For decades, Canada developed a reputation as one of the most welcoming countries in the world. Since 2008, this is sadly no longer true. It is now much harder to get into Canada, to stay here permanently, and to become a citizen. This is due to a steady stream of changes by the federal government that affect virtually all aspects of our immigration and refugee policy.
Many of the changes came without public discussion or debate with the minister of citizenship and immigration acquiring the power to make significant changes by issuing “ministerial instructions”, thereby bypassing the democratic parliamentary process.
Despite immigration remaining fairly constant at approximately 255,000 immigrants per year over the past 10 years, more people in the economic class have been selected, fewer in the family class and far fewer refugees. With a current population of just under 36M, Canada should be admitting 288,000 newcomers annually, just to maintain its historical rate of immigration. But in the year ending July 1, 2015, Canada admitted only 239,800 immigrants during the 12-month period, down from 267,900 the previous year. The shortfall, close to 30,000 immigrants, places Canada’s per capita rate of immigration at .66%, the lowest under the Harper government and far lower than the .8% that was predominant prior to 2006. This represents a huge loss in human capital benefit to our country.
In 2014, refugees represented less than 9 per cent of the immigration flow to Canada, while the economic class rose to nearly 70 per cent.
In January 2015, a new system was introduced called Express Entry for the management of economic immigrants. The mid-year report of the program, issued in July, indicates that 85 per cent of successful applicants were already living in Canada as temporary entrants. This confirms a move toward a “two-step” immigration system where individuals first come to Canada as temporary workers or international students and then try to make the transition to permanent residence.
The number of individuals holding temporary work permits and working in Canada more than doubled between 2005 and 2013. Yet many temporary workers, particularly those in lower skilled jobs, are ineligible to apply for permanent residence, while the rest are potentially competing with each other, international students, or individuals around the world for the approximately 78,000 spaces available to applicants under Express Entry. Under Harper’s watch, there is an increasing perception that Canada promotes an exploitive, revolving door system that readily disposes its foreign workers.
For those who manage to become permanent residents whether in one step or two, changes to the Citizenship Act have made it much harder for them to obtain Canadian citizenship. As a result, fewer can apply and succeed in becoming citizens, the true indicator of belonging and becoming part of this country. Applicants must now wait longer to qualify and cannot receive credit for time spent in Canada as students, or work permit holders as under previous rules. Older citizenship applicants face more difficult knowledge based language tests. Those who obtain citizenship may now be at risk of losing it due to policies in which dual citizens can have their Canadian citizenship taken away with greater ease and minimal oversight. Even persons born in Canada to parents holding dual nationality could, in certain circumstances, face revocation of their citizenship.
Recent changes have made it practically impossible for people in Canada to sponsor their parents or grandparents for permanent residence while children over 18 are no longer considered to be dependents who can be sponsored or accompany their parents to Canada. Sponsored spouses now enter Canada on a conditional basis for their first two years.
Perhaps the harshest changes since 2008 have been those aimed at refugees and refugee claimants, and in particular, legal reforms that deny due process to vulnerable asylum seekers under a discriminatory two-tier system based on nationality. These modifications are currently being challenged in Federal Court. The Conservatives also tried to eliminate the basic health care services refugees are entitled. The Federal Court struck down the government’s cuts to refugee health care describing it as “cruel and unusual” because it jeopardizes refugees’ health and shocks the conscience of Canadians.
Since mid-2013, Canada has settled less than 2500 Syrian refugees. In January, the conservatives announced we would welcome 13,000 Syrian refugees over a 3-year period, mostly through private sponsors. Yet our government has been near silent since then – until recently when it was forced to respond to this international humanitarian crisis. In contrast, Germany plans to admit as many as 800,000 asylum seekers this year alone, nearly 1% of its population. Sweden with a population almost four times smaller than Canada, took in more than 25,000 last year.
The Harper government’s pitiful refugee policies lay bare its punitive agenda against immigrants and refugees. Over the past 10 years, the federal government jailed more than 10,000 migrants per year, including hundreds of children as young as age 16, without charge. Canada is one of the only Western countries to have indefinite incarceration. A credible report finds these policy changes imply reduced access to justice for refugees for whom consequences of refugee protection decisions are frequently life or death matters. Even permanent residents are now subject to arrest, detention and could face deportation for even minor criminality such as driving while intoxicated traffic offences.
Canada has traditionally been a safe haven to oppressed minorities across the world, being home to thousands of refugees from Vietnam, Hungary, and Uganda, among other countries. In 1979 and 1980 Canada opened its doors to 50,000 Vietnamese boat people who were fleeing the Indochina refugee crisis. But this has all changed under the Conservative government, which to date, has seen its refugee acceptance rates decline by 30%. It has been very reluctant to admit refugees from Syria. When pressed recently on the matter of excessively long approval and processing delays, Prime Minister Stephen Harper asserted that national security background checks take long and the safety of Canadians is first and foremost. If Germany and Sweden can successfully orchestrate a much larger refugee program with similar safety and security concerns to guard against infiltration by terror groups, surely Canada could do likewise. It just needs a more compassionate government.
Immigration has been an important part of government agenda. It remains essential in most OECD countries, but especially in Canada, in part to offset demographic developments, including low fertility rates, an aging population, a growing elderly dependency ratio, a shrinking labour force and high out-migration rates. Immigration policy decisions affect how Canada is perceived in the world and will shape our nation for generations to come. It is important that the next party to ascend into power give priority to addressing these failures in order that we regain our tarnished reputation.
About the author:
Colin R. Singer is immigration counsel for www.immigration.ca and Managing Partner of Global Recruiters of Montreal. He is one of Canada’s foremost senior corporate immigration attorneys. Colin is internationally recognized as an experienced and recommended authority on Canadian immigration and foreign recruitment. In addition to being a licensed human resources professional, he is a licensed Canadian lawyer in good standing with the Quebec Law Society for more than 25 years and is authorized by the Canadian government in all immigration matters.
The Quebec government has lowered the pass mark for its popular skilled worker program. Under the program which is set to open in early 2016, Quebec plans to receive 6300 new applications during the 2015-2016 fiscal session. The Quebec program features more than 75 eligible occupations and areas of training that will enable applicants to qualify for a Quebec Certificate of Selection (CSQ), without a job offer. Many applicants can qualify with minimal knowledge of French.
Unlike the federal Express Entry immigration system or programs offered by other provinces under Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP), Quebec remains the only program in Canada where skilled worker applicants can predict their chances for admission on the basis of their proven qualifications. Applicants, who reach a passing score under the Quebec system, receive a CSQ which enables them to qualify for Canadian permanent residence.
A Quebec skilled worker is foreign national who intends to settle in Quebec and secure employment the foreign national is likely able to hold. This determination is made using a point system which evaluates the candidate’s area of training, education, experience, age, language, qualifications of a partner or spouse, offer of employment, and children.
Applicants in a wide range of areas including Management and Financial Services, Engineering and Information Technology and Health Care, have the best chances to succeed under the Quebec Skilled Worker program.
The Quebec application selection process follows a two-step assessment process each with minimum cut-off scores. Applicants with a passing score are issued a Quebec Certificate of Selection and may apply to the federal authorities for entry to Canada. Once admitted to Canada a permanent resident enjoys all the rights and freedoms of labour mobility throughout Canada provided under the Canadian Charter.
Quebec has received worldwide attention as a popular immigration destination. Earlier this year the City of Montreal was rated by the Economist magazine, second to Toronto, as the best place in the world to live.
“Montreal is a vibrant metropolis and continues to offer outstanding economic opportunities and quality of life”, says Attorney Colin Singer, Managing Partner of www.immigration.ca and Global Recruiters of Montreal.
“For those who are interested in relocating to Canada, the Quebec program offers distinct advantages. First, at 20% of Canada’s annual levels, it manages the largest immigration program among all the provinces in Canada. Second, the Quebec system provides applicants to Quebec with more predictability of outcome over the federal Express Entry system and other provincial immigration programs”says Attorney Singer.
If previous indicators are a valid measure, Quebec’s quota of 6300 under the skilled worker program will likely fill quickly. However applicants with a valid job offer, previous work experience in Quebec or having completed a valid period of study in Quebec may also qualify under the Quebec Experience Class and would not be subject to the skilled worker program quota.
Interested employers: Kindly contact us here to receive further information.
Interested candidates: Find out whether you qualify to Canada by completing our free on-line evaluation. We will provide you with our evaluation within 1-2 business days.
Express Entry is an immigration system which selects skilled workers to Canada under Federal Economic programs.
Applicants submit an online profile to the Express Entry Pool. Canadian employers and provincial governments across Canada access the best candidates who are invited by the Federal government to apply for Canadian permanent residence.
The government issues invitations at regular intervals during the year. The following are the invitations issued in 2015:
|Draw||Date||Number of Invitations
||Lowest CRS Score|
Find out whether you qualify to Canada by completing our free on-line evaluation. Colin Singer will provide you with your evaluation results within 1-2 business days.
(Find Out How to be Selected)
On January 31st; February 7th; February 21st and February 28th 2015 CIC completed rounds of invitations for permanent residence under Express Entry. Attorney Colin Singer discusses the policy implications.
January 31st Invitations:
CIC invited 779 skilled workers, including professionals in natural and applied sciences and industrial, electrical and construction trades to apply for Canadian permanent residence. Each of the invited candidates in the Express Entry Pool declared they had a valid job offer or provincial nomination. The lowest score was 886 under the Comprehensive Ranking Score.
February 7th Invitations:
CIC invited 779 skilled workers from the Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Skilled Trades Program, Canadian Experience Class and Provincial Nominee Program. The lowest CRS score was 818.
February 21st Invitations:
CIC invited 849 skilled workers from the Canadian Experience Class. The lowest CRS score was 809.
February 28th Invitations:
CIC invited 1187 skilled workers from the Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Skilled Trades Program, Canadian Experience Class and Provincial Nominee Program. The lowest CRS score was 735.
Question: It appears the first rounds of candidates who were selected had high Comprehensive Ranking Scores. Why is this?
Colin Singer: We believe that during the initial stages, CIC wants to set the bar as high as possible. It also wants to showcase the Express Entry Immigration system as bringing into Canada candidates who with a high likelihood of integrating fully and quickly into the Canadian labour market. We know that applicants with a valid job offer or having Provincial Nomination have the highest chances of meeting these objectives. It is no surprise that CIC set the bar as high as it could on the first series of draws. We can see that the minimum scores are falling in each successive draw. We can expect this to continue for many of the remaining 15-20 draws in 2015.
Question: How does Express Entry operate?
Colin Singer: Under Express Entry, qualified applicants across many occupations are invited to submit their profile to an Express Entry Pool and to the Canada Job Bank.
Employers will be encouraged to review candidates with the highest ranking and provide a job offer to the candidate of their choice.
Applicants with an approved job offer or those selected by a province or with “Provincial Nomination” will be considered a “match” and will be invited to formally apply for Canadian permanent residence.
The profiles of the remaining applicants will be ranked for consideration without a “sponsor” or hiring employer. Using a point system according to a number of selection factors such as Age, Education, Language, Experience and other factors, the highest ranked candidates will be considered for their potential “human capital” contribution to Canada.
Immigration authorities will then decide which of the highest ranked applicants will be invited to apply for permanent residence. This will take place across economic class programs, including the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Skilled Trades Program the Canada Experience Class and certain parts of the Provincial Nominee Program.
Question: Under Express Entry, will candidates be dependent on a job offer from a “sponsor” Canadian employer?
Colin Singer: Annual levels for 2015 have been raised to between 260,000 – 285,000 which will represent Canada’s highest immigration levels in 5 years. From this level approximately 175,000 will comprise Economic Class immigrants and their dependants. A qualified job offer from an employer in Canada is a significant benefit that will enable candidates to relocate in 6 months. But it is not a requirement. The numbers of applicants who are expected to succeed in securing an approved job offer under Express Entry will likely be modest.
Question: How is immigration.ca positioned for Canada’s new Express Entry Immigration System?
We are pleased to confirm that our clients were among those issued invitations to apply for permanent residence during the initial draws conducted by CIC in 2015.
We strongly believe that employment recruitment and individualized search consulting assistance is an important consideration for all immigrant applicants to Canada. In 2007, we acquired Global Recruiters of Montreal (www.grnmontreal.com) an independently owned franchise of Chicago based Global Recruiters Network. GRN Montreal provides search consulting expertise that applicants and employers require. For the past 7 years we have provided all our immigration clients with invaluable, search consulting services from our in-house trained recruiters.
We believe our clients have the best chances to succeed in their immigration projects under the new Express Entry Immigration to Canada.
The federal government has recently launched its new Immigrant Investor Venture Capital (IIVC) Pilot Program which aims to raise $120 million from 60 eligible ultra-high net worth investors. The funds are intended to be invested in Canada-based start-ups with high growth potential. Ironically, the new program, unofficially confirms Canada’s definitive retreat from the global residence-through-investment industry, which it created in 1986 with the Quebec government.
Under the new program, approved applicants with a personal net worth of $10 Million, must invest at least $2 million into a government approved VC fund for a minimum period of 15 years, with no guarantee for return of capital. Applicants must demonstrate their net worth threshold was obtained from lawful, for profit-making management, business or investment activities providing capital or equity gains. Inheritances or assets from principle residential real estate are excluded. Additional requirements include mandatory language testing and proof of completed Canadian post-secondary education of at least one year, or proof of a foreign educational equivalent. Education assessment can be exempted for applicants with a personal net worth of $50 million. A maximum of 500 applications will be accepted during the 14-day solicitation period which ends in mid February. The government then plans to invite up to 60 candidates to apply for Canadian permanent residence. Applicants will be charged a modest processing fee of $1,050. Selected applicants must also submit a comprehensive due diligence report prepared by a designated service provider to ensure the source of wealth is generated from lawful business or investment activities. The fund will be managed by BDC Capital, the investment arm of the Federal Business Development Bank of Canada and by government selected fund managers.
Despite this launch, the Harper government’s new program is a charade. It has a dubious history in the immigrant investor industry. In February 2014, after a 2-year pause on new applications, it terminated the previous Immigrant Investor Program geared to entry level millionaires, cancelling more than 15,000 unprocessed applications mostly from Chinese nationals. Many had been waiting up to 6 years to invest $800,000 per applicant. To meet new program requirements, the delays to complete mandatory language testing, education equivalence assessment as well as to secure the comprehensive financial documentation will take far longer than the short solicitation window.
By imposing mandatory language testing, the only immigrant investor program in the world to do so, Canada would not even be a consideration for the vast majority of the world’s ultra high net worth individuals who reside in China, accounting for 80% of the market. This factor alone renders Canada’s new program a non-player in the residence by investment industry, which it has dominated for almost 30 years.
The leading countries offering ultra-high net worth permanent residence programs include the UK, Malta and Australia. Each offer far more attractive terms and conditions that include much shorter investment terms, substantially lower net worth criteria, open ended subscription periods and no language proficiency requirements. Comparatively, the UK requires an investment of $4 million CAD for five years which can include government bonds with interest paid to the investor. The USA, which became the default leader in the industry once Canada terminated its highly popular program in 2014, offers its EB-5 conditional residence visa which requires an investment of US $1 million or US $500,000 in an approved Regional Center and no minimum net worth requirement.
The immigrant investor industry has proven to be a highly lucrative business bringing billions of dollars to governments including Canada for infrastructure investment. Canada had a stronghold on the mid level investor market largely dominated by China and the Middle East. The province of Quebec continues to successfully promote its own immigrant investor program of $800,000 which will fully subscribe on March 20, 2015 to 1750 applicants. Each applicant must pay a processing fee of $10,000. These fees alone will fund the Quebec Government’s entire annual immigration program.
The previous Federal Immigrant Investor program, a 5-year interest free passive investment, was established in response to the demand for investment capital by Canadian businesses. During the 1990’s Canada received a much greater benefit from the investment capital attributed to higher interest rate environments.
However even at the current low rates, Canada would remain the most popular destination for the mid-level immigrant investor market allowing for tremendous revenue potential to governments and the private sector.
Under a revised passive immigrant investor program at $2 million, with suitable legislation and a centralized processing centre, Canada could easily subscribe and efficiently process 1000 applications each year and charge a subscription fee of $25,000 per applicant. Aside from the obvious massive direct monetary benefits, are the indirect economic “consumption” benefits that objective studies have assessed at $700,000 per family during a 5-year term, which the government dismisses. Most importantly, the children of immigrant investors will, in many instances, provide invaluable links to the international business community, which is an immeasurable benefit from effective immigration policy.
There are currently more than 25 global residence and citizenship based investment programs. The industry will experience significant growth in the years ahead. Perhaps there are other reasons why this government chooses to close Canada’s doors to a largely Asian and Middle Eastern immigrant investor clientele. In the current rapidly changing economic environment, Canada’s business community should demand an immediate, objective reconsideration.
As 2016 unfolds, one unique development in Canada’s immigration circles cannot be overlooked: the professionals at www.immigration.ca are celebrating more than 20 years of successful online service.
“I have been told by many of our colleagues in the Canadian immigration industry that we are Canada’s immigration Internet Gurus” says Attorney Colin Singer who is the creative and Managing Partner of this successful enterprise. “Even prospective applicants to Canada, human resource managers and many government representatives in Canada routinely compliment us that our Internet web site is their first point of reference when an issue of relocation to Canada arises” he adds.
It is no wonder how this reality took hold. Singer was Canada’s first attorney and immigration professional to establish a well known identity on the Internet in 1994. Then in 1996, he launched www.immigration.ca, the rarest of one-word domain names in the Canadian immigration industry. “Back in the days when we started, there were no immigration lawyers offering their services on the net and there was no Yahoo or Google.”
It stands to reason that Singer, one of Canada’s foremost corporate immigration attorneys, continues to tackle his vocation with a flair for uniqueness and innovation. His immigration law practice, employing more than 25 lawyers, registered ICCRC consultants, paralegals and technical support staff continues to follow a time tested philosophy – Customer service, Customer satisfaction and Customer loyalty.
Emphasis is also placed on ensuring that the content of immigration.ca is more than just a mere replication of legal jargon. “We have always taken pride to ensure that our web content is comprehensive, thorough and more insightful than what government authorities are prepared to offer. Government has no interest in presenting the full picture”, he adds. “There is a famous Chinese saying that when translated infers: You do not know, what you do not know”, he cautions.
Indeed, Attorney Singer whose commentaries have been published in news media in both Canada and the United States shares an insightful understanding of Canadian immigration policy relying on 25 years of practice.
During past number of years Singer, a licensed Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) with the Quebéc Order of Certified Human Resources and Industrial Relations Counsellors in the Province of Quebec and licensed as an employment agency in Alberta, began offering in-house employment and recruitment services to an established clientele including human resource and personnel managers and business owners across Canada. “Over the years we realized that the practice involves more than sharing our knowledge and expertise in the immigration industry. Immigration to Canada requires a strong knowledge of recruitment. Yet most immigration lawyers will outsource this component of the practice,” says Singer.
In 2007 the Firm acquired Global Recruiters of Montreal (www.grnmontreal.com) an independently owned professional permanent executive search firm forming part of the Global Recruiters Network, one of the fastest growing companies of its kind in North America.
Singer also explains that the focus of the firm’s activities often extends beyond immigration and employment search consulting. The firm endeavours to offer assistance on both personal and professional levels. Their extensive experience with immigrants to Canada, and their familiarity with the adjustment and adaptation that living in Canada requires, enables Singer and his team to provide its clients with services that are tailored to each of their clients’ individual needs and characteristics.
Twenty years is a significant measure in any service business but such a milestone in Internet terms is a lifetime! For Attorney Colin Singer and Immigration.ca, the future could not be brighter.
Colin R. Singer, Managing Partner of investmentimmigration.com and immigration.ca is a licensed immigration lawyer in good standing with a Canadian Law Society during the past 25+ years. As one of Canada’s foremost senior corporate immigration attorneys, Colin is recognized as an experienced authority on Canadian immigration matters as well as the international residence-by-investment industry through investmentimmigration.com.
Colin Singer is founding director of the CANADIAN CITIZENSHIP & IMMIGRATION RESOURCE CENTER (CCIRC) INC. He served as an Associate Editor of “Immigration Law Reporter” the preeminent immigration law publication in Canada. He previously served as an executive member of the Canadian Bar Association’s Quebec and National Immigration Law Sections and is currently a member of the Canadian Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Colin has twice appeared as an expert witness before Canada’s House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. He is frequently recognized as a recommended authority at National conferences sponsored by government and non-government organizations on matters affecting Canada’s immigration and human resources industries. Since 2009, Colin has been a Governor of the Quebec Bar Foundation a non-profit organization committed to the advancement of the profession.
Specialties Colin’s law practice focuses on economic class and business immigration. In 1994, he became Canada’s first attorney to establish an internet presence through www.immigration.ca, the industry’s only one-word domain. His persona on social media is one of the most recognized in the industry. A multiple award winning author on Mondaq, a leading aggregator of legal, financial and regulatory information from more than 85 countries, his opinions on government policy are often referenced by national news media and industry stakeholders. In 2007, in response to a shift in government policy promoting employer-driven admissions of foreign workers to Canada, the firm acquired Global Recruiters of Montreal a Global Recruiters Network franchise (www.grnmontreal.com) to help provide search consulting expertise that applicants and employers require. To read more about Colin please check his “LinkedIn Profile”.
Contributor With Most Popular Articles In Canada
At the end of every month, for each country, Mondaq analyses which articles were read the most by their registered business readers: ‘The Most Popular Article’. The reader may have come upon the article either on the Mondaq site, www.mondaq.com, via their personalised newsletters, or via one of their feeds to 3rd party sites. All readership for this article consists of real, identified individuals and no anonymous readers are included in the conferral of this award. Whilst Mondaq also distributes the same articles through major business systems like Lexis-Nexis, Westlaw, and Reuters, it cannot track readership of articles through these systems and they therefore do not figure in the presentation of the award.
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The article, New Requirements for Canadian Citizenship (Canada) from Immigration.ca was read most by Mondaq users for this category.
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