Changes to the Quebec Skilled Worker Program were implemented on October 14, 2009. Primarily, the change reduces the pass mark for immigration. Independent applicants now only need to score 55 points as opposed to the prior 59 in order to immigrate. For individuals submitting applications as a couple, the pass mark has been lowered from 68 to 63.
The new points system favors applicants under the age of 35, and, in keeping with Canada’s trades-focused industry growth, Quebec now accepts post-secondary graduates holding technical and trades certificates or applicants with university diplomas of only one or two years duration. The province of Quebec has also changed its preferred training categories, ensuring that individuals with training experience in specific areas secure more points and, in certain instances, benefit from expedited processing. These changes ensure that many applicants who previously did not qualify for immigration will now be admitted to Canada.
Individuals who submitted their applications prior to the October 14, 2009 changes will be assessed under both prior and current criteria, and will be approved if they qualify under either one of the two systems. Persons who submit their applications after October 14, 2009, will be assessed under the new criteria only. Contact one of the Canadian immigration lawyers at PricewaterhouseCoopers Immigration Law LLP to find out whether you qualify under the Quebec Skilled Worker Program or any other program for immigration to Canada.
USCIS announced on November 18, 2009 that approximately 55,600 H-1B cap-subject petitions had been filed. The Service also announced that it had received sufficient H-1B petitions for the advanced degree exemption of 20,000, and that any advanced degree petitions will now count toward the general H-1B cap of 65,000.
Last week, the Minister for Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism introduced a new study guide for recent immigrants seeking to apply for citizenship. This study guide, titled “Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship”, is designed to provide prospective citizens with all you need to know about Canada.
In addition to highlighting the history of Canada, the institutions which form Canadian government, and the contribution of ethnic and cultural communities in shaping Canada’s identity, the Guide also focuses on Canada’s cultural symbols, from the beaver to ice hockey.
With the first fully comprehensive study guide since 1995, Discover Canada is expected to assist many prospective Canadians as they prepare for the citizenship exmaniation. All prospective citizens are required to complete a written test or interview to demonstrate that they possess an adequate knowledge of the country, as well as the rights and responsibilities that come with holding Canadian citizenship.
CIC has advised that Citizenship applicants who are scheduled for a test or an interview before the end of February 2010 should read the old study guide, A Look at Canada, which will continue to be available on the CIC website. Those who take the test, or who have an interview in March 2010 or later, should study Discover Canada.
The new Guide can be found at http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/publications/discover/index.asp.
Many of us have heard the horror stories. Boy meets Girl. Boy marries Girl. Boy sponsors Girl (or vice versa). What should be a fairy tale story does not always end up as romantically as hoped, however, and in some instances (though they may be rare), Canadians who have sponsored their loved ones are left in a lurch – loved one gone and the government chasing after them for money run up by the disappearing spouse.
According to Canada’s current immigration laws, Canadian citizens and permanent residents who sponsor a family member are financially responsible for that family for a minimum of 3 years after they obtain permanent residence. This has meant that if the sponsored family member later seeks government funding or assistance, the sponsor must then pay the government – regardless of circumstances or whether the relationship is still intact.
Since 2004, the requirement for sponsors to pay for the debts of sponsored family members has been very strictly enforced. The result? Thousands of individuals being required to pay tens of millions of dollars to the government. This practice, however, is soon to change.
On November 12th, 2009, the Ontario Court of Appeal released a judgement ordering governments to stop automatically charging individuals for social assistance debts run up by family members who they had sponsored as immigrants. Regarding the current practice to be “unfair”, the Court mandated that such situations should be considered on a case-by-case basis, affording the sponsor an opportunity to explain why they should not have to pay.
This is a landmark decision on the subject of sponsorship undertakings, and will provide many individuals who have been caught by exceptional circumstances a right to explain their situation.
Many Canadian visa posts around the world require a temporary resident visa applicant to provide personal information belonging to their Canadian host, either as part of the standard list of supporting documents accompanying a temporary resident visa application, or on a case by case basis. Examples of personal information requested include income tax notices of assessment, pay and bank account statements, and statements of shelter costs such as mortgage or rent information.
Citizenship and Immigration has reviewed this policy, and in keeping with the provisions for the collection of personal information established under Section 5 of the Privacy Act, the guidelines below have been established.
Any written or oral information for the public must now reflect that persons in Canada hosting foreign nationals may provide personal information on a purely voluntary basis. The provision of the host’s personal information through the applicant must not be mandatory.
A temporary resident visa application will not be refused just because the host’s personal information is not provided with the application. The visa officer will assess the application on the basis of the adequacy of the applicant’s financial resources and make a determination accordingly.
These changes must be put into effect no later than November 6, 2009.
The effect of this change remains to be seen at visa posts. Please contact PricewaterhouseCoopers Immigration Law LLP if you have any questions on how these changes will effect your Canadian visa application.