After U.S. President Trump signed his March 6 executive order on immigration, permanent residents who are living in Canada could face prohibition from entering the United States. Although the immigration order is currently tied up in a court challenge, speculation on its implementation in terms of its application to Canadian permanent residents remains murky.
The order, commonly referred to as a travel ban, affects Iranian, Libyan, Somali, Sudanese, Syrian and Yemeni nationals. Citizens of these countries are blocked from submitting U.S. visa applications for 90 days. Refugees from those countries are blocked from entering the United States for 120 days.
For nationals from the targeted countries who live in Canada as permanent residents, the fallout leaves more questions than answers. According to one report, those who are considered “landed immigrants” in Canada are required to apply for waivers that “may be granted on a case-by-case basis, at the discretion of a consular officer or another official from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP.)” The stipulation applies to foreign nationals in Canada who apply for visas at locations within Canada.
Among the factors in determining how the order affects Canadian permanent residents centres on consistency in terms of the application of the policy among consulates in various Canadian cities. U.S. government generosity in the cases is also a current unknown.
Compounding the confusion around the order are reassuring statements made by a Canadian official after the U.S. president issued his initial travel ban order on January 27. In response, Canada’s Immigration Minister, Ahmed Hussen, “initially assured Canadian permanent residents who held a valid U.S. visa that their travel rights should not be affected.”
Shortly thereafter, reports of CBP denials for some Canadian permanent residents to cross the border began to surface. In at least one case, a visitor visa was even canceled.
The March 6 executive order issued by President Trump came about after the administration’s decision to drop defense of the original travel ban, which included Iraq as one of the banned countries.
Canadian permanent residents who hold dual citizenship with any of the banned countries and who also possess a passport from a country not included in the travel ban are exempt from the ban.
In the wake of ongoing criticism, the Canadian government is pointing to the early results of its new Express Entry immigration program and touting the initiative as a major success story.
While critics of the new immigration program – which began on January 1st of this year – have accused the government of shifting the focus of Canada’s immigration from people to profits, the Harper government is pointing to the early results as proof the program is meeting both the needs of immigrants and Canadian businesses.
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander recently traveled to Vancouver to personally greet two of the first foreign applicants accepted under the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), respectively.
Alexander pointed to the fact that Thanikachalam Ananthakrishnan, a native of India, was accepted as a Front End Engineer under the FSWP, and Irish native Zoe Cremin has been hired under the PNP as a software engineer; Alexander said the two skilled immigrants’ permanent residency in Canada had been expedited as a result of the Express Entry program.
British Columbia (BC) is the first of Canada’s provinces to welcome an immigration applicant under the PNP, through the federal government’s Express Entry program.
The Express Entry program has long been touted by the federal government as the best way for Canada to address its immigration needs; the goal of the program is to match immigrant applicants with the evolving economic needs of the various regions in Canada. Under Express Entry, applicants submit an online application expressing their interest in permanent residency within Canada. Candidates meeting the minimum requirements are then submitted into a pool of names based upon their point score (points are awarded for various qualifications ranging from work experience to educational history and age).
The government has promised that most applicants processed under the Express Entry system will see their application completed within six months or less.
Critics of Express Entry say the plan focuses too heavily on economic factors, and overlooks Canada’s historical immigration policies that leaned heavily towards reuniting families and humanitarian concerns.
As of mid-April, the federal government reported that 6,851 Express Entry candidates had received an invitation to apply for permanent residency within Canada.
The federal government is also promoting the idea that foreign students studying within Canada are “well placed” for success under the Express Entry program due to their level of higher education, Canadian work experience, language skills and youth.
Under Express Entry, foreign students can transition to permanent residence within Canada under one of several existing immigration programs, including Canadian Experience Class, the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program or the Provincial Nominees Program.
According to the Conservative government, there are more than 22,000 individuals currently in the Express Entry “pool” of names, with candidates being considered from around the globe.
About half of the first applicants applying for permanent resident status in Canada under Express Entry, the country’s new immigration system, were already residing within the country.
That was the finding of a recent report based on information gathered as a result of a request by Canadian immigration attorney Richard Kurland. The report examined the first 775 immigrants who made it to the top echelon of the new “Express Entry” pool of applicants. Express Entry is the Canadian government’s highly touted new immigration system that is designed to attract the most qualified immigrants and match them to the country’s labor needs. The program began accepting applicants on January 1st of this year.
The data that Kurland requested indicates that about half of the first round of Express Entry accepted applicants were not recruited from offshore, but rather already residents in Canada. About 45 percent—or 346 of the accepted 775 top-tier Express Entry applicants—already resided in Canada. This would appear to undermine at least part of the government’s stated intention of replacing the previous system with Express Entry—that is, to recruit from other countries the ‘best and brightest’ skilled workers to fill job openings Canadians could not fill.
Of the remaining first round of applicants accepted under the new Express Entry program, approximately 13 percent were living in India, as well as 4.5 percent in the United Arab Emirates. The remaining percentages were from several additional countries; the Philippines and Pakistan were two of the other largest source countries for applicants. Some observers were surprised that China—which had been one of the largest sources for Canadian immigration—was not in the top tier of countries.
The Canadian government held its first Express Entry draw on January 31st of this year, and offered permanent residency to 779 applicants.
Canadian Immigration Minister Chris Alexander pointed out that “everyone who was invited to apply for permanent residence in this round of invitations already has a valid job offer, or provincial nomination, and this shows that Express Entry is working to fill Canada’s existing labour market gaps.”
The Express Entry system is a significant departure from Canada’s previous immigration system, and the government promised it would both expedite applications, as well as ensure that immigrants granted permanent residency would match the employment needs of the country. Express Entry is designed as a “point system”, wherein applicants can receive up to 1,200 points based on several factors, including elements such as employment experience, and level of education. These factors help determine whether an applicant is placed into the “pool” of applicants to be considered for permanent residence in Canada.
Among those selected, a “draw” is then held by the government to determine which applicants will be invited to apply for actual permanent residence in Canada. If an invitation or permanent residence is offered, the immigrant has 60 days to either accept or decline If the applicant doesn’t receive an invitation after a 12 month period, he or she is required to start the application process all over again.
Critics have raised many questions about what impact the new immigration system would have on Canada’s traditional focus on reuniting families and other non-economic factors when deciding who would be allowed to immigrate to the country.
Some observers, such as Kurland, believe that the Express Entry system may end up favoring temporary foreign workers—given the government’s recent tightening of rules governing temporary foreign workers, and the Canadian business community’s demand for those workers.
As of April 10th, the Canadian government had offered permanent residence to 7,776 applicants under the Express Entry program.
In keeping with its recent efforts to overhaul the country’s immigration system, the Canadian government may be considering stricter language requirements for immigrants’ spouses.
While a final decision has yet to be reached, Canada’s Immigration Minister Chris Alexander has raised the idea of stricter language requirements for immigrant spouses at consultation meetings with representatives of the immigrant communities. The stated goal of the changes, according to those in attendance, was to better ensure the integration and protection of immigrant spouses in Canada.
However, some critics of the idea are voicing concern that stricter language requirements may result in making it harder for immigrant spouses from developing countries—who speak limited English or French—to immigrate to Canada and rejoin their families. Raising additional concerns, there are also reports the government is considering requiring Canadian sponsors have a minimum income in order to be able to bring a spouse, or children, from abroad.
Alexander has held meetings with immigrant representatives from across Canada, seeking their input on how the government should move forward with reforming its immigration system, including the immigration spousal sponsorship program.
Other changes said to be under consideration by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) include new measures to deny entry to Canada to polygamists; raising the minimum age of sponsored spouses from 16 to 18; and creating incentives for self-employment for immigrant women.
Still, a spokesperson from Alexander’s office denied that any final decision on the changes had been reached, and that so far all that’s occurred is the “issue had been raised by stakeholders.”
The question of better protecting immigrant spouses has been in the forefront lately after a Canadian immigrant woman from Afghanistan was found murdered by her husband—in the same riding represented in parliament by the immigration minister.
Canada is a very welcoming country for immigrants to come to. Not only are there many different pathways to immigration, but there are also many programs designed to help immigrants start their new lives in Canada.
However, before you apply for immigration, familiarize yourself with how immigration works in Canada.
What Is Immigration?
Immigration is a specific kind of status in Canada and generally means that a person is a permanent resident.
Permanent residents of Canada have the right to live, work, study and travel throughout Canada freely for as long as they please. Most immigration programs result in permanent residency.
Temporary residency visits are not permanent and are therefore not considered a form of immigration.
How to Immigrate
The process of immigration has a few different steps:
- Find a sponsor (employer, family member or other) to support your immigration to Canada
- Apply with Citizenship and Immigration Canada for immigration
- “Land” in Canada (meaning arrive)
- Apply for your permanent resident Card!
Different Pathways to Immigration
There are many different ways to immigrate to Canada. Below are some examples.
- Canadian Experience Class – Parlay your education into a job in Canada!
- Family Sponsorship – Citizens and permanent residents of Canada can sponsor their relatives’ immigration to Canada
- Federal Skilled Worker Program – There are many jobs in high demand in Canada and if you do one of them the country might sponsor your immigration!
This is by no means a comprehensive list and after a bit of research you may find that there is a specific program that’s best for you!
The Road to Citizenship
Permanent residency is one of the requirements when applying for citizenship along with three years of residency.
With citizenship one can’t ever be deported and it makes it much easier to help your relatives immigrate to Canada too!
Immigration can be tricky, but with these helpful hints you can immigrate and become a Canadian in no time!
Know What Visa You Need
There are many different kinds of visas, all of which are used for different purposes. Do some research to find the best visa for your purposes.
Moving to a new country can be expensive and you will need some money to be able to live in Canada as you search for a job.
Start saving for your move before you apply for immigration so that you can transition even easier.
Renew Your PR Card
Permanent Resident Cards are granted to immigrants after a successful application. Be sure to renew your PR Card every five years.
Without a PR Card you won’t be able to sign up for government benefits or programs.
Continue Your Education
Citizenship requires a test that examines applicants’ knowledge of English or French and the history and culture of Canada. It is a good idea to study up on these topics while you live in Canada.
Not only will you do better on the citizenship test, but it will make adjusting to life in Canada just that much easier.
Pay Fees Online
While you do have the option to pay for your applications in person at a Canadian financial institution, it’s probably more convenient to pay these fees online.
This is especially convenient for people who may live in more rural areas.
File for Employment Insurance and a Health Card
After you land in Canada you will need to apply for an Employment Insurance Card almost immediately and then after about 90 days you can apply for your Health Card.
Bring a Coat
Canada can become rather cold in the winter time and it might be a good idea to get a sturdy coat before arriving at your new home!
Generally, applicants will have to show that there is a good reason for why the applicant needs to have their application processed before others.
These processes do not make the processing of the applications immediate, rather, it will shorten the total wait time to a degree.
Permanent Resident Card
Permanent Resident Cards are Canadian immigration documents that are proof that an immigrant can live and work in Canada for as long as they please. They are also known as PR Cards.
PR Cards are necessary for immigrants when they travel abroad as the Canadian border authorities will need to see this document to re-admit immigrants.
If an immigrant has a trip abroad planned and they do not have their PR Card for some reason they can submit an urgent application which will significantly shorten the wait time and assist in the travelling process.
However, if the trip is going to occur in three weeks or less, one’s PR Card will not arrive on time, and PR Cards cannot be sent to foreign addresses.
Rather, when abroad, immigrants can apply for re-entry documentation at a Canadian consulate. This should only be a last resort option and is not preferred.
There are a number of reasons why someone might want to apply for emergency citizenship documents, but in order to get urgent processing, it does need to be an emergency.
Applying for urgent processing because one does not want to wait any longer for a citizenship certificate is not acceptable. However, asking for urgent processing because without a citizenship certificate, one might lose one’s job is acceptable.
Citizenship certificates, searches of citizenship records and the renouncing of Canadian citizenship are all available for urgent processing.
Canada does not have a Green Card per se. The Green Card is an immigration document that is specific to the United States. In Canada, the equivalent Document is called a Permanent Resident Card.
Immigration documents are often casually called Green Cards because that document has so much cultural importance in the United States. However, every country has their own version of a Permanent Resident Card.
For example, in Europe, there is a similar immigration document called a Blue Card.
Canadian PR Card
The Canadian Permanent Resident Card is often abbreviated to the PR Card.
This document is the immigration form that shows that an immigrant has the right to live and work in Canada.
There are many different ways to get a Permanent Resident Card in Canada. Below are some of the more common methods of immigration:
- Family immigration. Permanent Residents and citizens of Canada can sponsor certain relatives for immigration and Permanent Residency.
- Employment immigration. There are many different ways to immigrate to Canada if one already has a job offer. There are even some immigration programs that do not require a job offer. These programs usually require that the immigrant apply for a Labour Market Petition, a document that says that the immigrant can work in Canada. These systems are also often points based where greater education and experience gives one a greater likelihood of having their application accepted.
- Quebec immigration. Any immigrants looking to immigrate to Quebec must first apply for permission from the Quebec government before they apply with the federal government.
- Asylum and refugee. Some people, facing severe persecution in their country of origin, can apply for asylum or refugee status in Canada, which will grant them Permanent Resident status.
Canadian Immigrants are people who have received Permanent Resident Status from Citizenship and Immigration Canada and have entered the country through one of its many ports-of-entry.
Immigrants must be sure to do certain things both before and after entry to Canada.
Below is a list of some of these things. However, some immigrants may find that their situation requires more.
- Before coming to Canada, one should make sure that all of the documents used when applying for immigration to Canada be brought with the immigrant.
This could include passports, birth certificates, driving licenses, medical records and children’s birth certificates.
Be sure to include translations of these documents if they are not originally written in either English or French.
- Become acquainted with an official language of Canada. This is a gradual and continuous process.
Immigrants to Canada are encouraged to learn either English or French. Immigrants looking to become citizens will need to pass a language competency test during their application.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada has found that immigrants who put an effort toward learning one of the official languages helps them better adapt to life in Canada.
- Although Canada offers nationalized health coverage, the application process for getting a Health Card can take at least three months.
In the interim, immigrants are encouraged to purchase private health insurance to make sure they are covered for any possibility.
- Depending on what time of year immigrants may arrive, warm clothing may be in order.
Canada can become quite cold in the fall, winter and spring if one is not used to temperatures at that latitude.
- Immigrants should apply for a Social Insurance Card as soon as they enter the country. A Social Insurance Card is absolutely necessary because without one, an immigrant cannot work in Canada.
The Provincial Nominee program is one of the many immigration programs made available for permanent residency in Canada.
This immigration program allows the individual provinces to select people to immigrate. If a province or territory recognizes it lacks one type of worker then it can help those workers immigrate to Canada.
A person applies for the program by applying directly to the immigration program run by the province or territory in which the applicant wants to live and work.
After the provincial government has approved an application for nomination, the immigrant proceeds in applying for an immigration visa through the CIC.
Below are some commonly asked questions by people looking to immigrate to Canada.
What Is the CIC?
The CIC is Citizenship and Immigration Canada, which is the government organization responsible for the issuance of Permanent Resident Cards and Citizenship certificates.
The CIC operates multiple offices throughout Canada and even works with Services Canada to provide assistance to immigrants.
Immigrants applying for the Provincial Nominee program will only start to interact with CIC after they have received a nomination from one of the provinces in writing.
What is Permanent Residency?
Permanent Residency is an immigration status in Canada which states that an immigrant has the right to live and work in the country for as long as they so choose.
This is only limited by a residency requirement (a person has to live in Canada for a certain amount of time in order to keep their status) and a requirement of lawfulness. As long as the immigrant does not commit any crimes they will be allowed to keep their status.
What is a Work Permit?
A work permit allows an immigrant the right to work at a specific job in Canada temporarily. Permanent Residents do not need to obtain work permits because their status implies the right to work.