It is said that every cloud has a silver lining, and in times like these, it is no exception. Beginning on May 6th, qualified individuals in Canada temporarily can apply for permanent residency, an important step to remaining in Canada long term and getting citizenship.
The new policy offers permanent residency to essential workers with Canadian work and education experience, in a faster program than in normal times for those who qualify. It reflects the government's recognition that such people deserve a faster and simpler path to citizenship, due to their work and education and ability to easily integrate into Canadian society through their language skills and other connections to Canada.
Ordinarily, permanent residency can be achieved through sponsorship by a family member, the Express Entry program (which uses points), running a business, and being given asylum (among other methods).
In this new program, however, temporary workers in 40 health care professions, 95 other selected essential occupations, and international students who graduated from a Canadian institution in recent years, are all eligible to apply between May 6th and November 5 of 2021. Importantly, they must not be inadmissible to Canada and be currently working with authorization in one of the designated professions, or have graduated with a recognized Canadian degree.
As well as the November deadline, there is a cap for applications (total of 90,000 for all the programs); any received afterward are not processed. This is why speed is important, as well as accuracy in meeting the requirements.
As the requirements are lengthy and the forms can be quite complex, filling out an application by yourself can be risky. Rejected application can make future applications more difficult, or even cause a loss of status with strongly negative consequences.
Even unintentional mistakes can be seen as ‘misrepresentation’ i.e. falsehoods that could ban someone from applying for many years. This is especially true with programs limited in time and amount as the currently opened stream is.
It is more important than ever to have an experienced representative that can advocate on your behalf, including writing letters, replying to immigration officer questions, and researching cases similar to your own.
Why have a will?
A will is a legal document that details your wishes for how all of your property, whether personal or real, is to be treated after you pass away (called an "estate"), and optionally funeral arrangements. When properly signed and witnessed, a good will provides peace of mind for you and your family, ensuring that there are no disputes or uncertainties about how your property is disposed of, or what your final wishes were.
Without a will, you are deemed to have died intestate, which means all of your property will be disposed of according to government regulations; this is usually a very slow and inefficient process, that will leave your loved ones with far less than they might have.
Of course, a will has to be accepted as valid in the first place in order to achieve these goals.
There are a number of requirements for a will to be valid, and they have to be met to be accepted by the courts (in a process called probate, usually required for estates) and the beneficiaries (those who will inherit the property described in the will). A will written on one's own can be disputed in a number of ways, such as by casting doubt on the writer's capacity (i.e. they were not capable of making decisions on their own, either due to a medical condition or due to emotional, financial, or other pressure from a potential beneficiary).
With a lawyer's help, a will can be both detailed enough and proven to be drafted with the person's true wishes in mind; a lawyer determines that there is no disability or pressure on the will writer (called a testator). A lawyer can also help you to anticipate certain scenarios that could cause a dispute; what if a person named in the will dies before the testator? Who does property go to in that case? What if the person named as executor dies, or refuses to act? A well-drafted will has alternatives for all of these situations, preventing lengthy, stressful, and expensive court battles.
It is also important for a lawyer to draft the will, as they are best informed about both recent changes to legislation and regulations (which free guides often neglect), as well as making certain that the language of the will is unambiguous and clear about the testator's wishes. A lawyer can also advise you on when you should write a new will to avoid changes in your life making it invalid. In addition, lawyers will advise you when there are more complicated issues at hand, such as if some of your property, or your beneficiaries, are in foreign jurisdictions, which may have their own laws conflicting with those of Ontario.
There are other documents that lawyers often prepare alongside wills, called Powers of Attorneys, as well as living wills. These have the same requirements of witnessing and signatures as a will, but deal with somewhat different subject matter, and will be the subject of a future blog post.
A real estate deal is often the largest transaction, whether purchase or sale, many people make in their lives, and issues in the process can give a great deal of financial and emotional stress. Obligations to the other party, to government regulators (such as land transfer taxes), financial institutions, and insurance, make it much more complex than buying and selling of other goods usually is. The process can involve a number of different professionals; realtors, mortgage brokers, home inspectors, tradespeople, tax professionals, and lawyers.
Thankfully, with an experienced lawyer's help, the process can be made much smoother and you can have far more peace of mind up to and after closing. You can make this much easier if a few basic steps are followed.
Whether you are purchasing or selling the property, be aware of the following:
Disclaimer: this information is about entering Canada in normal situations; there are currently a number of restrictions related to the current pandemic (quarantine, test requirements), in addition to the below. These may change quickly and without warning. Visit CBSA, and Transport Canada, websites for the latest up-to-date info.
In ordinary circumstances, Canada welcomes millions of visitors every year, for business, tourism, or transit to another destination. Just as with permanent immigration, however, there are strict IRCC guidelines that have to be followed from an application, to actual entry and time spent in Canada.
Some travelers do not need a visa to enter Canada, as their countries are permitted to use electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). These are non-paper, web-based applications, used by routine and regular travelers who need to enter or leave Canada repeatedly for air travel. Depending on the expiration date of the travelers passport, they may last up to five years before renewal. Note that even these trusted travelers have to satisfy CBSA requirements to be allowed entry (for more details, see this blog post.)
Ordinarily, eTAs and visas are granted for a maximum 6 month stay in Canada at a time, though a longer request may be granted if there is no reason to deny it (and with special exceptions such as super visas, which are a topic for a different post). Passport expiration is an important limitation; IRCC will not grant stays longer than a passport remains valid, which is why it is important to check the date and renew it if necessary.
When examining an application, IRCC examines for admissibility, the purpose of travel, and ties to the home country. (The below are just broad guidelines: speak to a lawyer before making an application!)
Immigration cases can be long and complex, but there are many ways to make a matter easier and faster, both for yourself, your lawyer, and your file. In this post, I will go over several DOs and DON'TS when it comes to making your matter go as smoothly as possible.
Canada shares a land border with one other country: the United States, as well as links to the rest of the world via ships and planes. Points of Entry into Canada, whether at the land border or in other countries, are governed by the Canada Border Services Agency, for both people and cargo (i.e prohibited items). In this post, I will overview the process, because entering Canada is an inevitable step for any immigrant, yet is separate from and apart from IRCC (Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada)'s purview.
When someone arrives at a border, CBSA officials can ask questions of them, search their vehicles, luggage, or electronic devices, in order to look for any inconsistencies in a person's story. As they have the discretion to deny a person entry irrespective of whether they were given permission by IRCC, the importance of telling them the truth is absolutely vital. Although regular travelers to Canada, and those entering from the United States, can bypass much of this process upon certain applications, entering Canada is never a casual matter.
For non-citizens, entry is generally more stringent than for citizens, as a Canadian passport gives . Temporary visitors have to convince an officer that the reasons for their entry match their approved visa. Someone entering Canada on a study permit, for example, has to convince the border agent that they are in fact going to study, with evidence such an invitation from the school, proof of tuition payment, housing papers, etc. Much of this information should already be available from the original application, but having it at in an organized package during a crossing will make the process much simpler and easier.
As your lawyer, I will create a Port of Entry package tailored to your specific needs. For people in more complex situations, such as asylum seekers, those who have been previously refused entry to Canada, or with a criminal conviction in their past, the legal ramifications of anything they disclose at the border can be very serious, and it is especially important to have the backing of experienced counsel, both in preparing for any interview with CBSA officers, and to provide relevant legal authorities, including guidelines, regulations, and laws, to increase their chances of being allowed in.
Citizenship is the final status obtained after an (often very long) process. With it come the rights and privileges of voting in Canadian elections, coming and going from Canada at will with a Canadian passport, and being able to work in certain government/classified positions, as well as being able to sponsor others to come to Canada. Unlike in many other countries, citizenship can be granted by no more than being born within the country's borders (with certain exceptions, such as diplomatic missions). Nearly a quarter of the Canadian population is foreign born, and they acquired citizenship after a thorough process of evaluation by the government.
A key portion of the application is the residency requirement, derived from Citizenship Act regulations. The requirement is that an application maintain their residency in Canada for a total of three years (1095) days minimum in the five years before applying. Importantly, these are not required to be consecutive times, only total. There are exceptions to strict physical presence, such as children going on a trip with parents, travel as part of employment, or visiting relatives. However, determining whether an exception applies in certain situations can be tricky, which is why having a lawyer's assistance for citizenship applications is vital.
A permanent resident must show evidence of their living in Canada, including old addresses, proof of any travel history outside Canada (from passports), references from landlords, former employers, or others who can verify the information in the application. Contradictory information could result in delays, or even a rejection at worst. This is why it is important to gather and retain information, to save time during the application process. It can then be a simple matter of adding up the days and knowing for certain you are eligible at the time you apply.
Rejected citizenship applications can only be challenged in Federal Court, which is both time-consuming and expensive; this is why it is so important to have a strong application to start with.
Even after all of the above, and the application is approved, an applicant needs to pass the citizenship test (on subjects including Canadian history, geography, and politics), before their citizenship certificate is approved (and with it the ability to obtain a Canadian passport or register to vote).
This is just a brief overview of the complexities of citizenship law. Adopted children, residents outside Canada with parents born before certain dates, and other exceptions have been the subject of litigation too detailed to go over in this space. In future posts, I will discuss some of these issues further.
In this post, I will discuss the basic tenets of Canadian immigration law, specifically the basic tenets of the current system.
Although Canada has a reputation for being an open and welcoming country to immigrants from all over the world, as anyone who attempts to navigate the system soon discovers, the reality is far more complex. Historically, Canada has been open to immigration from some regions and closed to others, although the system is nominally more equitable today. Because the federal government is given purview over immigration by the Canadian constitution (primarily through two agencies, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), its policy priorities determine how easy or difficult any potential immigration route will be. As these priorities change with different elected governments, as well, making immigration policies to satisfy their political constituents, and even from month to month or week to week, in programs such as Express Entry, making any predictions about whether an application will be accepted or rejected is never a good idea.
One of the foundations of modern immigration is the concept of status. Everyone on Earth is divided, by immigration authorities, into various groups. These include Canadian citizens, permanent residents and foreign nationals (such as visitors, workers, diplomats, refugee claimants, asylum seekers, and others). Status is gained both by simple chance (where you are born and who your parents are) as well as active work to fulfill certain requirements. Different statuses give different rights and privileges, and some can be lost depending on personal conduct, government policy, or court decisions.
Anyone who enters Canada has a status, based on the evidence provided to the government. Sometimes this is permanent, based on employment (such as foreign diplomats, who are treated differently from other foreign nationals), other times it is temporary, with a set expiration date, for foreign workers or students
These statuses can be confusing, especially when they overlap with dates such as passport expirations, work or study terms, or urgent travel needs. Government requirements can change without warning, processing fees can be increased (or occasionally decreased), forms can be updated, and new court decisions can make a case easier or more difficult to meet. Communications from IRCC may be lacking or ambiguous, with requests for additional information catching applicants off guard. Finally, external factors out of any government's control can shut borders down, such as the health crisis currently affecting the world as of the time of this writing.
All of these potential pitfalls highlight the need for a lawyer or other immigration professional to assist you. When it comes to immigration, even a seemingly 'simple' application or request can be rejected, causing problems later on. As a lawyer, I can assist with an immigration matter in the following ways:
Welcome to my blog! This space will be used by me to provide general legal information in my practice areas, to help readers understand their many complexities in an accessible way. The information is for public purposes only, as a general reference. My own background gives me a broad range of knowledge, but as everyone's case is different, important personal legal decisions should never be made without a lawyer's advice. All of the sources for blog posts are open and accessible and can be verified independently.
As the law is constantly in flux, information will be up to date as of the time of posting. Posts are sorted into categories for ease of navigation, but keep the date in mind when reading older posts or browsing the archives. Posts may be updated when relevant, but this is not guaranteed for all topics.