Archive for the ‘Canadian Immigration’ Category

Citizenship and Immigration Canada Warns Stakeholders Not to Give Immigration Advice

Henry Chang | April 7, 2014 in Canadian Immigration | Comments (0)

Last year, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC”) published a notice on its website, which provided valuable guidance regarding the giving of immigration advice.  It states that due to changes in Canada’s immigration law, many stakeholders are now required to be members of a prescribed regulatory body if they wish to provide immigration services to clients, including immigration advice.

According to the notice, the stakeholders affected include: (1) travel agents, (2) employment agents and recruiters, (3) human resources (“HR”) professionals, (4) educational agents, (5) adoption agencies, and (6) live-in caregivers’ agents.  The notice further states that these stakeholders should not perform any of the following tasks:

  1. They should not explain and/or advise on someone’s immigration options.
  2. They should not guide a client on how to select the best immigration stream.
  3. They should not complete and/or submit immigration forms on a client’s behalf.
  4. They should not communicate with CIC or the Canada Border Services Agency on a client’s behalf (except for the direct translation of a client’s written or spoken submissions).
  5. They should not represent a client in an immigration application or proceeding.
  6. They should not advertise that they can provide immigration advice for consideration.
  7. HR personnel cannot complete applications forms, such as work permits and visa applications, on behalf of workers recruited.

CIC is clearly warning stakeholders not to engage in the unauthorized practice of law.  It is also of the opinion that merely advising someone on their immigration options can be considered unauthorized practice.  Despite this warning, it remains to be seen whether the above stakeholders will refrain from performing these tasks in the future.

Use of Kijiji in Jobs Report Highlights its Unreliability as a Recruitment Source

Henry Chang | in Canadian Immigration | Comments (0)

On February 11, 2014, Finance Canada released its 54-page “Jobs Report” alongside the Federal Budget. In that report, the Canadian Government claimed that Canada’s job vacancy rate had been “increasing steadily since 2009.”  However, this claim was challenged by economists, who noted that Statistics Canada’s own figures proved it was declining.

As reported by the media, the problem related to the Canadian Government’s use of data provided by a company known as Wanted Analytics, which uses software to send Web spiders across all known online job sites in order to create a database of available jobs.  The Conference Board of Canada, which also uses Wanted Analytics, recently concluded that job postings from Kijiji were overly volatile and removed them as a source of job data for its own Help Wanted Index.

Officials with the Parliamentary Budget Office have also stated that the Kijiji website is so unreliable as a job site that it can single-handedly explain Finance Canada’s claims.  With the removal of Kijiji from the search, the steep rise in the job vacancy rate essentially disappears.

Some employers still use Kijiji and Craigslist in order to comply with the advertising requirement, which applies to Labour Market Opinion (“LMO”) applications.  However, the recent media attention surrounding the Jobs Report strongly suggests that such websites should not be considered reliable sources for recruitment.

During the past few months, immigration practitioners have reported that some LMO applications, which relied on Kijiji or Craigslist for recruitment, have been denied by Employment and Social Development Canada (“ESDC”).  However, this rejection of Kijiji and Craigslist as a recruitment source is not being applied consistently and no formal guidance has been published by ESDC yet.

Even in the absence of formal guidance, employers that wish to advertise jobs in connection with the filing of an LMO application should avoid the use of free websites such Kijiji or Craigslist.  They should instead consider established employment websites such as,,, or; all of these websites are specifically listed on the ESDC website as examples of acceptable sources for recruitment.

Government of Canada to Eliminate Immigrant Investor and Entrepreneur Programs

Henry Chang | March 2, 2014 in Canadian Immigration | Comments (0)

On February 11, 2014, the Government of Canada announced its intention to terminate the Federal Immigrant Investor Program (“IIP”) and Federal Entrepreneur Program (“EP”) and eliminate the large backlog of applications.  These immigration-related announcements were contained in the Canadian Government’s 2014 Budget (the “Economic Action Plan 2014”).

The Economic Action Plan 2014 proposes to terminate IIP and EP applications filed on or before February 11, 2014, and to return the filing fees paid to those applicants.  However, before this plan can be implemented, the Budget Implementation Act must still be passed by Parliament and receive Royal Assent.

According to Operational Bulletin 566 (“OB 566”), published by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC”) on February 12, 2014, the processing of IIP and EP applications will continue according to routine office procedures until further notice.  Of course, Canada has not accepted any new IIP applications since July 1, 2012, and has not accepted any new EP applications since July 1, 2011.  OB 566 refers only to cases currently in the backlog.

There has been no announcement regarding which cases currently in the backlog will be processed to completion.  Based on the process used by CIC when it eliminated the backlog of Federal Skilled Worker cases, it is likely that the Budget Implementation Act will terminate all applications that have not reached a specific stage of approval by a specified cut-off date.  Unfortunately, there is no information available regarding what stage of completion and what cut-off date will be used.

According to the Canadian Government, the global economy has changed significantly since the IIP was created three decades ago.  Investment capital flows increasingly freely across borders, and interest rates are low.  Other peer countries have already adapted by increasing the investment and commitment required under their programs.

The Canadian Government has also stated that the EP was designed in the 1970s when Canada’s economic priorities were different from what they are today.  At that time, the focus was on protecting jobs in Canada.  However, a more globalized economy requires a shift towards innovation, productivity and creating better jobs and stronger businesses that can compete on a global scale.

In place of the these programs, the Canadian Government will introduce a new Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Fund pilot program, which will require immigrants to make a real and significant investment in the Canadian economy.  The Government will also undertake consultations on a potential Business Skills pilot program.

These new pilot programs will be implemented by way of Ministerial Instructions, pursuant to Section 14.1 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (“IRPA”), in the same manner as the Start-Up Visa Program.  Under Section 14.1, no more than 2,750 applications may be processed each year under a pilot program.  In addition, a pilot program may only be implemented for a maximum period of five years, after which the Canadian Government must amend IRPA if it wishes to establish a permanent program.

Government of Canada Proposes Significant Amendments to the Citizenship Act

Henry Chang | February 11, 2014 in Canadian Immigration | Comments (0)


On February 6, 2014, Citizenship and Immigration Minister (the “Minister”) Chris Alexander unveiled Bill C-24, the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, which will be the first significant amendment to the Canadian Citizenship Act [1] since 1977.  Among other things, Bill C-24 makes the following amendments to the Citizenship Act:

  1. It clarifies the meaning of being resident in Canada for naturalization purposes;
  2. It changes the period during which a permanent resident must reside in Canada before they may apply for citizenship;
  3. It expedites access to citizenship for persons who are serving in, or have served in, the Canadian Armed Forces;
  4. It requires an applicant for citizenship to demonstrate knowledge of Canada, knowledge of the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship, and knowledge of one of Canada’s official languages;
  5. It specifies the minimum age at which an applicant for citizenship must demonstrate the above knowledge;
  6. It requires that an applicant meet any applicable requirement under the Income Tax Act [2] to file an income tax return;
  7. It confers citizenship on certain individuals and their descendants who may not have acquired citizenship under prior legislation;
  8. It extends an exception to the first-generation limit to citizenship by descent to children born to or adopted abroad by parents who were themselves born to or adopted abroad by Crown servants; and
  9. It requires, for a grant of citizenship to an adopted person, that the adoption not have circumvented international adoption law.

Amendments to the Citizenship Act‘s security and fraud provisions also include the following changes:

  1. It expands the prohibition against granting citizenship to include persons who are charged outside Canada for an offence that, if committed in Canada, would constitute an indictable offence under an Act of Parliament or who are serving a sentence outside Canada for such an offence;
  2. It expands the prohibition against granting citizenship to include persons who engaged in certain actions contrary to the national interest of Canada while they were permanent residents;
  3. It aligns the grounds related to security and organized criminality on which a person may be denied citizenship with those grounds that currently exist in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act [3] and extends the period during which a person is barred from acquiring citizenship on that basis;
  4. It expands the prohibition against granting citizenship to include persons who misrepresent material facts in the course of their application and prohibits new applications by those persons for a specified period;
  5. It increases the period during which a person is barred from applying for citizenship after having been convicted of certain offences;
  6. It increases the maximum penalties for offences related to citizenship, including fraud and trafficking in documents of citizenship;
  7. It provides for the regulation of citizenship consultants;
  8. It establishes a hybrid model for revoking a person’s citizenship in which the Minister will decide the majority of cases and the Federal Court will decide the cases related to inadmissibility based on security grounds, on grounds of violating human or international rights or on grounds of organized criminality;
  9. It increases the period during which a person is barred from applying for citizenship after their citizenship has been revoked;
  10. It provides for the revocation of citizenship of dual citizens who, while they were Canadian citizens, engaged in certain actions contrary to the national interest of Canada, and permanently bars these individuals from reacquiring citizenship; and
  11. It authorizes regulations to be made respecting the disclosure of information.

Amendments to the provisions governing the processing of applications and the review of decisions include the following:

  1. It requires that an application must be complete to be accepted for processing;
  2. It expands the grounds and period for the suspension of applications and provides for the circumstances in which applications may be treated as abandoned;
  3. It limits the role of citizenship judges in the decision-making process, subject to the Minister periodically exercising his or her power to continue the period of application of that limitation;
  4. It gives the Minister the power to make regulations concerning the making and processing of applications;
  5. It provides for the judicial review of any matter under the Citizenship Act and permits, in certain circumstances, further appeals to the Federal Court of Appeal; and
  6. It transfers discretionary power to grant citizenship in special cases to the Minister.

Key Changes

Bills C-24 proposes to streamline the citizenship application process by reducing the decision-making process from three steps to one and will eliminate the role of citizenship judges in such applications.  The Government of Canada states that this change should bring the average processing time for citizenship applications down to under a year by 2015–2016.  It also states that the current backlog will be reduced by more than 80% by 2015-2016.

The Government of Canada states that current citizenship application fees only cover 20% of the cost of processing a citizenship application.  Bill C-24 will impose a new $300.00 CAD application fee for citizenship applicants, which should cover the entire cost of processing a citizenship application.

Bill C-24 will increase the period of required residence for citizenship eligibility.  The current rules allow a permanent resident to seek Canadian citizenship after being resident in Canada for at least three years during the four years preceding the filing of the application.  The proposed rules will instead require four years of residence in Canada during the six years preceding the filing of the application.

Bill C-24 will specifically require applicants to have been physically present in Canada for at least 183 days out of each of their four years of residence in Canada.  This addresses the conflicting federal court decisions that have attempted to define the meaning of “resident in Canada” for the purposes of citizenship eligibility.

Bill C-24 will require applicants to have met any applicable requirement under the Income Tax Act to file an income tax return for the four taxation years during which they claim to have been resident in Canada.  This requirement does not exist under the current Citizenship Act.

Bill C24 will broaden the range of applicants who will be required to satisfy the official language and knowledge tests.  Under the current Citizenship Act, applicants ages 18 to 54 must speak English or French and pass a Canadian knowledge test.  The proposed amendments will increase the maximum age to age 64.

One of the most controversial changes contained in Bill C-24 is the ability of the Canadian Government to revoke the Canadian citizenship of dual citizens (both Canadian-born and naturalized citizens) if they are convicted of terrorism, treason or spying abroad.  It will also allow the Government of Canada to revoke the Canadian citizenship of dual citizens who are part of an “organized armed group engaged in armed conflict in Canada,” or block citizenship applications from such people.  Although the proposed law prohibits the Canadian Government from revoking the Canadian citizenship of persons who would otherwise become stateless, critics have pointed out that many Canadians may unknowingly possess citizenship in another country through a parent, even though they have no connection to that country and have never previously claimed that country’s citizenship.


Although Bill C-24 contains several welcome changes to the Citizenship Act, it also contains several controversial provisions that are certain to prompt a heated debate in Canada.


1. R.S.C., 1985, c. C-29.
2. R.S.C., 1985, c. 1 (5th Supp.).
3. S.C. 2001, c. 27.

Canadian Visitors to be Automatically Considered for Multiple Entry Visas

Henry Chang | February 10, 2014 in Canadian Immigration | Comments (0)

As of February 6, 2014, visitors to Canada will automatically be considered for multiple-entry temporary resident visas (“TRVs”).  A multiple-entry TRV will allow a visitor to enter Canada on multiple occasions, during the validity period of the visa, without having to reapply each time.

The fee for a TRV will also be reduced from $150.00 CAD to $100.00 CAD, for the processing of either a single- or multiple-entry visa.  Citizenship and Immigration Canada has also increased other temporary resident application fees as of February 6, 2014.  These changes include the following:

  • There will be a $25.00 CAD  increase for study permits and renewals;
  • There will be a $5.00 CAD increase for work permits and renewals;
  • There will be a $25.00 CAD  increase for extensions to remain in Canada as a visitor;
  • The maximum fee for a family to apply for TRVs will increase by $100.00 CAD to $500.00 CAD; and
  • The maximum work permit fee for a group of performing artists and their staff will increase by $15.00 CAD to $465.00 CAD.

Who’s Who Legal Selects Henry Chang as One of the Top 15 Most Highly-Regarded Corporate Immigration Lawyers in the World for 2013

Henry Chang | January 15, 2014 in Canadian Immigration,United States Immigration | Comments (0)

Blaney McMurtry partner Henry J. Chang was recently chosen by Who’s Who Legal as one of the top 15 most highly regarded corporate immigration lawyers in the World for 2013, in its annual worldwide research of law firms. Who’s Who Legal is the Official Research Partner of the International Bar Association and Strategic Research Partner of the ABA Section of International Law.

In addition to this recognition, Mr. Chang is also listed as a leading practitioner in the field of immigration law the Lexpert Canadian Legal Directory, recognized as an expert in immigration law by Best Lawyers, and holds an AV (Preeminent) peer rating from Martindale Hubbell in the field of immigration law.

Canada to Implement Electronic Travel Authorization Program

Henry Chang | January 12, 2014 in Canadian Immigration | Comments (0)


As part of the Canada-United States Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness Action Plan (the “Action Plan”), Canada and the United States agreed to establish a common approach to screening visa-exempt foreign nationals in order to identify threats before they arrive in the North American perimeter.  On December 7, 2013, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC”) published a Notice of Intent in the Canada Gazette, indicating its intention to introduce an Electronic Travel Authorization (“eTA”) Program in Canada.  The eTA program will be similar to the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (“ESTA”) Program, which currently applies to foreign nationals who enter the United States under the Visa Waiver Program.

Overview of the eTA Program

Once implemented, the proposed amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, SOR/2002-227 (the “Regulations”) would require most visa-exempt foreign nationals to apply for and obtain an eTA registration before entering Canada by air (but not by land).  By screening visa-exempt foreign nationals before they arrive in Canada (by air), the Government of Canada hopes to prevent foreign nationals who are inadmissible or who do not meet the requirements of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, S.C. 2001, c. 27 (the “Act”) from travelling to Canada.

The Notice of Intent states that, because Canadian citizens are currently exempt from the ESTA requirement in the United States, United States citizens travelling to Canada will be exempt from the eTA requirement.   It also states that the following foreign nationals, who are described in Subsections 190(2) and (2.1) of the Regulations, will be exempted from the eTA requirement:

  • Holders of passports that contain a diplomatic acceptance, a consular acceptance or an official acceptance issued by the Chief of Protocol for the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade on behalf of the Government of Canada and who are a properly accredited diplomat, consular officer, representative or official of a country other than Canada, of the United Nations or any of its agencies, or of any international organization of which Canada is a member;
  • Holders of passports or travel documents issued by the Holy See;
  • Holders of national Israeli passports;
  • Holders of passports issued by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China;
  • Holders of passports issued by the United Kingdom to a British National (Overseas), as a person born, naturalized or registered in Hong Kong;
  • Holders of passports issued by the United Kingdom to a British Subject which contains the observation that the holder has the right of abode in the United Kingdom;
  • Holders of ordinary passports issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Taiwan that includes the personal identification number of the individual; and
  • Citizens of Lithuania or Poland if they hold machine readable passports that contain a contactless integrated circuit chip and that is issued by Lithuania or Poland.

According to the Notice of Intent, the following travellers could be subject to the eTA requirement:

  • Citizens of current visa-exempt countries listed in Subsection 190(1) of the Regulations, other than citizens of the United States, and foreign nationals travelling with passports listed under Subsections 190(2) and (2.1); and
  • Foreign nationals currently listed in Subsection 190(3) of the Regulations, which include (among others):
    • Air crew members;
    • Foreign nationals transiting through Canada under the Transit Without Visa Program or China Transit Program; and
    • Foreign nationals re-entering Canada after a visit solely to the United States or Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, provided that the requirements of Paragraph 190(3)(f) are met.

The proposed regulatory amendments would specify that foreign nationals who require an eTA must apply online through the CIC Web site by entering mandatory biographic, passport and background information similar to the information that is currently requested by immigration officers at ports of entry or in applications for a temporary resident visa.  These background questions are designed to disclose potential grounds of inadmissibility under the Act.

In order to determine that the eTA applicant is not inadmissible and meets the requirements of the Act, an electronic system would perform an examination that includes a risk assessment and a verification of the information provided in the application against immigration and enforcement databases.  CIC expects that the majority of applications will be approved by the electronic system within minutes of applying.

Any application that is not automatically approved by the electronic system will be referred to an immigration officer for further examination.  If an examination by an immigration officer is required, they would have the ability to either approve or deny an eTA application after making a determination regarding the foreign national’s admissibility or compliance with the Act.

Once approved, an eTA would be valid for a period of up to five years.  However, officers would have the ability to suspend or cancel the eTA, if the foreign national becomes inadmissible to Canada at a later time.

The proposed regulatory amendments would also impose a small cost recovery fee for eTA applications.

Unanswered Questions

The Notice of Intent did not provide a detailed explanation of how CIC would actually implement the eTA program.  As a result, several questions remain unanswered, including the following:

  • It is unclear whether eTA applicants would be given an opportunity to explain their situation if the electronic system cannot automatically approve their request and it is referred to an immigration officer.  Would the immigration officer contact the applicant and offer him or her an opportunity to establish admissibility before rendering a final decision?
  • If an eTA application is denied, would it constitute a refusal of admission or a refusal of a visa?  If so, would an applicant be required to disclose this denial during a subsequent application or inspection?  Would the applicant be able reapply for an eTA at a later date?
  • What rights of appeal would be available to an applicant who has been denied an eTA?
  • If a visa-exempt foreign national is denied an eTA but is still potentially eligible to enter Canada, perhaps with a temporary resident permit (“TRP”), would he or she be permitted or required to apply at a Canadian embassy or consulate?  If so, would this not result in significantly higher backlogs at consular posts?
  • Would information collected in connection with the eTA application be shared with the United States?  If so, what types of information would be shared?

Hopefully, these outstanding questions will be answered once the proposed regulatory amendments are published.

CIC Announces Changes to the Canadian Experience Class

Henry Chang | December 8, 2013 in Canadian Immigration | Comments (0)


On November 9, 2013, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced significant changes to the Canadian Experience Class (“CEC”).  Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC”) will now impose a total annual cap on the number of new CEC applications that it accepts and introduce limits on the number of applications that may be accepted in certain occupations.  In addition, CIC will change the timing of when language ability is assessed.

Total Annual Cap

For the period commencing on November 9, 2013, and ending on October 31, 2014, CIC will accept a maximum of 12,000 new CEC applications.  However, it still intends to admit approximately 15,000 individuals (whose cases are currently being processed) as permanent residents under the CEC during 2014.

Sub-Caps for Certain Occupations

As of November 9, 2013, CIC will impose sub-caps of 200 applications each for National Occupational Classification (“NOC”) Level Skill Level B (usually requiring college education or apprenticeship training) occupations.  NOC Skill Level 0 (management-level) and Skill Level A (usually requiring university education) occupations will not be subject to occupational sub-caps, but they will be subject to the total annual cap of 12,000 applications.

Eliminated Occupations

As of November 9, 2013, the following six occupations will no longer be eligible under the CEC:

a)      Cooks (NOC code 6322);

b)      Food service supervisors (NOC 6311);

c)       Administrative officers (NOC 1221);

d)      Administrative assistants (NOC 1241);

e)      Accounting technicians and bookkeepers (NOC 1311); and

f)       Retail sales supervisors (NOC 6211).

CIC claims that it already has a large inventory of applications in these occupations and will continue processing them to a final decision.

“Up Front” Assessment of Language Ability

CIC will maintain the same language criteria for CEC applicants but, as of November 9, 2013, it will now assess language ability during its initial review of the application. The current language requirements are Canadian Language Benchmark (“CLB”) 7 for NOC Skill Level 0 and Skill Level A occupations, and CLB 5 for NOC Skill Level B occupations.  Applicants who do not have the required language proficiency will have their applications returned to them along with the processing fee.

Canada Lifts Visa Requirement for the Czech Republic

Henry Chang | in Canadian Immigration | Comments (0)

On November 14, 2013, Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced that, effective immediately, Czech nationals will no longer require a temporary resident visa to visit Canada.  Czech nationals can now stay in Canada for up to six months visa-free, which is consistent with all other visa exempt nationals.  This reverses Canada’s previous decision to impose visa requirements on Czech nationals, which came into effect on July 14, 2009.

At that time, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC”) justified its decision based on the fact that nearly 3,000 refugee claims had been filed by Czech nationals since the visa requirement was lifted in October 2007.  In contract, there were less than five such claims in 2006 when the visa requirement was still in place.  At the time that the visa requirement was reinstated in 2009, the Czech Republic was the second top source country for refugee claims.

CIC has stated that a recent visa policy review of the Czech Republic has revealed that it now meets the criteria for a visa exemption.  Visa policy reviews are based on several criteria, including a country’s immigration issues (such as violation rates and asylum claims), the integrity of a country’s travel documents, safety and security issues, border management, human rights, and bilateral relations.

CIC further justified its decision to lift the visa requirement by referring to recent changes in Canada’s refugee system.  In particular, claimants from the Czech Republic will be processed more quickly as it is a designated country of origin, and those whose claims are rejected will be removed from Canada within a few months.

Start-Up Visa Program to Include Business Incubator Stream

Henry Chang | November 3, 2013 in Canadian Immigration | Comments (0)

As previously reported, on March 30, 2013, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC”) published Ministerial Instructions that established the Start-Up Visa Program (“SUVP”).[1] When initially established, the SUVP included a Venture Capital stream and an Angel Investor stream.  However, on October 26, 2013, CIC published new Ministerial Instructions (the “New Instructions”), which expanded the SUVP to include business incubators.[2] It also began accepting applications under this new stream on October 26, 2013.

Under the Business Incubator stream, CIC will designate eligible business incubator programs in consultation with the Canadian Association of Business Incubation.  At the present time, the following entities are eligible business incubators:

  • Communitech;
  • GrowLab;
  • Innovacorp;
  • Innovate Calgary; and
  • Toronto Business Development Centre.

Under the existing SUVP, designated angel investor groups must confirm that they are investing at least $75,000.00 in the applicant’s qualifying business.  Similarly, designated venture capital funds must confirm that they are investing at least $200,000.00 in the applicant’s qualifying business.  However, a business incubator must only confirm that it is accepting the applicant’s qualifying business into its business incubator program.  Otherwise, the requirements of the Business Incubator stream are similar to those that apply to the Angel Investor and Venture Capital streams.

The New Instructions also designated the following additional entities as eligible venture capital funds, as of October 26 2013:

  • Canadian Accelerator Fund Ltd.;
  • Lumira Capital;
  • MaRS Cleantech Fund LP;
  • Real Ventures; and
  • Rogers Venture Partners.

As the SUVP is a pilot program established under Section 14.1 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (the “Act”), no more than 2,750 applications may be processed per year.  Section 14.1 also limits the duration of the pilot program to five years.

As the SUVP initially began accepting applications on April 1, 2013, it will sunset on March 31, 2018.  However, if the pilot program proves successful, the Canadian Government may amend the Act to establish a permanent SUVP before this date.