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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)


Raising funds for terrorist purposes to be a crime now

As stated by Justice Minister Anne McLellan on September 18, 2001, it will become a criminal offence to raise   funds in Canada for terrorist groups. [Read More]

 

Previous Columns:

Common Policies for Canada – U.S.A. Borders?  

Since the unprecedented and savage attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, a key question for the Canadian government and Canadian people has been. [Read More]

 

Labour – Canada in Desperate Need

High tech has long garnered all of the attention when it comes to recruiting foreign skilled labour. [Read More]

 

'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. [Read More]

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Raising funds for terrorist purposes to be a crime now

As stated by Justice Minister Anne McLellan on September 18, 2001, it will become a criminal offence to raise funds in Canada for terrorist groups.

 

It has long been known that many groups in Canada are engaged in exactly this type of fund raising for causes that are considered to be terrorist in nature. The legal procedures proposed will further enhance legislation already before Parliament by removing “charitable status” from varied organizations thought to be involved in raising money for terrorism.

 

The measures McLellan is proposing go beyond legislation already before Parliament that would strip charitable status from groups that are believed to be raising money for terrorism.  In fact this past week, Justice Minister McLellan tabled an omnibus bill, C-16, in the House of Commons that will provide sweeping powers to law enforcement agencies to enhance their ability to obtain and analyze information pertinent to suspected terrorist activities.

 

Bill C-16 will obviously be walking a fine line between individual and civil rights and the need for security on behalf of Canada as whole. Frankly, it becomes obvious that the security issues will take a more pronounced role than in the past.

 

Bill C-11, the government’s new bill on immigration, is said to provide for minor changes to the way security issues are presently dealt with, but there is talk that the new bill may not make it through the Senate approval process as the Senate is demanding major changes or a total re-writing of the bill to further enhance security measures.

 

Bill C-11 does indeed provide for an increase in “initial” security screening of refugees and undocumented arrivals in Canada, in addition to restricting appeals for those facing deportation. In addition, measures to detain persons, such as those described above, exist even under current legislation where persons so described can be detained for “reasonable grounds to believe the person may be a danger to the public”, and/or “unlikely to appear for a hearing if released on their own recognizance”.

 

Detractors of Bills C-11, and C-16, obviously are denouncing the effect these bills may have on freedom of association and political participation in Canada but one would believe most residents of Canada, in a post September 11 world, are willing to give up some of these protections in an effort to maintain our general lifestyle and be secure in the knowledge the likelihood of being attacked in a similar fashion once again has been greatly reduced.

Common Policies for Canada – U.S.A. Borders?

Since the unprecedented and savage attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, a key question for the Canadian government and Canadian people has been “what, if any, was our role in possibly providing terrorists the means to operate, co-ordinate and plan any portion of the attacks carried out against New York City”?

 

This question has dogged our government since September 11, 2001, with weak responses by our Prime Minister, stating “no proof of terrorists in Canada”. This statement carries very little weight when confronted with the numerous reports by Canadian Security and Intelligence Service and the RCMP stating that there has been significant activity – fundraising being one notable activity – in Canada for some years now. 

 

U.S. President George Bush has stated his desire to see common visa policies developed for immigrants and visitors. Prime Minister Jean Chretien has stated that “Canada’s polices on immigration will be developed and administered by the Canadian government and no other government”. While this is a strong statement of our sovereignty it also is very clear that Canada must do much more to end the perception of Canada being an easy target for international criminals and terrorists – in effect a safe haven. Canada must implement very stringent controls on undocumented arrivals, beginning with mandatory detention of those who fail to satisfy authorities of their true identity and background. The new immigration Bill C-11 does provide for increased security screening of refugee claimants and measures to restrict appeals for those facing deportation. This last measure is welcome considering Canada’s dismal deportation record of the past - since 1995, more than 20,000 “refugees” are believed to have slipped through the cracks in the system and most are believed to be in the U.S.

 

Another measure now being fast tracked through the department of Citizenship and Immigration is the introduction of a “green card” type of photo ID to be issued to all permanent residents of Canada. It has long been considered a problem by U.S. Immigration officials that Canada issues immigrant documents that contain no photos or other means of physically identifying those persons to whom immigrant visas have been legitimately issued.

 

There are many more issues at hand: cross border commercial traffic – valued at $1.5 billion per day; border points being staffed by officials of both countries; harmonized customs pre-clearance procedures and others. Clearly the most contentious is the proposal to create common entry controls – this is significant as Canada’s new bill on immigration, C-11, will have a positive effect on immigration for persons who are educated, professionally adaptable and have an ability in the English language. South Asians and Southeast Asians stand to benefit greatly under the new system as peoples from this region remain the number one source of immigrants to Canada and are generally regarded as being well educated, and as most are schooled in English, possess a built in advantage over potential immigrants from non-English speaking countries.

 

It is hoped that our government will not be pressured into significant changes specific to Bill C-11 as it is now a bill that provides for additional security measures while recognizing Canada remains a country in need of skilled immigrants who want to contribute to Canadian society. An appropriately applied Bill C-11 should also help ensure that potential immigrants will continue to recognize Canada as a welcoming country that continues to offer a safe and comfortable lifestyle for themselves and their families.

 

Labour – Canada in Desperate Need

High tech has long garnered all of the attention when it comes to recruiting foreign skilled labour. This is no different than most western economies that also have sought out the best and brightest in the technology fields. Where Canada differs from some of these other western economies is it’s acute shortage of skilled construction and trade labour.

 

In addition, to our tradespersons deficit, Canada continues to face a strong need for senior engineers, systems analysts and other varied positions in the highly skilled technology sector.

 

The fact is that a skilled worker applying to emigrate to Canada may take two years or more to be processed and issued an immigrant visa for Canada is serious impediment to sourcing skilled labour badly needed by Canadian industry. The fact is that Canadian governments, past and present, have amplified this problem and continuously failed to recognize the acute nature of this problem. As a result, Canada is now forced to look to foreign economies to supply the desperately needed skilled labour. Though India is acknowledged as the world’s premier source of technology workers, Canada will look to any corner of the globe to find the personnel needed.

 

Framing carpenters and bricklayers are very high on Canada’s “most desired” list. Construction companies are praising a federal government proposal to fast-track thousands of temporary workers into Canada to alleviate these shortages, but many are lamenting the fact Canadian governments seem to lack the initiative to put into place domestic training programs to attack the problem from within Canada’s borders.  Factors working against a homegrown solution include an ageing workforce and the poignant issue of traditional trades failing to attract young people. Most high school graduates, encouraged by their parents, think only of professional careers in such fields as medicine, law or becoming a dot-com millionaire.

 

A possible solution dictates that Canadian governments, and associations that represent the construction industry, must spend time and money to promote the concept that a career in the trades is a lucrative and Honourable alternative to a professional career. In addition, inter-provincial barriers to the free movement of tradespersons must be addressed. This action, taken in conjunction with a concerted effort to source qualified tradespersons from abroad, may be the only approach to begin to rectify the severe shortage of skilled labour Canada presently faces, both in the construction and high tech sectors.


'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.