The joy of practicing immigration law is that there is always something new. A few things to let you know about this month:
Express Entry draw with lowest score to date – The score in todays’ draw was 423, lower than the draw on April 5th, which at 431 was at that point was the lowest ever.
New Express Entry Points – as of June 6th, Express Entry applicants with siblings in Canada will get 15 additional points. New language ability points will also be given where individuals have taken both an English and French language test:
15 additional points for French test results of Canadian Language Benchmark 7 or higher, with English levels of CLB 4 or lower
30 additional points for CLB 7 or higher in French, along with CLB 5 or higher in English
As of June 6th, applicants will also no longer be required to register with the Job Bank.
Data released about the composition of the Express Entry pool – as of April 7, 2017, this is the distribution of applicants in the pool:
Comprehensive Ranking System Number of Candidates
Changes to the Citizenship Act – many of my clients are eagerly awaiting changes to the Citizenship Act, which will allows for a shorter residency period before being eligible to apply for citizenship. Passage of the changes was slowed when the Senate proposed amendments to the Act that allow for hearing before an individual is stripped of citizenship. These changes were passed on April 4th. You can read the amendments here. This article will help you determine if you will meet the residency requirements under the new changes.
Parent/Grandparent Lottery – we are still waiting for the government to make its sections from those who registered to be randomly selected for the opportunity to make an application.
Ontario Immigration Nomination Program a bit of a mess - On February 21, Ontario reopened the Express Entry Human Capital Priorities Stream, the International Masters Graduate Stream, and the International PhD Graduate Stream. At the same time, the province also launched an online application system for these streams. Chaos ensued. There was unprecedented application volume demand, crashing the website and causing error messages, and the 7 day deadline had to be extended to 14 days. The Master’s and PhD streams reached their intake limits within three days.
The Human Capital Priorities Stream has once again reopened, and Notifications of Interest are being sent out between April 10th and 14th. Two clients at our office received Notifications of Interest this week. However, one had sufficient points and received an Invitation to Apply today. She will not need the provincial nomination. With Express Entry draws in the 420’s, less applicants with scores in the 400’s will need this program.
For this round of NOIs, the program targeted candidates in high-demand skilled trades in the construction sector, including carpenters, electricians and tile setters. However, I’m not sure how many individuals from those occupations would actually qualify for the Human Capital Priorities Class, since one of the requirements is having a university degree. Most people don’t go to university to become tile setters.
Trump, the Safe Third Party Agreement, and Canada’s role in the world refugee crisis – In the media, what we’re hearing about is Trump, the Safe Third Party Agreement, and what Canada’s role should be in the refugee crisis the world finds itself in. These are the two best media posts we’ve read this month:
The Ungrateful Refugee: ‘We Have No Debt to Repay’ https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/04/dina-nayeri-ungrateful-refugee
The author of the above article reminds us that refugees are much more then just the single identity the media and society seems to assign to them. Instead, they are people with their own dreams, and their successes should not be overshadowed by this one aspect of their lives. By simplifying their experiences, we allow stereotypes to exist.
My associate recently attended a legal clinic held by the Refugee Sponsorship Support Program. She was running late and took an Uber, and to her delight, her driver was a recently arrived Syrian gentleman. He told her about the English classes he took every day, and how his teacher was happy with his improvement since he’d been practising with his customers. This gentleman was an already active member of Canadian society, and clearly hoped to be independent as soon as possible.
Once she got to the clinic, my associate met even more incredible refugees from Syria. While talking to the daughter of the family, Meriam (picture below), my associate couldn’t help but be amazed. Meriam was telling her about how she already had 6 job interviews at Bayshore Shopping Centre. She said she is going to work 2 jobs until she can get back to school. She’s also already applied to continue her studies at to a number of universities. Her long-term dream is to get a great education, and when the civil war is over, use her knowledge to help rebuild her home country. She also eagerly asked my associate whether she knew of any organizations she could volunteer with to assist newly resettled refugees.
Meriam Tayar, a former resident of Aleppo now living in Canada
My associate was speechless. This young lady only arrived this past October and she sounded like she’s lived here her whole life!
Sharing these stories are important, because they’re proof that refugees are so much more then the impersonal descriptions we see of them in the news. Whether they are just learning English, or they are jumping right back into their university studies, we have to remember that they are unique individuals whose goals are similar to ours. In fact, their goals are often even more impressive, because they’ve gone through a great deal hardship just to get to where many of us “regular” Canadians start out from.
“After the Crossing: Refugees in Canada” – The Fifth Estate http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/episodes/2016-2017/after-the-crossing-refugees-in-canada
This broadcast tells the story of what happens to asylum seekers once they get to Canada. These are different cases then resettled refugees such as Meriam, because they still need to go through the refugee determination process after they arrive. They need prove that they were forced to leave their home country due to persecution based on race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. They also need to prove that their home countries would not be able to protect them. Until they are able to do this, they are considered asylum seekers and do not have the benefit of knowing what their futures will hold.
One part of the above broadcast tells the story of a Turkish man caught in backlog, who has waited almost 5 years without a hearing. In our office, we have two ‘legacy’ refugee claimants waiting for hearings before the Refugee Board. One fled his country when his daughter was only a toddler, and unfortunately, he would be a stranger to her now.
It is admirable that Canada has created the opportunity to sponsor refugees for resettlement. It is important to remember, however, that Canada must be must also deal with the cases of people who have been in limbo for half a decade. They have hopes and dreams too, and they cannot get started on them until they know they will be able to stay.