CIC News Update February 27, 2013

Immigration Direct’s blog will occasionally cover Citizenship and Immigration Canada news to keep our customers informed and knowledgeable regarding their own immigration plans.

Record Breaking Number of Visas to Indians

Canada appears to be a very popular destination for globe-trotting Indians according to new statistics released by the Canadian government.

This is of course due to the increased ease with which international citizens can apply for Canadian visas. Citizenship and Immigration Canada intend to make the country appealing to foreign visitors and to potential immigrants. Visitor to Canada

“Our government is working with industry to capitalize on this growth, to welcome even more Indian travellers and to create jobs and growth in Canada, while strengthening our relationship with our Indian visitors,” Minister of State Maxime Bernier said in a press release.

More than 130,000 visas of all different types were issued to Indians in 2012.

Immigration at Highest Level Yet

Canada’s historic rate of immigration has always been high, and nothing is different about 2012. This year over a quarter of a million immigrants were welcomed to Canada as Permanent Residents.

This is part of the government’s conscious decision to increase immigration numbers as of the past ten years.

“Immigration is a key part of the government’s plan to grow our economy, spur job creation , and ensure long-term prosperity for all Canadians,” Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney said in a Citizenship and Immigration Canada News Release.

Record Number of Foreign Students

Over 100,000 international students were granted student visas to Canada in 2012.

As part of the government’s overall plan to improve the immigration system, more students are being encouraged to come to Canada to study at one of their many fine universities.

What Should I Do to Renew My Visa?

Technically there is no such thing as visa renewal. A Permanent Resident Card can be renewed, but it is technically not a visa. Additionally, the status of Permanent Resident is more or less permanent and not subject to renewal.

However, temporary, non-immigrant visas can be extended. When you are granted a temporary visa at one of Canada’s ports of entry, the border agent will stamp your passport. Part of the stamp will tell you how long you can stay in Canada on that visa. Quebec tourism

If you would like to extend your stay in Canada, it is absolutely necessary to apply for an extension at least 30 days in advance of the last day you are allowed to be in Canada. After you file, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) may take over 30 days to process your application, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be accumulating illegal status. Rather, the CIC allows you to stay in Canada long enough to process the paperwork. If your request is accepted you can continue to stay in Canada, if it is rejected you will need to leave immediately.

With visitor visas, the visa extension process is more or less the standard procedure. However, if you wish to change your status things become slightly more difficult. If you would like to work, study or live permanently in Canada you will have to leave the country first and then apply for status at a foreign consulate.

Unfortunately, this is the only path available for those who wish to visit Canada. When you are granted a visitor visa, the CIC officer will likely ask you a series of questions to ensure that you will return to your home country.

There are two different ways to apply for visitor visa extensions: either online or in paper. Regardless of method, the cost of the application is CA$75.

PR Card Renewal Urgent

Canada’s PR Card is the document issued to Permanent Residents living in Canada as their proof of status when travelling abroad.

When Permanent Residents are preparing to travel abroad they should make sure that they have a valid passport from their home countries as well as a current PR Card.

There are some instances where you may have to travel in a hurry. If your PR Card is about to expire you will have to have it renewed. However, if there isn’t enough time you may have to ask for urgent processing from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).

The CIC suggests two different processes depending on which stage you have reached.

Canadian Permanent Resident Cards

If you haven’t sent your application yet:

This process is very similar to just simply renewing your PR Card and includes:

  • Completing the renewal application.
  • Including pertinent application documents like proof of travel and the proof of payment for your travel abroad. (Often, travel tickets complete this step perfectly.
  • Be sure to include contact information like an email address so CIC can contact you.
  • When the Package is complete, write “Urgent—Proof of Travel Included” on the front of the envelope before you submit the package.
  • Keep in mind that this process is only to be used if you are still in Canada.

If you have already sent in your application:

Be sure to check the status of your application on the CIC’s website to see how close your application is to being accepted. If it has already been accepted you will need to email the CIC in order to request urgent processing.

Outside of Canada

If you need documentation to return to Canada, but are currently abroad you will need to apply for a travel document at a Canadian consulate.

CIC News Update: Visitor Visas Reach Record Number in 2012

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced that they issued a record number of visitor visas last year.

The announcement of almost one million visas being approved was made jointly by Minister Jason Kenney and Minister Maxime Bernier in a press conference on Wednesday.

Visitor visas are temporary immigration documents that allow foreign citizens into Canada for the purpose of tourism, business trips or casual visits to friends or relatives. They are not, however, valid immigration visas and do not allow applicants to stay in Canada indefinitely. Pretty Visitor

Jason Kenney, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, is highly supportive of visitor’s visas in the role of strengthening the Canadian economy and the beneficial side effects of having so many people travel through Canada.

Minister Kenney is a strong proponent of the enforcement of legal visas and immigration and the fact that so many were approved this year further reinforce the success of this agenda.

“The number of visas issued in 2012 represents an increase of almost 40% since 2004. This steady increase over the last few years reaffirms the fact that Canada continues to be a destination of choice for visitors,” a press release from the CIC said today.

Maxime Bernier, the Minister of State, said that it was the ease and efficiency with which visitors can get visitor visas that helps so much with improving the economy.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada has made getting multiple re-entry visitor visas cheaper and easier to get in an effort to promote tourism to Canada since 2010.

New Website for Service Canada

All Canadian government websites will be updating their websites for easier readability and better access. This will include Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).

Below are some of the new features of the Service Canada website. People looking for online assistance in any of Canada’s departments can expect very similar changes on the rest of the websites.

  • “I Want to”—this section will lead you to the more popular services available on Service Canada.
  • “Top Searches”—what are people searching for on Service Canada? Here are listed the top ten internal searches.
  • “My Service Canada Account”—sign into your account for more information.Service Canada
  • “Life events”—are you having a baby? Find out what you’ll need to do with Service Canada.
  • “Featured Content”—stakeholders select certain programs that they think that clients should know about.
  • “Benefits Finder”—search for what benefits you may be eligible for!
  • The website can be toggled into French at any time by selecting “Français” in the upper right hand corner. You will also be able to access the Government homepage, Service Canada homepage and the various government departments with this button.
  • A new feature, named “the breadcrumb path” by Service Canada, is useful for backtracking through your browsing experience.

When looking for a particular service, there are several ways to search for the service that you need. Below are the several different ways that Service Canada has chosen to organize these searches.

  • By audience. Certain groups of people will be looking for certain services. See if you fit into one of these groups.
  • By subject. Browse Service Canada’s drop down list of subjects.
  • The A to Z Services Index. All government programs are alphabetized and listed here for your convenience.
  • By life event. Certain life events prompt the need for certain services. Find the one appropriate for your case there.
  • By video. Videos online help you get through necessary processes with more visual assistance.

There are many other services available on the new website, above are only some of the new features.

Can I Use My Birth Certificate to Get into Canada?

There are only a few instances where you can enter Canada with nothing but your birth certificate, and it is still recommended that you have additional documentation when you travel abroad from Canada. Official Birth Certificate

Citizens

As a citizen, you can potentially re-enter Canada with nothing more than a birth certificate. This is especially true if you are a child, because you have not yet gotten a passport.

Older Canadians, regardless of how they got their citizenship, should carry their Canadian passports with them when they travel abroad to facilitate re-entry and to ensure identification at customs.

Permanent Residents

Permanent Residents will need a few documents to re-enter Canada. The first and probably most important is the Permanent Resident Card. The PR Card is about the size of a credit card and can be used for quick interactions at customs to prove your Permanent Residency.

Generally, when you travel abroad you should carry your passport. As a Permanent Resident of Canada, you will still retain the citizenship of your home country and will carry one of their passports, this will be insufficient evidence for Canadian border control.

If you will be outside of Canada for an extended period of time, you may want to consider contacting Citizenship and Immigration Canada and securing a Travel Document to make it easier to re-enter the country. As a Permanent Resident, spending too much time outside of Canada could make the CIC think that you had abandoned your claim to live in Canada.

Foreign Residents

Foreign residents who wish to visit Canada will most likely have to obtain a visa and a passport. There are some instances where you don’t necessarily need a visa, but you certainly cannot enter Canada with a birth certificate alone.

CIC News Update: CIIP Immigration

The Canadian Immigrant Integration Program partners with schools across the world to assist immigrants in their transition to Canada.

These foreign schools train immigrants for the Federal Skilled Worker Program and Provincial Nominees Program and provide them with the necessary knowledge to succeed once in Canada as Permanent Residents. Many of these immigrants will be eligible for citizenship after a few short years.

According to a news release from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, “More than 20,000 people are arriving in Canada better prepared for the labour market, thanks to the Canadian Immigrant Integration Program.” Permanent Resident Worker

It is no secret that the Minister of Multiculturalism, the Honourable Jason Kenney, is very interested in making it easier for qualified immigrants to come to Canada. However, this is an important point that they must also be vetted by the CIC. Kenney has been particularly strict with the implementation of immigration enforcement over the past year.

The purpose of the program is to prepare immigrants with the knowledge necessary to enter the labour market in Canada. They learn how to find a job, find a place to live, develop work relationships, network and to create their own plan for their futures.

The CIC funds the Canadian Immigrant Integration Program and since 2010 has contributed $15 million dollars to the program, which is a small price to pay for the successful transition of immigrants into Canada.

Additionally, the program provides referrals to schools, jobs and regulatory agencies in the provinces to make getting a job just that much smoother.

Canada PR Validity

Permanent Resident Cards, which are also called PR cards, are one of the documents that prove that an immigrant is a Permanent Resident.

Permanent Residency is the right to live, work, travel and study within Canada at will. The status does not expire, however there are certain things that can be done to make it invalid.

Canadian Re-entry

Most of the time you will only need your PR Card if you intend to travel outside of Canada, in that case the card, which is about the size of a credit card, will simply be an identification document.

Some of the reasons that your Permanent Residency may become invalid are:

  • Extended stays outside of Canada. You must be able to spend a certain amount of days within the country in order to legally and permanently reside in Canada.
  • Criminal convictions. Canadian courts are likely to revoke your Permanent Residency if you commit serious crimes. Most crimes will likely threaten your PR validity.
  • You take back your Permanent Residency. If you file for the lapse of your Permanent Residency with the CIC, you will have to re-apply for entry into Canada because your status is no longer valid.

After a while your PR Card may expire, in which case you will have to secure a new one. Inside of Canada you will only need to mail in the renewal application and you will receive a brand new PR Card in a few months. Outside of Canada you may have to apply for a travel document or wait for a slightly longer time to get your PR Card.

Actual proof of your status in Canada is your landing document. This document is hardly ever necessary, however. Only in certain circumstances will you need it. Such as when filing for Social Insurace.

Re-Enter Canada and PR Card About to Expire

The Permanent Resident Card is the document that proves that you are allowed to re-enter Canada and is very important if you are travelling abroad.

Before you leave Canada you should first plan out carefully what your itinerary will be so that you will be able to return without your PR Card expiring. It is also advisable that you call Citizenship and Immigration Canada to make them aware that you are travelling abroad.

PR Card

If you find it unavoidable to re-enter Canada before your Permanent Residency Card expires you should visit a Canadian consulate and obtain a travel document before you try to Re-enter Canada.

If you travel outside of Canada a lot it is important to make sure that you continue to meet residency requirements or your Permanent Resident Status may be considered to be abandoned.

  • You have to have lived in Canada for at least two out of the five years you have held Permanent Residency in Canada.
  • If you travel abroad with a spouse or parent (provided you are under 22 years of age) who is a Canadian citizen you can count these days to meet the residency requirement. This means that you will also have to prove this status with either a birth certificate or a marriage certificate, whichever is more appropriate.
  • Under certain circumstances you can also claim work outside of Canada for the residency requirement provided it meets a rather detailed list of requirements itself.

As a general rule it is a good idea to ensure that your Permanent Resident Card will be valid for the duration of your trip. You can always apply for a new Permanent Resident Card outside of Canada, but this process takes significantly longer to get your card to you.

Can Canada Permanent Residents Travel to USA

Permanent Residents in Canada are allowed to travel freely throughout Canada at will, but what if they want to go to the United States?

Depending on which country you hold citizenship, traveling from Canada to the United States can be relatively easy. Permanent Residency in Canada does not necessarily make you from Canada in the eyes of the United States border service.

Canadian citizens can more or less travel across the border into America freely, Canada and America having enjoyed many decades of amicable relations.

However, Permanent Residents of Canada are not citizens of Canada, but of the country from which they originate and if they want to enter the United States that is the country that the State Department will consider.

The United States State Department is the organization concerned with foreign relations and the issuance of visas, its Canadian equivalent is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

PR Travel to US

Depending on what country’s citizenship you may have and the nature of the visa for which you are applying the procedure may vary slightly.

Permanent Residents who want to visit the US might be able to do so without a visa if they are from one of the below countries:

Andorra Australia
Austria Belgium
Brunei Czech Republic
Denmark Estonia
Finland France
Germany Greece
Hungary Iceland
Ireland Italy
Japan Latvia
Liechtenstein Lithuania
Luxembourg Malta
Monaco The Netherlands
New Zealand Norway
Portugal San Marino
Singapore Slovakia
Slovenia South Korea
Spain Sweden
Switzerland Taiwan
The United Kingdom The United Kingdom

Otherwise, Immigrants who hold Permanent Resident Cards in Canada will have to apply for a visitor visa. Visitor visas are called B-1 visas in Canada if they are for tourism or B-2 visas if the trip is for work reasons.

There are many other different visa classes for coming into the United States and it certainly is not limited to tourism or business, but it may take some time to research the right visa for you.