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Canadian Immigration Moves Online—Paperwork Without Any Paper

CICWhile there continues to be a good deal of paperwork involved in the application process for those seeking to immigrate to Canada, the days of using actual paper to complete the immigration process are rapidly coming to an end.

The advent of the Internet has, of course, changed the way business is conducted around the world—including the business of governments. That is especially true when it comes to immigrating to Canada, given the recent changes to Canadian immigration law, and most notably the Express Entry immigration system.

Under Express Entry—from the very outset—the immigration process begins online. Would-be immigrants to Canada create an Express Entry online ‘profile’, outlining their personal history, including education, employment, language ability as well as other abilities. If the candidate meets the government’s criteria, then the immigration applicant’s name is placed in an—online—pool of candidates.

In keeping with the computerized immigration process, applicants without a Canadian job offer or a nomination from a province or territory must then register—online—with the federal government’s job bank; that web site offers an online search tool designed to match candidates with jobs in Canada based on their skills, knowledge and experience.

In addition, those selected from the pool applying for permanent residence in Canada, will also be using their computer to proceed in the application process. Those chosen to proceed will be asked to submit an electronic application in order to move forward in the permanent residence process.

The most recent example of how critically important the Internet has become to the immigration procedures in Canada is Saskatchewan’s move to online applications for its new “Saskatchewan Express Entry” program.

The new Saskatchewan immigration category is expected to add 775 immigrant positions to the province’s immigrant nominee program. Instead of utilizing the previous ‘first come, first served’ system, the new online program is designed to try and match immigrants to the current job openings in the province.

Much like the federal Express Entry system, the online applications of Saskatchewan’s new program are expected to be processed much faster than applications were in the past.

However, online immigration applications do not necessarily guarantee rapid processing.

One of the more prominent examples of this continues to be Canadian immigration officials’ slow processing of visa applications from international students seeking to study in Canada. A recent Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) report found that international student visas are taking weeks longer to process in Canada than in other Western countries such as the United States or Great Britain.

The CIC report cites a lack of available federal resources needed to meet the growing demand for international student visas to Canada; critics point out that rapid processing of student visa applications is seen as a critical element in order to attract the top tier of international students.

Coming on the heels of the introduction of the Express Entry program, the CIC report appears to indicate that while online, computerized applications—such as Express Entry’s–can help to cut processing times, it may all be for naught if additional resources aren’t delegated to immigration programs.

Canada’s Top Five Immigration Destinations

Canada Permanent ResidentFor immigrants from across the globe, Canada remains a very attractive destinations.

Spanning an entire continent, and bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on its east coast and the Pacific Ocean on its west, Canada offers immigrants a diverse choice of regional climates, economies and even languages.

Immigration patterns in Canada have changed in recent years, with an increasing number of immigrants relocating to the nation’s more rural and Western areas. Driving a great deal of that immigration has been Canada’s booming natural resources industry, and in particular its oil and gas industries that are centered in those regions.

Here are the nation’s top five immigration destinations, as well as a little background on each location’s defining and unique characteristics based on a 2013 Canadian government report:

5. Manitoba-13,100 immigrants

Largest City: Winnipeg—11,114 immigrants 

Winnipeg, by far Manitoba’s largest urban center, is located in exactly the center of Canada. Not only is Winnipeg the capital city of the province of Manitoba, it is often considered in Canadian culture as being the capital of Canada’s prairie provinces. Not unlike its American neighbors directly south of the province, Manitoba’s economy is mostly driven by  agriculture.

In addition to farming, perhaps the most defining characteristic of both Winnipeg and the province of Manitoba is its climate. Prairie winters are legendarily harsh, with temperatures dipping below zero for weeks at a time during the winter months; however, Winnipeg is also one of Canada’s safest urban centers and has long had a thriving cultural community.

4. British Columbia (BC)—36,210 Immigrants

Largest City: Vancouver—29,506 immigrants

British Columbia (more commonly referred to as BC) is Canada’s most western province, bordered by the American states of Alaska to its north and Washington State on its southern border. With only two major population centers, Metropolitan Vancouver and Victoria, the provincial capital, BC’s rural economies are mostly driven by natural resources, especially lumber and more recently, natural gas exploration.

Vancouver is a very multicultural city, with a strong Asian presence that has seen high levels of migration from Mainland China and Hong Kong over the last two decades. However, with limited land (the city is bordered by the ocean and mountains) in recent years Vancouver has also evolved into one of the world’s most expensive cities, and was recently rated as having the highest cost of living of any North American city, even surpassing New York and San Francisco.

3. Alberta—36.636 immigrants

Largest City: Calgary—17.602 immigrants

With its Western culture, and vast oil resources, Alberta is often referred to as ‘Canada’s Texas’. Long the center of Canada’s energy industry, Calgary—Alberta’s largest metropolitan center—is a cosmopolitan city that still retains much of Alberta’s unique Western cultural history.

In recent years, the energy boom generated by the oil sands—located in the northern section of the province, near its capital city of Edmonton—has been a strong magnet for immigration. Both skilled and unskilled foreign workers have been in much demand as a result of the energy boom; however, recent steep declines in oil prices have hit the energy industry hard and its unclear what long-term effect that change may have on the province’s immigration.

2. Quebec—51.983 immigrants

Largest City—Montreal—43,944 immigrants

Canada’s only French-speaking province, Quebec has had a rollercoaster history in terms of immigration. Historically, Montreal—Canada’s second largest city—competed with Toronto as the primary destination for immigrants from around the world.  That began to change in the 1970s with the rise of Quebec separatism and the prospect of Quebec independence.

More recently, the Quebec separatist movement has subsided—although a sizeable minority of Quebecers still favor the idea—and as a result the province has seen a resurgence in immigration over the last decade. Montreal—without question, Canada’s most bilingual city where a majority of people speak both French and English—continues to attract the vast majority of immigrants, from a diverse array of regions including Africa, Europe, Asia and the Caribbean.

1. Ontario—103,494 immigrants

Largest City—Toronto—81,691 immigrants

Ontario is Canada’s largest province by population, home to both the country’s largest city, Toronto, and the nation’s capital city, Ottawa. The province has also historically been the epicenter of Canadian immigration, making Toronto one of the most multicultural cities in the world.

In recent years, there’s been a shift in immigration away from Ontario to the western provinces as a result of the energy boom in that region. Still, despite the decline, Ontario remains the most popular destination for immigrants to Canada and—despite having a very high cost of living—Toronto remains the most popular city for immigrants looking to take up permanent residency in Canada.

It remains unclear what impact the dramatic changes in the world’s energy sector will have on Canadian immigration. What remains unchanged is that Canada is still one of the most desired—and desirable—destinations for immigrants from around the world.

What Are the Requirements for a Tourist Visa?

Visitor visaCanada is a beautiful country which welcomes tourists from all over the world all year round.

Coming to Canada for tourist reasons can be a relatively simple process, but it is important to take note

Do You Need a Tourist Visa

Not everyone who wants to visit Canada needs to have a tourist visa. Some countries have agreements with Canada that make tourism visas unnecessary.

However, if Canada allows you into the country without a visitor visa, you will still be held to many of the same rules as someone who does have a visitor visa. For example: visitors to Canada cannot take on employment and they also cannot stay longer than the date on their passport.

Overstaying a tourist visa may result in some future prohibitions. You might not be able to return to Canada for a while.

Eligibility

Below are some of the documents and conditions that you must have or meet in order to get a tourism visa.

  • You should have a valid passport. Preferably one that will remain valid throughout your entire stay.
  • You should be of good health.
  • You should have plans to return to your home and evidence that shows it. A mortgage would be a good document to use in this case.
  • You should have sufficient funds to support yourself and all of your dependents while you are visiting Canada.

Processing Times

Processing times are estimates of the length of time that you might have to wait to receive a visitor visa. You might receive your visa earlier than the stated processing time, but you might also receive it later.

One of the most important factors in figuring out how long it takes to process an application is the complexity of your application. If the CIC has to check your application closer than others it might take longer.

The stated processing time for a visitor visa as of October 18, 2013 for paper applications is 86 days. For online applications it only takes 48 days.

Extending a Visa

If you’re nearing the end of the stay, but can’t bear to part with the beautiful scenery and culture that Canada has to offer, you can extend your stay and your visa.

This process has to be undertaken at least 30 days before the expiration of your status as a visitor. If it is past that cut-off date, you will need to leave Canada and re-apply for entry.

Getting a Different Visa or Immigrating

If you want to work, go to school or live permanently in Canada, you will have to change your status. This will involve, at the minimum, at least leaving Canada for a little bit to put together your new visa application.

Work Permit Overview

What is a Work Permit?

Foreign residents who wish to come to Canada to work must first secure permission to do work within the country.

This typically comes in the form of a work permit which is a letter and a stamp in one’s passport that allows them to work in Canada.

Citizens and Permanent Residents of Canada do not need to obtain this document as their status automatically allows them to work.

Applying for Work PermitsCanadian Work Permit

In order to apply for a work permit one first has to get a job offer in Canada. Before the work permit can be granted, an examination must be made called the Labor Market Opinion.

The Labor Market Opinion (LMO) is a test to see if there is no other person in Canada who can do the proposed job. If the immigrant applicant is absolutely necessary, the LMO is considered positive.

Potential immigrants can apply for a work permit either at a Canadian diplomatic mission in their country or at the Canadian border.

Who Can a Work Permit Holder Work for?

Depending on what kind of work permit the immigrant holds they may be more or less restricted in whom they may work for. Regular work permit holders must work for the employer that they claimed when they first applied for the permit.

People with open work permits can work for any eligible employer. There are some ineligible employers, they are companies which have violated rules regarding the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and are suspended.

How Long Does a Work Permit Last?

Work Permits are temporary documents and more permanent working arrangements in Canada can only be achieved by getting Permanent Residency or citizenship,

A work permit allows an immigrant the chance to work in Canada for four years. At the end of this period they have to wait an additional four years before they can apply for another work permit.

What are Work Permit  Conditions?

If your work permit has conditions you will be able to find them written into the permit itself. These conditions may dictate what kind of work you can do, where you work, how long you will be allowed to work and who you can work for.

Violations of these conditions may result in future difficulty in applying for immigration benefits.

Wait Times

The amount of time one has to wait before being granted a work permit in Canada is called the wait time or a processing time. These estimates are very variable and range individually and over different locations.

Mailed in work permit requests within Canada may take up to 55 days (and even longer), however, online applications take significantly less time with 30 days. Check with your local embassy or consulate for further wait times as the amount of time varies greatly depending on location.

Work Permit Tips

Foreign nationals who enter Canada and do not have Permanent Residency must file for work permits if they want to hold a job while they reside in the country.

You cannot get a job in Canada without some proof of the right to work within the country. If you’re interested in working in Canada while you visit temporarily you should examine this guide to work permits. work permit

In this guide we’ll give you some general information about how work permits work and some other useful tips that you might not think of right away. We’ve scoured the CIC (Citizenship and Immigration Canada) for all the pertinent information on the topic to be presented in this short form here.

Applying for a Work Permit

Most of the time, you should apply for a work permit within your own country with the local Canadian visa center. You will apply for a visa and work permit at the same time in most circumstances.

Sometimes you can apply at Canada’s border, but it’s safer to file your application before you approach Canada’s shores.

Can Your Spouse Work while You Work?

Generally they can, but they have to file for their own work permit much like you will be doing. One of the ways in which you can have your spouse work is to have them come with you on the initial visa to Canada and then while there they can apply for a specific job. First they will have to apply for a work permit for that specific job with Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Work Permit Fees

Citizenship and Immigration Canada is primarily funded by the fees they collect from applications. In the case of a work permit the fee is a flat $150 Canadian.

Open Work Permits

Really, there are two kinds of work permits. The kind which is for a specific job is easier to get because Canada is more likely to grant a work permit to someone who already has a job lined up. Then there are open work permits which are granted to individuals before a job offer has been obtained. The second type is slightly more difficult to obtain because there is always the risk of you entering Canada and not being able to find a job forcing you to rely on Canada’s social services.

Worker’s Rights in Canada

As a worker in Canada you are entitles to the same rights of anyone else in the country short of a few rights reserved for full citizens. You are entitled to the sick leave allowed in the province in which you work and your employer cannot force you to work if you are sick.

You may also be entitled to Employment Insurance sickness benefits, but it is a good idea to check the local government to see if this applies to you.

NAFTA TN Visas

The TN visa is a visa type made available for Canadian citizens to go to the United States to work. The program is not administered by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, rather the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Eligibility

In order to be eligible to get a TN visa you will have to meet a series of qualifications:

  • You have to be a citizen of Canada. If you are a Permanent Resident you will not be able to apply for a TN visa, however, you may be eligible to become a citizen.
  • You have to be a professional in a field mentioned on the NAFTA list (discussed in greater detail below).
  • You have to have a job offer in a field listed on the NAFTA list. You can’t be self-employed in this profession.

The NAFTA List NAFTA Worker

The following professions are mentioned in the NAFTA list:

Accountant

Geneticist

Physician

Agriculturist

Geochemist

Physicist

Animal Breeder

Geologist

Physiotherapist

Animal Scientist

Geophysicist

Plant Breeder

Apiculturist

Graphic Designer

Poultry Scientist

Architect

Horticulturist

Psychologist

Astronomer

Hotel Manager

Range Manager or Conservationalist

Biochemist

Industrial Designer

Recreational Therapist

Biologist

Interior Designer

Registered Nurse

Chemist

Land Surveyor

Research Assistant

College Teacher

Landscape Architect

Scientific Technician or Technologist

Computer Systems Analyst

Lawyer (Or Notary in some cases)

Seminary Teacher

Dairy Scientist

Librarian

Social Worker

Dentist

Management Consultant

Soil Scientist

Dietician

Mathematician

Statastician

Disaster Relief Insurance Claims Adjuster

Medical Laboratory Technologist

Sylviculturist

Economist

Meteorologist

Technical Publications Writer

Engineer

Nutritionist

University Teacher

Entomologist

Occupational Therapist

Urban Planner

Epidemiologist

Pharmacist

Veterinarian

Forester

Pharmacologist

Vocational Counsellor

Zoologist

 Canadians and TN Visas

Not all Canadian citizens have to have a TN visa, most can just apply for TN non-immigrant status when they enter the US. Canadian citizens who live in a third country have to apply for TN non-immigrant visas.

How to Apply for TN Visas

The following are the basic steps for applying for a TN visa:

  • File for status online. You will need to fill out a non-immigrant visa application online with the USCIS. This form is also called the DS-160. You will also need to upload a photo. The photo must be in a certain format in order to be accepted.
  • The interview. You will need to schedule an interview with an embassy in the country in which you live. For the purpose of this article, it is likely that this embassy would be in Canada. Before you attend your interview you will have to pay the associated fee.
  • Prepare required documentation. You will have to bring along your passport, Form DS-160, fee receipt, job offer or contract, evidence of your education and a photograph that conforms to the government’s guidelines.
  • When you attend your visa interview you will need to submit to biometric data collection. This is generally a simple fingerprinting.

Marriage Visa

The Canadian government has dual interests in its immigration policy which must be balanced:

  1. Canada wants immigrants to come into the country because they add to the quality and strength of the society overall.
  2. Illegitimate immigration applications compromise Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s system potentially disenfranchising valid immigrants.

When speaking about marriage visas this means that spouses should be allowed to come to Canada, however, the system is designed in such a way to deter illegitimate applications through things such as marriages of convenience.

Here we will discuss some of the process for filing for family members (particularly spouses and the children of those spouses) to come to Canada.

Eligibility

Spouses, common-law partners, conjugal partners and dependent children may all be sponsored under this process by a Canadian permanent resident or citizen. However, all of the people involved in this process are required to meet certain qualifications and undergo medical and criminal background checks.

To be a sponsor you must be 18 years old, at least and either a Canadian permanent resident or citizen. You must also sign a sponsorship agreement with the person you are sponsoring. A guarantee and ability to support the sponsored immigrants is also necessary.

Conditions that may prevent you from being able to sponsor a family member include:

  • If you broke a sponsorship agreement in the past,
  • If you were not able to financially support someone in the past under court-order,
  • If you receive government assistance,
  • If you committed a serious crime,
  • If you were sponsored under this type of visa and became a permanent resident less than 5 years ago,
  • If you are formally bankrupt.

The Application

Documents that must be filed include:

  • IMM 5443, Document Checklist;
  • IMM 1344, Application to Sponsor and Sponsorship Agreement;
  • IMM 5481, Sponsorship Evaluation;
  • IMM 0008, Generic Application Form for Canada;
  • IMM 0008DEP, Additional Dependents declaration if you are declaring dependent children;
  • IMM 5406, Family Information;
  • IMM 5669, Background check declaration;
  • IMM 5285, Spouse Questionnaire.

If you use a representative, such as an immigration lawyer you will need to include IMM 5476.

For additional information on the process of applying for sponsorship and Marriage visas in Form IMM 5289, the Application for Permanent Residence from within Canada Spouse or Common Law Partner in Canada Class Instruction Guide.

Marriage Visa Fees

For a family-class visa application there are several associated fees that you may need to consider:

  • $75 for each sponsorship application.
  • $475 for the principal applicant. However, it is only $75 if the principal applicant is a dependent child under the age of 22.
  • $150 for each family member of the principal applicant if they are under the age of 22.

All values are in Canadian dollars. The fees can be paid online and it is necessary for you to include the receipt (IMM 5401) in the application package.

Mailing the Forms

The completed application package can be mailed to:

  • Vegreville, Alberta’s Case Processing Center provided that the family members live within Canada.
  • Mississauga, Ontario’s Case Processing Center provided that the family members live outside of Canada.

The estimated amount of time it takes for the assessment of the sponsor to take place is approximately 28 days. The total processing time will vary depending upon the backlog at the Case Processing Centers.

Travel Visa

How to get a Travel Visa

Applying for a travel visa in Canada is relatively easy because the Canadian government believes that bringing in more tourists and visitors is not only good for the economy, but also for the collective culture of the country.

Canadians have one of the most progressive immigration systems in the world and the first to become formally a multicultural nation. By multicultural they mean to say that the people of Canada come from many different countries and cultures, but the sovereignty of these cultures work to sustain the overall culture of Canada.

Depending upon what country you are from you may not even need a travel visa, your passport may be enough. However, if you need to apply for a visitor visa you will need to provide a number of identity documents as well as your passport.

It is important to note that all travel visas have a date of limitation stamped on them by immigration officials as you enter the country. You must leave Canada by this date if you want to be able to re-enter Canada at a later date. We will discuss this in greater detail at the end of this article.

Travel Destinations

Canada is an enormous country with innumerable beautiful things to see within its borders and many people find Canada an excellent travel destination every year with millions of visitors just last year.

Quebec City has old world charm planted squarely in the new world and is one of the oldest European settlements in the Americas. The Chateau Du Frontenac is a beautiful hotel and a popular travel destination.

Niagara Falls has been a tourist destination for over a hundred years and is a truly impressive natural wonder. Billions of gallons of water rush off of its cliffs creating a cloud effect at ground level. Many special events take place near the falls and a specially made car travels over the falls to give visitors a particularly close view. Travel Destinations

Feeling wild? Much of Canada is virgin wilderness and the national parks located throughout the country offer excellent opportunities for camping and hiking. The Yukon, known in travel and adventure stories from the late 1800s is located in the North West near Alaska.

The Trans-Canadian railroad affords you the opportunity to see the greater part of Canada from Ontario to British Colombia in the comfort of a rail car. A unique and fun experience.

What you should do if you want to stay

After staying in Canada for a period of time you may find that you don’t want to leave! This is of course understandable; Canada does have a great deal of charm.

However, if you are in Canada with a travel visa you must leave by the date stamped into your passport by the Canadian immigration officials. If you don’t do this you won’t be able to re-apply for entry.

After you leave Canada you can then apply to come back. If you want to stay longer than a visitor visa will allow or if you want to study or work you should look into one of the other visas offered by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the Canadian immigration department.

Temporary Resident Visa

Canada’s immigration system, like many other immigration systems, makes a distinction between immigration visas and temporary visas. It is evident enough that temporary visas are granted to visitors who only intend to stay in Canada for a limited period of time. Immigration visas are granted to people who intend to stay in Canada on a more or less permanent basis.

There are several different temporary visas in Canada based on purpose. Ensuring that you apply for the proper visa is an important step in coming to Canada.

Some of these temporary visas can be used to parlay one’s status into permanent residency or immigration visas. However, some of these visas are explicitly limited to a temporary period of time at the end of which you must leave Canada in order to apply for entry again. Staying in Canada past your visa expiry date is illegal and comes with ramifications that include exclusion from re-entry to Canada. It is in your best interest to follow the rules involved with your visa very carefully.

Below we will discuss some of the more common temporary visas made available through Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Feel free to click on the name of the visa to get more information about that visa type courtesy of Immigration Direct.

Tourism Visas

One of the most popular and most frequently issued visas in Canada, visitors to Canada or business travelers can get this stamp in their passport and visit the country for a limited period of time.

Tourism visas are most often only granted for up to six months, however, the length of time that the visa is granted for is dependent upon the travel plans that you disclose to the immigration officials.

Student Visas

This program is one of the visas that can be eventually transferred to permanent residency. If you are accepted to an educational institution in Canada you can then apply for a student visa.

Student visas are still temporary and at the end of your studies you should look into changing your status to permanent residency.

Super Visas

Super visas are granted to the parents and grandparents of some residents of Canada and are in effect just visitor visas. The difference between a regular visitor visa and a super visa is the length of time the visitor is allowed to stay. Super visas allow their holders to stay in Canada for up to two years before they have to leave the country.

Work visas

Most work visas issued in Canada are for permanent residency, but there are some instances (such as for migrant workers) where workers can obtain temporary resident visas to work in Canada.

Generally, these visas are intended to eventually be used for shifting into permanent residency.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada Forms

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is the governmental organization that is responsible for the administration and enforcement of Canadian immigration. All immigrants and non-immigrants who wish to enter Canada must apply through the CIC.

Some immigration forms are more popular than others. Finding the right form is an important part of coming to Canada.

Replace or Renew Permanent Resident Card

The form used for renewing or replacing a Permanent Resident Card is called IMM 5444. Permanent Resident Cards are the identification that Canadian Permanent Residents use to return to Canada from abroad and to apply for certain social benefits like employment insurance.

The Permanent Resident Card has an expiry date and should be replaced when that date comes up.

Citizenship Application

After a certain time of residency Permanent Residents are allowed to file for citizenship with Form CIT 0002. Permanent Residents must also meet other requirements such as language competency and knowledge of Canadian history, government and culture.

Full citizenship in Canada allows immigrants to vote in all elections and entitlement to the full rights and benefits in Canada. Citizenship can never be revoked, unlike Permanent Residency, which is subject to more eligibility requirements.

Passports

The ability to hold a Canadian passport is another benefit of having Canadian citizenship. The CIC is not responsible for the distribution of passports, rather it is the Ministry of State that handles passports.

For Canadian Citizens living in Canada the form that should be used for applying for a passport is Form PPTC 054. This form requires applicants to submit certain personal information to confirm identity and citizenship status as well as a set of photographs.

Study Permits

Citizenship and Immigration Canada recently released statistics that showed that they have accepted more student visas than ever before and it is no wonder when one considers the sheer quality of Canadian universities. Universities are not the only schools that study permits are used for.

After a student is accepted to a Canadian school and eligibility requirements have been met, students will then be asked to file Form IMM 1294. Canada offers some programs that allow students to parlay their degrees into jobs and eventually Permanent Residency in Canada. Student Permits

Work Permits

The Canadian government, in an effort to bolster the Canadian economy, accepts large numbers of immigrants into its provinces to work in a variety of fields whether skilled or professional. Several regions of Canada have burgeoning industries and economies that are growing faster than Canadian can fill those jobs, so immigrants are asked to come in and work in Canada.

Applying for a Canadian work permit requires immigrants to file IMM 1295. Many of the work programs within Canada either grant or will lead to Permanent Residency and are perfect for those looking to become full-blown Canadian citizens.

Visitor Visas

Canada is a beautiful country and it draws very large numbers of visitors and tourists from all around the world to drink in its natural beauty and breathtaking sights.

There are also many countries throughout the world who have agreements with Canada that make filing for visas unnecessary and therefore much easier to make a visit to scenic and historic Canada.