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Ottawa, December 15, 2011 — Live-in caregivers will be able to get open work permits about 18 months sooner, thanks to a processing change announced today by Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney.

“Too many live-in caregivers have completed their work obligations but must continue living in the home of their employer, waiting for their application for permanent residence to be reviewed,” said the Minister. “This is understandably frustrating. That’s why we have started issuing open work permits to live-in caregivers as soon as they have completed their obligations and submitted an application for permanent residence.”

The Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) allows Canadian families to hire workers from abroad to provide care to a child, an elderly person or an adult with disabilities when there is a demonstrated shortage of Canadians and permanent residents to fill available positions. Caregivers are obliged to work for two years, or 3,900 hours, and then become eligible to apply for permanent residence in Canada.

Until now, live-in caregivers waited for an initial approval on their application for permanent residence before being eligible for an open work permit. An open work permit allows the caregiver to move out of their employer’s home and seek jobs in other fields, if that is their wish. As of December 11, 2011, all live-in caregivers who had met their obligations and submitted an application for permanent residence have had their files reviewed. Those who submitted an open work permit application with no missing information are being issued open work permits.

“I’d also like to thank the Toronto Caregiver Resource Centre for advocating on behalf of caregivers and bringing this situation to my attention,” the Minister added.

The LCP is a demand-based program and the number of caregivers accepted as permanent residents generally corresponds with the number who came to Canada as temporary foreign workers (TFWs) a few years earlier. For instance, about 4,700 live-in caregivers entered the program as TFWs in 2002, and about 4,500 permanent residents were accepted through the Live-in Caregiver Class in 2005. More than 7,200 caregivers entered the program in 2005 and about 10,400 individuals, including spouses and dependants of those caregivers, became permanent residents through the Live-in Caregiver Class three years later.

In 2010, CIC admitted a record number of permanent residents through the Live-in Caregiver Class—nearly 14,000 in all—corresponding with the record number of live-in caregivers who entered the country as TFWs in 2007.

In both 2009 and 2010, about five percent of all permanent residents to Canada were admitted through the Live-in Caregiver Class, a huge percentage for any single occupation.

However, the number of caregivers entering the program has declined every year since 2007.

“The change I have announced today will help caregivers settle into their new life in Canada while they wait for their permanent resident applications to be processed,” the Minister added. "And with the significant improvements being made to our global case processing system, my department's officers will be better able to manage the file load between Canada and missions abroad and improve the efficiency of that processing."

The Government of Canada has taken action to protect live-in caregivers from abuse and exploitation with regulatory improvements implemented in the Live-in Caregiver Program in 2010 and the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in 2011. Changes include:

  • allowing live-in caregivers to apply for permanent residence after 3,900 work hours, rather than two years of work, to ensure overtime is appropriately recognized;
  • the elimination of the need for a second medical examination when the caregiver applies for permanent residence;
  • increasing the amount of time a caregiver has to complete their work obligations, from three years to four;
  • the adoption of a standardized employment contract that ensures both parties agree to the salary, hours of work, vacation time, overtime, holidays, sick leave, and the terms of termination and resignation;
  • defining the costs the employer is obliged to pay, including the caregiver’s travel expenses in coming to Canada, medical insurance, workplace safety insurance and third-party representative fees;
  • emergency processing of work permits and employer authorizations to hire live-in caregivers who have been abused and need to leave their employment immediately;
  • a dedicated phone service for live-in caregivers through the department’s Call Centre;
  • an assessment of the genuineness of the job offer, including confirmation that the caregiver would be residing in a private residence and providing child care, senior home support care or care of a disabled person in that household without supervision, as well as whether the employer has sufficient financial resources to pay the wages of the caregiver and whether the accommodations being provided are adequate; and
  • a two-year period of ineligibility from hiring foreign workers, including live-in caregivers, for employers who have failed to live up to the terms of past job contracts.
 

Amid a global economic slowdown, Ottawa hopes to capitalize on its “rock-star” status by inviting innovative entrepreneurs abroad to bring their next big idea to Canada.

If you have a brilliant business plan and a Canadian investor who bets on your vision, Canada’s door is open for you, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Wednesday, floating the idea of a new “startup visa” program for foreign entrepreneurs.

“There is no doubt immigrants are among our most creative and successful entrepreneurs and investors. They are people who left behind what’s familiar to them in order to take a huge chance on an uncertain future to pursue their dreams,” Kenney said at a Toronto news conference.

“Entrepreneurs need to dream big and they can’t be afraid to take risks . . . We’d like to attract more of these bright innovators and entrepreneurs, who can create companies, hi-tech and other value-added businesses, that have the potential to create hundreds of jobs.”

However, Canada’s current immigrant entrepreneur program, established in the 1970s, is dated to an old economy and its low eligibility threshold — a $300,000 business venture in operation for a minimum two years — has managed to bring in mostly corner stores and mall kiosks.

While Ottawa plans to launch public consultations to iron out the logistics of the new program, Kenney said candidates would not need capital themselves as long as they had the backing of Canadian investors.

The federal government will cap the number of applications to be processed under the program to 2,750 a year and it is not known how many will be successfully admitted. It’s undecided if selected entrepreneurs will arrive on a conditional visa to work here or as permanent residents.

Kenney said he hopes to roll it out by the end of the year, outgunning the United States, where a similar plan has been tabled in Congress to facilitate the entry of immigrant entrepreneurs.

The proposed program has already won accolades from Canadian venture capitalists like Kevin O’Leary, co-host of the CBC TV business program, The Lang and O’Leary Exchange.

“We are the rock stars in the world today. There are very few countries that have our status,” said O’Leary, on hand to lend his support to the government plan.

“This is a huge opportunity for us because every entrepreneur who starts a business in Canada has to think global. We can’t depend on the North American market. Every strategy we build our business on has to be one servicing world economies.”

That’s where immigrant entrepreneurs come in, with their know-how and innovation to bridge Canadian investors with overseas markets.

“You get a world-class entrepreneur regardless of geography or nationality and can put him on a Canadian-invested idea. So we’ll be able to expand the number of great ideas,” O’Leary said.

“This is a fantastic idea for investors like me . . . I look at global concepts, bring them here and make them ours.”

Immigrant entrepreneurs admitted to Canada dropped sharply from 580 in 2007 to 184 last year. In anticipating the changes, the government stopped accepting new applications in July
 
Faster processing times for Family Cases

News Release – Government of Canada to cut backlog and wait times for family reunification – Phase I of Action Plan for Faster Family Reunification

Ottawa, November 4, 2011 — The Government of Canada is taking immediate action to cut the backlog and wait times for sponsored parents and grandparents, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced today.

Currently, more than 165,000 parents and grandparents who have applied to become permanent residents of Canada are still waiting for a final decision. Each year, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) receives applications for sponsorship of nearly 38,000 parents and grandparents, a number that will only continue to expand if no action is taken.

“Wait times for Family Class sponsorship applications for parents and grandparents now exceed seven years, and without taking action, those times will continue to grow, and that is unacceptable,” said Minister Kenney. “Action must be taken to cut the backlog, reduce the wait times, and ensure that the parents and grandparents program is sustainable over the long run.”

To deal with the large backlog and lengthy wait times, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is announcing Phase I of the Action Plan for Faster Family Reunification.

First – The Government of Canada will increase by over 60 percent the number of sponsored parents and grandparents Canada will admit next year, from nearly 15,500 in 2010 to 25,000 in 2012 – the highest level in nearly two decades.

Second – The government is introducing the new “Parent and Grandparent Super Visa,” which will be valid for up to 10 years. The multiple-entry visa will allow an applicant to remain in Canada for up to 24 months at a time without the need for renewal of their status. The Parent and Grandparent Super Visa will come into effect on December 1, 2011, and CIC will be able to issue the visas, on average, within eight weeks of the application. This means that instead of waiting for eight years, a parent or a grandparent can come to Canada within eight weeks. Parent and Grandparent Super Visa applicants will be required to obtain private Canadian health-care insurance for their stay in Canada.

Third The government will consult Canadians on how to redesign the parents and grandparents program to ensure that it is sustainable in the future. The redesigned program must avoid future large backlogs and be sensitive to fiscal constraints.

Fourth – To prevent the build-up of an unmanageable number of new applications during these consultations and to further reduce the 165,000-strong backlog of parent and grandparent applicants, CIC is putting in place a temporary pause of up to 24 months on the acceptance of new sponsorship applications for parents and grandparents. The pause comes into effect on November 5, 2011.

“The Government of Canada is fully committed to helping families reunite,” said Minister Kenney. “We recognize that what parents and grandparents want most is to be able to spend time with their families.”

“If we do not take real action now, the large and growing backlog in the parents and grandparents program will lead to completely unmanageable wait times. Through this balanced series of measures, we will be able to dramatically reduce the backlog and wait times, while the new Parent and Grandparent Super Visa will allow more family members to pay extended visits to their loved ones,” added the Minister. “We anticipate that in about two years, following our consultations, Phase II of our Action Plan for Faster Family Reunification will come into effect, ensuring that future applicants are processed quickly and that the program can operate on an efficient and sustainable basis.”

 
New Immigration Program

CIC launches online consultation on immigration levels and mix

Ottawa, August 29, 2011 — Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney today launched online consultations on the appropriate level of immigration and the most suitable mix between economic, family class and protected persons.

Immigration has been a sustaining feature of Canada’s history and continues to play an important role in building our country. Canada has one of the highest per capita rates of permanent immigration in the world—roughly 0.8% in recent years—and has welcomed 3.5 million immigrants in the last 15 years.

“The online consultation provides an important opportunity to gather input from stakeholders and the public on key questions facing CIC,” said Minister Kenney. “This is also a chance to highlight some of the considerations and difficult choices involved in managing a global immigration system.”

In planning for the total number of people to admit as permanent residents, CIC not only balances immigration objectives but also considers several other factors, including broader government commitments, input from provinces and territories, and current and future economic conditions. The Department must also consider its ability to process applications in a timely manner, as well as the capacity of communities to welcome newcomers.

The questionnaire is a key component of the cross-country consultations Minister Kenney and his parliamentary secretaries are currently leading on immigration levels and mix. In July, the Minister consulted with stakeholders in Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto. This month, parliamentary secretaries Rick Dykstra and Chungsen Leung held round tables in Mississauga, Scarborough and London. Additional sessions may be planned in the coming weeks and months.

Thus far, the majority of stakeholders present at the consultation sessions expressed a fairly positive view of the current immigration system. They have identified immigration as a critical way to meet labour market needs, citing economic factors as among the most important considerations when establishing immigration levels, followed by integration concerns. Participants have also highlighted the importance of family reunification and the need to address wait times in the parent and grandparent stream.