently.

  • Overall cap of 8,000 applications
  • Sub-caps of 200 applications each for any NOC B occupation
  • Six ineligible occupations: administrative officers (NOC code 1221), administrative assistants (1241), accounting technicians/bookkeepers (1311), cooks (6322), food service supervisors (6311), and retail sales supervisors (6211).

The new Ministerial Instructions will also re-confirm the existing pause of applications to the federal Immigrant Investor and Entrepreneur Programs.

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Before you start on your path, be sure that you know what to expect. We can assist you by giving you a clear picture of the immigration environment, your options and the steps to take. Once you have a better understanding, then you can decide whether you want to hire our team to handle your full application.

One of our licensed immigration consultants can speak with you in person, online or on the phone about your unique immigration situation and to give you a breakdown of your options.

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Canada to make both Irish and UK temporary skilled workers a priority in 2014 through the IEC program

Ireland Canada IECIreland has had a difficult last six years. The Celtic Tiger Economy refers to the economy of the Republic of Ireland between 1995 and 2000, a period of rapid real economic growth fuelled by foreign direct investment, and a subsequent property price bubble which rendered the real economy uncompetitive. The Irish economy expanded at an average rate of 9.4% between 1995 and 2000 and continued to grow at an average rate of 5.9% during the following decade until 2008, when it fell into recession. Since 2008, many Irish youth have been looking for opportunities abroad.

Irish national youth speak good English, are well educated by world renowned universities, come highly skilled and can easily assimilate into developed economies in countries such as Canada. Traditionally, Irish Nationals have come to Canada via the IEC (International Experience Canada) Program, which has been continuously upping their quota of Irish visas extended every year. The working holiday visa under IEC has worked well in the past. The Program has served as a two year work experience open permit for foreign nationals between the ages of 18 and 30. It is understood that at the end of a working holiday visa, that the foreign national return to their home country, and be in possession of a departure ticket as well as the needed travel funds and medical insurance to ensure their stay is fully covered. A participation fee of CDN$150 is also payable at time of application.

The IEC Program – History and growth

The highly anticipated opening of the IEC Program on March 13, 2014 was capped at its maximum quota (3,850 applicants) within 7 minutes. We anticipate a second round shortly; however, it is proving challenging for applicants to successfully obtain their visa through this program as demand for the program outweighs current resource levels to run the program.

This year’s IEC Program made a further 2,500 work permits available to Irish Nationals who already have a secured job offer in Canada, and an additional 500 work permits were issued to Irish foreign nationals who were willing to do a cooperative educational program as part of their Post-Secondary studies to gain international work experience in their field. And these current quotas of work permits are expected to grow.

Canada needs highly skilled workers and wants to attract them to fill temporary skilled labour shortages specifically in the western provinces. Canada has recently renewed a commitment to Ireland to extend the open permit after several visits to Ireland by Minister of Citizenship & Immigration in 2012 and praised Irish apprenticeship programs for their certification standards. The Calgary Economic Development has just sent a delegation of 6 companies to Dublin’s Working Abroad Expo Recruitment Fair (March 22-March 30, 2014) in order to recruit skilled labour to fill Alberta’s current shortages.

Trade agreement set-up between Canada and the UK and Ireland

Canada wants to do even more to attract skilled labour from Ireland and the United Kingdom. On March 14, 2014, it was announced by CIC that a new international study will be launched, in an effort to help British and Irish tradespeople assess their skills against Canadian trades criteria, fully supported by CIC. In other words, streamlining the foreign credential recognition process for people coming from these countries is a high priority for the Canadian Government. The ACCC (Association of Canadian Community Colleges) and the UK NARIC (United Kingdom National Recognition Information Centre) have signed an agreement to work together for mutual recognition of skills, competencies and certifications. Both organizations will work with employers as part of the CIC-funded Canadian Immigrant Integration Program, which provides settlement and integration services to newcomers in Canada. Specifically, the organizations will be concentrating on the following areas of international competency which are in high demand across Canada:

  1. Heavy Duty Equipment Technician
  2. Construction Electrician
  3. Welder
  4. Carpenter
  5. Steamfitter/Pipefitter
  6. Plumber
  7. Machinist
  8. Industrial Mechanic (Millwright)
  9. Powerline Technician

As well, electronic tools are currently being developed, and UK NARIC expects to have an electronic guide published that will feature all the provincial and territorial apprenticeship authorities, which will be a “textbook” to be used by employers, workers, and trade associations in order to assess credentials quickly and fast-track the process for a foreign national to obtain their trade certification. This program intends to assist the Federal Skilled Trades Program applicants under the Federal Stream, in creating an international partnership and streamlined process of integration into the Canadian economy.

What to do if you want to immigrate to Canada

If you are currently a tradesperson from Ireland or the United Kingdom, you want to ensure that you know which program you wish to apply for to immigrate to Canada. As mentioned before, there is the IEC Program but it quickly reaches its cap, preventing further applicants from applying. If you have a job offer, you can apply for a work permit to come to Canada. If you meet the area of skills needed across Canada in the Trades, then the Federal Skilled Trades Program may be a good fit. There are other Federal Programs and Provincial Programs which also may be considered such as the Canadian Experience Class Program, the Provincial Nominee Programs, as well as special projects (Pilot Projects). Before applying, consider talking to either a trusted advisor or an immigration expert that can advise you on the best program for you. It is vital to do your research into Canadian culture, to look at foreign credential recognition as the first order of business, and to consider the expense of immigrating to a new country as a temporary worker. For skilled workers already in Canada, you will want to ensure that you have started additional applications working towards permanent residency status should you wish to stay in Canada.

Some final considerations

As the Federal Government continues to develop strategies to attract temporary foreign workers and to meet the economic demands of Canadian industry, it is abundantly clear that good sources of workers are coming from Ireland and the UK due to their adaptability and skills. As the IEC Program has reached its quota since launching in March 2014, many Canadian employers may not successfully recruit their temporary workers this year. Demand is high and is only expected to grow. But again, there are other options available to these employers and workers, should they wish to avail of other immigration programs on offer in either of the Federal or Provincial programs. And CICS Immigration can certainly help in assessing your eligibility in looking at other immigration avenues to pursue.

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One of our licensed immigration consultants can speak with you in person, online or on the phone about your unique immigration situation and to give you a breakdown of your options.

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The new Canadian Citizenship rules for Newcomers – What You Need to Know

On February 6, 2014, Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander unveiled the first comprehensive reforms to the Citizenship Act since 1977. With the unveiling of Bill C-24, the Strengthening of Canadian Citizenship Act, the Canadian Government purports that the new Bill will protect the value of Canadian citizenship while creating a faster and more efficient Citizenship process for those immigrants who have applied to become a Canadian citizen.

citizenship oath

Soon to be Canadians come together for the Citizenship Oath Ceremony.

Bill C-24 introduces some key changes to the way in which newcomers become citizens. Newcomers will be expected to show that they have established strong ties to Canada and residence requirements will ensure that the applicant has resided physically in Canada for the duration that is specified in the Act (physical presence of 4 out of 6 years or 1,460 days) with a signed declaration of “intent to reside” in Canada. Permanent Residents will be required to be present in Canada for 183 days each year for four out of six years. Under the new system, there will be one step instead of three and applicants can expect a decision to be made within a year. Changes and measures that will be put into place are expected to reduce the backlog of applicants by 80% and streamline the process to be more simple and efficient. Citizenship will automatically be extended to those with strong ties to Canada who were born before 1947 and their children born in the first generation outside of Canada (“Lost Canadians”).

More language requirements will be implemented as well as having to pass a knowledge test. Support for studying for these two requirements can be found at local immigrant settlement services agencies across Canada. Many have online systems that can help new immigrants study for the exams, and there’s even an app that can be downloaded here.

Fees for Canadian Citizenship will be expected to rise, as the cost that is normally associated with Tax Payers footing the bill will be alleviated. Application fees will then reflect actual costs associated with becoming a citizen of Canada. As well, the Government intends to implement stronger measures to protect Canada against citizenship fraud, and will be imposing harsher penalties for misrepresentation (max $100,000 or 5 years).

Under the current system, a Permanent Resident of Canada must live in Canada for three out of four years to be eligible to apply for Citizenship. Under the proposed new changes, that four year period of waiting will be increased to four out of six years and will eliminate any temporary visa period when calculating time spent in Canada.

CIC stated in the Toronto Star on March 3, 2014 “This change would create a level playing field for all citizenship applicants and demonstrate their permanent commitment to Canada,” said CIC spokesman Remi Lariviere. “While it may take someone . . . longer to meet the residence requirement under the new rules, the changes are designed to deepen their attachment to Canada.”

New decision-making model for citizenship applications

The old system was a three-step process whereby a Citizenship Officer prepared applications for citizenship to be presented to a judge and then accepted or rejected. In the new system, the Citizenship Officer will be able to make a decision on citizenship on behalf of the Minister. This one-step process is considered a way of reducing red-tape and speeding up the process for obtaining citizenship.

Increasing Citizenship Fees

As of February 6, 2014, the fee for Canadian citizenship for adult applications for a grant of citizenship, resumptions and adult adoptions increased from $100 to $300. The tax savings on Citizenship costs will be passed on to Canadian citizens with new immigrants picking up the tab for the actual costs of processing. The $100 Right of Citizenship Fee remains the same for successful applicants. Fees for applications for a grant or resumption of citizenship for a minor child of a Canadian citizen are exempt from this change.

Previously, new immigrants only paid 20% of the cost of obtaining Canadian Citizenship and will now be responsible for shouldering the entire cost of the process rather than a shared structure supported by tax dollars. As Canada has had the highest level of immigration worldwide, resources in Citizenship have not been enough to sustain the level of applications for Citizenship and so these changes will help minimize the Citizenship backlog that tends to develop from over demand.

Discretionary grants

Under the old system, the Governor in Council could under certain circumstances of hardship or as a reward of an exceptional value to Canada, direct the Minister to grant Citizenship. Under the new proposed changes, the GIC no longer has this power and the discretion will fall completely under the current CIC Minister of Citizenship & Immigration.

Judicial Review and Appeal Process

Under the new proposed changes, access to the higher courts would be given to all applicants. Currently, an appeal of a judge’s decision can go to the Federal Court only (and cannot go to Supreme Court). As well any decisions made by Citizenship Officers who have the authority to decide on Citizenship can be open to judicial review and challenged in a higher court.

Proposed changes would give access to higher courts for all applicants. CIC proposes to amend the review process for decisions on citizenship applications. Currently, an appeal of a citizenship judge’s decision can go to the Federal Court (FC) but no higher. Decisions by citizenship officers, who have authority to decide certain cases under the Act, can be judicially reviewed and challenged in a higher court. Under a uniform review system, any decision under the Citizenship Act can be appealed as high as the Supreme Court of Canada (Canada’s highest court of appeal).

Citizenship proof

Under the current system, a citizenship certificate must be issued to each person, denoting Canadian Citizenship as proof. The new proposed changes want to move to a more flexible system of proof whereby rather than a paper copy, Citizens can prove they are Canadian citizens through electronic means.

Authority to abandon a citizenship application

Under the current Citizenship Act, there is no authority to abandon a citizenship application, especially in situations where an applicant has failed to appear for the citizenship test or an appointment with a Citizenship Officer. CIC would like new powers of authority to determine if it is appropriate that an application be abandoned if there is a ground of non-compliance or misrepresentation by the applicant. This new power of abandonment would apply to all Citizenship applications under the new Act at any stage of processing until the oath is taken. Incomplete applications can be returned to the applicant.

Minister Alexander was quoted in saying that “The Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, along with the launch of the Blueprint for Citizenship Improvements, helps improve the citizenship process by reducing backlogs and wait times. Our government is proud to table improvements to the Citizenship Act that reinforce the value of citizenship and make the process quicker and easier for new Canadians who play by the rules.” Chris Alexander, Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister.

Finally, it should be noted that a new designated body of authorized representatives will be able to give advice on Citizenship matters. And for immigration clients, this will be an important part of the process to becoming a citizen of Canada. It will be important to have a trusted advisor that can guide the citizenship process for you and represent you in the event that a Citizenship Officer denies your application for Canadian citizenship. This person can help to give the very best advice and assistance on preparing your application.

For new immigrants and permanent residents, it will be vital to begin the Citizenship process as soon as they are able to apply, and to follow the new rules as outlined in the new Citizenship Act. Activities such as developing language skills, establishing strong ties to Canada through networking, paying taxes by filing with Revenue Canada so that there is a record and ensuring to meet all residency requirements while in Canada will be critical to the success at becoming a Canadian citizen.

Immigration applications from victims of typhoon Haiyan in Philippines to be fast-tracked

A satellite shot of hurricane Haiyan

Canada’s immigration department says it is giving special consideration to Filipinos affected by typhoon Haiyan.

Immigration Minister Chris Alexander’s office says it will give priority to applications from Filipinos who are “significantly and personally affected” by the typhoon that left thousands dead last weekend.

The note also says that Filipino citizens temporarily in Canada who want to remain will be assessed in a “compassionate and flexible manner.”

The announcement comes as the Canadian military’s Disaster Assistance Response Team, or DART, heads for the hard-hit Philippine city of Iloilo.

The Canadian Forces are also helping with the deployment of a separate 12-member Canadian Red Cross field hospital.

Philippine authorities say Iloilo, one of two major cities on the island of Panay, was in the direct path of the typhoon and suffered 162 deaths and the destruction of 68,543 houses as a result.

The Canadian Experience Class program sees its first major changes

The Canadian Experience Class (CEC) has been one of the most popular economic Canadian immigration programs in the past 2 years. As of today, significant changes have been made to the program.

Canadian Experience Class continues to gain momentum as the most popular economic immigration program

Since the Conservative government came to power, Canadian immigration regulations have gone through many changes. These changes have received a mixed reaction from all sides. The government has been loud and clear that it prefers to have its new immigrants with Canadian work experience, as this would make it easier for newcomers who will likely make the most of their abilities while undergoing a more seamless social and economic transition to Canada. So far, over 25,000 have become permanent residents since the CEC program initiated in late 2008. The number of applicants becoming permanent resident through this program continues to climb every year.

Immigration Minister, Chris Alexander announced a few major changes to the program as a measure to make to make the program more ‘efficient’:

“The government is taking concrete action to reduce backlogs and processing times. By making these changes to the Canadian Experience Class, we are moving toward a more effective and efficient immigration system.”

The changes that have been published are:

Between November 9, 2013 to October 31, 2014, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will accept a maximum of 12,000 new applications under the CEC.

Because of an overrepresentation in the CEC applications received to date, the following six occupations will no longer be eligible for the CEC starting November 9, 2013:

  • cooks (NOC code 6322);
  • food service supervisors (NOC 6311);
  • administrative officers (NOC 1221);
  • administrative assistants (NOC 1241);
  • accounting technicians and bookkeepers (NOC 1311); and
  • retail sales supervisors (NOC 6211).

CIC already has a large inventory of applications in these occupations and will continue processing them to a final decision.

In addition, CIC will establish sub-caps of 200 applications each for National Occupational Classification (NOC) B occupations. These are mostly technical and administrative jobs or those in the skilled trades. NOC 0 and A (managerial and professional) occupations will not be sub-capped, but they will be subject to the overall cap of 12,000 applications.

Finally, CIC will maintain the same language criteria for applicants but will verify them upfront as of November 9, 2013. The current language requirements are Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 7 for NOC 0 and A occupations, and CLB 5 for NOC B occupations. This new measure will ensure that applicants who do not meet the minimum language requirements are screened out earlier and processing resources can be concentrated on those who are more likely to qualify.

At the same time, this is more client-friendly, as applicants who do not have the required language proficiency will have their applications returned to them along with the processing fee.