Fast Track Option suspended for BC Business PNP Program

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Starting from 15 November 2012, the BC Provincial Nominee Program office announced the immediate suspension of the Fast Track Nomination Option in the Business Immigration Stream pending their review.

To understand the impact of this suspension, it is necessary to understand the flow of a typical case under the Business Immigration Stream.

Stage 1: PNP selection
After an application has been submitted to the BC PNP office under the Business Immigration Stream, it can take several months before the applicant goes for an interview and have the application finally approved by the BC PNP office.

Once the application is approved, the applicant will be asked to sign a Performance Agreement, and will then receive a Letter of Confirmation of selection as a Provincial Nominee Candidate which will then entitle the applicant to obtain a 2 year work permit to implement the business according to the Performance Agreement.

Stage 2: Establishing the business
Once coming to BC, the applicant would start up the business, submit monitoring reports every 3 to 6 months to the BC PNP office, which would sometimes visit the business to ensure that it was proceeding as per the Performance Agreement.

Once the applicant has met the obligations under the Performance Agreement, the BC PNP office will issue a nomination certificate and the applicant will then be entitled to apply for permanent residence (“PR”) to the Federal government.

Stage 3: PR application
PR applications are initially filed with the Centralized Intake Office in Sydney, Nova Scotia, before being forwarded to the visa office responsible for the applicant for processing.

Depending on the particular visa office, it may take as short as 5 months, or as long as 35 months for the PR application to be processed.

Fast Track option

Under the Fast Track option, business applicants who have passed Stage 1 could skip to Stage 3 once they arrived in B.C. if they posted a $125,000 performance bond with the Province. This would allow the applicant to apply for Permanent Residence at the same time that the business is being established (as per Stage 2), saving as much as 2 years of processing time.

The bond is returned without interest to Fast Track nominees when they fulfil their PNP performance agreement (that is, Stage 2) but is forfeited to the Province if they fail to meet their performance obligations.

The BC PNP was likely concerned about applicants who had no intention of really establishing businesses in BC, who just wanted to “buy” their status in Canada for $125,000. We will keep you posted as to new developments!


Visa Opportunities for Foreign Entrepreneurs

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Years ago, on my first day in the Commerce faculty at the University of British Columbia, the Professor asked the class, “What is the Canadian definition of an Entrepreneur?” Students came up with different definitions; however, the Professor said, “No, you’re all wrong! The Canadian definition of an Entrepreneur is the first man in line for a subsidy!”

Well, Canadian or not, there are a number of different ways for foreign businesspeople to establish businesses in Canada. The NAFTA and other Free Trade Agreements allow citizens of the USA, Mexico, Peru, Columbia and other countries to make a “substantial investment” into a business in Canada and obtain work permits to work in those businesses. The businessperson could start up a new business, or buy over a controlling interest in an existing one. While there is no minimum investment specified, we have assisted clients with investments as little as $60,000. They can also apply for Permanent Residence status while they are working in Canada.

Other options are under “Provincial Nominee” programs, where a province will select immigrants on the basis of investment and jobs created in their provinces. Under the BC PNP, for example, foreign nationals can invest as little as $200,000 into a qualifying business, creating at least 1 job, and obtain a work permit and permanent residence to Canada.

Currently, Canada immigration is also considering a new “Start Up Visa” program, which will allow foreigners with bright ideas and skills, but not necessarily a lot of money, to come to Canada to establish a business with the backing of Canadian Venture Capitalists. Announced by Immigration Minister Jason Kenney with Kevin O’Leary of “Dragon’s Den” fame, this program is anticipated to commence in early 2013.

These are just some of the ways for foreign businesspeople to establish businesses in Canada, and obtain work permits and permanent residence. For more information, please contact Jeffrey S. Lowe, or go to our website at www.CanadaVisaLaw.com .


New Canadian Experience Class Rules to reduce Work Experience required

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On August 18, 2012, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) published proposed changes to the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) program which will come into force on January 1, 2013.

The Canadian work experience requirement for skilled workers would be reduced from the current 24 months to 12 in the preceding 36 months, to allow faster transition for those who have already proven their employability in Canada’s labour market. Only applicants with experience in occupations classified as NOC 0, A or B in the National Occupation Classification system would qualify for the CEC.

It has also been proposed that a minimum language threshold be required in each of the four abilities for applicants to the CEC, ie reading, writing, oral comprehension and speaking.

LIMITED AVAILABILITY

In 2011, there were over 500,000 foreign students and temporary foreign workers in Canada, some of whom may be eligible to apply under the CEC which has streams for students and workers.   However, the quota allocated to the CEC in 2012 was only 3,800 cases, which represents only about 0.76% of the possible pool of foreign students and workers!

If you may will be eligible under the proposed changes to the CEC, we would advise you to contact us for a consultation to review your case, so that you could be “application ready” by the time the regulations come into force on January 1, 2013. We can advise you on things to prepare, including:

  1. Taking your language proficiency exams;
  2. Preparing letters from your employers confirming that you have the requisite work experience;
  3. Collating your identity and status documents, and having them translated, if necessary.

Act now and consult with us so that you can secure one of the spots once the changes are implemented.