2018: Feeling Good

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There is a lot to love about Canadian immigration these days. Our immigration minister is the right person for the job: a refugee, a lawyer and former immigration lawyer. There is a general perception that our programs are fair yet firm (just stay off the Canada subreddit). Express Entry is ticking along nicely. You can get through to a human at IRCC and sometimes a human will respond, even use an exclamation mark here and there (massive shout-out to “Lucy” at IRCC). Whoever is running the @IRCC Twitter account has a sense of humor, previously unseen (is that you, Lucy?). Here in Nova Scotia, we have new programs and a provincial immigration office that is fast, responsive and competent. We’ve also almost finished a balmy winter worthy of Weather Smugness at least when we talk to people in Alberta and Ontario. Everything is relative here in Canada.

On the surface, it’s sunshine and roses. But of course it’s not really. There are serious, prevailing, systemic problems. And I’m not only talking about the increasing inland refugee backlog, which is due to a lack of resources and decision-makers. There are other problems, all I think at least partly related to a collective myopic-optimism that has lulled us into thinking that everything is going just fine, thank you very much.

Parent/Grandparent sponsorship: in 2017, IRCC changed this process to a lottery. But the details were never sorted out, so ineligible people could throw their names into the lottery, and throw off everyone else’s chances of getting selected. A year later, IRCC promised to tighten up the process. But when the program reopened in January 2018, it became apparent that almost nothing had changed – one optional question was added to remind people they should be eligible. Sad, sad trombones.

Caregiver program closes: On February 5, 2018, IRCC announced that the 2014 caregiver “pathway to permanent residence” pilot expires in November 2019. Over the years, it has become harder for caregivers in Canada on work permits to qualify for PR and now there is no assurance that after November 2019 there will be an option to get PR. My humble suggestion is that the NOC for caregivers get listed under the Federal Skilled Trades class to facilitate permanent residence through Express Entry, and recognize that (a) caregiving is a skilled occupation; and (b) people who take care of children and the elderly in Canada should be valued the same as anyone else, and deserve a means to obtain permanent residence, the same as butchers and bakers and candlestick makers.

No more self-employed farmers: For as long as I have been practicing law (15 years), Canada has had a self-employed permanent residence program for artists, athletes and farmers. It’s not a particularly well-used program, but is helpful especially since many immigration programs don’t easily recognize self-employment as qualifying work experience (I’m looking at you, CEC and Atlantic Immigration Pilot). As of March 10, 2018, no more farmers can go through that program. Wait, what? Wait, why?

The new and improved family class: It’s amazing to me that in December 2016 when IRCC streamlined the family class, it increased the document checklist from 3 pages to 10 pages and required that applications be submitted on paper and then later linked online, which has proven to be a vexing problem. We joke about it around the office, but for people who are doing the applications themselves, it’s incredibly confusing. Love prevails, but it can be messy.

Refugee Resettlement is too slow and numbers are too low: We were on such a roll in 2015 but since then, the numbers have dwindled. Processing times are increasing, and spots for government assisted refugees are static. IRCC recently announced 1000 more female refugees would be resettled, which is great, but a lot more should be done to bump up the quotas, streamline the process and get rid of the backlog. The 2015 situation was not a blip, it’s the new normal. Canada needs to have ongoing infrastructure and contingency plans.

Today, someone asked if I thought they would be welcome in Canada. They qualify for permanent residence and are exactly the kind of newcomer Canada is trying to attract. But they were feeling insecure about immigrating, and that everything they had read seemed so impossibly positive, there must be a catch.   I told them I thought they would be welcome here, but starting a new life anywhere is tough, even when you plan properly and things go smoothly.

It is the first time I have ever been asked that question.

So, yes, despite everything, feeling pretty good.

 

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.]

Changes to Express Entry: 200 is the new 600. Points, that is.

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Today, IRCC implements the new Ministerial Instructions for Express Entry.

So just like that, the playing field changes, the path to PR shifts and applicants must adapt to the new points allocations.

As mentioned in this Walrus article, this could make it easier for employer-specific, LMIA-exempt work permit holders to compete for permanent residence.

While not earth-shattering, this will be good news for some applicants, such as people here on NAFTA work permits. Unsurprisingly, it will be bad news for others: LMIAs are no longer the golden ticket to PR: now your position and skill level will determine whether you get 200 points or 50 towards arranged employment.  This should result in average scores going down, and a lower CRS cutoff for ITA issuance.

On the other hand, provincial nominee EE programs will still get 600 points, so the ITA scores probably won’t go below 400 anytime soon.

Just a prediction: PNP programs will get busier and Service Canada’s LMIA processing offices may get a slight reprieve.  Can’t complain there.

Now if IRCC would implement the new citizenship rules, we’d really be getting somewhere.

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.

Out with the bogus, in with the new

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Complaining and commiserating are so mid-2015. It’s time to make the immigration system work. No one expects flood gates to open, but we do hope for a well-thought out and practical immigration, citizenship and refugee strategy. Here are some quick thoughts on what the new government should consider:

  1. Re-staff immigration offices and processing centres to full capacity of permanent positions.
  2. Double the numbers: parent sponsorships, inland refugee quotas and provincial immigration allocations for those provinces who need it (ahem)
  3. Either fix or cancel the bogus (a word I learned from Jason Kenney, and by which I mean total bullshit) processes that have been put in place. Such as the “conditional permanent residence for spouses” restriction that is impossible to enforce. Or the fake “are you an abused caregiver?” hotline that accomplishes absolutely nothing unless you want to talk to an unsympathetic and ineffectual agent who promises to call you back in half an hour, and then never, ever calls you back. Or the totally broken “urgent PR Card renewal” process that is for people who need a new PR Card in less than the 6-12 months it currently takes. But urgent means nothing when all you get back are letters from immigration saying you have to follow the urgent processing steps and when you follow the steps, they write and say you have to follow the steps, and then you do it again and then you give up because your sick grandma who you were trying to visit is already dead.
  4. Fix what’s obviously broken. Some things are so pathetic they make my eyes water in verklempt irony. Like when the government froze the parent sponsorship process in 2011 to get rid of the backlog. At the time it closed, it took 5 or 6 years for a file to be processed and everyone agreed that was far too long. After being shut down for 2 years, it reopened on January 1, 2014 to 5,000 applications per year. Guess how long it takes now? Roughly 10 years. It’s almost funny until you realize the feds process permanent residence in Express Entry in less than 6 months. Hmmm…
  5. Rethink the sparkly new online filing systems that barely work. Such as being down all day. Or such as taking longer to process than using the paper process. 133 days for a visitor extension online right now, really CIC?
  6. For the love of God, reinstate the refugee health care provisions to what they were before the massive cuts in 2012.
  7. Make the idea of “temporary to permanent” a reality for foreign workers.
  8. Stop frivolous litigation (the refugee health care cuts and widespread appeals of citizenship approvals come directly to mind)
  9. Allow the provinces more latitude to choose their nominees and programs.
  10. Follow tried and true methods Canada has used in the past in order to get vulnerable Syrians out of harm’s way immediately. 25,000 would be a great start.

It is going to take a while for the dust to settle for those of us in the immigration field – we don’t quite know what we have been through for the last 10 years. Whatever it was, it wasn’t easy.

Change is the constant: Looking back at 2013 and what we are up to in 2014

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2013 was kind of wild, even for immigration policy, which is always churning and bubbling and reshaping itself. Add in some juicy scandals, legislative overhauls plus some new programs and you can barely recognize the animal it was a year ago.

A highlight of 2013 for me was attending the CBA National Immigration Law Conference in Montreal in May with Lori and Cam. I even got to moderate a panel.

Top 3 list:

–       My favorite new development was the launch of the online application filing system for representatives in May. Lots of people gripe about it and the clunky platform. It definitely has its quirks, but I cannot wait until everything can be filed electronically. It is the right move and will be a great equalizer for the process which is fraught with unfairness depending on geography.  One example: we got an online supervisa approved for a parent who lives in Sierra Leone in just 10 days. Yes, it took 12 weeks to get her medical done and into the system, but she arrived safe and sound in early December. First flight of her life. She flew with carry-on only, like a champion.

–       After dreading the new refugee determination process, our first file went beautifully. I still have a zillion concerns about the new system, but seeing it work well was very reassuring and gives me a level of faith that I didn’t have before. A lot of the credit goes to Lori, who did a spectacular job representing the clients. First, she consulted a clinical psychologist and got a “Vulnerable Persons” designation for the file, then prepared her exhibits perfectly and had everything at the panel’s fingertips to the point that, at the end of the hearing, the panel member effusively complimented her preparation and representation. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, Lori Hill is awesome at her job.

–       Starting to fix the temporary foreign worker program: I don’t agree with everything that has been done (the need to advertise if you are trying to extend a current employee who is on an expiring post-graduation work permit comes to mind as most irksome…), but I am happy the feds are taking the criticisms more seriously and working to enforce the rules, which was shockingly lacking in the past. Canada Border Services Agency is working hard to bring unscrupulous employers to justice (This, for example) which is commendable and long overdue. And by the way, the recent outrage about access to the program by convicted human traffickers is a red herring, in my opinion: the government has cast a wide net to shut bad employers out of the LMO process. To stipulate that only those who are convicted are banned from the program would have been either redundant or way too narrow. Say what you want about Service Canada and Jason Kenney, but making life easier for convicted criminals is not one of their priorities. The press on the issue seemed far too reactionary and simplistic.

 

Bottom 3 list:

–       In April, the Nova Scotia Office of Immigration made a seemingly miniscule change to its eligibility requirements that would have a massive impact: It made post-graduation work permit holders ineligible for all NS immigration programs. It did this without a grace period or even any notice or announcement. Apparently, this was foisted on it by the feds. I cannot discuss this rationally (or at least without cursing like the Albertan that I am), so I am going to leave at this: that was a scoundrel move, Nova Scotia.

–       While we are on the topic of scoundrel-moves: on November 8, 2013, the feds announced there would be a change to the Canada Experience Class program that would make some of the most popular job categories ineligible. Effective November 9, 2013. Overnight, dreams and plans were dashed. In what world of procedural fairness, administrative processes and the illusion that the government cares about people (and if not people, at least optics) is this ok? It’s not.

–       Borrowing from my top 3 list for a second: in order to continue to employ someone whose post-graduation work permit is expiring, the employer needs a Labour Market Opinion (LMO). In order to get a LMO, as of August 2013, you now have to recruit for the position if it is a lower-skilled position and, regardless of skill level, you must pay the median wage for the position. So one day you have a smart, keen post-grad working for you and the next day you have to pay them more than other workers in your company AND advertise the position as if it is vacant.  There are lots of examples of this kind of emerging absurdity, which makes me wish the government was more thoughtful and less reactive when it made the sweeping changes to the TFW program last summer.

2014 

For 2014, we can expect more tweaks to the TFW program and apparently new rules on how (and how long it takes to) to become a citizen.

Locally, I am hoping for some effort in this province to create a points-based immigration program to recognize people who have family or connections here.

 

Office-wise, since 2010, every year has set a new record for work and revenue. We are expecting another record year. My philosophy about how we do things is simple: we are the kind of firm and lawyers we would want to hire. Each year, we become more agile and can tackle more complex matters. Our transparent, flat-rate billing systems and collaborative (3-lawyers working in tandem) approach to all files ensures we provide the best possible service we can. Not to say we never make mistakes. But when we do, we readily admit them and deal with them head-on, and thankfully have never had anything go seriously off the rails. In 2014, we will continue to fine-tune our unique approach of providing top-quality, innovative and cost-effective legal services to individuals and corporations.

Finally, a shout-out to Cameron MacLean, our newest addition at the firm. Lori and I worked with Cam years ago, when he was a paralegal, before he decided to go to law school. He’s an excellent writer and a sharp thinker. In addition to all his day-to-day work at the moment, he has been wrangling a pro bono overseas H&C into submission (literally). It is one of the most heart-wrenching and complicated H&Cs we have ever done. And it’s a long shot, so could prove to be incredibly disheartening, despite all the blood, sweat and tears. Cam is a great addition to the office and an excellent, cohesive co-worker, his Dollar Store office slippers notwithstanding.

 

Happy 2014 everyone!

From the Horse’s Mouth – Returning to Canada with an expired Permanent Resident Card

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A lot of people are still stuck in the expired-PR Card vortex where their new card is still being processed and they need to travel. They can apply for a travel document at a Canadian embassy overseas, but those often take a long time when the person needs to get back to Canada sooner. When we tell clients the Permanent Resident Card is really meant for commercial travel only and not necessary if they are, say, walking into Canada or driving in, they often look at us quizzically.

So here it is from CIC directly:

“If you return to Canada in a private vehicle, such as your own car, you do not need a permanent resident card. You can use your Record of Landing (IMM 1000) or Confirmation of Permanent Residence (IMM 5292 or IMM 5688) instead.

You would have been given these documents:

  • If you applied from overseas: at the same time as your visa
  • If you applied from within Canada: when you landed at your local visa office

An officer will ask you questions to make sure you meet all of the residency requirements before they allow you to come back to Canada.

When you return to Canada, apply for a PR card if you plan to travel outside Canada again.”

FROM: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/helpcentre/answer.asp?q=064&t=10

 

The Vortex: PR Card renewals these days

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Hey, Canadian citizens, imagine this: Your passport is about to expire so you apply to renew it. It doesn’t arrive. Your calls and emails to the Passport Office to find out what’s going on are met with “It’s in process. Don’t contact us for another 10 months.”  So much for that trip to Cuba this spring.

This is what’s happening with Permanent Resident Card renewals these days.*

For example, there’s this family of five:  They applied to renew their permanent resident cards last June. As of February 2013, the CIC online tracking system shows this:

“We received your application for a permanent resident card on June 22, 2012 [in Sydney, Cape Breton].

We started processing your application on July 20, 2012.

We transferred your application to the local [Halifax] CIC office on August 16, 2012. The local CIC office may contact you.

We returned your application to the Case Processing Centre [Sydney, Cape Breton] on August 17, 2012. The Case Processing Centre will continue to process your application within the normal service standards.

We transferred your application to the local CIC [Halifax] office on December 18, 2012. The local CIC office may contact you.

We returned your application to the Case Processing Centre [Sydney, Cape Breton]. on December 18, 2012. The Case Processing Centre will continue to process your application within the normal service standards.”

If you lost count, I don’t blame you. That’s FIVE times the file has been transferred. For now, let’s just ignore the one-month gap between receiving the application and start of processing,

I just assumed it was a mistake.  There is no way the file has been shuttled back and forth between Halifax and Sydney FIVE times. So I called CIC. The good news: yes, the information online is a mistake. The bad news: it has actually been transferred SIX times. It’s back in Halifax now.  The agent had no idea when the cards will be issued.

How about this one: A man applies to renew his permanent residence card in the spring of 2012, two months before it was set to expire. He planned a business trip for two weeks in February 2013. He thought that would be plenty of lead-time to get the new card. No such luck.

By January 2013 he’s received nothing and CIC never responds when we contact them by fax and email to find out what’s going on.  The CIC Call Centre tells us nothing other than it’s still in process. Finally, it’s late January, his flight is booked for February 11, 2013. He needs his Permanent Residence Card to get back into Canada on February 28, 2013. Then we find this nifty link on the CIC website and follow the instructions:

http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/pr-card/apply-urgent-processing-already-submitted.asp

So we follow all the steps and send the email with the information as instructed. Two days later, we get this response:

“This message is to inform you that we have received your request; however, our unit is only able to help permanent residents inside Canada who urgently need their Permanent Resident card (PR card) for travel purposes.”

Awesome. I am beginning to wonder if CIC is just messing with our heads. He’s in Canada. He needs his card for travel. His travel is urgent. Is this CIC’s attempt at a Zen Koan?

And finally, the kicker. Another gentleman applies to renew his permanent resident card in late 2010. The online tracker says the card was issued in early 2011, and that he’d be called to come into the Halifax immigration office to pick it up. In 2011, he was called in. But the officer did not give it to him. Instead, he asked for more information to prove our client lived in Canada as he said he did. He gave the information to the officer. Still no card.  In the interim, at least four different immigration officers have been assigned to and then transferred off the file. No one has been assigned to it since October 2012. So he’s now in this crazy limbo where his card has been issued and has been valid for 2 years. But he can’t get it. At this rate, it will expire without him ever touching it.

We always hear how the old immigration system was slow and cumbersome. But this never started happening until 2011. If PR Cards took a long time, it was because there was a serious problem. Now it is just routine. People shouldn’t need a lawyer to help get their Permanent Resident Cards renewed. Permanent residents who need new cards are at the mercy, whim and budget constraints of an ever-elusive, obviously overworked and overstressed immigration department. If the immigration system is supposed to be fixed, what do you call this?

*Note: If you are a permanent resident of Canada, you need your PR Card to travel in and out of Canada, unless you are in a non-commercial vehicle coming through the US (and that’s another story as little industries are apparently sprouting up along the border to assist people in border crossings from the US into Canada). There is no Constitutional right to travel in and out of Canada for anyone other than Canadian citizens.

2012: Year of the…residency investigation

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It’s almost Year of the Dragon. If I had to guess, from an immigration perspective, I would say 2012 is going to be the year of residency issues. Canada’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has vowed to investigate anyone suspected of obtaining permanent residence or citizenship fraudulently. Locally, we are seeing simple applications to renew permanent resident cards take 6 months or more. Many are being diverted to officers to scrutinize, which takes even longer. This is creating so many practical problems, I get depressed just thinking about them.

 

So how about some happy news? Well, not exactly happy, but a little info that some people don’t realize which could make someone, somewhere, happy. Here goes:

 

We get this question a lot – I am a Canadian living abroad with my spouse. We want to move back to Canada eventually so we want to start the immigration process. But what happens if we can’t find work in Canada or can’t stay for some other reason? Will my spouse lose his permanent residence status if we leave Canada?

 

The happy news is this: Once the spouse is a permanent resident of Canada, he (or she) can remain outside of Canada indefinitely provided he is accompanying a Canadian citizen abroad. Meaning, if the couple is together, the permanent resident’s status is safe.

 

This is often a surprise to people, so check out the actual section of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act:

 

28. (1) A permanent resident must comply with a residency obligation with respect to every five-year period.

 (2) The following provisions govern the residency obligation under subsection (1):

 (a) a permanent resident complies with the residency obligation with respect to a five-year period if, on each of a total of at least 730 days in that five-year period, they are

 (i) physically present inCanada,

 (ii) outside Canada accompanying a Canadian citizen who is their spouse or common-law partner or, in the case of a child, their parent,

 (iii) outsideCanadaemployed on a full-time basis by a Canadian business or in the federal public administration or the public service of a province,

 (iv) outside Canada accompanying a permanent resident who is their spouse or common-law partner or, in the case of a child, their parent and who is employed on a full-time basis by a Canadian business or in the federal public administration or the public service of a province, or

 (v) referred to in regulations providing for other means of compliance;

 So what this means is as long as the Canadian citizen is with the permanent resident outside Canada for at least 730 days in every five year period, their status is safe.

 

Of course, there is a catch:

 

1. Getting Permanent Residence in the first place: When the spouse applies for permanent residence with the Canadian citizen as his sponsor, the Canadian citizen has to prove and declare her (or his) intention to move back to Canada. In other words, the plan must be that the happy couple intends to live in Canada once the application is finalized.

 

2. Proving you were outside Canada with your spouse: This can be tricky, just like trying to prove you were in Canada for a given period of time is tricky. These days, passports and entry/exit stamps are often not enough. Phone bills and leases are often rejected. Even bank statements can be discredited by officers looking at the file who say, well anyone could have used your bank card.

 

Do you know what does work? Dental records, proof of attendance at medical appointments, the gym, hair and personal care appointments, etc. Sometimes it is hard to prove you were in (or out) of Canada during a particular period of time. But I always tell clients if you have documents to prove your teeth or hands or hair were in a given place at a certain date and time, that’s going to be as good as it gets.

 

3. Qualifying for citizenship: This loophole does not give the permanent resident the days required to qualify for Canadian citizenship. The residency obligation for citizenship is different than for permanent residence, so even though you can maintain your permanent residence status while living abroad, you will eventually have to come here and be physically present inCanadafor 3 out of 4 years to qualify for citizenship. Some very obscure exceptions do apply, but I am not going to go into them here.

 

So to all the Canadian citizens wanting to bring their spouses to Canada: go for it.

Top 10 Question: Permanent resident interrogated at border and “reported” for not living here

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Question: I am a permanent resident with a valid PR Card. I arrived at the airport and ended up being questioned for 3 hours about whether or not I can prove I live here. In the end the officer “reported” me for being inadmissible to Canada. Now I have to go back for another interview to deal with the report. What can I do?

The short answer is that you should not have engaged in the officer’s questions when you entered. A permanent resident has no obligation to answer any questions regarding residency or any other suspected ground of inadmissibility at the border. The CIC policy manual (. Section 11 of ENF 4) puts it this way (POE stands for Port of Entry, BSO stands for Border Services Officer):

 

“When a permanent resident appears at a POE for examination, the BSO must determine whether the person is a permanent resident. BSOs must remain cognizant of the fact that the Act gives permanent residents ofCanadathe right to enterCanadaat a POE once it is established that a person is a permanent resident, regardless of non-compliance with the residency obligation in A28 or the presence of other inadmissibilities.

 

“BSOs can refuse entry to a permanent resident only when the person has already lost the status in accordance with the provisions of A46 (such as a final determination has been made that they have failed to comply with the residency obligations or when a removal order comes into effect). In other words, once a permanent resident’s status is established, the person may enter Canada by right and the immigration examination under IRPA concludes.”

 

But once someone has answered the questions (and raised the suspicion of the BSO), then what? In my experience, you are stuck having to answer to the “report”. Generally, this means going back to the border (usually airport) at a designated date and time with all your supporting documents and being interviewed by another officer (who is referred to as “the Minister’s Delegate”). At this stage, you are risking a finding of inadmissibility (i.e. the beginning of losing permanent residence status) so it is imperative that you have an immigration lawyer assist you throughout. It is never good to go to an interview like this without a representative, even in cases where it seems like there is a simple answer or the border officer has just made a mistake.