1. Government Updates

Government of Canada Announces its Commitment to Immigration in 2013

Recently, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC”) announced its Immigration Levels Plan 2013 to support economic growth in Canada by admitting a total of 240,000 to 265,000 new permanent residents in 2013 for the seventh year in a row.  This is the highest sustained level of immigration in Canadian history.

The Immigration Levels Plan is particularly focused on the Canadian Experience Class (“CEC”), which facilitates the transition from temporary to permanent residence for those with high-skilled work experience in Canada, as either international students or temporary foreign workers.  In 2013, CIC intends to accept a record high of 10,000 permanent residents through this particular program. The program itself is undergoing several changes in line with the Canadian government’s objective.

Currently, the Temporary Foreign Worker stream requires 24 months of full-time work experience within the last 36 months.  On January 1, 2013, this requirement will be reduced to 12 months. Therefore applicants with 12 months of work experience in skilled positions in the 36 months preceding an application will become eligible to apply to the program.

On January 1, 2013, there will also be changes to the language requirements for this program. Currently, the CEC regulations allow applicants to compensate for a lower level in one language ability with a higher level in another.  The abilities are broken down into speaking, reading, writing and listening. CIC will be instituting a minimum language threshold requirement in each of the four abilities for applicants to the CEC submitted after January 1, 2013. The Minister, who will have the authority to set the language threshold, has not released the minimum requirements at this juncture.  We will advise of the new requirements as they are released.

New Citizenship Language Rules Enacted November 1, 2012

Beginning November 1, 2012, citizenship applicants must comply with new rules to demonstrate their competency in one of Canada’s official languages.

All applicants between the ages of 18 and 54 applying for Canadian citizenship must be able to communicate in either French or English. Previously, CIC officers assessed competency in French or English on an individual basis.  Beginning November 1, 2012, CIC adopted a more objective assessment process. The type of evidence submitted must be equivalent to a Canadian Language Benchmark Level 4 or higher for speaking and listening.  Applicants are therefore now required to submit one of the following:

  1. The results of a CIC-approved third-party language test (only speaking and listening); or
  2. Evidence of completion of secondary or post-secondary education in English of French. Please note one course in either language will not be sufficient; or
  3. Evidence of achieving the appropriate language level in certain government-funded language training programs such as the Language Instruction for newcomers to Canada/Courts de langue pour les immigrants au Canada.

All applications for Canadian citizenship therefore require evidence of language ability and any applications submitted without the necessary language documents will be returned.

We strongly advise that citizenship applicants between the ages of 18 and 54 submit the results from CIC-approved third party tests (option 1 above), such as:

  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) general training; or
  • Test d’Evaluation de Francais (TEF); or
  • Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP-General) or
  • CELPIP General-LS (assessing only listening and speaking language skills).

By submitting official CIC-approved third party test results, applicants will limit additional requests for information or an interview.  Moreover, this approach is in line with CIC’s current policy approach to language requirements for permanent resident applications.

The Province of Alberta Promotes Labour Market Exemptions for Certain Occupations in the Construction Industry

Until July 31, 2013, employers in Alberta hiring Temporary Foreign Workers in selected occupations do not need to apply for a Labour Market Opinion (“LMO”) from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada/Service Canada and can apply to CIC directly for a work permit if certain criteria is met.

The pilot program has been expanded to include the following seven occupations in the construction and manufacturing industries:

  • Welders and also welder-wire process operator;
  • Steamfitters;
  • Pipefitters;
  • Heavy-duty equipment mechanics including Off Road, Transport trailer mechanic and truck and transport mechanic;
  • Ironworkers including structural/ornamental, reinforcing and metal building systems erector;
  • Millwright (optional trade);
  • Carpenters (optional trade); and
  • Estimators.

Please note that Estimators are the only occupations listed above which are not considered either a compulsory or optional trade in Alberta and therefore employers using the pilot must ensure the applicant has the qualifications to perform the duties of that occupation.

The remaining occupations listed are generally compulsory or optional trades positions. In either case, the Temporary Foreign Worker must submit proof of the appropriate certification or a letter of approval from Apprenticeship and Industry Training (AIT) to support that he or she has the appropriate skills and experience to fulfill this position. The duration and type of work permit for the eligible applicant will therefore depend upon the individual’s skills, experience and certification.

Electronic Travel Authorization Program to be Implemented in 2015

The Government of Canada is proposing new legislation that will examine the admissibility of any temporary resident seeking entry into Canada.  Currently, the legislation does not provide any exemptions for certain foreign nationals.  Presumably, the legislation will include foreign nationals from visa exempt countries, such as European countries and potentially even the United States. The legislation is slated to take effect in 2015.

This program is similar to the Visa Waiver Program in the United States and individuals traveling to Canada will be required to complete an online application that will determine whether the foreign national may enter Canada or whether he or she is inadmissible.  Upon successful completion of the application, a confirmation printout will be provided and it must be presented along with other travel documents before boarding an airplane destined to Canada.  The application will be designed to be completed in a matter of minutes.

We are eagerly awaiting program details such as cost, the questions posed in the application, the procedural details, and whether there will be any exemptions for certain passport holders. We will provide you with details as soon as they are released.

  1. Practice Pointer

Preferred Ports of Entry Advisory

As a reminder, any Temporary Resident Permits or NAFTA T23 Professional Engineers with a Construction Management degree should only use the Douglas Port of Entry, located at the  British Columbia-Washington border on Interstate 5.

We also strongly advise that any intracompany transferees (T-24 and C-12 Senior Managers and Specialized Knowledge), regardless of nationality, avoid using the Calgary Port of Entry (at the Calgary International Airport).