2012 was an important year for Canadian immigration. Changes were made to almost all aspects of the immigration system, from the introduction of new Federal programs to the restructuring of North American visa offices.
While some changes have already taken effect, others have not yet been implemented or are pending governmental approval. In our first article on the subject, CIC News explored changes that have been made to Canada’s major Permanent Residency programs. In this article, we turn our attention to other fields of immigration, including temporary work authorization, family class sponsorship, and student visas.
Restrictions on Spousal Sponsorship – Implemented –In an effort to curb fraud and support legitimate applicants in this category, two new rules have been passed:
- Individuals who became Canadian Permanent Residents through the spousal sponsorship program must maintain their Permanent Residency for 5 years before they can in turn sponsor a spouse.
- For couples who have been living together for two years or less and have no children together, the sponsored individual will receive provisional Permanent Residency for two years. In order for provisional status to be removed, the couple must prove they have lived in a ‘legitimate’ relationship in Canada.
Accelerated Labour Market Opinion- Implemented – Most of the time, in order to be eligible to hire a foreign worker, a Canadian employer must first receive a Labour Market Opinion (LMO). An LMO is a document issued by the government of Canada which states that the hiring of a foreign worker will have a positive (or neutral) effect on the local labour market.
LMO processing times vary from province to province, and can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. The Accelerated Labour Market Opinion (ALMO) provides an expedited option, allowing eligible employers to receive an LMO within 10 business days of application.
Bridging Work Permit – Implemented –This new permit applies to individuals who have submitted an application for permanent residency and are already in Canada on a temporary work permit. If an individual’s work permit is set to expire while waiting to hear a decision on their permanent residency application, they may apply for a one-year ‘bridging’ work permit. This permit allows a worker to remain in Canada and is ‘open’, meaning they may work for any employer they wish.
Increasing Worker Safety – Implemented – Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) will no longer issue visas and work permits to temporary foreign workers destined to work in professions linked to the sex trade. These include working at strip clubs, massage parlors, and escort agencies.
Regulation of Institutions – Proposed – Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has proposed to limit the issuance of study permits to students who will be attending a Canadian institution that has been designated by its province or territory. CIC will also have the authority to request proof of ongoing study from permit holders.
Off-Campus Work – Proposed – CIC has also proposed changes to the study permit system that will allow holders to work off-campus on a part-time basis. Currently, international students must hold a separate temporary work permit to perform work outside of their school.
Issuing Permits at Canadian Border – Implemented – Some individuals with a criminal conviction require a Temporary Residence Permit (TRP) to enter Canada. Now, certain individuals with a single summary (misdemeanor) offense can receive a TRP at a Canadian port of entry without paying standard processing fees. This is available for one time only.
Other Important Changes
Language Provisions for Citizenship – Implemented – Applicants for Canadian Citizenship must now meet or exceed a minimum level of language proficiency in either English or French. This level has been set at Canadian Language benchmark 4 and can be proven by taking a designated language test.
Consolidating Visa Offices – Underway – CIC has restructured its network of visa offices in North America. This includes the closure of the visa office in Buffalo, New York. The temporary resident visa allocation and workload at all North American visa offices has been adjusted.
Applying for Canadian Immigration in 2013
These changes have been implemented as part of an ongoing effort to transition Canada’s immigration system to one that is “faster and more flexible” while continuing to look out for the best interests of those coming to Canada.
“This year will certainly present a new immigration system with new rules to follow,” says Attorney David Cohen. “I look forward to helping my clients navigate these new rules and receive their visas in a more streamlined and transparent manner.”
As the new year continues to unfold, additional changes may come to light. Stay tuned to CIC News for the latest updates on the latest Canadian immigration news.
To find out if you are eligible for one of over 60 Canadian immigration programs, please fill out a free online assessment.