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

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:
Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator, and notary public who is a member of the Jamaican and Ontario, Canada bars. Send your questions 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 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.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

How to Write an Invitation Letter for a Visa Application

Dear Ms Powell,
My niece is in Jamaica and I am in Toronto. She would like to visit me for the summer holidays and she asked me for an invitation letter, but I'm not sure what to write. Can you tell me what information to put in the letter? Thanks in advance. Keep up the good work.
- K.P.
Dear K.P.,
An invitation letter is one of the most important supporting documents that anyone who is applying for a temporary resident/visitor visa should include as a part of their application to the Canadian Embassy. The letter should have all the essential facts about both your niece and yourself to help the visa officer to make a decision on whether or not to grant the visa. Therefore, it is important that it is well written.
Your letter must include the following about the person being invited:
- Complete name;
- Date of birth;
- Passport number, date issued and date of expiry;
- The person's address, telephone number and email address, if available;
- Your relationship to the person invited;
- The purpose/ reason for the trip;
- How long the person you are inviting intends to stay in Canada;
- Details on accommodation and living expenses;
- The date the person you are inviting intends to leave Canada.
Your letter should also include the following about yourself:
- Complete name;
- Date of birth;
- Email address, telephone number and address in Canada;
- Occupation and place of work;
- If you are retired, you should state that you are retired;
- Status in Canada - whether Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
You should consider including documents to substantiate your status in Canada. If you are a citizen, you should submit a copy of your Canadian birth certificate, passport, citizenship card/certificate. If you are a permanent resident, you may send a copy of your permanent resident card, your IMM 1000 proof of landing. You should ensure that your documents are valid as they will not accept expired documents. You may enclose these documents in a separate, sealed envelope to protect your privacy.
 Household Occupants
Additionally, you may also include details about the number of persons living at your home, the names and dates of birth of your spouse and children. While this information is not critical for a regular visitor's visa, it should be included when submitting a letter for someone who is applying for a parent and grandparent Supervisa.
If you will be providing financial support for your niece, it will be necessary for you to include your financial documents such as bank statement, job letter, and copy of the deed for your home, or anything else to show that you can afford to assist her with her travel plans.
This information is only a guide. Additional information or supporting documents may be necessary, depending on the reason for the visit. If your niece plans to attend a wedding, graduation or other special event, I suggest that you include a copy of the invitation or some proof of the event.
You should also note that some visa offices may require that you sign your letter in the presence of a notary public and the document be notarized.
Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator and notary public who is a member of the Jamaican and Ontario, Canada, bars, with office located in Ottawa, Ontario. Her areas of practice are in immigration, real estate, commercial and administration of estates. Submit your questions and comments to Email: Subject line: Immigration Tel: 613.695.8777. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
Also Published in the Jamaican Gleaner:

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Opportunities In Ontario

Dear Ms Powell,
I have relatives who live in Ontario. I read your recent article about opportunities in Manitoba and I was interested until I noticed that an applicant would need to have relatives there and not have any relatives in other provinces. What are my options as a professional who wants to live in Ontario? How do I ensure that I get selected in spite of the fact that Ontario is a popular destination for most immigrants?
- RC
Dear RC,
You are right that Ontario is still the most popular province for most immigrants and the provincial government has recognised this and taken steps to strengthen their position. The Ontario Immigration Act was passed with one of the main objectives being to ensure that the province attracts the best immigrants who can contribute to the growth and development of the province.
Individuals who have the requisite education or qualifications, work experience, language proficiency and demonstrate an ability to successfully establish themselves in the province of Ontario, can expect their application to be successful.
There are two main streams which have been introduced under the Express Entry System. They are:
1. Ontario Express Entry: Human Capital Priorities Stream.
2. Ontario Express Entry: French-Speaking Skilled Worker Stream.
The first step would be to qualify to enter in the express entry pool. Although there are many exceptions to the rule, the most successful applicants usually:
1. Are between the age of 21 and 40 years old;
2. Have an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) Report which shows that you have the minimum of the equivalent of a Canadian Bachelor's degree, Master's or PhD;
3. Have a minimum of seven points each for reading, listening, speaking, writing in the general training examination. (I strongly recommend eight points in each section to receive the maximum points);
4. Have a minimum of one year of full time, or full time equivalent work experience under occupation level 0, A or B (additional information about these codes can be found at
5. Have a close relative in the province of Ontario, that is, parent, sibling, aunt or uncle;
6. Minimum savings of CAD$12,000, depending on the number of people in your family.
7. If you are married, additional points can be acquired if both you and your spouse have an ECA report and demonstrate high points in your language examinations.
8. Have a minimum of 400 points under the Comprehensive Ranking System.
To qualify under the French speaking skilled worker system, you will need to demonstrate the above, but emphasis will be on providing proof of a minimum of seven in the French language examination, Test d'Evaluation de Francais (TEF).
 Notification Of Interest
Applicants can expect that if they qualify and have experience in an occupation that is in demand, the province of Ontario may select them from the Federal Express Entry Pool. Once selected, the applicant will receive a Notification of Interest and be invited to submit an application for nomination under the Ontario Provincial NominationProgramme.
With a provincial nominee, then this will increase your chances of being invited to submit an application for permanent residence. Once you have carefully submitted the required supporting documents such as letters of current and previous employment, police report, upfront medical, banks statements and any other required documents, you can expect your application to be processed within six months.
Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator, and notary public who is a member of the Jamaican and Ontario, Canada bars, with office located in Ottawa, Ontario. Her areas of practice are in immigration, real estate, commercial, personal injury, family and administration of estates. Email: subjectline: immigration. Call 613.695.8777 Facebook: jamaicanlawyer Twitter: deidrespowell.
Published in the Jamaica Gleaner: June 23, 2015

Investing in Canada - Manitoba

Dear Ms Powell,
I heard that there are opportunities to move to Canada as an investor. I'm not interested in living in Ontario; I think half of Jamaica is living there! Can you let me know about investment opportunities in other provinces? I have a cousin in Manitoba, and so I wouldn't mind moving there. Can you let me know the requirements and how much money I would need to show to be eligible?
- JJ
 Dear JJ,
I am pleased to see that persons are exploring opportunities outside the province of Ontario, as Canada has ten provinces with various attractive immigration programmes.
Since you have a relative in Manitoba, I will advise about the opportunities in Manitoba. The Manitoba Provincial Nominee Programme (MPNP) is a provincial immigration programme made possible through the Canada-Manitoba Immigration Agreement. There are two immigration streams under the MPNP. One is for skilled workers and the other is for business investors.
The MPNP for skilled workers was instituted based on the needs of Manitoba employers. Individuals are selected based on their experience, skills required in the local market and their adaptability. Applicants who have a strong connection to Manitoba, who can make a positive impact on the economy are usually nominated.
The Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program for Business (MPNP-B) was implemented to attract exceptional business persons who are willing and able to make an investment in the Province of Manitoba; and be active in new or existing businesses. If you satisfy the requirements, you will be provided with a nomination certificate which allows for faster processing of your application for permanent residence by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC)
To qualify for the MPNP-B, interested applicants must:
  •  have a minimum verifiable personal net worth of CDN$350,000;
  • show proof of business acumen with a minimum three years of successful business ownership and management experience or a minimum three years of executive-level experience as senior manager of a business; and
  • score a minimum of 60 out of a maximum of 100 points in the Adaptability Assessment Matrix.
  • The applicant must also be prepared to:

         - attend an interview with a MPNP-B officer;
          - make an Eligible Business Investment in Manitoba; and
          - reside in Manitoba along with his/her dependent family members.
How To Ensure That Your Application Is Successful
The system is point based. Therefore, the key to ensuring that your application is successful is to score highly on the adaptability matrix. You will be evaluated to see whether you would most likely succeed economically in Manitoba and whether or not you should be nominated. You will need to get a minimum of 60 out of a possible 100 points based on age, business knowledge, experience, net worth and other factors.
Therefore, to maximise your points, I strongly recommend that you take part in an exploratory visit to Manitoba. This will give you an extra 15 points. You must be prepared to submit an itinerary of your visit, copies of air tickets, boarding passes, description or report of your research and proof of stay in Manitoba.
If both you and your spouse sit the language examination, then you will receive additional points which are based on your scores for listening, reading, writing and speaking. If you get a minimum of eight points in each band, you can expect get the maximum scores for language.
You will also need to prepare a summary of your business intent, documents showing business ownership experience, net worth and other financial information. Since you have relatives in Manitoba, then you will need to submit proof of family members and their status in the province. That is, whether they are permanent residents or citizens.
Some individuals may not be eligible to apply under this programme. You may be deemed ineligible if:
1. You have close relative and or children residing in other provinces;
2. Unable to provide tangible proof or explanation of the source of your income or net worth;
3. Unable to demonstrate that you have the necessary skill and resources to operate the intended business;
4. If you or your spouse or dependent have has a serious medical condition. This applies to accompanying and non-accompanying family members;
5. You or your spouse or family member has a criminal record.
The first step is to submit an expression of interest (EOI) directly to the province. If you satisfy the requirements, you will receive a letter of advice (LAA) to submit a nomination application. At this point, you will need to submit documents to substantiate the information provided in the EOI. If you submit incorrect or false information, there are serious penalties.
Based on current trends, applicants may receive approval of Nomination Application within four to six months after submission. After that, you will need to apply to CIC for permanent residence. A CIC officer will then assess your application based on Canadian immigration rules. If you pass all the medical and criminal checks, you should be granted a permanent resident status within six months.
Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator, and notary public who is a member of the Jamaican and Ontario, Canada bars, with main office located in Ottawa, Ontario. Her areas of practice are in immigration, real estate, commercial, family and administration of estates. Email: subjectline: immigration. Call 613.695.8777.