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Latest edition – Spring 2014

Positive Reactions to Bill C-24, the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act

Minister Chris Alexander and Peter MacKay, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 Bill C-24, the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, tabled on February 6, 2014, is making progress on its journey toward law. Second reading of the bill that proposes the first comprehensive reforms to the Citizenship Act in more than a generation began in the House of Commons on Feb. 27th, 2014.Footnote 1

Stakeholder responses have been strongly supportive of the proposed changes. To cite a few examples:

“I congratulate the government on its changes to the Citizenship Act that combat residency fraud and ensure new Canadians have a stronger connection to Canada.”

Nick Noorani, Managing Partner, Prepare for Canada

“We welcome the government’s changes to the Citizenship Act that fast-track citizenship for Canadian Forces members and grant citizenship to their children born abroad while serving our country.”

Bronwen Evans, Managing Director, True Patriot Love

“The government’s new citizenship legislation addresses a host of long overdue issues relating to the acquisition of citizenship.”

Martin Collacott, Centre for Immigration Policy Reform and Former Canadian Ambassador in Asia and the Middle East.

Over the course of the third week of February, Minister Alexander also toured across Canada to explain to Canadians various measures in Bill C-24, the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act.

“The government’s changes to the Citizenship Act Footnote 2 reinforce the message that Canadian citizenship is valued around the globe and comes with duties and rights, privileges and responsibilities. These improvements to the Act will help ensure that new Canadians have a stronger attachment to Canada and will fully embrace Canadian values and traditions.”

Minister Alexander while in Vancouver

Read more about the measures in Bill C-24 in these supporting news releases:

CIC will provide updates on Bill C-24 on our website and in the next edition of this newsletter.


Eliminating the backlog-ridden and inefficient federal investor and entrepreneur immigration programs

Economic Action Plan (EAP) 2014 announced the government’s intent to terminate the federal Immigrant Investor Program (IIP) and federal Entrepreneur (EN) Program, eliminate a large and longstanding backlog of applications, and pave the way for new pilot programs that will actually meet Canada’s labour market and economic needs.

The current IIP provides limited economic benefit to Canada. Research shows that immigrant investors pay less in taxes than other economic immigrants are less likely to stay in Canada over the medium- to long-term and often lack the skills, including official language proficiency, to integrate as well as other immigrants from the same countries.

Eliminating the IIP and EN programs – and the associated backlog of applications – will allow the government to focus on attracting experienced business people and raising investment capital that is of maximum benefit to Canada’s economy.

While the IIP will be cancelled, there exist many pathways to permanent residence that help attract newcomers that Canada needs. Programs such as the Provincial Nominee Program, Federal Skilled Trades Program, and Canadian Experience Class have attracted over 61,000 Permanent residents in 2012.

The government will replace the IIP with a more focused, aligned and effective pilot project that will ensure immigrants who come to Canada deliver benefits to our economy and labour market.

The government remains committed to a fast and flexible immigration system by investing in economic immigration programs that help contribute to our economic prosperity.

For more information:


With record numbers of students arriving, CIC strengthens International Student Program

Canada’s reputation as a destination of choice for international students is growing. In fact, in 2012, Canada welcomed a record number of over 100,000 international students – 60% higher compared to 2004. This marked the first time in Canadian history that over 100,000 international students have been welcomed in a given year.

New rules that aim to strengthen Canada’s status as a study destination of choice for prospective international students will take effect on June 1, 2014.

The new regulations will improve services to genuine students, while protecting Canada’s international reputation for high-quality education and reducing the potential for fraud and misuse of the program.

Key changes include:

  • Ensuring that study permit holders continue to study after arriving in Canada,
  • Limiting the issuance of study permits only to those applicants who will be studying at institutions that have been designated to receive foreign students by the institution’s provincial/territorial government, and
  • Allowing study permit holders to work off-campus without the need for a separate work permit.

For more information about the new rules for the International Student Program, please see CIC’s notice: New regulations for international students finalized.


Don’t be a victim – preventing fraud is everyone’s responsibility

As of December 9, 2013, CIC's Passport Program is giving Canadians living and working outside Canada and who need a guarantor for their passport application more convenient options – they can now choose as a guarantor:

  • an adult with a valid or recently expired Canadian passport (less than a year); or
  • a member of an expanded list of occupations.

Fraudulent and unauthorized immigration representatives take advantage of immigrants eager to come to Canada and pose a serious threat to the integrity of our immigration system. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is committed to working together with law enforcement and all levels of government to ensure that those who commit this kind of fraud and misrepresentation are punished.

Internationally, Canada has led public awareness campaigns with our peer countries, to warn potential immigrants about unauthorized immigration representatives. Despite this global effort, the victimization of potential immigrants persists.

March was Fraud Prevention Month and for 2014, CIC launched a new campaign, in partnership with the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) and the Federation of Law Societies of Canada (FLSC), to promote awareness of the dangers of using an unauthorized immigration representative. The campaign includes a video that urges immigrants to avoid becoming the victim of a disappearing act and explains where they can go to check if their immigration representative is authorized to deal with the Government of Canada.

The ICCRC is the regulatory body responsible for governing the conduct of immigration consultants and the FLSC is the national coordinating body for provincial and territorial law societies in Canada. Together with CIC, these organizations help safeguard potential immigrants from unscrupulous and unauthorized immigration representatives who would exploit them and who pose a serious threat to the integrity of Canada’s immigration system.

Potential immigrants can learn more about choosing and using a representative by visiting the Learn about using a representative.

“Fraud is a very serious issue in our immigration system. Our government is taking action to combat fraud by introducing specific measures in the Strengthening Citizenship Act that will address misrepresentation in the citizenship system. Fraud Prevention Month reminds newcomers of the importance of using authorized immigration representatives and provides information to newcomers so that they do not become victims of fraud.”

Chris Alexander, Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister

For more information:

News Release: Don’t Become a Victim of Immigration Fraud


Travellers to benefit from Canada’s shift to multiple-entry visas

If you need a visa to visit Canada, you’ll be pleased to know that the process has become simpler and cheaper. That’s because on February 6, 2014, CIC adopted the multiple-entry visa as its main, “go-to” visa. As a result, visitors to Canada are now automatically considered for a multiple-entry visa when they apply for a visa.

How does the multiple-entry visa benefit you?

  • It’s flexible and convenient: qualified travellers can come and go from Canada for six months at a time for up to 10 years without having to reapply for a visa and pay the processing fees each time.
  • It’s less expensive: the processing fee was reduced from $150 to $100, which is the lowest multiple-entry visa fee when compared to similar fees charged by the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia.
  • It’s gaining in popularity: since July 2011 when a 10-year multiple-entry visa was introduced, more than one million have been issued. As more countries introduce passports valid for 10 years, more visitors to Canada will benefit from a 10-year MEV.

Canada concludes successful IHRA chair year

Canada handed the chairmanship of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) to the United Kingdom at a ceremony in Berlin on February 25, officially concluding a successful year leading the promotion of Holocaust education, research and remembrance and the fight against anti-Semitism.

Canada assumed the Chair of IHRA, a network of 31 member countries committed to Holocaust education, remembrance and research, in March 2013 and committed to an ambitious campaign to raise Holocaust awareness and combat anti-Semitism, both in Canada and internationally. Key accomplishments throughout Canada’s chair year included:

  • achieving international consensus on a working definition of Holocaust denial and distortion;
  • hosting two working meetings bringing together international experts and policy makers;
  • funding the digitization of Holocaust survivor testimony in Canada; and
  • organizing numerous Holocaust remembrance, research and education events, and initiatives, such as:

Canada will continue to work closely with IHRA as an active member country under the leadership of the Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Andrew Bennett, with ongoing support from CIC.

Learn more about Canada’s chair year in IHRA’s Annual Report.


Respected citizenship judge passes away

Citizenship Judge John Dennison, who was the first black person appointed as citizenship judge for Ottawa in June 2012, passed away on January 14 after losing his battle with cancer.

Judge Dennison had over 25 years of experience working on multiculturalism related issues in the Government of Canada, including at Citizenship and Immigration and Canadian Heritage. He was the Founding Chairman of Cathedral Arts, the performing and visual arts programme of Christ Church Cathedral Ottawa. He served on the Ottawa Public Library Board Foundation and volunteered with a number of community organizations in Ottawa.

Judge Dennison was also the recipient of a number of awards including the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Award Medal; Lignum Vitae Award from the National Institute of Jamaican Canadians for outstanding leadership in the Ottawa community; Community Builder Award, United Way of Ottawa, for contributing to the engagement of the Black community in the arts in Ottawa; and, Award of Excellence, North American Black Historical Museum and Society Inc., for exceptional contribution to improving awareness and appreciation of Black Canadian Heritage.

Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney recognized Judge Dennison’s exceptional career and accomplishments at the launch event of Black History Month in February, asking the audience to observe a moment of silence to honour Judge Dennison’s contributions.

CIC’s deepest condolences go out to his family, friends and colleagues.


Upcoming: May is Asian Heritage Month: Recognizing the Contributions of Canadians of Asian heritage

Each May, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) invites Canadians to take part in events that commemorate the rich heritage and contributions of Asian Canadians. The month is to celebrate the many achievements of Canadians of Asian heritage, who, throughout history, have done so much to make Canada the culturally diverse, compassionate and prosperous nation we know today. This year, during Asian Heritage Month (AHM), the Government of Canada will recognize Asian Canadian leaders in a variety of fields, including the military, the arts, science, and sport.

In addition, as part of AHM 2014, CIC is recognizing the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the Komagata Maru to Canada’s shores through a number of projects and initiatives such as the development of an educational poster and documentary videos, and by promoting Canada Post’s commemorative stamp.

The Komagata Maru was a ship which arrived in Vancouver harbour in 1914 carrying 376 passengers of Indian descent, most of whom were not allowed to land because the ship did not make a direct journey to Canada, as prescribed by Canadian immigration regulations at the time. After almost two months in the harbour, the ship went to India where, in a clash with British soldiers, many of the passengers as well as some soldiers died.

The Indo-Canadian community has made enormous contributions to building our nation, and the Government of Canada is committed to recognizing the experience of the Indo-Canadian community and other communities affected by immigration restrictions in Canada’s past. One way the government is doing this is by marking the anniversary of Komagata Maru during Asian Heritage Month.

Since the adoption of a Senate motion in 2001, Canada has officially recognized May as Asian Heritage Month (AHM) – a time to celebrate the contributions of Asian Canadians to our society.

Watch our video, Celebrate Canada’s Asian Heritage


Spring Information Sessions on “Express Entry” for Employers

Over the course of spring 2014, senior officials from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will be meeting with select employers across Canada to provide further information on Express Entry. Minister Alexander recently announced this new name, replacing “Expression of Interest,” for the new economic immigration system that will be launched in January 2015. CIC is working with provincial/territorial counterparts to deliver the information sessions in their respective jurisdictions.

At these sessions, employers will be able to find out more about how they can access prospective immigrants who are job-ready. Representatives from Employment and Social Development Canada will also be on hand at some sessions to answer questions about the new and improved Job Bank website, where employers can be matched with candidates.

Express Entry will be applied to the Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Skilled Trades Program and Canadian Experience Class. Some provinces and territories also have streams which will be able to connect employers with candidates as part of their Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP).

Under the new system, employers will have a key role in selecting economic immigrants. Candidates who receive a valid job offer or PNP nomination will be quickly invited to apply for permanent residence (PR). Once a PR application has been received, CIC will process the vast majority in six months or less.

If you are a Canadian employer and interested in finding out more about these information sessions, please contact: CIC-SP-EOI-Project@cic.gc.ca.


Alexander concludes successful visit to China

Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander has concluded a successful visit to China during which he highlighted the many opportunities that exist in Canada for Chinese skilled workers, travellers, businesspeople and students.

Alexander visited Hong Kong and Shanghai to position Canada as a destination of choice for leisure travel, business and study. He highlighted the many pathways to Canada for aspiring permanent residents, reiterated the Government of Canada’s commitment to doubling the intake of international students, and promoted the new recruitment model to be known as the Express Entry system. Express Entry will result in faster visa processing for newcomers who have the skills and attributes that Canadian employers need, in the event that Canadians cannot fill available jobs.

In Hong Kong, Alexander met with government officials for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, as well as with business leaders—particularly those involved in research and development, venture capitalism and angel investing. The Minister reiterated Canada's intention in Economic Action Plan 2014 to replace the Immigrant Investor Program with new pilot programs.

While in Shanghai, Alexander met with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and spoke at numerous events related to international education to underscore China’s position as one of the top source countries for students coming to Canada.

Quick fact

More than 1.5 million Canadians can trace their ancestral roots to China.

Quote

“Canada is a welcoming place for Chinese visitors and students, and our permanent economic immigration programs offer many options for those looking to make Canada their home. This trip provided our government with the opportunity to highlight the various opportunities that exist within Canada and reinforce the strong ties between our two countries.”

Chris Alexander, Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister

New Canadian citizens in March 2014 almost double compared to one year ago

Approximately 33,700 people from 199 countries became Canadian citizens at citizenship ceremonies held across Canada in March 2014. This is almost twice as many compared to March 2013 when 17,089 people were granted citizenship across Canada.

Canada’s new citizens were welcomed at 312 citizenship ceremonies held across the country, from college campuses to Citizenship and Immigration Canada offices, to special ceremonies at railway stations and designated heritage sites.

These high numbers demonstrate that changes and improvements in effect over the past year have already made the system more efficient and resulted in a decreased backlog, helping more people realize their dream of becoming Canadian sooner. The government’s proposed changes in Bill C-24, the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, will further reduce wait times by streamlining the decision-making process for citizenship. It is expected that these changes will bring the average processing time for citizenship applications down to under one year and that the current backlog will be reduced by more than 80 percent by 2015-2016.

Quick Facts

  • So far in 2014, Canada has welcomed more than 75,900 new citizens at 759 ceremonies across Canada. Comparatively, in the first three months of 2013, Canada welcomed 35,320 new Canadians.
  • Canada has the highest rate of naturalization in the world—85 per cent of eligible permanent residents become citizens. Citizenship and Immigration Canada received 333,860 citizenship applications in 2013, the highest volume ever.

Quote

“By improving the efficiency of the citizenship program and launching the Blueprint for Citizenship Improvements, our government is working to ensure the timely processing of citizenship applications so that deserving applicants can become Canadians more quickly. The high number of new citizens who joined the Canadian family so far this year shows that our changes are working. Our government would like to welcome our newest citizens to the Canadian family.”

Chris Alexander, Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister
 
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