Hello from all of us at Ackah Business Immigration Law! Welcome to the May edition of the Ackah Law Newsletter.
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Ackah Business Immigration in the News
Please see the following link http://www.ackahlaw.com/in-the-media/ to view Evelyn’s most recent media appearances and publications:
1. Alberta Venture – Is your CEO a Temporary Foreign Worker?
2. Western Canada Highway Magazine News Article – discussion on labour shortages in the trucking industry and immigration policy
3. BNN Television – February 26, 2015 – Evelyn discusses Temporary Foreign Worker issues for high-skilled workers
4. CBC Radio – February 24, 2015 – Evelyn discusses changes in the Temporary Foreign Worker program
UPDATES IN IMMIGRATION LAW
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC”) will no longer issue off campus work permits. It will now be assumed that students will be able to work up to 20 hours a week during the school year and during winter and summer breaks they are eligible to work up to 40 hours per week. In order to be eligible to work full time during school breaks, students must be enrolled in full time study, hold a valid study permit, be enrolled at a designated learning institution and must be studying in an academic, vocational or professional training program that leads to a degree, diploma or certificate that is at least six months in duration.
Strengthening the Canadian Citizenship Act
On June 19, 2014, the Strengthening the Canadian Citizenship Act received royal assent and became law. Parts of the Act have already come into effect:
• fast-tracking citizenship for members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF)
• improving clarity on the first generation limit on citizenship for those born abroad
• extending the exception to the first generation limit to ensure the children of Crown servants can pass on citizenship; and
• moving the decision-making authority for discretionary citizenship grants to the Minister, which improves applicant service by eliminating an extra step.
The remaining changes have yet to come into effect. No one knows when these changes will come into effect. What we do know, is that the changes will go into effect any day now. The changes that are significant are as follows:
• Language and knowledge requirements – applicants between the ages of 14 to 64 will be required to pass the citizenship test and effectively communicate in either English or French. Before the new Act, the requirement was that only applicants between the ages of 18-54 were required to write the test.
• Income tax filing is required for all applications for Citizenship – once applicants receive their permanent residency, they must file their income taxes each and every year, they are a resident. Regardless if the applicant has worked or not. Applicants will have to show proof they have filed their income taxes in order to apply for citizenship.
• Residency requirements have become stricter – applicants must be physically present for four years in a six year period and require applicants to be physically present in Canada for at least 183 days per year in four of the six years. The previous citizenship Act, required applicants to have resided in Canada for three out of four years-1,095 days.
These changes are meant to strengthen Canada and encourage those who have permanent residency to remain in Canada and assimilate into Canadian society.
Express Entry and Job Bank
Applicants who do not have a nomination from a province or territory or a “qualifying job offer” by way of a positive labour market assessment (“LMIA”), are required to sign up for Job Bank, even if they already have a job, in order to enter the Express Entry pool. As of April 30, 2015, applicants who are required to apply to the job bank’s new function “job match” should be aware that this function is now up and available for use.
New Changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program
As of April 30, 2015, there are changes to the cap for employers who employ low-wage workers and who use the Temporary Foreign Worker (“TFW”) program. The new cap will be measured by head count of number of workers, rather than number of hours employees work. Employers will now be able to count part-time employees as 0.5 of a head count and full time employees as a full head count. Part-time workers are anyone who works less than 30 hours per week. This change will greatly assist restaurant owners and local businesses who are finding it difficult to find and retain employees.
This new method will not change the established cap and employers are still subject to the cap percentages of:
• 30% as of June 20, 2014;
• 20% as of July 1, 2015; and
• 10% as of July 1, 2016.
Update to the Unemployment Rates by Economic Region
As of April 30, 2015, the TFW program will also begin using the latest Labour Force Survey results from 2014 for the unemployment rates. These rates determine which regions are eligible to submit LMIAs for low-wage occupations in the Accommodation and Food Services Sector and the Retail Trade Sector. ESDC will not process any LMIA applications for these sectors, in economic regions where the unemployment rate is 6% or higher.
Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program – Pre-Nomination Initiative
Since 2014, there has been an increase in applicants to the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (“AINP”). However, the province is limited in the number of nominations it can grant in a year and how quickly they can process applications. Many applicants who are currently waiting for their applications to be processed may be impacted by the four year cumulative duration limit. This means they may have maxed out their stay in Canada by having an LMIA for four years. These individuals who may be potentially excellent candidates for the AINP, and who face a disruption in their employment in Alberta would negatively affect their chances of successfully obtaining a nomination certificate or seeking new employment upon their return as permanent residents.
As such, select individuals whom Alberta intends to nominate for permanent residence may be eligible for a one-time work permit that is valid for one year and exempt from a LMIA. This is an exemption to the four year cumulative duration limit. Our office has yet to see any of these approvals.
UPDATE ON EXPRESS ENTRY – RANKINGS
May 23, 2015- Foreign Nationals (“FN”) who were assigned a total of 755 points or more under the CRS were provided an invitation to apply (“ITA”). The number of ITAs released was 1,361. This is a significant increase from the previous 453 points in April.
Please don’t keep our boutique immigration law firm a secret! We are very appreciative of any referrals and recommendations you send our way. Thank you very much!
FROM ALL OF US AT ACKAH BUSINESS IMMIGRATION LAW
We hope that you have found this newsletter both helpful and informative. We look forward to hearing from you if you have any questions about the content. Please let us know how we may be of assistance and how you can leverage our expertise in helping to meet your business needs. Should you wish to discuss further the impact of any of the above-referenced policy changes, we encourage you to contact our office.
*Please note that this immigration newsletter has been created for informational purposes only and cannot be relied upon as legal advice.