PGWP Update

IRCC has announced increased flexibility with Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) for international students in Canada. This reflects the government’s recognition of the contribution of international students to the Canadian economy and to society in general. As stated by our former Minister of Immigration John McCallum, international students are the core of the Canadian immigration system and the government is committed to supporting these individuals who have proven their financial contributions to this country.PGWP

IRCC has explicitly stated the importance of international students to our immigration system. The Press Release states:

International education represents a significant economic benefit to Canada, with international students contributing $21.6 billion to Canada’s GDP and supporting nearly 170,000 jobs in 2018. International students are also often excellent candidates to apply to remain in Canada permanently, with nearly 54,000 former students becoming permanent residents in Canada in 2018.

Indeed, the numbers are clear. Many int’l students go on to work on a PGWP and they apply for PR status. This is a proven path. In Manitoba, it is even easier with the MPNP program.

IRCC has shown commitment to ensuring students have the support they need during COVID19:

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a considerable impact on international students. In response to the health and travel restrictions that are in place, many designated learning institutions (DLIs) are offering their courses online.

Post-secondary institutions and prospective students alike are considering their approach to the fall semester. Both have sought guidance from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada regarding eligibility for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP) for students starting at an eligible DLI this fall.

The government has announced increased flexibility with PGWP applications:

Under normal circumstances, criteria for the PGWPP limit an international student’s ability to pursue a program via distance learning, from inside or outside Canada, and time spent studying outside Canada is deducted from the length of the work permit for which they are eligible.

PGWPP eligibility will not be affected for international students whose fall 2020 courses will be online due to COVID-19. This is in line with guidance provided to students already studying in Canada or whose program had a spring or summer start date.

Students in this situation may begin their classes while outside Canada and complete up to 50% of their program via distance learning if they cannot travel to Canada sooner.

In addition, they will not have time deducted from the length of a future post-graduation work permit for studies completed outside of Canada, up to December 31, 2020.

This is very good news. We have many clients who can take advantage of these updates to the PGWP. On 29 MAY 2020, Clarke Immigration Law will participate in a meeting with the Minister of IRCC as well as the Minister of CBSA to discuss further changes to help our clients. Continue to watch this space for details.

UPDATE: We have been advised that PGWP application may be extended, in some circumstances. In this past, this was not possible. Please contact our office for more information.

Pandemic Passports & CIB

Unsurprisingly, clients who have the financial means are seeking “pandemic passports” to secure access to countries with strong health care systems and economies. Canada, of course, is at the top of the list. This is not a new idea. I was invited by EB5 to present at an international immigration conference in Las Vegas, USA (back when we were all flying around going to conferences) and I presented on a panel for Citizenship By Investment (CIB). For those interested, I would look at:Pandemic Passports

  • Malta
  • Cyprus
  • The Grenadines

As noted by the Robb Report:

Now the super-rich are buying the ultimate insurance policy to make sure they will be able to travel to whatever virus-free, sunny bolt-hole they choose, if a second spike in Covid-19 infections triggers another global lockdown. The world’s wealthiest are snapping up multiple citizenships in countries around the world.

We have contacts at law firms to assist high Net Worth clients and we provide referrals. Please note that Canada no longer offers CIB programs and I would caution any client who is promised a “quick & easy” path to Canadian citizenship. In my mind, that sounds like a scam. We have a torrid history of politicians taking advantage of such programs and they have gone the way of the Dodo bird. (Incidentally, the United Nations was gifted a gold Dodo bird while I was there in 2003. The symbolism was unmistakable!) As far as CIL is concerned, clients who are interested in CIB and/or Pandemic Passports are not beneficial for the long term growth of the country.

Our focus is on helping clients and their families for the long term benefit of our clients and our country. We have assisted many clients through the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program – Business Investment Stream (MPNP-BIS). This is a points-based system for entrepreneurs and investors who seek to either purchase a business in Winnipeg or outside the Manitoba Capital Region (MCR) or create a new qualifying business. MPNP has published the basic requirements for interested applicants. To qualify, please book a consultation to discuss. We recommend:

  • Net Worth: +$750,000.00 CAD (NOTE: the minimum is not recommended)
  • Strong Business Plan
  • Documented Source of Funds
  • Extended Exploratory Visit to Manitoba

Successful applicants will receive temporary status in Canada and a Work Permit. Once they have worked and satisfied the MPNP Officer (note: discretionary power) on the viability of their business, they may apply for Permanent Resident status. After they are granted PR status, they may make an application for Canadian citizenship.

Indeed, “pandemic passports” may be important in the future. For individuals who value Universal Health Care and who want to contribute to a country with good governance, a fair legal system and a society based on merit, Canada may be a good option; however, the applications are neither fast nor easy.

Success: TRP/WP for MPNP

After significant time and work, we successfully obtained a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) and a Work Permit (WP) from Emerson POE for a client who has an MPNP Nomination Certificate and a PR application in process. This was a messy situation. Her previous representative mishandled her case. She came to us after IRCC refused her Work Permit application and she was outside the 90 day Restoration period. The TRP was issued after significant advocacy at the POE and it was evident that she was the victim. TRP

We are thrilled the Officer agreed with our assessment of this situation and he used his highly discretionary power to issue the TRP and the Work Permit so that our client could get back to work while she waits for her PR to be processed.

Here in Manitoba, we are very fortunate to work with the Officers at Emerson POE. Generally, they are professional, courteous and they are sympathetic to clients’ circumstances. That said, they also must follow Canadian immigration laws and regulations. As we have stated at numerous free presentations to the public, we do not encourage clients to put themselves in a position where they need a TRP to stay in Canada. This application is only for exceptional circumstances.

Please note that the successful TRP application above was obtained prior to the travel restrictions per COVID19. Currently, POEs are closed for such matters and the Officers are further restricted from handling these applications.

We wish our client all the best and we are pleased that we could fix the mess. She can now stay in Canada and continue to work while she waits for her Permanent Resident status with the support of the MPNP program. The TRP application was her best option based on the facts of this case and she was the victim of her previous representative. Alas, the immigration system is complex and many representatives give bad advice.

COVID19 – UPDATE 7/APR/2020

UPDATE: 7/APRIL/2020

Please note that we will not be providing additional updates to this page. There have been many changes to laws, regulations and policies due to COVID19. We have been in contact with lawyers from across Canada to stay up to date with changes and amendments.

If you have any specific questions on how the changes may impact your application or your situation, please book a consultation with a lawyer.

UPDATE: 24/MARCH/2020

OK – to mitigate the spread of COVID19, the Ontario government declared that all non-essential services must close starting tomorrow and we expect Manitoba will follow suit soon. The numbers of infected continue to rise and the governments are doing everything in their power.

LAWYERS ARE “ESSENTIAL” SERVICE

The list is out. Lawyers and law firms are considered an essential service. We will continue to monitor the situation. Again, most staff at Clarke Law are working remotely. We only have 2 staff in the office to keep things up and running; however, we are not holding in-person meetings in the office. Feel free to drop off documents and we have been getting daily packages.

NOTE: Immigration consultants are not on the list. As per usual, please contact an appropriate expert for assistance.

LEADING BY EXAMPLE

I have to commend our valiant leader PM Trudeau who is working from home in isolation. He is managing his busy household, with 3 young children, by himself while leading our country through very difficult times.

We watch his daily briefings and he remains poised. Lead by example. Well done Sir!

BORDERLINES PODCAST

My colleagues in Vancouver have published an episode on The Canadian Immigration Consequences of COVID19. This does not seem to appear on their website (yet) so I would encourage you to find it in your podcast app.

In particular, it is nice to hear some optimism from Deanna!

START IN-CANADA REFUGEE CLAIM BY EMAIL

As the IRCC Offices across Canada have closed due to COVID19, refugee claims in Canada are being submitted by email: IRCC.RefugeeClaim-Demandedasile.IRCC@cic.gc.ca

We have been in regular contact with the IRB-RPD (Western Region) and we have been advised that all hearings have been postponed until 1 MAY 2020.

UPDATE: 23/MARCH2020

We had a busy weekend. The land border with the USA closed at midnight on Friday due to COVID19, causing a lot of confusion. I am not sure how “Tutor” became part of the definition of “immediate family member”.

COVID19

COVID19

IN-PERSON MEETINGS CANCELLED

In our office, most of our staff are working from home. We will continue to work on files and submit applications to maintain high standards. At the same time, we must do our part to fight this COVID19 virus from spreading. We encourage all our clients to contact us by telephone – 2045996966 or by email info@apply2manitoba.ca

MANITOBA STATE OF EMERGENCY

The provincial government has declared a State of Emergency to manage the spread of COVID19. These are extreme measures for extreme times. We are all taking these measures very seriously and we fully support any and all measures to protect the health and safety of residents.

This means that groups over 50 people are banned. Gyms are closed. Most retail will close. See the government website for details. We are taking this day by day.

UPDATE: 20/MARCH/2020

ASYLUM SEEKERS FROM USA

The Canadian government has further restricted border entries. Asylum seekers (refugee claimants) who seek to enter Canada at Ports of Entry will be refused entry. Asylum seekers (refugee claimants) who attempt irregular crossings into Canada will be returned to the US as part of an “exceptional measure” to protect residents in Canada.

During a news briefing, Minister Blair has acknowledged exceptions, including unaccompanied minors, to filing a refugee claim at the border. Claims at the US-Canada border have decreased by half from ~40 daily to ~20 daily. They will be returned to the USA and the Minister has advised that they will not be detained.

QUARANTINE ACT LEGISLATION

Emergency legislation through the Quarantine Act limits entry to Canada, including “immediate family members” as defined by the new Order. This provides clarity on the previous announcements that will limit access to Canadian soil.

Individuals crossing from the US may be required to spend a period of 14 days in the US due to COVID19 before they will be allowed to enter Canada.

FASTER PROCESSING TIMES

Minister Freeland has indicated that IRCC may be processing applications faster than usual. She has indicated that we need to recognize the need for “speed over attention”. She has emphasized the importance of processing files quickly. We are waiting for confirmation and details from Minister Mendicino’s office.

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UPDATE 19/MARCH/2020

US VISA OFFICES – CUTTING SERVICES

The US Government has announced that Visa Offices around the world will be cutting services and canceling appointments. This is an unprecedented decision that will impact thousands of applications.

We believe the Canadian government may issue a similar order to Canadian Visa Offices. If you are in process of submitting an application, we encourage you to submit ASAP while the Visa Offices are still open.

CANADA/USA BORDER RESTRICTIONS

Through a mutual agreement, the Canadian and US government have agreed to limit travel across the land border to essential travel only. This is an attempt to limit tourism and cross-border shopping. There are exemptions for trade and/or trucking. Governments are working hard due to the numbers of COVID19 infections.

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UPDATE 18/MARCH/2020

Please note that we have been dealing with the pandemic and monitoring the developments closely. We are trying to reply to all concerns in a systemic and orderly manner.

IRB – HEARINGS POSTPONED

Please note that most hearings at the tribunal have been postponed. This included refugee claims, admissibility hearings, and appeals. If you have a hearing that has been scheduled, we will provide updates from the IRB. Currently, the IRB front offce is closed to the public and they have released this message, published in 16/MARCH/2020. IRB Members are working on current cases and we received a positive decision today.

ENTERING CANADA

Please note that the Government of Canada has temporarily restricted entry to Canada. Previously, only Canadian citizens, PRs and a few exemptions have been permitted entry. Today, there may be additional restrictions. The situation has been changing daily, based on the risk assessment. If you or your loved ones are seeking entry to Canada, please review the changes that are published on news outlets, including CBC News.

REMOVALS AND DEPORTATIONS

CBSA has currently suspended all removals from Canada, including Departure Orders, Exclusion Orders and Deportation Orders; however, there are exceptions.

APPOINTMENTS WITH IRCC

IRCC has suspended in person meetings with Officers. Currently, they have announced that meetings may resume on 13/APRIL/2020; however, that may change depending on the pandemic.

Successful applications who are scheduled to land and become Permanent Residents, need to contact IRCC if they are unable to travel. This includes COPR and PRV cases.

BIOMETRICS

All biometrics appointments inside Canada have been cancelled until further notice. IRCC has granted an automatic extension of 90 days.

For biometrics appointments outside Canada, please contact the appropriate VAC or ASC.

CITIZENSHIP APPLICATIONS

Please note that CPC Sydney has temporarily closed and the office is not accepting packages. We will be submitting documentation as soon as they resume operations.

CROSSING THE BORDER & POEs

Please keep in mind that CBSA Officers at the border are on the front line. They have put in place measures to keep the Officers safe and, at the same time, follow instructions from Ottawa. We have been advised by other law firms in Canada that POEs may refuse to process applications that are not urgent.

PR APPLICATIONS

Applications for Permanent Residence and many other applications are being accepted. IRCC is encouraging all applicants to submit online, if possible.

FEDERAL COURT – APPLICATIONS FOR JUDICIAL REVIEW

The Court has issued a Notice regarding deadlines and ALJR. This information is effective 17/MARCH/2020

MIGRANT WORKERS & FARMING

We have been monitoring the situation. IRCC is acutely aware of the needs of the farming and agricultural sector. Current border restrictions may impact many workers who have travel plans. At this point, we encourage all temporary workers to monitor the situation closely.

LEGAL AID MANITOBA

LAM has announced that it will accept application online and their office is currently closed.

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13/MARCH/2020

We want to thank all our clients and partners for continued patience, cooperation and understanding during this COVID29 pandemic. We have taken unprecedented actions to keep our staff safe and healthy. These precautions have been put in place to ensure that we can continue to work and serve our clients. We will continue to do the work that we love; however, we also need to stay safe & healthy.

If you have come to the office recently, you have noticed the new signage. We announced the ban on shaking hands at the beginning of 2020 and we have put in place additional measures to limit personal contact and adhere to social distancing. In addition, starting on March 11th, we have put in place additional cleaning and other procedures to protect the office from viruses. We have added purification systems and many other measures for protection.

We have also put in place additional procedures so that staff can work remotely from home, if necessary. We are monitoring ourselves regularly to make sure we are safe and healthy. We are taking the COVID19 pandemic seriously and we want to make sure that we follow all precautions so that we are not infected and that we do not infect anyone who comes to our office.

Please take all measures to stay healthy.

Success: H&C

As part of our series to share success stories, we are thrilled to share this story of a Mexican family who were granted Approval In Principle (AIP) on an Application for Permanent Resident Status based on Humanitarian and Compassionate Considerations (H&C). As you may be aware, the H&C application currently has an approval rate of approximately 50% only. This application requires significant work and research. In this case, we worked with numerous community members, academics, and legal scholars to put together a strong application based on their humanitarian circumstances. humanitarian

A brief background. A family of (5) five Mexican nationals with strong family and historical connections to southern Manitoba came to our office in early 2018. This Mennonite family were all born in Mexico. Their parents (deceased) were members of Old Colony Mennonites who were born in Manitoba. Based on issues related to education, they left Canada to settle in Mexico and Paraguay. They came to us to help them rekindle their ties with the Mennonite community in the Winkler area. As they have no formal education, they did not qualify for the RNIP, MPNP or any other skilled worker category even though these are highly accomplished applicants.

After only 11 months of processing, IRCC gave approval in principle (AIP) to this H&C application based on the strong humanitarian arguments. We are very pleased with the processing time of this application – faster than average processing times.

This family has maintained their temporary status in Canada throughout the H&C process and they are currently working with valid Work Permits. We attribute the success of this application based on the strong support of the Mennonite community and strong legal research. Similar to another humanitarian application that was approved, we prepared +400 pages of documents for this H&C application.

This family is naturally delighted their application has passed the AIP (first-stage) approval and we look forward to this family becoming Permanent Residents of Canada. To date, Clarke Immigration Law has never had an H&C application refused.

Success: Regaining Status

As part of our series to share success stories, we are starting with a case where we were able to help an international student who has suffered unfortunately circumstances and she found herself without status in Canada in a desperate situation.

international student

international student

Thankfully, we were able to get her regain status. Life can be messy and there are situations that are beyond our control. Sometimes, the government needs to take into consideration that applicants have fallen under hard times for reasons outside of their control. It is also important to be reminded that IRCC Officers are people too and they want to help. Our job is to show the Officer all the reasons why our clients warrant special attention.

Success Story: Internation Student Regains Status

A Filipino student came to us for help after she had been living in Canada without status after her Study Permit expired. She was an international student who had been living in fear on a daily basis that CBSA would knock on her door and she could be deported. She has suffered from stress and anxiety. She came to us for help, desperate to regularize her status and she had almost no money left. We started by preparing and submitting a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) application based on her unique circumstances and strong ties to Canada. Our TRP application was approved in seven (7) months and now this international student has regained temporary status in Canada.

Now with status, the next step was to help this international student get to work. Our office worked hard to prepare and submit a Work Permit application. The Work Permit was approved in under two (2) months and our client was relieved and overjoyed she could finally continue to build her life in Canada without the threat of removal looming over her head. She is now working in Canada with status and looking forward to becoming a Permanent Resident in the near future.

Federal Court Success re MPNP and Misrepresentation

Congratulations to our client Ievgen Agapi, a truck driver from Ukraine, and all the supporting people who assisted with this case. Justice Ahmed of the Federal Court of Canada agreed with our arguments that the Visa Officer in Kiev failed to consider whether the alleged misrepresentation was honestly and reasonably made. Click here to read the full decision.

This is a significant decision in the jurisprudence of misrepresentation, as well as the processing of MPNP applications.

In the words of Justice Ahmed:

14]  The Applicant points out that section 40 of the IRPA does not apply to misrepresentations made honestly by an applicant who reasonably believes they did not withhold material information (Medel v Canada (Minister of Employment and Immigration)[1990] 2 FC 345Baro v Canada (Citizenship and Immigration)2007 FC 1299 (CanLII) at para 15, and Goudarzi v Canada (Citizenship and Immigration)2012 FC 425 (CanLII) at para 33). The Applicant submits that his response to the procedural fairness letter provided evidence that this exception applies to his alleged misrepresentation; he explained that the knowledge of the potential fraud was beyond his control and in his view he reasonably and honestly believed that he was not misrepresenting any material facts. Despite his response to the procedural fairness letter, the Applicant submits the Manager failed to consider whether any alleged misrepresentation was honestly and reasonably made.

[15]  The Respondent submits that the Applicant is merely “blaming” a third party for his misrepresentation and argues that efforts to get the original results were not before the decision-maker. The Respondent acknowledges that there is a “narrow exception” for innocent misrepresentation, but reiterates that it only applies in exceptional and narrow circumstance. The Respondent cites a line of jurisprudence for the proposition that misrepresentation made by a non-party to an application, without the applicant’s knowledge, does not save an application from an inadmissibility finding under section 40 of the IRPA. The Respondent also takes the position that the Applicant’s response to the procedural fairness letter did not meet the high standard to warrant such an exception.

[16]  I agree with the Applicant that the Manager failed to consider whether the Applicant honestly and reasonably believed he was not withholding material information.

CONGRATULATIONS TO EVERYONE WHO CONTRIBUTED TO THIS POSITIVE DECISION!

$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. 

Changes to MPNP and Renewal

The Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program MPNP announced major changes to the program. The Conservative government has been working in consultation with immigration representatives from the province and they have unveiled significant developments to the program. Many of these changes will impact individuals and families who have plans to work and live in Manitoba. More information regarding the changes for the MPNP – Skilled Worker program will be announced in January 2018. The MPNP Renewal is part of the election promise when the Progressive Conservative party won the election in April 2016.

MPNP

MPNP Renewal

Staff at our office have spent much of the week answering questions about these changes. If you or your family is impacted please contact our office directly.

Also, please note that we will be meeting with Managers at the MPNP Office on 6 DEC 2017 to discuss how the changes will be impacting our clients.

The details of the MPNP Renewal are largely expected based on discussions that we have had with the Ministry. These changes, in addition to the campaign announcement of the $500.00 CAD application fee, are in line with the provincial goals to boost employment and economic benefit.

For full details of the changes to the MPNP Skilled Worker stream, click here.

For full details of the changes to the MPNP Business stream (now it is the “Business Investor Stream”), click here.

One major change includes the elimination of the $100,000.00 deposit.

The renewed Business Investor Stream (BIS) will replace the current PNP-B business immigration category. BIS allows Manitoba to recruit and nominate qualified business investors and entrepreneurs from around the world who have the intent and ability to start or purchase businesses in Manitoba within the first 24 months of arrival in Canada on a temporary work permit. Applicants will no longer be required to submit a deposit of $100,000 to the Manitoba government.

For questions and further details, please book a 1 hour consultation and we can do an assessment of the status of your application to make sure that your immigration goals are being met.

UPDATE: For more information, please download or listen online to the Canadian Immigration Podcast from 22 DEC 2018. Alastair was interviewed by Albertan immigration lawyer Mark Holthe on the changes to the MPNP Program.

MCJA Conference: Guest Speaker on Criminal Justice

On 9 November 2017, Alastair will be a Guest Speaker at the annual Manitoba Criminal Justice Association conference. Here is a description of the Association and its importance in criminal justice:

criminal justice

The Manitoba Criminal Justice Association (MCJA) is a provincial affiliate of the Canadian Criminal Justice Association (CCJA) and has been actively engaged in promoting crime prevention initiatives in Manitoba for over 40 years. It is an independent, community-based organization, governed by a Board of Directors which is comprised of citizens interested in achieving the objectives of the Association. The Manitoba Criminal Justice Association exists to promote rational, informed, and responsible debate in order to contribute to the development of a more humane, equitable, and effective justice system.

Alastair will be speaking on criminal justice issues and the rights of refugees. He regularly represents refugees at the IRB, Refugee Protection Division. He also represents clients at all levels of tribunal, as well as Federal Court on appeals. He also assists clients who have criminality issues who face Section 44 Reports from CBSA and foreign nationals who have criminal convictions and need a TRP to enter Canada. His talk will cover:

The talk is part of a larger series that includes many perspectives and we welcome any questions at the end of the presentation. Please note that Alastair cannot give any legal advice on any individual matters at the conference.

MCJA is currently still accepting new registrations which can be done through their website here.

Participants at the conference will have access to all materials provided by MCJA. The purpose of the workshop is to foster coordination between agencies and to make sure that refugees are provided with sound advice and resources to potentially establish themselves in Canada.