A hundred Iranian immigrant investors have appealed to the Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister to approve their applications which have been held up for up to two years due to the economic sanctions imposed against Iran.
The Iranian applicants have been nominated by provincial immigrant investor programs run by British Columbia, Manitoba and Quebec, and are required to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in those provinces. But because of the economic sanctions on Iran imposed under the Special Economic Measures Act, the applicants cannot transfer money from Iran without a special permit from the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
Canada halted all financial transactions with Iran since 2011, and suspended diplomatic relations between the countries in 2012.
The applicants now say they will take legal action if their applications are not processed within 30 days.
“Some of these applications date back 24 months, without any word or decision being taken on [the part of the minister],” the applicants said in letters sent to the ministry. “It is hard to understand why no decision has been reached regarding these … demands which represent a substantial investment in the Canadian economy.”
Depending on the program’s requirements in different provinces, the applicants are required to invest anywhere between $200,000 to $800,000.
The latest appeal comes following a similar one in January, when 41 of 54 applicants to Quebec successfully obtained their permits after threats of legal action. Lawyers representing Iranian nationals who want to immigrate say the sanctions have been applied in ways that hurt law-abiding Iranian nationals rather than the government of Iran.
The spokesman for Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, François Lasalle, has defended the ministry saying, “The issuance of such a permit is not automatic; it is an exceptional action at the discretion of the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Canada has held a clear position on Iran’s support for terrorism, its nuclear ambitions, and its abysmal record on human rights.”
Speaking recently on the occasion of the Iranian new year, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Canada is open to “those who seek refuge from the Iranian regime.”
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.
(Employers and Provinces Assume Greater Role)
The Government of Canada will increase immigration levels significantly in 2015. Citizenship and Immigration Canada aims to welcome as many as 285,000 new permanent residents this year. This represents a significant increase in levels from previous years.
Canada’s increased immigration levels, coincides with the implementation of Express Entry a new immigration system which processes immigrants to Canada under Economic Class programs. Applicants seeking permanent residence, who meet minimum criteria, submit an online expression of interest profile to the Express Entry Pool. Candidates without an approved job offer or provincial nomination must also submit an employment profile to the Canada Job Bank. Candidates in the pool will be available for consideration by employers who cannot access Canadians and to provincial governments for nomination under Provincial Nominee Programs PNP’s. The profiles of candidates in the pool are ranked under a Comprehensive Ranking System according to their age, education, language, experience and other factors. The maximum score is 1200. Applicants with an approved job offer from a Canadian employer (positive Labour Market Impact Assessment) or candidates nominated by a province receive an additional 600 points. The highest ranked candidates will be considered by the Federal government for an invitation to apply (ITA) for permanent residence. The government aims to process applications in 6-months.
The government plans to conduct periodic draws throughout the year. An applicant can remain in the pool for up to one year. An applicant who does not receive an ITA during this period will be removed from the pool and will need to re-submit a new profile. Thus an applicant’s ranking in the pool will vary for each draw as new profiles enter and others are removed.
Immigration falls under a shared jurisdiction between the federal, provincial and territorial governments. Provincial Nomination Programs are widely viewed as an alternative option for many foreign nationals to gain Canadian permanent residency. Every province has implemented its own provincial nomination program, each with its own criteria, in order to promote immigration policies best suited to a province’s particular needs. The Province of Quebec promotes its own immigration programs under special status.
Under Express Entry the role of the provinces will become significant. In addition to the existing Provincial Nomination Programs available through Canadian provinces and territories, currently Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia have launched express entry immigration programs that complement the Canada Express Entry Immigration system. A sponsor employer is often not required.
To be selected under a provincial express entry immigration program, prospective applicants must meet the minimum criteria for one of the three federal programs available under the express entry system (the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trade Program and the Canadian Experience Class). They must also complete a federal express entry assessment profile.
From the federal express entry pool a participating province can select between 350 to 1,000 applicants for nomination to their province each year depending on agreements with the federal government. Other provinces are expected to launch express entry programs in 2015.
Beginning January 1, 2015, the Province of Manitoba will be allocated 500 additional immigrants to nominate from the new Express Entry Pool of skilled workers who have expressed interest in immigrating to Canada.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s “Express Entry” system, which intends to match the education and experience of people interested in immigrating with the qualifications needed by Canadian employers.
Manitoba’s Express Entry allocation is separate from and in addition to the allocation of 5,000 immigrants that Manitoba can nominate each year under the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP).
The MPNP nominee program is the main source of Manitoba’s immigration, making up 70 per cent of all newcomers to the province.
In April 2014, federal Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced a new federal recruitment model for economic immigration dubbed Express Entry. Starting in January, it will be a “major step forward in the transformation of Canada’s immigration system into one that is fast, flexible and focused on meeting Canada’s economic and labour needs,” the federal minister said.
Applicants are ranked using a point system age, education, experience, training and language skills. A qualifying job offer will provide extra points. Applicants with the highest scores will receive an invitation to apply for permanent residence and will be processed within six months.
Approved employers will be able to select directly from the national Express Entry pool if they secure an approved labour market impact assessment from Service Canada. Workers in the Express Entry pool will make their qualifications directly available online to employers. Service Canada will provide employers with worker profiles but employers will not have direct access to the pool.
The new Express Entry Immigration system is expected to significantly reduce wait times for the bulk of Canada’s annual skilled workers.
Source: Manitoba Government