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Latest edition – Summer 2014

Moving toward the launch of Express Entry

On July 14, 2014, Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander met with key stakeholders and business leaders in Toronto to discuss Express Entry, Canada’s new system for managing economic immigration applications which will be launched in January 2015.

The Government of Canada, in partnership with provincial and territorial governments, hosted a number of information sessions on Express Entry with employers across the country this past spring. Additional outreach activities are planned for the fall.

Starting January 2015, Canadian employers will be able to consider Express Entry candidates when there are no Canadians or permanent residents available for the job.

Express Entry candidates are those who complete an online profile indicating their interest in immigrating to Canada and who meet the criteria of at least one of the three federal immigration programs: Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Skilled Trades Program or Canadian Experience Class. Provinces and territories will also be able to nominate Express Entry candidates for their provincial nominee programs.

Candidates are ranked against others within the Express Entry pool based on criteria that lead to economic success once in Canada. Citizenship and Immigration Canada will only invite the highest-ranked candidates, including those with valid job offers or provincial or territorial nominations, to apply for permanent residence. Note that jobs offered to Express Entry candidates will be subject to the Labour Market Impact Assessment in place at that time.

For more information on Express Entry, see the Express Entry Web page.

Canada welcomes 150,000 new citizens in 2014

Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander shakes hand with a young stakeholderOn August 19, Minister Alexander welcomed the one hundred and fifty thousandth new citizen of 2014 at a ceremony in Scarborough. This is more than double the number of new Canadians sworn in over the same period last year.

The 150,000 new citizens who came to Canada from more than 200 countries were welcomed at approximately 1,500 citizenship ceremonies across the country.

Earlier this summer, Minister Alexander attended a Canada Day citizenship ceremony in his home town of Ajax. On July 1, 2014, more than 2,200 new citizens from 138 countries were welcomed at 45 special Canada Day citizenship ceremonies across the country.

As Minister Alexander said, “Canada Day is a day to reflect upon what it means to be Canadian and to reaffirm our commitment to upholding Canadian values, which have their roots in democracy, freedom, human rights and the rule of law. It is a day to recognize both the rights and responsibilities of each and every Canadian.

The large number of new citizens who have joined the Canadian family so far this year shows that changes and improvements that have come into effect over the past year have already made the system more efficient. And, the backlog has been reduced, thereby helping more people realize their dream of becoming Canadian sooner.

Recent changes to the Citizenship Act will further reduce wait times by streamlining the decision-making process for citizenship. It is expected that those changes will bring the average processing time for citizenship applications down to less than one year and that the current backlog will be reduced by more than 80 percent by 2015–2016.

For new Canadians, the citizenship ceremony marks their formal entry into the Canadian family. A citizenship ceremony is a unique part of Canadian civic life. It is one of the formal occasions when we reflect on the rights, responsibilities and exceptional privileges of being a Canadian citizen.

Since 2006, Canada has welcomed over 1.3 million proud new Canadians. Canada has also enjoyed the highest sustained levels of immigration in Canadian history—an average of a quarter million newcomers each year.

The Oath of Citizenship

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Reaffirmation of the Oath of Citizenship

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Commemorating the tragic incident of the Komagata Maru

Conference about the Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) initiativeOn May 23, 1914, the Komagata Maru arrived in Vancouver harbour carrying 376 passengers of Indian descent, most of whom were not allowed to land. This was because the ship did not make a direct journey to Canada, as prescribed by Canada’s Continuous Journey regulation, which was in place at the time. After two months under difficult conditions, the ship and most of its passengers were forced to return to India where, in a subsequent clash with British soldiers, 19 passengers died.

This year, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the tragic event, the Government of Canada has undertaken a number of initiatives to commemorate the event and to educate Canadians about the Komagata Maru. Specifically, Citizenship and Immigration Canada has:

In addition, a powerful and visually engaging exhibit commemorating the 100th anniversary of the voyage of the Komagata Maru and exploring the contributions of Sikh immigrants to Canada will soon be displayed across the country, thanks to support from the Government of Canada. On June 6, Tim Uppal, Minister of State (Multiculturalism), announced inter-action funding of up to $89,500 for the Sikh Heritage Museum of Canada (SHMC) to create the “Lions of the Sea” exhibit. The national exhibition, with original artifacts made available by the SHMC, will travel across Canada bringing the story of the Komagata Maru to life and allowing Canadians from coast to coast to learn about its historical significance.

Minister Uppal also attended a Komagata Maru commemoration event at Simon Fraser University, where he highlighted the government’s recent initiatives to raise awareness of Canada’s Indo-Canadian immigration history. At this event, he was joined by community partners from Surrey and Vancouver to discuss various Komagata Maru projects that have been developed to commemorate the anniversary.

Citizenship Week comes early this year

Each October, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) designates one week as Citizenship Week to raise awareness of the value of citizenship, particularly with respect to the rights, privileges and responsibilities of being a Canadian citizen.

This year, Citizenship Week will take place from October 13–19, under the theme, “Our Citizenship: #CanadaProud.” This is one week earlier than the usual third week in October. CIC is working closely with its partners to coordinate several events and activities across Canada to celebrate the high value of citizenship.

Citizenship Week is a time to reflect on what it means to be Canadian, to be grateful for our rights and freedoms and to recognize the responsibilities we have as Canadians to our country and our communities, large and small.

During last year’s Citizenship Week, more than 4,400 people took the Oath of Citizenship to become citizens at 58 ceremonies. A special citizenship ceremony took place at the base of the CN Tower in Toronto. Another ceremony was held at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa before an Ottawa Senators hockey game. Many more Canadians took part in reaffirmation ceremonies held during the week.

Updated Citizenship Act gets Royal Assent

Minister Chris Alexander was proud to announce that the first comprehensive reforms to the Citizenship Act in a generation received final passage and Royal Assent on June 19, 2014.

The government has strengthened the rules around access to citizenship to ensure that they reflect its true value, and that new citizens are better prepared for full participation and integration into Canadian society.

The amendments to the Citizenship Act:

  • Increase efficiency of the citizenship program to improve application processing and help qualified applicants acquire citizenship faster;
  • Reinforce the value of citizenship by strengthening requirements and discouraging citizenship of convenience;
  • Improve the tools we have to maintain program integrity and to combat fraud; and
  • Protect and promote Canada’s interests and values by revoking citizenship from dual citizens who were members of an armed force or organized armed group engaged in armed conflict with Canada or those convicted of terrorism, high treason, treason or spying offences, depending on the sentence received.

And, as a way of recognizing the important contributions to Canada of those who serve Canada, members of the Canadian Armed Forces will now have quicker access to citizenship through a shortened qualifying period.

One of the significant reforms involves measures to improve efficiency in processing the high volume of citizenship applications. It is expected that by 2015–2016, those changes will bring the average processing time down to under a year. It is also projected that by then the current backlog will be reduced by more than 80 percent.

Provisions from Bill C-24 that came into force immediately upon Royal Assent included:

  • fast-tracking citizenship applications for members of the Canadian Armed Forces;
  • improving clarity on the first generation limit on citizenship for those born abroad;
  • enabling children born abroad to serving Crown servants to pass citizenship on to their children born or adopted abroad; and
  • streamlined decision making for issuing discretionary grants  under section (5)(4).

Provisions in the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act that came into force on August 1, 2014, included:

  • the new decision-making model for citizenship applications;
  • various measures to improve efficiency of the application process; and
  • a new judicial review and appeals process.

Other provisions will come into force on a date to be determined by the Governor in Council.

Canadian citizenship is highly valued around the world and, with this balanced set of reforms the government is ensuring that it stays that way.

First successful Start-up Visa applicants welcomed

Minister Chris Alexander at the Royal Assent of the Citizenship ActOn July 16, the first two successful applicants through the Start-up Visa Program were welcomed as permanent residents of Canada.

With their start-up, Zeetl Incorporated, Stanislav Korsei and Oleksandr Zadorozhnyi have developed an application that allows firms to monitor social media for customer feedback and experiences. Vancouver business incubator GrowLab Ventures Inc. supported Zeetl’s development and the applications for permanent residence of Mr. Korsei and  Mr. Zadorozhnyi, formerly of Ukraine.

The Start-up Visa Program brings together Canadian venture capital funds, angel investors and business incubators with entrepreneurs from abroad. Entrepreneurs present their business plan to participating Canadian firms and, if they receive support, they can apply for permanent residence in Canada.

With the Start-up Visa, Canada is targeting a new type of immigrant entrepreneur who has the potential to build innovative companies that can create jobs for Canadians and who can compete on a global scale.

For more information about the Start-up Visa Program, see Start-up Visa.

International Mobility Program created from the Temporary Foreign Worker Program review

On June 20, the government announced an overhaul of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).

To offer greater clarity and transparency, the current TFWP is being reorganized and a new International Mobility Program (IMP) is being created. The TFWP will now refer to those streams under which foreign workers enter Canada at the request of employers following approval through a new Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). The new IMP will incorporate those streams in which foreign nationals are not subject to an LMIA, and whose primary objective is to advance Canada’s broad economic and cultural national interest rather than filling particular jobs. This reorganized program will improve accountability with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) being the lead department for the TFWP and Citizenship and Immigration Canada the lead department for the IMP.

Reforms to the International Mobility Program

Previously part of the TFWP, the International Mobility Program (IMP) refers to those foreign workers who are not subject to an LMIA. It is in the national economic and cultural interest of Canada that foreign nationals be able to work here through the IMP. Exemptions to the LMIA process are based on the competitive advantages and reciprocal benefits that Canadians enjoy as a result. They exist as part of international agreements, arrangements that facilitate permanent immigration, or due to efforts to give Canada access to highly-skilled workers and international students.

CIC announced several changes that affect the International Mobility Program, including:

  • making employers of LMIA-exempt foreign nationals more accountable by requiring them to submit their job offer directly to CIC;
  • introducing a robust monitoring system for employers who employ workers through the International Mobility Program, made possible by the collection of a new compliance fee of $230 per LMIA-exempt employer-specific work permit, once authorities are in place;
  • imposing a $100 privilege fee on holders of open work permits as soon as possible;
  • making changes to the rules for intra-company transferees;
  • improving the balance in the number of young Canadians and young people from partner countries participating in the International Experience Canada initiative; and
  • conducting a further review of LMIA-exempt streams to identify whether some additional streams should require the labour market test.

For more information, see Changes to the TFW Program: new measures for Canadian employers and foreign workers

The Electronic Travel Authorization initiative

When implemented, the Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) means that citizens from countries other than the United States (US) that do not require a visa to enter Canada will need to obtain an online authorization before flying to Canada.

Why is Canada implementing eTA and what benefits will it offer Canadians?

The eTA is a key commitment under the Beyond the Border Action Plan to improve the security of the Canada-US perimeter and the integrity of our immigration system. It will be a smart, quick and efficient means to screen visa-free travellers before they fly to Canada to determine whether they are admissible or pose a security risk. In 2012–2013, for example, approximately 7,000 foreign nationals who did not need a visa were found to be inadmissible upon arrival in Canada. With eTA, visa-free travellers found to be inadmissible or who pose a security risk will not be allowed to board a plane to come to Canada.

While the new entry requirement will affect a large number of visitors to Canada, eTA is not a new concept. Both the US and Australia have successfully implemented similar programs so many travellers are already familiar with the program.

The Government of Canada is making every effort to ensure that this new requirement does not greatly inconvenience affected travellers. For example, the application process will be quick and easy and will only cost $7. Travellers apply online providing basic personal information, similar to what is currently collected when they arrive in Canada. In the vast majority of cases, eTA approval will be granted within minutes of applying. The eTA may also contribute to faster processing of travellers at the border.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada continues to work closely with stakeholders, including the air industry and the travel and tourism sectors, to implement this initiative. This includes taking steps to inform international travellers of the new requirement and encouraging them to apply for an eTA before booking any travel arrangements.

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