Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Immigration Corner: I Lied About Being Gay

Dear Miss Powell,
I'm in a same sex relationship with my Canadian boyfriend.
He wanted me to visit him so in his invitation letter he stated that I was his cousin by marriage and I also placed that information on the application form. That was done to keep my sexuality private and to protect me. Unfortunately the visa was denied.
We plan to get married soon and then he wants to sponsor me as his spouse. I read that I could be banned for misrepresentation. Is this true? What should we do?
- LJ
 Dear LJ,
You should not lie or give misleading information to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) as there are serious consequences. A person is deemed inadmissible under the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Protection Act for, "directly or indirectly misrepresenting or withholding material facts relating to a relevant matter that induces or could induce an error in the enforcement of the Act."
It is not a criminal offence but goes to the heart of the integrity of the Canadian immigration system and CIC's goal of ensuring that all applicants are treated equally and fairly.
So, even though most people can understand the desire to keep your homosexual relationship private, you did not just conceal that the individual is a friend or partner, which is material fact, but went further to say that your partner is a cousin. This deepens the misrepresentation.
The penalty for misrepresentation (for cases outside of Canada), is that you could be barred from submitting an application for five years following the determination that there was a misrepresentation.


The best way to handle this situation is to deal with it in an honest, upfront manner. Do not make the situation worse. You need to voluntarily come forward and present the details of your misrepresentation; present your apology and an explanation when you submit your application for spousal sponsorship. Do not wait for the immigration authority to discover it on their own, as you will only compound the situation.
The reality is that there is a strong possibility that your spousal application could be denied, even if you provide an explanation with your spousal application. Nevertheless, all hope is not lost, as you could appeal the decision to the Immigration and Refugee Board or wait the five years to reapply. The officer is obliged to follow the Act and cannot extend the inadmissibility period, unless there are additional issues to consider at that time.
If your application is denied and you choose to appeal the decision, you should note that the board will examine all the circumstances of your case and weigh whether they should grant your requests.
Some of the key factors that the board would look at are: the seriousness of the misrepresentation; the circumstances surrounding it; the remorsefulness of the individuals involved; the impact that this could have on your family and your relationship with your spouse; joint investments; property and family obligations; whether you have a child together or other dependent family member who is directly affected; the impact that this could have on them and the degree of hardship that could be caused if your application is denied.
This list is not exhaustive, therefore I suggest that you get legal counsel to assist you with your application. You will need to present credible and convincing facts to show that the circumstances of your case are unique and warrant the considerations of the officer or the board. You should present sufficient evidence that the officer/ board should grant you relief even on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
The key thing to remember is that your marriage will be highly scrutinised by the authorities to ensure that it is genuine and not one entered into so that you can have the benefit of coming to Canada. So, you should be prepared to be honest about how you met, the development of your relationship, details of the ceremony, your financial status and details about your marital commitments.
Best of luck to you and your spouse.
Deidre S. Powell, is a lawyer, mediator and notary public. Submit your questions to info@deidrepowell.com  Subjectline: Immigration or via fax to 613.695.8778. 
Published: http://jamaicagleaner.com/article/news/20160209/immigration-corner-i-lied-about-being-gay

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

I'm In School And Plan To Move To Canada

Dear Ms. Powell
I am a final-year student at the University of Technology, where I am completing my studies in computer science. I would like to become a citizen of Canada. I have an uncle there. Can you tell me how I can qualify to go to Canada when I finish studying?
- O.J.
 Dear O.J.,
Canada is one of the many countries that encourage qualified professionals to become permanent residents based on their education, experience, savings, and demonstration of ability to integrate and become a productive member of the Canadian society.
Being trained as a computer scientist is a viable skill and you could have a bright career path in Canada. You may be eligible to immigrate to Canada through the express entry system as a Federal Skilled Worker (FSW). Under this category, a person is chosen based on his or her education, work experience and ability to integrate and make a valuable contribution to the Canadian economy.
You indicated that you are currently completing your studies in computer science. Are you completing a bachelor's degree? Do you have a post-high school diploma or associate's degree in computer science? Do you have any work experience in computer science? To qualify to apply as a FSW, you will need to have a minimum of one year post-certification, work experience in your related field.
Based on the information submitted, you do not appear to be quite ready to submit an application. However, it is good to have a goal and plan in mind and to start preparing yourself to apply. I will, therefore, provide you with some basic information to assist you with your preparation.
You will need to sit the (IELTS) general training, English examination that is offered at the University of the West Indies. You should contact them immediately, as the waiting time to sit the examination is very long. Once you have completed your studies, you will need to request an Educational Credential Assessment Report to show that your degree or diploma is equivalent to one being offered in Canada. This can be requested from various accredited bodies in Canada after you have provided them with your transcripts and details of your studies. Medical and security checks will also be required to ensure that you are admissible to Canada.
The express entry system is very competitive, and so many individuals have chosen to do further studies such as a master's or PhD degree at a Canadian university, then apply for a post-graduate work permit in order to get Canadian work experience. Once an individual is able to demonstrate that he or she has the minimum required Canadian work experience, this usually increases the chances of gaining sufficient points to qualify to receive an invitation to apply for permanent residence under the express entry system. You may also be eligible to apply for one of the provincial nominee programmes. This is a longer and more expensive route, but one worth considering.
You should also note that the Canadian immigration rules and procedures are constantly changing. You should keep reading The Gleaner to stay informed and take advantage of the opportunity should one present itself. The key is to be prepared.
Best of luck in your final year!
Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator and notary public. Submit your questions and comments to info@deidrepowell.com. Subjectline: Immigration. Fax: 613.695.8778

Find out if you qualify: Complete our online form.
Published: http://www.jamaicagleaner.com/article/news/20160125/im-school-and-plan-move-canada

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Canada Immigration: How Do I Get A 'Super Visa'?

Dear Ms Powell,
I heard that I can get a Super Visa to go and stay in Canada for up to five years without going back and forth every six months. Can you tell me how to apply for a Super Visa?
- B.D.
 Dear B.D.,
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has a category called the Super Visa that is usually granted for a maximum of five to ten years. Qualified individuals will be authorised to stay longer than the usual six months - from the date of entry, up to a maximum of two years - without paying a fee to apply to extend the time authorised to remain in Canada. However, this visa is only open to parents or grandparents of permanent residents and citizens of Canada, who are able to satisfy certain requirements.
The main requirement is that you must be a genuine visitor and do not intend to work without a permit during your visit. You must also leave at the end of the time granted to stay within Canada.
If you are a parent or grandparent of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and able to demonstrate that you are eligible and admissible, you may submit an application to the nearest Canadian visa application centre.
It is a two-step application process, so both you and your child or grandchild must meet the requirements in order to be granted the visa.

The first step is to ensure that your child or grandchild meets the Low Income Cut-Off (LICO) threshold as established by Statistics Canada. This is a formula which is used to estimate how much the average family is expected to devote to its basic needs such as food, shelter and clothing. This is used to ensure that your relative will be able to provide for the family and that your visit will not be an economic burden on him or her.
The LICO is updated annually. Currently, if your relative is single, he or she will need to provide proof of income for two (including you). Therefore, income will need to be in excess of approximately CDN$30,300; a family of three - CDN$37,300; family of four - CDN$45,300, and so on. This table is available on Statistics Canada or the CIC website.
Your relative will need to submit a notice of assessment and/or T1/T4 for the most recent tax returns, job letter and proof of other assets and income.
You will also need to submit the usual qualifying documents to show that you are financially capable of maintaining yourself and that you have ties to your home country that will prompt you to return at the end of the time granted. CIC also looks at the economic stability of your home country as a part of the evaluation process.
Additionally, you will need to do a parent-grandparent medical examination, as well as provide proof of private medical insurance that covers hospitalisation and medical expense for a minimum of one year. You will not have free access to medical facilities in Canada if you become ill while visiting.
The parent and grandparent visa is a unique visa and is usually utilised by individuals who choose not to go through the sponsorship application process to become permanent residents. Usually, a parent and grandparent visit to assist their relatives in a time of need for an extended period of time and then return to their home country.
If you intend to stay longer than two years and have a child or grandchild who is a citizen or permanent resident, then now is the time to submit an application for sponsorship before the cap is reached.
If you do not have a child or grandchild who is a citizen or permanent resident, then you should apply for a 10-year multiple-entry visa. However, bear in mind that if you intend to stay longer than six months, you must submit an application to extend the time before the six months expires. You will be required to pay the requisite application fee and provide valid reason for the application for extension.
 Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator and notary public. Submit your questions to :info@deidrepowell.com. Subject: Immigration Fax: 613.695.8778
Published in the Jamaica Gleaner: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/news/20160119/immigration-corner-how-do-i-get-super-visa

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

IMMIGRATION CORNER: Can I Use A US Visa To Enter Canada?

Dear Ms Powell,
I am on long leave from my job as a teacher, and I'm visiting with my fiancÈ in New York. He wants us to visit his mother in Canada for the Christmas. Do I need a Canadian visa if I have a United States (US) visa? If I need a visa, can I just apply for it online or can I just visit the Canadian embassy here in New York?
- I.J
Dear I.J,
Each country has its own rules and requirement for granting entry by a foreign national. So, if you are from a 'visa-required' country or territory such as Jamaica, Trinidad, St Vincent, Guyana, Sierra Leon and Bangladesh, you will need to apply for a temporary resident/tourist or visitor's visa to enter Canada. You cannot just use your US visa to enter Canada. Although you may have satisfied the US government that you should be granted a visitor's visa, you will still need to satisfy the Canadian authorities that you qualify for a tourist visa to visit Canada.
If you are from a 'non-visa country' such as a British overseas territory, like Cayman Islands, the BVI, or a citizen of the Bahamas, Barbados or Antigua & Barbuda, you will not need a visitor's visa at this time. However, as of March 16, 2016, citizens of non-visa countries and individuals with a US green card will be required to get and present an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) in order to travel to or through Canada. The ETA is valid for five years or until the passport expires. Only individuals who are citizens of certain countries such as the US, or a 'transit without visa' country, will be exempted from this ETA requirement in 2016.
Assuming you are a citizen of a 'visa-requirement' country, like Jamaica, you will need to apply for a temporary resident. Therefore, if you are in the US on a visitor's visa and not as a citizen or permanent resident, you will be required to have a Canadian temporary resident/ visitor's visa in order to visit your friends and relatives in Canada for Christmas.
Although you may submit your application online and scan and upload your documents, you will still need to provide your biometric information and your passport to the Visa Application Centre (VAC) in your country of permanent residence. The VAC in New York only serves residents of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Bermuda. You will, therefore, need to attend the VAC nearest to your permanent residence in Jamaica to present your fingerprints and original passport, as part of the identification and application process.
In submitting your application for a tourist/ visitor's visa, you will need to prove that you have strong social and economic ties to your home country, and that you intend to return to your home country within the time granted, or before the end of six months. Ensure that you submit a letter from your employer to confirm that you will have a job to return to at the end of your vacation. You should also have a well-written invitation letter from your mother-in-law and documents to show that you are able to afford your trip.
You have the option of submitting an online application plus scan and upload the necessary document via www.csc-cvac.com/en-JM/selfservice; or submit a paper application to the VAC nearest to your permanent residence. The contact information for the centres in Jamaica are:
Visa Application Centre - Kingston
31 Upper Waterloo Road,
Kingston 10
Phone number: (876) 632-7370,
Visa Application Centre - Montego Bay
14 Sunset Boulevard
Montego Bay, St James
Phone number: (876) 632-7370
Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator and notary public. Submit your questions and comments to: Email: info@deidrepowell.com. Subject line: Immigration
Published in the Jamaica Gleaner: http://jamaicagleaner.com/article/news/20151208/immigration-corner-can-i-use-us-visa-enter-canada

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Immigration Corner: I Want To Move To Canada

Dear Miss Powell,
I am a professional and I would like my family to move to Canada. The problem is that I don't have a job offer. I have paid two companies to help me find a job and nothing. I feel like I'm wasting time and money now that the system has changed. Some of my friends did self-sponsorship under the old system and they are gone. I spoke to a consultant who said the only way I can get through is through a job offer or go to school.
I have a master's degree, my husband has a bachelor's degree and we have two children and we are already qualified so school is not an option. Can you help us? Life in Jamaica has become unbearable and I want the best for my children.
 Dear F.M.,
There are a number of ways you can immigrate to Canada without a job offer. Some of the ways may not apply to you, but I'm mentioning them for the benefit of other readers. You can immigrate to Canada under family sponsorship class, refugee and humanitarian programme. There are also the federal skilled worker programme, federal skilled trades programme, Canadian experience class via the express entry system and the Provincial Nominee Programme (PNP). I will however focus on the Express Entry System and the PNP.
Do not pay employment agencies. 
Before I elaborate about the various options, I want to caution you about hiring employment agencies. A legitimate employment agency will not ask you, the prospective employee, to pay them for sourcing a job for you. Usually the agencies are paid by the prospective employer to find personnel.
In any event, there are numerous free job posting websites such as Workopolis, Kijiji, LinkedIn, Indeed, Job Bank. Once you have submitted an express entry profile, you will be required to establish a job bank account, through the government of Canada and to apply for jobs posted.
You may continue with your job search after you have entered the express entry pool. The key thing to note is that anyone who is offering you a job should have a valid Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) Report and be in a position to share this with you. Once you have this report you can upload that information to your Express Entry profile. If a perspective employer cannot produce this report, then chances the offer is not valid; unless the position fall within the very limited scope of a jobs that are exempted from LMIA.
 Skilled Worker And Trades Programme
The Federal Skilled Worker Programme (FSWP), the Federal Trades Programme(FSTP) and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) are still operational and applications are being accepted under the Express Entry Programmes. Many individuals call these the self-sponsorship programmes, as you do not need a relative or a company to vouch for you. You can use your credentials and financial ability to show that you can successfully integrate into the Canadian society.
The qualifying process has not changed. It is still a points-based system. Through the above programmes applicants without a job offer can apply to become permanent residents via the express entry portal. You will still need to score a minimum of 67 points out of 100 on the points grid. The points are awarded based on your age, work experience, education, language and adaptability. A job offer is a bonus, but not a requirement. Once you are able to score the minimum of 67 points, then you will be admitted into the express entry pool and given a Comprehensive Ranking Score based on similar criteria. You will be selected based on the minimum CRS that is drawn while you are in the pool.
 Provincial Nominee Programme (PNP)
Many provinces have implemented their own immigration programmes, known as the PNP. Each province evaluate their economic and social needs; set their own rules and guidelines for selecting individuals and nominate them to become permanent residents.
The most popular PNP are from Quebec, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, British Columbia and Ontario. You must have an intention to settle in the province with your family and committed to economically establish yourself in the particular province. There is usually a cap on the number of applications that will be accepted by any one province each period. So if this is a programme that you are interested in, you should be prepared to submit your application promptly, once the opportunity presence itself. Quebec will be accepting new applications in January and so now is the time to get your ducks in a row.
How do you prepare?
You will need to get all the documents required to substantiate your application. For PNP some provinces require proof of tax compliance in your country, while others only require letters from your present and past employers.
Spouses should maximise their potential points by obtaining an Educational Credential Assessment Report (ECA), if your degree/ diploma/ certificate is from a post secondary school outside of Canada. You should submit a sealed transcript to one of the designated organisations for ECA in order to get an official report.
Every potential immigrant must prove their language ability in at least one of Canada's official languages. For English, your results in the IELTS, General Training Exam or the CELPIP examination is required. For proof of your French language skills, you will need to sit the TEF examination. These examinations cannot be done online. You must contact the relevant centres to sit the exam. You will be tested on your ability to write, speak, listen and read. You should strive to get a minimum of 7 in each category, so that you can be competitive.
Your aim is to get as many points as possible, so that you can receive an invitation to apply. Many individuals and their family have received an invitation to apply for permanent residence without a job offer under these programmes. Hopefully, over the next few months the minimum score under express entry will continue to fall to under 400, so that many more of the qualified individuals, without a job offer, can be selected.
Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator and notary public. Contact her by sending your questions or comments to: info@deidrepowell.com. Please put in the subject line: Immigration or fax: 613.695.8778  Find out if you qualify complete our online form.
Published: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/news/20151124/immigration-corner-i-want-move-canada

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

PR Card Expired

Dear Ms Powell,
I became a permanent resident of Canada in 2010. I went up and tried without success to get a job and couldn't get one. I returned to Jamaica and got a really good job. I have since got married and had a child. I used to go back to Canada quite often to try to maintain my status. However the last time I visited was in 2014 when I was questioned a lot by the immigration officer. I felt so intimidated and harassed by the whole process that I haven't been back. My permanent residence card is now expired and I would like to return to Canada as I have a job offer and would like to take my family with me. What can I do?
- ED
Dear ED,
There are several issues at stake here and I will outline the steps that you may take to deal with each issue. The first step is to deal with your expired permanent residence (PR) card.
Your PR card is your ticket to leave and re-enter Canada, as long as, it is valid. The PR card is valid for five years. You must satisfy your residency obligation during this five-year period, if you wish to maintain your status as a permanent resident. That does not mean you can't live outside of Canada during the five-year period. It means that you will need to prove that you have been physically present in Canada a minimum of two years or 730 days during the past five years. To prove the time there are several factors to consider, such as whether you were travelling with a Canadian citizen or whether you were employed to a Canadian company while physically outside of Canada.
You will need to ensure that you meet the residency requirement before you apply, as the fee for the application for a travel document is non-refundable and you could expose yourself to an inquiry that you were not prepared for.
If you are able to satisfy your residency obligation, then your next step would be to apply to renew your PR card while you are outside of Canada. You can download the application information online, complete the forms accurately and attach the supporting documents and submit with the requisite fee. This application should be submitted to the nearest Visa Application Centre (VAC).
Once you have received your travel document, you will need to return to Canada immediately and take up that job offer. The travel document is only valid for one entry. Therefore, you will need to remain in Canada, apply for the actual PR card and remain there until the new card is received. In some emergency cases, you may apply for a travel document to permit you to have multiple entries on a travel document. However, you indicated that you have a job offer, so you should accept the job and remain in Canada to be able to substantiate your sponsorship application for your family.
You may apply to sponsor your husband and child under 19 years old, to become permanent residents. To do so, you will need to satisfy the sponsorship requirements as outlined by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). This will include undergoing medical and security checks, as well as making sure that you are able to financially support your family.
This is a two-step application process so it is imperative that you are able to meet the various criteria. For more information you may visit the CIC website, review my past articles on sponsoring a family member, that may be found on my blog and The Gleaner website.
If you are unable to prove the residency requirement you may not be eligible for a travel document and you could lose your PR status. The good thing is that it is not an automatic process. You will not lose your PR status just because your PR card expires and you are outside of Canada when it expires.
You will need to go through the official process and an adjudicator will need to conduct an inquiry, before CIC makes a determination that you are no longer eligible to be a permanent resident. It is therefore critical that you seek legal advice if you are in this situation. You will need to provide several documents and submissions to CIC to justify retaining your permanent resident status. You appear to have some strong points to support your application and so may be able to overcome any breach of residency obligation.
Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator and notary public. Send your questions to info@deidrepowell.com, subject line- immigration. Find her on Facebook: jamaicanlawyer or Call 613.695.8777/ 876.922.4092

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Seeking A Better Life For My Son

Dear Ms Powell,
I have a child with a Canadian citizen. I have not been able to get in touch with him or to get any support from him. He got in touch with me via Facebook to say that he was sorry for not keeping in touch and that he would like to sponsor his son. The problem is that he was not here when I had my child, and so his name isn't on the birth certificate. Will he be able to sponsor him still? How do I get his name on the birth certificate? Should I do a DNA test? I'm sure the results would show that he is the father, so I'm not scared of doing that. I just want my son to have a chance at a better life and would like to do what is best for him. Do I have to go to court to get this done? ME
Dear ME,
Your son's father may be able to sponsor his son under the family class category provided that both can satisfy the requirements. You did not indicate your son's age; however, you should know that since August 1, 2014, a child is considered a dependent and eligible for sponsorship provided that he is less than 19 years old. Although your son's father's name is not on the birth certificate, this does not mean that he is ineligible. You will only need to take steps to prove the relationship and add his father's name to the birth certificate.
This is not a court process. You will need to make an Addition of Father's Particulars (Status) application at the Registrar General Department (RGD) in Jamaica. The application is available online at www.rgd.gov.jm, or you may visit the RGD office. You will need to provide a completed form, supporting documents, and pay the requisite fee.

The father must consent to the application. He will need to sign the application in the presence of a justice of the peace (Jamaica) or a notary public, or a commissioner of oath. To avoid delays with the processing of the application for the addition of name and the sponsorship, I strongly recommend that you do the DNA test and attach this proof with both the addition of name and sponsorship application.
With the amended birth certificate in hand, your son's father would be in a position to apply for his son to become a permanent resident of Canada under the family class sponsorship provided that he would be able to qualify as a sponsor.
He will be required to submit an application to be approved as sponsor. This first step takes approximately two to three months if his son remains outside of Canada. He will need to submit completed forms, supporting documents, and will need to prove that he can provide for his family and will not need social assistance. He will also need to undertake to be fully responsible for his son's food, clothing, shelter, household and personal supplies, dental, eye care, and any other medical needs not provided by public health care. He will be financially responsible for his son until he is at least 22 years old.
Once he has been approved, then the next step is to submit a completed application with all the relevant supporting documents for your son to become a permanent resident. Your son will need to undergo the usual medical and security checks.
 Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator, and notary public. Submit your questions toinfo@deidrepowell.com.
Published in the Jamaica Gleaner: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/news/20151006/immigration-corner-seeking-better-life-my-son