Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Immigration Corner | Am I eligible to Immigrate to Canada?

Immigration Corner | Am I eligible?:

Dear Ms Powell,

I am a professional with over five years' work experience, and I have been trying to get to Canada for the past three years. I spoke to an immigration consultant and he said I was eligible, however, when I submitted the application via the express entry portal, it said that I was not eligible to apply. I do not know who to believe right now and I am very frustrated. Why would my profile be ineligible when I am a professional?
- E.M.
Dear E.M.,
The express entry system is designed to give individuals points based on work experience, education, language, age, and other factors. Once you have entered your information correctly, the system will calculate your score to see if you qualify under the Federal Skilled Worker Programme, The Federal Skilled Trade Programme, the Provincial Nominee Programme, or the Canadian Experienced Class Programme.
The term 'professional' is subject to further evaluation to ensure that you actually qualify under one of the economic programmes. Before you can apply under the express entry system, you must ensure that you are able to satisfy the minimum requirements stipulated by Immigration Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Your education level will be evaluated, along with your job experience. Acceptable work experience is that which was obtained after you received the minimum educational requirement for the particular job (usually after a degree or diploma). This does not include jobs as an intern or apprentice.
That means that if you have a degree or diploma from a non-Canadian university, you must get your credentials assessed and have a report to show that you have a degree or diploma equivalent to Canadian educational standards. The Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) report is valid for five years.


 You will also need proof of your language ability, and you will need to have your language results in hand before applying. The acceptable examinations are the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), the General Training Examination, and the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Programme (CELPIP) General Test.
These examinations cannot be done online, so you have to book your examinations to sit them in person. Currently, only the IELTS is provided in Jamaica at the University of the West Indies. You will be tested on your reading, writing, listening, and speaking ability. If you are married, then both you and your spouse should sit the examination to maximise the points you are awarded under the system.
The English examination results are only valid for two years, so check to ensure that your report has not expired.
Individuals are sometimes deemed ineligible if they do not have the required settlement funds, which is based on the number of individuals in your family. You should ensure that you have no less than CAD$12,500 in savings or investments before you even consider applying.
Points are also given to individuals if they have a close relative who is either a permanent resident or citizen living in Canada. You will need the individual to provide you with proof of his status.
If you have a valid job offer, usually supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) report; a provincial nominee, Canadian postsecondary education; and French language examination results, then these factors can improve your scores and ensure that you are deemed eligible.
The key factor to note is that you do not just want to be deemed eligible and admitted into the pool. You want to be selected and given an invitation to apply for permanent residence. Therefore, your goal is to maximise the number of points that you can get. Another important factor is to ensure that you enter your information correctly as simple errors could lead to your profile being deemed ineligible.

Find out if you are eligible by sending an email to info@deidrepowell.com and request a telephone consultation or completing our online form.  Please attach your resume.
- Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator and notary public. Submit your questions and comments to info@deidrepowell.com. Subjectline - Immigration. You can also find her at Facebook.com/jamaicanlawyer

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Immigration Corner | What's the fastest route to Canada?

Dear Ms. Powell,
I got married to a Jamaican man over the Christmas holidays. What is the fastest route to get him to become a permanent resident of Canada? My husband is a professional and I heard that professionals can get permanent residence in six months.
My neighbour said that her sponsorship application was submitted in 2013 and that she has not yet got through. She said that even though she submitted details of her relationship from the beginning, Immigration Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has been asking for more proof, even though they are married. She is very stressed out by the process and I'm looking for the simplest route. She also said that there are new rules for sponsorship applications. I already completed the forms for sponsorship. I'm not sure if I should send them in or let my husband apply for express entry. What is the difference between the two processes and which is quicker?
- W.J.
 Dear W.J.,
Immigration Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced changes to the family sponsorship application in December 2016. The new changes are expected to reduce the processing time for applications. Canada is committed to family reunification and so they are hoping that the applications will now be processed within 12 months.
Every case is different, and, therefore, the processing time will depend on the facts surrounding your case and the complexity. It is your duty to ensure that you submit properly completed application forms and supporting evidence in order to avoid delay with your application.
There will be a transitioning period from the old system to the new under the Spousal Sponsorship Application.  Therefore, applicants who have already completed the old forms and used the old kits, may submit their application. Applications submitted using the old forms and kits must be received on or before January 31, 2017.
The IRCC staff will review the application for completeness only. If your application is returned due to missing information, or otherwise, you will be required to resubmit your application using the new forms and new checklists.
To help you make the decision about the best option to follow, consider the information below.
The new application process for sponsorship of family members is considered to be simpler than the previous one. There is one straightforward application guide, and the number of forms to be completed has been reduced significantly. There is no need to do an upfront medical or submit police certificates until later in the process. Once notified, you will have 30 days in which to do your medical examination and obtain police records from all the countries where your husband has spent most of his adult life, since the age of 18, if this country is different from the country where he is living. You should also note that there are currently no country-specific questionnaires for Jamaica.
Another important factor to consider is that if you and your spouse have been in a relationship of two years or less and do not have children in common at the time of submitting the sponsorship application, your spouse will be granted conditional permanent residence.
That means that you and your sponsored spouse must cohabit in a legitimate relationship for a minimum two years from the day on which he receives his permanent resident status in Canada. If he does not remain in the relationship, the permanent resident status could be revoked. There are, however, certain exceptions to this rule.
It is, therefore, very important to document your relationship clearly and provide all the necessary documents to show that you have a genuine relationship. The key is to submit documents such as proof of joint ownership of property, joint leases/rental agreement, utilities' bills, photographs of the wedding ceremony and of your joint activities, documents showing the same address, and other proof that your relationship is recognised by your friends and family. Letters, text messages, emails, airline tickets, boarding passes, a photocopy of passport pages showing entry and exit stamps of visits are also highly recommended. Social media information demonstrating your public relationship is also acceptable proof.
You will also be financially responsible for your spouse for a minimum of three years and will be required to submit an undertaking to support him. That also means that your spouse should not require social assistance during that period, and if social assistance is given, you will have a duty to repay the government.
The express entry system was launched in January 2015. It is a management system for individuals who would like to be granted permanent residence status in Canada based on Canada's economic immigration programmes. These economic programmes are designed for individuals who qualify under the Federal Skilled Worker Programme, the Federal Skilled Trades Programme, Canadian Experience Class and a portion of the Provincial Nominee Programme. This is locally called "self-sponsorship".
The express entry system was designed to work in tandem with Canada's economic plan and their responsiveness to labour market and regional needs. The programme has undergone significant changes since its inception, and most applications have been processed within six months after all the relevant documentation has been submitted to IRCC.
The express entry system is highly competitive and individuals are selected based on the Comprehensive Ranking Scores (crs). Scores are given based on factors such as age, level of education, language ability, education, work experience, provincial nomination, and a qualifying job offer.
If you would like to know more about the system, then contact and immigration lawyer to guide you base on the finer details of your case. 
PUBLISHED IN THE JAMAICA GLEANER - Immigration Corner | What's the fastest route?
Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator, and notary public. Send your questions or comments to info@deidrepowell.com. Find her on Facebook.com/jamaicanlawyer. Visit her website: www.deidrepowell.com for more information about her services. You may also call 613.695.8777 to schedule a consultation in person or via telephone.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Immigration Corner | Afraid to go home

Immigration Corner | Afraid to go home:

Dear Ms Powell,
I am a Jamaican attending school in Canada. I have a job for the summer and plan to take a quick trip to Jamaica before the summer is over. My concern is that my study permit says something about the fact that it does not authorise re-entry. It doesn't say anything about me not being able to work. My programme doesn't end until 2018. I'm worried that if I go back to Jamaica I won't be able to come back to finish my programme. I want to see my family, but I don't want to get stuck in Jamaica. Is there a way to check before I leave to make sure I don't have problems?
- J.E.
Dear J.E.,
There is a distinction between a study/work permit and a visa. A study permit without restrictions may authorise you to work within Canada on a part-time basis, up to a maximum of 20 hours, and on a full-time basis during breaks/holidays. You do not have to apply for a separate work permit, provided that there is no clear restriction endorsed on your permit.
Your study permit is not a visa. You will not be allowed to re-enter Canada using just your study permit. Your study permit is endorsed with 'This Does Not Authorise Re-Entry'. This means that you will need to have a valid temporary resident visa or be a citizen of a visa-exempt country. You should always ensure that you have a valid temporary resident visa to be able to travel to and from Canada.
You will need a temporary resident visa (TRV) to return to Canada. Check your passport. You must have had a TRV. The period of time granted varies. It could be as little as three month, and up to five or 10 years. It could be a multiple-entry visa or a one-entry visa. Sometimes, individuals submit an application for TRV for a one-entry visa, because of the cost of the application, without looking at the long-term effects. Usually, a visitor can stay in Canada up to six months with a TRV. However, a work/study permit allows you to stay in Canada up to the expiry of the permit without reapplying. This, however, does not grant you authority to leave and return to Canada without a valid TRV.
When applying for a work permit or study permit, it is always best to indicate on your TRV application that you are applying for a multiple-entry TRV. It saves you reapplying during the course of your studies.
If you are not a green-card holder and your TRV will expire while you are in Jamaica, then you may reapply for your TRV when you are in Jamaica. There is no guarantee that you will be granted the TRV when you are there. You will be evaluated based on the requirements under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and Regulations, just like any other applicant who lives in Jamaica. It will be your duty to submit the same documents as when you first applied for the TRV. You will need to show ties to your home country or country of permanent residence, proof that you will return and that you are motivated to return to your home country on the completion of your studies. Most important, you will need to submit proof that you can afford to complete your studies in Canada.
Can you apply within Canada? The answer is yes and I strongly recommend that you do so before you leave Canada. The application process is faster and less stressful. It also alleviates your fears of not being able to return to Canada in time for school. Bear in mind that you should also submit the same documents as if you were outside of Canada, as noted above. This application should be submitted at least two months prior to your departure from Canada or two months before the expiry of your visa, whichever is first.
 Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator and notary public. Send your questions or comments to info@deidrepowell.com, put in the subject of your email 'immigration question'. Follow her at Facebook/jamaicanlawyer. Call 613.695.8777 or 876.922.4092.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Immigration Corner | Do I need a visa? ( Greencard Holders)

Immigration Corner | Do I need a visa?  ( Tips for USA Greencard Holders)

Dear Ms Powell,
Do I need to apply for a Canadian visa if I have a US green card and a Jamaican passport? I am planning to visit my aunt and family for Christmas and I don't want any trouble at the airport.
- GH
Dear GH,
A Jamaican citizen with a valid US green card, which is a card granted to permanent residents of the US, is not required to get a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or visitor's visa in order to travel to Canada. This, provided that they are not deemed inadmissible to Canada and have an Electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA).
Effective March 2016, an individual with a US green card is required to get an eTA. This is also applicable to individuals who are planning to travel to other countries via Canada (in transit).
You do not need an eTA if you are a citizen of the US and have a valid US passport.
 How To Apply For An eTA
The application must be submitted online via the Immigration Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website. You will need to have a valid credit card and email address in order to pay the fee of CAD$7 and to receive emails from IRCC within 72 hours.
You will be required to enter all information as it appears in your passport and green card. Be very careful and ensure that you enter accurate information to avoid delay or rejection of your application. It is critical that you enter the 'A-Number' exactly as it appears on your card.
Other information that will be required and questions to expect:
1. Whether you have made previous applications to enter Canada. This includes work or study permit applications
2. The amount of money you have available for your trip
3. Occupation/ job title
4. Name and address of employer/ school
5. Urgent reasons for your trip
6. Have you ever committed, been arrested for, been charged with or convicted of any criminal offence in any country?
7. Have you or anyone close to you had tuberculosis?
8. Do you have a health condition for which you are currently receiving ongoing medical treatment?
What Happens After You Submit An Application?
You will receive an email within minutes confirming that your application has been received.
If you do not receive a confirmation email shortly, then you should check your spam folder. If IRCC requires additional documents from you then you will receive an email to check your online account and upload the documents there.
You should ensure that you receive confirmation that the eTA has been granted before you book your ticket to travel to Canada. It is mandatory for Jamaican citizens with a green card, regardless of age. You should apply for your eTA immediately just in case there are delays with your application.
The eTA is usually valid for five years. If you have issues or concerns about how to apply for an eTA or visitor's visa, you should consult with an immigration lawyer immediately.
Deidre S. Powell is an immigration lawyer, mediator and notary public. Submit your questions and comments to info@deidrepowell.com or call 613.695.8777/ 876.922.4092. You may also find her on Facebook.com/jamaicanlawyer.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Immigration Corner | How Do I Get My Helper To Canada?

Dear Miss Powell,
I am 83 years old and I usually spend winters in Jamaica. I have a helper who works with me when I am there. The doctors do not recommend that I go on any extended trip and I'm in need of some help here in Canada. I do not want to be in a nursing home. I would like my helper in Jamaica to come to Canada to work for me. How can I get my helper here? My neighbour said she sponsored her helper some years ago, but that the rules have changed a bit since then. Is there a way to get my Jamaican helper to come to work for me in Canada?
- L.M.
Dear L.M.,
A Canadian permanent resident or citizen can hire an international worker to assist them in their home in Canada, provided that both the Canadian employer and the international employee can satisfy certain requirements.
Before you can make a job offer, you will first need to get a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from the Canadian government. The LMIA will be your authority to hire an international employee. You can get this document from the Employment and Social Development Canada Services. If you qualify, this report will allow you to hire your helper under the Temporary Foreign Worker Programme (TFWP).
Once obtained, you should send a copy of the LMIA, along with a contract of employment, to your helper so that she can apply for a work permit under the TFWP.
Your helper/potential international employee will need to apply for an employer-specific work permit from the Visa Application Centre (VAC) nearest to her in Jamaica. She should submit the required application forms, proof of her education, work experience and other documents to show that she meets the requirement of the job that you are offering her.
 She should also be careful to show her ties to Jamaica and that she intends to return to Jamaica at the end of her employment contract or on the expiry of her work visa. Examples of documents that she can submit are: proof that she is in a committed relationship; that she has children; tangible assets such as a house, car, bank statements, and any other information to show that she has strong reasons to return to Jamaica when her contract expires.
She will also need to submit her biometrics data, so her fingerprints will be taken at the VAC. She must also pay the required processing fee when submitting the application.
This is essentially a two-step process, so you should consider contacting an immigration lawyer to ensure that both you and your employee do a pre-assessment of your eligibility before even submitting an application to the Canadian immigration authorities. That way, you will be fully aware of all the requirements beforehand and ensure that you can both meet them. This could save you both a lot of time, and money and prevent undue stress.
- Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator and notary public. Send your questions and comments to info@deidrepowell.com or call 613-695-8777 or 876-922-4092

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Immigration Corner | Tell me about these changes to the Canadian Immigration System

Immigration Corner | Tell me about these changes:

Dear Ms Powell,

I saw online that professionals can sponsor themselves to become citizens of Canada. I tried a few years ago, but I didn't get through. A friend said that there have been changes to the system, and since I am a manager at a bank and my husband is a mechanic, we stand a good chance. My sister is also interested, and she works at a hotel as a chef. Can you please tell me what the changes are and how we can qualify?
- C.J.
Dear C.J.,
The Canadian government has several programmes under which individuals can apply to become permanent residents, and later, citizens. The programmes are monitored by Immigration Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Although family sponsorship is possible for parents, grandparents, children under 18 years, to name a few, many individuals have found that self sponsorship is a viable option.
To qualify, individuals need to satisfy the requirements under the Federal Skilled Trades Programme, Federal Skilled Worker Programme, Canadian Experience Class, and Provincial Nominee Programme. These are called economic programmes, and applications are accepted through the express entry system.
The express entry system was introduced in January 2015 as an electronic system used to select individuals who qualify under one of the above programmes to invite them to apply for permanent residence of Canada. There is no cap on the number of applications being accepted and there is no strict occupation list. Individuals who receive an invitation to apply can expect to get permanent residence in approximately six months.
The key is to have the highest possible score based on age, adaptability, language ability, education, work experience, job offer, and provincial nominee. The aim is to get a maximum of 1,200 points based on those criteria.
Each individual will be required to enter personal information accurately into the Canadian government system. Points will be awarded using the comprehensive ranking system. In previous articles, I outlined how to maximise your scores and to receive an invitation to apply for permanent residence. IRCC has been having regular rounds of invitation to qualifying individuals. Therefore, it will be up to the individuals to take steps to improve their scores to over 450, based on the past trends.
Recently, the Canadian government made changes to the points granted to applicants based on their job level or national occupational classification and job offers with or without labour market impact assessment report (LMIA) and study in Canada.
Previously, there was a scramble to get a job offer from a legitimate employer who had an LMIA report as only LMIA- exempt jobs or jobs with LMIA reports were worth 600 points. No point was granted to offers without an LMIA.
However, under the new rules, which came into effect on November 19, 2016, an individual can get between 50-200 points for a qualifying job offer. A professional or manager who has education and experience in certain jobs, or a CEO, directors, or managerial jobs such as legislators, managers in the financial, trade, communications, broadcasting health, education, social services, community services, membership organisations, construction, transportation, production, would could gain an extra 200 points just for occupation.
Occupations such as human resource manager, purchasing manager, financial managers, fire chiefs, police officers, administrative assistants, legal assistants, insurance underwriters, bookkeepers with a qualifying job offer could get 50 points.
This is a relief to many potential applicants as there is no longer a strict requirement for LMIA. However individuals with an LMIA would still get additional points under the new system.
The skilled trades occupations are still eligible and in demand. These include cooks, bakers, chefs, butchers, industrial, electrical, construction, equipment operation, technical jobs in natural resources, agriculture, processing, manufacturing, utilities supervisors, and central control operators. All these skills are automatically classified as skill type 'B' and will be admitted into the pool. If an individual has a job offer, then an additional 50 points will be granted.
Previously, no extra point was awarded for Canadian study. The only benefit was that those individuals who studied in Canada were exempted from providing the standard educational credential assessment report.
Under the new system, additional points are being awarded for Canadian study as follows: 15 points for one-or two-year post-secondary programme; 30 points for a three-year programme, master's, or PhD. The applicant will need to prove that they were physically present in Canada in a programme for at least eight months.
Many international students are relieved to see this change as this means that their chances of receiving permanent residence after a minimum of one year of study have improved significantly.
The provincial nominee programme is still the most valuable way of gaining 600 points to get an ITA for permanent residence.
Once an ITA has been granted, a candidate has 90 days instead of 60 days in which to submit all the supporting documents for final processing.
It is expected that around 51,000 international applicants will receive permanent residence in 2017. The key is to have a strategy to ensure that you maximise your points in order to be selected.
I strongly recommend that you meet with an immigration lawyer to assess your eligibility and have an immigration plan.
- Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator, and notary public. Send your questions and comments to info@deidrepowell.com. Call 613.695.8777 or 876.922.4092/8899. Find her on Facebook: jamaicanlawyer.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Immigration Corner | Can my granddaughter sponsor me?

Dear Miss Powell,
My granddaughter lives in Canada. Can she file for me? My daughter died recently and I don't have any other relatives here in Jamaica. I'm retired and she is 28, married, with one child. I think I could be helpful to her, plus it would be a joy to just be close to my granddaughter and her family.
Dear SW,
If your granddaughter is a permanent resident or a citizen of Canada, she can sponsor you to become a permanent resident of Canada under the family class category of parent and grandparent sponsorship. Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has limited the number of applications that it will accept on an annual basis to 10,000. The quota is currently full; however, the programme will be reopened on January 3, 2017. Therefore, now is the time to prepare your documents so that you can submit them promptly when they begin accepting applications.
Your granddaughter must prove that she is financially able to sponsor you. This means that she must not have had government financial assistance for any reason other than as a result of a disability and not declared bankruptcy or defaulted on an immigration loan payment. She will be required to sign a sponsorship agreement indicating that she will be financially responsible for you for a period of time ranging anywhere from three to 10 years from the time that you have been granted permanent residence.
She will need to be earning a minimum of CAD$38,272 per annum, and the amount increases based on the number of persons in your granddaughter's family. There is a federal income table for sponsors of parents and grandparents that you will need to examine, and you will also need to provide the Notice of Assessment from Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for the past three years.
To be eligible, she must not have been convicted of a criminal offence or an offence against a family member.
Your granddaughter must submit an application to sponsor you. To do so, she will need to complete the required forms which are available online. The forms must be done accurately and be consistent with the facts and supporting documents. Examples of the forms to be submitted are the application to sponsor and sponsorship agreement. If she is using an authorised representative such as a lawyer, she should also complete a use of representative form.
The required supporting documents are a photocopy of her passport, permanent resident or citizenship card/certificate, and birth certificate that shows her status in Canada. She must also submit a photocopy of her parent's birth certificate, with your name as the mother to prove that you are her grandmother. If she is using a co-sponsor such as a spouse or another family member, similar documents will be required of the co-sponsor.
The required fee must be paid online and proof of payment submitted with the application. You will be required to do criminal and medical checks as part of the process.
This process can take anywhere from 12 to 24 months to process, so you should ensure that you and your granddaughter are prepared to submit a completed application along with all the required supporting documents on January 3, 2017. All documents must be mailed to the Case Processing Centre in Mississauga.
I strongly recommend that you consult with an immigration lawyer immediately to ensure that you get personalised responses to all your questions.
Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator and notary public Email: info@deidrepowell.com Subjectline: Immigration or Tel: 613.695.8777/ 876.922.4092 or contact her on Facebook: Jamaicanlawyer