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Psst…this is how you can use the NS AIP Designated Employers list

Every morning, we wake up to many email inquiries sent from random people, around the world, trying their luck at email-blasting to find a job in Canada. Here are just the re lines from today’s emails:

“Re: Looking for employment : Atlantic immigration pilot program”
“Interested to get job offer for AIPP”
“A Job Offer For Immigration”
“Looking for a job in this beautiful city”
“Want to do job in abroad”

There is nothing special about us to attract these emails and I have no doubt that other immigration lawyers get 10x the number of these inquiries that we do.

We also get a smattering of these types of [despicable!] emails:

“We are one of immigration company in XXXX, China, and these 2 years, we have many customers who want to buy job for NS by AIP or NSDEE program. Could you provide the employer sources to us, and give us a good cooperation price?”

Needless to say, those go directly into the trash can.

And here’s the saddest inquiry of all:

“I am looking for a low level jobs which does not ask for previous working experience because my motive is just to work in Canada and if I survive long then I can apply for PR after 5-years. (I must mention that I have 2 pending legal cases going on here in XXX which are money related legal cases.)”

We rarely, if ever, respond to any of these inquiries. However if I did, this is what I would say:

Thanks for the email. We do not offer a recruitment service to individuals but you can now look at the list of designated employers and if you find one that may be suitable, you can send your CV to them. If they are interested, they will contact you. 

This is the list of designated employers:

https://novascotiaimmigration.com/wp-content/uploads/Designated_AIP_employers.pdf

And this is how you would search to find the contact for the employers on this list:

https://rjsc.gov.ns.ca/rjsc/search/inquiry.do;jsessionid=ymYH4DqhCfiqVpEiOnG16UIzaF-cAtj416_fN1BRDRsfg0dyPiyk!-4748453

Please note that you should not use immigration to Nova Scotia as a way to move to other parts of Canada. In order to apply for this program you must be able to show “settlement intent” to remain in Nova Scotia.

Once you find a job offer, you can hire us for the immigration process.

Over ‘n out.

EDITED: Coffee? Check. New Citizenship Forms? Check.

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[EDITED VERSION IN THE HARSH REALITY OF OCT 12]

Oct 11, 2017. Today is the day the new citizenship law comes into force. Sometime in the dead of last night, the IRCC elves uploaded the new forms and checklists to the website. [EDIT: It turned out that the IRCC elves were half asleep (or just messing with us) when they uploaded the forms online in the wee hours of Oct 11. So once typed, the forms could not be printed. This wasn’t corrected until about 3pm Atlantic time.]

Under the new rules, you must live in Canada for 3 out of 5 years as a permanent resident to qualify for Canadian citizenship. If you have also lived in Canada temporarily during those 5 years, each temporary day counts for half of a full day, up to a maximum of 1 year. So for example, if you were here as a student for 2 years, then became a PR, you can apply for citizenship after just 2 years living here as a PR within that 5-year window.

If you are between 18-54, you have to show proof of English or French language ability, you have to provide proof of filing CRA income tax returns and police clearances for any country you have lived in outside of Canada during the 5-year window. There is now an option on the forms to change sex designation.

The biggest surprise to me is the application fee is still $630 for adults and $530 for minors*. It used to be $200. I was hoping that with the new rules, there would be a renewed benevolence on the fee issue, to ensure citizenship is not cost-prohibitive. Sadly, that didn’t happen. [EDIT: it’s actually $100 for minors applying with an adult. The $530 is for minors who are applying for citizenship alone.]

We have a pile of applications waiting to be assembled and a courier heading to Cape Breton this afternoon to deliver them to the IRCC Case Processing Centre in Sydney. [EDIT: IRCC’s external (and apparently also internal) computer system crashed badly yesterday. Nevertheless, we still made the courier deadline and sent our first package of applications to Sydney at 4:30. I had a quick word with the applications before they left the building. Godspeed guys, and good luck in Sydney.]

First giant coffee of the day is finished.

Here’s to being good-busy.

[EDIT: But next time, let’s try not to have a heart attack.]

Spring 2017 – Immigration Round-Up

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So much has been going on here at North Star Immigration Law that my head is spinning. We are expanding to a bigger space in a few months, have hired a new articling clerk and are in the process of a website revamp. To all the people whose calls I haven’t returned in the past few weeks – my apologies, I am getting to you!  But all of this pales in comparison to the changes afoot in immigration law and policy.

The new permanent residence process for spouses of Canadians is in full swing, and the reason I know this is that the lawyers in our office who deal with these applications are often seen pounding their heads on their desks trying to “link up” the application to the online system, as required. What was supposed to make things simpler has turned out to be a massive pain with more steps, more minefields and more opportunities for mistakes. But who ever said love was easy?

Speaking of love, I am feeling very sad for the 85,000 disappointed candidates who did not get selected in the parent sponsorship lottery. The lottery was hastily put together in mid-December. It was ill-thought out and it is going to create headaches for IRCC for months – if not years – to come. None of our clients (who qualified to sponsor their parent(s)) were selected. Worse, most the people who were selected and have consulted us for help with the forms do not actually qualify, so won’t make it through the program. So it will be interesting to find out how many of the total 10,000 drawn are actually qualified to sponsor? Psst…IRCC – how about next year making the questions more specific to ensure no one puts their name in the hat without actually meeting the requirements? Just a thought.

In other news, the age of dependents will go up to 22 on October 24, 2017, with some transitional provisions. This is great news for a lot of people.

The citizenship rules will also change in terms of requirements to qualify for a grant of citizenship and, as of the Federal Court’s decision yesterday, revocation proceedings. To put it politely, citizenship rules are still in flux, and will be for the foreseeable future.

Meanwhile, as the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration for the Study on Immigration Consultants is underway, the new Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIPP) has completely cut representatives out of this new program, which is being hailed as the be all and end all solution of Atlantic Canada’s immigration problem. Which is weird because there’s a rule that representatives must be authorized and disclosed (i.e. see s. 91 or IRPA or  “Concealed Representatives”). Under the AIPP, if clients or employers want to hire us to assist them, we are relegated to ghosting on the files only  – the NS Office of Immigration only communicates with the employers and applicants – there is no where we can even disclose ourselves as legal reps.

So that’s the round-up.

Yeehaw?

Hey, @CitImmCanada, where’s my mother?

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Many people have been waiting for news on the Canadian parent sponsor program, which was changed to a lottery system in late 2016. The program opened January 3, 2017 with a deadline of February 2, 2017 in which people could submit an online expression of interest for entry into the program.  The online form was so simplistic it frightened many of us – there were no eligibility questions, just a few personal details and contact information needed and voilà you’re in the lottery!

IRCC promised that sometime after February 2, 2017, 10,000 people would be selected at random to submit an application. Those 10,000 people would have 90 days to provide their documents to start the application process.  But when would this draw happen? And how? If some of those 10,000 didn’t actually qualify, what would happen to their spots?

IRCC has responded to some of these questions as follows:

…we can’t provide a firm timeline as to when potential sponsors will be contacted but we expect the letters will be sent in the next few weeks.

…the 10,000 who are randomly selected will then receive an email inviting them to apply to sponsor their parents or grandparents. They will have 90 days to send us their complete application. We will also email all those who were not chosen to let them know.

…As per Ministerial Instructions relating to the parent and grandparent program, a maximum of 10 000 sponsorship applications will be accepted for processing each year. 10,000 sponsors will be contacted and will have 90 days to submit a complete application.  

…If the Department does not receive 10,000 complete applications within the prescribed time frame, we will invite additional interested sponsors to submit an application. We expect this process to occur before the end of 2017

It doesn’t inspire a lot of hope that IRCC has taken over 2 months to do a computerized selection of the entries they have received.

In case you are stressed about this, look on the bright side: marijuana will be legal in Canada soon.

#20tweets in blog form about the growing “refugee problem” at Canada’s border

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Here are my 20 (ok, 21) tweets in blog form:

The people crossing into Canada via the US are not exploiting a legal loophole. It’s not illegal to ask for asylum in Canada.  The UDHR makes it mandatory to allow people to seek asylum  An inland or port-of-entry refugee claimant does not displace a regular immigrant. There is no queue when it comes to refugees. So there is no “queue jumping”.

Geographic and geopolitical luck means that Canada has smaller refugee #s than countries in Europe, but our system handles over 10,000 inland claims per year. Overseas refugee resettlement to Canada is a different category and a completely different process.

The asylum seekers we see on TV being “greeted” by the RCMP are detained, photo’d and fingerprinted. Their passports are confiscated. They are given conditional deportation orders. They are allowed out of detention only if their ID is confirmed, they are not a danger or flight risk and they are not inadmissible for security reasons.

Within a few days, medical and security checks happen and if they are eligible to make a refugee claim, a hearing will be held in 60 days. If you lose your refugee hearing, after limited appeal rights, CBSA will enforce the cond. deport. order you got when you first arrived. Unless you are from a country Canada is not removing people to, such as Syria, Iraq, Yemen, for example.  If that is the case, you are on an “unenforceable removal order” and can remain in Canada and get an open work permit for ~1 yr at a time. But you still have to report to CBSA and if they have any sense that you are a flight risk, they will detain you. Sometimes for years.

About our system: during @jkenney ’s tenure as Immigration Minister, the refugee determination process was overhauled. It used to take 3 years for a refugee hearing, now it takes around 60 days. If you are from a country that is considered safe the timeline is sped up to 30-45 days. There are obvious problems with such a short turnaround, such as gathering documents and preparing witnesses and translations, etc. But now people don’t have to wait here for years for their hearings, they are cycled through the system quickly. So they don’t have time to get very established in Canada before their refugee hearing.

It also means that after 2012, there have been fewer refugee claims and higher success rates.  The CCR has good stats on this.

The Safe Third Country Agreement may have seemed necessary back in 2012 when @jkenney was overhauling the system, but it’s not anymore. It forces people to sneak into Canada to make a refugee claim.  The most vulnerable often can’t sneak, so can’t come. The CCR has a great recent post on this.

The new Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program – a silver lining in a week of bleak

On January 27, 2017, the new Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIPP for short) was announced then soundly eclipsed by the fallout from an ice storm, an immigration mess in the US and then a terrorist attack at a Quebec mosque.

So much for fanfare.

But the new program warrants a close look.  I am enthusiastic about it because of the implications for international companies looking to establish new operations in Atlantic Canada.

Until now, we didn’t have any provincial temporary programs to attract workers who could also become permanent residents in the long term. The only way company could transfer workers to Nova Scotia was through the federal intra-company transferee rules or waiting until it was established here for 2 years then using the NS Nominee Program, which is mostly a permanent residence solution.

Now, the AIPP will enable a company (existing or new), to become “a designated employer” and provided it meets the criteria (for legitimacy such as not undercutting Canadian workers, hiring locally, bringing in people with skills, ensuring people have proper settlement supports when they get here), it can start bringing in workers quickly.

Like in a month or 2.

Those workers will be able to work temporarily while they await processing of their permanent residence.

So the details are still being worked out and the program doesn’t officially open until March, but so far it looks like a real win for Atlantic Canada. And despite the events of the past week, the timing really couldn’t have been better for companies looking to set up in Canada.

Here’s to changing the immigration landscape in Atlantic Canada. Quietly.

Come to Canada and bring Hawaii please

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The night of the US election, before the results were fully in, I tweeted this:

Dear US friends: if this is actually happening, please come to Canada. And bring Hawaii. #Vote2016 #USElection2016

I was kidding of course. (Well actually, not the part about Hawaii. Canada has always needed a tropical province where we can drink Caesars. And, yes, we know we’d be terrible colonizers and if it came right down to it, Hawaii would throw us out and become sovereign before anyone could say humuhumunukunukuapua`a)

But now that the dust is settling and the calls and inquiries from Americans have increased, it is time to plot the steps to this last-resort plan. Not that we think Americans should cut and run to Canada. It is not our place to tell anyone what they should do, and we have a lot of respect for Americans and their country. And not that Canada is a utopian dream – if we were, cultural treasures like The Rock and Anna Paquin wouldn’t live in the United States.

So with all those qualifications, caveats and apologies that only a Canadian can make, here are some options if you are thinking about immigrating here:

  1. Do you have an adult child that is a Canadian citizen/PR? On January 1 of each year, Canada opens up the parent/grandparent sponsorship category which allows Canadian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their parents or grandparents for permanent residence. The program fills up within a week or 2, so it is important to get the paperwork ready to submit on the first business day in January. Practically speaking, this means November is the time to gather and prepare the documents or wait until this time next year.
  1. Are you a rockstar/superstar/artist/athlete or farmer? If so, you may qualify for the “self employed” category. This is only for people with exceptional talents to apply for permanent residence. Note that the farmers don’t need to be exceptional talents, but they should have recent farm operation and management experience. Being able to raise prized chickens or blue-ribbon hogs is a bonus.
  1. Was one of your parents a Canadian citizen at the time of your birth? If so, you may already be a Canadian citizen and need to apply for a confirmation of citizenship. Once confirmed, you can move here and start watching hockey and drinking double doubles. Bonus: as a Canadian, you can sponsor your spouse and dependent children’s application for permanent residence and bring them with you.
  1. Do you have a job offer in one of the NAFTA Professions? As long as NAFTA remains in force, Americans and Mexicans who are in one of the professions listed can enter Canada on the strength of their qualifications and job offer with a Canadian company. This means you do not need to go though the usual hoops for a work permit, which include advertising to show there are no available Canadians, wage restrictions, etc. (Note, I have hyperlinked to a USCIS website because the Canadian immigration website keeps crashing. See? Canada is not perfect: our government can’t maintain a website that gets more than a few thousand hits a day. Sigh.)
  1. Has a Canadian offered to marry you to help you immigrate to Canada? Don’t.

These are just a few options for people considering a move north; there are many other categories of temporary residence and permanent residence in Canada. As always, we are happy to hear from anyone interested in knowing the options.

Although it is probably no consolation, we feel like we are in this together. And Canada is just as freaked out as you are right now.

NS: a little less conversation, a little more immigration

Nova Scotia tends to punch above its weight when it comes to national news stories, and the topic of immigration is no exception. #cbiftrumpwins took the Internet by storm earlier this year and is going to be a running joke for a while, if not a real solution if he seriously actually wins. And this month, we have the distinction of making it onto the paranoid/racist/conspiracy theorists’ radar with the unfortunate (and now deleted) article in the Chronicle Herald concerning trouble on a local school playground that anonymously, anecdotally and, therefore most likely unreliably, pins some very unacceptable behavior on refugee kids. The fall-out continues and people are still lit up about this. Everyone has an opinion. It’s only been 1000-ish newcomers and 2-ish months and this is where we’re at. <sigh>

Meanwhile, in our line of work, things appear to be moving along nicely for the province with its new Entrepreneur Stream (word on the street is 33/50 invitations so far and a lowest score of 108 to date). Although our clients haven’t been overly excited about a temporary-to-permanent program that will take 3-4 years to complete, obviously some people are interested. The NS Skilled Worker Stream continues to be one of our favorites for enabling people who are already here and working full-time access to a permanent residence program. In terms of federal programs, positive changes are already in the works (age of dependents for immigration and citizenship rules), and we are heavily involved in some interesting pro bono projects to assist with private sponsorship and family reunification applications for refugees.

Despite its national profile and obvious attributes, there is an undercurrent of futility in Nova Scotia that can get you down. In our work, we spend a lot of time talking to people who are new to Canada and who see the potential of this place. Every week, I hear new immigrants talk about the opportunities they see here and they wonder why no one else sees them. Although I feel the same way, I often try to temper their optimism by warning them that there is a lot of negativity in NS when it comes to new things, new ideas and new people. Want to buy a business? Expect HR trouble when you take over. Want to get a job here? Expect interview questions along the lines of “how do we know you will stay?” Want to start something new? Expect a lot of naysayers. Lots of problems get pointed out but there is not much in the way of solutions. As a law firm that is bucking trends with our structure and approach (flat rates, agile processes, focus on service and results), we feel it too. Our modus operandi is always to be clear and precise in what we do and why we are doing it and just ignore the haters. I tell clients the same thing – a little less conversation and a little more action is sometimes the only thing that gets you through.

Nice place to visit and we really want to live here

Everyday, I help people who have fallen in love with Nova Scotia make it their permanent home. Often, they come as tourists, and eventually seasonal residents, and then want to make it official and finally immigrate. On a global level, the attraction of Nova Scotia can be summarized as (1) being safe and stable with a natural, unspoiled beauty; (2) it is geographically convenient; (3) there are opportunities here, if you can spot them.

Here are my ideas for making Nova Scotia more hospitable to newcomers:

  1. More people. It’s no secret that NS suffers from its “CFA” mentality. It’s not easy to wipe out an idea, but it is easy to dilute it. Nova Scotia needs more people and more diversity (and not just racial diversity, but diversity of ideas, cultures, people). Cue the ubiquitous commenters: “They are taking our jobs!” No: They are taking jobs Canadians don’t want or they are creating jobs.  “They are undercutting Canadian’s pay!” Actually no: that’s illegal. “They are on welfare!” If they are, it’s because they are broken souls who have likely won their refugee claim, in which case, good for us for continuing the humanitarian tradition Canada is so proud of. To quote my husband: resist the fallacy of the vivid example.
  1. Nova Scotia should play to its geographic location. It should be easier and cheaper to get to and from here. I am no aviation expert but other “remote” destinations attract visitors by low-cost flights. Hawaii, for example. If Nova Scotia can subsidize a ferry service, why can’t it work towards making flights more affordable?
  1. Don’t ignore the rest of the history of Nova Scotia. “Scotland” may be built right into the name, but that’s not the end of the story. We have generations from other countries, cultures and ethnic groups. Those groups often get short shrift or we assume that a handful of individuals (usually male and older) speak for the whole community.
  1. Don’t ghettoize people from other places. It’s easy to have a weekend festival once a year, it’s hard to be genuinely inclusive for the remaining 51 weeks. The idea of locating ethnic food merchants to the second floor of the Seaport Market is a recent example. It’s important not to be careless: the feeling of being welcome is so fragile. If someone makes a careless decision or comment, the sense of inclusion erodes quickly and it’s really hard to replenish it.
  1. The importance of actions over words. Make no mistake, Pier 21 is lip service to the history and value of immigrants. And it’s not a completely happy or proud story. Taking the time to befriend or hire or simply meet and interact with newcomers is what shows we are welcoming. Learning about their religion, culture and community counts for a lot. We need to talk less and listen more. It is not easy to speak up as a newcomer, especially when you are bombarded with superficial and facile talk about how welcome you are.
  1. Recognize that Nova Scotia is more than its “official culture”. When a place is portrayed as homogenous and exclusionary, it is less welcoming. And by the way, the official culture needs to be more diverse and inclusive.
  1. Value newcomers for the opportunities they create: Contrary to popular belief, there are lots of opportunities here. Higher taxes and the cost of living do make it hard. But Nova Scotia has proven itself to be a perfect location for back-office and mid-office services. It’s a great place for a European company looking to get into the North American market. It’s also a great place for a European or American company to create a second office to service its global clients. Newcomers are pioneers and should be trusted to choose places where they can be successful. As of now, even if you have done your research and chosen Nova Scotia, it’s difficult to get permanent residence status here.

It sounds too simple, but it is human nature to want a safe and secure future for yourself and your children, and to feel like you belong in a place that also values you.