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1. Wondering about what ad sources to use when applying for an Labour Market Impact Assessment? Though each situation is different, you may wish to consider the following: Job Bank (almost always a must), Indeed,, Kijiji, Craigslist, and an online ad through a local newspaper (such as the Calgary Sun). Some LMIA applications require advertising that targets disadvantaged or underrepresented groups in society. To satisfy such requirements, some sites feature job ads for First Nations people, such as First Nations Jobs Online.   

2. When reviewing an LMIA application, Service Canada is very picky about proving the duration of job advertisements. I would strongly recommend printing out all job advertisements once a week. Make sure that the printed advertisements display the dates of printing.

3. Anyone making a refugee claim benefits from knowing how to fill out the forms, obtain supporting documents, line up witnesses, and prepare for the hearing. This refugee hearing guide provided by Kinbrace is a valuable free resource. It is also available in several languages.

4. Whether applying for permanent residence, or applying for a job, having a strong accent can often stand in the way of success. For those wishing to make their speech more easily understood by Canadians, accent reduction training may be worth considering. One such company that offers such services in Calgary is Accent Reduction Company.

5. Can you sponsor someone who isn’t a spouse/common law partner, a minor child, a parent, or a grandparent? In most cases, the answer is no. However, for people who do not have a spouse/common law partner, children (whether adult or minor), living parents or living grandparents, they may qualify to sponsor another relative for permanent residence. This is sometimes referred to as the “lonely Canadian” exception. Click here for more information.

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1. Certain professionals who are citizens of the US or Mexico may qualify for NAFTA work permits if they have employers in Canada. Canadians who work in those occupations may also work in the US or Mexico if they have employment in those countries. For more information, check this list of qualifying occupations.

2. Under Canada’s current immigration laws, permanent residents who acquired their status through refugee claims run the risk of losing their status through a process called ‘cessation’. Cessation means that a refugee has ceased to need protection due to improvements in that person’s country of origin. Refugee permanent residents who visit their home countries are particularly vulnerable to cessation proceedings.

3. I’m not a career counsellor, but if I had to choose an educational program that would lead to a decent career that would in turn stand a good chance of leading quite quickly to permanent residence, I’d consider a medical laboratory technology diploma program, such as the one offered by SAIT. Employability of graduates is extremely high and wages are good.

4. For temporary residents and permanent residents keeping track of their time inside and outside of Canada, a travel record scrapbook can come in handy. You can keep copies of boarding passes, hotel receipts, etc., and record dates spent outside of Canada.

5. Wondering if you can legally study in Canada without a study permit? Check this out.

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  1. As an employer, do you wish you could improve the English language skills of your workforce? Do you worry about hiring permanent residents when their English is a work in progress? If so, the Canada-Alberta Job Grant may be worth checking out. This program offers grants to offset some of the costs of training your workforce and these grants can be used towards ESL training for your workers. The catch is that workers being trained must already be citizens or permanent residents.
  2. Are you an employer who runs a fast food restaurant and is interested in applying for an LMIA? If so, you should know about the Frankie’s Burgers case. Fast food employers may be expected to include part-time options in job advertisements, especially for lower skilled positions.
  3. Want to know whether you’ll have trouble with the IELTS or CELPIP? Try this free language assessment tool.
  4.  Is your spouse a skilled worker or working on a bridging open work permit or a post-graduate work permit? If so, you may qualify for an open work permit, but only if your spouse is a skilled worker currently working in Canada. Make sure you submit proof of your spouse’s skilled employment, such as a letter from his or her employer when submitting your application for a work permit.
  5. Are you interested in sponsoring a parent or grandparent for permanent residence? If so, it’s never too soon to start planning. The next round of applications will be accepted by IRCC at the beginning of January 2017, but numbers are limited!
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  1. As an employer, do you wish you could improve the English language skills of your workforce? Do you worry about hiring permanent residents when their English is a work in progress? If so, the Canada-Alberta Job Grant may be worth checking out. This program offers grants to offset some of the costs of training your workforce and these grants can be used towards ESL training for your workers. The catch is that workers being trained must already be citizens or permanent residents.
  2. Are you an employer who runs a fast food restaurant and is interested in applying for an LMIA? If so, you should know about the Frankie’s Burgers case. Fast food employers may be expected to include part-time options in job advertisements, especially for lower skilled positions.
  3. Want to know whether you’ll have trouble with the IELTS or CELPIP? Try this free language assessment tool.
  4.  Is your spouse a skilled worker or working on a bridging open work permit or a post-graduate work permit? If so, you may qualify for an open work permit, but only if your spouse is a skilled worker currently working in Canada. Make sure you submit proof of your spouse’s skilled employment, such as a letter from his or her employer when submitting your application for a work permit.
  5. Are you interested in sponsoring a parent or grandparent for permanent residence? If so, it’s never too soon to start planning. The next round of applications will be accepted by IRCC at the beginning of January 2017, but numbers are limited!
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Private Refugee Sponsorship Slows

For those looking a participating in a private refugee sponsorship application, if you have not already submitted their application, you will be in for a long wait. The federal government has indicated that refugee sponsorship applications submitted prior to March 31, 2016 will not count towards the cap of 10,500 private refugee sponsorship applications that the government will accept this year.

However, even if you were lucky enough to get your private sponsorship application in before the end of March, there is a good chance that you will have to wait until the end of 2017 to have your application processed.


Greater Flexibility for Short-Term TFWs

Largely in response to the labour demands of the fisheries industry in Atlantic Canada, the federal government has eased cap restrictions on Labour Market Impact Assessments for seasonal industries employing low-skilled workers. Such eased restrictions may benefit employers in the tourism industry in Alberta.

However, it is not clear that this easing of restrictions will remain a permanent exception to the LMIA cap requirement.


Plan to End Conditional Permanent Residence

The federal government has indicated it plans to remove the requirement that a sponsored spouse must remain in a relationship with his or her partner for 2 years after obtaining permanent residence in order to maintain his or her status as a permanent resident. This requirement has been referred to as conditional permanent residence.

In theory, the rules dealing with conditional permanent residence are meant to deter so-called marriage fraud. That being said, the sponsorship application process is a fairly onerous process and the government has always had ample opportunity to question the bona fides of a relationship. As well, I would suggest that sponsors bear some of the responsibility for due diligence in a relationship, and shouldn’t be relying on the Canadian government to keep marriages from falling apart.

As such, I am supportive of this proposed change, since conditional permanent residence rules have encouraged sponsored spouses to remain in bad, and in some cases abusive, relationships. However, the proposed changes have not yet been implemented, so the conditional permanent residence rules are still in effect at this time.

It should be noted that sponsored spouses may keep their permanent resident status if they leave abusive relationships. That being said, I suspect that many sponsored spouses are unaware of their rights or may have legitimate concerns about being able to prove to IRCC that abuse has occurred in a relationship. Hopefully, the government will take steps to remove the requirement of conditional permanent residence as soon as possible.

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A few years ago, my significant other was at the hospital for minor surgery. The two of us were sitting in front of a nurse who was signing her in. The nurse asked a number of questions related to her personal information, such as her name, age, and address. At one point, the nurse asked about her marital status. Without even thinking, my significant other responded that she was single.

I was momentarily stunned by the answer and attempted to clarify while the nurse looked at us awkwardly. “Did you mean common-law?” she asked.

“Oh yeah, that’s what I meant,” my significant other responded.

Sometimes when people are asked the question about their marital status, they think it’s a binary choice – you’re either married or you’re not. In fact, in most cases under Canadian law there are at least three choices – single, married, or common-law. (Other options may include widowed, separated, divorced, etc.)

A recurring problem among applicants for permanent residence is deciding whether or not they are in a common-law partnership. Not all countries around the world confer legal status on relationships involving cohabitation (living together). For this reason, many visitors and foreign workers struggle with the concept of common-law relationships. Even among Canadians, there are often misconceptions about whether a person is actually in a common-law relationship.


Different Definitions

In all fairness, there is often quite a bit of ambiguity in the legal conception of common-law relationships. For example, a couple may be “living common-law” when they have only just begun to live together. However, they may be considered common-law partners for various legal purposes after they have lived together for certain periods of time. For tax and immigration purposes, a couple will likely be common-law if they have lived together for a 12-month period of time. However, for provincial family law purposes, a couple may be considered common-law (or in an Adult Interdependent Relationship in Alberta) only after they have lived together for a longer period (such as 3 years in Alberta).

Different legislation, whether provincial or federal, may define common-law partnerships differently. Sometimes people may even wonder if they are, legally speaking, in a common-law relationship with roommates.

Practically speaking, a common-law relationship can be thought of as relationship in which two people live together in a “conjugal” relationship. A conjugal relationship usually involves romantic intimacy and sex. Of course, romantic intimacy and sex can be defined in different ways, and it should be acknowledged that some couples aren’t particularly romantic and may not have a lot of sex, but they may still count as common-law. A good rule of thumb is that if a couple typically sleeps in the same bed, they are probably common-law.

There is also the problem of what counts as living together. Some couples may have different residences, but sleep in the same bed a few nights a week. In some relationships, one person will spend a lot of time travelling, say for work, while the other stays at home. Perhaps they lived together for a while, but then one person moved to another city to attend school, and after years of a long-distance relationship, they are once again living under the same roof.


Being vs. Proving

In the immigration context, being common-law is extremely important. If an applicant for permanent residence, or even temporary residence, mischaracterizes his or her relationship – even inadvertently – this can lead to a finding of misrepresentation. If Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada determines that a person has misrepresented his or her marital status, that can be grounds for denying an application for permanent residence and barring the applicant from re-applying for a period of 5 years. In other words, the stakes are high when it comes to accurately describing your marital status to IRCC.

There are two types of misrepresentation regarding common-law status. A person may claim to be in a common-law relationship when he or she is in fact not in such a relationship. This may be done for the purpose of helping a boyfriend or girlfriend, or simply a friend, qualify for permanent residence.

Probably more common is the misrepresented claim that a person is single when he or she is in fact in a common-law relationship. This is usually done because a person believes it will be easier to apply as a single person, or because the applicant believes that he or she lacks proof of the common-law relationship. Also in some cases, people applying for permanent residence may not even realize that they are in common-law relationships because they are unaware of the legal significance of cohabitation.

The belief that it is easier to apply as a single person than as someone in a common-law relationship is most often a false belief. The added complexity of applying for permanent residence with a common-law partner as a dependent is minimal. There are only a few extra immigration forms, and a few extra supporting documents.

I find that people who are tempted to downplay their relationship are often concerned about proof. Some couples are worried about a lack of documentary proof – there isn’t any jointly owned property, there isn’t a lease with both names, etc. In fact, such evidentiary problems are not real problems at all. Statutory declarations from the couple, along with statutory declarations (or even written statements) from friends, family members, employers, landlords, or anyone who knows the couple can be used as evidence of the common-law relationship. Photos, travel tickets, and receipts could also be used to establish that the couple are in a common-law relationship.

If there’s any doubt about whether a relationship counts as common-law, I’d recommend speaking to a lawyer. As mentioned above, if you apply for permanent residence and fail to acknowledge a common-law relationship, IRCC can deny your application and deport you from Canada. And if you successfully obtain permanent residence, you may be unable to sponsor your common-law partner in the future if you failed to mention him or her on your original application.

For those reasons, it’s important to be clear about whether you are in a common-law relationship, and to honestly convey that information to IRCC.

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Foreign workers who have run out of time on a work permit sometimes consider going back to school. This potentially serves three purposes. First of all, it can buy a foreign worker additional time in Canada. Secondly, studying in Canada usually increases a person’s Express Entry points and this may increase a would-be immigrant’s chances of successfully immigrating to Canada down the road. Thirdly, studying in Canada usually qualifies a foreign student for a post-graduate work permit down the road.

That being said, obtaining a study permit is not necessarily that easy to do. And even if you obtain a study permit, in many cases obtaining a study permit will not significantly increase your chances of eventually immigrating to Canada. To determine whether a study permit application is right for you, you should consider the following.

Will You Even Qualify for a Study Permit?

Obtaining a study permit is by no means a given. A would-be international student first of all has to be accepted into a Canadian post-secondary institution. Assuming this happens, the prospective student then has to convince Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada that he or she has the funds to pay for the program and that he or she is genuinely interested in the program of study, and not simply attempting to make use of student status as a way of remaining in Canada. Older applicants and applicants with a gap in their education will have a tougher time qualifying for study permits. Applicants without significant financial resources simply aren’t viable candidates for study permits.

Will Your Study Permit Increase Your Express Entry Points?

Whether studying in Canada will increase your Express Entry points depends on your circumstances. If you are an older student, you may gain Express Entry points for studying in Canada but also lose points because you are that much older by the time you graduate. If your proposed education is for a short duration or does not increase your highest level of education, having this extra credential may not increase your overall Express Entry points. Also, studying English as a Second Language (ESL) will not increase your educational points under Express Entry, though it may increase your language test scores and thereby increase your Express Entry points related to language proficiency.

Will You Qualify for a Post-Graduate Work Permit Upon Graduation?

Even if you qualify for a study permit, obtaining a post-graduate work permit is not necessarily a given. If you are studying ESL or a program that is less than one academic year, you won’t qualify for a post-graduate work permit. Also, if you have previously obtained a post-graduate work permit, you are ineligible for a new PGWP.

Is the Expense Worth the Chance of Immigrating to Canada?

Studying in Canada is quite pricey. A rule of thumb is that you can expect to pay at least $10,000 to $15,000 per year in international student tuition. On top of that, you will have to support yourself, and as a student, you are only legally allowed to work up to 20 hours a week while you are taking classes. In other words, being a student typically means losing money, at least in the short term.

If going back to school could guarantee successful immigration to Canada it would perhaps be worth the investment. Likewise, if going back to school could successfully increase a person’s chances of immigration success, it might be worth the cost. But in many cases, going back to school is only buying a few extra months or a few extra years in Canada. If you are attempting to decide whether going back to school is a viable immigration strategy, you must consider your own circumstances. If an extra Canadian credential will push you over the top in terms of Express Entry points, then it is worth considering. Otherwise, it probably isn’t worth the time and money.


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The Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program, after several months of hiatus, resumed intake operations in late January of this year. Apparently, during the hiatus, AINP was able to reduce its queue by several thousand applications, bringing its queue total down to approximately 5000 applications. Given this, many people have been asking me whether now might be the time to consider an AINP application.

Here are three things to consider.

1. The annual quota of AINP is 5500.
During the recent break from application intake, AINP was able to bring its queue down by 4000 to 5000 applications. Most of this reduction was not due to success stories of happy people receiving nomination certificates in the mail. That vast majority of these cases were of people being stricken from the queue due to the fact that they either had lost their jobs or lost their status as workers.

AINP will not nominate applicants who lack economic stability. What does that mean? Someone who has lost his or her job or lost his or her status is someone the AINP program considers to be a lost cause. Unfortunately, most cases of people losing status were due to the excessive wait times of the AINP program. Had these people received timely AINP nominations, most of them would have been able to maintain their worker status and qualify for permanent resident status. That being said, if your work permit is done, you are done as far as AINP is concerned.

To date, no significant efforts have been made on the part of the Alberta Government to obtain concessions from the federal government to extend the status of workers who have applied for nomination under AINP. As of late March 2016, the AINP program has a queue of approximately 6000 applications, which works out to 500 applications more than can be accommodated in 2016 by the program. This excess will only increase. I’ve been told that currently AINP is receiving something like 40 applications per day. Given the above numbers, it is only a matter of time before AINP calls another halt to program intake.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the program is once again halted in the spring of 2016. If you are thinking of submitting an AINP application, I would do so quickly.

2. Most applications submitted have been under the skilled worker stream and the international graduate category.

To date, most AINP applications have been under the Employer Driven Skilled Worker stream and under the International Graduate stream. What this means is that if you are applying under either of those streams, your wait for a nomination is likely to be in excess of 1 year. It is by no means inconceivable that you could in fact wait more than 2 years just for a nomination. If at any time during your wait your work permit expires, your efforts will have all been in vain. I have heard that applicants with certain occupations, such as Retail Sales Supervisors, can expect particularly long waits.

If any of the above applies to you, you should be strongly considering other options, such as the federal Express Entry system.

3. AINP will not be participating in Express Entry in 2016.

Even if you are lucky enough to receive an AINP nomination, you will not be receiving your permanent residence any time soon. You will still have to apply for permanent residence by submitting a paper-based application to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. This extra step will likely take another 12 to 18 months. While you can probably qualify for a bridging work permit at this stage, if you lose your employment during the IRCC processing stage, your permanent residence application will in all likelihood be rejected.
While other provinces are participating in the Express Entry system, the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program has opted not to do so at this time, ostensibly so that it can bring down its intake queue before entering into Express Entry. I’m not sure, I understand why Alberta is waiting to bring down the queue before participating in Express Entry, but I understand that AINP will not be participating in Express Entry at all in 2016.
The nice thing about Express Entry is that it moves very quickly. Someone receiving an invitation to apply under Express Entry can expect to receive his or her permanent residence within 6 month or less, assuming a complete application is submitted. If you currently qualify for Express Entry under one of the federal immigration streams, you should apply as soon as possible. In most cases, I’m advising clients to treat AINP as a much less attractive Plan B.

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Up until a few years ago, the federal government had a viable immigrant investor program. While the Canadian government has what is nominally an immigrant investor program, at this stage, it is really only going through the motions. The current (federal) program is a laughingstock. It appears to have been designed to deliberately discourage would-be immigrant investors from applying.

The Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Pilot Program demands the following of its applicants:

  • Personal net worth of $10,000,000
  • A non-guaranteed $2,000,000 investment held for 15 years!
  • Significant language skills in English or French
  • At least one year of post-secondary education (you may be exempted from this if your net worth is $50,000,000 or more)

While it’s encouraging to note that if Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg (two famously successful university drop-outs) wanted to immigrate to Canada, the lack of a post-secondary credential wouldn’t necessarily hold them back. However, it’s not particularly encouraging to note that that someone with $49,999,999 and a high school education would be regarded as a poor, stupid schmuck not worth the time of day by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

To make matters worse, this particular program is currently closed. The federal government is not at this time accepting any applications under this program and may simply discontinue the program. So what’s a would-be immigrant investor looking at making Canada his home to do? There are in fact a number of options, but they require looking at provincial (as opposed to federal) immigration programs.

The Government of Quebec has an immigrant investor program that may be attractive to certain high-net-worth individuals. While preference is given to investors with French language skills, this isn’t an absolute requirement of the program.

Also, several provinces have provincial nominee program business streams based on establishing a business within the province in question. Typical rules include setting up a business that will employ a certain number of local people for a particular period of time. A qualifying business typically has to be over a certain value and be in an approved industry.

Business stream investors typically have to prove that they have experience actively operating a business. In other words, simply being wealthy is not sufficient. The goal of these programs is for the applicant to own and operate a business in the province where they have applied. Regrettably, my home province, Alberta, doesn’t currently have a business immigration stream, but that will hopefully change in the future.

At this time, Alberta is going through economic problems (high unemployment, a drop in tax revenues to fund government programs, a drop in real estate values for home owners) due to the downturn in the oil and gas sector. The energy sector is an industry upon which the Alberta economy is overly reliant. A business immigration stream under the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program could potentially help to diversify and stimulate the economy. Be that as it may, such a program currently does not exist in this province.

Provinces to consider are places like British Columbia, Manitoba, and certain Maritime provinces. However, it should be noted that these programs are extremely competitive. Meeting the basic criteria of a provincial nominee business immigration stream will by no means guarantee success. In addition to having a top-notch business plan, the applicant must be able to satisfy the provincial authorities that he or she genuinely intends to reside in the province to which he or she is applying. That may involve purchasing real estate in the province in question, enrolling one’s children in school in that province, conducting several trips to that province, etc.

While Canada does, mostly at the provincial level, have programs that can accommodate wealthy business people who wish to relocate to this country, these programs are complex, somewhat uncertain, and typically require years of commitment on the part of the applicant.

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The Express Entry system is an “expression of interest” system of economic immigration. Previously, Canada had a first-come-first-serve system. If you met the requirements under a given program and applied for permanent residence, you would eventually be accepted for permanent residence, assuming the application submitted was complete.

Under the new system, qualifying under a program is not good enough. Assuming you in fact qualify, you are then placed in a pool with all other qualifying applicants. Think of it as a slightly more degrading version of the TV show, The Bachelor. In this case, the prize at the end is Canadian permanent residence rather than a marriage proposal from a self-absorbed frat boy who considers himself the world’s greatest hunk. So the prize is good even if the contest itself leaves something to be desired. As in The Bachelor, an Express Entry contestant is ranked according to a set of somewhat arbitrary measures. Unlikely in The Bachelor, the Express Entry candidate is not ranked on how well one gets along with the other contestants or how bubbly one’s personality can get after a couple of glasses of wine. Express Entry candidates are ranked on things such as education, language proficiency as measured by certain approved proficiency exams, work experience, and age. The age part is in fact kind of like The Bachelor – if you’re over thirty, you may still be in the game, but you’re definitely losing points with each passing year.

You can also get points for having an employer with a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or by receiving a nomination certificate under select Provincial Nominee Programs. The first thing to do when considering whether to do an Express Entry application is to try to estimate what your current points might be. Every few weeks or so, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada does a draw from the Express Entry pool. The points have ranged from the 900s to just a little bit above 450. Lately, the point draws have tended to be between 450 and 500.

I’m not sure if there are any official statistics on this, but from I’ve heard, the vast majority of Express Entry applicants have points in the range of 350 to 450. If your points are between 400 and 450, you may have a shot, but if your points are lower than 400, your chances of receiving an Invitation to Apply are extremely limited, unless you can do something to increase your points.

Finding an employer with an LMIA in a skilled occupation will give you an extra 600 points. Receiving a provincial nomination may also give you 600 points. In some cases, it may be worth your while to create a profile even if your points score is quite low. If you receive a nod from a provincial government participating in Express Entry, the extra 600 points should automatically qualify you for an invitation to apply. That being said, the provinces have limited quotas that they can use towards Express Entry applications. Given this, provinces may be less likely to give nominations to people who (a) live outside of the province, or (b) have no connections to the province. But if you have experience in an occupation that is in high demand in a province that participates in Express Entry (Alberta is not one of them), you may do well to consider creating an Express Entry profile.