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Archives for March 2009
On November 28, 2008, Citizenship, Immigration, and Multiculturalism Canada Minister Jason Kenney announced the new instructions for the processing of all Federal Skilled Worker applications received since February 27, 2008. Since that time, this category of Canadian immigration has continued strong, albeit with more stringent requirements. A comprehensive review of the requirements and the change in processes are outlined here.
The Action Plan for Faster Immigration was created to reduce Federal Skilled Worker application processing times to 6 to 12 months. The new requirements and processes apply only to applications submitted on or after February 27, 2008. All those submitted prior to then will are processed based on previous assessment criteria and processing times.
Under the Immigration Minister’s instructions, Canadian Immigration Visa Officers reviewing Federal Skilled Worker applications are to process applications from three types of candidates. Applicants must either:
1. Have at least one year of continuous full-time or equivalent paid work experience in the past 10 years in one of the 38 qualifying occupations, which have been identified as the most in-demand occupations in Canada at this time; or
2. Have been living in Canada with legal status as a Temporary Foreign Worker or an international student for at least one year; or
3. Qualify for Arranged Employment with a full-time permanent job offer from a Canadian employer.
Each type of applicant has its own application submission process:
1. Applicants with Arranged Employment are to submit their applications directly to the Canadian immigration visa office responsible for the applicant’s country of nationality or residence (if the applicant has been legally residing in that country for at least one year).
2. Applications made by Temporary Foreign Worker or International Student currently residing in Canada, who have been legally residing Canada for at least one year, are to be submitted to the Canadian immigration visa office in Buffalo, New York, or the visa office serving the applicant’s country of nationality.
3. All other Federal Skilled Worker applications, with work experience in the 38 occupations are to be submitted to the Centralized Intake Office (CIO) in Nova Scotia. These applicants will submit forms and certain basic documents to the CIO, which will forward applicants who meet the basic work experience requirements to the appropriate Canadian immigration visa office abroad. At that time, the CIO will notify qualified applicants that they must submit their complete application to the visa office abroad in a 120 day period. Those who do not qualify based on the CIO review of work experience qualifications will have their applications returned and their processing fees refunded.
These changes do not affect the requirements or the processing methods of any other category of Canadian immigration.
Ministerial instructions are designed to reflect the needs of the Canadian economy and Canadian society. As economic conditions change, requirements may be adjusted.
Whether at libraries, educational institutions, community centres or online, Canadian organizations and federal, provincial, and territorial governments have been making great strides to provide exceptional settlement services to newcomers. Here are some recent highlights.
This month, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Canada (CIMC) has infused new funding into immigrant settlement services in Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia, providing newcomers with more opportunities to succeed in Canada.
In Ontario, a new $1.9 million injection of government funding will create library settlement services in Brampton, Kitchener, Richmond Hill, Windsor, and London. These will be based on the models currently set up in Toronto, Ottawa, and Hamilton.
In addition to serving as gathering places for recent immigrants, these libraries will provide group orientation workshops to help them research local housing, transportation, and employment opportunities. There are also community outreach programs to inform newcomers about the variety of services and resources available in their region.
Focusing on immigrant youth and young adult newcomers, the Government of British Columbia (BC) has allocated $4.9 million to programs and projects in thirteen BC communities to help newcomers who are facing language and settlement barriers.
“Our government is committed to providing special support for older immigrant youth and young adults who face barriers that make it difficult for them to attend school or find employment,” said BC Minister of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development, Murray Coell. “This investment will ensure that these young people have a way of connecting to the broader community and gain the self-esteem and confidence they need to pursue further learning or work.”
As of April 2009, these personal and group support services will help young adult immigrants to develop goals and plans achieve them; and to improve their education and work prospects through language training and employment support services.
Additionally, the province of BC has invested $1 million in community bridging services, which match immigrant youth with community volunteers during the settlement and adjustment period.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada has also injected $2.3 million into immigrant settlement services at four organizations in Edmonton, Alberta.
In terms of online settlement tools, LoonLounge.com, the Canadian Immigration and Settlement Online Community, is now frequented by over 20,000 members. Canadians, newcomers, and potential immigrants are connecting and exchanging information on LoonLounge; helping each other to improve the Canadian immigration and integration process.
Two new highlights are the Virtual Canada Explorer and the new “YES! You can become a Canadian!” trivia quiz. The Virtual Canada Explorer is an interactive map that gives a tour of the country and tells you essential information about each region. It is a tool that can help potential immigrants make their choice of destination in Canada. The trivia quiz is an online game to test your knowledge of Canada – a fun way to learn more about the country.
LoonLounge’s slogan, “Building Canada Together,” is the purpose of settlement organizations across Canada. Integration of settlement services across governments, municipalities, and the internet are helping this goal become a reality.
Over the past several years, the Government of Canada has been reviewing its citizenship laws, which are considered quite liberal, compared to other countries’. Bill C-37 was created in response to these deliberations and will go into effect on April 17, 2009. Under the new law, certain individuals who lost their citizenship will regain it. Others will receive Canadian citizenship for the first time. The most significant change, however, is to the regulations for granting of citizenship to children born abroad to Canadian parents.
One of the main purposes of Bill C-37 is to restore Canadian citizenship to the tens of thousands of Canadians who have had their citizenship denied or unknowingly allowed it to expire because of several little-known particularities of Canada’s Citizenship Act.
The proposed legislation restores citizenship to anyone born in Canada or who became a Canadian citizen on or after January 1, 1947 (when the Citizenship Act was created), and then lost their citizenship. This includes war brides who have not yet become Canadian citizens.
Some of the people who will have their citizenship reinstated are children who were born abroad to Canadian parents; or they are children born in Canada but whose parents later became citizens of another country. Also receiving citizenship under the new law are foreign-born family members of Second World War veterans, who were granted citizenship when they moved to Canada after the war, but later lost it because they were not aware that it subsequently needed to be reaffirmed.
The new law will retroactively rectify these past problems.
Moving forward, however, citizenship laws will become more restrictive for children of Canadians born abroad.
Canada grants citizenship to anyone born on Canadian soil. If Canadian citizens give birth abroad, their children are automatically accorded Canadian citizenship as well.
Previously, these Canadians born abroad could pass on their citizenship to their children, grandchildren, and so on, regardless of whether the children were born in Canada or not.
The new law restricts this citizenship by descent. Now, if first-generation Canadians (those born in Canada) give birth to their children in another country, they can still pass on their Canadian citizenship. However, if second-generation Canadians (those born to Canadian parents abroad) have children in another country, these children will not qualify for Canadian citizenship.
Essentially, Canadian citizenship by descent will only be accorded to first-generation Canadians living abroad.
Second-generation Canadians can only pass on their citizenship to their children if they give birth in Canada. If they give birth abroad, their children will not be accorded Canadian citizenship.
This means that second-generation Canadians will not possess the same citizenship rights as those born in Canada. This has garnered considerable criticism.
Canada has a vibrant and valuable expatriate community around the world, which proudly represents the country. Critics say that this new law would discourage Canadian citizens from settling abroad.
First, a bit of good news: Canada will likely weather the current economic storm better than any other Western nation. As the Prime Minister recently pointed out, Canada has a low debt burden, an efficient inflation regime, a diversified economy, flexible labor markets and proper fiscal management going back for more than a decade. Canadian banks have not needed the government bailouts that have become a necessity in the US and many European countries. In fact, Canada has the world’s soundest banking system according to a survey by the respected World Economic Forum. To top it off, many economists predict that Canada will be the first advanced country to emerge from this worldwide economic downturn.