Liberal Gov Loosens Conditional Resident Rules

Liberal Gov Loosens Conditional Resident RulesConditional permanent resident status regulations no longer apply to sponsored spouses and common-law partners as the Liberal Canadian government abolishes Conservative rules, in effect since 2012. With the change, the government ushers in a policy committed to family reunification, gender equality, and gender non-violence.

The change, effective April 28, means conditional permanent residence no longer applies to anyone, which includes those sponsored by a spouse or partner for permanent residence or sponsored by someone with conditional permanent residents– like a child or parent.

Individuals who received official communication on or after April 18, 2017, indicating a requirement to “cohabit in a conjugal relationship with your spouse or partner for a continuous period of two years after the day on which you became a PR” should disregard the message. In the same way, investigations around individuals in violation of the rule are now dropped.

Under the old rule, sponsored spouses and common-law partners had to live with their sponsor for two years. The rule applied those individuals with a relationship less than two years old and in cases where the couple had no children in common. Failure to abide by the condition equated to risk in losing status.

Conservatives introduced the rule as a means of guarding against immigration to Canada through disingenuous relationships. While the government “recognizes that cases of marriage fraud exists,” according to a release, “the majority of relationships are genuine and most spousal sponsorship applications are made in good faith.”  Additionally, removing the barrier reaffirms the government’s “commitment to family reunification and supports gender equality and combating gender violence.”

Bill C-6 Makes Citizenship Easier

Bill C-6 Makes Citizenship Easier“We want all permanent residents, if possible, to become Canadians,” said Canada’s Immigration Minister, Ahmed Hussen, at a recent conference in Toronto. “Canada’s identity has always been shaped by the significant economic, cultural and social contributions of immigrants. Changes to the Citizenship Act will enhance program integrity, while giving more flexibility to eligible applicants to meet the requirements for citizenship so that they can continue building successful lives in Canada.”

Bill C-6 is now in effect. On June 19, 2017, it received Royal Assent and is now law. This bill amends Canada’s Citizenship Act and will now offer a quicker path to citizenship for permanent residents. Not all measures of the law will go into effect immediately. Some of the bill’s measures will take effect later this year or early 2018.

According to cicnews.com the new law, Bill C-6 will also:

  • Allow permanent residents who had spent time in Canada on temporary status, such as on a work or study permit, to count up to 365 days of this temporary status towards the residency requirement.
  • Remove the ‘intent to reside’ provision, which previously required new citizens to state that they intended to reside in Canada.
  • Eliminate the government’s ability to revoke citizenship from naturalized citizens who hold dual citizenship on national security grounds, which the now-governing Liberals had said created a two-tiered citizenship system when in opposition.
  • Permit children under the age of 18 to apply for citizenship without the support or consent of their parents.
  • Give individuals who lost their citizenship on the grounds that it was obtained fraudulently the right to appeal that decision in Federal Court.

One measure of the bill taking effect later on this fall is much anticipated. Immigrants will now be eligible to apply for citizenship when they have accumulated 1,095 days, or three years, within a five-year period, instead of the 1,460 days required within 6 years.

Citizenship offers individuals the opportunity to political rights such as the ability to stand for office or the right to vote, to name a few benefits. As a Canadian Citizen, you also have the right to obtain a Canadian Passport.

Canadian Citizenship Practice Test II

Are you ready to take the Citizenship Test?

If you are a Permanent Resident seeking to become a Canadian citizen there is couple things to consider before you proceed.

First know the requirements needed to see if you qualify to apply for citizenship. The requirements to obtain Canadian citizenship are the following:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have permanent resident (PR) status
  • Physically present as a permanent resident in Canada for at least 1,460 days (4 years) out of the 6 years on day of applying
  • Know basic English or French
  • General knowledge about Canada’s history, geography, government, and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship to pass a citizenship test (adults 65 years of age and over are exempt)

Second, and most importantly you will need to complete Form CIT 0002e to apply for citizenship.

Third, it is important to know about Canada’s history, geography, government and the rights and responsibilities of citizens in order to gain citizenship status. The test will evaluate your knowledge of Canada and language abilities.

Check out Part 1 of this Quiz to help you study for common questions asked on the citizenship test.

Canadian Citizenship Practice Test

Are you ready to take the Citizenship Test?

If you are a Permanent Resident seeking to become a Canadian citizen there is couple things to consider before you proceed.

First know the requirements needed to see if you qualify to apply for citizenship. The requirements to obtain Canadian citizenship are the following:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have permanent resident (PR) status
  • Physically present as a permanent resident in Canada for at least 1,460 days (4 years) out of the 6 years on day of applying
  • Know basic English or French
  • General knowledge about Canada’s history, geography, government, and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship to pass a citizenship test (adults 65 years of age and over are exempt)

Second, and most importantly you will need to complete Form CIT 0002e to apply for citizenship.

Third, it is important to know about Canada’s history, geography, government and the rights and responsibilities of citizens in order to gain citizenship status. The test will evaluate your knowledge of Canada and language abilities.

Check out Part 2 of this Quiz to help you study for common questions asked on the citizenship test.

Despite Law, Some Canadian Immigrants Charged Employment Fees

work in canada

Despite a law banning the practice, a loophole is allowing Alberta-based employment agencies to charge some Canadian immigrants thousands of dollars in employment fees.

Alberta’s Fair Trading Act prohibits employment agencies from collecting fees “directly or indirectly” from immigrant workers; however, in what some critics see as being a significant loophole in the law, agencies are allowed to charge fees for services not considered to be “employment agency business services.” That broad-based category can often include employment-related services such as resume writing, job-skills training and immigration consulting.

According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), at least a dozen businesses in Alberta are utilizing that loophole in the immigration law, and operating as both employment agencies—who are not allowed to charge immigrants fees—as well as providing immigration consulting services, for which fees are permitted.

Complicating matters even more, the rules governing these practices varies wildly throughout Canada’s western provinces—British Columbia (BC), Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

While the laws applying to employment agencies are similar in both Alberta and BC, Manitoba has far stricter rules that totally ban recruiters from charging any fees. Saskatchewan’s laws are even more complex, as agencies can charge for immigration consulting with the workers’ consent, but employers must pay for any resume preparation or training that is provided.

A spokesman for the organization representing Canadian employment agencies said the members of his group have a code of ethics that prohibit charging for recruiting services. Randy Upright, national director of the Association of Canadian Search, Employment & Staffing Services (ACSESS) said it is the practice of members of his organization to not offer both recruiting and resume-writing/employment consulting services.

However, Gil McGowan, the president of the Alberta Federation of Labor, is calling for changes to the Fair Trading Act, saying the law “has loopholes so big you could drive a truck through it.” McGowan is calling on the provincial government to re-write the law in order to close those loopholes, and make it more difficult for employment agencies to justify charging any fees to foreign workers seeking employment.

For its part, Alberta’s provincial government is resisting any pressure to change the law. Alberta’s Minister of Service Stephen Khan said he doesn’t agree that there are any loopholes in the existing law, and that his ministry investigates any claims by workers who believe they have been victimized by employment agencies.

Instead of changing the law, Khan said his government believes a better way to address any possible victimization of foreign workers is through greater education and public awareness.

To that end, Khan told the CBC that his ministry is doing its best to “create messaging” as well as “public awareness” in order to ensure that people—including foreign workers—“know what their rights are when it comes to these (employment) issues.”

Critics Call For Changes To New Canadian Immigration Law

Canadian Citizenship

Only a few weeks after its initial implementation, a growing number of critics are calling for changes to the new Canadian immigration law known as Express Entry.

In the first round of the Express Entry system, a total of 779 candidates were selected at the end of January to participate in the program; that number represented about 26 percent of the 3,000 applications the government accepted for the initial Express Entry draw.

Under the Express Entry program, candidates are assigned points based upon their age, education, professional qualifications and successful completion of a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). A full half of the required 1,200 points in Express Entry are assigned based on attaining an LMIA. Under the LMIA system, employers are required to show that foreign applicants for Canadian work visas can prove that they possess skills in demand, and are filling a position that no Canadian is available to fill.

Although the January selection of candidates marked the first draw from the ‘pool’ of Express Entry applicants, the percentage of those accepted was seen by many as being rather low, and could be indicative of problems with the LMIA program. Toronto immigration lawyer Sergio Karas explained that LMIAs are “incredibly difficult to get…laborious and time insensitive and complicated” for Canadian employers to obtain.

The Express Entry program requires employers to successfully complete a two-step application process in which foreign applicants’ names are entered into a “pool”, and then ranked against other candidates under consideration for permanent residency based on the number of points assigned to them.

Over 10,000 foreign workers applied for the first round of Express Entry, with only 3,000 candidates being selected for the initial pool of names.

While critics of the Express Entry program expressed concern about its initial implementation, Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said he was pleased with the program’s first round of applications. Alexander cited the fact that all Express Entry candidates had “valid job offers” and were “highly skilled”, and he believed that meant that they were more likely to successfully integrate into Canadian society.

Among the criticisms of the Express Entry system is also its alleged lack of transparency. Mario Bellissimo, past president of the Canadian Bar Association’s immigration section, said the fact that the number of Express Entry applicants is not fixed but is instead a “moving target” means the program lacks transparency, and will likely call into question “the integrity of the (whole) system.”

A second Express Entry draw of applicants’ names was conducted in early February, and an additional 779 candidates were selected at that time. Under the rules of Express Entry, successful candidates must respond within 60 days of notice; those candidates not selected will remain in the pool for an additional six months, and will be entered into future draws.

The federal government is expected to conduct between 15 and 25 Express Entry draws during the current calendar year.

Canada Considers Ending Automatic Citizenship For Babies Of Non Citizens/Residents

The Canadian government may end its longstanding policy of providing citizenship to Canadian-born babies of non-citizens or residents of the country.

According to media reports, Canadian immigration officials are recommending that the Conservative government consider ending the practice of offering citizenship to babies born to non-citizens or residents, even though the number of children affected would be relatively small and the costs insignificant.

It’s estimated that of the 360,000 births taking place in Canada each year, only about 500 of those babies were born to foreign nationals.

When the Canadian government overhauled its immigration laws earlier this year, the “birth on soil” provision—the law providing citizenship to babies born in Canada to non-citizens—was initially unchanged. One reason for that may have been the cost.

The internal immigration report suggesting the change to “the birth on soil” law explained that, despite the small number of children affected, there would be significant costs associated with changing the law. That same internal government document, obtained by Canadian media through Freedom Of Information laws, states that changing the ‘birth on soil’ law would have “significant costs” that might be difficult to justify to the public in a time of government deficits.

For his part, Canadian Immigration Minister Chris Alexander acknowledged that the issue of so-called “anchor babies”—wherein non-residents or citizens of Canada have a child in the country so that child can later sponsor them for citizenship when he turns 18—is of concern to the federal government.

The Conservative government  has said it’s strongly opposed to so-called “birth tourism” resulting in so-called “anchor babies”. Currently only Canada and the United States have policies providing for birth on soil citizenship.

Unlike the U.S. and Canada, other countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia and most of Europe only provide citizenship rights to children born to parents who are either permanent residents or citizens.

Almost 20 years ago, the previous Liberal government gave serious consideration to removing the birth on soil Canadian citizenship provision, however a strong public outcry of opposition forced that government to back down.

Janet Dench, a spokesperson for the Canadian Council For Refugees, said her organization strongly opposes changing the birth on soil citizenship provision.

“Citizenship by birth in Canada is an important part of the Canadian identity, and makes us a better society,” Dench said.

Canadian Government Claims Citizenship Wait At Two-Year Low

Canadian LandingDespite vocal opposition and legal challenges to its recent immigration reform, the Canadian government is crediting that new law for a steep decrease in the backlog of citizenship applications.

The government says its “Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act”, or Bill C-24, is directly responsible for the drop in wait time for citizenship applications. The government also says the new law is helping to expedite the processing of applications for Canadian citizenship.

According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), one of the reasons the citizenship application wait time is at a two-year low is the increase in the number of “decision makers” assigned to review applications.

The CIC is also predicting that fast-tracking the citizenship applications will mean that by 2015 or 2016 the processing time for Canadian citizenship applications will be less than one year, and that the current application backlog will be reduced by 80 percent.

As part of the new citizenship law, the Canadian government has also introduced other significant changes in the administration of citizenship applications. The changes include additional CIC authority to deny incomplete applications, and a “uniform system” for judicial review of all citizenship applications.

As part of its annual budget, the Canadian government has also allocated an additional $44 million over two years to help ensure expedition of citizenship applications.

In the new immigration law, the Canadian government dramatically increased the number of individuals responsible for review of citizenship applications; prior to the new law, there were approximately 30 citizenship judges, compared to the new level of more than 450 “decision makers” reviewing citizenship applications.

With a federal election all but certain to take place in 2015, the Conservative government is hoping that its immigration track record will be seen in a positive light. For example, the CIC points out that Canada has the highest rate of naturalization in the world, with over 85 percent of eligible residents achieving Canadian citizenship.

In addition, since the Conservatives took power in 2006, Canada has welcomed more than 1.3 million new citizens. Last year, the CIC received 333,860 citizenship applications, a level that the government says is the highest volume ever recorded.

New Canadian Citizenship Law Passes Amid Controversy, Complaints

New Citizenship LawDespite widespread opposition, threats of lawsuits and questions regarding the law’s constitutionality, Canada’s federal government has passed its sweeping new citizenship law.

Bill C-24, titled the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, has been steeped in controversy since it was first introduced in parliament several months ago. While the Conservative government claims that the bill clarifies and adds value to Canadian citizenship, critics say it turns citizenship into a privilege rather than a right, and that it may end up establishing second-class citizens within Canada.

Critics of the new citizenship law include Amnesty International and the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, which is taking legal action against the government in an effort to block the new law.

The new immigration law contains several changes to Canada’s citizenship rules, requiring lengthier residency in Canada, and greater proof of the intention of would-be citizens to actually live in Canada upon receipt of their citizenship. Under the previous law, citizenship applicants had to live in Canada three out of the previous four years; under the new law, applicants will be required to live in Canada 183 days for four out of the prior six years.

Changes in the new law also mean that all citizenship applicants age 14 to 64 will be required to take both a knowledge and language test; under the old law, the age group for those tests was 18-54 years old.

But the most controversial element of the new citizenship law is the revocation power that it provides the government; under Bill C-24, the government now has the power to revoke the citizenship of dual citizens found guilty of treason or terrorism, even by foreign courts. The immigration minister will also have the power to revoke the dual citizenship of anyone found to have fought against Canada in a foreign army.

As expected, high profile civil rights attorney Rocco Galati filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Constitutional Rights Center against the government, asking the federal court to invalidate key provisions of Bill C-24. Galati is a recognized powerhouse in Canadian legal circles, having recently successfully sued to block an appointment by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to Canada’s Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, on July 1st, Canadians marked this year’s Canada Day, a national holiday celebrating the country’s birth. Across the nation, hundreds of people took the oath of citizenship, for the first time under the auspices of the recently passed Bill C-24. Some, however, also expressed concern about whether they will have the full citizenship rights of native-born Canadians.

Speaking to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Soheili Hashemi was one of 28 new Canadians sworn in on Canada Day in Halifax, Nova Scotia. An Iranian by birth, Hashemi expressed the opinion of many critics of the new bill saying she was concerned that the revocation powers in Bill C-24 are “against the human rights laws of Canada”, and that the law is “not good for immigrants, and not good for Canada.”

Canada Welcomes More than 35,000 New Citizens in January, February

Canadian Citizenship

Canada welcomed 35,000 new citizens in the first two months of 2014 —twice as many as in the same period last year.

According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), more than 19,200 new Canadian citizens were sworn in this February, almost double the amount of new citizens welcomed one year earlier. In January, over 16,000 new Canadians were awarded citizenship, also nearly double the amount of one year earlier.

Over 200 swearing-in ceremonies—conducted in gymnasiums, government offices and hotel conference rooms—were held across the country in February to welcome the new Canadian citizens.

CIC cites increased efficiency and a decrease in the overall backlog of citizenship applications as two of the reasons for the dramatic jump in the number of new citizens sworn in. The government is also predicting that its recently introduced immigration reform—the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act—will further reduce processing time for citizenship applications by as much as one year.

CIC is predicting the new immigration law will help to reduce the backlog of citizenship applications by more than 80 percent by 2015-2016.

Last year, nearly 130,000 individuals were granted Canadian citizenship.

The brisk pace for welcoming new Canadian citizens so far this year is in keeping with the recent years’ trends. Since 2006, Canada has sustained its highest ever levels of naturalization, with an average of 257,000 newcomers each calendar year. 2013 was a record-breaking year for Canadian immigration, with CIC receiving 330,860 applications for Canadian citizenship.