We often get inquiries from people who are permanent residents (PRs) of Canada and have lived here for several years.

They need to depart Canada for job opportunities, or sick relatives or other reasons that will take them away for a number of years. And they are worried about losing their PR status.

Often they are breadwinners whose spouse or kids have been in Canada long term, supported by the overseas (or to be overseas) person who comes and goes. They have ties in both countries but not enough time in Canada to qualify to apply for citizenship yet.

“How can I keep my PR status? I don’t want to lose it since I plan to return in a few years.”

I explain to them that under Canadian immigration law, if you are overseas with a spouse who is a Canadian citizen, your PR status is preserved. The days you spend outside Canada living with your spouse count towards the residency obligation in s. 28 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

I call this the little Canadian umbrella. Your PR status is protected by being with a Canadian-citizen spouse (or parent, if you are a minor) outside Canada.

So if the spouse is a Canadian citizen and can accompany them, that is often the best way for the PR to keep their status while overseas.  There are of course, some exceptions to the rule, and some litigation on who is accompanying who overseas, but generally speaking, it is fairly settled law.

And whenever I talk to anyone about this, I end up with this song in my head for the rest of the day:


You’re welcome.


@CitImmCanada used to have 2 online systems for submitting electronic applications: MyCIC for individuals and the Rep Portal for representatives (lawyers/consultants). This was in addition to some specific portals, for example for employers and universities. But the bulk of immigration applications would be submitted through those 2 main portals. They are glitchy and cumbersome but at least they are interactive and a one-stop shop for your electronic immigration processes.

Since the spring of 2021, there are now at least 7 new online portals for different types of immigration applications – and more on the way.

Here are the new ones:



Visitor Visa




Refugee Claims

In addition to the original ones:



Payment Portal

Physical Presence Calculator

Employer Portal

Partner Portal

DLI Portal

Provinces and Territories Portal

Although they look similar, each new online portal is completely separate: they all have different account creation and login processes; most are for individuals, one is for representatives. Some are static checklists that you submit your application in and don’t show any active status or progress. Other are conduits with progress bars that enable communications to and from @CitImmCanada. Sometimes – but not all the time – you can link your application from these platforms into the original MyCIC or Rep Portal. Sometimes – but not all the time – you will receive an AOR (Acknowledgment of Receipt) after submitting an application in one of the new portals. If they do come, email notifications mostly say “there is a message in your portal”, with no indication which portal it is referring to. Sometimes you will create an account and submit an application then one day your login stops working, your access disappears and there is no technical support for the new portals and no way to communicate that issue to @CitImmCanada. You ask yourself the existential question: if the login disappears, does the application that was submitted still exist?

Given that most people don’t file just one immigration application (the typical pathway is temporary resident like visitor/student/worker –> then permanent resident –> then citizen) and often have to renew or extend their status in between those steps, which are separate processes, most immigrants will have to create, manage and maintain at least 4 different portals in their immigration journey to Canada.

Most of the portals do not allow representatives to assist, @CitImmCanada imagines a world where newcomers will be able to navigate which portal, what login, how to get there and what to do once inside without the assistance of anyone. Many people don’t even buy groceries unassisted these days, but hey, @CitImmCanada, that’s cool. We’ll just be over here mopping up the mess and tears of people who have made inadvertent errors and wasted months on a process that went nowhere.

I don’t even have a good analogy for what this can compare to: imagine having to keep track of separate logins and platforms for each of your bank accounts:  chequing, savings, credit card, line of credit… only with higher stakes, like you fall into a pit of snakes if you transfer funds from the wrong account. Or, for your business, you have to maintain separate CRA logins/platforms for Payroll, GST/HST, Corporate taxes, etc, but with a jet pack attached that shoots you into space if you mess anything up. Imagine that if you chose to use an accountant, they would have access to some, but not all of those platforms, so could do some, but not all of your taxes.

We hear these new systems are more robust, secure and stable than the OG ones.  And necessary given the pandemic and need to move everything online. But 6 months in, I have no confidence that these new “mvp” platforms are working as they should, or have increased efficiencies or that applications aren’t falling through the cracks as I type this.

So basically we now have a blind-buffet of online platforms, which all look sort of the same, but don’t behave the same and aren’t reliable enough to give anyone confidence that what was submitted was received or any insight on where submitted applications are in process. Are you out of status or about to be a PR? Is the application in process or has it disappeared into the ether? Is that Jello salad or head cheese? Who knows!

And to stop being cute for a second, it is appalling and unconscionable that @CitImmCanada actually thinks what it is doing with these new systems is reasonable. These are lives and futures on the line. If immigration really was so important, how can @CitImmCanada possibly think that unleashing this haphazard technology on people who are staking their lives on it is ethical or workable?

But don’t mind me, I’m just over here eating a Jello salad, wearing a jet pack, holding a mop.



On April 14, 2021, IRCC announced three new pathways to PR for people who are presently in Canada (and intend to live anywhere except Quebec):

  • People currently employed in Canada who also have one year of work experience in health care or an essential service (cap: 20,000 health stream and 30,000 essential stream)
  • French-speaking applicants employed in Canada who also have one year work experience in health care or an essential service (no cap)
  • Recent international graduates who are currently employed in Canada (cap 40,000)

The program opens May 6, 2021 in an electronic format and on a first-come, first-served basis. With caps for the non-French speaking programs, we expect these will fill up quickly. The program is set to close on November 5, 2021.

The document requirements, checklists and process details have not been released yet. We only have the public policy information and what we can glean from the IRCC announcements and what Minister Mendicino has stated publicly.

These are the most interesting takeaways:

  • No age restriction;
  • Low(er) language requirement;
  • People here without status but who are eligible to restore their status can apply;
  • No Education Credential Assessment (ECA) requirement;
  • Many NOC C and D occupations included;
  • For the work experience stream, you don’t have to be currently employed in health care or an essential service;
  • No mention (yet!) of median wage or proof of recruitment requirement for current job offers.

With the program set to open May 6, applicants need to start getting ready right away. This includes ensuring their language test results are no older than 2 years and getting police clearances, Canadian proof of education and work experience documents ready.  We assume the confirmation of current employment will be a form similar to IMM5983 and IMM5984 used for the home support worker and Agri-Food Pilot programs.

Spring is definitely in the air at IRCC, but there is no time to stop and smell the flowers.





It’s 2021. Obviously I need to post some updates.

Where to start?

Welcome Elise Mercier, our newest lawyer! In October, the intrepid Elise packed up her belongings and moved here from Ontario to join North Star. And from her first week in the office, she has been a huge help with our volume of work which has exponentially increased recently (more about that in a sec) and also levelled us up in the home-baked goods department. The first thing we had her do was figure out the new extended family reunification process and start preparing those applications. I am happy to report that she is now our resident expert in that area.

We welcomed Elise with a little office party in early November, complete with an oyster bar, because, Nova Scotia. And thank goodness we did as everything else got cancelled once NS’s second wave hit in late November. No North Star holiday party this year.

Our little office bubble carries on and as a general rule, we don’t see clients in person. We don’t share Covered Bridge chips anymore (we each have to have our own bag now) but otherwise the office is managing ok. We rented a large space across the hall, which we previously used clandestinely for after-hours band practice. It is now a multipurpose room, great for physically-distant client meetings, virtual refugee hearings, end of day chats and beverages and rainy day bike rides:

On the immigration front, things are still a whirlwind. So far in 2021, we have received some fantastic approvals:

– a PGWP restoration in 15 days and a couple H&C first stage approvals (nice work Sophie and Lori!),
– a bench positive refugee determination (nice work Guilhem!),
– a 2-week expedited nomination (nice work Elise!)
– a tricky PR Card renewal we submitted in September and received in the mail last week (nice work Lara!)
– a BOWP approval for someone on threadbare implied status – proof that there is such a thing as an “implied status sandwich” (hats-off Cam!)

But in case anyone tells you otherwise, immigration practice during a pandemic is not all sunshine and roses: we received a few really awful decisions mid-summer, like on a few H&Cs we thought were solid. So that has meant extra work – filing federal court applications and managing disappointed clients. And trying to explain to those disappointed clients that judicial review is the only option and “it’s like an appeal but it’s not an appeal. No, you cannot talk to the judge. No you cannot give new evidence. Even though it’s your case, if you want to come to the hearing, you have to sit in the back gallery.” And realizing how completely convoluted the legal process is when you try to explain it. Ultimately, DOJ/IRCC has consented on most of them so they are back in process. But some are not, and some people we fought hard for are out of options. Losing when the chips are down is brutal.*

#legaltech wtf
It never ceases to amaze me that in law practice we are still so constrained by software limitations. To practice Canadian immigration law, you basically have to subscribe to Acrobat Cloud, which is costly and glitchy, at least on MacOS. For years, I have been searching for something to streamline our practice in a way that will integrate our systems and not cause more work/headaches for the lawyers. But it turns out starting a practice and transitioning a practice are two different things, and as imperfect as our systems are, they are stable, secure and simple. I realize implementing software that uses checklists or workflows is good as long as they truly integrate and automate and aren’t just there for display. For 2021, we have plans to implement some new tools to streamline our work and make it easier for clients to get their information to us, using secure links for online forms rather than scanned pdfs. Baby steps, I guess.

So 2020 was the longest year and the most distracting year and the most fucked up year really, but we made it through and are ready for whatever 2021 has in store for us. And if it’s just more of the same, well at least we know how to pandemic now.

*As I write this, I can hear my husband calling my daughter for breakfast – “Louisa, come and eat. I made you breakfast. It’s an omelet. It’s the worst omelet I’ve ever made. It doesn’t even look like an omelet. I need to learn how to make better omelets.” And basically, that sums up what’s going on around here. (xo CF)

IRCC recently announced that people with a close connection to a Canadian can request authorization to travel. Until now, the exemption has only applied to close family members, shutting out everyone other than children, parents and spouses. And, oh ya, guardians.

With last weeks’ announcement of expanding the exemptions to relieve hardship to people who don’t meet the narrow definition of family, IRCC has issued new instructions and a form to be completed in order to receive authorization to travel.

The new rules apply to those travelling from the US or elsewhere. So everyone who meets the new definition and is wanting to join an extended family member in Canada, has to fill out and submit the same form and request authorization, which IRCC says will take 14 days.

The form (EDIT: the form has been taken down and updated 3 times since it was first published, hopefully it will be back up soon? @IRCC form person: you got this! don’t give up, you are our hero) and the details are just hours old, but these are the criteria to qualify:

  • The visit must be for 15 days or longer and cannot be discretionary (ie. not primarily for tourism, recreation or entertainment)
  • The Canadian (citizen or PR) extended family member must be physically in Canada (eg. it looks like they cannot be outside Canada, so travelling together into Canada does not appear to be an option)
  • Travelers must have a quarantine plan for the first 14 days in Canada
  • For extended family members: Travelers must be able to show their relationship to the Canadian (birth certificates, marriage certificates in addition to the declaration form)
  • For those in an “exclusive dating relationship” IRCC defines it as a romantic relationship with a Canadian, have been in the relationship for at least 1 year and have spent time in the physical presence of that person at some point during the relationship. So presumably proof will have to be provided – such as a selection of documents showing the relationship is exclusive and has been ongoing for over a year.

As far as the process goes, there are 4 options:

  • If you are in the US, it is unclear how you are supposed to apply, but it appears there has to be approval before arriving at the port of entry (hopefully this will be clarified by IRCC shortly – EDIT: yes, updated to say US citizens should use the same email process as those with visas)
  • if you have an eTA,  you submit the application form and supporting documents to the IRCC Webform using the language provided.
  • If you already have a visitor visa, you email all your info to IRCC
  • If you need a visitor visa,  you must apply for one and use this special wording on the application form:



So this is a good move on the part of IRCC and positive news for those who meet the new expanded criteria. But it reflects that we are in this travel restriction thing for the long haul.

And godspeed to all those willing and able to jump through the hoops to get here.



Many Canadian businesses rely on regular cross-border trips by US-based workers. Whether it is to maintain machinery and equipment or oversee operations, these visits are usually of short durations and are time-sensitive. Sometimes, the US based workers are even Canadian citizens or permanent residents who still have to isolate for 2 weeks upon arrival in Canada. Other times, they are just coming in as (IRPA section 186) business visitors or may have NAFTA or Intra Company Transferee work permits covering their time in Canada.

The mandatory 14-day isolation period really throws a wrench into things (I know, terrible pun), because suddenly a 3-day visit to repair a piece of equipment becomes a 17 day visit, the first 14 of which the equipment cannot be touched by the worker.

So what can Canadian organizations do to ensure that (1) they are adhering to public health rules and doing their part to stop the spread of Covid-19 and (2) keep their Canadian operations running smoothly so that delays don’t negatively impact their Canadian employees, market competitiveness or production?

Some form of travel restrictions are likely for the foreseeable future. And even if you are allowed to travel, the 14 day isolation is now the default. This is all mandatory by provincial public health orders and section 58 of the Quarantine Act:

Emergency Orders
Order prohibiting entry into Canada

58 (1) The Governor in Council may make an order prohibiting or subjecting to any condition the entry into Canada of any class of persons who have been in a foreign country or a specified part of a foreign country if the Governor in Council is of the opinion that

(a) there is an outbreak of a communicable disease in the foreign country;

(b) the introduction or spread of the disease would pose an imminent and severe risk to public health in Canada;

(c) the entry of members of that class of persons into Canada may introduce or contribute to the spread of the communicable disease in Canada; and

(d) no reasonable alternatives to prevent the introduction or spread of the disease are available.

However, there are exceptions to the rules. The current exemption process involves requesting both federal and provincial approval. The federal process is outlined here:

Federal exemption to mandatory quarantine (14 day isolation period):

The Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA) in conjunction with the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) are given the authority to grant exemptions from quarantine required by the federal order (OIC 10). Whether an exemption from quarantine is granted to an individual under the federal order is determined solely by the CBSA and PHAC. Information regarding requirements for an exemption to the Federal order can be found here.

PHAC issues letters of interpretation and provides an assessment as to whether an individual qualifies for an exemption under OIC 10. The letter is useful for anyone seeking entry to Canada as it is an important piece of information for CBSA to consider when making their final determination to permit entry and exemption from the quarantine requirements.

Federal Eligibility:

Who is eligible to travel to Canada: Foreign nationals, including United States (US) citizens, can travel to Canada only if they’re eligible. Restrictions vary depending on where you are coming from.

If you’re travelling to Canada from outside the US
You must be both:
• exempt from the travel restrictions and
• travelling for an essential (non discretionary) purpose

All other foreign nationals:
To be eligible, you must meet 2 requirements:
•You must be travelling for an essential (non-discretionary) purpose
•You must be either
· travelling directly from the US
· exempt from the travel restrictions

Travelers coming from outside the US who are exempt from the travel restrictions:
• any person who does not pose a significant harm to public health, in the opinion of the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, and who will provide an essential service while in Canada

Federal exemption provisions for essential service workers

Pursuant to paragraph 6(e) of the Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada Order (Mandatory Isolation), No. 2, issued pursuant to section 58 of the Quarantine Act, the Chief Public Health Officer may determine a class of persons who provide an essential service while in Canada.

As determined by the Chief Public Health Officer, at this time, the following class of persons are exempt:

Persons in the trade or transportation sector who are important for the movement of goods or people, including truck drivers and crew members on any aircraft, shipping vessel or train, and that cross the border while performing their duties or for the purpose of performing their duties;

Persons who must cross the border regularly to go to their normal place of employment, including critical infrastructure workers (Energy and Utilities, Information and Communication Technologies, Finance, Health, Food, Water, Transportation, Safety, Government and Manufacturing), provided they do not directly care for persons 65 years of age or older within the first 14 days after their entry to Canada; and

Technicians specified by manufacturer, or the manufacturer warranty, as required to maintain or repair equipment necessary to support critical infrastructure (Energy and Utilities, Information and Communication Technologies, Finance, Health, Food, Water, Transportation, Safety, Government and Manufacturing).

Ultimately, the federal exemption is determined by the officer at the port of entry (CBSA and PHAC), but having a letter of interpretation is meant to be a helpful tool in that assessment.

Provincial exemption to mandatory quarantine (14 day isolation period):

Travellers seeking an exemption must also contact the provincial authority for approval, since the isolation requirement is both federal and provincial jurisdiction.

Provincial rules vary but generally speaking, to request named individuals and/or classes of persons be exempt from the a provincial order, information and plans must be submitted as specified by the provincial medical authority. The information provided will be used to determine if the specified individuals and/or classes of persons satisfy the requirements for an exemption to the provincial order.

An exemption provided by a province will be conditional and will be limited to allowing the person(s) identified in the exemption the ability, within the first 14 days upon entering the province, to travel to and from their accommodation or residence to the work locations where they are performing their essential service work related duties. Where an exempted person during that 14 day period has any symptoms or is confirmed to have COVID-19, the person will be required to quarantine and cease performing their work related duties in accordance with the requirements set out in the provincial order. This type of exemption will not permit the individual to attend recreational activities, formal events or social gatherings until the 14 day period has expired.

More information and the links to the various provincial authorities can be found here.

Anecdotally we have heard about a lot of inconsistency and confusion at ports of entry. Given this, we are advising the Canadian employers of US-citizens to seek both provincial and federal approvals in advance of travel and provide information to both authorities that includes, at minimum:

Point of contact with Canadian entity
Location of worksite(s)
Names of employees or contractors or class of essential service (name, address, contact and phone number while in Canada)
Arrival and departure dates
Rationale for classifying as essential service workers
Corporate Covid-19 plan describing precautions to keep workers safe
Accommodation plan (i.e. at hotel or rental) to ensure travelers necessities and precautions are being met
Travel arrangements to and from Canada and while in Canada, to and from worksite

Once this process is complete, the person can book their trip and ensure they carry proof of the exemptions and all supporting documents to provide to CBSA and PHAC at the airport or land border crossing.

So far, we have received favorable responses from federal and provincial authorities for requests we have made and it seems to make life easier for CBSA if the traveler can provide these documents, which shows, among other things, that they and their employer have turned their minds to where they fall under the exemptions and how public health will not be put at risk if the traveller is not required to quarantine.

To be sure, this two-step approach is a little more red tape than anyone wants to have to deal with. But when Canadian critical infrastructure is at stake, it seems like a reasonable balance between ensuring Canada remains safe and, as much as possible, minimizing the disruptions on products and services that the public depends on.

For more information or to book a consultation on this or any travel-related issue, please contact us.

Arundati Roy is one of my favorite authors. And while, as the uncracked spines of the pile of books on my windowsill attest, my reading over the past while has been profoundly disappointing, I love what she has written about the pandemic.

To be sure, seeing the disruption and devastation the pandemic has caused as a potential “reset” may be a product of wanting (no, needing) to find some clarity in the abyss that has characterized these months. And I can’t be the only one who feels like an utter failure now, compared to when we embarked on this by setting out to read books! Learn Spanish! Connect with our kids (while working and cleaning and cooking)! And raise chickens! Bake bread! And exercise!

I have learned that in a pandemic, perceptions of time shift. Similar to when you have a newborn, the days are long but the months are short.

How things turn quickly and we see how fragile we all really are. And if you choose to ignore it, it hauls off and kicks you right in the pants. Now we are staring in the unblinking eyes of the truth: the privilege of those of us who have it. The marginalization of those who don’t. The horrors of misogynistic mass shootings. The fact of ongoing racist murders of black and indigenous people. The truth is right there now, laid bare (or perhaps exposed?) by the rawness and vulnerability the pandemic has created. How precious life is and how ugly the casualness is of lives that have been damaged and taken.

The old saying If you’re not part of the solution you are part of the problem has never been truer. And none of this is about me, but I know that I have much work to do personally and on behalf of my organization.

My focus now is on rebuilding my business in a way that is conscious of the racial, economic and gender biases that exist in the justice system and private law practice. For too long, I have operated in a happy little bubble that me and my colleagues have created separate from (and to a large degree, in spite of) the traditional law firm mindset. Mostly women, very progressive, lots of pro bono work, cooperation and collaboration. But I don’t think it’s enough. I think that from now on, organizations such as mine must act and react in a way that is more overtly aware of how we got here.

What is this going to look like? I am not sure. On management level, it will at least start with consciously ensuring decisions to engage suppliers and hire are inclusive and diverse. On a client level, we won’t tolerate racism (sounds crazy for an immigration law firm, right? Wrong! It happens all the time). To those clients wishing to move to Canada because “there are too many immigrants in my country”, don’t bother contacting us, we aren’t interested in your business.

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.
Arundati Roy, An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire (2005)

North Star Immigration Law Office Foyer

It’s not business as usual, not even close.

But here at North Star, we’ve been working hard to continue to serve and advise clients as the rules change and shift before our eyes, sometimes mid-sentence. Our national immigration lawyer listserv has been tireless in reacting to the various announcements and guidance like it is in a tennis match: every volley from IRCC/Trudeau/Freeland/Mendicino creates an equally complex set of questions and requests for clarification, which in turn leads to more announcements, which in turn leads to more questions. And at the end of it all, anecdotes abound and inconsistency reigns at ports of entry and overseas airports.

So it was nice to receive an email tonight which is a notice from IRCC to prospective temporary and permanent residents. It attempts to consolidate and explain all the new rules, although I can already see some sections that have caveats or need footnotes and clarification, so that may be a project for the coming days.

I am reproducing it below.

Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada / Immigration Réfugiés et Citoyenneté Canada <IRCC.COMMDoNotReply-NePasRepondreCOMM.IRCC@cic.gc.ca>

Wed 2020-04-01 9:46 PM

The Government of Canada is working closely with partners in Canada and around the world, including the World Health Organization (WHO), to respond to the current outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

If you are a representative, please let your clients know about this important information.

Effective March 18, 2020, Canada is denying entry to travellers who are not citizens or permanent residents of Canada. There are certain exceptions to these restrictions to permit essential travel for temporary foreign workers who have a work permit or who are approved for one.

If you are planning to travel to Canada to work soon, you need to be aware of public health measures in place to limit the spread of the virus in Canada. You also need to know what to expect upon arrival.

When you arrive in Canada, your health will be assessed when you speak to the border services officer. You must isolate for 14 days, even if you have no symptoms. This is mandatory for all travellers, and there are significant penalties for anyone who does not follow this order. Please see New Order Makes Self-Isolation Mandatory for Individuals Entering Canada.

Like many countries, Canada is experiencing significant labour market challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many non-essential businesses are closed, especially in the service industry, or are operating with limited staff. If you have a job with a specific employer, confirm with them that they are continuing to operate and that the job they have hired you for is still needed. If you will be in Canada with an open work permit, it may be very difficult to secure a job at this time.

You must have a plan for how you will self-isolate for 14 days when you get to Canada and how you will obtain medical care if you become sick. While in self-isolation, you will be unable to leave where you are staying for any purpose. If you do not have a plan for self-isolation, including how you will buy groceries and access other essential services, please delay your travel until you have made one.

Before and during your trip,

  • avoid spending time in large crowds or crowded areas
  • avoid contact with sick people, especially if they have a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing
  • be aware of the local situation and follow local public health advice
  • be sure to monitor your health, and if you become sick before or during your trip, avoid contact with others except to see a health care professional

If you are travelling by air, you should self-identify to airlines when you are boarding that you are exempt from travel restrictions by presenting

  • a valid work permit, or
  • a port of entry (POE) letter of introduction that shows that you were approved for a work permit, including if you are coming under International Experience Canada

You will need to pass a health check before you’re allowed to board your flight. Anyone who shows symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to travel to Canada. Do not travel to Canada if you feel sick. If you are sick, delay your travel plans until you are feeling well.

When you get to Canada,

  • If you develop symptoms during your flight to Canada, tell a border services officer when you arrive in Canada. This is required under the Quarantine Act (a Canadian law). If you don’t, you could be charged with a crime.
  • If you do not have symptoms but believe you were exposed to someone who was sick with COVID-19, under the Quarantine Act, you must report this to a border services officer when you get to Canada. The border services officer will give you instructions to follow.
  • If you develop a fever, cough or difficulty breathing within 14 days,
    • continue to isolate yourself from others
    • call the public health authority in the province or territory you are in to tell them about your symptoms and travel history
      • They will give advice on what you should do.

While you are working in Canada,

  • Keep monitoring your health for fever, cough or difficulty breathing. If you get sick, avoid contact with others and contact your local public health authority.
  • If you need to apply to extend your work permit, you must do so online. You cannot travel to a POE to get immigration services at this time.
  • If you are laid off or have to take sick leave while working in Canada, you may be eligible to receive employment insurance or other income support benefits from the federal government.

Read the latest travel advice from the Government of Canada on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

There you have it. Straight from the horse’s mouth. For today, anyway.

At North Star Immigration Law, we are making efforts to ensure that our clients and employees are safe, healthy and helping to mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus. No one in our Halifax office has travelled by airplane since mid-January and we are all observing the recommendations (social distancing, no handshaking, coughing/sneezing etiquette and hand hygiene) of the Government of Canada.

As of March 15, 2020, our employees will not be available for in-person meetings. We expect this policy to be in place for at least two weeks.

If you have an upcoming in-person meeting scheduled, we will be switching it to a telephone or video conference, or it can be postponed. Clients and couriers can drop documents off or pick documents up, but the front door will be locked so you will have to ring to enter. At this time, we plan to have one person on-site daily to manage mail, courier and deliveries, but the rest of our team will be working remotely.

Fortunately, all our systems are already set up for remote work, including all our files and documents, practice management tools and telephones so we expect any interruption in our business to be minimal.

As the situation is evolving, this policy is subject to change and according to any additional government guidelines and recommendations.  More information can be found on the Government of Canada website.

Thank you for your attention and understanding.

Apparently time flies when you’re practicing immigration law! We were in Guadeloupe then I blinked and now it’s Halloween.

Nova Scotia continues to chart new territory with new immigration streams such as:

  • Occupations in Demand: truck drivers and nurse’s aides– these are NOC C jobs which normally require 6-months experience with the NS employer before being eligible for the Skilled Worker Stream, which usually meant a LMIA. Now you can apply on the strength of the job offer, no need for the 6 months of work.
  • NS Physician Stream 2.0: You can get PR in about 6 months in the new stream  (versus 2 years in the other one) but to qualify for the new program, physicians need 3 extra things: Educational Credential Assessment, Language Test and a Return of Service Agreement with the provincial health authority (basically saying you’ll stay and practice in NS for a number of years after you become a PR)*
  • What the AIPP? in all this brouhaha about the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program, no one is saying anything about why it is so unbelievably slow right now? 4-5 months to get endorsed is commonplace. And the published list of designated employers is probably a real curse to many of them who would rather not be fielding email inquiries every morning to the effect of:

But everyone around here loves AIPP and thinks it’s the greatest thing since the Halifax Wanderers came to town. So far be it for me to whine about it. Ya, it’s awesome, love the 19 simple steps.

Now that the election dust has settled, it’s back to business as usual with the federal immigration programs. A couple of interesting new developments:

  • The new public policy to get around 117(9)(d) for certain individuals is in place until September 2021. This is an excellent idea to counter the brutality of that section of the Regs, where undisclosed (sometimes unknown) family members are subject to a sponsorship bar. We are just starting to prepare applications using this pilot, so are not sure how it will impact ordinary processing times.
  • The new caregiver pilot looks interesting too. This is a recruitment-exempt temporary-to-permanent residence program for in-home caregivers (of children or adults). The less-than-ambitious goal of issuing the work permit within 12 months is a bit concerning, since work permits can be processed within days under other streams.

Over here at North Star, I have these observations:

  • Covered Bridge Salt and Vinegar chips are the official snack of North Star Immigration Law (no, we are not getting paid to say that);
  • Immigration uncertainty can be stressful and difficult even for the most resilient people. To those clients who are struggling with these additional stressors in their lives, know that we are rooting for you;
  • A lot of people find love in Hubbards, NS.

*Hello, Charter, is that you knocking on the Return of Service Agreement door, with a sign saying “um, what about section 6 mobility rights”?