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Canada further strengthens its Temporary Foreign Worker Program to better protect live-in caregivers

Geopolitical map of CanadaImage via Wikipedia

This month, the Government of Canada announced it is implementing stricter regulations with the aim of further improving the working conditions for temporary workers and live-in caregivers in Canada. According to the federal government, consultations held over the past two years revealed that employers were exploiting some live-in caregivers because the system made them vulnerable.
“Temporary foreign workers come to Canada in a very vulnerable position because they are dependent upon their employer,” said Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC) Chair Nigel Thomson. “These new rules will help ensure that employers play by the rules.”
To address this, the federal government is tightening the regulations affecting live-in caregivers and temporary foreign workers, as well as the people who hire them. “The government is taking action to protect temporary foreign workers, including live-in caregivers, from potential abuse and exploitation,” explained Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.
New regulations came into effect in April 2010 that required employers to provide contracts that specify wages, benefits, accommodation, duties, hours of work, and holiday and sick leave entitlements.
Starting in April 2011, new rules will apply a more rigorous assessment to jobs for live-in caregivers and temporary foreign workers before the employers are given the authorization to hire. The assessment will address whether the employer has followed the rules in the past and has honoured their commitments to workers with respect to wages, working conditions and occupation. Failure to meet the commitments will result in a two-year prohibition on hiring foreign workers.
Other countries that host foreign temporary workers and live-in caregivers, including Hong Kong, Germany, Israel and other nations in Europe and the Middle East, do not allow these types of workers to become citizens. They are meant to stay in those host countries for years as temporary guest workers and any of their children born there are not considered as having rights to citizenship.
Under Canada’s innovative program, foreign live-in caregivers may become citizens of Canada. They are “fast-tracked” and can apply for permanent-resident status after completing 24 months of employment. Under the new Citizenship and Immigration Canada regulations, live-in-caregivers have four years, instead of three, to complete the required 24 months of full-time work. There will also be more flexibility with respect to the amount of time given to meet the requirements needed for permanent residence status. Any overtime worked may now be used to apply for permanent residency more quickly. Under the law, it will be possible for a person who works a lot of overtime to apply earlier, or the deadline may be extended if the person works less than full-time hours or needs time off due to illness, for example.
“We owe it to them, their employers and all Canadians to ensure that the program is fair and equitable. After all, they are an essential element of Canada’s economic success,” said Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.
Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program helps address temporary labour shortages by allowing employers to hire foreign workers when sufficient numbers of Canadian workers are not readily available. Without access to temporary foreign labour, many small businesses in Canada would not be able to function and would be forced into insolvency.
These new regulations are seen as important because it demonstrates Canada’s position that temporary foreign workers and live-in caregivers should be encouraged to apply for permanent resident status and that they may become citizens in a timely fashion and move on to other forms of employment if they choose.


Tamils and the difference between immigrants and refugees.

O CanadaImage by jurvetson via Flickr

A common refrain regarding the arrival of the Tamil refugees aboard the MV Sun Sea is that
they have “jumped the queue” and taken the place of “legitimate” immigrants who await entry to Canada.
The accusation is emotive but it is just plain wrong. Immigrants and refugees are entirely different groups. Each has its own stringent set of rules for admission to Canada.
Immigrants are people who want to come to Canada and have the opportunity to meet with officials at a Canadian embassy and apply under the criteria established by law. They must meet certain requirements and quotas established by Canada’s needs and circumstances.
Refugees are desperate people in flight. They have often been forced from their homes, subjected to human rights abuses, persecuted by the very authorities to whom they’d have to apply if they wished to obtain documents required to emigrate.
They often can’t travel to a Canadian embassy to apply for immigration because it would put them at great risk from those they are fleeing in the first place. In fact, international law recognizes the reality that refugees often cannot meet the normal legal requirements for entry into a country of safe haven and international agreements signed by Canada prohibit governments from penalizing refugees who enter or remain in a country illegally.
Most have lost all their possessions. What money they do have is often taken from them by smugglers who promise to get them out of immediate danger in exchange for cash. There’s no guarantee that they will be taken to safety. Sometimes they just get dumped at sea. Sometimes the boats sink. Sometimes they get killed by pirates. Sometimes they get betrayed to the authorities they flee. This is not a new phenomenon. It happened to United Empire Loyalists fleeing the American Revolution, it happened to Irish families fleeing the famine, it happened to Jews fleeing the Nazi Holocaust, it has happened to Vietnamese, Sikhs and North Koreans. So the Tamil refugees are not unusual. But that is why we don’t have lineups for people in flight or expect them to travel to a Canadian embassy and apply along with other immigrants seeking to come to Canada from a safe country. The circumstances in Sri Lanka are said by some to be “improving.” Here’s what the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission said in its last statement this year about conditions there:
“Looking for human rights in Sri Lanka is becoming increasingly like looking for water on the moon or in the desert … Sri Lanka today is one of the most violent societies where there is great permissiveness of extrajudicial killings. In the recent decades extrajudicial killings have taken the form of disappearances or various kinds of killings after arrest and while in police or military custody.”
On Aug. 19, Amnesty International issued the following statement: “Amnesty International recalls the many humanitarian workers who have fallen victim to human rights violations in Sri Lanka and the families of victims who have been frustrated in their pursuit of justice. Amnesty International calls on the UN to independently investigate violations of human rights and humanitarian law in Sri Lanka.” Many of the workers slain, it points out, were Tamils.
Canada has a legal obligation under the Conventions Relating to the Status of Refugees and the Convention against Torture towards refugees from such conditions, including these Tamils. The Convention against Torture enjoins Canada — without exception — not to return a person to a country where there is such a risk.
Sometimes those seeking asylum don’t qualify under the stringent rules for admission. When that’s the case, they are denied refugee status and deported. Yet after rigorous hearings and reviews, Canada has been granting recognition of refugee status to most Tamil applicants, even though it turns down almost half of refugee claims overall according to the U.S. independent monitor RSD Watch.
So Canada is no pushover and these Tamils haven’t jumped any queue. They’ve been dealt with as the law requires and have subjected themselves to the appropriate administrative reviews and assessments under Canadian law and which are now taking place.

We need immigrants as boomers retire

Toronto City Hall from Sheraton hotel roomImage via Wikipedia

Glen Hodgson

The baby boom generation in Canada is about to start retiring in growing numbers. Who will replace the boomers in the workplace? The answer, increasingly, will need to be more immigrants.
The economic situation is only going to get more demanding for Canadian employers. We expect that over the next three years the national unemployment rate will decline back toward 6 per cent, which is effectively full employment. Finding workers and containing wage pressures are already resurfacing as key issues for Canadian employers in some regions and sectors.
The role of immigration in Canada’s economic development over many centuries is generally appreciated by most other Canadians. Less well understood is the role that immigration will have to play in the coming years if Canada’s economic development and growth are to be sustained.
Around the world, there are significant differences in attitudes and policies toward immigration, with clear economic consequences. At one end of the spectrum is Japan, whose total population is already in decline. The share of its population over the age of 65 is expected to increase from 22 per cent in 2010 to more than 30 per cent by 2030. However, Japan has yet to introduce broad policies that actively encourage immigration. Although some controls on foreign workers have been relaxed, its underlying economic growth potential is being steadily eroded by this aging phenomenon and by a shrinking workforce.
Similarly, there are numerous countries in Europe that are now suffering the negative effect of an aging workforce and weak labour force dynamics. Much of Europe is struggling to find the right balance between economic and social objectives in its approach to immigration.
At the other end of the spectrum are Canada, Australia and the U.S. All three countries are actively encouraging immigration as one means of building their labour forces and economies over time.
The born-in-Canada population will continue to grow. Although the fertility rate rose slightly during the 2000s, to 1.66 in 2007, it is still well below what is needed to maintain the population through natural increase, which is 2.1 children per woman. Canada will need more immigrants if the labour force is to grow and remain vibrant. Other demographic groups that will be called on to contribute to Canada’s labour force stability are mature workers, aboriginal people, women, people with disabilities and youth.
If Canada is to increasingly rely on immigrants, obviously it needs a modernized, integrated and well-managed immigration policy.
What, then, should be the key attributes of that policy?
  Increase the weight given to economic factors. A reinvigorated immigration policy will need to recognize the importance of skills-based immigration to address Canada’s labour market needs and to unlock immigrants’ potential for making a long-term economic contribution.
  Ensure that we have an immigration system that is streamlined, coordinated and well-managed. Canada cannot afford to have an immigration system, or any national policy for that matter, where there is misalignment between the federal and provincial levels.
  Be prepared to expand the use of temporary foreign worker (TFW) programs to fill short-term gaps in labour markets. As a matter of public policy, Canada should develop an array of tools to balance short-term labour market needs with the longer-term objectives of a growing and skilled labour force. TFW programs, delivered by provincial governments through their close contact with local business, are one such policy tool.
  Increase employers’ upfront involvement. If a renewed immigration policy is to address Canada’s labour market needs appropriately, it stands to reason that employers need to be included in the decision-making and delivery process.
  Create new and improved pathways to permanent residency for TFWs and foreign students.
  Improve foreign credential recognition, access to language training, settlement services and opportunities to gain meaningful work experience. To be fully effective in the labour force, immigrants will need the same hard and soft skills and demonstrated competencies that other participants in the Canadian labour market have.
Labour supply is more plentiful now in many industries than it was two years ago, but the recession has provided only temporary reprieve from the tight labour market conditions faced during 2007 and much of 2008.
Failure to adequately plan for the coming deceleration in labour supply growth will likely leave organizations short of skilled employees and could dampen growth prospects for the entire Canadian economy.
Immigrants can come to the rescue, but only if the policy framework and the supporting infrastructure create the right conditions for success.
Glen Hodgson is the author of “Canada’s Future Labour Market: Immigrants to the Rescue?” published in the July-August issue of Policy Options ( www.irpp.org). He is senior vice-president and chief economist at the Conference Board of Canada.
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Two immigration programs from Alberta are suspended.

Welcome to Fort McMurray sign in Fort McMurray...Image via Wikipedia

Carol Christian

Today staff
The Alberta Federation of Labour is commending Alberta’s labour minister for suspending two immigration programs it says were being used inappropriately to fill job gaps.
Alberta Employment and Immigration Minister Thomas Lukaszuk announced Monday the Immigrant Nominee Program will not accept any new applications in its family stream and the U.S. visa holder category. The suspension is being called temporary until further notice.

“We are entirely behind him. We think that’s the right thing to do,” said Nancy Furlong, AFL secretary-treasurer. The INP was introduced to help augment the Alberta workforce with skilled immigrants. In 2008, the family stream and the U.S. visa holder category were added, both resulting in a large number of applications.

Lukaszuk cited the current job market conditions as the impetus for the suspension, and a
preference to keep Albertans employed as opposed to
unemployed outsiders looking for jobs.
The suspension impacts temporary foreign workers, a number of which can be found in Fort McMurray including the oilsands, but Lukaszuk called it a positive impact.

Though the temporary foreign worker program is a federal initiative, he explained the province manages the INP and has a “solid cap” on how many individuals Alberta is allowed to nominate and keep.

Lukaszuk said he has just renegotiated that cap, increasing that number from 4,200 to 5,000. As a result, of those temporary foreign workers who want to stay and whom employers need to keep and have satisfied the federal requirements, “we get to keep 5,000 per year.”
Until the suspension, which came into immediate effect, that number was “eaten up” by individuals entering Canada under the family stream and the U.S. visa holder stream who were not necessarily connected to any employment in Alberta.
The U.S. visa holders are people who entered the United States as temporary foreign workers but when the economy tanked in the U.S., they didn’t want to go back to where they came from, he explained, so they were applying to enter Canada to look for work here.
“The odds of finding a job in Canada are still better than they are in the United States. Again, it’s unemployed individuals; it’s not Americans. By and large … they’re not from North America.”
Under the family stream, it’s bringing in family members such as a niece from another part of the world who have certain education and experience in a particular profession.
“The problem is that you do not have to have employment waiting for her so when she arrives, then she looks for work like you and I. So again, unattached to employers.”
These people from both categories would simply arrive and then start looking for a job, competing with currently unemployed Albertans also looking for work, said Lukaszuk.
“Obviously my prerogative is to make sure that any and all jobs are first considered by Albertans and given to Albertans. Having external competition of unemployed people arriving here and competing with Albertans for jobs is simply wrong.”
Under the INP program for 2009, a total of 4,216 certificates were issued. Out of that number, 450 were issued under the family stream category while 943 were issued under the U.S. visa holder category. The majority — 2,426 — were issued in the employment driven-stream to employer-nominated people.
With the suspension, that means those 5,000 spots are available for temporary foreign
workers already attached to an employer and are not competing with Albertans looking for a
job because they’re already employed.
“We have always held the view that the temporary foreign worker program is being used inappropriately, that it’s the wrong route,” said Furlong. She pointed out the program was originally intended for a very small, boutique group of people where the skill level might equal 100 of them in the world.
“It worked fine for that and students, and it was only the advent of the huge boom that people started to abuse it.”
Closing the door to unemployed people through the two categories is welcome news in opening the “premium” spots for TFWs already employed who want to stay in the country, she added.
Lukaszuk admitted there is a misconception out there that the TFWs are taking work from unemployed Albertans but that’s not the case. In order for an employer to hire a TFW, the employer has to prove there is a need. The employers has to satisfy the federal government that the job was made available to local Albertans at the same rate of pay and employment conditions, and was to be advertised not only within Alberta, but coast to coast.
When that employer doesn’t get qualified applications for that particular position, then the federal government will issue the employer a labour market opinion to hire a temporary foreign worker because there are no Canadians interested in that job.
There is a chance the programs will not be returned, but he noted that decision will be largely driven by Alberta’s economy.
“My personal commitment is to Albertans. I was elected by Albertans and it would be unconscionable of me as Minister of Labour to have Albertans unemployed, collecting EI or social services while I’m letting in unemployed foreign workers coming here to look for work. I simply cannot allow (that) to happen so as soon as I could I quickly stopped that.”
He said his policy, and that of the Alberta government is overall, Canadian immigration policies and laws should be primarily based on what is good for Canadians first.
“That should be our first consideration and all others should be secondary.
What’s good for Alberta right now, he added, is not to have unemployed outsiders competing with unemployed Albertans, and to only bring in individuals for jobs that cannot be filled by Albertans and are instantly attached to employment.
“My ideal immigrant is a person who arrives on Saturday and goes to work on Monday.”
Alberta will continue to accept immigration applications from skilled workers, semi-skilled workers in certain occupations, international students, compulsory trades, engineering occupations, and self-employed farmers.

A Brave New world

Atlantis, Dubai in the UAE.Image via WikipediaV Radhika (Canada Calling)

20 August 2010 Emigrating to Canada is seen as an attractive option for thousands of Gulf residents, but many underestimate the challenges involved

It was over a year ago, but the collective memory of their first Canadian vista is ineffaceable — a city blanketed by snow. The stark contrast to their previous home in a desert landscape only made the scene more vivid. Fresh from the sands of Saudi Arabia, this family of four now placed its first tentative steps on the snow white carpet of Canada — the country they would now call home. The Ali family footprints in the -20°C temperature marked yet another addition to the growing number of Gulf immigrants in the maple leaf land.
It is estimated that more than 6,000 Asian and other expatriates working in the United Arab Emirates apply for immigration to Canada every year in the hope of a better life. Among the more than 1.1 million recent immigrants who arrived between 2001 and 2006, almost 6 in 10 (58.3 per cent) were born in Asian countries including the Middle East. And for the first time in 2006, amongst the proportion of foreign-born population, those who were born in Asia and the Middle East surpassed their European counterparts at 40.8 per cent to 36.8 per cent respectively.
The Ali family are part of the burgeoning immigrant statistics from the Middle East. Apprehensions about the future added a chill to the resolutely sub-zero February temperatures, but the Alis were luckier than most. They walked to the comforting warmth of siblings and parents who were already ensconced in Toronto. This is how the patriarch greeted them: “Don’t look back. Look forward and remain focused.” The advice was given for good reason.
Everyone was only too aware of many Gulf immigrants who landed in Canada only to return to their jobs in the Middle East on finding out that their adopted land did not recognise their professional credentials, which in turn resulted in a lack of job offers in their profession. It is a known fact that Ontario has a large number of foreign trained doctors driving cabs to eke out a living.
According to a 2002 Statistics Canada report, one in six male immigrants leaves Canada for better opportunities elsewhere within the first year of arrival. Those who leave are the ‘cream of the crop’ — businessmen and skilled workers.
Migrants from Hong Kong and the United States were the most likely to leave, followed by those from South America, Central America, the Middle East and Australia, in that order.
In the case of the Middle East, examples abound where one parent (almost always the mother) lives in Canada with the children while the other returns to work in the Gulf, earning enough to support the family overseas. And there are numerous instances of others who, unwilling to tear the family apart, return to the UAE.
Salma Faheem Ali, has friends from both groups, and so would almost every other immigrant from the Gulf. A school teacher with several years of teaching experience in Jeddah, Salma attends workshops and other free community services offered by the government for newcomers, while pursuing her Canadian teaching license. Her husband, who did a career flip (from sales to travel) when he moved to Saudi Arabia, is bracing for yet another professional change. But that struggle, he says, will start once his wife is working.
In a rented apartment in another corner of the city, Neha Gandhi, who moved from a small Middle Eastern kingdom two years back is concerned at their depleting finances as her husband fishes for assignments and she taps into government services offered for new immigrants in the hope of finding office or administrative work.
Ever the optimist, she keeps her hopes high but acknowledges the rough ride, especially on her husband’s professional front. “He is a chemical engineer with solid professional experience, but that just does not seem to count in this country,” she says.
A trained media professional in India, Gandhi settled initially into a homemaker’s role when her husband moved to the Gulf and then took up a teaching assignment. It was when her son entered high school that the family decided it was time to move on.
Returning to India, she says, was not an option because, “though the children went to an Indian school, they did not learn Gujarati and they would have had to learn it if they went to stay with my parents in Gujarat. Sending them to another province was also not an option as we did not have any close family. And most importantly, we wanted to stay together as a family.”
That was the driving force for Geetha Manohar too. Like the Gandhis, the Alis and other Asian immigrants, she misses the lifestyle, food, friends and proximity to home of the Gulf life. 
A single parent of two children, Manohar found it cumbersome to provide annual proof of her single status and when her daughter was in grade 7, she considered moving. “I would have to start all over if I went back to India and good education there is expensive. I was not keen on sending them to their grandparents either. I wanted us to be together as a family and Canada was my option. It seemed immigrant-friendly,” says this MBA from India who moved from a senior managerial position in Abu Dhabi to an administrative job in Canada almost a decade ago and has now worked her way up.
The twin factors pulling South Asians from the Middle East is children’s education and the impossibility of obtaining citizenship in a region where residency itself is contingent on work permits.
“There is always an air of uncertainty. You can stay in a Gulf country as long as you have a job and till recently you could not even own property in the Gulf. These factors are constantly at play and therefore the Gulf’s work force is transient. Most use it as a springboard to get elsewhere,” says Tarek Chaudhary, a Pakistani Canadian who moved to Toronto from Dubai in 2005.
And for many, “elsewhere” is Canada — a distant, cold country that welcomes immigrants and offers universal health care and free schooling. That support notwithstanding, the immigrants’ rollercoaster ride is well-documented and an oft-narrated anecdote. Madhav Kochunni, who moved to Toronto over a decade ago, says, “I was not hit by the reality of the situation till I landed here. It is when you start looking for jobs that reality hits you. Canada is not what you had imagined it to be.” But, he adds, immigrants now are more aware thanks to the Internet and increased reporting about their plight.
Like others, Kochunni (Madhu to his friends) too went through his share of struggles. An advertising professional, he landed a job as a telemarketer (like many immigrants do), but “hated it” and re-invented himself as a web designer.
In retrospect, for Kochunni (as for others), the move, while fraught with uncertainties and apprehension, also entailed a discovery of untapped potential as they venture into new professional domains. It takes time, he admits, but also maintains that immigrants can achieve success if they have the drive and a strategy in place.
And when it comes to kids, the verdict (paraphrased here) is a unanimous echo: “This was the best possible move for the kids. They have access to good education, community resources and the world has opened up for them.”
Kochunni has this advice for Gulf residents eyeing Canada as a future home: “Do all your research, save enough money, buy a condominium and plan your arrival during spring/summer when companies are in a hiring mode. And last but not least, do not give up. Be prepared to reinvent yourself.”
The advice holds greater significance in the light of a new requirement that calls on permanent residents to spend at least two out of every five years in Canada to retain their status. This means thousands of “phantom” residents will face a tough option: stay in Canada or forego their status.

A move to Canada is no easy decision; the rewards can be massive, particularly for young children, but the country now demands a commitment. It’s one more aspect to consider before making a move to the snow-swept plains of this welcoming country.

Chinese immigrants set up business

NB Legislative Building, seat of New Brunswick...Image via Wikipedia By STEPHEN LLEWELLYN

Wang Zhu and Jie Yu of Shanghai, China, came to Fredericton two years ago on skilled-worker permits and found employment as cooks in a local restaurant.

Click to Enlarge
Stephen MacGillivray photo
Jie Yu, left, and Wang Zhu are shown inside the new Panda restaurant at the City Motel. They became landed immigrants through the New Brunswick Provincial Nominee Program.

Now the two professionally training chefs are landed immigrants in Canada and opening their own restaurant here.
They’re the kind of immigrant entrepreneurs the capital needs, said Susan Holt, president of the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce.
“Immigrant entrepreneurs are extremely important for Fredericton,” she said Thursday at the Panda restaurant’s pre-opening special at the City Motel at 1216 Regent St. for local business development experts and guests.
“Our demographics show that our population isn’t growing itself.
“The way for New Brunswick and Fredericton to succeed is to attract these immigrants and then help them be successful.”
The chamber operates an immigrant entrepreneur mentorship program that helps new businessmen such as Zhu and Yu learn the business ropes in this city.
The mentorship program is two years old and there are 16 people in the program, including Zhu and Yu. There were 10 businesses in the program last year.
“We’ve had conversations with the owners here and they’ve gotten off to a great start already,” said Holt.
“Doing business in Canada is different from doing business in other parts of the world.”
Chamber mentors will help the new restaurant owners with marketing and getting familiar with the local customer base, she said.
Holt said the goal is to grow the market for everyone.
“As our population grows, as we get more immigrants here, I think there are lots of opportunities for everyone to be successful,” she said.
“Those who take up the challenge and start their own business are really contributing to the Fredericton economy and that is why the chamber executes the business immigrant mentorship program to help them be successful here so that we can really reap the benefit of their presence.”
Yu said he was happy to be opening a restaurant in Fredericton and thanked everyone for coming Thursday.
“I think this is a beautiful city,” he said.
“I really like it here.”
Speaking through an interpreter, he said he learned about Fredericton through an immigration consultant in China that was promoting the capital.
With a population of 19 million, Shanghai is a lot bigger than Fredericton.
Yu said Fredericton is clean and friendly. His wife and daughter have visited him and applied to immigrate here. They have returned to China for now because his wife is a teacher there.
Lei Wang, an international student at the University of New Brunswick, is co-owner of the restaurant and said the restaurant will be offering authentic Chinese food.
He said the restaurant will specialize in dim sum, a Cantonese dish that usually includes steamed buns, dumplings and rice noodle rolls containing ingredients such as beef, chicken, pork, prawns and vegetables.
“I think a lot of people, a lot of Canadian, are going to like it,” he said.
New Brunswick Finance Minister and former minister responsible for the Population Growth Secretariat Greg Byrne also dropped by the restaurant pre-opening to offer his well wishes.
“The business entrepreneur program is a great program of the Population Growth Secretariat,” he said.
“It is certainly one of our priorities as government to bring people to New Brunswick, to tell people what New Brunswick has to offer.”
He said Zhu and Yu have received many awards for their work as chefs and are well positioned to be successful here.
“We are proud that you choose Fredericton as a place to operate a business and that you choose New Brunswick as a place to live,” said Byrne.

Canadian immigration visa processing times have been cut in half since 2005

Citizenship@MaRSImage by mars_discovery_district via Flickr

From 2005 and 2009, the average overall processing time for Canadian immigration applications decreased to 26 months from 50 months. A recent analysis has found this improvement is linked to legislation introduced in 2008 which fast-tracked applications by skilled-workers such as registered nurses, crane operators, financial auditors, construction managers and 34 other qualifying occupations for the Federal Skilled Worker Category. The approximate processing time now for a skilled worker application is seven months, which represents a drastic reduction since previously the overall processing time could take up to five years.
The Canadian immigration system has been streamlined and improved. According to this recent analysis by immigration consultant Richard Kurland, there is evidence that skilled workers are getting high-quality service from Immigration Canada. A spokesman for Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said the findings in this analysis on wait times proves the Canadian government is heading in the right direction in implementing policies that make Canada more attractive to the world’s “best and brightest” people.
In 2009, Canada issued 14,917 visas to foreign workers who met the federal skilled worker criteria and their families. If an applicant does not meet the criteria for the Federal Skilled WorkerCategories, the application enters a different queue where processing times may be longer.

Chinese ‘investor immigrants’ inject big bucks in Canada as numbers keep rising

Royal Bank CloudsImage by swisscan via Flickr

Billions of yuan may be transferred to Canadian banks every year from China after the media reported that Chinese are now the top seekers of permanent residency in the North American nation.

In 2009 alone, Canada admitted more than 25,000 permanent residents from the Chinese mainland. Around 2,000 applicants moved there after being wooed by Canada’s immigration policies for overseas investors, which require a minimum net personal worth of C$800,000 ($771,395) and investment of C$400,000.

Both before and after arrival in Canada, applicants can transfer at least C$500,000 to Canadian banks for living expenses, according to sources familiar with the immigration industry.

Total yuan deposits in Canada may reach 6.7 billion yuan this year if another 2,000 Chinese investor immigrants enter Canada in 2010.

“This is a conservative estimate because when applicants declare they have C$800,000 (5.33 million yuan) in net assets, they may actually have more than 10 million yuan,” said Gary Cai, the former China chief representative of Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC).

Cai said some Chinese applicants are on the Forbes list of the world’s wealthiest individuals, and estimating their net transfers out of China would not be easy.

Five major Canadian banks, including Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Royal Bank of Canada and Bank of Montreal, have established personal banking departments in China since 2000, providing services devoted to investor immigrants.

“It’s an open secret that banks always love the rich and despise the poor,” Cai said. “In the China-based offices of those Canadian banks, business with investor immigrants is always the most important.”

The number of investor immigrants going to Canada is rising every year, from 5 percent of total applicants in 2000 to around 25 percent now, Cai added.

In order to track and contact more potential clients, Canadian banks take part in promotional fairs held by immigration agencies.

Cai, who was involved in Canada’s personal banking business between 2005 and 2009, said he spent more than 30 weekends a year attending promotional fairs.

Besides receiving processing fees to transfer assets abroad, Canadian banks often aim to find more profitable long-term businesses.

“Banks pay a lot of attention to the period after investor immigrants have successfully landed in Canada,” Charles Qi, chairman of Beijing Entry and Exit Service Association, said.

When Chinese investor immigrants arrive, they may deposit money in local banks, purchase loans to buy new houses and cars, and ask banks to take care of their assets. These services create considerable profits for Canadian banks.

Hu Lin, manager of a Beijing-based rack manufacturer, plans to become an investor immigrant in Canada this year.

“I will choose Canadian banks while my immigration is being processed. Firstly, if you use them to transfer money, they charge lower fees than domestic banks – probably 20 percent lower. Secondly, once you arrive in Canada and have a local bank account, it is a lot more convenient because of their network of branches,” Hu said.

Source:China Daily

Nannies, foreign workers face new rules

The federal government is tightening the regulations affecting live-in caregivers and temporary foreign workers, as well as the people who hire them.
The new rules will bring tighter scrutiny to families trying to  hire a foreign nanny.The new rules will bring tighter scrutiny to families trying to hire a foreign nanny. Effective April 1, 2011, the government will apply a more rigorous assessment of jobs for foreign workers to ensure that offers are legitimate.
That assessment will consider whether employers have followed the rules in the past before they can hire a nanny or temporary foreign worker. A bad track record could lead to a denial of the necessary permits to hire foreign workers.
Employers who fail to meet their commitments to workers with respect to wages and working conditions will face a two-year prohibition on hiring foreign workers.

‘The government is taking action to protect temporary foreign workers, including live-in caregivers, from potential abuse and exploitation.’Jason Kenney, immigration minister

There will also be a four-year limit on the amount of time a foreign worker can be employed in Canada. Once that limit is reached, the workers must return home and wait four years before they can work in Canada again.
That limit does not affect eligibility for permanent residence.
“The government is taking action to protect temporary foreign workers, including live-in caregivers, from potential abuse and exploitation,” explained immigration minister Jason Kenney.
“We owe it to them, their employers and all Canadians to ensure that the program is fair and equitable.”
Immigration minister Jason Kenney says the changes are intended to  protect nannies from exploitation.Immigration minister Jason Kenney says the changes are intended to protect nannies from exploitation. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)According to the federal government, consultations held over the past two years revealed that employers were exploiting some live-in caregivers because the system made them vulnerable.
That led to a first round of changes that took effect in April 2010 and mandated that employment contracts must spell out wages, benefits, accommodation, duties, hours of work and holiday and sick leave entitlements.
Those changes also added some flexibility to the amount of time given to live-in caregivers or nannies to meet the requirements needed for permanent residence status.
Under the law, caregivers can apply for permanent status after two years of regular full-time employment. With the changes, that time frame can be sped up if the person works a lot of overtime or can be extended if they work less than full-time hours or need time off because of illness or factors.

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/consumer/story/2010/08/19/con-nanny-regulations.html#ixzz0x6riCwKi

Foreign professionals need ‘soft skills’ to find success .

Classic view of a cloudfree Peyto Lake, Banff ...Image by Alaskan Dude via FlickrBy Shaun Polczer, Calgary Herald

Engineers like to think of mathematics as a universal language.
So the biggest challenge for skilled engineers immigrating to Canada isn’t the ability to run calculations, it’s often the ‘soft skills’ that go with finding a job on top of adjusting to a new culture and a new way of life.
Before coming to Canada four years ago, Tony Onyeka was an electrical engineer in Nigeria, designing power grids and electrical systems. Now he’s working in IT — not a bad job, but not his chosen field of expertise.
“This is not what I was qualifi ed for,” he says. “I was trained in electrical engineering. Right now I work for an engineering company but I’m trying to get into the same field.”
According to Lionel Laroche, skilled immigrants often find themselves doing menial jobs when their skills and experience have far more value for themselves and for society as a whole.
“That’s exactly what we’re trying to avoid,” he says.
The problem is made more acute by the recession, especially for immigrant workers who’ve found less demand for their skills since the downturn.
“In 2006 and 2007 when Alberta was booming it was much easier at that point to find jobs. What we’ve seen is a number of immigrants during that period of time found jobs and lost them when the recession came.”
Laroche, a private consultant, was in Calgary this week to host a seminar for the Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists of Alberta aimed at helping immigrant engineers transition into the Canadian workplace by developing interviewing and job search skills. The program is a joint effort between the association and Bow Valley College.
The one-day workshop is followed up by a series of personal coaching sessions aimed at helping the participants find work in Alberta.
Laroche is a chemical engineer and an immigrant to Canada who recognized a void, both inside corporations and professional agencies, when he was working for Procter and Gamble and Xerox, large multinational firms that employ people from around the world.
“In both companies I was working with engineers from all around the world. We all spoke English but we were not getting anywhere and I could see that cultural differences were a big factor. I could see that a lot of qualified immigrants — technically qualified with good education — were not getting the kind of positions that I thought were in line with their education. I tried to research where the mismatch was coming from.”
Laroche says immigrants often have less trouble finding friends and establishing a sense of community in their adopted country than finding jobs in their chosen fields.
“Most immigrants are good at creating a support network relatively quickly, from an emotional and practical perspective,” he explains. “The problem is that network does not help you on the professional side.”
The federal government makes about 20,000 skilled worker visas available each year. Before skilled applicants such as engineers can work in Canada, they have to be certified by a professional association such as APEGGA and meet several criteria to be eligible for the skilled worker designation.
Applicants need a university degree and an offer of employment or a minimum of one year of professional work experience in addition to the ability to communicate in English or French.
Although Onyeka has seven years’ experience as an engineer in Nigeria, he doesn’t have the prerequisite Canadian work experience that would allow him to become an APEGGA member and become certified in his country.
After the initial shock of arriving in Canada in the middle of winter, it’s one of the last and possibly toughest hurdles before he makes Canada his home and native land. Despite an admission of occasional bouts of homesickness, Onyeka has decided to formalize has commitment to this country by applying for citizenship.
“Having survived a year or two of it, you get used to it, you acclimatize,” he says.

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