Processing time for applications to federal Self-Employed Persons Program now down to 22 months

The processing time for applications to Canada’s Federal Self-Employed Persons Program is now down to 22 months — a major improvement from the seven years it was taking just a few years ago.   

The Self-Employed Persons Program allows eligible individuals with relevant experience in athletics or arts and culture to apply for Canadian permanent residence.

The program covers a wide range of professions, from practising artists and athletes to behind-the-scenes occupations such as choreographers, set designer, coaches and trainers.

Librarians, archivists, conservators and curators, and freelance journalists are also eligible, among numerous other professions.

Experience is considered relevant if the candidate is a performer who has taken part in cultural activities or athletics at a world-class level or he/she has been a self-employed person in cultural activities or athletics.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) says candidates are considered “world-class” if they are known internationally or are performing at the highest levels of their discipline.

Candidates must also be capable of making what the Government of Canada considers “a significant contribution to the cultural or athletic life” of the country.

The significance of one’s contribution is determined by the visa officer processing the individual’s file and IRCC says it “becomes relative” when applicants meet the experience requirements and there is a reasonable expectation that they will be self-employed.

“For example, a music teacher destined for a small town can be considered significant at the local level,” IRCC explains. “Likewise, a freelance journalist who contributes to a Canadian publication will meet the test.”

IRCC says the inclusion of this requirement is intended to deter “frivolous applications” and should not bar qualified self-employed persons from applying.

Interested candidates must also meet or exceed a minimum score under the program’s selection criteria in order to be considered for immigration as a self-employed person.

For complete details on eligibility requirements for the federal Self-Employed Persons Program, visit this dedicated page.

New documentary film focuses on immigrants learning French in Quebec

Argentinean-born filmmaker Andrés Livov says the idea of making a film that tells the story of adult immigrants learning French in Montreal came to him when he was sitting in one such class himself around 10 years ago.

“My experience was really special. I knew at the time it could be made into a film,” Livov told CIC News.

The project, however, took a few years to develop and mature. During that time, the “francization” of immigrants in Quebec developed into one of the most talked-about issues in the province.

“La langue est donc une histoire d’amour” (Language is a Love Story), which premiers October 11, offers a unique window into a French language class for adult immigrants at the William-Hingston Centre in Montreal.

In addition to raising public awareness about immigration issues, Andrés Livov’s film provides an opportunity to reflect on the way we relate to one another and the importance of interpersonal relationships for those who are learning to communicate in a language that is foreign to them.

At the centre of the film is Mrs Fulvie Loiseau, a passionate and sensitive teacher who has been working in the field for more than 15 years. An immigrant herself, she ensures that learning the language is about kindness, compassion and, above all, success.

The students she welcomes into her class are refugees, asylum seekers or temporary workers, more than half of whom are women.

In their countries of origin, many of those women were supported by their communities and depended on their families to meet their basic needs. In Quebec, they often find themselves without guidance and support.

Even before the shooting began, Livov knew that these women would play a prominent role in his film.

“In general, we don’t listen to these women very much, we don’t know their backgrounds very well.  I really wanted to know where they came from. I wanted them to tell their stories,” Livov said.

“One of the women, who spoke good French and Arabic and could translate for the others, became my facilitator. She is the one who made the others talk.”

The women open up about their attachment to their country of origin and their desire to be accepted by their adopted country. The nature of the exchanges is sometimes comic, sometimes compelling, and never without intercultural misunderstandings.

Several scenes in the film show that prejudices persist, but that it is still possible to overcome them.

Mrs Loiseau is uncompromising on this point. She never misses a single opportunity to highlight the life experiences of her students and, if necessary, bring their views into line with their new socioeconomic and cultural reality.

“I don’t want a woman to tell me that she didn’t have a job in her country. You’re a nurse, psychologist, housewife … When you’re a housewife, you have all these jobs,” she exclaims in one scene.

The film reveals that, at the heart of language acquisition, is a desire to help others overcome mistrust.

Livov hopes this process of building trust will also apply outside of the film, as audiences reflect on their relationship with immigrants and on their portrayal in the media.

“I didn’t make this film for immigrants or for French-language teachers,” says the director, “they already know this reality.”

“I made this film for the general public, for the average man and woman. I wanted to connect them with immigrants learning a new language, create a gateway to this reality so that people could approach things from a different perspective.”

“La langue est donc une histoire d’amour” will show across Quebec in the coming weeks.

Canada’s provinces benefited from immigration levels ‘rarely seen’ in a three month period

Immigration continued to drive population increases in Canada’s provinces between April and July of this year — a three month period that saw one of Canada’s largest quarterly population gains ever recorded. 

Overall, Canada’s population grew by 181,057 during those three months and was estimated to be at 37,589,262 on July 1, 2019.

Statistics Canada said this number represents the second-highest quarterly increase, in absolute numbers, in 48 years.

International migration (immigrants, temporary residents and returning emigrants) “remained the main driver of Canada’s population growth, accounting for 85 per cent of the quarterly growth,” Statistics Canada reported.

A record 94,281 new immigrants to Canada arrived during the second quarter of 2019.

Prince Edward Island led provinces in growth

Net international migration was positive in all provinces and in the Yukon Territory between April and July.

Statistics Canada called it the “main growth driver, reaching levels rarely, if ever, seen during a second quarter” and attributed the growth mainly to “the high number of new immigrants.”

The province of Prince Edward Island (PEI) posted what Statistics Canada called the “most rapid population growth in Canada” in those three months.

PEI’s nation-leading population increase of 0.8 per cent during the quarter was driven primarily by net international migration, which accounted for 78.4 per cent of total population growth in the province.

Net international migration was also the main contributor to the Yukon Territory’s second-place finish in terms of population growth in that same period. The Yukon’s population grew by 0.6 per cent over the quarter, with net international migration accounting for 62 per cent of the increase.

Factors of population growth in Canada’s provinces and territories, April to July 2019

Net international migration was an even greater contributor to total growth in Quebec (87.1 per cent) and Ontario (85.5 per cent) between April and July.

It also played a leading role in population growth in British Columbia (78.2 per cent) and Alberta (61.1 per cent).

Statistics Canada said net international migration helped offset interprovincial migratory losses in Manitoba and Saskatchewan of -2,802 and -2,719 people, respectively, helping both provinces finish the quarter with positive growth rates.

International migration also helped offset negative natural increases (more deaths than births) in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, allowing both provinces to finish the quarter with population growth rates of 0.5 per cent and 0.4 per cent, respectively.

International migration was also up in Newfoundland and Labrador, though the province finished the quarter with negative population growth due to a high number of deaths compared to births and outmigration to other provinces.

Provincial Nominee Program updates open new possibilities for Express Entry candidates

Provinces across Canada continued to innovate and improve their immigrant nominee programs this past quarter.

Ontario, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick made changes directly affecting Express Entry candidates; Alberta, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island (PEI) held selection rounds inviting Express Entry candidates to apply for provincial nomination.

All in all, the months of July, August and September were busy ones for Canada’s various nominee programs, which allow participating provinces and territories to select immigration candidates with needed skills and work experience and nominate them for Canadian permanent residence.

Canada’s nominee programs open up immigration possibilities for foreign workers who may not qualify for the federal Express Entry system or for those who qualify but whose Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score is lower than those being invited by the Government of Canada to apply for permanent residence.

Recipients of a provincial nomination through an Express Entry-aligned provincial stream, also called an “enhanced nomination stream,” receive an additional 600 CRS points and are effectively fast-tracked for an invitation to apply for Canadian permanent residence.

Other provincial programs that are not Express Entry-aligned nominate candidates who can then apply directly to Immigration, Refugee, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for permanent residence. These so-called “base programs” are designed by the provinces to address specific, often lower-skilled labour needs.

Express Entry manages the pool of candidates for three of Canada’s main Economic Class immigration programs — the Federal Skilled Worker ClassFederal Skilled Trades Class, and Canadian Experience Class.

Candidates are invited to apply for Canadian permanent residence based on their CRS score, which considers factors such as age, education, skilled work experience and proficiency in English or French.

Only the highest-scoring candidates are invited to apply through Express Entry draws.

Ontario Tech Draws

In July, Ontario introduced draws that target skilled workers with experience in six tech occupations:

  • Software engineers and designers (NOC 2173)
  • Computer programmers and interactive media developers (NOC 2174)
  • Computer engineers (NOC 2147)
  • Web designers and developers (NOC 2175)
  • Database analysts and data administrators (NOC 2172)
  • Computer and information systems managers (NOC 0213)

The Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) held its first Tech Draw on July 12, inviting 1,623 Express Entry candidates to apply for a provincial nomination. The next draw on August 1 rendered another 1,773 invitations.

Ontario Tech Draws are conducted through the OINP’s Human Capital Priorities Stream, which allows Ontario to search the Express Entry pool for candidates who match both federal and provincial criteria.

A job offer is not required, but candidates must have a profile in the federal Express Entry pool and meet the stream’s provincial criteria.

Eligible occupations in Saskatchewan 

On September 18, Saskatchewan overhauled the occupation requirement for its Express Entry-linked and Occupation In-Demand sub-categories, dropping its list of in-demand occupations in favour of an excluded occupations list.

The change resulted in the number of eligible occupations jumping from 19 to 218.

The executive director of the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP) told CIC News the change would allow the province more flexibility in selecting candidates to fill gaps in the province’s labour market. Instead of constantly changing their list of in-demand occupations, the SINP would stick with one list of ineligible occupations.

A job offer in Saskatchewan is not required under either sub-category, but candidates must have at least one year of work experience in an eligible occupation that is related to their field of study, among other requirements.

Unlike the SINP’s Express Entry sub-category, candidates in the Occupation In-Demand pathway are not required to have an Express Entry profile.

The SINP followed the overhaul of its eligible occupations with a major draw on September 25 that issued a total of 769 invitations to both Express Entry and Occupation In-Demand candidates.

Those invited represented 100 occupations, including civil and chemical engineers, medical radiation technologists, psychologists and information systems analysts and consultants.

New Brunswick introduces targeted Express Entry searches

Nova Scotia’s maritime neighbour, New Brunswick, announced at the end of July that it would also be conducting occasional, targeted searches of the Express Entry pool in response to labour market needs in the province.

This new approach will be used in addition to the Expression of Interest (EOI)-based invitations issued through New Brunswick’s Express Entry Labour Market Stream.

Alberta, Manitoba, PEI

Alberta holds regular draws that have lower CRS requirements than the typical federal Express Entry draws. In the third quarter, the lowest CRS cut-off score for a federal Express Entry draw was 457, whereas Alberta invited Express Entry candidates with scores as low as 302 on one occasion, and 303 on another.

Manitoba’s Skilled Worker Overseas program also works in conjunction with Express Entry. The province held five draws under the Skilled Worker Overseas program this past quarter, issuing a total of 483 Letters of Advice to Apply (LAAs). Manitoba uses its own unique ranking system, which is different from the federal CRS.

PEI issued 360 invitations over three draws this quarter to those in their Labour Impact and Express Entry categories. There is no break down of how many Express Entry candidates received invitations. PEI also uses its own unique system for selecting candidates.

“Canada’s provincial nominee programs continue to grow and innovate, creating new opportunities for Express Entry candidates and those outside the Express Entry system,” said David Cohen, senior partner with the Campbell, Cohen Canadian immigration law firm in Montreal.

Analysis: Why the Liberals are proposing a Municipal Nominee Program and free citizenship applications

The newly released Liberal Party of Canada’s 2019 federal election platform contains four immigration promises they will implement if Canadian voters return them to power on October 21. 

Those promises are:

  • Move forward with modest and responsible increases to immigration;
  • Launch a “Municipal Nominee Program;”
  • Make the Atlantic Immigration Pilot permanent; and
  • Make applying for Canadian citizenship free for permanent residents.

400,000 immigrants per year?

The Liberals’ promise to increase immigration to Canada comes as no surprise.

Since assuming power in 2015, the Liberals have gradually increased immigration levels from about 260,000 annually to a target of 330,800 in 2019. That target is set to reach 350,000 by 2021.

What is new, however, is they are suggesting that the increases will continue beyond 2021, which means Canada’s intake could trend even closer toward the 400,000-newcomer level in the final years of a renewed Liberal mandate (i.e., 2022 and 2023).

What will the Municipal Nominee Program look like?

While the launch of Canada’s Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) in 1999 has played a major role in promoting immigration to smaller provinces such as Manitoba, Saskatchewan and those in Atlantic Canada, immigrants continue to predominantly settle in Canada’s largest cities.

With a few exceptions, most provinces see at least 80 per cent of their immigrants go to one city, which results in smaller municipalities struggling to address their labour force needs through immigration.

Details remain scarce as to what the proposed Municipal Nominee Program (MNP) might look like but recent pilots launched by the Liberals such as the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) and Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIP) provide us with a glimpse of what to expect.

The Liberal platform states that a minimum of 5,000 new spaces will be dedicated to the MNP. This suggests that the MNP is likely to be introduced as a pilot, just like every other economic class program launched since 2013.

This would mean that up to 2,750 principal applicants could be selected through the MNP (the maximum number of principal applicants that can be selected through a federal pilot program), with the remainder arriving as spouses and dependents.

Distributing 2,750 principal applicant spots across a country as large and diverse as Canada would be difficult. The Liberals may choose to use the same approach as the RNIP whereby they invite municipalities across Canada to submit applications to receive designation by the federal government to “recommend” immigrants.

Like the RNIP, the MNP might then enable designated municipalities to “recommend” immigrants who have a job offer and/or ties to the municipality. The federal government would then review the qualifications of such immigrants to ensure they meet certain requirements such as language proficiency, educational credentials, and work experience.

Among the unknown issues is whether municipalities covered by the RNIP and AIP would also be eligible to participate in the MNP.

On the one hand, inviting these municipalities to participate would provide them with an extra tool to recruit more immigrants. Doing so, however, might make it even more difficult to distribute 2,750 principal applicant spots across Canada.

Why make citizenship applications free?

A permanent resident of Canada is eligible to apply for citizenship after they have been physically present in the country for at least 1,095 days (three years) during the five years before submitting their application.

Along with their application, they must pay a fee, which the federal government increased from $100 to $300 for adults in February 2014. It was then raised to $530 in January 2015, plus a “right of citizenship fee” of $100.

While citizenship acquisition is high—over 80 per cent of immigrants end up becoming Canadian—critics have argued that the higher fee has made it more difficult for immigrants with lower incomes to gain citizenship.

Analysis conducted by Andrew Griffith, a leading researcher on Canadian citizenship policy, suggests the higher fee is among the reasons why citizenship applications have declined in recent years. Other deterrent factors included more stringent residency, language, and citizenship test requirements, which the Liberals reformed in 2017.

The promise to waive the fees altogether is part of those earlier efforts to reform the Citizenship Act and make acquiring citizenship as accessible as possible regardless of socio-economic factors such as age and income.

The Liberal platform forecasts that waiving the application fee will cost taxpayers $75 million in the 2020-21 federal fiscal year and this figure will rise to $110 million by 2023-24.

This costing suggests that the Liberals are expecting a significantly higher number of permanent residents to become citizens as a result of their reforms as well as their increases to immigration levels.