Health Care for Int’l Students

The Manitoba government recently announced that they are planning to repeal Health Care benefits for international students. Here at Clarke Immigration Law, we fundamentally disagree with this decision and urge Premier Pallister and his cabinet to reconsider this decision.

International Students Benefit Everyone

Our former Minister of Immigration and former profession at the University of Manitoba, John McCallum gave the keynote speech at the national CBA conference for immigration lawyers across Canada in 2016. During that speech, he highlighted the importance of supporting international students. These are highly skilled individuals who have been vetted by our learning institutions and they pay more in tuition for the privilege of studying in Canadian schools. These students, some of the brightest minds in the world, then seek to establish themselves and, possibly, their families in Canada.

Health Care

The Canadian health care system is arguably the best in the world. Doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, health care aides and many other professionals ensure that we receive the best services available. US media just had a field day when Canadian doctors protested that they are being paid too much. Presumably, this would be very unlikely south of the border.

International students are savvy. They look at schools in Manitoba and compare them with schools elsewhere. One of the benefits of coming to our province is the health care benefits. To attract these students, we need to ensure that they know they will be taken care of during their studies.

Long Term Policies

I fundamentally believe that maintaining health care benefits for international students is in the long-term interest of Manitoba. These students spend their summers working and their winters studying. They become settled in the province and they become connected to their communities. With the time that they spend developing their relationships, both personal and professional, they deepen their ties to this province. Keeping talent is in the best interest for the future.

Small Savings for Big Sacrifice

Let’s be honest. Cutting health care for international students is going to save very little on the bottom line. For the most part, these are young individuals with minor health issues. They have already been vetted before coming to Canada. This type of cost-cutting shows a short term perspective. The sacrifice to the province will be significant if international students decide to go elsewhere with their tuition dollars.

We urge the Manitoba government to reconsider this decision. This change in policy is not in the best interests of Manitoba.

 

$1000 Fee Waived for Nannies

In June 2014, the Labour Market Opinion (LMO) was replaced by the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) and employers and families have been very critical of the new system. One of the major criticisms was the fee for families who needed an LMIA in order to hire nannies or caregivers for their children or family members. This has been particularly hard for the Filipino community.

The Liberal government recently announced that families who require caregivers may now qualify for a waiver to the $1000.00 CAD LMIA fee. This means that they do not have to pay the government fee for the application and it will be easier for them to go through the process.

This announcement is beneficial for families and the caregivers themselves. The $1000 LMIA processing fee has been problematic on many fronts and it has caused corruption in the system. Nannies who need jobs were put in a position of offering or negotiating with potential employers on how to pay the $1000 fee or get around it. By law, the employers must pay the government fee and the nanny cannot be required compensate their employers afterward.

Qualifying Families

To qualify for the $1000 waiver, the family that requires the nanny must earn less than $150.000.00 in household income. These families may apply to have a caregiver come and take care of a family member who has physical or mental conditions that require assistance.

How Many Nannies?

Based on the government report, the $1000 waiver may apply to many families in Canada who require assistance.

Data published Wednesday suggested the government expects the changes to benefit 3,357 applicants per year who meet the income threshold, and a further 827 households who hire caregivers for those with physical or mental disabilities.

As noted by the Ottawa Citizen, this program could be very beneficial.

LMIA Applications for Nannies

If you require assistance for child care providers, live-in caregiver or nannies (NOC 4411), please contact our office for assistance. 

IRB Wait Times

Based on the backlog at the tribunal, our clients have experienced significant wait times for their hearings to be heard and decided. The IRB has been overwhelmed by new cases. This has been well reported in the news. Currently, most cases at the IRB are being postponed for “administrative reasons”. Please note that this does not put the case at risk and counsel do not have the power to set new hearing dates. Where an applicant or claimant has an urgent situation, counsel can make a request to the IRB for consideration.IRB Wait Times

Global News was in our office reporting on this issue. In case you missed it, here is a link to the story.

A reporter from Global, Timm Bruch visited our office to get more information about the wait times at the IRB. Here is an excerpt from his story:

The number of asylum seekers in Manitoba waiting to hear if they can stay in their new homes is going up.

According to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, 40,000 asylum seekers are currently backlogged to have their refugee claims heard.

The number has skyrocketed in recent years due to federal funding, staff limitations, and an intense influx of those coming to Canada through non-border crossings in recent years.

Based on our numbers, this is a very serious issue and we are working with staff at the IRB.

Clarke said Tuesday many of his clients are feeling anxious due to the uncertainty the delay brings.

“While he’s waiting and doesn’t know what’s going on, he’s worried about what might happen,” Clarke said. “He’s worried he might have to go back, he’s worried about his family in his home country.”

24,000 claims are processed each year — up from 20,000 previously — but the Immigration and Refugee Board said on Tuesday that it’s just not enough.

The winter months in 2016 brought an influx of asylum seekers to Manitoba’s borders, and the number in 2017 has already started increasing as the weather gets colder: 45 people have already crossed into the province this month, just ten days into October.

We work closely with the tribunal on all our files. For hearings and appeals, please let our office aware of your situation and we may be able to contact the tribunal. We treat every case as a unique situation and we advocate for our clients. We attend hearings at the IRB – all levels, including the RPD, the ID and the IAD – frequently and we assist clients with every type of immigration appeal.

If you or your contacts have upcoming hearings at the tribunal, please contact our office and we may be able to assist.

Free Presentation: Law in the Library

As part of the Law in the Library series, Alastair Clarke will be giving a free presentation to the public on October 19, 2017 at St. Boniface Library at 131 Provencher Boulevard. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Free Presentation

Topics:

Please note that we cannot give individual legal advice during this free presentation. The purpose of the presentation is for information purposes and to inform the public on changes to Canadian Immigration Law. We constantly talk to clients who hear wrong information or information that is out of date. The laws in Canada for immigration and refugees are constantly in flux. Our goal is to make sure that Manitobans understand the laws so they can avoid mistakes and they have clear expectations when they submit applications to IRCC or CBSA of any of the Visa Offices around the world.

For more information, check out the CLEA Website for more details and to RSVP.

CLEA’s Mission Statement:

CLEA is a charitable organization that provides legal information to Manitobans. We believe that legal knowledge is necessary for full and equal participation in our society.

CLEA develops programs and resources especially to work with communities where there are understood needs. These services help individuals better understand our legal system and how to resolve their legal issues.

Goals

Program Strategy

To meet the diverse information needs of our community, we have adopted the following objectives to help us plan our programs:

  • Individuals Focus To provide information about the law, legal system and sources of legal assistance in response to requests.
  • Intermediaries Focus To provide service providers and representative groups with information about: the law, legal system, sources of legal assistance and law reform.

Access to Justice Focus

To identify barriers and promote possible solutions to support a more equitable and accessible justice system that is responsive to the needs of Manitoba’s diverse communities.

Presentation: Refugee Crisis in Manitoba

Please note that Alastair Clarke accepted an invitation to present at Menno Simons College tomorrow on the Refugee Crisis in Manitoba. Regular readers of this blog will know that Clarke Immigration Law has provided legal services to many of the refugee claimants who are coming to Canada from the United States. Many of this people, including women and children, are crossing on foot.

The event itself is from 12:30-1:20. Each presenter has 10 minutes to share on some aspect of the current migrant refugee crisis affecting out city and surrounding areas.

Though our event is over lunchtime, we are only able to provide a snack.

Alastair will be talking about  areas of refugee law:

  1. How the Safe Third Country Agreement is putting the people at risk
  2. An overview of the relevant sections of IRPA

The main focus of the presentation is to answer questions from the public and to engage discussion on these important issues. There has been a huge increase in the numbers of people who have been entering Manitoba and this refugee crisis is only going to get worse as the weather gets warmer and it becomes easier to cross. In addition, there is no indication that the American government is taking any steps to help the refugee claimants on their side of their border.

After the border

FROM WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Immigration experts say there’s no reason to fear ‘back door’ migrants

Concerns that asylum seekers streaming across the border into Canada could represent a security threat to the country might be understandable, but are not valid, says a law professor who has studied the results of refugee claimants.

That stereotype only serves to create racial tension, said Sean Rehaag, associate professor at Osgoode Hall Law School at York University in Toronto.

“You need to be very cautious about assertions that particular groups are more of a risk of security or criminality than other groups,” Rehaag said in an interview. “Almost any study suggests that criminality is less of a concern among recent newcomers than the settled population.”

Read the full article…

In the News: “Repeal Safe Third Country Agreement, says Manitoba lawyer”

Published by Law Times, 6 Feb 2017, article: “Repeal Safe Third Country Agreement, says Manitoba lawyer”.

A Manitoba lawyer who handles refugee claims says more people are coming to Canada due to the rising rhetoric in the United States and Canada needs to act now to suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement.

Challenges facing immigrants and refugees have gained widespread attention since Jan. 27, when Trump suspended the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days, and stopped nationals from Yemen, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Iran and Iraq from going into the United States for 90 days.

A U.S. federal judge suspended the order last week, and now, the government has a chance to submit legal briefs in support of Trump’s intended policy changes. The battle may end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

[Update: There is now litigation in 4 states and the case will be heard at the Federal Court of Appeal.]

Manitoba has garnered attention since CBC reported that more than 400 people were intercepted near the U.S.-Canada border at Emerson between April to December 2016.

Crossing the Land Border Into Canada

“I think there’s just a general impression that Canada is a safer country than the United States, and they will have more support here, and that [they] will have a better life,” says Alastair Clarke, founder of Clarke Immigration Law in Winnipeg.

Due to Trump’s changes, the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers last week was “calling on Canada to immediately suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement.”

“Under the STCA, those who try to enter Canada through the U.S. to make a refugee claim at the border are returned to the U.S. regardless of whether they will or already have had access to asylum in the U.S. The U.S. and Canada have considered one another “safe” for asylum-seekers,” said a CARL news release.

“The STCA creates a North American approach to refugee approvals. With President Trump’s Executive Orders, the U.S. is unilaterally changing the terms of that approach, with potentially disastrous consequences for vulnerable asylum-seekers.”

Here is a link to the CARL Press Release.

In Winnipeg, Clarke works with groups that have housing set up and are working “as hard as they can to bring as many people” as they can support.

“The government can’t keep up with the demand,” says Clarke, adding that the biggest legal hurdle he’s grappling with is the STCA.

“Unless the refugee claimant is able to fall under one of the exemptions listed in the agreement, then they are denied at the border,” says Clarke, who says most people who are successful are able to do it due to exemptions related to having family in Canada.

Clarke has handled about 30 to 35 files involving refugee claimants since January 2015, from countries such as Haiti, Burundi, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, and Nigeria.

“I think more people are coming based on the rhetoric coming from the United States. It’s partially Trump, but I mean Trump was elected, because in general, there is an anti-refugee sentiment in the United States,” he says. “It’s not just him, but I think — generally speaking — there is less of an appetite for refugees in many parts of the United States.”

The above is an excerpt from the article published by Law Times. For the complete article, please click the link above.

For a description of the Safe Third Country Agreement from CBSA, click here.

For the full text of the Agreement between Canada and the United States, click here.

Spousal Open Work Permit – Extended to Dec 2017

As expected, the hugely successful Open Work Permit program for applicants under the In-Canada Spousal Sponsorship application has been extended for another year. Part of the announcement:

Ottawa, December 7, 2016 — Family reunification is a core immigration priority for the Government of Canada. In addition to the changes made today to process spousal sponsorship applications faster, we are also extending the open work permit pilot program until December 21, 2017, to give spouses a chance to work while their application is being finalized.

To be eligible for an open work permit, you must be a spouse or common-law partner living in Canada who is being sponsored under the spouse or common-law partner in Canada (SCLPC) class. You must have valid temporary resident status (as a visitor, student or worker) and live at the same address as your sponsor.

Premier Plans to Eliminate MPNP Backlog

Premier Pallister announced changes and improvement to the MPNP program today, including a promise to eliminate the MPNP backlog. Here is an excerpt from the News Release:Winnipeg Immigration Lawyer

The premier noted the changes announced today are part of a new Labour Market Strategy for Immigration that focuses on:
• innovative partnerships with industry and post-secondary institutions that build pathways to employment for international students and skilled newcomers, including those in regulated occupations, to better prepare and match them to in-demand jobs in Manitoba;
• the selection of skilled workers with high potential for early and strong attachment to the labour market and who meet education, training and language requirements;
• the selection of entrepreneurs with a strong potential to establish high-investment, job-creating businesses in all regions of the province; and
• the elimination of the current MPNP backlog by April 2017 to ensure all future applicants receive a higher standard of service and are processed in less than six months.

We will have to see how these announcements will affect our clients and MPNP applicants. If they are able to eliminate the backlog, this could lead to increased efficiency.

The Premier went on to say:

“Manitoba is once again open for business, offering a diverse economic base with areas of undiscovered potential ready for the expansion of existing businesses, development of our entrepreneurial talent, and attraction of new investment and the opportunities it will bring,” said Pallister.  “Renewing Manitoba’s Provincial Nominee Program will facilitate the inclusion of skilled immigrant workers as an integral part in the development of our labour market and Manitoba’s economy as a whole.”

For a complete version of the announcement, please visit the Government of Manitoba’s website.

MPNP: From Temporary Status to PR Status

Backgrounder: Temporary Status

On a basic level, there are 4 levels of status in Canada: citizenship, permanent resident (PR) status, temporary status and without status. Individuals come to us with all levels of status and we work to either keep their existing status, for them to gain status themselves or for them to help someone else with their status (for example: their spouse). Each level of status affords different levels of rights and privileges. For example, someone with temporary status does not have the right to work unless they have a work permit or other permission whereas a permanent resident can work anywhere in Canada.

One Route from Temporary Status to Permanent Status

When we are contacted by an individual overseas, one common scenario is that they often have a means to come to Canada for a visit or they are interested in studying but their goal is to move permanently. Canadian law allows to have a “duel intent” when entering the country; a foreigner can enter on a temporary visa with the intention to come for a visit and, at the same time, also have the long-term goal of staying permanently.

Caution: in these circumstances, we would recommend that you hire a representative to draft submissions to the Officer to avoid being detained or refused entry.

One route to PR status is through studying and working in Canada. The steps are these: 1. TRV + Study Permit; 2. Post Graduate Work Permit; 3. MPNP Skilled Worker Application; 4. PR application to IRCC.

Step 1: Study Permit

Study Permits are issued by Canadian Visa Offices abroad. International students contribute to Canadian universities both financially and culturally. In tuition, they pay considerably more than other students. According to Statistics Canada, students can pay more than $35,000 per year for an undergraduate program:

Tuition ON

In Manitoba, there are 2 many benefits for choosing to study in this province: 1. tuition may be less comparable to other urban centres; 2. positive tax benefits for money paid in tuition through the Tuition Fee Income Tax Rebate (up to $25,000 may be deducted).

Temporary Status

These rebates are only a benefit, however, if the individual files taxes in Canada and lives in Manitoba. It is not open to residents of other provinces.

Step 2. Post Graduate Work Permit

A work permit issued under the Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) program may be issued by IRCC to a foreign student for the length of the study program, up to a maximum of 3 years. This is beneficial for both the students, who wish to work in Canada and continue to establish themselves, the Canadian employers and the Canadian economy. As mentioned by Minister John MacCallum at the CBA Immigration Conference in April 2016 in Vancouver, he sees foreign graduates of Canadian universities as one of the top priorities of IRCC.

Be prepared. Please note that the timelines for applying for the PGWP program are strict. Failure to apply early and/or meet the requirements may lead to a refused application.

Step 3: MPNP Skilled Worker in Manitoba stream

When the foreign national completes 6 months of full-time, continuous work in Manitoba and the company provides an Offer Letter, then the individual may apply under the MPNP program (other factors notwithstanding). This application may lead to a Nomination Certificate from the Manitoba government and the support of the province.

For more information about MPNP applications and tips on how to succeed with a MPNP application, see our previous posts on this subject.

Step 4: PR application to IRCC

After the applicant receives the Certificate, they may apply for PR status to the federal government. For more information about applications and fees, please contact our office directly.