Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Opportunities in Quebec

Dear Ms Powell,
I've been reading your column since 2012 and I must say thank you for shedding so much light on the Canadian immigration system. I notice, however, that most times you say that a programme is not open to persons who want to move to Quebec. Does that mean that there are no skilled-worker programmes for persons who are interested in Quebec?
- G.M.
Dear G.M.,
The province of Quebec has several options for citizens of other countries to become permanent residents. This is separate from opportunities available for permanent residence for other provinces under the express entry system.
Not only is Quebec a very beautiful province, the government of Quebec is always seeking to implement programmes to attract immigrants who can contribute towards the growth and development of the province. There are many immigration programmes accessible to persons interested in Quebec. For example, there are opportunities for temporary and permanent workers, students, family sponsorship and business people. You should visit the website www.immigration-quebec.gouv.qc.ca for information about the province's programmes and policies.
Quebec has a generous immigration programme for skilled individuals known as the Quebec Skilled Worker Programme (QSWP). This is based on a first-come, first-serve basis. This means that as long as you are qualified and you submit your application before the cap is reached, then you stand a good chance of being selected.
Individuals who apply will be expected to demonstrate, among other things, that they have the requisite qualifications, work experience and language proficiency to be successful in Quebec. The usual medical and security checks should also be expected.
The QSWP is now closed, but is expected to reopen later this year or early next year. There is a limit on the number of applications that the province will accept. It is anticipated that a maximum of 6,300 applications will be accepted in the next round. The applications will be accepted via a new online electronic tool that is expected to simplify the application process.
A Quebec selection certificate will be granted to each successful applicant, which qualifies the individual to apply for permanent residence in Canada.

How To Qualify

The most significant changes expected when the programme reopens later this year are that the qualifying points have been lowered and there is no strict adaptability criterion (even though the government reserves the right to do an adaptability interview, if they deem it necessary).
Although an applicant can get points for a job offer and for being fluent in French, these are not prerequisites to apply. This is exciting news for individuals whose main language is English. Additional points will be awarded to applicants who have children, especially if the children are under 12 years old.
Since the QSWP is a point-based system, the key is to score as many points as possible under each category and to submit an accurate application in a timely manner.
A single applicant will be expected to score a minimum of 49 points and a couple must score a minimum of 57 points. Points will be awarded based on level of education, training, work experience, age, language proficiency, financial self-sufficiency, spouses' characteristics, number of children and proof of a valid job offer.
To qualify, an individual must submit proof of language competency in either English or French. A maximum of 16 points can be awarded for French language based on the French language examination, Test d'Evaluation de Francais. A maximum of six points will be awarded for English language. The International English Language Test System, General Training results will be required. Your scores will be higher if you are able to demonstrate competence in both languages.
To find out more about how to prepare for the QSWP, contact an immigration lawyer to assist you.
-Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator, and notary public. Submit your questions and comments to: info@deidrepowell.com Find her on Facebook: jamaicanlawyer.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

I Want My Mom With Me In Canada

Dear Ms Powell,
I am Jamaican born and I recently got permanent residence in Canada. My mother is now alone in Jamaica and I want her to come to live with me. I heard that I can apply for a 'super visa' for her to come and stay with me for up to five years at a time. Can she work when she comes? How do I apply for the super visa for my mom?
Dear OM,
Parents and grandparents of Canadian permanent residents or citizens can apply for a super visa to visit their children and grandchildren for a period in excess of six months at a time provided that both the applicant and the sponsor are able to satisfy the requirements of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).
Under this programme, the applicant will be expected to be a visitor only and not work without a valid work permit during the time that he is visiting. If your mother would like to work, she will need to apply for a work permit and satisfy the work permit requirements. A super visa does not grant you permission to work in Canada. A separate application would need to be made for a work permit or an application for permanent residence under the Parent and Grandparent Programme (PGP), which is different from the super visa application.
How To Qualify For A Super Visa
 The application process for a super visa is similar to the application for a regular temporary resident visa except that there are a few additional requirements. The key issue will be that your mother will need to first establish that she is a genuine visitor and that she will not work while visiting you and that she will return to her country voluntarily at the end of the time granted.
The key will be to show that she has greater ties in Jamaica than in Canada, which would warrant her returning to Jamaica. Such ties would include a job, ownership of property, savings, investments, a motor vehicle, community involvement, and other dependents or family members.
Your mother would also need to undergo medical and security checks to ensure that she is not a threat to other Canadians and will not become a burden to you or the Canadian government. She will need to present her biometric information, which means giving her fingerprints and photograph, at the visa application office. She will also be required to do a medical examination.
Your mother will need to submit proof that she has purchased Canadian medical insurance, which is valid for a minimum of one year and has a minimum coverage of CAD$100,000. It should cover health care, hospitalisation, and expenses associated with her emergency return to her country if necessary.
You will also need to satisfy the immigration officer that you have the means and the ability to accommodate your mom for an extended period of time. If you are living alone, you will need to show a minimum income of approximately CAD$23,000; a family of two - income of CAD$28,000; and family of three - income of approximately CAD$35,000. These figures change on an annual basis, so you should always check the CIC website for the updated information when you are ready to apply.
You will also need to provide your mother with an invitation letter that details your relationship, proof of your income, and information about the accommodation you are willing and able to provide. You should include a copy of your birth certificate, a job letter, your most recent tax returns, and if you own a home, you should include a copy of your deed. If you are renting a home, you should enclose a copy of your rental agreement or lease.
These documents should be submitted with the completed application forms and the required fee. Your mother can visit the nearest visa application centre (VAC) for additional information and also to provide the biometric information. The forms must be completed accurately in order to avoid delays or rejection.
You should also note that CIC reopened the Parents and Grandparents Programme a few years ago, but they have limited the number of applications that they will accept up to 5,000 per year. If you are interested in sponsoring your mother on a permanent basis so that she has the freedom to work, you should examine the requirements and have your applications ready to submit immediately when they reopen this programme.
The programme is usually reopened in January. In the past, the cap was reached within a matter of days. So if this is the route that you would like to take, I suggest that you start getting your documents ready in order to be able to apply promptly before the cap is reached.
Published in the Jamaican Gleaner: http://www.jamaicagleaner.com/article/lifestyle/20150818/i-want-my-mom-me-canada
• Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator and notary public. Submit your questions and comments to: Email: info@deidrepowell.com.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Immigration Corner: What's The Best Way To Get To Canada?

Dear Ms Powell,
I have been working as a customer service representative at a bank for the past four years and I would like to move to Canada. I tried applying under the express entry programme, and when I did the online assessment, it said I was ineligible. Someone said it's because even though I have seven subjects, I wouldn't qualify as I don't have a degree or diploma. She said if I study in Canada, I might be able to get citizenship that way. Is this true? How do I apply to study in Canada and become a citizen?
- TP
Dear TP,
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has made several changes over the last 12 months to their policies and procedures dealing with applications for study permits and have introduced the highly competitive express entry system. This new system is based on individuals' scores using factors such as age, education, experience, language ability, and adaptability.
Citizens of other countries may be granted the right to become permanent residents of Canada if they satisfy the requirements under the existing rules for application under the Federal Skilled Trade Programme, the Federal Skilled Worker Programme, the Canadian Experienced Class (CEC), or Provincial Nominee Programme (PNP). To qualify under any of these programmes, individuals need to demonstrate that they are able to get the minimum required points and fall within the occupations being accepted.
As a customer service representative, you should note that your occupation falls within Level C of the National Occupational Classification (NOC). So even if you score the minimum of 67 points, you would not qualify to enter into the pool of candidates under the express entry system based on your occupation. Only occupations that fall under NOC skill levels O, A, and B will be admitted into the pool. A full list of those occupations may be found on CIC's website. Generally speaking, occupations that are at minimum of a supervisory level and above would qualify. Professional occupations such as accountants, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, pilots, lawyers, CEOs, and engineers would qualify, if they get the requisite points.

Studying A Very Good Idea

 It is a very good idea to apply to study in Canada, especially since you obviously have the potential to do very well in school based on the number of subjects that you already have.
It is also a fact that individuals with a degree or diploma stand a better chance of being able to get the requisite number of points and becoming a permanent resident of Canada.
Individuals who receive a diploma or degree outside of Canada would need to apply for an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) report from one of the authorised institutions to certify that the international degree or diploma is the equivalent to a similar accreditation in Canada.
Individuals who receive their diploma or degree from a designated learning institution (DLI) in Canada will not need to apply for an ECA.
Once an individual has completed studying in Canada, the next step would be to apply for a postgraduate work permit, gain Canadian work experience (skill levels O, A, B), then apply under CEC through the express entry system (assuming that is the system in place at the time of the application) to become a permanent resident. After you have received permanent residence and lived in Canada for a minimum of six years and satisfy all the other requirements, you may apply to become citizen.
Your first step would be to apply to a DLI to be accepted in a programme with duration of a minimum of one year. Once you have received the acceptance letter, then your next step would be to apply to CIC for your study permit.
You will need to complete all the requisite forms, attach all the required documents, and pay the fees. Ensure that you complete the most recent forms that are available at the time of your application.
If you do not have a temporary resident/visitor's visa for Canada, you should also ensure that you complete the required form at the same time.
Be prepared to present proof that you are able to afford the programme and have a clean bill of health and security record.
Some of the documents and information you will need to present are:
1. Proof of payment of the requisite fees or proof that you can afford to pay the requisite school fees without becoming bankrupt; or
2. Proof that you qualify for or have access to a student loan or scholarship; or
3. A letter from a person, organisation, or institution that will be providing you with funding. That individual will need to provide proof of his source of funding;
4. Present your biometric data;
5. Valid passport;
6. Two recent photographs taken in accordance with the specifications.
You may be required to provide additional documents based on your individual circumstances. If you have other issues or concerns or would like more information and personal assistance with the application process, contact an immigration lawyer directly.
Published in the Jamaican Gleaner 11/8/15: http://jamaicagleaner.com/article/news/20150811/immigration-corner-whats-best-way-get-canada
Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator, and notary public who is a member of the Jamaican and Ontario, Canada bars. Submit your questions and comments via email to info@deidrepowell.com. Subject line: Immigration Find her on Facebook: jamaicanlawyer

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Express Entry Myths and Realities

Dear Ms Powell,
I am an administrative assistant with more than six years' experience. I want to migrate to Canada. I was reading about the express entry programme and it seems quite simple. I don't see why I need a lawyer. The only thing that concerns me is that I don't have a job offer. I want to submit my application immediately, so can you tell me some of the things I should look out for in dealing with this?
- BL
 Dear BL,
The express entry system may appear simple to some individuals, but there are some myths about the system that cause individuals to risk their chances of receiving permanent residence in a timely manner. The system is often misunderstood or underestimated. I previously outlined the basic facts about the system and I strongly recommend that you review that article. In answering your questions, I will focus on seven myths about the express entry system and will highlight the realities.
 Myth 1: Express Entry Is The Only Way To Immigrate To Canada.
Reality: Express entry is a system that was introduced by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to manage the federal economic programmes such as Federal Skilled Worker Programme (FSWP), Federal Skilled Trade (FSTP), Canadian Experience Class (CEC) and some Provincial Nominee Programme (PNP) applications. That means that there are some PNP applications that do not fall under the express entry system. In fact, Quebec Skilled Worker, and Quebec Experience Programme do not fall under the express entry system. Family sponsorship applications are also excluded from the express entry system. Temporary immigration programmes such as the temporary resident visa, work permit and study permits are also excluded from the system. These other programmes remain in effect and individuals must follow the procedures for applying for those other programmes and not use the express entry system.

Myth 2: There Is No Cap, And Express Entry Is Open To Anyone.

 Reality: There is no cap on the number of applications that CIC will receive, nor is there a restrictive list of occupations as with previous years. However, individuals will still need to qualify under the existing FSWP, FSTP, and CEC programmes. Your occupation must be on one of the qualifying national occupation code lists. You will need to satisfy the minimum requirements under each programme and be able to meet the required minimum points based on the established core human factors. To find out if you qualify, complete the free online assessment form available atwww.deidrepowell.com.

Myth 3: A Job Offer Is Required Before You Apply Under Express Entry.

 Reality: You do not need a job offer in order to apply under the express entry system. If you do have a job offer then this will help you to get more points and be more likely to be selected.
Myth 4: If English Is Your Fist Language, You Do Not Need To Sit An English Examination.
Reality: The government of Canada has stipulated that in order to enter the express entry pool, every candidate must pass at least one or both of the official language tests. That means that you must pass the minimum benchmark based on the programme under which you are applying. The acceptable English examinations are the General Training, International English Language Testing System (IELTS), The General 2014 test under the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP), and Test d'evaluation de francais (TEF) for French.
 Myth 5: The Express Entry System Is Simple And No Documents Are Needed To Apply.
Reality: The system may appear simple, but you will still need all the usual supporting documents. While you are not required to upload documents to enter the express entry pool, you will need the reference numbers for your language examination results and your educational credential assessment report. If you receive an invitation to apply, you will have 60 days in which to upload the standard documents required when you apply under the FSWP, FSTP, CEC and PNP. It is, therefore, imperative that you have these documents in advance. You will only have 60 days in which to supply these documents and there will be no extension of time, so you will need to be prepared.

Myth 6: You Can't Change Your Express Entry Profile Once It Is Submitted.

Reality: You can update your profile after you have submitted the application. A common reason to update the system is if you resit a language examination, have additional training, received a promotion, or received a job offer. These changes will improve your ranking and increase your chances of receiving an invitation to apply for permanent residence.

Myth 7: It's An Easy System And You Do Not Need To Hire A Lawyer.

Reality: The system is designed to reduce wait time and backlog for CIC. It does not mean that CIC will be less vigilant or that its original standards are lowered. In fact, the system makes it easier for CIC to monitor and check applications more carefully. The applications will be thoroughly scrutinised and errors or misrepresentations can lead to rejection or serious penalties. Every individual's life experience is different. An authorised immigration lawyer will be able to review your life experiences and prepare your application to ensure that it is well received by CIC. You will know in advance whether your particular occupation falls within the acceptable codes, your comprehensive ranking score and ways to enhance your profile. This will maximise your chances of receiving an invitation to apply and ultimately make Canada your new home.
Published in the Jamaica Gleaner: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/news/20150721/immigration-myths-and-realities#.Va4bFeCFeTQ.twitter
Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator, and notary public who is a member of the Jamaican and Ontario, Canada bars. Send your questions to:info@deidrepowell.com.Subject: Immigration. Find her on Twitter: deidrespowell and Facebook: jamaicanlawyer.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Express Entry Facts: Immigration Lawyer, Deidre S. Powell

  • What is Express Entry?
  • How does it work?
    • Once you meet the criteria for at least one of the existing economic programmes you will be placed in a pool of candidates for selection by the Government of Canada, provincial and territorial governments and legitimate employers.
  • Will there be a cap on the number of applications to accepted?
    • No. There will be no limit to the number of applications that CIC will accept under the Express Entry pool.
  • What will happen to applications submitted for permanent residence prior to January 1, 2015?
    • Applications submitted to CIC before the launch of the Express Entry system will continue to be processed in accordance with the rules in place at the time of the submission of the application. 
  • Do I need a job offer in order to apply?
    • No. Once you are eligible under one of the existing economic programmes ( FSWP, FSTP, CEC) you will be accepted into the pool.
  • What if I am eligible for more than one programme?
    • If you are deemed eligible for more than one programme, the system will highlight that information to CIC and you will receive an invitation to apply for CIC which will tell you the programme that they have selected you for.
  • What is the Processing time?
    • Once an invitation to apply has been granted, we will submit your completed application within the stipulated 60 days.  CIC plans to process your application in 6 months or less.
  • Do I need to get an Education Credential Assessment (ECA)?
    • If you received your education outside of Canada, you will need to get your credentials assessed by one of the authorized bodies.This is necessary for persons hoping to qualify under the Federal Skilled Worker Category.  It is optional under the Federal Skilled Trades Programme and the Canadian Experienced Class.  However to increase your ranking in the pool it is highly recommended for applicants.
  • Where can I get my credentials assessed?
  • How long is an ECA valid for?
    • An ECA is valid for 5 years.
  • I am from an English speaking country. Do I need to do the English Exam?
    • Yes. All economic immigrants will need to provide the results of their English language Examinations in order to apply.
  • How long is the language test valid for?
    • The new electronic Express Entry will give employers more recruitment options and help them better respond to labour shortages where there are no available Canadian citizens or permanent residents.
    • Eligible employers will play a significant role in the recruitment of economic immigrates. This will reduce the recruiting cost that employers face.  They will also be assured that they will have qualified employees. Express Entry candidates with a job offer supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment or provincial/territorial nomination will be given additional points to be granted an invited to apply.
    • Employers will have access to the Job Bank so that you can connect with express entry candidates.  The Job Bank will “match” eligible employers with Express Entry candidates who meet their job description when there are no Canadians or permanent residents available to do the job.
    • In 80%the majority of cases, permanent residence applications will be processed in six months or less of receiving a completed application.
  • Will there be a fee for LMIA?
    • There will be no LMIA fee for permanent residence applications.
  • Who can represent you under the Express Entry?
    • Only some people can charge a fee or receive any other type of payment to represent an immigrant or advise on a Canadian immigration proceeding or application. These are lawyers and paralegals, notaries and immigration consultants  who are members in good standing of a Canadian provincial or territorial law society; the Chambre des notaires du Qu├ębec; and the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council. These are the only authorized representatives.
    • N.B. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will not deal with representatives who are not members of one of the above groups and who charge for their services.
Find out if you qualify under the Express Entry by completing our online client information form.

Strong Words to UWI student

Dear Ms Powell,
I am supposed to go into final year at the University of the West Indies (UWI) next September and I'm contemplating not going back. My boyfriend is a Canadian citizen. He takes good care of me and gives me money for my boarding. He is planning to send money for my ticket to come to Canada soon. He, however, wants me to stay in Canada when I visit. He said it doesn't make sense I finish up studies here in Jamaica, as Canada does not recognise Jamaican degrees. He said I could come up and live with him and he will sponsor me. I'm a little confused as my mother died recently and I don't have anyone else to help me. I don't have any money to finish up and any money I get comes from my boyfriend. A friend said I should write you to see if my boyfriend can really sponsor me and if it's true that even if I go Canada I wouldn't be able to use my UWI degree. I look forward to your advice as I'm a little confused.
- AT
Dear AT,
I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your mother, as a mother's guidance can be invaluable in times like these. So, I will speak frankly with you as I do not want you to make what could be a big mistake at this critical time in your life.
You have just a matter of months to finish your degree and I strongly recommend that you make every effort to finish your degree. The greatest investment you can make in your life is to invest in your education. I'm sure you have heard the saying, "Silver and gold will vanish away, but a good education will never decay."
A degree from the UWI is recognised in Canada and the rest of the world. I do not know what you are studying, but the degree from UWI can be a launching pad for a world of opportunities. Do not give up. You are almost there.
 Who Can Sponsor You?
Once you are finished with your degree, you will have the freedom and independence to live life as you truly want to without depending on anyone to sponsor or support you, if you do not really want to.
I note that you did not say that you love this man or that he loves you. Has he proposed to you? How would he sponsor you? As a common-law spouse or as a wife? How much do you know about this man?
For this man to sponsor you, he would need to prove to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) that:
1. He is married to you, or that he is in a serious, committed/ common-law relationship with you; that he is single and not in a common-law relationship with someone else.
2. He has the financial ability to take care of you.
3. You will not need financial assistance or become a financial burden to the government of Canada.
4. He has not sponsored anyone else within the last five years.
5. He has not declared bankruptcy and it is not discharged.
6. He has not defaulted on a court-ordered child-support payment.
7. He is not receiving social assistance, unless for reason of disability.
8. He does not have a criminal record.
Can you say positively that he will be able to satisfy these conditions?
As mentioned before, since you are almost finished with your degree, if he would like to sponsor you, then he should encourage you to finish the degree while he submits the application to sponsor you. The sponsorship application takes time. You should note that the processing time for sponsorship of spouses when they are outside of Canada is usually faster than if the application is made when the person being sponsored is already in Canada. Furthermore, there could be some restrictions on your ability to travel outside of Canada once the application is submitted for permanent residence when you are already in Canada.
 Opportunities Available With A Degree
I know you mentioned the difficulty you are facing with finances. However, you should consider applying for a student loan or write to various private organisations, requesting sponsorship, loan or grant. You may elicit the support of an organisation to assist you, especially if you have good grades, active part in your school and local community.
Once you have your degree in hand, you are on your way to being able to independently apply for permanent residence in Canada. You will need to get an Educational Assessment Report from one of the institutions approved by CIC. A list of these organisations is on my website. You will need to submit a copy of your degree, an original sealed transcript from UWI in order for your degree to be assessed. You will receive a report to show that your degree is the equivalent to one been granted by an accredited university in Canada.
You will also need to sit and English language examination. The most popular is the IELTS, general training examination that you would need to sit at UWI. Strive to get a minimum of eight points for reading, writing, listening and speaking, in order to increase your chances of being given an invitation to apply for permanent residence under the express entry system.
Once you have the ECA, IELTS results, work experience and savings, you may apply under the express entry system as a Federal Skilled Worker to become a permanent resident in Canada. If you have close relative or a spouse in Canada you stand a significant chance of your application being successful.
Once you have your degree, you can even apply for post graduate scholarships at various universities around the world. With a degree your opportunities for immigration have increased. Why not even look at opportunities in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand?
It is good to have the support of someone else, but don't limit your opportunities. I'm encouraging you to make every effort to finish your degree. That could be the best decision you could ever make for your future. If your boyfriend really wishes your well, he will also encourage you to finish while he starts the sponsorship application. Best of luck to you. Keep me posted of your decision and progress.
Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator, and notary public who is a member of the Jamaican and Ontario, Canada bars. Send your questions to:info@deidrepowell.com. Subject: Immigration. Find her on Twitter: deidrespowell and Facebook: jamaicanlawyer. Call 876.922.4092 or 876.922. 8899/ 613.695.8777
Published in the Jamaica Gleaner: June 14, 2015.