Canadian Immigration News
Immigrant Access Fund
While speaking at a business luncheon, former Alberta premier Peter Lougheed stressed the importance of resettlement assistance programs for immigrants, such as the Immigrant Access Fund.
The IMF gives money, in the form of loans, to assist professionally trained immigrants in gaining Canadian credentials and work. Since its inception in Alberta in 2005, the IMF has given out over $1 million to 305 new arrivals to the province, with a 99 per cent repayment rate.
“The Immigrant Access Fund fills a really crucial need in our province,” said Lougheed, highlighting the importance of raising public awareness over these issues. “The story needs to be known in the broader community.”
Each year, Canada accepts thousands of new immigrants who, upon arrival, are often unable to find work in their trained profession because they cannot gain the accreditation required to work here. Doctors end up driving taxi cabs or working behind fast-food counters.
“IAF loans are helping people pay tuition and exam fees, purchase books, have qualifications assessed, and even help their living costs, if that is where the need is,” said IAF executive director Diane Fehr.
The Alberta government estimates that within the next 10 years, the province could experience a 100,000 worker deficit. Many experts and policy makers, including Fehr, see immigration as a viable solution – provided that Canada has the necessary infrastructure to help immigrants flourish.
“We must act now to ensure Canada takes full advantage of the people who have already entered our country as skilled workers, and that Canada remains a country of choice,” said Fehr.
Information found at Edmonton Journal
Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative
The WHTI is a U.S. law that requires all travelers, including U.S. and Canadian citizens, to present a valid passport or other approved secure document when entering the United States . The U.S. WHTI is being implemented in stages by mode of transportation.
The new document requirements were implemented for air travel in January 2007. Final document requirements for those seeking to enter the United States at land or water ports of entry will take effect June 1, 2009.
Accepted Documents for Entry in to the U.S.
- Nexus Card - The NEXUS program expedites the border clearance process for low-risk, pre-approved travellers entering Canada and the United States .
- *Government-issued photo ID plus proof of citizenship.
- FAST card - Low-risk, pre-approved commercial importers, carriers and registered drivers can take part in the FAST program to facilitate the movement of pre-approved eligible goods across the Canada–U.S. border.
- Enhanced driver's licence/enhanced identification card
- **Certificate of Indian Status
- ***Birth certificate or Canadian citizenship card
*Up until May 31, 2009, Canadian citizens entering the United States by land or water may use a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver's license, PLUS a birth certificate or a Canadian citizenship card.
**Up until May 31, 2009, Canadian citizens entering the United States by land or water may use the Certificate of Indian Status.
***Canadian citizens 18 or under (land and water only). Up until May 31, 2009, Canadian citizens 18 years of age or under only require proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate or Canadian citizenship card.
As of June 1, 2009, Canadian citizens 18 years of age or under who are travelling with a school or other organized group, under adult supervision with parental/guardian consent, may present proof of citizenship alone — a birth certificate or a Canadian citizenship card.
***Canadian citizens 15 or under (land and water only). Canadian citizens 15 years of age or under only require proof of citizenship, such as an original or a copy of a birth certificate, or a Canadian citizenship card.
Entry requirements to the United States have not changed for non-Canadian citizens residing in Canada . For more information on U.S. entry requirements, consult the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Web site. *
* Information found at http://www.cbsa.gc.ca/whti-ivho/menu-eng.html
Five Canadian Cities
A new survey has ranked five Canadian cities among the best in the world when it comes to standards of living.
The survey, conducted each year by the Mercer consulting company, is designed to help firms and governments worldwide place employees in the global market by ranking over 200 cities on varying factors ranging from cost of living to infrastructure.
Vancouver , Toronto , Ottawa , Montreal and Calgary were all placed higher in the rankings than any American city, with Vancouver being the top North American city and ranking fourth overall in the world.
Toronto and Montreal remained in the same positions as last year at 15 and 22, respectively. Ottawa moved up three positions to land at 16th spot while Calgary was down one to 26 on the list.
A representative from the firm who worked on the study said, however, that the recession is decreasing the amount of internationally-stationed workers.
“As results of the current financial crisis, multinationals are looking to review their international assignment policies with a view to cutting costs,” said researcher Slagin Parakatil. “Many companies plan to reduce the number of medium to long-term international assignments.”
Source: The Globe and Mail
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, in cooperation with the European Union, has just announced three new initiatives toward increasing worker mobility across the Atlantic ocean .
The agreements will see the governments working with professional organizations to align regulations and standards in the engineering field, development of a recognizable, cross-border certification for environmental workers, as well as forums to be held on both sides to publicly address the issue foreign credential recognition.
These developments will be especially welcomed in the environmental industries where demand for workers is continues to grow in a field that has become an issue of priority on the international stage.
“Pollutants and environmental impacts don't realize national or international boundaries and neither should the people that deal with them,” said Grant Trump, president of Environmental Careers Organization Canada, which will be involved in the development of certification policies under the mobility agreement.
However, it is not simply environmental workers who face barriers of accreditation in Canada . Many professions are regulated by the provinces, each with their own rules and practices. The process, therefore, of becoming a skilled migrant worker in Canada can be quite arduous, particularly when Canadian employers are suspicious of foreign credentials.
Many are hoping that the new mobility agreements will be able to help to change that.
“Companies are unaware if there are equivalencies between European Union credentials and Canadian credentials,” said Trump. “We're trying to document that and look at how we can increase that mobility.”
Source: Regina Leader-Post
New changes to citizenship laws
Amidst a slew of controversy, the Government of Canada is moving forward with new changes to citizenship laws that could affect any Canadian born outside of the country.
The new law will no longer allow for Canadians born outside of Canada to automatically pass on their citizenship status to their own children, if born outside of the country as well.
The policy change was said to be motivated by a desire to “preserve the value” of Canadian citizenship and prevent status being passed from generation to generation of foreigners.
However, a strong outcry from Canadian citizens living and working abroad had recently prompted Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to open an “investigation” on the new law.
Critics of the legislation argue that it will discourage more Canadians from international work if they cannot pass on their status to their children. Some even argue that foreign employers may become hesitant to hire Canadians, particularly Canadian women, if they have to fund a trip back to Canada for the potential employee so that their child will not lose status.
Further criticisms arise when considering that not all countries automatically grant status to a child born inside their borders, resulting in children with no citizenship at all.
Yet, despite these concerns and a review by the Immigration Department, the new law will go into effect this month. Representatives for the Minister say that their own investigation on its implications is “ongoing.”
Source: The Globe and Mail
Canada 's Immigration Minister says that the country's immigration process should place more stress on Canadian values.
The comments were made by Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney while speaking last week at the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.
Kenney said that his department is currently reviewing the entire citizenship process to ensure that Canadian values will be clearly communicated to newcomers. He said that there should be more Canadian history incorporated into the process.
“We want to make sure that when people become Canadians, they totally understand that Canadian history becomes their history, Canadian values become their values,” said Kenney.
Among factors that could underscore contribute the importance of Canadian values, Kenney cited information booklets given to potential immigrants, as well as the exam itself, which he said was “outdated” and had very little about Canadian history.
Kenney also noted that only 25 per cent of new arrivals to the country have been taking advantage of language classes and, once again, emphasized the importance of proficiency in English or French.
Critics argue that more Canadian history on the exams is not the answer to successful integration and say that more funding is needed for resettlement programs.
Source: National Post
New border-crossing regulations
Despite some very vocal criticism from a powerful U.S. politician, the Obama administration has just announced that there are no plans to delay new border-crossing regulations.
The new regulations in question are among several the measures taken to increase American security since 9/11. People who wish to cross the Canada-U.S. border will now be required to carry passports, rather than simply any government-issued identification as previous.
Though the policy has already been implemented for air border-crossings, the process for land-crossings along what was formerly the largest open border in the world has proven to be more complicated.
Louise Slaughter, who is a democratic member of U.S. Congress, has been among the most vocal of critics regarding the U.S. government's lack of preparation for the new policy.
She led a previous charge that successfully delayed the new policy from January 1, 2008 to June 1, 2009 and argues that the infrastructure is still lacking enough to produce “chaos” when the rules change this summer.
“I remain unconvinced that [the plan] is ready to be implemented in a way that will not harm the cross-border trade and travel so critical to our border communities,” Slaughter recently said to the press.
She said that the technology for the new electronic fast-pass cards is not ready to run. She added that the upcoming Olympic Games in Vancouver will likely attract more cross-border traffic than can be handled by a new system.
Despite government claims to be fully prepared for the policy change, Slaughter said she is planning to introduce legislation to delay the passport rule change for another year, until June 1, 2010.
Source: National Post
Economic experts in Canada are speaking out against the latest trend in American policy toward border protection, which could cost billions of dollars to the Canadian economy.
Since its inauguration, the new U.S. administration, under President Barak Obama, has been moving aggressively toward protecting the country's borders. The policy shift away from free trade and the NAFTA accord is causing concern among Canadian businesses that rely heavily on trade.
An estimated $1.7 billion in commodities move across the U.S.-Canadian border every day. Economic experts say that the U.S. and Canada should be working to open the border to even more fluidity, not increasing protection.
However, concern in the U.S. over illegal immigration from Mexico , is driving the administration in the other direction. Last month, Obama's government abandoned a multi-million dollar cross-border program with Mexico .
Top U.S. officials are taking the issue of illegal immigration very seriously and will likely not bend on their stance, despite the fact that the trade relationship with Mexico is not the same as with Canada . Yet, different policies on different borders do not seem to be a feasible solution at this time.
Ontario 's Economic Development Minister Michael Bryant has said as such, referring to the politics of Janet Napolitano, Obama's U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security.
“She [Napolitano] has made it very clear that all of her Southern U.S. neighbours were of the view that what is right for the Mexican border is right for the Canadian border,” said Bryant.
For now, the Canadians have no choice but to wait and see, hoping that increasing public pressure, combined with some old-fashioned diplomatic persuasion by the Canadian government, will go a long way to improving an already strained business relationship.
Source: Financial Post
Canada as one of the top three countries
A new study by Forbes Magazine has named Canada as one of the top three countries in the world in which to do business.
The study, published in March, measured business and economic conditions in 127 countries, ranking them from best to worst in terms of business. For the second straight year, Denmark ranked number one overall, with the United States in second.
Canada came in as the third best country in the world for business, up four spots from last year.
The study is designed to measure economic strength, not simply in terms of gross domestic product, or employment levels, but in less quantitative terms using varied socioeconomic data from varying sources such as the Central Intelligence Agency, the World Bank, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Transparency International.
Countries were measured on such factors as investor protection measures, intellectual property rights, domestic stock market performance and personal freedoms (as entrepreneurs are often more hindered in totalitarian regimes).
The high ranking is good news for Canadians who may be concerned over the recent worldwide economic downturn. Forbes' study concluded that Canada is one of the most attractive places in the world for investors, entrepreneurs and workers, which, in turn, make for a dynamic and flexible economy that is less susceptible to market influxes.
Source: The Financial Post