On April 1, 2015, the Canadian government will launch a new industry. Citizenship and Immigration Canada will begin manufacturing “illegal immigrants.”
Four years ago, on April 1, 2011, the Conservative cabinet passed a regulation known as the “4-in, 4-out” rule, requiring all temporary foreign workers who have been in the country for four years or longer to leave, and remain outside Canada for at least four years. As of April 1, then, those still here will be classified as illegal.
In theory, a temporary foreign worker can apply to transition to permanent resident status within those four years in Canada, but in practice, those designated as “low wage” will generally not qualify for this. A few provinces including Manitoba and Alberta have used their limited scope of authority to nominate “low-wage” workers for permanent resident status, but the number of cases in which this has occurred are small.
So by April 1, 2015, all temporary foreign workers who arrived on or before April 1, 2011 are expected to leave the country. Some, however, are expected to remain living and working in Canada without legal status. We know this because that is what has happened from the mid-1940s to the present, in every country in the world that has run a mass guest-worker regime.
This is what any competent Citizenship and Immigration bureaucrat knew and probably told the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration in 2006, when the government decided to dramatically expand and under-regulate the temporary foreign worker program, and again in 2011 when the government instituted the “4-in, 4-out” rule.
Temporary foreign workers overstay their visas and go underground for various reasons. Their families abroad may depend on their remittances to subsist. They may have been exploited by rapacious “recruiters” and/or unscrupulous employers. Returning home empty-handed and possibly indebted is not only stigmatizing, it can be dangerous.
Some workers may even have felt at home in Canada, gradually becoming potential members of the society where they live, work and pay taxes. Some Canadians may consider the government’s guest-worker regime to be misguided and believe it should not continue. But terminating it will not resolve the dilemma of those temporary foreign workers who are already here and who are the targets of the “4-in, 4-out” rule.
It is common knowledge that some sectors of the U.S. economy have become dependent on undocumented workers, of which there are an estimated 11 million. Some employers find them a desirable work force precisely because their deportability ensures that they will “work hard and work scared.” These employers are also known to wield their political influence accordingly.
Migrants without legal status are also easy targets for vilification. The slide from “illegal immigrant” to “criminal” in popular discourse is easy. A government that is looking to supplement the bogus refugee, the marriage fraudster and the foreign terrorist with a new category of bad immigrant and a new excuse to get tough on non-citizens might find it convenient to add “illegal immigrants” to the roster. The government’s role in illegalizing these migrants may escape notice.
On March 31, temporary foreign workers will go to bed as lawfully employed, hard-working, tax-paying residents of Canada, and wake up the next day as illegal immigrants.
Source: National Post
Attorney Colin Singer Commentary:
Illegal immigrants who are currently employed in Canada could be given temporary work permits by the Canadian government. Those who remain in good standing could apply for permanent residence after a period of 12 to 24 months.
Almost a quarter of Canada’s illegal immigrants could make use of such a scheme and bring in significant tax revenue. This could represent some $150 million in direct annual taxes and ER contributions in the first year alone. Plus, these individuals would eventually be able to sponsor their immediate family members and this would further increase income taxes, ER payroll taxes and HST consumption tax expenditures far beyond the income tax revenues.
Manitoba has revised the requirements of its provincial nominee program for business, increasing the required deposit amount from foreign investors to $100,000. In addition, investors will have to pay a non-refundable processing fee and will be subject to regular assessments of their businesses.
The changes are a result of the increasing number of non-Canadians accessing the program as a relatively inexpensive way to get permanent residency for themselves and their immediate families.
Under the old rules, immigrants interested in getting into business in Manitoba were given permanent residence in return for a $75,000 deposit, which would be refunded if they invested up to $150,000 in a business within two years of landing.
But an increase in the number of nominees who forfeited their deposits and moved to other provinces has prompted the latest change to the rules and led to an increase in the required deposit amount.
Experts remain unconvinced that these changes will be sufficient to prevent nominees from leaving the province as previously.
Attorney Colin Singer Commentary:
The intention component of submitting an application under a provincial program remains one of the biggest challenge for policy makers. It is doubtful that these changes will impact on the current retention rates for Manitoba.
Recent changes to Canada’s immigration regulations that came into effect on January 1st, 2015 have placed international graduates from Canadian universities at a disadvantage. Many were seeking to qualify for Canadian permanent residence. In the past, foreign students with work experience in Canada enjoyed an advantage over other applicants when seeking permanent residence. The new rules will also make it tougher for Canadian universities to recruit foreign students. The open system of residence after graduation was one of the factors that attracted 200,000 foreign students to postsecondary institutions in Canada in 2014.
Under the new rules, foreign students who hold a degree or diploma from Canadian educational institutions will be treated on par with other groups of skilled workers. All economic class candidates will form part of the pool from which Citizenship and Immigration Canada will issue invitations offering permanent residence. In the past, students were not required to compete with other groups of skilled workers when seeking permanent residence.
The Express Entry Pool, which forms the core aspect of the Express Entry system, has been established to reduce application times, and to facilitate improved connections between Canadian employers and employees intending to apply for permanent residence.
Invitations are issued on the basis of a ranking system based on the number of points earned by an aspiring immigrant. The maximum score is 1200 points. A Labor Market Impact Assessment which indicates the absence of a Canadian worker available for the position will enable the applicant to score 600 additional points. Other factors like education and age count for 600 points. The first two cohorts invited by the Ministry to apply for permanent residence had a cutoff of 800 points. Since students don’t qualify for a LMIA, they cannot avail the 600 points.
Students are likely to be hurt the most by the new system as those with very little work experience will find it difficult to prove that there is no native Canadian who can perform the task in question.
While students can seek permanent residence through Provincial Nominee Programs, tens of thousands of students who have entered through the Federal program cannot get transferred to provinces without complicated negotiations.
Provincial programs accord higher priority to permanent residence applications made by international students holding credentials from a Canadian postsecondary institution along with professional work experience. Ontario’s 2500 spots under its PNP are filled primarily by international students.
The Express Entry Immigration system, announced in detail in early December, is expected to have a very negative effect on those students who had planned on relying on favourable policies designed to help post-graduate students obtain permanent residence. These policies had been framed on the basis of findings that indicated that such students were most likely to adapt to life in Canada.
Many recent graduates sought to bypass the new rules by submitting their applications early. In December, the CIC had indicated that thousands of spots under the old regulations were still available. However, many fall graduate applicants learned that their applications were rejected on the ground that the quotas for Canadian Experience Class, the category under which they previously qualified, had been reached in October 2014. Now, these students are required to apply under the new regulations. Most will unlikely qualify unless they can meet provincial nomination programs.
Interestingly, many students who were hopeful of applying under the old rules were devastated to learn that the authorities had committed a mistake by indicating the availability of thousands of spots under the old rules. With students spending in excess of $100,000 towards their education in Canada, the premise under which they made such decisions has been vacated.
There are hopes that criticism of the functioning of the Express Entry system may result in changes that could include a reduction in the score required for a graduate student to be invited to apply for permanent residence. Until then those who had opted for Canada over the US or the UK due to the relatively ease to acquire Canadian residence, will have to just wait and watch. Canadian education institutions will likely share in this process.
Attorney Colin Singer Commentary:
Canadian immigration policy analysts have worked closely with the education industry to build Canada’s international reputation. It is clear that the Immigration Ministry is causing substantial harm to the industry with the new Express Entry regime.
New rules relating to immigration to Quebec are hindering universities in their efforts to hire highly-qualified international professors. Most notably, the French language requirement is posing a serious obstacle in attracting foreign talent, as many otherwise talented candidates do not meet this condition.
Quebec’s complicated points-based immigrant entry system puts the province’s universities at a disadvantage compared to other Canadian and American universities, say academics from Quebec’s English-language universities.
The French language requirement for permanent residency in Quebec was raised in 2013. Ghyslaine McClure, associate provost at McGill, says that her university is finding it increasingly difficult to recruit good professors for research chairs as candidates who are above 40 years of age are not very keen on taking French classes in addition to their research work duties.
In addition, the immigration process requires a lot of paperwork before a candidate can move to Quebec. “We would like a special recognition that university professors are highly specialized workers and they should not have that many obstacles. Professors and other eminent specialists are a different ball game,” says McClure.
There is some respite for professors with PhDs, however. The government modified the rules in December to award “points” to candidates holding PhDs, which might allow them to skip the French requirement.
Concordia University’s journalism professor Stanton Paddock is happy with this respite. Paddock says he panicked upon learning that he needed to learn a lot of French in order to move to Quebec back in 2013, but now he believes his PhD may help him bypass the requirement. For many professors, obtaining permanent residency is very important as several universities and institutions do not grant full tenure without it.
For candidates fluent in French, the new rules are not much of a hindrance. “Learning French was part of the reason I was excited to move here. I enjoy the language (but) I can imagine for people who don’t have that background it would be onerous,” says Emer O’Toole, a professor at Concordia’s School of Canadian Irish Studies, who had studied French before coming to Quebec.
O’Toole says that the French requirement has been made necessary because Quebec wants to protect the importance of its language. “It’s very likely (without the protections) French would lose its hold and stop being the primary language in Montreal,” she said.
Quebec’s Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil has said that she would be hearing recommendations to improve the province’s immigration system. She said that the government wanted to assimilate immigrants into a French-speaking workforce, but understood that the French language requirements were hurting many business groups. “Employer groups have raised the issue about language requirements, should we relax
them or not. The overall opinion (of the government) is that we need to be very careful and it’s important to have people speak French,” she said.
Whether they are arriving in Europe from across the Mediterranean, crossing the US-Mexican border, fleeing the conflict in Syria, or legally buying passports of various countries, migrants, who for whatever reason are looking to settle in the developed world, are never far from the headlines.
The increasing levels of migration worldwide has made regions noticeably more diverse, and as a result immigration has become one of the major policy issues of the 21st century.
Though the divisions between those for and against immigration have never been starker, evidence suggests that cultural diversity has a strong correlation with entrepreneurship, and that immigration is beneficial for a country’s development.
A study by the London School of Economics suggests that immigration and diversity is a directly linked to a nation’s success in entrepreneurship and economic development. Referring to Britain’s recent hard anti-immigrant turn, the report warns of negative consequences for the UK: “Recent legislation by the UK Home Office to restrict migration is likely to lead to a serious dent in entrepreneurship, affecting in turn the potential for employment generation and economic growth.”
The world’s developed nations are divided into those that are willing to attract and welcome immigrants and those that are not. Industrial societies like Japan and several European countries that are less than welcoming to newcomers and have resisted any changes brought about by these immigrants, have arguably been facing up to demographic and economic stagnation or decline.
Canada’s multicultural policies arguably put it in a favorable position in terms of social and economic development. Canada even has a minister for multiculturalism, which is unthinkable in most other countries.
“Multiculturalism isn’t just about statistics, it is about attitude. It is about seeing diversity as strength,” says Henry Kim, director of Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum. “Canadians believe that blending makes you better and stronger.”
This attitude to multiculturalism was evident in the recent social experiment in Hamilton, Ontario, where, in a staged incident, bystanders repeatedly defended an actor dressed in traditional Muslim attire from the racist abuse of another actor. The experiment had to be stopped when the actor hurling abuse was punched by a local Canadian who took offence at his intolerant attitude.
One reason societies reject multiculturalism in favor of integration is the fear that immigrant communities will fail to learn the local language and culture and instead form their own immigrant ghettos. But research shows that immigrant children actually learn the language more quickly and are more successful at school if they are raised in a society that recognizes the importance of their native language. This may be a psychological effect, as a society that openly values other cultures makes immigrants feel more accepted and gives them a sense of belonging.
And as other countries struggle with their immigration policies, Canada’s multicultural policies puts it on sound footing.
Investment Immigration: Saint Kitts and Nevis Immigrant Investor Programme
Saint Kitts and Nevis is a small country in the West Indies, and forms part of the Lesser Antilles. It is located about 2000 kilometres southeast of Miami, USA. The country is a democracy and the Queen of England is its Head of State. The capital of the country is at Basseterre on the larger St. Kitts island, which also serves as the political centre of the nation.
The Citizenship-by-Investment Programme was started by St. Kitts and Nevis in 1984. It is the oldest programme of this kind in the world. Under this programme, the Citizenship by Investment Unit of St. Kitts and Nevis has laid out rigid investment requirements and conducts thorough due diligence so as to attract investor citizens of good character.
Benefits of Citizenship of St Kitts and Nevis
- No minimum residency required
- No personal visit required
- Visa-free travel to all countries in the Schengen zone
- Visa free travel to Canada, Switzerland, the UK and Ireland
- No income or wealth tax
- Involves a simple application procedure with minimum formalities
- Family members can be included in the application form
- Right to reside in any of the 15 Caribbean community countries
- Citizenship for lifetime
- Second passport with permission to keep existing citizenship
Investors above 18 years of age can apply for Citizenship by Investment under two different options:
- Investment in Real Estate
- Investment in the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation
Investment in Real Estate
To qualify under this option, the applicant must invest a minimum of US $400,000 in designated real estate. Joint investment option is also available, where each investor should make an investment of the minimum amount.
The application is reviewed by the government and the final decision is taken by the Cabinet.
The investor has to bear all costs related to the purchase of the real estate – conveyance fee, compulsory insurance fund contribution, and other charges amounting to approximately 4-5 percent of the purchase price.
Once the application is approved in principle, the investor has to pay the following fees to the government of St. Kitts and Nevis:
Each child of main applicant under 18 years of age
Each qualified dependent of main applicant above 18 years of age
Children between 18-25 years of age should be supported fully by the parents and must be in a full time educational institution.
Investment in the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation
The SIDF (The Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation) in St. Kitts and Nevis is a public charity audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers. An investor using this option for citizenship can invest in the following ways:
Applicant with a spouse and two children below 18 years of age (up to three family members)
Applicant with a spouse and four children below 18 years of age (up to five family members)
Applicant with up to seven family members
Over and above the seven dependents, unmarried dependent children aged between 18-25 years of age can be included at an additional fee
The above contribution is inclusive of all government fees except for the due diligence fees.
Due Diligence Fees, Background Check Fees, and Processing Fees
Dependents above 16 years
- Spouse of the main applicant
- Child of the main applicant who is:
- below 18 years of age
- between 18-25 years of age, fully supported by main applicant and in full time attendance at a recognized educational institution
- above 18 years of age and is physically or mentally challenged
- Parents or grandparents of the main applicant and/or his spouse above 65 years of age, fully supported by the main applicant.
It takes 90 days to process a citizenship application in St. Kitts and Nevis.
For decades now, Canadian governments of all stripes have promoted immigration as a tool for nation building, and one of the purposes of Canada’s immigration laws is “to support the development of a strong and prosperous Canadian economy.” Unfortunately, this goal is often frustrated by bureaucratic red tape and an almost total lack of customer service.
Last month, the federal court decided an immigration case that demonstrated what happens when an immigration officer misses the forest for the trees. In this case, a prospective Canadian immigrant was refused a visa because his reference letter did not outline job duties that matched the required immigration criteria.
In this case, the prospective immigrant needed to prove that he supervised and coordinated staff or assigned work to certain employees in order to qualify for immigration. In refusing his application, the officer found that because the employer used the words “helping,” “assisting” and “aiding” in the reference letter, that the prospective immigrant did not actually carry out the required tasks outlined in the immigration criteria.
While the prospective immigrant won his case, one big question remains: why did this case have to go to court in the first place?
This case would not have gone to court if the immigration officer called, emailed or faxed the prospective immigrant’s employer to ask for clarification. Instead, the officer refused the application and thousands of dollars were spent by the government and the prospective immigrant in court. Does one really need to go to court to determine if “helping” to supervise is really supervising? Are these the important questions of our time that taxpayers need to spend money on in order for them to be considered by judges and government lawyers?
If Canada wants to develop a “strong and prosperous Canadian economy” through immigration, refusing an application on details that could have easily been clarified does not serve anyone well.
Unfortunately, this case is not an isolated example. One only needs to look at the general red tape that bogs down the immigration system to see how frustrating immigration is for our future neighbours, employees and taxpayers.
One breath-taking example is the number of pages an individual has to fill out to immigrate to Canada. For instance, if a Canadian wants to sponsor their foreign spouse to Canada, at least 29 pages of forms have to be filled out.
If making decisions without seeking clarification or requiring people to answer the same question multiple times is not enough, there is a bigger problem of “hidden” immigration rules.
Over the last year, Citizenship and Immigration Canada has changed numerous forms, multiple times, without warning. When an individual submits an outdated form, that individual runs the risk of having their immigration application returned.
Immigration lawyers in Canada have suggested numerous times to Citizenship and Immigration Canada since 2009 that a formal grace period be allowed, but such suggestions have fallen on deaf ears.
Such suggestions would not be reinventing the wheel; the U.S. government already has such a policy in place.
Is a little customer service really too much to ask when individuals and businesses pay hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to have their immigration applications assessed? Unfortunately, Canada’s answer has been “yes.”
Attorney Colin Singer Commentary:
The immigration landscape under the Harper Government has become since 2006 restrictive, inflexible, litigious and more enforcement driven than in recent memory. Yet, Canada continues to be a sought after destination despite this unwelcoming process.
From August 1 this year, the cut-off age for immigrant and refugee children will change from 21 to 18 as Canada lets economic motives determine immigration policy. This change in the cut-off age is against one of the official objectives of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act – to reunite families.
This summer the federal government seems to be quietly amending its immigration and refugee protection regulations. Since they have only set aside $62,000 for both implementation and communications, it’s obvious that they want to avoid public attention.
Until August 1, unmarried dependants aged 21 and under could be included in their parents’ immigration or refugee applications. There were exceptions for full-time students over 21 depending financially on their parents. But under the new regulations, the cut-off age is 18 and under and there are no exceptions for students.
According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, “The amendments to the definition of dependent child respond to government priorities of having an immigration system focused on Canada’s economic and labour force needs.” Their own regulatory impact analysis statement provides evidence that during immigration, the younger a child is, the better is their long-term labour market outcomes. They claim that on an average, Canadian education delivers a higher financial return than foreign education.
Despite the economic evidence, Canada stands to lose out on some highly qualified immigrants who would be unwilling to move to a new country without their 19- or 20-year-old progeny.
However there will still be economic migrants to Canada and the amendments will have a graver impact on those who have little choice in their immigration, particularly refugees. This was noted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Canadian Council for Refugees, the Canadian Bar Association, the Canadian Refugee Sponsorship Agreement Holders Association, and the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants.
Sixty groups and individuals submitted their comments after the changes were first proposed, most of these were in opposition.
The refugees and asylum seekers will now have to consider if safety in Canada is worth leaving a 19-year-old daughter or son behind in a potentially life-threatening situation. It would especially create gendered dangers in countries where women are oppressed. Many of them no longer in their parents’ house, could be forced to marry, face destitution or worse.
With this change, it is estimated that 7,000 young adults will lose the chance to come to Canada next year with their families. About 800 of them will be the children of refugees.
However, the government claims that the regulatory changes better reflect life in Canada, where children are apparently fully independent by age 19. The Canadian reality is however different and most high school graduates are neither ready nor willing to make it entirely on their own without their parents’ financial, social and emotional support. About 42% young adults in their 20s in Canada still live with their parents, and most of them have never faced famine, war, or torture.
Qualifying for a refugee status internationally or in Canada is not easy and those who are accepted have gone through more than most can imagine. It’s unconscionable to add a forced familial separation on them.
Source: The Star
According to a new study, recent immigrants to Canada who begin small or medium-sized businesses are more likely to export and target markets other than the U.S.
The Conference Board of Canada investigated 15,000 small and medium-sized businesses to determine how companies begun by immigrants who have arrived within the past five years compare to other businesses of the same size.
It found Canada’s diverse pool of immigrants is a source of strength in expanding into new markets, partially because they have an understanding of the language and culture of business in their country of origin.
The study found 12 per cent of immigrant-owned businesses export goods and services to markets beyond the U.S., versus 7 per cent for businesses owned by non-immigrants. The majority of such immigrant-run businesses were in Ontario and Quebec. About 19 per cent of immigrant-owned businesses exported, compared to 14 per cent of other SMEs.
However, the study raised some concerns about the long-term health of companies with a recent immigrant as majority owner. Despite being among the fastest-growing SMEs, these companies earn lower returns on investments in business assets than other Canadian exporters and sell less in dollar value.
The profits of non-U.S. immigrant exporters grew at an average annual rate of 21 per cent compared with 2 per cent for their non-immigrant counterparts. Many are concentrated in wholesale and retail sectors and thus vulnerable to competitive pricing from other markets.
Non-U.S. immigrant exporters also lack networks within Canada, a factor that could ultimately limit their ability to grow. In fact, their cultural ties helped them overcome a weak business model, Goldfarb said.
The Conference Board report put a special focus on the select group of businesses in the knowledge sector run by immigrants, saying it represents important potential in non-U.S. markets.
Because such businesses are innovators and compete on new products rather than low prices, they should be a particular focus of policy makers, the study said.
It advocates policies that encourage financing of knowledge-intensive companies, which have less access to financing than other types of businesses. It also suggests export promotion policies that open doors for such businesses in non-U.S. markets.
Source: CBC News
A surprising new internal government report has found that those immigrants who have been in Canada longest are the ones most likely to fail the citizenship test.
The citizenship test is one of the last steps completed by immigrants wishing to obtain full citizenship rights as a Canadian, including the ability to carry a Canadian passport and to vote. The citizenship test was redesigned in 2012 to promote newcomers’ awareness of Canadian history, values and culture.
In recent years, the government has made reforms not only to the test, but also other citizenship regulations in an attempt to strengthen loyalty to Canada and promote successful integration. In addition to the revamped test, the government’s most recent proposed changes include raising residency requirements so that immigrants must wait longer before applying for citizenship.
However, the findings of the departmental report are troubling this idea in suggesting that length of time living in Canada does not correlate to a better grasp of Canadian history and values – at least as exhibited in standardized tests.
This has led some immigrant advocates to question what the government understands about what it means to be Canadian. Is there really a way to test newcomers on how Canadian they are?
Since the redesigned test was introduced, more immigrants are failing the exam overall. People who have been in the country longer are less likely to write the test, and therefore less likely to pass. New arrivals, generally, are more motivated to gain full citizenship and are therefore more likely to take the test and to do well on it.
Applicants from South Korea and China were found most likely to do well on the test. Those taking the test in the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia were also most likely to do well.
Failing the citizenship test is the top reason for rejection of citizenship applications, followed by failure to prove language proficiency, and not meeting the residency requirements.
Source: Toronto Star