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.
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: