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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.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Canadian Press - Tories tout lower immigration queue

OTTAWA — The Harper government says it has reduced Canada’s immigration backlog by 40 per cent.

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says the total wait list at the end of 2012 was down to 616,271 from more than a million the year before.

Kenney says there would have been more than two million people stuck in the queue by 2015 had the government not taken steps to deal with the problem.

Those measures include a moratorium on applications from immigrant investors and entrepreneurs, as well as parents and grandparents of immigrants.

However, the government plans to resume accepting a set number of applications under the family reunification program early next year, Kenney said.

“We will re-open that program for a limited number of new applications based on the new criteria in January of 2014 — I stress a limited number of new applications, to avoid an explosion of the backlog again,” Kenney said.

Next month, the federal government will also launch a new program aimed at luring start-up companies and entrepreneurs to Canada.

The government will grant a maximum of 2,750 visas a year for each of the five years of the pilot program. The program replaces two older immigration programs aimed at would-be business owners, which were put on hold after the government decided they weren’t luring enough real business to Canada.

The average time it takes for applications to be processed has also fallen, Kenney said.

“Behind every one of those numbers lies a human life, someone who has the hope and expectation of coming to Canada,” Kenney said Tuesday in Mississauga, Ont.

“We were doing wrong by them and wrong for Canada by making people wait for eight of nine years, and it would be even more wrong to force them to wait for 15 or 18 years, which is where we were headed in many of our immigration programs.”

Kenney dismissed suggestions that simply accepting more immigrants would reduce the backlog.

He says doing so would still leave more than a million people in the queue by 2015.

“Increasing the immigration targets, increasing the number of people admitted, would not have been a solution to the large and growing backlogs and wait times,” Kenney said.

“In fact, they would have continued to deteriorate without our government bringing in the action plan for faster immigration and controls on new applications.”

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

CIC Notice – Change to Offers of Arranged Employment in the Federal Skilled Worker Program

Here's a notice from the CIC - keep track of the acronyms if you can...

On December 19, 2012, the Government of Canada published regulations that will change the way Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) processes offers of arranged employment for the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP).

Currently, employers seek an Arranged Employment Opinion (AEO) from HRSDC when they wish to hire a foreign national on a permanent, full-time basis and support their employee’s application for permanent residence through the FSWP.

Starting on May 4, 2013, most offers of arranged employment will require a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) from HRSDC in support of an FSWP application, instead of an AEO.

LMOs are currently used in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, as employers often must apply for authorization from HRSDC before hiring temporary foreign workers.

LMOs assess whether there are Canadians or permanent residents available to do the job. This will not change.

Employers will be able to use a single application for an LMO, whether it is being used to support the issuance of a temporary work permit or a permanent resident visa.

AEO letters provided by HRSDC to employers under existing regulations will no longer be accepted by CIC if the FSWP application is received on or after May 4, 2013.

Read the rest here

Monday, March 25, 2013

Border Security - propaganda programming

The Harper Government is tough on crime. The Harper Government protects the Canadian border. Are you really trying to bring Washington apples into Vancouver? We're going to take you down. Hard!

That's the message sent by Border Security, a new ambush-style reality show on The National Geographic Channel.

But really - are Canada's border issues so dramatic to be worthy of a reality show?

CTV News notes:

Descriptions for 13 episodes of Border Security: Canada's Front Line on the National Geographic channel include "Officers wonder why a Korean tourist would bring his CV and school diplomas on a vacation," and "An injured American may be too ill to enter Canada."

Some episodes in the series have already aired and the National Geographic website promotes the program by saying: Border Security, the show that will make you think twice the next time you considering hiding anything in your luggage.

Joshua Labove, a PhD candidate at Simon Fraser University who specializes in border issues, said the reality show is incredibly exploitative.

"You're saying to someone 'Hello, I am here to legally remove you from the country but would you mind signing this release so I can show your face on Canadian television?"'

Labove said the program is particularly problematic because it creates complicated and blurry lines between entertainment, information and typical government works.

"All of this just serves to remind people that CBSA has a very large mandate and a very large mission away from the border," he said, adding that the fact that the show is modeled after an Australian program -- Border Security: Australia's Front Line -- is worrisome.

"Australia is a country that has had a long history of deportation and immigration raids and inland enforcement. I'm not necessarily sure that's the kind of society Canadians want."

Read more here

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The rights of dual citizens in Canada

Now that I am a permanent resident of Canada, the next step in my journey, abet, another year down the line, is to apply for citizenship. To start, at least, I anticipate being a dual citizen of both Canada and the United States.

In Canada, according to the CIC web site, a person may have several citizenships at the same time. For example, a person who was born in a country other than Canada, who applies for citizenship and is naturalized in Canada, and then naturalized in a third country may be a citizen of all three countries. 

Dual citizenship may carry with it certain benefits, but it may also bring unexpected difficulties: legal proceedings, taxation and financial responsibilities, military service, denial of emigration, even imprisonment for failure to comply with obligations in one of your countries of citizenship.

On becoming a Canadian citizen, certain rights and responsibilities are inherited. They include:
  • Freedom of conscience and religion
  • Freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of speech and of the press
  • Freedom of peaceful assembly
  • Freedom of association
Under the 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canadian citizens are guaranteed:
  • Mobility Rights — Canadians can live and work anywhere they choose in Canada, enter and leave the country freely, and apply for a passport.
  • Aboriginal Peoples’ Rights — The rights guaranteed in the Charter will not adversely affect any treaty or other rights or freedoms of Aboriginal peoples.
  • Official Language Rights and Minority Language Educational Rights — French and English have equal status in Parliament and throughout the government.
  • Multiculturalism — A fundamental characteristic of the Canadian heritage and identity. Canadians celebrate the gift of one another’s presence and work hard to respect pluralism and live in harmony.
In Canada, rights come with responsibilities. These include:
  • Obeying the law — One of Canada’s founding principles is the rule of law. Individuals and governments are regulated by laws and not by arbitrary actions. No person or group is above the law.
  • Taking responsibility for oneself and one’s family — Getting a job, taking care of one’s family and working hard in keeping with one’s abilities are important Canadian values. Work contributes to personal dignity and self-respect, and to Canada’s prosperity.
  • Serving on a jury — When called to do so, you are legally required to serve. Serving on a jury is a privilege that makes the justice system work as it depends on impartial juries made up of citizens.
  • Voting in elections — The right to vote comes with a responsibility to vote in federal, provincial or territorial and local elections.
  • Helping others in the community — Millions of volunteers freely donate their time to help others without pay—helping people in need, assisting at your child’s school, volunteering at a food bank or other charity, or encouraging newcomers to integrate. Volunteering is an excellent way to gain useful skills and develop friends and contacts.
  • Protecting and enjoying our heritage and environment — Every citizen has a role to play in avoiding waste and pollution while protecting Canada’s natural, cultural and architectural heritage for future generations.
Currently, dual citizens have all the rights of Canadian-born citizens. Citizenship cannot be revoked, though it can be renounced by the citizen via a formal process.

In future posts, I'll discuss a threat to dual citizens posed by the Harper Government, which proposes to create two classes of Canadian citizens - natural and foreign-born.

If you're a permanent resident of Canada, I want to encourage you to learn about becoming a citizen. I've been taking mock tests for years, myself!

Start your journey to Canadian citizenship here

Friday, March 15, 2013

Keep looking up

Be a tourist, no matter where you are.
It is said you can always tell who is a tourist and who is a local by the fact that tourists are always looking up and all around at all the new sights, while locals, used to their environment, keep their heads down on their way to their destinations. I think that is a pretty accurate truism.

But I also try to go against that tide every chance I get. Being a tourist in your hometown is simply good for your spirit and I have to believe for others as well. When I hold my head up and look around, I remind myself of why I fell in love with Toronto. If I hadn't looked up while I was here in the past, I wouldn't have had the deep well of memories of the city that sustained me when I was in my immigration struggle. The fact is, if I hadn't always looked up in Seattle, I wouldn't have the memories I have now that help combat homesickness as I adjust to living in Canada.

When you hold your head up, you can see so much; the variety of architecture, the cafe where that fresh bread smell is coming from, the queue at every Tim Hortons, the faces of your neighbours, the clouds rushing by, the sun reflecting off an office tower, the new construction, the ads for upcoming community events. You'd miss a lot if you kept your head down. I don't want to miss a thing.

If you are new to Canada, you're going to look up naturally at first - just a like a tourist; it's how you learn about your new home. I want to encourage you to never stop looking up - it's the surest way to connect completely with your new home. A year and a half in and I find myself wanting to put my head down like a local - but I pull it back up, and I'm always glad that I do.

If you are still waiting to come to Canada, I also want to encourage you to lift your head and look around as you go about your day. Fill you mind and heart with your original home - believe me, it will help to sustain you.

Keep looking up and you'll always be connected to where you live.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Asian Pacific Post - Honest counts in immigration process

There is perhaps no immigration issue more challenging to grapple with than misrepresentation.

When people ask what is the most serious immigration infraction, they expect to hear “working illegally, living underground without status, or being deported”.

But actually it is the consequences for misrepresentation.

The Immigration Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) sets out the criteria for misrepresentation as well as the penalties which are significant and can include loss of status, permanent separation from family members, fines and even jail time.

Furthermore the trend in the past few years for Canada Immigration is a zero tolerance policy towards misrepresentation with penalties likely to increase.

If you or somebody acting on your behalf directly or indirectly submits false information, false documents, or misrepresents facts relating to any aspect of your application, your application may be refused, you can become ineligible to submit an application for any immigration process for a period of 2 years and a permanent resident can lose their permanent resident status after the fact for finding of a misrepresentation.

Read the rest of the article here

Thursday, March 07, 2013

R.I.P. Stompin' Tom Connors

Stompin' Tom Connors
Over a decade ago, when I was first really learning about Canadian culture (outside of the high-level stereotypes that we were exposed to in the U.S.), I explored the popular music of this country. And almost immediately, I discovered Stompin' Tom Connors. I have never heard anything like Stompin' Tom: the man had an uncanny ability to make the simplest of melodies memorable, yet the songs were by no means simple, and all were sung with a voice as craggy as the pre-Cambrian landscapes of the Group of Seven. Like the best folk music, they wrapped circles within circles around themselves, and the stories he sang of uniquely Canadian characters were both entertaining and revealing.

Tom got his nickname from his habit of stomping the heel of his left boot to keep rhythm. Famously, he stomped his way through a plywood board during his performances, ending them by lifting the board to the audience and letting the sawdust he had created from it fall like snow.

Stompin' Tom Connors will probably always be best known in Canada for one song - "The Hockey Song", but he is dear to my heart for so many others too.

The kind of man Tom was is communicated in this final letter to his fans:

Hello friends, I want all my fans, past, present, or future, to know that without you, there would have not been any Stompin' Tom."

"It was a long hard bumpy road, but this great country kept me inspired with it's beauty, character, and spirit, driving me to keep marching on and devoted to sing about its people and places that make Canada the greatest country in the world."

"I must now pass the torch, to all of you, to help keep the Maple Leaf flying high, and be the Patriot Canada needs now and in the future."

"I humbly thank you all, one last time, for allowing me in your homes, I hope I continue to bring a little bit of cheer into your lives from the work I have done.


Your Friend always,

Stompin' Tom Connors 

Learn about Stompin' Tom Connors, and you'll learn a little more about Canada. He was a true Canadian character and artist, and he will be sorely missed.

Read more about Stompin' Tom on The Globe and Mail

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

News Release — Canada Continued to Welcome Highest Sustained Level of Immigration in Canadian History in 2012

Ottawa, February 27, 2013 — For the seventh consecutive year, Canada continued the highest sustained level of immigration in Canadian history, according to preliminary 2012 data released today by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Canada welcomed 257,515 permanent residents in 2012, well within the Government’s planning range of 240,000 to 265,000 new permanent residents for the year. Each year since 2006, Canada has admitted an average of about a quarter of a million immigrants.

“Canada has been welcoming not only the highest sustained level of immigrants in Canadian history, we also have, on a per-capita basis, among the highest immigration rates in the world,” said Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney. “Immigration is a key part of the government’s plan to grow our economy, spur job creation, and ensure long-term prosperity for all Canadians.”

Over the seven years from 2006 to 2012, Canada averaged approximately 30,250 more admissions per year than in the decade previous, from 1996 to 2005.

“The government is continuing to move toward a modern and effective immigration system that attract the skilled immigrants that Canada’s economy requires,” said Minister Kenney. “This new fast and flexible system will respond more effectively to Canada’s labour market needs, support family reunification, and provide protection to genuine refugees.”