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    • July 1, 2012
    • Temporary Pause on FSW Applications

      On July 1, 2012, CIC announced a temporary pause on new applications under the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), excluding applications under the PhD eligibility stream and those with a qualifying offer of Arranged Employment (AE). A temporary pause has also been placed on new applications under the federal Immigrant Investor Program (IIP).

      Therefore, no FSW  or IIP applications will be accepted until further notice. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will probably start accepting applications again after they have revised FSWP selection criteria. These changes should come into force in early 2013.

    • May 9, 2012
    • 10,000 FSW applications cap reached!

      Citizenship and Immigration Canada has received 10,000 applications in Federal Skilled Worker category since July 1st, 2011. No more applications in this category will be accepted until 1 July 2012. If no new ministerial instructions (a new list of occupations) are announced by July 1st 2012, the cap for the previous list of occupations-in-demand will be reset. That is to say, 10,000 more applications will be accepted in the previous list of occupations-in-demand.

      People who would like to apply in this category must wait until that date to see the new list of occupations-in-demand, which may or may not be the same as the previous list.

    • May 8, 2012
    • Processing of Backlog FSW Applications

      According to a recent Operational Bulletin issued by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, a previous proposal to return around 280,000 FSW applications made prior to 27 February 2008 is a part of March 2012 Budget bill currently under scrutiny in the Federal Parliament. Therefore, the proposal will be of no legal effect until the said budget bill is passed and becomes the law.  The date when this proposal comes into force, if the budget bill is passed, is not know yet.

      As such, CIC has instructed all its local managers to continue with the processing of all FSW applications, including those made prior to 27 Feb. 2008, until the budget bill is passed and the mentioned proposal comes into effect. This is not, by any means, tantamount to the cancellation or withdrawal of the said proposal; however, it is a positive announcement by CIC, guaranteeing continued processing for a limited number of backlog FSW applications.

    • April 30, 2012
    • Canadian Visa Office in Tehran Closed

      On 29 April 2012, Citizenship and Immigration Canada announced that it has shut down all its immigration and visa operations in the Canadian Embassy in Iran (Tehran), in order to cut costs and increase efficiency. All services provided by the Tehran visa office have been transferred to the Canadian Embassy in Turkey (Ankara).

      As such, the Canadian Embassy in Tehran will no longer accept any visa applications, and the visa office in Ankara will be responsible for all permanent and temporary resident visa applications. In its announcement, CIC has emphasized that “[shifting] visa services from one visa office to another is not uncommon,” and that “[their] new processing system, the Global Case Management System (GCMS), allows visa officers around the world to share workloads easily and efficiently.”

      Iranians residing in Iran, who want to submit a temporary resident visa (visitor or student) application should now apply through the visa office in Ankara. It is not necessary to include the original passport with the rest of the documents; once a visa is ready, the visa office in Ankara will contact the applicant and make necessary arrangements in order to facilitate the process in person. Applications that are already under processing in Tehran will also be transferred to Ankara and their processing will resume there.

      See CIC’s original announcement here


    • March 31, 2012
    • CIC to Return 280000 FSW Applications!

      On March 30, 2012, Citizenship, Immigration, and Multiculturalism Minister, Jason Kenney, announced a plan to return Federal Skilled Worker applications launched prior to 27 February 2008. CIC claims this will be part of a larger effort to "create a fast and flexible immigration system!"

      Under this proposed legislation, CIC will close the files of FSW applicants who applied before 27 February 2008, and for whom a decision has not been made by 29 March 2012. The number of these applications will amount to around 280,000 applications. All the processing fees for the said applications will be refunded.

      Understandably, this is one of the saddest pieces of news in the history of Canadian Immigration ever published by CIC, especially for those who will be affected by this legislation. We have nothing more to say than to refer you to the original piece of news on CIC website.

      Over the course of the next few days, Better Life will contact those clients of ours who are affected by this news release, and discuss their options in more detail.

    • March 24, 2012
    • Latest Changes in Quebec Immigration

      On March 21, 2012, Quebec minister of immigration announced limitations on the areas of training as well as the number of immigration applications, which will affect Quebec Permanent Workers and Business Immigrant (Investors, Entrepreneurs, and Self-employed) categories. For the one-year period of 21 March 2012 to 31 March 2013, the maximum number of applications acceptable will be as following:

      Compared to before when there used to be no limit on the number of applications, these caps have severely lowered the maximum number of applications acceptable for immigration to Quebec. Considering the caps already in place for Federal Skilled Workers category, and the consequent higher-than-normal demand for immigration to Quebec, it probably will not take long before the above mentioned caps are reached. Therefore, Quebec applicants are encouraged to speed up the preparation of their applications if they are eligible for any of the above categories.

    • December 6, 2011
    • Language Certificate a Must for Quebec


      The government of Quebec announced today that, effective immediately, all Permanent Worker Applications submitted to MICC must be accompanied by both English and French language test results as a proof of applicant's proficiency. This requirement is for both the principal applicant and the accompanying spouse. Also, the new requirement is only for the new applications to be submitted after December 6. Older applicants, who submitted their application prior to December are still not required to provide proof of language proficiency.

      In the past, applicants did submit their applications with no official English or French test results. Their language proficiency was assessed by the Quebec immigration officers at interview. However, from now on, it is not possible to submit an application with no proof of language ability.

      This news might be considered unpleasant by some because it delays the submission of their application until they obtain the language certificate; but many consider this a positive development because it may well result in the elimination of selection interview. Especially now that all Quebec applications are being processed in Montreal, scheduling interviews has become a big challenge for both MICC and the applicants. If interviews are omitted because of this new change, applicants will save the time and trouble of traveling to another country to attend their interview.

      The French language tests that are acceptable by MICC are:

      The English language test that is acceptable by MICC is currently only IELTS.

    • November 12, 2011
    • New PhD Eligibility Stream


      On November 5, 2011, the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program started a new eligibility stream for international students pursuing PhD studies at Canadian educational institutions.

      This streams includes:

      1.   International students who are currently enrolled in a PhD program in a recognized private or public post-secondary educational institution in Canada who have completed at least two years of their PhD program.

      2.   Foreign nationals who have completed a PhD program from a recognized private or public post-secondary educational institution in Canada in the last 12 months prior to the date of their application for permanent residence.

      A maximum of 1000 applications will be admitted in the new PhD Eligibility Stream every year (until October 31, 2012).

      Such applications are Federal Skilled Worker applications still assessed under the other requirements of the FSW Program (age, education, work experience, English/French language ability, and adaptability. Applicants must obtain the minimum pass mark (67) at the time they submit their application.

    • November 5, 2011
    • Faster Processing for Family Sponsorship


      On November 4, 2011, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism of Canada announced that the Government of Canada is taking immediate action to cut the backlog and the seven-year wait times for sponsored parents and grandparents. For some this was pretty good news and for some not a very pleasant one.

      According to the statistics of CIC, currently, more than 165,000 parents and grandparents who have applied to become permanent residents of Canada are still waiting for a final decision. 

      To deal with the large backlog and lengthy wait times, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is announcing Phase I of the Action Plan for Faster Family Reunification.

      1.  The Government of Canada will increase by over 60 percent the number of sponsored parents and grandparents Canada will admit next year, from nearly 15,500 in 2010 to 25,000 in 2012 – the highest level in nearly two decades.

      2.  The government is introducing the new “Parent and Grandparent Super Visa,”which will be valid for up to 10 years. The multiple-entry visa will allow an applicant to remain in Canada for up to 24 months at a time without the need for renewal of their status. The Parent and Grandparent Super Visa will come into effect on December 1, 2011, and CIC will be able to issue the visas, on average, within eight weeks of the application. This means that instead of waiting for eight years, a parent or a grandparent can come to Canada within eight weeks. Parent and Grandparent Super Visa applicants will be required to obtain private Canadian health-care insurance for their stay in Canada.

      3.  The government will consult Canadians on how to redesign the parents and grandparents program to ensure that it is sustainable in the future. The redesigned program must avoid future large backlogs and be sensitive to fiscal constraints.

      4.  To prevent the build-up of an unmanageable number of new applications during these consultations and to further reduce the 165,000-strong backlog of parent and grandparent applicants, CIC is putting in place a temporary pause of up to 24 months on the acceptance of new sponsorship applications for parents and grandparents. The pause comes into effect on November 5, 2011.

      For those who already have an application submitted before November 2011, this resonates with promising news but for those who were in the middle of preparing a sponsorship application for submission or had in mind to do so in near future, this is not very promising; they have to wait for another 24 months before they can submit their application. However, if this Action Plan really works, at the end of the day the processing for sponsorship applications will remarkably decrease and new applicants can hope that their applications be processed faster than before.

    • October 22, 2011
    • Delays and Priorities

      Delays in the processing of the immigration applications, especially in the Federal Skilled Worker class, are not something new. There were days when it took over seven years for an application to come to fruition. However, in the last three years, Citizenship and Immigration Canada have tried their best to minimize the processing times, at least for the newly submitted applications. The selected group are applications submitted after February 2008 up to the present time. The rationale for expediting the newer applications is understandable; they better reflect the current Canadian labor market needs. However, older files, prior to 2008, have not fallen into oblivion or a Black Hole, they are live and are being processed, although not as fast as everyone wishes.


      What causes the delays:


      What can actually be blamed for the elongated processing times remains a mystery. However, one thing that is undeniable is the fact that Canada has a ubiquitous man-power shortage that extends to Citizenship and Immigration Canada; the number of applications received per year far exceeds the personnel available for processing them. This causes a backlog that piles up everyday. In fact, the Ministerial Instructions issued since 2008, had targeted at clearing the backlog. Although this can be considered a successful plan, many are still unhappy with the results. It cannot be denied that Canada remains the most desirable international destination for immigrants. This popularity attracts hundreds of thousands of applicants each year while CIC offices and visa posts can only process a fraction of them.


      At times, unpredictable incidents and events also impact the processing times negatively at some visa offices that may result in the processing times being unfavorably elongated. The most recent of such incidents is the political unrest in Syria that has resulted in the Canadian Embassy in Damascus being closed and files transferred to other visa offices in the region, for instance to Warsaw, Poland.


      What can be done:


      What can be done to reduce the processing times is even more enigmatic. Obviously, when faced to challenge the time, patience is our only weapon. Oftentimes, immigrants land in Canada with no preparation at all while many of them had had to wait in the processing queue for a long time already. No-one can shorten the processing time for themselves or for others. It is a first-come-first-serve system and we need to bear with it. If there is something we cannot change, we should learn how to adapt ourselves with it. However, in the course of adaptation, there are a number of very necessary things we need to do before arriving in Canada that make our landing and initial settlement in Canada less stressful and can pave the grounds for a successful beginning in the new country. Why waste the time counting days when we need that time to prepare ourselves and our family members for the ordeal of immigrating to a new country. Which way is wiser; to go to Canada more prepared or much faster; when success and failure depends solely on our readiness for entering the challenging environment of another country.


      Here are some of the things that every prospective immigrant to Canada is advised  to do while waiting for the processing of their applications:


      1.     Study about Canada.

      Knowledge is power and the more you know about the country you have chosen as your second home, the easier you will settle and the less is the chance that you experience a traumatic landing.


      2.     Improve your language ability.

      Many immigrants and their family members find out, right after landing in Canada, that their English language is not adequate to propel them ahead in the new society. Language learning in Canada is expensive and slow.


      3.     Improve your computer skills.

      Keyboarding skills along with advanced computer skills is an indispensable component of success in the world of today. Obviously, browsing the Internet and chat skills are not what we are talking about here.


      4.     Conduct a labour market search.

      No doubt, labour market in Canada is very different from the job market in the applicants' homeland. Conducting an extensive job search is the beginning of your most challenging effort in Canada, i.e. finding a job. This job search can start while you are still in your own country of origin.

      As can be seen above, it takes a lot of time and effort to prepare for a new life in a new country. Maybe there is an ulterior reason behind the long processing times so that applicants can prepare themselves for a more smooth landing in Canada.

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