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 Québec And Super Visa Opportunities". Get it at Amazon or the other e-retailers noted above.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas in Canada

Environment Canada's Winter temperature outlook for 2012 does not make me happy
The Weather Channel's Winter temperature outlook for 2012 is the one I'm banking on
This year will mark my second Christmas in Canada. It is truly is hard to believe how quickly time flies. As I imagined, it seems long ago that my hopes and prayers centred around whether My Love and I would be reunited in Canada; whether our immigration application would be successful. That that prayer was answered is certainly enough for me for many Christmases to come.

This year is a mild one and southern Ontario will most likely have a green Christmas. There have really only been a couple of days that were even seasonally cold. I have been looking forward to a cold Winter this year, but Fall, which ends Friday, has not given me a lot of hope. A cold Winter means more time on the ice for me - I don't like to skate when it's 6-7, like it is now: there's too many fresh skaters filling the sheet. Falling is bad enough without taking someone down with you!

Hopefully with the end of Fall, normal temperatures will kick in and I'll get in all the skating I can handle.

Look for the Mind to take our usual Holiday sabbatical, as we travel to see family and generally stay away from the computer. Know that I am grateful for each and everyone of my readers, and especially those who have purchased one of my books in the last year. May you and yours have a Happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year ahead!

Monday, December 10, 2012

New Federal Skilled Trades Stream to Begin Accepting Applications on January 2, 2013

Mississauga, December 10, 2012 — To address Canada’s growing demand for skilled tradespersons, a new Federal Skilled Trades Program is being launched on January 2, 2013, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced today.

“The new Skilled Trades Stream will help address serious labour shortages in some regions of the country, and support economic growth,” Minister Kenney said. “For too long, Canada’s immigration system has not been open to these in-demand skilled workers. These changes are long overdue and will help us move to a fast and flexible immigration system that works for Canada’s economy.”

The program criteria are built around four requirements that ensure applicants will have the right skills and experience needed to succeed here in Canada. In order to qualify, applicants will need to:

  • have an offer of employment in Canada or a certificate of qualification from a province or territory to ensure that applicants are “job ready” upon arrival;
  • meet a basic language requirement;
  • have a minimum of two years of work experience as a skilled tradesperson, to ensure that the applicant has recent and relevant practice as a qualified journeyman; and
  • have the skills and experience that match those set out in the National Occupational Classification (NOC B) system, showing that they have performed the essential duties of the occupation.

In order to manage intake, avoid backlogs and ensure fast processing times, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will accept up to a maximum of 3,000 applications in the first year of the Federal Skilled Trades Program.

Minister Kenney was joined at today’s announcement by Michael Atkinson, President of the Canadian Construction Association. “The introduction of a dedicated and streamlined program for skilled trades addresses many of the shortcomings from the current Federal Skilled Worker Program,” said Michael Atkinson. “The new program ensures greater consideration is given to the needs of industry when processing eligible immigration applications.”

“Ensuring Canada’s immigration system works for small employers in need of skilled trades’ people has been a concern for some time,” said Dan Kelly, President and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. “With the shortage of qualified labour in many parts of Canada growing once again, the launch of the Skilled Trades immigration stream is very welcome news.”

Eligible occupations will include electricians, welders, heavy-duty equipment mechanics, and pipefitters, among others. CIC is currently working with the provinces, territories and federal government partners on the list of skilled trades’ occupations that are experiencing acute labour shortages and which will qualify under the program. This list will be announced prior to the program opening on January 2, 2013.

The Federal Skilled Trades Program will complement other avenues already in place for skilled tradespersons to immigrate to Canada, such as the Canadian Experience Class and Provincial Nominee Programs.

“As promised in Economic Action Plan 2012, we are creating a new immigration stream to facilitate entry of skilled tradespersons,” added Minister Kenney. “The Federal Skilled Trades Program will help transform Canada’s immigration system into a fast and flexible system focused on jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.”

Need help to insure your application covers all the bases? Get my e-book, "How to Immigrate to Canada for Skilled Workers - The Authoritative Guide To Federal And Provincial Opportunities" today! See the "How to Immigrate Books" page of this site for more details. 

Monday, December 03, 2012

The Globe and Mail - Study finds Canadian immigrants at a growing disadvantage

A major international study ranks Canada among the world’s leaders in immigrant integration, but there are signs that advantage is on the wane.

Canada sits near the top of most categories in the study, which measures integration of immigrants in the 34 wealthy countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The report will be released in Paris on Monday. It compares outcomes for immigrants and their children looking at factors such as income, health, education and civic engagement.

Read the article here

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Skating season is here!

Last night I was asking my Love, "I wonder when they are going to open the Natrel Rink at Harbourfront Centre?" So I looked on their site at the live webcam (see above), and what did I see? Skaters! This morning I was up at 6am, got bundled up, and walked over to the rink. It took me a little bit to get my feet under me again, and I did take one fall (the right way - on my butt), but after a short period I was skating again! So exciting. Nathan Phillips Square's rink will be open December 2, and I might go there a few times this year too (though it's usually packed), but having my rink open makes me so happy; makes the cold weather worth the struggle. I love skating!

If you are immigrating to Canada, I really encourage you to learn to skate. Want to learn? Hockey Canada has a program for you. It's great, fun exercise, it gets you outside during the long winter, and it's certainly a way to begin your cultural integration.

See you on the pond!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Star - Immigration ministry paid for media monitoring of Minister Jason Kenney’s image

Bruce Cheadle and Stephanie Levitz
The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — The Department of Citizenship and Immigration spent almost $750,000 monitoring ethnic media over the past three years, including assessments of election campaign events and “perceptions” of minister Jason Kenney.

A series of contracts from March 2009 through May 2012 cost taxpayers $745,050, according to documents obtained by The Canadian Press under access to information law.

Those contracts state they were for work “monitoring key words and issues related to the department’s mandate.”

But the more than 7,000 pages of documents reveal the media monitoring went well beyond public policy issues related to citizenship and immigration.

“A series of interviews and appearances by minister Kenney and his representatives were strong contributors to the upswing in the ministerial image,” says a report from May 5, 2010, under a pie graph titled “Minister Overall Perception.”

The ministerial perception charts were weekly fixtures in the lengthy media monitoring reports in the spring of 2010, when the minority Conservatives were on a constant election footing.

And while the personal Kenney pie charts vanished after the spring election window closed that year, and were not reprised, the focus of the daily media monitoring remained profoundly political.

Read more

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Vancouver Sun - Skilled worker immigrant backlog to be eliminated three years ahead of schedule

OTTAWA — The government is expected to eliminate a controversial, years-old backlog of skilled worker immigration applications by the end of 2014 — about three years ahead of schedule, Postmedia News has learned.

It means a plan to create a pool of would-be Canadians from which provinces and employers could cherry-pick newcomers based on labour market need as opposed to who applied first will also be in place sooner than expected.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is expected to make the announcement Friday.

“Employers are best positioned to decide who can best fill the open jobs rather than a passive and bureaucratic system,” Kenney said of the plan last spring. “It’s not about privatizing the immigration system, it’s about a more active role of recruitment for people so they have jobs when they show up. I’d rather have an engineer working as an engineer than as a cab driver. That’s really where we’re trying to go with this.”

Read more: 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Immigration Minister Calls on Regulators to Reduce Barriers for Canada’s Immigrants

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is seeking the cooperation of Canada's self-regulatory organizations in making it easier for new Canadians to get licensed to work in their field in Canada

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney attended the annual conference for Canada’s self-regulatory organizations (SROs) today and asked for their cooperation in helping recent immigrants to Canada become licensed in their field.

Read the article at CICS News

Monday, November 05, 2012

Election eve in the U.S.

This will be my first U.S. presidential election away from the country. I voted in my home state of Washington via absentee ballot a few weeks back. In general, states facilitate voting by those outside of the country by a number of methods. I had the option of a paper ballot or electronic one. I could submit my ballot via regular mail or by email (I simply needed to print and scan my completed ballot). I was surprised that I was able to vote a full ticket in my home state - just the way I would have had I been living where I lived before I immigrated.

The challenge for me as an absentee voter is that I did not receive a voter's pamphlet. This is a guide to the candidates and issues prepared by the state. So I had a long conversation with my brother about the ballot issues and candidates. We don't agree on everything, and in retrospect I feel like maybe the right thing to do in the future is vote with him on local issues. He's the one impacted by the results, not me. If he believes he shouldn't support a particular property tax, well - I feel like I should support that. On matters that do impact me directly, such as candidates for State and Federal election - I'll vote my own way on those things.

As a typical, independent Washington State voter, I supported candidates from both major parties and a handful of independents too.

Our own poll here at The Expatriate Mind shows Obama leading. But in the U.S. it's much closer, and democratic friends of mine are quite nervous. I guess we'll know in less than two days just where the American public's support is as a nation struggles with the ghost of its past and the vision of its future.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Star - Immigration levels to stay the same in 2013, mix to change: Kenney

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced today that 2013 immigration levels are to remain the same as last year - somewhere between 240-265,000 persons to be admitted. However, the Minister plans to cutback on the Federal Skilled Worker program and re-balance in favour of Canadian Experience Class applicants. How to interpret this? The Tories are happy to allow you to immigrate if you have already been allowed into Canada. If you haven't already been allowed in, it just got harder.

From the CIC web site:

You must meet these minimum requirements to apply for permanent residence under the Canadian Experience Class. You must:

  • plan to live outside the province of Quebec (emphasis added)
  • be either:
    • a temporary foreign worker with at least two years of full-time (or equivalent) skilled work experience (emphasis added) in Canada, or
    • a foreign graduate from a Canadian post-secondary institution with at least one year of full-time (or equivalent) skilled work experience in Canada
  • have gained your experience in Canada with the proper work or study permit
  • apply while working in Canada or within one year of leaving your job in Canada
  • include the results of an independent language test (from an agency designated by CIC) showing you meet the minimum language requirements with your application

Read the article here 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Huffington Post - Canada: A Nation of Foreign Terrorists According to Bill C-43

Irwin Cotler writes:

Simply put, bill C-43 is seriously flawed in several particulars. First, it grants the Minister of Immigration new and ambiguous powers to bar people from entry to Canada for a period of three years on the grounds of "public policy." This reform is likely to lead to further politicization of our immigration system. Second, the new measures for faster deportation of residents will invite Charter challenges, particularly as the bill lowers the sentence for which a person can be deported from a two year sentence to six months -- thus shifting the focus of deportation away from serious criminality towards petty crimes.

Read the article here

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Far from the home I love

I was watching "Fiddler On The Roof" the other day - one of my favourite musicals. It's directed by Canadian Norman Jewison.

There is a scene in it when the daughter, Hodel (played by Michele Marsh), and Tevye (played by Topol) are sitting at a lonely train stop, and Hodel is explaining to her father why she is leaving home to follow here love to Siberia, where he is serving a sentence for sedition.

In the song she sings, "Far from the home I love", I heard many an immigrant's story, who, like myself, left my home to follow the one I love. Here are the lyrics for you. Like the rest of the story, it's as beautiful as it is sad.

How can I hope to make you understand
Why I do, what I do,
Why I must travel to a distant land
Far from the home I love?

Once I was happily content to be
As I was, where I was
Close to the people who are close to me
Here in the home I love...

Who could see that a man would come
Who would change the shapes of my dreams?
Helpless, now, I stand with him
Watching older dreams grow dim.

Oh, what a melancholy choice this is,
Wanting home, wanting him,
Closing my heart to every hope but his, 
Leaving the home I love.

There were my heart has settled long ago
I must go, I must go.
Who could imagine I'd be wand'ring so
Far from the home I love?

Yet, there with my love, I'm home.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Back in the USSA

I'm back in the U.S. for a few weeks visiting family and keeping busy with the ongoing move to Toronto. Seems like I'm moving a suitcase at a time - or 50-pounds at a time. I pretty much know that there's not a lot left in Seattle that I need to have with me in Toronto. If you can live without something for a year, you pretty much don't "need" it. There are still a few things I want to have with me though. Some of those items will make it home when I fly back in a couple weeks.

One shift is very evident this time around. I feel like I've left "home" (Toronto), and that I'm visiting Seattle. Now you may think, how can I feel that way considering Toronto has only been my home for a year and Seattle was my home the whole rest of my life, but it is so true that "home is where the heart is". My heart is in Canada and Toronto.

The nonsense of the U.S. election season immediately got on my nerves. Being reminded of the excess of it just makes me mad on behalf of the people who live here. The press reported that the Obama campaign raised over $180 million in the month of July alone for his campaign.

As a point of reference, under Canadian law, political parties are only allowed to spend $21 million on advertising for their entire campaign.

And while issues of same sex marriage rights are debated, gas prices soar above $4.00/gallon. It's just business as usual: nothing getting done for the people. It's frustrating to be back in a country that so poorly serves the interests of its population.

I know - Canada is not perfect. Just look at Harper's omnibus approach to legislation and you can see that. But Canadian politicians recognize they can't ignore the needs of their people for long. If they do, they not only can lose their jobs - they can lose their entire party. Just ask the Liberals about that one.

So I have another couple of weeks here, then I'm back home. I miss Seattle when I'm away. I miss friends and family, of course. But miss the U.S.?

Not so much. 

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Bill C-43: another tactic to keep permanent residents in their place

I believe in the best qualities of man. For instance - I don't believe that, in general someone would take the time and effort and expense to immigrate to Canada because they wanted to come to break the law here.

But the Tory's see things a little differently. Under proposed legislation (Bill C-43), if you are a permanent resident who gets in trouble with the law, you could lose your status and be kicked out of the country with no ability to appeal if the sentance for your crime is over 6-months in length. For a little context here, the crime of shoplifting a candy bar can carry a six-month sentance.

But that's not all Bill C-43 would do, according to The Star: "Not only would the new regulation punish those who ran afoul of the law, it would go after permanent residents found to have misrepresented themselves when they applied for immigration, Jackman said.

"An honest omission on a person’s employment history or incorrect dates of certain events written down on an immigration application could come back to haunt the immigrant years later.

Current law allows convicted immigrants to lose their immigrant status and be banned from re-entering Canada for two years. The new law would prohibit readmission for five years."

Read the article here


Wednesday, October 03, 2012

The Star - Ontario immigration strategy calls for more power to pick newcomers

Ontario needs to attract at least 135,000 newcomers a year, raise the ratio of skilled workers and take charge of immigrant selection to keep its economic engine running beyond 2014, says a government-appointed panel.

The findings of the expert panel will be presented to provincial Immigration Minister Charles Sousa on Wednesday, seven months after it was appointed to tackle declining immigration to the province, skill shortages and the falling economic performance of newcomers.

Read the article here

Friday, September 28, 2012

Kenney has his say - Canada has not become ugly and intolerant

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney wrote a response to an article in the UK's Guardian newspaper yesterday that is well worth reading; if only to understand the Tory take on basic immigration mathematics. While I rarely agree with Kenney on many fronts, I appreciate his stepping up to defend Canada from an overly, and somewhat inaccurate critique.

Read the article, "Maple leaf ragged: what ails Canada?"

Read Minister Kenney's response here 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


CTV reports:
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is being accused of 'pinkwashing' after thousands of Canadians received an unsolicited email lauding the government's policy on gay and lesbian refugees.

Read more 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

News Release — Revised Federal Skilled Worker Program Unveiled

Ottawa, August 17, 2012 — Proposed regulatory changes announced today to the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) will allow Canada to better select skilled workers who can “hit the ground running” upon arrival.

“The Federal Skilled Worker Program is Canada’s largest economic immigration program,” said Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney. “The changes we are making to update the selection criteria are based on a large body of data and evidence we've accumulated over the years showing what skills and qualifications are most likely to lead to success for skilled immigrants.”

Following an extensive program evaluation, stakeholder and public consultations, as well as other research, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is proposing the following changes to the FSWP:
  • Making language the most important selection factor by establishing new minimum official language thresholds and increasing points for language; 
  • Increasing the emphasis on younger immigrants, who are more likely to acquire valuable Canadian experience and remain in the workforce longer; 
  • Increasing points for Canadian work experience and reducing points for foreign work experience; 
  • Simplifying the arranged employment process to prevent fraud and abuse yet enable employers to staff positions quickly; 
  • Awarding points for spousal language ability and Canadian experience.
Another proposed change is the introduction of the Educational Credential Assessment – a mandatory requirement that FSWP applicants have their education abroad assessed against Canadian education standards by designated organizations. CIC will then award points according to how an applicant’s foreign educational credential compares to a completed educational credential in Canada. It does not necessarily guarantee that they would become licensed to practice in a regulated occupation.

“This is an important step we are taking to address the problem of immigrants arriving and not being able to work in their field,” stated Minister Kenney. “This new requirement will help potential newcomers make informed choices about immigration and Canadian career paths.”

CIC will be issuing a Call for Service Proposals on August 20, 2012, inviting submissions from organizations with expertise in foreign credential assessment to conduct the reviews. The deadline for submissions is September 21, 2012. For more information, please visit CIC’s International Qualifications Network website.

The full text of the proposed FSWP regulatory changes is now available online in the Canada Gazette. They also include improvements to the Canadian Experience Class and the creation of a new Federal Skilled Trades Program. The Department welcomes input from stakeholders and interested parties.

Final publication is scheduled for late 2012 and the new FSWP points grid will likely take effect in January 2013. While there is currently a pause on new applications (except for FSWP candidates with a qualifying offer of arranged employment or those applying under the PhD stream), CIC expects to begin accepting applications again early next year.

These changes have been announced by Minister Kenney in the past year.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Kenney can't stop tinkering with economic immigration

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney can't stop tinkering with economic immigration programs. On September 11, he announced yet another class of immigration he wants to add to his complicated bag of tricks. This time, the proposal is called the "Startup Visa" and it is aimed at luring venture capitalists in Canada to recruit talent from countries like the U.S. to start their firms in Canada. Venture investment funds would choose entrepreneurs in whom they would invest, and the government would try to clear them for entry into Canada within weeks.

Proof again that under the Harper Government and Minister's Kenney's leadership, immigration to Canada is going up for sale. His limited view of immigration as a purely internal economic facilitator is out of touch with the broad range of motivations immigrants choose Canada for in the first place, and of the overall impact immigrants have to the cultural, political and social fabric of our nation.

Like all Harper programs, they've announced it before they've figured it all out, and the devil is in details they have so far shown themselves unable to manage.

Read the National Post article here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Citizenship fraud

It's not often that I agree with the Harper Government, but I have to applaud them for going after those who would try to gain status in Canada through fraudulent means. My love and I struggled for years, obeying the rules and procedures for us to gain my permanent residence status. If you want to cheat and not work within the system (even if it's working to change the system), I don't have a lot of compassion for you. I'll assume all 3,100 people who are currently under scrutiny for fraud in the citizenship process to be innocent until otherwise shown, but hats off to the government for sending a message that if you try and cheat your way into this wonderful country, you do so at your own risk.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Quiet time

Hello dear readers. Just wanted to let you know that The Mind has been on a bit of an August sabbatical, that will extend into the first week of September as we have family coming to visit from the States for the first time since I immigrated. I'll catch you up on all the activity and news starting again in another week. Why don't you spend some time with your family too!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

How To Immigrate To Canada In The Family Class: The Authoritative Guide Including Québec And Super Visa Opportunities - available now!

My latest book on Family Class immigration is available now!

My new eBook, "How To Immigrate To Canada In The Family Class: The Authoritative Guide Including Québec And Super Visa Opportunities", is now available on Amazon in multiple territories and coming soon to Sony eBookstore, Apple iBookstore, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and other e-retailers.

I hope this book will help Family Class immigrants in the same way my previous book is helping Skilled Workers. While most books concerning the immigration process are either out of date, or try and cover every possible class, I have made it a point to search out the most current and authoritative information available for those interested in a specific immigration class.

The purpose of this book is to help Family Class applicants in understanding the requirements to successfully apply for immigration to Canada; in being aware of common issues and problems that can arise in the process, and in making plain some of the hurdles and costs that they can expect to encounter along the way.

Family Class applicants will learn who is eligible to apply; what the application process entails; the range of information that they can expect to gather and provide; the pros and cons of using an immigration representative; expectations for the post-application process and other essential information.

Additionally, this book provides detailed information on Family Class immigration to Québec, which, unique to other Canadian provinces, shares immigration jurisdiction with the federal government. Finally, this book provides detailed information on The Parent and Grandparent Super Visa, which allows parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens and permanent residents to visit family in Canada for up to two years without the need to renew their visa status.

If you are planning on becoming a Family Class applicant, this book is a resource that will assist you every step of the way.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Becoming a Torontonian

From the Urban Dictionary:


1. A person who resides in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

2. A gracious and tolerant sort of guy or gal who listens with Herculean patience and nothing but a sad sigh now and then as every ill-educated sheep-shagger, penniless cod-kisser, sexually confused lumberjack and soulless oil tycoon befouling the rest of the country badmouths him tirelessly because they don't have half the cool sh** that he does.

3. A person who starts feeling suicidal every year around the time of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

4. Someone who pays fully half of their income in taxes so that a bunch of miserable ingrates living in shacks can spend half the year on the dole, scratching their Molson muscles and bitching about how much they hate Torontonians.

5. A person who can find everything she needs within a twenty-minute walk or bike-ride from her front door.

6. A resident of the 416 area code, but mercifully not of the 905.

7. Someone who is too polite to tell his best friend, who lives in Vancouver, that, 'No, frankly I really don't wish I lived in Vancouver. Not everyone on the whole f***ing planet wants to live in Vancouver, for Christ's sake. Besides, your whole ****** drug-infested city's going to slide into the ocean some day, be it global warming, act of heavenly retribution, or one tremendous ****** earthquake. So there.'

That's what Urban Dictionary describes as someone from Toronto. I have a little gentler view. I feel like a Torontonian:

  • When I walk through a dense crowd on the sidewalk without bumping into anyone. 
  • When I can't decide between 15 places I'd like to go to for dinner. 
  • When I spend 10-minutes trying to figure out the best way to lock up my bike. 
  • When I have a choice of four arts events to attend on the weekend. 
  • When I help a tourist find their way in the city.
  • When I root for the Leafs on a Saturday night - no matter where they are in the standings.
  • When I have to decide between a rental car, a train, or a bus when making travel plans.
  • When I have to decide between four grocery stores, or the St. Lawrence Market when it's time to stock the shelves. 
  • When I'm out in the middle of the street in the middle of the night for Nuit Blanche.
Feeling like a Torontonian is a nice feeling.  

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Year one in Canada

In four days I will have been a permanent resident in Canada for one full year. Of the 365 days, I have spent 302 in Ontario. The other 63 days comprise trips to the U.S. to visit family, take care of winding up business and to finish moving chores. It's been quite a year.

  • Landing - It was wonderful to finally come to Canada as an immigrant after so many years in process. The landing process took a lot of preparation, but was easy because of it. My love and I will celebrate this day each year in August.
  • Driver's license and Health Card - I have to admit, it was difficult emotionally to release my U.S. drivers license for a Canadian one. That ID was so ubiquitous to me that I even had the 12-character number memorized. But getting an Ontario license was another step in my integration, as was getting my OHIP Health Card. I felt like I was really on my path to being a citizen once I received them. 
  • The doctor will see you - What do you mean I don't have to pay? Very odd for me the first time I needed to see a doctor and I didn't have to pay for the services. While I DO pay through my taxes each year, in the U.S., you pay something significant every time you see a medical professional, whether you have insurance or not. I was paying over $3000 a year for insurance I couldn't use before I immigrated.  
  • New home - My Love and I moved to our new home a little over two months after I arrived. We thought we would move within the first year, but our hand was forced. We ended up in a beautiful condo in a wonderful neighbourhood and love it here.
  • Crossing the border - The first time a U.S. customs agent confirmed that I lived in Canada, not the U.S. and asked me why I was coming to the U.S. was something I'd never experienced before. On the pleasant side of the border, when I returned to Canada, the border agent said, "welcome home."
  • Winter - though it was a mild winter this year, it got real cold for a few days -24C with the wind chill. I actually thought I could go out and skate one morning when it was -18C out, but I realized halfway to the outdoor rink that it wasn't probably the best idea.
  • Two books written - this first year has seen me author two books on immigration to Canada, of which I am very proud. The first, How To Immigrate To Canada For Skilled Workers: The Authoritative Guide To Federal And Provincial Opportunities is doing great and helping a lot of people and I hope the new one on Family Class immigration will do the same. 
  • Summer - I have fared pretty well with the heat and humidity. Much better than I thought I would actually. 
The downsides? I sincerely miss my family in the U.S. I increasingly feel out of touch with the Old Country (as I half-jokingly call it). When I spoke to my brother last weekend, he told me it was Seafair in Seattle - a wonderful annual celebration with city and town fairs and festivals (our neighbourhood one was "Jubilee Days") and a weekend of hydroplane races. My brother and I would often ride our motorcycles out to a number of events, and musician friends of mine perform in shows. This is the first year of my life I've missed it. And I honestly forgot all about it until he mentioned it - and then I missed it a lot. Yes, there's an emotional toll to immigration too. I'm learning not to underestimate it, or deny my feelings about it. 

So here I am, a year in Canada under my belt. The bottom line question you probably want answered is, "Was it worth it? Are you happy you did it?" The answer is absolutely, YES. I love my new home and my life with my Love. And despite the challenges we have faced and ones to come, I feel in my heart that this is where I am meant to be, where I was always meant to be. I have a lot of peace in that, and a lot of happiness too. 

Friday, August 03, 2012

The Star - Lawyers challenge Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s role in letting Conrad Black into Canada

In a public display of the growing tension between the legal community and Ottawa, a group of lawyers is daring Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to take them to the Law Society for voicing dissent.

On Wednesday, 80 immigration lawyers sent an open letter to Kenney and collectively questioned his role in granting a permit to Conrad Black to allow the convicted media magnate to return to Canada in May after serving a 42-month sentence for fraud and obstruction of justice in Florida.

Read the rest of the article here

Thursday, August 02, 2012

If I were a Skilled Worker

I have been in Canada for almost a year now. I immigrated in the Family Class, but since 2005, I have immersed myself in understanding all the classes of Canadian immigration. The class that has seen the most change in recent years has been the Skilled Worker class.

Almost a year in, I was thinking about how my experience in Canada to this point would have been different through the lens of an applicant from that class. How would I sum it up?

First, I have had a grand total of two interviews with companies in my profession, despite dozens (and dozens) of qualified applications. I currently make a living as an independent consultant, since no Canadian company yet seems willing to give me a chance. In the two interviews I did get, one question I was asked in each was about my "Canadian experience" (I don't have any), and one observation made in each was that I was "overqualified" for the role I was applying for.

Through the lens of a Skilled Worker immigrant, none of this is news. It's hard to get jobs in your profession, you rarely have Canadian job experience, and you often go for jobs that are junior to your qualifications. Is it so unusual to be willing to start at the bottom?

How would I sum it up if I were a Skilled Worker? Hey Canada, I thought you needed me. What's the story? Artificial barriers to employment, discrimination, a Balkan maze of professional qualifications to navigate...Is this how you welcome the world's best and brightest?

Through my experience, I can see why the Harper Government believes the Skilled Worker class needs to be reworked. They currently advocate that each immigrant in this class should be matched to a job before they are allowed to immigrate.

But I believe because I have had to survive by building my own business in Canada, I have made a more significant long term contribution to the country, even after one year, than someone who's just here to fill a job opening. Let's hope this lesson isn't lost on the Harper Government as they rework the Skilled Worker class. Immigration policy should be about nation building, not about job recruiting.   

Monday, July 30, 2012

"How To Immigrate To Canada In The Family Class: The Authoritative Guide Including Québec And Super Visa Opportunities" coming soon!

My latest book on Family Class immigration

I just finished the companion book to my popular eBook, "How To Immigrate To Canada For Skilled Workers: The Authoritative Guide To Federal And Provincial Opportunities". It is called, "How To Immigrate To Canada In The Family Class: The Authoritative Guide Including Québec And Super Visa Opportunities".

I hope this book will help Family Class immigrants in the same way my previous book is helping Skilled Workers. While most books concerning the immigration process are either out of date, or try and cover every possible class, I have made it a point to search out the most current and authoritative information available for those interested in a specific immigration class.

The purpose of this book is to help Family Class applicants in understanding the requirements to successfully apply for immigration to Canada; in being aware of common issues and problems that can arise in the process, and in making plain some of the hurdles and costs that they can expect to encounter along the way.

Family Class applicants will learn who is eligible to apply; what the application process entails; the range of information that they can expect to gather and provide; the pros and cons of using an immigration representative; expectations for the post-application process and other essential information.

Additionally, this book provides detailed information on Family Class immigration to Québec, which, unique to other Canadian provinces, shares immigration jurisdiction with the federal government. Finally, this book provides detailed information on The Parent and Grandparent Super Visa, which allows parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens and permanent residents to visit family in Canada for up to two years without the need to renew their visa status.

The book will be available at all major eBook retailers online. Please check back for news announcing the release. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Star - Would-be immigrants poised to hear about application backlog

Will they or won't they? This week in the Federal Courts, Justice Robert Barnes will decide the fate of 900 litigants who claim the Harper Government is unfairly terminating their applications for Skilled Worker class immigration. It already appears to be too late for the thousands of other applicants who put their applications forward before 2008.

Read the article here 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Harper's new foreign worker pilot program revealed

In a meeting in Bonnyville-Cold Lake (a provincial electoral district in Alberta), Immigration Minister Jason Kenney outlined the future of Canada's temporary foreign worker program. One that apparently has nothing to do with immigration opportunities.

As reported in bonnyville nouvelle:

Highly skilled trade jobs such as welder, heavy duty mechanic and carpenter, are remaining vacant but a new pilot program for skilled temporary foreign workers announced on July 16, could help solve that issue said Kenney during his visit to Bonnyville on July 18.

“We're moving from what was a slow, passive and rigid system with declining economic results and lower levels of employment and income for immigrants and huge shortages in parts of our economy, to a system that is fast, flexible and responsive to the labour market,” declared Kenney.

Essentially the program will enable employers to recruit skilled trade workers in high demand from visa exempt countries, fly them to airports in Edmonton and Calgary and have an immigration officer stamp a work permit into their passports. The work permit is valid for two years and is good for any employer in the sector for which they were hired.

“This collapses what was a six or seven month bureaucratic process into a 30-minute process at the airport,” explained Kenney. “It really says to employers you now have (a) light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to meeting the labour demands, especially for major construction projects.”

Harper and Kenney have no apparent interest in bringing immigrants into the country - they simply want bodies to fill the needs of business, until business needs them no more. Then these workers will be sent back where they came from. Nowhere in Kenney's announcement does he mention the path that any of these workers will have toward permanent residence in Canada, and that is a glaring omission.

Read the article here

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Reasons to leave the U.S. - U.S. Customs seized over 60,000 Kinder Eggs last year

The deadly Kinder Eggs!

OK - I couldn't resist this story in today's Star from the AP...

SEATTLE—On a recent visit to Vancouver, two Seattle men picked up some Kinder Eggs to share with family and friends back home.

But they ended up spending more than two hours in a detention centre at the border after U.S. border agents found the “illegal candy” in their car.

It turns out the eggs with the little toy inside are illegal in the United States because young children could choke on the plastic toys.

Importing the eggs can lead to a potentially hefty fine, but Brandon Loo and Christopher Sweeney eventually got off with a warning.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman declined to comment about the case last night.

The agency says it seized more than 60-thousand Kinder Eggs last year.

Healthcare oberservations

I've had my OHIP coverage for almost 9-months now, and thank God for it. I've been able to get a physical,  tests for a stomach ailment, and recently I was in a bicycle accident that I needed to be checked out for injury from. In the States, all of these care services would've meant cash out of pocket, and I would have had to decide whether I could afford to have them tended to by professionals, or trust WebMD with my health.

I've noticed through these events some differences in how doctors in Canada deliver health services. Mind you, this may just be with MY doctor, but I suspect core differences in how doctors are compensated may be at the root of it. What I've noticed is that if I don't bring an issue up specifically with the doctor, he's generally not going to inquire further.

So when I had my accident, I went in and he asked where it hurt, and I said my wrist, and he looked at it, I told him the rest just felt like pulled muscles (from head to toe), and he was willing to accept this. He didn't start poking and prodding, "how does this feel? Any pain here?" the sort of thing I'm used to in the U.S. - where they LOOK for problems to treat.

My theory is: they LOOK in the U.S. because it's an opportunity for the doctor to bill more time, or create more work for, let's say, the physical therapy department. Here, the province is footing most of the bill, family doctors have a lot of patients to see; there's not a profit motive for further inquiry.

I'm learning I need to be my own biggest advocate for my health in Canada. I go in with a list of questions to be sure I ask the doctor to cover everything I'm concerned about.

In the old world, too many useless questions and tests, procedures and expenses. In Canada, I need to be sure I'm getting all the care I need for any condition.

My love had to speak with her doctor about something the other day, so she called the office. The doctor wouldn't speak to her, but briefly answered questions through his assistant while she could tell he was standing right by her. Why wouldn't he just get on the phone and answer himself? Apparently, he only gets paid by the Province if he sees her in the office, in person. So they kept trying to schedule an appointment three weeks away (the first opening) for a question she needed answered now. So its not only the U.S. system that causes healthcare to be delivered in some backward ways. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Canada Immigration News - Canada Still Open For Immigration

Many Canadian immigration programs remain open, despite the Canadian government’s announcement that it will be taking a ‘temporary pause’ in accepting Federal Skilled Worker applications. In this article, CIC News will briefly explore current open programs, as well as the future of the Federal Skilled Worker Program.

Read the article here

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

The Globe and Mail - Immigration Minister puts brakes on popular skilled labour programs until 2013

Unbelievable. on June 28, the Harper government, dealt a blow by the courts when it was told it couldn't just drop 280,000 skilled worker immigration applicants from its roles has now put a complete halt to the program for anyone who doesn't have pre-arranged employment. The moratorium is to be in place until 2013, but who's to say the majority Tory government wont just extend it at that time.

Kenney was quick to say after his speech that the move will not mean a drop in the number of immigrants coming to Canada.

How can he say that? My money would be on because he intends to fill the gap with Temporary Foreign Workers, who's numbers have skyrocketed to 182,276 individuals compared to 156,077 individuals who immigrated across all economic class categories in 2011. In 2011 the Skilled Worker program only approved 36,770 people for entry to the country (with additional family members numbering 51,991). At that rate, a qualified backlog of current applicants would take over seven more years to clear.

In my opinion, the Harper government has no intention of offering a broad-based Skilled Worker program in the future. The re-tooled program in January will be one that is almost exclusively employer-driven. This narrow focus won't bring the best and brightest to Canada - it will bring in widgets that fill employment gaps. It will also open the doors to abuse, with the sale of immigration to workers willing to pay unscrupulous employers for the elusive "offer of employment".

Read the entire article here 

4th of July in Canada

My first Independence Day in Canada. I have a U.S. flag flying in the condo window for the construction workers on the high rise across the street to see. Later today, my Love and I will have a bar-b-que of steak and veggies in the high heat of early summer. But this is just another Wednesday for Canadians, and I'm working as usual. I had my long weekend already, for Canada Day (July 1). If I were in the U.S. my brother and I would be going to see friends and fireworks later on, and I do miss my brother a lot, but we had years to prepare for my leaving the states, and both our lives are going happily on. I feel free from heavy handed government, from useless politicians, from a violent police force in Seattle, from taxes that only line the pockets of the wealthy. I am proud to be an American, but I don't feel America is the "land of the free" anymore. Here in Canada, I feel free.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Now that's hot!

There's a chance that the high temperature today with the humidex value included, could reach 42C - that's nearly 108F. There has also been an extreme heat and smog alert issued for City of Toronto. These are temperatures associated with mid-summer. Thank goodness for air conditioning! 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Eyes open

Summer hasn't quite begun here in Toronto, but some dog-days are coming. Humidex values in the next few days are going to be in the 40's, and that's some dangerous levels of heat. While I didn't get the Canadian winter I was expecting this year, clearly the summer plans to show up - ahead of schedule actually.

Toronto is beautiful right now. I look out over the city from my home and amid the construction cranes and scaffolding, trees are full and green and fountains are bubbling. Young women walk briskly, no longer constricted by the weight of parkas and snow boots; replaced instead by chiffons and skirts and mysterious bug-eyed sunglasses. The Bay Street hedge fund boys try not to sweat too much in their prerequisite suits, on their way to master the universe. The haze over Lake Ontario leaves a ragged blur on the horizon more like a low mountain range than a great lake.

These sights and sounds and weather are not all new to me, save in that they are now a daily part of my life, not something I visit and leave for something more familiar. Back in Seattle, the report is of a rainy springtime that has yet to really end. I'm used to that. I'm sure in a few years I wont notice this much either - but I hope I always do - that I don't become immune to my new home.

As an immigrant, your eyes tend to be open a little wider to the world around you. I don't think that's a bad thing. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Star - Ottawa loses legal battle over immigration backlog

Ottawa has suffered a major setback in eliminating its immigration backlog after the federal court ruled the government is obliged to process all applications it accepted into the system. 

About 900 applicants under the federal skilled workers’ program sued Immigration Minister Jason Kenney for violating the pledge to assess and finalize decisions in a timely fashion. 

 They asked the court to order the immigration department to process their applications within a reasonable time frame. 

 In a decision released Thursday, Justice Donald Rennie rejected the minister’s argument that the delay is justified because he has the authority to make policies.
Read the rest of the article here

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

“If the House cannot hold the government of the day to account, then why have the House at all?’’

Last year, former speaker Peter Milliken ruled the Conservatives had withheld information on the costs of its crime bill and F-35 fighter jets, a finding that ultimately led to the government being found in contempt.

In the ensuing election Canadians collectively shrugged and handed Stephen Harper his majority.

But it has become a Conservative pattern and in this case there is no discernible reason why the information would not be released, leaving, as Cullen puts it, MPs to vote “blindly” on the bill.

The information was requested by the independent parliamentary budget officer, Kevin Page. He quite logically believed he had an obligation to report to parliamentarians which departments will be affected by the $5.2 billion in budget cuts, and what services could be affected.

He was told to go away.

The government has never said it does not have the information, but instead cited collective bargaining agreements that prevent it from providing the data until all the employees were notified.

But the unions told the government to go ahead, they welcomed the release of the information.

“If the House cannot hold the government of the day to account, then why have the House at all?’’ Cullen asked.

Read the article by Tim Harper at the Star online

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

The Diamond Jubilee

One of the adjustments an American makes when coming to Canada is in accepting a new form of government.  Canada is a constitutional monarchy. More technically:

As per the Constitution Act, 1867, Canada is a constitutional monarchy, wherein the role of the reigning sovereign is both legal and practical, but not political. The Crown is regarded as a corporation, with the monarch, vested as she is with all powers of state, at the centre of a construct in which the power of the whole is shared by multiple institutions of government acting under the sovereign's authority; the Crown has thus been described as the underlying principle of Canada's institutional unity, with the executive formally called the Queen-in-Council, the legislature the Queen-in-Parliament, and the courts as the Queen on the Bench. - from Wikipedia

Canada is part of the Commonwealth of Nations (including 54 other mostly former British Colonies). As such, Canada's sovereign ruler is Queen Elizabeth. Recently, The Diamond Jubilee took place, marking 60 years of The Queen’s reign. The Queen came to the throne on 6th February 1952 (her Coronation took place on 2nd June 1953).

It's not hard to make the adjustment to a form of government with such deep historic roots. I have to admit, its almost nice to have a Monarch who is a constant in a world of fickle political change. After years of observing the Canadian federal government in action, I can tell you it has its share of sins the same way the U.S. governmental system does. Harper, the current Prime Minister, seems to have learned many political lessons from the U.S. - unfortunately.

There is one big difference here in Canada, however, and I think it relates to the Queen and the Monarchy. It's the idea that the political flavour of governments are temporary and that their true purpose is service to the people. I didn't hear much of that in my last few years in the U.S. It's nice to witness it in action here in my new home.  

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Another step in integration- a bank account

If you read the checklists of what to do as soon as you arrive in Canada as an immigrant, one of the top things is to establish a bank account. Now I've been here nearly nine months and I'm just getting that particular item crossed off of my list.

Why the long wait? Well, I still have had a lot of business with the U.S., so I hadn't closed those accounts yet. My Love and I use those accounts when we go to the Niagara/Buffalo region to shop sales too. I just haven't had the need to set up an account until now.

But a tax refund check and the reality of U.S. tax laws meant that I had to do something. Until all the ramifications of  Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) are understood, it was better for us that I establish my own bank account rather than simply join my Love's.

That issue aside (it will be 2014 before anyone understands how the IRS intends to use the mandatory reporting), it's nice to take one more step to integrate into Canadian life.

So who am I banking with? TD? CIBC? RBC? Nope. I chose President's Choice (the same folks that bring you tasty food at Loblaws). They offer a completely free checking account through CIBC, with access to all the Interac machines in the country. One good thing about waiting a few months to get this done is I was aware of the best options for my needs.

Not sure what's left on the "after you arrive" list, but I'll keep you posted as usual!

Friday, June 01, 2012

"How to Immigrate to Canada for Skilled Workers - The Authoritative Guide To Federal And Provincial Opportunities" available now

My new book, "How to Immigrate to Canada for Skilled Workers - The Authoritative Guide To Federal And Provincial Opportunities" is available now from all major online retailers. I'm proud to report that the book has spent some time in its subcategory's Top 20 and Hot New Releases lists on Amazon. I hope that if you are considering Skilled Worker class immigration to Canada you will check it out.

While most books on Canadian immigration are either out of date, or try and cover every single class available, I wrote this book to walk a specific class through the current application process and requirements from top to bottom. Why buy a book where the majority of the content doesn't apply to you?

If you have purchased the book already, please let me know what you think and how it might be improved. New editions are planned and will be published in response to future changes in policy and process.

Good luck with your Skilled Worker class application!    

Thursday, May 31, 2012

How does Jason Kenney find the time for immigration issues?

Jason Kenney is one of the Harper Government's busiest ministers.

Not only does he hold the responsibility for Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, he is also:
  • The Regional Minister for Alberta
  • Chair of the Operation committee (Provides day-to-day coordination of the government’s agenda, including issues management, legislation and house planning, and communications)

    and a member of
  • The Priorities and Planning committee (Provides strategic direction on government priorities and expenditure management, ratifies committee recommendations and approves appointments)
  • The National Security committee (Provides broad strategic direction for security and foreign policy related to Canada's national interest, and oversees Canada's national security response activities)
  • The Social Affairs committee (Considers health care, justice, public safety, Aboriginal, training and skills development, culture, and immigration policy issues) 
That gives Kenney no fewer than six major responsibilities in the Harper Government. One can assume that these responsibilities don't simply entail showing up for a meeting now and then. Is it no wonder that Kenney illustrates a predilection for expedient solutions to complex problems, such as limiting his view of immigration to an economic issue? Perhaps he simply doesn't have time to deal with such a complex portfolio?     

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Canadian Press - Immigrant lawsuit fails to preserve backlogged applications

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney wants to change the way the skilled worker category is administered. The budget implementation bill would eliminate all backlogged cases and force would-be immigrants to apply again.

A federal court judge has quashed the hopes of hundreds of would-be immigrants seeking to force the government to review their files.

Over 800 skilled workers have seen their applications languish in a massive backlog that's set to be eliminated by the federal budget bill.

Read the rest of the story here

Thursday, May 24, 2012

That Conrad Black thing

It's good to be convicted criminal Conrad Black
Many around the world have probably never heard of Conrad Black, Lord of Crossharbour. He is a former Canadian citizen who was convicted in the US of committing fraud and obstruction of justice. For his crime, he served 42 months in a US Federal prison. He was recently allowed entry into Canada on a Temporary Resident's visa for one year.

Two points may require some background in understanding the ire that Black has caused immigration watchers in Canada. First off, in order to become Lord Black of the British peerage, Black was required to renounce his Canadian citizenship. Whether this was done entirely of his free will is a matter of debate. History tells us that the Chretien administration forced Black's hand on this matter. Still - he gave it up in order to obtain his appointment to the House of Lords. He therefore gave up all his rights as a Canadian citizen (residency included).

Secondly, there is the matter of allowing people to enter Canada who have been convicted of "serious criminality". In short, crimes committed in other countries that, if committed in Canada could include a maximum sentance of at least 10 years or more make an individual inadmissible. If a person is not allowed into the country for this reason, they are required to wait 5-years after the expiration of their sentance and any conditional parole, and apply for rehabilitation. They are only allowed entry after their rehabilitation has been approved. The only other special circumstance that would allow a person into the country is the granting of a Temporary Residence permit through a so-called "Minister's Permit" based on hardship or compassionate grounds.

Black was provided a Temporary Residence permit BEFORE he left jail.

Clearly, critics have some reason here to raise their eyebrows. Black has never admitted his guilt or responsibility for his crimes - clearly he is not rehabilitated on that basis. Virtually no time had passed from his release to prove his acts were not in his character either (another method of proving rehabilitation). Still, friends in high places get results. Black is certainly well connected in Canada from running one of the nation's largest media empires at one time.

But don't expect this level of justice and compassion if you aren't Conrad Black. It's not coming. The average applicant for Criminal Rehabilitation can expect a wait of years to have their case reviewed. In 2010, of all applications in the queue, only 880 were succcessful.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Pardon the interruption

Hi Readers,
I've been in the U.S. for a few weeks with family and blogging has fallen off the table for the duration. I'll be back with a flurry of posts starting next week. Thanks for your patience and I hope you enjoyed the Victoria Day long weekend!

Monday, May 07, 2012

The Globe and Mail - Changes to immigration policy could transform society

Those workers at Tims? Many are temporary foreign workers,
and now Tim's can pay them 15% less to do their job.
Welcome to Canada.

Disturbing economic analysis from The Globe and Mail on the impact to Canadians and temporary foreign workers now that the Harper Government has instituted a two-tier wage system, allowing employers to pay temporary foreign workers 15% less than it pays Canadians for the same job (as a side note, you'll notice that I use the propaganda name 'The Harper Government" when I describe the federal government. This is how Harper describes his federal government. I'm almost glad to use it, because to ascribe these policies to the Canadian government is heartbreaking, though true).

On the new wage system, The Globe notes:

Disturbingly, the federal announcement also set out new wage rules that permit employers to pay temporary foreign workers up to 15 per cent below the average paid for that type of work locally, sanctioning the creation of a two-tiered “us and them” labour market.

Even if such a rule were rigorously applied and monitored – and budget cuts may eliminate the staff to do this job – it guarantees a downward trend in wages for everyone. Fifteen per cent below the average is a recipe for continuous decline when labour shortages are filled, as a matter of policy, by those who get paid less and are not allowed to stay long enough to ask for more.

Read the rest of the article here

The Star - Immigration applications to Canada drop in Asian countries

“Without being part of a public consultation, we’ve drastically changed not only the way we do immigration, but the immigrants who come in,” said Ratna Omidvar, president of Maytree Foundation, which has a mandate to build strong civic communities.

“Immigration selection is not simply about headhunting, but about nation-building. Immigration policy is too important to be made in a piecemeal manner.”

Statistics obtained by the Star show a significant drop in the annual number of Chinese, Indians, Filipinos and Pakistanis applying for permanent residency between 2006 and 2011.

Read the article here

Saturday, May 05, 2012

The Globe and Mail - Why Canada needs a flood of immigrants

Today the Globe and Mail published a massive online article on "Why Canada needs a flood of immigrants". Read the wealth of fact and opinion that makes the case against the Harper Government's restrictive and narrow-minded approach to this important subject.

Here's an excerpt:

Between now and 2021, a million jobs are expected to go unfilled across Canada. Ottawa is making reforms to the immigration system but isn't going far enough. We need to radically boost immigration numbers. With the right people, Canada can be an innovative world power. Without them, we'll drain away our potential.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Expat blog introduces new jobs and housing tools

Our friends at Expat blog passed on the following information about some new features on their site. Be sure and check them out and join up to use. In addition to the jobs platform announced below, they have added a tool to assist you in finding housing. Here's a link to the Canadian housing resources they are making available.

Facing economic difficulties in their country, a growing number of people choose to go abroad to explore new job opportunities. To follow that trend and help expats, Expat blog, the expatriate social network, launches a new international job platform.

Since the beginning of the economic crisis, one of the first reasons of mobility has been employment. “Most of our members are generally willing to expatriate for professional motivations”, explains Julien Faliu, founder and CEO of Expat blog. “Fed up with facing difficulties on the job market in their native country, a lot of them want to take a chance overseas”.

But, looking for a job in a country you know nothing about is not as simple as that! With its new international job board, Expat blog makes it easier: indeed, you can access to job offers everywhere in the world, wherever you are.

“This new platform dedicated to overseas jobs meets both the demands of job seekers and employers. They can define its selection criteria and therefore find offers perfectly matching their wishes”, Julien Faliu says.

Expat blog also provides useful tools for expatriates and soon-to-be expatriates to help them prepare their relocation project. As a matter of fact, getting a job is often just the first step. The next one will be to find accommodation, to learn more about the country, its customs and day-to-day life. Expat blog answers all these questions by relying on expatriates’ experience for more than 7 years.

Expat blog is the expatriate social network, with more than 420 000 members and 1,8 million visitors per month. Designed for expatriates by expatriates, Expat blog offers free information and advice to those who live or wish to live abroad.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Small talk

My Love and I were in Niagara Falls over the weekend to see her mom and dad and we also met up with a friend of ours who is living in NYC while we were there. Funny thing came up (as in interesting) when she mentioned that I'll start a conversation with anyone in an elevator (which I will). I guess that's not very Canadian. Our friend concurred, saying she's never had more random conversations with strangers as she has had in New York. Apparently Canadians are polite, but not personable! I notice now that rarely does anyone speak in elevators, or to their neighbours...But I say no to this convention - I am who I am and I'm going to be the one "Canadian" (of the permanent resident variety) who does.

Canadians not personable? I don't think so! Maybe you and I can chat about it sometime?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Harper's true Skilled Worker agenda revealed

Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Canadian companies that want to bring in highly skilled foreign workers temporarily will be able to do so faster and pay them less under new federal immigration rules aimed at addressing the country’s persistent labour shortages.

What's the agenda? As I read it:
  • Benefit the West (Harper's power base)
  • More profits for Big Business (the act will drive all wages down)
  • Temporary workers don't become Canadians (we send them home when we don't want them any more, or after four years - when employers can drive wages down further)

Read the article in today's Globe and Mail

Monday, April 23, 2012

“No one will be willing to go there because it’s not a system we can trust.”

I personally know the feeling of those 300,000 Skilled Worker applicants who are on the verge of having their hopes and dreams of coming to Canada eliminated by the Harper Government. My own immigration process was over four years long. In that time of waiting, you'll see reflected in many of the posts here, a person's life is on hold, in limbo, as you await the next stage in processing. You're hesitant to make any major changes in  your life (like marriage) that might change your status and cause your application to be bumped to the bottom of the line.

Today's Star article, Immigration applicants upset at Ottawa’s plan to wipe out backlog tells of this frustration for many who feel directly the sting of the current government's changes to immigration policy. And it also serves as a warning to Canada about the issue of trust. Skilled immigrants are intelligent and highly mobile. They have chosen Canada for a number of positive reasons, including the fairness of the immigration process.

If the Harper Government continues down the single-minded path of "just-in-time" immigration policies with the clumsy implementation they are currently following, don't be surprised if the country faces even greater shortages of skilled workers in the future. After all, what reason do they have to trust us now?

Read the article here

Thursday, April 19, 2012

My new eBook, "How To Immigrate To Canada For Skilled Workers" coming soon to Amazon, iBookstore, Kobo, Sony and other outlets

The cover of my upcoming eBook, available soon !
I have had numerous requests over the last few years to help others who are interested in immigrating to Canada. I finally decided to honour those requests earlier this year by writing the first in a series of how-to books on the immigration process. In cooperation with Customs and Immigration Canada (CIC) and other federal and provincial government agencies, I believe I have put together an authoritative book that will help anyone with the goal of becoming a Skilled Worker class immigrant to Canada.

"How To Immigrate To Canada For Skilled Workers" will help Skilled Worker applicants to understand the requirements to successfully apply for immigration to Canada, help them in being aware of common issues and problems that can arise in the process, and make plain some of the costs and hurdles that they can expect to encounter along the way. Skilled Worker applicants will learn who is eligible to apply; how the application process works; the range of information that they can expect to gather and provide; the pros and cons of using an immigration representative; and expectations for the post-application process and other essential information.

Additionally, this book provides an overview of Skilled Worker nomination programs offered by the Provinces and Territories. These programs can give applicants an extra advantage by directing their skills to regions of Canada where they are most needed.

The book will be available worldwide over the course of the next month through Amazon (for Kindle), iBookstore (for iPad), Barnes & Noble (for NOOK), Reader Store (for Sony Reader), Kobo, Copia, Gardners, Baker & Taylor, and eBookPie.Watch for updates here for release dates as they become available.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Globe and Mail - Entry to Canada to cost wealthy foreigners more

The Globe and Mail reported over the weekend that under proposed modifications to Canada's investor class of economic immigration, Jason Kenny wants to double the price of admission.

This was a proposal that first came to light a few months back, and now, like all things immigration of late, the Harper government and their new majority are seeking to hit the gas on legislation to enact their new policy ideas.

Again, it looks like those who have waited patiently under the current programs are likely to be thrown under the bus. This time it's 25,000 wealthy foreigners (totalling over 90,000 people when you include their dependants) who are at risk. Their problem? Apparently they aren't wealthy enough. Instead of being ready and able to drop $800,000 into Canada, new investors would have to be ready to drop double that - $1.6 million.

It's like Canada sold you a ticket to ride, and now, when they think someone else is willing to pay more, they want to refund your money so they can sell the seat to someone else. Kenney believes the current requirements for investment are, to paraphrase, "massively under-priced".

With all the changes the Harper government are trying to make across all aspects of the immigration system, as well as their staff reductions introduced in the current budget, you have to believe that current applications will be further delayed if not suspended. Imagine being an immigration official trying to administer this major transition in policy?

It's a challenging time for would-be immigrants to Canada.

Read the article at The Globe and Mail here    


Friday, April 13, 2012

Kenney announces Federal language requirements to apply to Provincial nominees

News Release – Citizenship and Immigration Canada Announces its Intention to Create a New Skilled Trades Program

To fill Canada’s growing labour shortages in construction, natural resources and similar industries, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced plans on April 12th to make it easier for skilled tradespersons to immigrate to Canada.

Read the release here

Monday, April 09, 2012

The Star - Ottawa needs to balance common sense and compassion in immigration reform

To hear Stephen Harper’s government tell it, Canada’s immigration system is in dire need of a fix, and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney intends to deliver it. In a meeting with the Star’s editorial board this past week Kenney sketched out bold plans for a faster, more flexible system that will give “the best and the brightest” newcomers a better chance to succeed, and will rely less on temporary workers.

But the problem with this government is that, like with the current F-35 scandal: you can't believe what they say. Kenny went on to tell The Star's editorial board that the Tories are committed "to maintaining Canada’s intake of more than 250,000 immigrants a year..." yet he has cut in half the number of Skilled Worker applications allowed each year (from 20,000 to 10,000), and last year's visas for Skilled workers were down from 48,822 to 36,770. The Tories may be committed to overall numbers, but they will pick and choose the winners and losers.

Read the article here

Thursday, April 05, 2012

More money cut from Immigration programs under new budget

The Star has reported:

The immigration department’s budget will be axed by $29.8 million or 5.3 per cent in 2012, followed by further cuts of $65.2 million and $84.3 in the next two years.

Cuts are expected in both the department’s operating budgets and settlement program funding. Ottawa has reduced immigrant settlement program funding since 2010, $75 million from Ontario alone.

Kenney swings the ax - Skilled Worker backlog eliminated

Harper's hatchet-man, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney

In what has to be a slap in the face to 200,000 people all over the world who hoped to come to Canada as Skilled Workers, Jason Kenney and the Harper Government have with one swipe of the pen, eliminated the Skilled Worker backlog of immigration applicants.

Here's the news from The Star:

The federal government is wiping out a waiting list of more than 200,000 foreign workers and returning the $130 million they paid in processing fees as it begins an ambitious overhaul of the country’s immigration system.

Hopeful immigrants who applied before Feb. 27, 2008, to come to Canada as skilled workers will have their fees returned and be told to apply again under new programs that put greater emphasis on their work skills.

The news has already created shockwaves among immigration lawyers and consultants, who anticipated myriad legal actions against the government.

“It is another example of the lack of integrity and shortsightedness of this government,” said Toronto lawyer Tim Leahy, who filed a class action lawsuit earlier this year on behalf of more than 300 immigration applicants over delayed processing.

“What does it say about the integrity of Canada? We can refund the processing fee, but how are you going to refund six years of lives of these applicants?”

Calling the plan “unprecedented,” lawyer Robin Seligman said the government should have first stopped the intake to clear the backlog. Prospective migrants might now think twice before applying to Canada, she added. “How can you trust this government?”

The drastic move is meant to eliminate a backlog that means skilled workers have had to wait upwards of eight years to get into Canada.

Read the rest of the article here

Thursday, March 29, 2012

CBC - Brian Stewart: Europe's job exodus, Canada's immigration shift

There is one part of Europe's economic suffering at least that suits Ottawa and the provinces just fine.

The high unemployment among the continent's skilled trade workers has opened a motherlode of tens of thousands of prized immigrants of exactly the type Ottawa now wants to encourage — young, well-educated and fluent in either English or French.

Read the rest of Brian Stewart's piece on the CBC web site

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Star - Canadian citizenship rejections have more than doubled since 2006

The refusal rate of new citizens has more than doubled from 2006 to 2010, when Ottawa raised the pass mark of the citizenship test. 

According to federal statistics obtained by the Star, the rejection rate went up from 1.4 per cent to 3.5 per cent in the five-year period. In 2006, 3,872 people — or 1.4 per cent of those applying for citizenship — were denied. 

In March 2010, the federal government launched a new test and raised the passing mark from 60 per cent to 75 per cent. Subsequently, 5,351 — or 3.5 per cent of the applicants — were turned down. 

Read the full article at The Star online

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Winter? What Winter?

Just a few weeks back it seems, I was starting to enjoy the cold that Canada has to offer a new immigrant. I have my gear; I'm ready for it. I was excited to be out with the cold sucking the breath from me as I walked through the city, dodging ice sickles as they fell from the skyscrapers, watch the ice form on Toronto's inner harbour, go skating at the Natrel rink - the whole nine yards.

But Winter never really set in here. And then I was off in the States for a month. And now that I am back, just a week until Springtime - it's going to be 18C today! My old home in Seattle has seen more snow than Toronto this year. Needless to say, I can't really claim to have experienced my first "real" Canadian Winter.

The weather office is already making noise that Summer may be hotter and muggier than ever - that's something I HAVE experienced, and I can't say I'm anxious for it, though I love Summertime.

I was simply really excited for a brutal Winter. Oh well, maybe next year.