August 2001

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Vol. I Number 2

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IMMIGRATION

Rick Howat* has recently assumed the position of V.P. Marketing and Development with First Entrepreneur Enterprises, developing and promoting business immigration programs in Canada. (more details at the bottom)

'Citizenship and Immigration Canada' 
Responds to Natural Disasters

'Citizenship and Immigration Canada' (CIC) is committed to a humane, flexible response when natural disasters abroad affect the relatives of Canadian citizens and permanent residents. The Department has developed a response plan that includes several measures that can be used depending on the nature of the disaster. CIC staff have sufficient discretion to respond in a humane manner without needing to resort to special legal authorities". What this means is that the staff members at CIC charged with responsibility in these programs have the authority to make quick decisions regarding who may be allowed a temporary visit to Canada or whom may even be eligible for permanent residence in Canada, based on humanitarian and compassionate circumstances.  

This response process was developed through past experience with previous disasters - for example, the earthquake disasters that occurred this year in India and Turkey. 

In response to disasters, the overseas efforts include sending staff from the local visa office (Canadian Consulate General or Canadian Embassy) to the disaster area to render a decision if the area is safe for the persons involved in the disaster and CIC staff to initiate the program in the affected area. The CIC response team (including Visa Officers) will assess and prioritize immigrant and visitor visa issuance's on the basis of those with immediate or close family ties to Canada, i.e., parents, children, siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces or nephews, receiving first consideration. Determinations on immigrant applications will be  finalized and the visa issued immediately, pending a quick review of all circumstances. The CIC Visa Officers have the authority to exempt applicants from the full application of the Immigration Act where there are compelling humanitarian or compassionate considerations. Visitor visas will be issued to persons affected by the disaster who are able to clearly indicate they will leave Canada at the end of the authorized visit period. Details of CIC's response will be disseminated to the public through the CIC Call Centre and the CIC Web site (http://www.cic.gc.ca).

In response to persons affected by overseas disasters who are in Canada as visitors, workers and students (those persons in Canada on a temporary basis) at the time of the disaster, the Central Processing Centre (CPC) in Vegreville will evaluate, on a case-by-case basis, persons wishing to extend their status as visitors in Canada. If the disaster cuts off their access to funds, international students may be granted work permits. Canadian citizens and permanent residents who wish to sponsor immediate family members residing in a disaster area may do so by obtaining the necessary forms from the Call Centre or the CIC Web site. The Case Processing Centre (CPC) in Mississauga will provide priority processing for these sponsorship applications. If CPC Mississauga approves the sponsorship, an application kit will be sent to the sponsor in Canada to forward to the relative abroad. Persons subject to removal orders - departure orders, exclusion orders and/or deportation orders - to an affected area may be deferred for up to three months or may be removed to an unaffected area of the country. This is all subject to the actual conditions in the affected area and how quickly the area performs the necessary steps to offer it's residents a safe, satisfactory mode of living.

*Rick Howat
Upon completion of economics studies in university, Mr. Howat thereafter joined the Citizenship and Immigration department where he acted as a Senior Immigration Officer and supervisor. After five years of employ with the Immigration department, pending a one-year hiatus, Mr. Howat established his own immigration consulting practice. More recently, Mr. Howat assumed the position of V.P. Marketing and Development with First Entrepreneur Enterprises, developing and promoting business immigration programs in Canada.

Family Class Sponsorships

The “Family Class” of immigrants has long been a preferred means to bring family members to Canada who would otherwise be ineligible for permanent residence. This “Class” of immigrants is restricted to spouses, fiancé (s), parents, grandparents and dependent children. This means that you cannot sponsor brothers or sisters unless they are included in a sponsorship of your parents as dependants. This can include overage (19 years of age or over) siblings if they have maintained their educational pursuits on a full time basis – provided no more than a lapse of one year has occurred during the continuation of their formal education.

In order to sponsor family members for permanent residence in Canada within this class, you must meet a “Low Income Cut Off” (or LICO).  You can find general details at www.cic.gc.ca  or if you wish to go directly to the “Family Class” website, you can do so at www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigr/index2.html#family. The LICO amount needed is dependent on the number of members presently in your family in addition to the number of the persons sponsored. The sponsor must present an annual income to immigration authorities i.e. from employment, interest or investment income etc. The presentation of “general assets” to demonstrate you have the financial means to support your sponsored family members will not be accepted as the Immigration Department only accepts annual income, as shown on the sponsor’s Notice of Assessment, issued by the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA).

For many countries of Southeast Asia (India, Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan to name a few), Citizenship and Immigration Canada has initiated a new process or “joint application package” in an effort to streamline Family Class sponsorships. The new application package includes a sponsorship form, an immigrant application form and a medical form. This sponsorship package is only available to sponsors in Canada. With this process, the sponsor  sends the application forms to the relative(s) abroad. The completed application is returned to the sponsor with all supporting documents. The sponsor will then submit the application to the Case Processing Centre in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. To further speed up processing, the sponsored relative(s) should complete the medical examination before the application is submitted to the Case Processing Centre. This new and streamlined sponsorship process does not apply to children who are to be adopted.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada states that “half of the applications submitted under this new process will be randomly selected for appraisal in Canada”. The applications that are correctly completed and free of complications will be processed to visa issuance, within Canada. Applications deemed to require personal interviews and/or clarifications will be forwarded to the applicable overseas visa office, thus incurring a much lengthier processing period. If you are unsure if your application is properly completed, refer to your local immigration professional for assistance; it may save you months of unnecessary delay.