My eBook, How To Immigrate To Canada For Skilled Workers: The Authoritative Guide To Federal And Provincial Opportunities is available now on Amazon and other online retailers. Get your copy of the essential guide to Skilled Worker class applications today!

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Also available is my new eBook, "How To Immigrate To Canada In The Family Class: The Authoritative Guide Including Qu├ębec And Super Visa Opportunities". Get it at Amazon or the other e-retailers noted above.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Know your rights at the US/Canada border

Under Canada’s Customs Act, Canada Border Services Agency officers have widespread powers to stop and search people, their baggage and other possessions and devices at any Canadian port of entry (land border crossing, air terminal or sea port).

Canadian courts have generally recognized that people should have reduced expectations of privacy at border points. In this special context, privacy and other Charter rights are limited by state imperatives of national sovereignty, immigration control, taxation and security.

Canada Border Services Agency officers are authorized to conduct searches of people entering Canada, including their baggage, parcels or devices such as laptops and smart phones. These searches may be conducted without a warrant. Officers may examine devices for photos, files, contacts and other media.

If your laptop or mobile device is searched, you will likely be asked to provide the password.  If you refuse, your device may be held for further inspection. Our understanding is that the issue of whether a border security agency can compel an individual to provide a password for a personal electronic device at a border crossing is not something that has been specifically looked at by the Courts in Canada.

(Source: Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Choose Canada

It's been quite awhile since I wrote here. Some might say it's the natural cycle of blogs that they can only be sustained for X-number of years, or that once the mode of expression has served its purpose or run its course that it's natural it should fade into the background.

These things are true of The Expatriate Mind. I started the blog to document my immigration from the US to Canada,with all its emotional ups and downs, the events along the way and the current events that put the journey into context.

The entirety of the journey is nearly complete as I will be filing papers for my citizenship in a matter of months. I'll be sure and let you know about that process as it occurs, and the steps along the way. It's exciting to think that I will be a Canadian in the very near future.

But why I am writing tonight is because for now, I remain an American permanent resident of Canada and I want to communicate to anyone out there who is looking for make a new life for themselves in North America to take the US off of your radar and instead, choose Canada.

For at least the next four years, the US will be lead by Donald Trump - a fascist, racist, misogynist who is supported by his enablers and henchmen in government and the general population. The characteristics Trump exhibits are not those of all Americans by far, but his control of the government means that immigrating to the US will be fraught with difficulty as he molds policies to please his fascist, racist supporters and fills his bureaucracy with those who share his world view.

Canada welcomes you. In Canada, multiculturalism is written into the constitution:

Equality before and under law and equal protection and benefit of law

  • 15. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.
  • Marginal note:Affirmative action programs
    (2) Subsection (1) does not preclude any law, program or activity that has as its object the amelioration of conditions of disadvantaged individuals or groups including those that are disadvantaged because of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability. (84)
Multicultural heritage
27. This Charter shall be interpreted in a manner consistent with the preservation and enhancement of the multicultural heritage of Canadians.

There is no question that the contributions made by all who choose Canada as their home is welcomed and appreciated.

While immigration to Canada is not easy - economic immigrants must be matched with demand for their skills, family class immigration has limits in the range of reunification it offers: There are still 60 different programs under which you might immigrate to Canada.

I love this country and am so grateful to have the opportunity to live here. It's been a little over five years now since I landed, and while it has not been easy, coming to Canada to be with the woman I love is one of the best decisions I have ever made.

As an American I can tell you that the US has always been a country that believes in "economic Darwinism" - only the richest survive. If you aren't well off, it's YOUR fault; if you lose your job, you deserve it; if you're sick, it's not anyone's problem but yours. There's a social safety net - but only if you are destitute.

In Canada, we know that we are all in this thing called life together, and that our neighbour's quality of life enhances our own. We put a priority on care and compassion, and good government that is responsive to the needs of the people - not business.

Canada is not perfect - we have a history of wrongs like any other nation and are still setting things right with the aboriginal population of the country. But Canada's heart is in the right place.

If you are seeking the true land of opportunity - one where your contribution is wanted and your hard work for success will matter, I encourage you, as challenging as it may seem - come to Canada. It will be the best move you ever make.  

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

The Globe and Mail - Feds to drop wait times for spousal sponsorship applications to 12 months

My wife and I waited 4-years during our application. This change is long overdue and is fantastic news for those families separated by Canadian bureaucracy.

The length of time it takes to process spousal sponsorship applications for immigrants is dropping to months from years under a multimillion-dollar revamp of a key, the federal government said Wednesday.

Current wait times ranging from an average of 18 months for overseas applications to upwards of two years for spouses already in Canada will plunge to 12 months, Federal Immigration Minister John McCallum said.

“I have always felt it was wrong for the heavy hand of the Canadian state to keep people apart for two years,” McCallum said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

Read the article here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

CBC - Trudeau government revoking citizenship at much higher rate than Conservatives

While Bill C-6 moves its way slowly through Parliment, The CBC reports that one critical aspect of the previous Bill C-24 remains intact. That the Canadian government can revoke citizenship without a hearing in so-called "misrepresentation" cases seems to be against the spirit of fairness. If these citizens are accused of falsifying information on their citizenship applications, give them their day in court to deny the allegations and prove them false if necessary.

While I don't believe people who lied on their applications should be let off the hook, I know that there are some cases where you have to understand the context of the misinformation in order to make a fair judgement.

The Trudeau government used powers granted by the Harper government's controversial citizenship law to make 184 revocation decisions without legal hearings between November 2015 and the end of August. About 90 per cent of the decisions resulted in a negative finding and the loss of a person's citizenship.

Read the entire article here  

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Globe and Mail - Can immigrants be told where they must live in Canada?

Immigration Minister John McCallum has been speaking recently about ambitious plans to significantly increase the number of immigrants admitted to Canada. Whether Canadians are open to such an increase is questionable; yet, the minister has mentioned an intriguing possibility for raising the numbers: He would like newcomers to settle in small towns and rural areas, rather than big urban centres, such as Toronto and Vancouver.

He acknowledges the constitutional limitations to this idea, given the mobility rights of citizens and permanent residents that are protected by Section 6 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However, he does not follow this prudent reminder by mentioning that the protection granted to permanent residents is not absolute, because the Charter includes qualifications in the same section, along with a more general clause on reasonable limits.

It may not be obvious in our liberal democracy, but the issue of controlling where new immigrants can settle for their initial years in Canada is important in terms of securing public support for increased immigration.

Can the government legally require some immigrants to settle in small towns and rural areas?

Read the entire Globe and Mail article here

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

CIC News - Bill to Change Canadian Citizenship Act Passes House of Commons, With Senate Approval Pending

A prayer answered is on the way for me. This is the year I apply for citizenship and the passage of Bill C-6 would almost undo all the harm the Harper government did. Thank you, Mr. Trudeau!

From CIC News (subscribe yourself here)

On June 17, 2016, legislation to change the Canadian Citizenship Act, also known as Bill C-6, passed the Canadian House of Commons following its third reading. The very same day, a first reading took place in the Senate. The government of Canada had hoped to have the new legislation passed into law in time for Canada Day, which took place on July 1. However, it is now more likely that this will take place after the Senate re-adjourns following a summer break.

The government proposes sweeping changes to the Citizenship Act that would allow immigrants to apply for Canadian citizenship earlier and more easily than is currently the case. Changing the existing Citizenship Act is considered an important aspect of the government’s legislative agenda.
In June, 2014, the previous Conservative government of Canada brought into law the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act (also known as bill C-24). Among other measures, this controversial legislation made eligibility requirements for immigrants seeking citizenship more onerous than had previously been the case. It also allowed the government to revoke citizenship from dual Canadian citizens convicted of terrorism, treason or espionage.

Among the proposed amendments in Bill C-6 is a reduction in the amount of time permanent residents have to live in Canada in order to become eligible to apply for citizenship, from four out of six years to three out five years. In addition, applicants who spent time in Canada on temporary status — such as on a work or study permit — would be able to count a portion of this time towards the three-year requirement. The proposed amendments would also repeal the intent to reside provision and remove language proficiency requirements for certain applicants. In addition, the new legislation would repeal the contentious provision that allows for the revocation of citizenship.

Read the rest here

Monday, June 06, 2016

Renewing a Permanent Residence Card

I thought when I first arrived in Canada that I would only have one Permanent Residence card. When I arrived in August of 2011, there was only a three-year residency requirement in order to apply for citizenship and then maybe a year wait until the test and then, once a citizen, I wouldn't need the card.

Harper sort of mucked that plan up for me and a lot of other permanent residents. My card expires early next year (I got it late after an administrative foul up), but I am within the 270-day renewal window, so I thought it was best to take care of it.

Renewing your permanent residence is a pretty straightforward process. There is an application form to fill out, IMM5444, Supplementary Identification form IMM5445 and a pretty reasonable list of accompanying documents.  For most residents, the hardest part of the list will be documenting their visits outside of Canada for more than a single day. In order to maintain permanent residence status you must meet a residency requirement. You cannot be absent from the country for more than 1095 days over five years - you must live in Canada for at least two full years in a five year period.

You need to provide a list of every absence from the country - when you departed, when you returned, where you went and the purpose of the travel. Days out of the country with  a family member who is a citizen do not count towards the number of days out of the country. Other exceptions are available that will not count against days outside of the country.

You will need to gather primary and secondary identity documentation, CRA tax assessments and have two new photos made (I had mine made at Shopper's Drug Mart).

I had most of the information at hand, still the process took me about six hours.

Don't wait too long before renewing your card as the processing can take up to 90 days and you don't want to be caught without a current card. You cannot get back into Canada from a foreign country without it.

This summer I will apply for citizenship and hopefully, this will be my last permanent residence card!

Online resources:

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

G&M - Ottawa looks to ease international students’ path to permanent residency

Michelle Zilio and Simona Chiose report:

The Liberal government is moving to make it easier for international students to become permanent residents once they have graduated from Canadian postsecondary institutions.

Immigration Minister John McCallum said he intends to launch federal-provincial talks to reform the current Express Entry program, a computerized system that serves as a matchmaking service between employers and foreign skilled workers. Thousands of international students have been rejected for permanent residency because the program favours prospective skilled workers from abroad.

“We must do more to attract students to this country as permanent residents,” Mr. McCallum told reporters after meeting with his provincial and territorial counterparts Monday. “International students have been shortchanged by the Express Entry system. They are the cream of the crop in terms of potential future Canadians and so I certainly would like to work with my provincial and territorial colleagues to improve that.”

Mr. McCallum said international students are ideal immigrants and should be recruited by Canada.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

G&M - Canada on track to welcome more than 300,000 newcomers this year

The good news just doesn't stop on the immigration front. Sunny days, indeed. If you've been thinking about immigrating to Canada, this may be your time to get in line. Skilled workers, Family class immigrants, Student visas - it's all looking up compared to the dark Harper years. Here's the latest from Minister John McCallum:

For the first time in decades, Canada is on track to welcome more than 300,000 new permanent residents to Canada in one year, according to the Liberal government’s 2016 immigration targets tabled Tuesday.

Immigration Minister John McCallum says Canada plans to accept between 280,000 and 305,000 new permanent residents this year, an increase from the updated target of 279,200 for 2015. If the government reaches its target, it will mark the first time Canada has resettled more than 300,000 new permanent residents in one year since 1913.

As promised during last year’s election campaign, the Liberals will increase the number of spaces available for refugees and family reunification arrivals this year.

Canada will see a dramatic boost in the number of refugees it plans to resettle this year to 55,800, up from a target of 24,800 in 2015. The majority of new refugees will be Syrian, in accordance with the government’s commitment to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of February and thousands more throughout the year. It also plans to triple the number of privately sponsored refugees to 18,000 in 2016.

Read the rest at The Globe and Mail

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Better news! Liberals introduce bill to repeal many Conservative citizenship changes (G&M)

Read the entire article here

The Liberal government has introduced a bill that would repeal many parts of the former Conservative government’s citizenship legislation, including a provision that revoked citizenship from dual Canadian citizens convicted of terrorism, treason or espionage.

The proposed changes would automatically reinstate citizenship for one individual whose citizenship was revoked last fall before the election under the Conservatives’ Bill C-24, according to department officials speaking on background Thursday. That individual was charged with terrorism and is currently serving their sentence in a Canadian prison, said the officials.

In last year’s election, the Liberals promised to repeal the controversial legislation, which gave the government the power to revoke Canadian citizenship from dual citizens convicted of terrorism, treason or espionage, and dual citizens who were members of an armed force of a country or members of an organized armed group that was engaged in a conflict with Canada.

“I am very pleased to announce these changes which are entirely consistent with the promises we made during the election campaign and on which we as a government were elected,” Immigration Minister John McCallum said Thursday.

The proposed changes are in line with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s comments in a heated election debate about citizenship last September, where he said “a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.”

When this bill passes, which it will, I will be immediately eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship!

Now if they would be thoughtful enough to reduce the current $530 application fee back to the $100 it was before the Tories got their hands on it. To put this fee in context, for a Canadian permanent resident earning a minimum wage, this is nearly 2/3 of an entire month's pay. It's hard enough to make ends meet on a minimum wage, so let's lower this barrier to entry. It was another Tory mechanism to reduce applications and another example of Harper's evil intent to control the complexion (literally) of this nation. We are better than that.