Q & A: Immigration and Refugee Protection Act 2002
The Government of Canada has announced major changes to the Immigration Regulations, effective June 28, 2002. Everything that you may have read leading up to these final changes are irrelevant. We now know what the law is. There are 233 pages of new Regulations and they will be subject to interpretation by Canadian Visa Officers and the Courts for a considerable time.
The new Regulations have significantly modified the selection system for Skilled Workers. Skilled Workers are allowed into Canada according to the number of points they score out of 100 on the following factors - age, education, work experience, language ability and adaptability.
The new Regulations give rise to many questions.
Who is affected by the new Regulations?
* All individuals who apply for a Canadian permanent resident visa as a Skilled Worker after January 1, 2002 will be processed under the new selection criteria with a pass mark of 75.
* Skilled Worker applicants who applied before December 31, 2001 and who have not had their application assessed by a Visa Officer by March 31, 2003, will be assessed under the new selection criteria with a transition pass mark of 70.
* Skilled Worker applications who applied before December 31, 2001 and who have had their application assessed but no final decision made by March 31, 2003 will be assessed under the previous selection criteria and the previous pass mark of 70.
How does a Skilled Worker qualify under the new Regulations?
Answer: Applicants must have at least one year of work experience in the past 10 years in any skilled occupation. In addition, the new selection system requires a pass mark of 75 out of 100 points on the following factors: age, education, work experience, language ability and adaptability.
Is it possible to qualify as a Skilled Worker with less than 75 points?
Answer: Yes, the Canadian Government has empowered Visa Officers to use positive discretion to pass an applicant when the Visa Officer believes that the total points awarded do not properly reflect the applicant's ability to establish in Canada from an economic perspective. Conversely, a Visa Officer has the discretion to refuse an applicant with more than 75 points.
Where must an application for a Canadian permanent resident visa be submitted?
Answer: As of June 28, 2002 an application for a Permanent Resident Visa must be submitted to the Visa Office that serves the country where the applicant is residing, if the applicant has been lawfully admitted to that country for a period of at least one year; or to the Visa Office that serves the applicant's country of nationality.
Does a Skilled Worker have any financial requirements?
Answer: Skilled Worker applicants, as a general rule, must demonstrate that they have sufficient funds to support themselves, and any accompanying dependants, for six months after their arrival in Canada. The applicant's funds will be measured against the most current "Low Income Cut-Off" figures published by Statistics Canada. At present a single applicant will need to demonstrate funds of CDN$8,943 and a family of three must show CDN$13,902.
Are there any residency requirements?
Answer: A permanent resident must comply with a residency obligation with respect to every five-year period. The permanent resident complies with the residency obligation provisions if, for at least 730 days (2 years) in that 5 year period the permanent resident is physically present in Canada or is:
* Outside of Canada accompanying a Canadian citizen who is his or her spouse or common-law partner or a child accompanying a parent
* Outside Canada employed on a full-time basis by a Canadian business
* Is an accompanying spouse, common-law partner or child of a permanent resident who is outside Canada and is employed as a full-time basis by a Canadian business.
What is the new Permanent Resident Card?
Answer: The Canadian Government is providing all permanent residents with the opportunity to obtain secure proof of their status in Canada. A new permanent resident (PR) card will be given to all individuals who become permanent residents after June 28, 2002. Existing permanent residents may apply for the PR card beginning in September 2002. The PR card in most cases is valid for 5 years and renewable thereafter. In certain cases the PR card may be issued for only 1 year. While permanent residents are under no obligation to apply for a PR card, transportation companies (airlines) will not carry permanent residents to Canada without a valid card after December 31, 2003.
What are the Canadian government fees?
Answer: In the Skilled Worker category the principal applicant must pay a non-refundable processing fee of CDN$550. The accompanying spouse must also pay CDN$550. Accompanying children under 22 years of age each pay CDN$150 and those 22 years and older pay CDN$550. In addition, a refundable right of landing fee of CDN$975 is charged to each newly arriving immigrant 22 years of age or older.