Update: Parent/Grandparent Sponsorship to Resume in Late January

UPDATE: Parent/Grandparent interest to sponsor form will be available at noon EST on January 28, 2019.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) kept eager applicants guessing until the very last minute, but finally announced on December 31, 2018 that the much anticipated reopening of the 2019 Parent/Grandparent Sponsorship program would not occur right at the dawn of the new year, but would instead be reopening “in late January”.  The announcement, which was done via Twitter also indicated that IRCC would give “advance notice” of the reopening of the program.

For 2019, IRCC will be using a first-come, first-serve basis. Interested applicants would want to complete their Expression of Interest forms as soon as possible once the program does reopen as IRCC will invite individuals to submit their Parent/Grandparent Sponsorship Applications based on the time that they submit that online form. Click here for our previous article on the changes to the intake process for 2019.

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Changes Coming to Parent/Grandparent Sponsorships for the Beginning of 2019

Update: As of December 28, 2018, the Government has not yet announced the details of how they will accept online Expressions of Interest for parent/grandparent sponsorships and have also not indicated the date when they would start being accepted (other than saying that the program would open sometime in January 2019).

At the end of August 2018, the Government of Canada announced that it would be making changes to its intake system for parent and grandparent sponsorship applications when the program re-opens at the beginning of 2019, and that they would also be increasing the number of sponsorship applications accepted from 17,000 to 20,000.

The parent/grandparent sponsorship program seems to get a disproportionate amount of attention compared to the number of immigrants who actually come to Canada as sponsored parents or grandparents (only 5.7% of Canada’s immigrants came under the Parents/Grandparents Sponsorship Program in 2016),

The attention placed on the program is likely due to their being two countervailing schools of thought when it comes to parents and grandparents.  On one hand, there are many immigrants to Canada (the majority of whom immigrated to Canada under economic immigration streams based on their skills or ability to contribute to Canada) who long to have their families together in Canada.

On the other hand, there is a perception from some segments of the population that sponsored parents/grandparents are less likely to be economic contributors and instead represent a potential drain on the Canadian economy.

While the majority of Canadian immigrants are selected on the basis of their ability to contribute to the Canadian economy, I believe that there should always be room for family reunification as part of the Canadian immigration system. There are many benefits to allowing individuals to have their parents with them in Canada, benefits that are not easily quantifiable.  Having their parents with them in Canada will often have an immeasurable impact on an immigrant’s happiness, wellbeing, and productivity.  Having access to these types of family relationships in Canada can often improve an immigrant’s ability to integrate with and contribute to Canadian society.  For example, parents or grandparents often contribute to a family’s economic well-being by provided trusted child care and allowing their adult children to more easily pursue schooling or to contribute meaningfully in the Canadian labour market.

With their recent announcement, the Government of Canada seems to have recognized the importance of the parent/grandparent sponsorship program by implementing modest yearly increases to the number of parents and grandparents that will be admitted as Canadian permanent residents.

The procedural changes being made to the intake system for parent/grandparent sponsorship applications were a response to complaints surrounding the lottery system that has been in place for the past couple of years.

The current lottery system was introduced at the beginning of 2017 as a way to make the system fairer than the one that was in place when the Liberal government took office.  Prior to the introduction of the lottery system, applications to sponsor a parent or grandparents were received on a first-come first-serve basis, according to the time that complete sponsorship applications were physically received at the Case Processing Centre in Mississauga, Ontario.

At the beginning of each year potential sponsors had to scramble to make sure that their applications arrived in Mississauga before the quota was filled.  In order to improve their chances of having their applications accepted within the quota, some sponsors began relying on expensive specialized couriers who charged hundreds of dollars to stand in line hours before the Processing Centre opened to try to ensure that their clients’ applications were among the first to be received by the government.

Because the applications needed to be delivered to Mississauga, applicants from outside of the region were at a clear disadvantage, so were individuals who did not know about or have the ability to pay for the specialized courier services.

In 2017, to address this unfairness the current government introduced a lottery system in which individuals had an opportunity at the beginning of each year to submit an online “Interest to Sponsor” form.  After this initial period, Immigration would randomly select a certain number of interested sponsors and invite those lucky few to submit parent/grandparent sponsorship applications.  In 2017, there was roughly a 1 in 10 chance of being selected -over 95,000 people completed the online “Interest to Sponsor” form and 10,000 sponsors were randomly selected and invited to submit their parent/grandparent sponsorship application.

While the lottery system was certainly fairer than the previous first-come first-serve system, many applicants were strongly opposed to it as there was perception that it was too arbitrary of a way to decide a matter of such personal importance.  While a random selection of interested sponsors treats all interested parties equally and is by definition inherently fair, for unlucky individuals who were not drawn in successive years there was a perception of “unfairness” and complaints that the government was “gambling” with their families’ futures.

While the full details of the new system have not yet been announced, Immigration has indicated that when they recommence accepting applications at the beginning of 2019 that sponsors will still be required to complete an online Interest to Sponsor form.  However, instead of randomly selecting sponsors to apply, sponsors will be invited to submit applications based on the order that they submit their Interest to Sponsor forms.  Essentially, the government has replaced their random lottery process with something that resembles the process of trying secure online concert tickets for a popular musical act.  At the moment that the program reopens in 2019, I envision thousands of interest sponsors clicking frantically through Immigration’s online forms in an effort to submit first, just like a diehard fan trying to secure a hot concert ticket when it first goes on sale – but with immeasurably higher stakes.

I am concerned that the new parent/grandparent sponsorship selection system will favour individuals with more powerful electronic devices and faster internet speeds and that individuals from remote areas or with limited access to the highest internet speeds may find themselves at a disadvantage.  Furthermore, as with many of these types of first-come first-serve online systems, I am concerned that certain individuals will find a way to exploit some sort of technological advantage, or that Immigration’s online systems may struggle to handle the tremendous number of applications that are going to be submitted concurrently once the program re-opens.  It remains to be seen how the Immigration department will address these potential issues.

While I am not sure that the new system is actually an improvement over the existing lottery system, I understand that some would-be sponsors may feel some increased comfort now that their fate is not left to a random draw and that they instead have some degree of control over whether they are ultimately successful.

If you are interested in sponsoring your parents or grandparents for permanent residence, we would suggest that you look out for the full details of the new system at the end of 2018 and that you be prepared to submit an online Interest to Sponsor form immediately once the program re-opens at the beginning of 2019.

If there is one thing that we have learned about the parent/grandparent sponsorship stream over the past few years, it’s that demand for the program will greatly exceed the number of applications that will ultimately be accepted.

McCuaig Desrochers LLP, a general practice law firm with Edmonton’s largest group of immigration lawyers (www.mccuaig.com). This article first appeared in the April 2018 edition of the Millwoods Mosaic – the Multicultural Voice of Southeast Edmonton and is intended to provide general information only and should not to be relied on as legal advice or opinion. We invite you to contact one of the members of our experienced immigration group for assistance.

Changes to DUI laws may endanger immigration status

In October of 2018, Canada legalized the recreational use of marijuana (cannabis) for adults. The introduction of this legislation arrives with some significant changes to the penalties that may be imposed on those who commit offenses related not only to marijuana but to many driving related offences as well. Taking effect on December 18, 2018, one such change will see an increase in the maximum penalty for driving under the influence, or “DUI”, and it is this change that may catch permanent residents and temporary residents by surprise and potentially impact their immigration status.

As of December 18, 2018, the maximum term of imprisonment for DUI’s will increase from 5 years to 10 years, and as a result will become an offence that is automatically considered “serious criminality” for the purposes of Canadian immigration laws.

The distinction between ordinary criminality and serious criminality is an important one.

Only foreign nationals, such as visitors, foreign workers or students, become inadmissible to Canada for “ordinary” criminality. Our immigration laws define “ordinary” criminality as (a) having been convicted in Canada of an indictable or hybrid offence, or of two strictly summary offences not arising out of a single occurrence; (b) having been convicted outside Canada of an offence or offences that would constitute “ordinary” criminality had it been committed in Canada; or (c) committing an act outside Canada that is an offence in the place where it was committed and that, if committed in Canada, would constitute an indictable or hybrid offence.

Inadmissibility for “ordinary” criminality can cause foreign nationals, but not permanent residents, to lose their immigration status in Canada, or can prevent them from entering Canada as temporary residents or from obtaining permanent resident status.

An individual would continue to be inadmissible to Canada for ordinary criminality until they receive a pardon for the offence, or until they are considered rehabilitated.  An individual is eligible to apply for rehabilitation after five years have passed since the completion of their sentence. Individuals who have a single foreign conviction or offence that causes them to be inadmissible for “ordinary” criminality are automatically deemed to have been rehabilitated if ten years have passed since the completion of their sentence.

While “ordinary” criminality only affects foreign nationals, serious criminality causes inadmissibility for Canadian permanent residents and foreign nationals alike.

Canada’s immigration laws define serious criminality as: (a) having been convicted in Canada of an offence punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of at least 10 years, or of an offence for which a term of imprisonment of more than six months has been imposed; (b) having been convicted of an offence outside Canada that, if committed in Canada, would constitute an offence punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of at least 10 years; or (c) committing an act outside Canada that is an offence in the place where it was committed and that, if committed in Canada, would constitute an offence punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of at least 10 years.

Individuals who are inadmissible for serious criminality will also continue to be considered inadmissible to Canada until they receive a pardon for the offence, or until they are considered rehabilitated.  Just as with “ordinary” criminality, an individual who is inadmissible for serious criminality can make an application for rehabilitation after five years have passed since the completion of their sentence; an important difference however, is that an individual will never be considered deemed rehabilitated for serious criminality by the mere passage of time.

Raising the maximum penalties for DUI’s from five years to ten years has the potential to significantly affect the Canadian immigration system. For example, prior to the penalty increase, a permanent resident would only face removal proceedings for a single Canadian DUI conviction if they received a sentence of more than six months of imprisonment. With the coming increase in the maximum penalty for DUI’s, a permanent resident could face removal proceedings for a DUI conviction even if they received a sentence that was six months or less – though such individuals would maintain a right to appeal their removal to the Immigration Appeal Division.

Even more serious is the impact of being convicted of a DUI offence outside of Canada, or even just being found to have committed a DUI offence outside of Canada, as a permanent resident could potentially lose their PR status and face removal and, in these two circumstances, would lose their right to appeal to the Immigration Appeal Division.

Furthermore, foreign nationals seeking to enter Canada previously did not have to worry if they had a single foreign DUI conviction that was more than ten years old as they were deemed rehabilitated and therefore not inadmissible to Canada.  With the increased penalties for DUI’s, those types of individuals will no longer be deemed rehabilitated by the passage of time, and instead will have to actively make rehabilitation applications or will have to apply for special permits to be able to enter Canada.

Readers may wonder whether a person who has committed an impaired driving offence in the past may be at risk. The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship has stated that, following the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in the case of Tran v Canada (Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness), a past impaired driving offence that was considered as criminality rather than serious criminality will not endanger a person’s PR status. This is because an assessment of serious criminality should involve considering the law that was in place at the time of the offence.

Going forward, temporary and permanent residents should be aware of these offence penalty changes and must remember that a DUI may have severe and permanent repercussions to their Canadian immigration status.  Non-citizens charged with a DUI must make sure that their immigration status is considered during any criminal law proceedings and may want to consult with an immigration lawyer to understand what the potential consequences are and what remedies may be available when it comes to their immigration status.

McCuaig Desrochers LLP is a general practice law firm with Edmonton’s largest group of immigration lawyers (www.mccuaig.com). This article first appeared in the November 2018 edition of the Millwoods Mosaic – the Multicultural Voice of Southeast Edmonton and is intended to provide general information only and should not to be relied on as legal advice or opinion. We invite you to contact one of the members of our experienced immigration group for assistance.

Counting the Days – Requirements for a Permanent Resident to Spend Time in Canada

If you have permanent resident status in Canada and are leaving Canada, whether it is for a vacation, to visit family, for work, or for any other reason, it is important for you to consider whether that time spent outside the country could affect your permanent resident status, or whether it could delay a future application for Canadian citizenship. Permanent residence and citizenship applications each have different requirements under which a person must spend a certain amount of time living inside Canada. Read on for a description of what those requirements are.

Permanent residence gives many of the same benefits citizens get. A permanent resident can normally enter and leave Canada freely. However, unlike citizens, a permanent resident has to be inside Canada for 730 days (two years) in every period of five years. Those 730 days do not have to be next to each other. If a permanent resident doesn’t follow this rule, immigration officials can and do take steps to remove that immigration status, and it can result in a person being removed from an unable to return to Canada. In many circumstances, it is difficult or impossible to get that permanent residence back.

In most cases, the only way to meet this residency requirement is to actually be physically inside Canada for the required 730 day period. A person cannot count the days spent outside of Canada even if they have a home in Canada, or if they file Canadian taxes during that period, and there is no exception or grace period for a permanent resident who is attending school outside of Canada, even if other members of their family remain in Canada.

Other than being in Canada, there are three other ways to accumulate the required days. A permanent resident can count days outside of Canada while accompanying their spouse or common-law partner, if that spouse or partner is a Canadian citizen. A child can count the days outside Canada with their parent, if that parent is a Canadian citizen.

A permanent resident and their spouse can also count the days spent outside the country if they are out of the country working full time for a Canadian business or a Canadian government agency. However, this exception has sometimes been interpreted very strictly. In order to count, an immigration official may require that the work outside of the country be a temporary assignment rather than a permanent assignment abroad. The permanent resident must keep a connection with the Canadian employer, and the intention must be that they will continue working for that employer once they return to Canada. The business also has to be a genuine, ongoing business based in Canada. You should seek legal advice if you are planning to use the time spent working for a Canadian business outside of Canada towards your residency requirements.

Border officials may assess these residency requirements when a permanent resident returns to Canada after a trip, but they should assess only the five years ending on the day the permanent resident is returning. They will also assess residency requirements when someone is applying for a new permanent resident card. For that reason, every permanent resident should keep a record of the days they leave and enter Canada. It is also a good idea to keep copies of the plane tickets or itineraries showing entry and exit from Canada.

Immigration officials can assess residency requirements even if someone has not yet been a permanent resident for five years. For example, if a permanent resident has had status for three and a half years, and has only been in Canada for one month in that period, the official can decide that it will be impossible to meet the residency requirements, and take steps to revoke that persons’ permanent resident status. In some circumstances where a permanent resident does not meet the residency requirements, an immigration officer may still allow that person to keep their status, based on humanitarian and compassionate circumstances, which are unique circumstances where removing a person from Canada will lead to certain kinds of hardship. A permanent resident can also generally appeal a decision that they have not met residency requirements and receive a hearing, but they must make that appeal quickly, generally within 60 days of the decision. If you are in those circumstances, you should seek legal advice immediately.

In contrast, once someone becomes a Canadian citizen there are no residency requirements in order to keep that citizenship. A citizen could be out of the country for thirty years and return without issue. However, when a permanent resident is first applying for citizenship, they must show they have been in Canada for at least 1,095 days (three years) of the last five years. These residency requirements for citizenship changed on October 11, 2017 to make it easier to become a citizen.

Calculating the days for a citizenship application is a bit different than calculating the days for permanent residence. You can count one day for every day you have been in Canada as a permanent resident over the last five years. You can also count half a day for each day you were a temporary resident or a protected person over the last five years, up to a maximum of 365 days. That means that if someone gets the maximum one year credit from temporary residence, they can apply for citizenship after only two years of permanent residence. Another difference is that on a citizenship application, you do not get credit for the days spent working for a Canadian employer outside of Canada. With some exceptions, you also cannot get credit for any days spent serving a term of imprisonment, probation or parole.

Residency requirements are very important to any permanent resident who is spending time out of Canada. If you experience or expect to experience an issue with the residency requirements for permanent residence or citizenship, you should seek legal advice.

McCuaig Desrochers LLP, a general practice law firm with Edmonton’s largest group of immigration lawyers (www.mccuaig.com). This article first appeared in the April 2018 edition of the Millwoods Mosaic – the Multicultural Voice of Southeast Edmonton and is intended to provide general information only and should not to be relied on as legal advice or opinion. We invite you to contact one of the members of our experienced immigration group for assistance.

Article: Immigration Programs for Caregivers in Flux

A couple weekends ago when the Department of Immigration quietly added two short sentences to its website, it’s unlikely that they realized the uproar that they were about to create.  Those two short sentences stated that the Immigration Department would stop accepting permanent residence applications for the Caring for Children and Caring for High-Medical Needs programs on November 29, 2019 and that if foreign caregivers did not have two years of full-time work experience as a caregiver by then they wouldn’t be eligible to apply.

Upon seeing the posting of the new notice, immigration lawyers and caregiver advocacy groups wondered whether the Department was signalling the demise of a pathway to permanent residence for those working as foreign caregivers of Canada’s children, elderly and infirm. They worried that there were caregivers that had already come to Canada that would not be able to accumulate the necessary two years of work experience in time to meet the newly posted deadline and would effectively have no way to transition to Canadian permanent resident status.

Mere days later, on February 6, 2018, the Toronto Star published an editorial entitled “Don’t slam the door on foreign caregivers” arguing forcefully that foreign caregivers continued to deserve an opportunity to obtain permanent residency in Canada in return for their hard work.

Why was public reaction so swift? Part of the reason lies in the changing demographics of Canadian society. We’re living in a time that has seen the rise of the so-called Sandwich Generation, the generation that finds themselves squeezed in between caring for their children and their aging parents. Coupled with the fact that the cost and unavailability of childcare continue to be a major challenge for many Canadians, more people than ever are becoming aware that there is a systemic shortage of options when it comes to suitable care for our loved ones.

In my line of work, it’s common to hear Canadian families describe their foreign caregivers as “lifesavers”, unable to fathom how they would manage without them and often considering them to be an important part of the family.  Foreign nannies allow Canadians to maintain their place in the workforce and often allow both parents to return to work. Foreign in-home aides often allow Canadian seniors to remain in their homes longer, provide peace of mind to their adult children, and help to bridge the gap in the availability of long-term care.

Prior to its demise in 2014, the longstanding Live-in Caregiver Program was unique in the world.  Recognizing that there was a shortage of accessible childcare in Canada, the Live-in Caregiver Program encouraged individuals with experience or training to come to Canada to live with and work for a Canadian family as a caregiver; in exchange foreign live-in caregivers were all but guaranteed permanent resident status after completing two years of caregiving work. The promise of Canadian permanent residence was a significant incentive without which it would have been difficult to persuade many caregivers to endure separation from their own families for upwards of four to seven years.

On November 30, 2014, the government made sweeping changes to the Live-in Caregiver Program. The changes gave foreign caregivers more freedom by removing the requirement that they live in their employers’ homes.  In exchange, however, the government also introduced more stringent language and education requirements for those applying for permanent residence under the two new replacement programs: the Caring for Children Class and the Caring for High Medical Needs Class.

When the new Caring for Children Class and the Caring for High Medical Needs Class were implemented, the official Ministerial Instructions that created them indicated that they would be effective until November 29, 2019.  This expiry date, however, was not well publicized and the sudden notification of these programs’ expiry was likely unexpected by many and was therefore interpreted as an impending closure of the pathways to permanent residency for caregivers.

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen has since addressed the caregiver issue in the House of Commons.

“Let me be clear. Our government will continue to ensure a pathway for permanent residency for caregivers. In fact, we are conducting an assessment of the existing programs to improve them.” Minister Hussen stated on February 8, 2018.

Building on this reassurance by Minister Hussen, the terse two sentence notice that was initially placed on Immigration’s website has also been expanded upon, now indicating that “the Government is committed to ensuring that caregivers continue to have a pathway to permanent residence” and that details of any new pathways will be announced well before the expiry of the current programs.

The government appears committed to ensuring that caregivers continue to have a way to become permanent residents, although it remains to be seen whether the incoming programs will make it easier or more difficult for foreign caregivers to achieve that status.  At least one thing has been made clear over the past couple of weeks: the work that foreign caregivers perform is highly valued by Canadian families and the government would be well served to ensure that they are treating our foreign caregivers fairly and with respect.

McCuaig Desrochers LLP, a general practice law firm with Edmonton’s largest group of immigration lawyers (www.mccuaig.com).  This article first appeared in the February 2018 edition of the Millwoods Mosaic – the Multicultural Voice of Southeast Edmonton and is intended to provide general information only and should not to be relied on as legal advice or opinion.  We invite you to contact one of the members of our experienced immigration group for assistance.

Article: Reuniting Families: The Parent-Grandparent Super Visa

There is no doubt that Canada is home to many individuals and families who have been separated from their parents and other family members for a long time and who long to see them again, and show them what their lives here are like. They may have come here for employment opportunities, or maybe they were sponsored to come here by their Canadian spouse, or maybe they came a refugee either recently or a long time ago. Now, they hope to reunite with their parents or grandparents and have them come to Canada also. So, what are the options?

People may be familiar with the parent/grandparent sponsorship process for permanent residence. With this, the Canadian child or grandchild applies to sponsor their parent(s) or grandparent(s), and if their application is successful (after a very long processing period), their loved one can join them in Canada as a permanent resident, enjoying many of the same freedoms that they themselves have gained here.

Unfortunately, over the past several years, the great desire of new Canadians or permanent residents to invite their parents to Canada resulted in large backlogs, and extremely long processing times, to the point that these sponsorship applications were suspended for a number of years. Finally, in 2014, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”)  re-opened this sponsorship opportunity, but they imposed several restrictions, including a cap on the number of applications to be accepted each year. Processing times remain long, which means people are still having to wait far too long to see their loved ones. In some cases, this may mean that parents or grandparents could even pass away or become too infirm to travel before they get the chance to see their families again.

In response to this, and in keeping with IRCC’s stated goals of promoting family reunification, it introduced the Parent or Grandparent Super Visa, which is a special form of temporary resident visa to allow parents or grandparents of Canadians or permanent residents to come visit in Canada with their children and/or grandchildren for an extended period of time. What makes this Super Visa distinct is that the parent or grandparent would be authorized to stay in Canada for up to two years at a time when they visit, instead of the standard maximum allowable time of 6 months for other visitors. This does not allow the parent or grandparent to work while in Canada, but allows for meaningful reunion with their families without the need to worry as much about their departure happening so quickly.

Some of the important features and requirements of the Parent and Grandparent Super Visa are as follows:

  • Temporary Resident Visa can be issued for up to 10 years validity (meaning the person can travel back and forth to Canada freely without having to apply for a new visa for up to 10 years; each time they enter Canada they may be permitted to stay up to 2 years at a time);
  • Temporary residents in Canada (workers, students, visitors) are not eligible to have their parents or grandparents come to Canada on this Super Visa, only permanent residents or citizens
  • The child or grandchild must meet a minimum income threshold, proving they have met a certain annual income prior to applying, which shows they can support their family members – they will have to write a “letter of invitation” setting out their financial circumstances, reason for the visit, etc.
  • The parent or grandparent must have special, pre-paid travel medical insurance set up at the time the application is submitted (a simple internet search for “Canada super visa medical insurance” will net many results for available options)
  • The parent or grandparent must not be otherwise inadmissible to Canada for things such as criminality, security reasons, previous misrepresentation, or infectious medical conditions (they must undergo a medical exam as part of the application process)
  • Even parents who come from “visa exempt” countries (people who do not need to first apply for a Temporary Resident Visa before entering Canada) may apply for the Super Visa
  • People who have already applied to permanently sponsor their parents or grandparents could also apply for the Super Visa – there is no requirement to only choose one or the other
  • No other dependents may be included in the application; only parents or grandparents and their spouse or common-law partner (ie: if the parents still have dependent children living with them in their home country the children will not be included)

Visa officers reviewing these applications will still look at factors such as the purpose of the visit, the ties to the home country, and whether it is likely or not that the parents would return to their home country after their planned visit.  Because of this tough scrutiny, it is important for families to put forward as much evidence as possible of the parent’s or grandparent’s continued ties to their country, and anything else that would help to prove that they will return home.

Speaking to an immigration lawyer for some legal advice or assistance with preparing this application can significantly help to reduce the risk of refused applications, which are difficult to overcome on a second try, unless there are significantly changed circumstances.  Preparing a complete and comprehensive application the first time could be the difference between seeing your family reunited again within months, or waiting a much longer time.

McCuaig Desrochers LLP, a general practice law firm with Edmonton’s largest group of immigration lawyers (www.mccuaig.com).  This article first appeared in the March 2017 edition of the Millwoods Mosaic – the Multicultural Voice of Southeast Edmonton and is intended to provide general information only and should not to be relied on as legal advice or opinion.  We invite you to contact one of the members of our experienced immigration group for assistance.

Nathan Po selected to Best Lawyers in Canada

Best Lawyers Nathan Po

Congratulations to Nathan Po for being recognized in the 2018 Edition of The Best Lawyersin Canada.

Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers™ has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence.  Best Lawyers lists are compiled based on an exhaustive peer-reviewed evaluation. Lawyers are not required or allowed to pay a fee to be listed; therefore inclusion in Best Lawyers is considered a singular honour. Corporate Counsel magazine has called Best Lawyers “the most respected referral list of attorneys in practice”.

Article: Ottawa changes the rules on citizenship

On June 19, 2017, the federal government passed Bill C-6, changing the rules for obtaining and keeping Canadian Citizenship. This bill has been a hot-button political issue, because it removes the citizenship system brought in by the previous Conservative government, in which dual citizens could have their citizenship revoked for some serious criminal offences. However, for most immigrants to Canada, the other changes contained in the bill will be more important. They will mean fewer hurdles on the pathway to Canadian citizenship and the opportunity to get Canadian citizenship a bit sooner.

Before the passing of Bill C-6, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship could revoke the citizenship of any dual citizen who was convicted of criminal offences relating treason, terrorism offences, or espionage. That ability to revoke citizenship was controversially introduced in 2014 by the prior Conservative government.

That ability to revoke citizenship for criminal charges was an important topic in the 2015 federal election. The Liberal Party and the Canadian Bar Association, which advocates on behalf many immigration lawyers in Canada, were concerned that it created a two-tier system in which dual citizens could be exiled from Canada. The removal of this power is an encouraging sign that in the future the rights given to every citizen of Canada will remain equal, whether they are dual citizens or not.

The other changes in Bill C-6 are important for permanent residents hoping to become citizens of Canada. For background, a permanent resident of Canada has the right to enter and remain in Canada permanently, as long as they follow certain conditions, including staying in Canada for at least two years in every five-year period. Permanent residents can lose their status by not being present in Canada for that period, or by committing a serious criminal offence.  Once a person obtains citizenship, they can then only lose citizenship if they are found to have obtained citizenship through false representation, fraud, or if they knowingly hide material information in their citizenship application.

The biggest change for most permanent residents in Bill C-6 is that, starting in autumn 2017, all permanent residents will be eligible for citizenship sooner. The current rules require someone to be present in Canada for 1460 days (four years) out of the last six years as a permanent resident before they are eligible for citizenship. With the changes, permanent residents can become citizens if they have been present for 1095 days (three years) out of the past five years. Bill C-6 will also remove an additional requirement that a permanent resident be present for half the year for four out of the previous six years.

The other substantial change in calculating when a person can apply for citizenship is that the time a person spends in Canada as a temporary resident or protected person will count towards their requirements to get citizenship. Previously, only time spent as a permanent resident counted towards citizenship. With the changes, every day in Canada as a temporary resident or protected person will count as half a day towards citizenship, up to a maximum credit of 365 days.

These changes to the required days mean that permanent residents should be recalculating the day they can apply for citizenship, since it will now be sooner. We almost always recommend that persons apply for citizenship as soon as possible. Gaining citizenship protects a person against the nightmare possibilities of being deported because of a criminal charge, or because of an inability to show they have been in Canada for the required two years during the last five years.

There are also changes made that give more protection to new citizens, and make it harder for the government to revoke citizenship. Applicants are no longer required to intend to continue to live in Canada once granted citizenship. This requirement was hard to prove or disprove, and was simply a source of stress and confusion for citizenship applicants.

There is still an ability for citizenship to be removed in the cases of citizenship obtained through false representation, fraud, or if an applicant knowingly hides information which is important to their citizenship application. Before Bill C-6, most cases where citizenship was revoked were decided directly by the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. However, in early 2018 this should change so that all attempts by the federal government to revoke citizenship will be overseen by a Federal Judge. This is a welcome change. Revocation of citizenship is one of the most serious proceedings that the government can bring against one of its citizens, and now there is more protection and oversight.

There are also some changes to the citizenship exam. Bill C-6 added a requirement that the government take into consideration reasonable measures to accommodate disabled applicants for citizenship. These needs should be brought to the attention of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada before a citizenship test. Also, the requirement to take a citizenship test will likely be limited to those between ages 18 to 54.

If you are a permanent resident planning to apply for citizenship, keep the following tips in mind. Make sure you are keeping records of any dates you are in and out of Canada as a permanent resident. Read the application forms and guides on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship website carefully, and if you are concerned please contact a lawyer for professional assistance. Also note that under Bill C-6, if you are age 18 to 54 you will have to prove a basic level of language ability in French or English.

McCuaig Desrochers LLP, a general practice law firm with Edmonton’s largest group of immigration lawyers (www.mccuaig.com).  This article first appeared in the August 2017 edition of the Millwoods Mosaic – the Multicultural Voice of Southeast Edmonton and is intended to provide general information only and should not to be relied on as legal advice or opinion.  We invite you to contact one of the members of our experienced immigration group for assistance.

Immigration Lawyer on Challenges of International Adoptions

“Please, can you help us bring over our daughter?” the couple asks.

They hand me a photo of the three of them together—parents and young daughter, all grinning for the camera. They hand me the adoption certificate from the country overseas that makes her legally their daughter. They tell me about the regular visits, the Skype calls, the repeated questions from their daughter wondering why she cannot come and live with Mommy and Daddy yet. And finally, they hand me the refusal letter from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that informs them that their application to bring her to Canada has been refused.

I have had this heartbreaking first meeting with potential clients numerous times. Because Canada is a signatory to the international Hague Convention on Adoption, which is designed to protect children and families worldwide, international adoptions are complex and strict. Most international adoptions go smoothly, but in cases where the Hague Convention requirements aren’t properly followed, the adoption can go devastatingly wrong. By being informed and seeking appropriate advice before even starting the process, potential adoptive parents can avoid this anguish.

The Hague Convention is a written agreement between more than fifty countries, who promise to follow certain rules and procedures in a variety of areas, including international adoption. Under the Hague Convention, whenever a parent who is “habitually resident” in one signatory country wants to adopt a child who is “habitually resident” in another, the Central Authority in both countries must be involved in the process from the beginning, and the adoption must follow strict rules. Some types of adoptions are even prohibited.

The goal of the Hague Convention is to prevent the abduction, sale, and trafficking of children around the world, so it’s an important agreement to have in place. The challenge is that sometimes countries disagree on when the Hague Convention rules need to be followed.

This scenario usually arises when countries have different definitions of what “habitually resident” means. If you have been living in Canada for some time, Canadian officials will likely consider you to be habitually resident in Canada, even if you are not a citizen or permanent resident of Canada. If you go to another country to adopt a child, including to your country of citizenship or birth, Canada may still consider you to be habitually resident in Canada, which means Canadian officials expect your adoption to follow all the rules and procedures of the Hague Convention.

The country you are adopting from might see things differently. Officials there might say that because you are a citizen of their country and you are in their country, even if you’re only there for a short period of time, the adoption can be processed as a domestic adoption instead of an international adoption under the Hague Convention. They permit you to skip all the Hague Convention rules—and in fact, may not even tell you that these rules exist—and issue an adoption certificate that makes you the child’s legal parent in that country, but causes you problems in other countries.

In order to bring a child you’ve adopted from another country to Canada, you must satisfy IRCC that all of the rules of the Hague Convention have been followed. In most adoption cases, this means that you must provide proof that the Central Authority of both countries was involved in the adoption process from the very beginning and authorized the adoption before it proceeded. If any of those pieces are missing, IRCC will refuse your application to bring the child to Canada.

If you find yourself in this situation, you aren’t out of options. You can still make an application to IRCC for consideration on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. However, the application process will be lengthy and expensive, and there is no guarantee of success.

So if you are planning to adopt or thinking of adopting a child from a country other than Canada, and you’ve lived in Canada at any point in the past few years, you should speak to the relevant Central Authority in Canada and/or an immigration lawyer before taking any steps toward adopting the child in the other country. (In Alberta, the Central Authority is Alberta Adoption Services of the Ministry of Human Services.)

You should take this first step before any others even if you are not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, and even if officials in the other country tell you that contacting the Central Authority in Canada isn’t necessary. Otherwise, instead of having a new child to love, you may find yourself with only heartbreak.

McCuaig Desrochers LLP, a general practice law firm with Edmonton’s largest group of immigration lawyers (www.mccuaig.com).  This article first appeared in the March 2017 edition of the Millwoods Mosaic – the Multicultural Voice of Southeast Edmonton and is intended to provide general information only and should not to be relied on as legal advice or opinion.  We invite you to contact one of the members of our experienced immigration group for assistance.


Avantages pour francophones et francophiles ayant de l’expérience de travail qualifié au Canada

Le 31 mars 2017, le gouvernement fédéral a annoncé quelques changements dans le cadre du système Entrée express qui avantageront certains francophones et francophiles qualifiés. Les changements entreront en vigueur le 6 juin 2017.

Le système Entrée express est un programme fédéral qui gère les demandes de résidence permanente pour les programmes d’immigration économiques au Canada, tels la catégorie de l’expérience canadienne, le Programme des travailleurs qualifiés (fédéral), le Programme des travailleurs de métiers spécialisés (fédéral) et une partie du Programme des candidats des provinces. Le système Entrée express est un système de points. Chaque candidat remplit un profil ayant toutes informations personnelles pertinentes à sa demande. Les candidats ayant suffisamment de points (selon les règlements et lois applicables) sont invités à postuler pour leur résidence permanente canadienne.

Dans système Entrée express, il est possible d’obtenir un maximum de 136 points pour la maitrise d’une première langue officielle (donc, l’anglais ou le français) ainsi qu’un maximum de 24 points pour la connaissance d’une deuxième langue officielle.

Dès le 6 juin 2017, il sera possible d’obtenir 15 points supplémentaires dans le système Entrée express si le candidat a, selon les niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens (ENCLC), un niveau 7 dans les quatre compétences linguistiques en français (écouter, parler, lire, écrire) et un niveau 4 ou moins dans le test en anglais au Canadian Language Benchmarks Assessment (CLBA). Il sera également possible d’obtenir 30 points supplémentaires dans le système Entrée express si le candidat a des résultats d’au moins 7 à ENCLS dans chacune des quatre compétences linguistiques en français ainsi qu’un résultat d’au moins 5 en anglais au test CLBA.

Enfin, dès le 6 juin 2017, il sera possible d’obtenir 15 points supplémentaires dans le système Entrée express si le candidat a une sœur ou un frère de plus de 18 ans qui est citoyen ou résident permanent du Canada. Il faut démontrer la preuve de parenté selon les critères établis par Immigration, Réfugié et Citoyenneté Canada.

Si vous avez des compétences linguistiques dans les deux langues officielles ainsi que de l’expérience de travail qualifié au Canada, le système Entrée express pourrait faciliter votre demande pour la résidence permanente. Veuillez nous contacter pour obtenir une consultation et discuter davantage de vos options.

McCuaig Desrochers LLP, un cabinet situé à Edmonton, Alberta, est le cabinet juridique à Edmonton ayant le plus grand nombre d’avocats qui pratiquent en matière du droit d’immigration (services offerts en français et en anglais).

Écrit par : Céline G. Bégin