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Wednesday, December 07, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Read the article here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

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

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

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

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

Read the entire article here  

Thursday, August 25, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Read the entire Globe and Mail article here

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

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

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

From CIC News (subscribe yourself here)

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

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

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

Read the rest here

Monday, June 06, 2016

Renewing a Permanent Residence Card

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Online resources:

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

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

Michelle Zilio and Simona Chiose report:

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the rest at The Globe and Mail

Thursday, February 25, 2016

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

Read the entire article here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Great news! Liberals to repeal Bill C-24 on citizenship: Immigration Minister (G&M)

The Globe and Mail reports (entire article):

Immigration Minister John McCallum says the government will announce significant changes to the Citizenship Act in the coming days.

Mr. McCallum said Tuesday that the Liberals will soon follow through on their election pledge to repeal the Conservatives’ controversial Bill C-24, which gave the government the power to revoke Canadian citizenship from dual citizens convicted of terrorism, treason or espionage.

Asked when the changes will be unveiled, Mr. McCallum told The Globe and Mail to expect an announcement “in coming days, but not very many days.”

During last year’s election campaign, the Liberal platform committed to “repeal the unfair elements of Bill C-24 that create second-class citizens and the elements that make it more difficult for hard-working immigrants to become Canadian citizens.”

Mr. McCallum said the government’s announcement will make it impossible to revoke citizenship.

“A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian,” Mr. McCallum said, repeating a line used by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a heated election debate last September. “We would not revoke people’s citizenship. … That will certainly be a part of it [the announcement],” the Immigration Minister added.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Uncle Sam is a greedy leech

I have lived in Canada for over four years. I do not collect any benefits from my former country, The United States. The only things in my life that have meaning in association with it are I pay taxes and vote.

The US must tie these two acts together - taxes and the right to vote - because the country was founded on the concept that taxation without representation was evil. That's why they split from Great Britain. But I would argue that I have no voice in American politics. My issues do not matter to politicians. My home state of Washington is not busy insuring that expats from their state are treated fairly.

But the US wants to tax whatever they consider revenue that I make here in Canada, even if Canada doesn't consider it revenue. That means tax-free savings, retirement paid into Canadian retirement plans and any gains made on property. And what the US may tax in the future from expats is not fixed. It can change in an instant. As of this year, they are forcing Canadian banks to report on US citizen accounts so they can be sure they are getting everything they want.

I am taxed, but I am NOT represented. The US, unlike any other "free" nation in the world taxes you for life as long as you are a citizen. And they also make renouncing that citizenship expensive, time consuming and perilous.

The basic fee to apply to get rid of the burden of citizenship in the US is over $2,000. The wait time can be over 10-months. The exit fees include paying estimated taxes on future earnings. And they will estimate that those are, by the way.

They threaten that it may be harder to enter the country once you give up your citizenship. Like, who would do that kind of thing? Give up US citizenship? It makes them suspicious. You must be a threat now. We have to think twice about letting you in.

Frankly, it's nothing but a cash grab by those powerless to fight against it. When I become a Canadian citizen, I will have to revisit whether it makes sense to retain my citizenship. The only long term benefit will be social security. But I'm sure they'll tax that to the point of uselessness too.

The greedy leech keeps sucking.  

Read the Globe and Mail article about the issue here 

Thursday, January 21, 2016 - 1.5 million members can't be wrong

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Visit today and become a member. It's easy.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Should I stay or should I go?

I'm in the doldrums. There are months to go before I apply for citizenship and all I can do is wait and study for the exam. I have been careful not to travel out of the country because that will delay the date when I have reached my four-years, but it's hard. I have family in the States and they want to see me and it's hard for them to understand. I'm thinking maybe I'll push my application date back a few more weeks and see them in the springtime instead of making them wait until May.

These are the decisions you have to make as an immigrant awaiting citizenship. The government has its requirements. You have to meet them. The first litmus test is have four-years worth of days in Canada. It was only three years a short time ago, but I have Harper to thank for pushing me and many others back. He was big on talk, then big on delaying tactics for immigration and citizenship opportunities.

I'll continue to get things in order for the application date and try not to sweat a few extra weeks delay. It will mean a lot to my family to see me. That's actually more important.