Why do I need a Lawyer?

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I am frequently asked this question by potential clients.

In fact, the CIC website states that you don’t need to hire an immigration representative, and that you can get all the forms and information that you need for free on their website. “If you follow the instructions in the application guide, you should be able to fill out the forms and submit them on your own”, so goes CIC on their website.

Well, Ms. Ni Mingjue found out the tough way why hiring an immigration lawyer to handle her application would have saved her a lot of time, money, and problems.

Ms. Ni graduated from the University of Western Ontario with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in June 2012. Between June and August 2012, she encountered numerous problems and difficulties making an online application for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), including making the fee payment.

She called the CIC Call Centre, and was advised to mail in her fee receipt. Unfortunately, CIC rejected her application in September 2012 as it does not recognise an online filing followed by mailing the fee receipt.

On the advice of the CIC Call Centre again, Ms. Ni applied to restore her status and for the PGWP in October 2012. It wasn’t until May 2013 when she received a letter from CIC dated 24 April 2013 refusing her application because she had failed to apply for the PGWP within 90 days of graduation.

On the application for Judicial Review (this time with the assistance of a lawyer) which was only heard on 21 July 2014, the Federal Court quashed the immigration officer’s decision and referred it back for re-determination.

What would have been a fairly simple procedure to extend her status in Canada on graduation in June 2012 on a PGWP turned out to be a long drawn process with the Federal Court making its decision only in July 2014.

This is a good example of why you need to hire an immigration lawyer in the first place.


Last Chance for Dependent Children Over 18 Years of Age – Deadline of August 1, 2014

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What does it mean to be a “Dependent Child” under Canada’s immigration laws?  On August 1, 2014, the definition of Dependent Child will be changing significantly and this will likely affect many potential applicants seeking permanent residence in Canada.

Currently, a biological or adopted child is considered a Dependent Child if he or she meets the following criteria at the time that the parents’ permanent residence application is submitted:

  1. is less than 22 years old and unmarried and not in a common law relationship; or
  1. has depended substantially on the financial support of the parent since before the age of 22 or since becoming a spouse or common-law partner and has been a student
    • continuously enrolled in and attending a post-secondary institution that is accredited by the relevant government authority, and
    • actively pursuing a course of academic, professional or vocational training on a full-time basis, or
  1. is 22 years of age or older and has depended substantially on the financial support of the parent since before the age of 22 and is unable to be financially self-supporting due to a physical or mental condition.

Section 2 of the Immigration & Refugee Protection Regulations (“IRPR“).

 

On August 1, 2014, a biological or adopted child will only be considered a Dependent Child if, at the time that the parents’ permanent residence application is submitted, he or she:

  1. is less than 19 years old and is unmarried and not in a common law relationship; or
  1. is 19 years of age or older and has dependent substantially on the financial support of the parent since before the age of 19 and is unable to be financially self-supporting due to a physical or mental condition.

Canada Gazette, Vol. 148, No. 13 – June 18, 2014

In addition to the lowering of the maximum age for Dependent Child status, a key change is the removal of the exemption for older children who have been studying full time at a post-secondary institution.  This marks yet another significant change in a slew of changes to Canada’s laws affecting foreign nationals in Canada this year.

Transitional provisions will be included with the changes to the regulations.  Generally speaking, a person 19 years old or older may be considered a Dependent Child according to the current definition if:

  1. his or her parent submits a complete permanent residence application before August 1, 2014; or
  1. for provincial nominee (PNP) applicants, his or her parent submits a complete PNP application before August 1, 2014 and a nomination certificate is eventually issued.

Ultimately, this change highlights the need for permanent residence applicants to submit their applications before August 1, 2014 if they want to be able to include their children who are 19 years of age or older as Dependent Children.


Changes to Canada’s Foreign Worker System – The “International Mobility Program”

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On June 20, 2014, the Hon. Jason Kenney (Employment and Social Development) and Chris Alexander (Citizenship & Immigration Canada) announced significant changes affecting foreign workers in Canada.  There will now be 2 general classes of work permits: those where a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA”) will be required and that that will not require a LMIA.  The latter will be under the “International Mobility Program” (“IMP”) and will include NAFTA work permits, International Experience Canada work permits, intra-company transferees and others.

Here are some of the key changes for work permits under the international mobility program:

  1. New Process for Employer-Specific Work Permit Applications:  Employers hiring through the IMP will be required to submit job offers and other relevant information to CIC before the foreign national can apply for a work permit.  This will effectively create a pre-screening process.
  1. Inspections for LMIA-exempt Work Permit Holders: A robust compliance system will be put in place to monitor employers.  Inspections could lead to penalties being levied against employers who are not following the rules, as well as bans from hiring foreign nationals and even criminal investigation.
  1. Application Fee Raised to $230:  A $230 application fee per work permit will be introduced where the work permit is employer specific and LMIA-exempt.
  1. Privilege Fee for Open Work Permit Holders:  A $100 “privilege fee” will be introduced for foreign workers applying for open work permits.
  1. Specific LMIA-exempt Streams to be Revised:  Revisions to the International Experience Canada stream are expected in addition to changes to the intra-company transferee stream which took effect June 9, 2014.

Although some of these changes are not expected until Summer 2015, employers and foreign nationals looking to work in Canada will need to consider how these changes will affect their long term plans.

It is more important than ever to obtain professional advice when hiring foreign workers.  At Lowe & Company, we have helped employers bring in foreign workers for over 20 years.  If you would like to see how these changes apply to your business, please contact Mr. Rick Che in client services to arrange a consultation with one of our professional advisors.