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Assisted Relatives

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Foreign professionals who apply for a Canadian Immigrant Visa under the “Skilled Worker” category are assessed under a “points” system. Under current Federal Selection Criteria, applicants are awarded “units of assessment” for a number of objective factors, such as age, education, occupational background and language ability.

In addition, since 1993, applicants who have a close relative who is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident are awarded an additional 5 “bonus” points. Thus, instead of being required to obtain a minimum of 70 points to qualify, these “assisted relatives” need only obtain 65 points.

There has been a certain amount of controversy in recent years as to whether the 5 bonus points could be awarded where the relative in Canada was related to the principal applicant’s spouse. Based on a literal interpretation of the Regulations, lawyers working for Citizenship and Immigration Canada have opined that the 5 bonus points should NOT be awarded in such cases. However, individual Visa Officers have been known to award the 5 bonus points despite this legal opinion.

In a recently issued Operations Memorandum, Citizenship and Immigration Canada has attempted to settle this controversial issue. In the OM, the purpose behind the awarding of the 5 bonus points is examined: namely, that an immigrant FAMILY will have an easier time becoming established in Canada if he or she has relatives in Canada who can assist with such matters as accommodation, job searching, child care, and so on. The OM concludes as follows:

“Therefore, in cases where the applicant and his spouse are both part of the application that is being assessed, it is recommended that officers award the 5 bonus points to a principal applicant whose SPOUSE is an uncle or aunt, brother or sister, son or daughter, nephew or niece or grandson or granddaughter of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident who is at least 19 years of age and who resides in Canada.”

Hopefully, this new OM will make it that much easier for more foreign professionals to qualify for Canadian permanent resident status.