Amidst the Canadian law firms and regulated Canadian immigration consultants who understand and can advise you on Canadian immigration matters, there are also endless travel agencies and foreign companies offering immigration services, including faceless, nameless websites offering their services in Canadian immigration without revealing who is going to prepare the application.

Foreign lawyers can be legitimately practicing law in their native country, but they are not permitted to practice Canadian immigration law as per the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA); the same applies to travel agencies or any other entity or individual who has no official authorization to represent you regarding Canadian immigration law.

Risks of being represented by unlicensed professionals

Being represented by unlicensed professionals comes with many risks.  One of the most problematic is misrepresentation; these unprofessional companies like to take shortcuts and distort or conceal the facts, which may lead to misrepresentation, and thus a 5-year bar for you, the applicant, as the applicant is the one responsible for mistakes on his or her application.

Rules aren’t the only thing they have limited regard for, either. They just fill out the forms, but they do not advocate for your benefit; they submit your application on your behalf as if it is you who is submitting. Their lack of a proper understanding of Canadian immigration laws and guidelines also means that any advice or assistance they do give you may not be trustworthy. They don’t know enough to tell you what you should do. Do these travel agencies and nameless companies really advocate on your behalf?

Who makes the misrepresentation and when?

The applicant is, of course, ultimately responsible for his or her own misrepresentations.   If a procedural fairness letter was sent to what is allegedly your email address (but is actually an email created by your unlicensed representative — let’s say your travel agency), and that letter never reaches you, thereby making you unable to rebut the concerns that an immigration officer may have, it would not be legally defensible that you didn’t know that a travel agency is not permitted to represent you.  As a result, you would be barred for 5 years.

Also, you must disclose if you have received assistance in preparing your application from a person who is compensated or receives a benefit as a result of such assistance. Failure to declare such assistance may result in the refusal of the application or you may be found inadmissible to Canada, as you have not disclosed this fact. If you pay someone to act as your representative, they must meet the requirements for authorized representatives, as listed below.  “Ghost consultants” have no knowledge on how to address the issues that immigration officers might have raised.  The result? Refusal of your application, or worse — a 5-year bar.  Is it worth risking your future?

So who can represent you?

Only Canadian lawyers in good standing with their respectful law society, regulated Canadian immigration consultants (RCICs), and Quebec notaries are eligible to assist in immigrating to Canada for payment (direct or indirect).

Because of the issues with unauthorized representatives, Bill C-35, An Act to Amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), came into force on June 30, 2011. The bill created a new offence by extending the prohibition against representing or advising (or offering to represent or advise) immigration applicants or potential applicants to include all stages connected to an application or proceeding, including those prior to the official application being made, and puts penalties in place for those who violate this ruling.  And by using the services of someone who isn’t authorized, you, the applicant, might be found to have misrepresented yourself on your application, as you did not disclose that you retained and paid for the services of an organization or an individual that does not fall under one of the three categories permitted to represent for a fee.

The Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (“ICCRC”) is responsible for regulating the activities of the immigration consultants who are its members and who provide immigration advice and representation. ICCRC operates at arm’s length from the Government of Canada. Membership is granted only to those individuals who have demonstrated their knowledge and ability to advise and represent people who seek to immigrate to Canada.

Always check if your representative is a licenced Canadian immigration consultant. The risks to your future are too great otherwise. The representatives at Milmantas Immigration are all members of ICCRC, and we are here to help if you need assistance with a Canadian immigration matter.  If you need help handling an immigration application, contact us

Share this entry

quebec wants more foreign students

Quebec announces a program to retain more foreign students

Quebec Tries to Encourage More Foreign Students to Stay in Province After Graduation

Lia Levesque — The Canadian Press, October 11, 2016

MONTREAL — Quebec grants $ 1.6 million to Montreal International, which has developed a program to encourage more foreign students to remain in the province after graduation.

 The program will specifically target graduates in “sectors in demand,” although it will also be open to students in other programs, announced the Minister of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion, Kathleen Weil, during a press conference in Montreal on Tuesday.quebec wants more foreign students

 The CEO of Montreal International, Hubert Bolduc, hopes to increase the number of students who remain in Montreal after graduation from 3 000 to 9 000.

 In fact, approximately 30 000 students come to Montreal to study, noted Mr. Bolduc. As part of a survey conducted with these students, about 15 000 had said they wanted to stay in Montreal, but the actual number who remained was only 3 000.

 The main identified obstacles to their establishment were language, finding a job, and then the heavy weight of the immigration process, noted Mr. Bolduc.

 As part of the developed project, universities, colleges and vocational training centers will be targeted. Montreal International, in particular, will promote permanent residence and will organize joint information sessions with the Department (MIDI). Students will also be better informed about employment opportunities.

 Mr. Bolduc argued that when seeking to attract a foreign company or organization to Quebec, the issue of workforce quality is often crucial. He gave an example of the video game, animation and virtual reality field, where growth is fast and graduates are in high demand.

 The tools developed by Montreal International will also be used for the same purpose by other organizations in other regions of Quebec.

 Minister Kathleen Weil noted on her part that as of December 31, 2015, there were 50 225 foreign students in universities, colleges and vocational training centers in Quebec.  For more detailed information, please refer to the link at http://www.lapresse.ca/actualites/education/201610/04/01-5027191-quebec-annonce-un-programme-pour-retenir-plus-detudiants-etrangers.php

For more information about study permits and how we would be able to assist you, please contact us today.

eTA and DUAL CITIZENSHIP

Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) and What it Means to Visa Exempt Citizens Coming to (or through) Canada

Are you a citizen from a visa-exempt country?

Since September 30, 2016, obtaining an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) is mandatory for all visa-exempt citizens flying to or transiting through Canada. The eTA will act as a security measure for citizens from visa-exempt countries.

You need to be prepared and apply for an eTA prior to booking your flight to Canada.  Most applicants will receive the approval within minutes; however, some applications may take more time to process, and some applicants may be denied entry.  The requirements to enter Canada by land and sea have not changed. US citizens and travellers with a valid Canadian visa are exempt from obtaining an eTA.

It is most likely that the implementation of the eTA will catch many foreign nationals by surprise and might result in the disruption of their travel plans to Canada. Travellers won’t be informed that they require an eTA to board the airplane until they arrive at the airport (this happened with a lot of travellers bound for the US when the US visa waiver program was introduced several years ago).

An eTA application may be refused on the grounds of prior criminal issues, a serious medical condition, past immigration issues, or other potential security concerns.  Even a minor criminal issue that happened 20 years ago still remains an offence and may render an applicant inadmissible.

Plan your travel ahead of time to avoid any last-minute delays.  Contact us for assistance in order to avoid a surprise at the airport.

Also starting September 30, 2016, Canadian citizens who hold dual citizenship will need to enter Canada with their Canadian passport when travelling by air to Canada and will not be able to enter Canada using the passport of their second citizenship.  This is because Canadian citizens are not required to obtain an eTA and therefore are not in the position to obtain one for their other passports.

Download information

JOHN MCCALLUM WANTS TO “SUBSTANTIALLY INCREASE” IMMIGRATION to fulfill Canada’s labour needs.

Bringing attention to Canada’s aging population and looming labour shortages, during his speech to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines on August 12, 2016, McCallum made the pitch to substantially increase the number of immigrants to Canada.

The Liberal government is already seeking to admit between 280,000 and 305,000 new permanent residents in 2016, a significant increase from the previous Conservative government, who planned to welcome from 260,000 to 285,000 newcomers by the end of 2015.

Earlier this week, McCallum was in Beijing, with a plan to open more offices in order to attract more high-skilled workers from China.

McCallum intends to ease some of the rules for international students to become permanent residents.

He is also reviewing the labour market impact assessment (LMIA) process and could eliminate it in some instances.

The Liberal government also intends to review the controversial foreign worker program, and the results should be made public in the fall.

During their federal election campaign last fall, the government promised to reduce processing times in all categories — it appears they are keeping their promise. Based on our experience, spousal sponsorship applications are being processed in between 4 to 6 months, while in-home caregiver applications are being processed within 6 months.

For more details, please refer to this link: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/john-mccallum-substantially-increase-immigration-labour-shortages-1.3718831

Quebec Stabilizes Immigration

Breaking News from Quebec:

Quebec Government confirms that it has no plans to significantly increase immigration levels — at least in the short term.

A document entitled “The Immigration Planning in Quebec for the 2017-2019 Years” was presented Thursday, June 2, 2016, by the Minister of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion of Quebec, Kathleen Weil, to the National Assembly of Quebec. Its recommendations will be submitted for public consultations at the end of the summer.

The minister confirmed that Quebec does not aim to bring 60,000 new immigrants per year, as once Prime Minister Philippe Couillard said. The government is proposing to stabilize immigration targets around 50,000 for the years 2017, 2018 and 2019. A concern was expressed that more significant increases during these years could provoke a negative reaction among a number of Quebecers due to increased challenges in terms of the integration of newcomers and their contribution to the enrichment of Quebec society.

According to Kathleen Weil, Quebec should welcome 51,000 immigrants in 2017 and 2018 respectively, which corresponds to the average level of admissions in recent years. The government proposes to increase this target to 52, 500 in 2019, when the recently launched new selection system will be further honed.

To summarize, the government wants more young people, particularly more who are skilled, and more candidates with training fitting labor market needs. Selection of future Quebecers will be directed towards young (at least 65% have to be under 35 years of age) immigrants, and the province will be even more open to skilled workers, especially to those with temporary status in Quebec and those who already know French, given the sensitive subject of Quebec’s common language. The government plans to set the proportion of adults to be selected in the skilled worker category who have a threshold command of French at a minimum of 85% of the total. Applicants with a background in industries with high unemployment levels will be given priority.

The Quebec government intends to increase the share of “economic migration,” for which Quebec has its full jurisdiction, to 63% of the total in 2019. The share of the Quebec selection in immigration is expected to reach 75% by 2019. One quarter of Quebec immigration stems from the responsibilities of the Canadian government, which is a signatory to the UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.

In the area of refugee sponsorship, the document acknowledged experienced difficulties. The launch of an extensive consultation with refugee sponsor groups, agencies and departments working in refugee resettlement was announced, “to fully understand the needs and strengthen our support model.”

The document further reinforced the idea that permanent and temporary immigration, in concerted efforts with economic and territorial contributors, should have a positive influence on the development of Quebec’s regions. It was generally well accepted by the media, who expressed a unanimous wish that the government still accept more skilled immigrants but at the same time praised it for not increasing quantity without first attempting to solve the lingering issues of immigrants’ integration and acquisition of French language skills (so-called “francisation”). The Federation of Chambers of Commerce of Quebec even issued a statement of support immediately after the publication of the report.

Le Soleil reminded its readers about a heated debate on immigration that had inflamed the National Assembly this past March. A government document clearly stated at that time that to avoid a decline in its working age population below its 2011 level, Quebec has to set a minimum target of 60,000 immigrants admitted annually. Kathleen Weil hinted that it was only an indicator, but the prime minister of Quebec seemed to jump the gun and announced the new immigration objective, which led to heated exchanges between the members of the Assembly.

At a press conference Thursday, Minister Weil emphasized the importance of reducing unemployment among newcomers, which is still almost three times higher than in the non-immigrant population. And in her opinion, stabilization of volumes will lead to better integration, the need for which is clearly recognized.

At the same time, she stressed the necessity to have the newcomers’ French skills improved in the short term, and to make this improvement (“francization”) more flexible in order to make it accessible for those who have been hard to reach so far.

Link to the report http://www.midi.gouv.qc.ca/publications/fr/planification/Plan-immigration-2016.pdf.

What does this mean for our clients, who are already in process, and for those who are only pondering the idea of immigrating under the Quebec Skilled Workers program?

It is clear that MIDI would continue exercising their retroactivity right (at the time of an amendment to the rules, any file for which processing has not started is subject to this amendment, effective immediately) – meaning that those who have not received a request for an update from MIDI (“intention de rejet” letter) by the time the amendment takes effect will be assessed under the new rules. And judging by the report, the knowledge of French is very likely to become mandatory starting in 2017.

Since day one, we have been advising our clients to continue learning French while in process – and now is the time to literally “step on it” – because MIDI could officially pass this amendment at any time in 2017, and new requests for an update could already imply the necessity to provide French test results even for those who have enough points so far (remember: there is usually no warning regarding if, when and how the preferred training list and even selection grid could be updated). And by the current rules (and processing times), only those who demonstrated at least B1/B1 levels in oral proficiency would be allowed additional time to upgrade their French to the B2/B2 threshold.

Those only planning to immigrate under QSW will have a fierce battle for the remaining 5000 spaces in the “second wave” quota for the second half of the 2016-2017 intake, the last one to be processed on the first-come, first-served basis and likely with no French required. It remains to be seen how the online system will behave starting June 13, when it is supposed to reopen after the utter disaster of February 2016, when a system crash did not allow a single file to be submitted. Some things are not yet fixed as of today, so we are using the workarounds received by the MIDI. It is effectively a lottery, though everything must still be perfected as, bugs or no bugs, MIDI reserves its contentious right to refuse a file on a minor technicality. We continue collaborating with IT consultants and are ready for an influx of new applications to make this last “wave”; however, we accept those at the minimum threshold of points and with absolutely no knowledge of French only on certain conditions.

Two “Ghosts” are Charged with Immigration Fraud

Official news agency of the Canadian government released a brief communiqué from The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) in Montreal on May 10, 2016.

This time the announcement was made about charges made against two individuals who were acting as paid immigration consultants without a licence.

Rejoinder Singh, who was arrested in Montreal, and Resham Singh will be appearing on June 9, 2016 at the Montreal court house facing charges under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and under the Criminal Code.

On top of being accused of having acted as paid immigration representatives, when in fact they were not authorized to do so, both accused men were charged with counselling wannabe immigrants to Canada to misrepresent information (read: “lie”) in their immigration applications and refugee protection claims, as well as forging and using counterfeit documents.

Benoît Chiquette, Regional Director General of the Quebec Region at CBSA, confirmed those perpetuating immigration fraud are indeed criminals, and assured the public that CBSA, indeed, goes after fraudulent consultants to bring them to justice, striving to remove a threat to the Canadian immigration system.

And, congratulations on doing so, finally, M. Chiquette and CBSA! I just hope that the charges stay, and victims of those scammers get at least some justice. My only remark would be about loose interpretation of the word ‘consultant’ that requires further clarification: it is authorized representatives as defined by IRPA, who are called “Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants” – those who are not ICCRC members are not “consultants” – calling them so would be tantamount to partaking in deceiving the public. They are “ghost agents” or commonly known as “ghosts” operating in the shadows, hiding their paper trail and often invisible to the often tired eyes of the immigration and justice systems. If someone is impersonating a lawyer – we do not call them “dishonest lawyer” (this is quite another pair of shoes, as my old neighbour would say) – they are a similar brand of criminals: fraudsters, scammers or still “ghosts”. Kudos to CBSA for kicking them in the light out of the shadows. The more educated general public is, the less it will be scammed.

York U Student says Stolen Purse Cost Her a Half-Year’s Tuition

Here is an interesting article on a York U student’s woes with immigration and York University alike.

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2016/04/05/york-u-student-says-stolen-purse-cost-her-a-half-years-tuition.html

Kudos to a decision to reimburse the unfortunate would-be student her lost tuition, though I am pretty sure the Toronto Star correspondent’s intervention should be largely credited for the university officials’ change of heart.

But was all this trouble really unavoidable?

Might there have been a much faster and more efficient way to return to Canada once she got her new Chinese passport?

First of all, we in the industry know that there have been constant and persistent delays with the issuance of permanent resident cards, at least for the last year or so, and I would never rely on a timely issuance of a PR card. Time limits posted on the official IRCC (CIC) site are given as a reference only and are not an indicator of real-time processing.

The article mentions that she was flying through Chicago, so it is likely she had a multiple entry visa to the US. With this type of visa, she could have flown to the Buffalo/Niagara airport, crossed the border on foot and continued to Toronto by bus from the Canadian side (or arranged for someone in a private vehicle to pick her up in Buffalo and drive her through the border). A permanent resident card is required only when one travels by commercial carrier and is not mandatory for land border crossings. She could have just proved that she was a Canadian permanent resident — and if she wasn’t prudent enough to have copies of her passport and immigration documents, she could have made a request for copies of all her PR documents and even immigration history under the Access to Information/Privacy Act to IRCC (formerly known as CIC) and gotten copies of all her relevant immigration documents within about a month or so, in time to cross the border into Canada. This would have been time spent wisely while waiting for a new passport.

The officer at a POE (Port of Entry) has to be given sufficient proof that the foreign national is indeed a Canadian PR, so with a police report on a stolen passport, copies of said passport, GCMS notes and copies of her landing papers obtained as a result of Access to Information (ATIP), as well as her Canadian documents — proof of admission from York, a letter from her bank stating that she presented a PR card when she opened her account, a driving licence if she had one, her OHIP card, et cetera — she would have had no trouble crossing into Canada. I have such applicants every year, those who are either waiting for a new card or have an expiring card and need to travel urgently. Sometimes it is a matter of a simple phone call if a situation does not seem straightforward to the non-initiated and does not require going into the particulars of the case or doing extensive research. Going through the US was the least hassle. The other way would have been to apply for an emergency travel document with the Canadian visa office/VAC in Beijing once she got her new passport (or the only way, if she did not have a US visa).

It is not clear why she chose to go the PR Card route — it is always the longest one.

However, this situation does prove that it is indeed worthwhile to consult a professional, especially when in trouble, despite what IRCC would like the public to believe.