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Canadian Immigration Update 2017

Canada’s Federal Budget 2017

On March 22, 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Finance Bill Morneau tabled the federal government’s budget for 2017 (“Budget 2017”) in the House of Commons. As Canada celebrates 150 years since Confederation, Budget 2017 emphasizes the progress that Canada has made during the past, and seeks to continue this progress as we move forward. Among other things, Budget 2017 seeks to continue to uphold Canada’s reputation “for welcoming new Canadians, extending help and hope to those fleeing war and violence, and creating good, well-paying jobs through international trade.” In pursuit of these goals, a number of changes to Canada’s immigration system have been proposed, including: the launching of a Global Skills Strategy; the improvement of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the International Mobility Program; the elimination of certain barriers faced by newcomers when accessing high-skilled employment opportunities; the implementation of the Canada-European Union Economic and Trade Agreement (“CETA”); the protection of the integrity of Canada’s asylum system; and access to better legal aid services for asylum seekers.

 

Global Skills Strategy

Budget 2017 expands further on the Global Skills Strategy first outlined in the 2016 Fall Economic Statement. This strategy aims to expedite the entry of foreign talent for companies doing business in Canada that are committing to bring new skills to Canada and create more jobs.  The Global Skills Strategy will establish a two-week standard for processing visas and work permits for skilled foreign nationals required by:

  • High-growth Canadian companies that need to access global talent in order to facilitate and accelerate investments that create jobs and growth; and
  • Global companies that are making large investments, relocating to Canada, establishing a new production or expanding production, and creating new Canadian jobs.

The strategy will be implemented in 2017-2018 by creating a Global Talent Stream under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. In addition, the federal government will introduce a new work permit exemption for work of short duration (30 days or less per year) for short-term, inter-company work exchanges and the entry of temporary expertise. Finally, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act will be amended to ensure that Canada’s Express Entry system for economic permanent residence programs is responsive to the needs of the Canadian labour market and results in the selection of the applicants most likely to succeed.

 

Improving the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and International Mobility Program

In addition to investing further funds into the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and International Mobility Program for the implementation of the Global Skills Strategy and the continued reviews of employer compliance, Budget 2017 seeks to eliminate processing fees for application for Labour Market Impact Assessments for those hiring caregivers for persons with high medical needs and middle class families hiring caregivers for child care. The federal government will also continue to work with stakeholders as it works to implement improvements to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program announced in December 2016, namely:

  • The introduction of stronger recruitment requirements for certain low-wage employers;
  • The elimination of the four-year cumulative rule;
  • The extension of the exemptions to the caps on the number of low-wage temporary foreign workers employed by seasonal companies; and
  • The continued development of additional pathways to permanent residence for temporary foreign workers.

 

Elimination of Certain Barriers Faced by Newcomers

A significant barrier faced by high-skilled permanent residence is the process of having foreign credentials recognized in Canada and gaining acceptable work experience. In response to this, Budget 2017 proposes providing support to a Targeted Employment Strategy for Newcomers. This strategy has three (3) main elements:

  • Improved pre-arrival supports that allow newcomers to begin the foreign credential recognition process before arriving in Canada;
  • A loan program that will assist newcomers with the cost of having their foreign credentials recognized; and
  • Targeted measures to test innovative approaches to help skilled newcomers gain Canadian work experience in their profession.

This strategy will help newcomers to maximize their contributions to the Canadian economy and ensure that the skills possessed by these newcomers will be put to good use.

 

Implementation of Canada-European Union Economic and Trade Agreement (“CETA”)

Budget 2017 calls for the final ratification and implementation of CETA in light of the recent approval of the agreement by the European Parliament in February 2017. Pending completion of the necessary legislative and regulatory processes for implementation of CETA in Canada and the European Union (“EU”), most of CETA is set to come into force by as early as spring 2017. From an immigration perspective, CETA is set to provide those seeking to enter Canada from the EU with additional options for entry, as the agreement promotes more open markets between Canada and the EU, including greater freedom of movement of temporary foreign workers.

 

Protection of the Integrity of Canada’s Asylum System

In an effort to balance Canada’s commitment to providing protection for refugees with concerns over abuse through fraudulent claims, Budget 2017 proposes support to make permanent the Reviews and Interventions Pilot Project. This pilot project allowed Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) to conduct reviews and intervene in in-Canada claims for refugee status when there are concerns of credibility and program integrity identified by IRCC or the Canada Border Services Agency (“CBSA”). By making this program permanent, IRCC will retain the authority to intervene during asylum hearings to ensure the integrity and credibility of the information provided to the Immigration and Refugee Board, providing additional protection from fraudulent claims.

 

Legal Aid Services for Asylum Seekers

Finally, Budget 2017 seeks to enhance the delivery of immigration and refugee legal aid services, together with the provinces and territories, to provide refugee claimants with the legal advice, information and representation required to establish their claims. Budget 2017 also provides for funding for an initiative to resettle approximately 1,200 survivors of Daesh, including Yazidi women and children from northern Iraq and Syria, providing protection to this vulnerable group that has been the target of abduction and enslavement.

 

In sum, Budget 2017 promises a number of upcoming changes that will have a significant impact on almost every facet of Canadian immigration. While the complete details of these reforms have yet to be disclosed, we remain hopeful that these changes will strengthen Canada, both internally and on the international stage.

 

Firm News

Jacqueline Bart was quoted as an immigration law specialist in the Law Times on November 28, 2016 regarding IRCC immigration prosecutions of employers and again on January 9, 2017 to address the CBSA watchdog initiative.

In 2017, BartLaw has received the following awards;

  • 2017 Lawyer Issue award — Immigration Law Firm of the Year
  • 2017 ACQ law award –  Canada – Immigration Law Firm of the Year
  • Lawyer International Global Awards – 2017 SME – Immigration Law Firm of the Year – Canada
  • Finance Monthly Awards 2017 – Immigration & Nationality – Law Firm of the Year – Canada
  • Professional Sector Network 2017 – Immigration Law Firm of the Year – Canada
  • 2017 Corporate Intl Global Awards – Immigration Lawyer of the Year in Canada (Jacqueline Bart)

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