Make sense of your options: Immigration Assessment 101

Immigration

Do I really need a lawyer to help with my immigration process? Can’t I manage this myself?

Maybe you’ve asked yourself these questions because you know the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website has all the application forms, kits, manuals and guides that you may need. Or maybe you know of someone who did it him/herself.

Consider the fact that immigration is a process that is truly life-changing – the stakes are high and the consequences of failure are far-reaching and costly. You and your family’s future are at stake.

Gain peace of mind during your immigration process and avoid issues before they arise and get real solutions when they do.

You need a dedicated lawyer working on your behalf, an experience professional who goes above and beyond what the website states and what your friend or family can suggest. Unless you work with a law firm that understands Canadian immigration law, you are unlikely to find the expertise to recognize and deal with the complex situations or problems that arise during the course of your immigration process.

You need a lawyer who knows the most up-to-date immigration law and procedures. One who will give you candid advice, who can relate to the complex issues raised by culture, language, gender and race, and who is sensitive to them. One you can trust your family’s future with.

To assist you in your pursuit of immigrating to Canada, here are some key points you should know at the start of your journey.

There are five main ways to “immigrate” to Canada. In order to gain a stronger perspective on your unique situation, we suggest that you visit the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) website which explains each category in greater detail.

Skilled Worker Class

This class of immigrants is allowed to come to Canada because they have sufficient education, work experience, knowledge of English and/or French and other abilities that will help them to establish themselves successfully in Canada.

To qualify as a skilled worker, you must be able to meet minimum education and work experience requirements, prove you have enough funds required for settlement and earn enough points to meet the pass mark. The Department of Human Resources and Skills Development (HRSD) is the Canadian government department responsible for providing Canadians with the tools they need to thrive and prosper in the workplace and community. The department has also classified job occupations in Canada, and as a skilled worker you would have to meet the minimum skill levels in the National Occupational Classification (NOC) Handbook. NOC 2001 can be accessed online at www23.hrdc-drhc.gc.ca You should also note that if you are approved to enter Canada as a Skilled Worker, there is no guarantee that you will be able to find employment in your field. You should research the opportunities for work in your field carefully.

Business Immigration

Immigrants in this category are allowed to immigrate to Canada because they have the funds, skills and business experience.

They may apply in one of three classes: investors, entrepreneurs or self-employed persons.

Investors

If you wish to come to Canada as an investor, you must have business experience, a substantial minimum net worth of at least CDN $800,000, and be able to make a prescribed investment of CDN $400,000 in Canada.

Entrepreneurs

If you wish to come to Canada as an entrepreneur you must have business experience, a minimum net worth and intend to set up a business that provides employment for yourself and for others in Canada

Self-Employed

Self-employed persons must have required experience in cultural or athletic areas. They must have the intention and ability to establish a business that will, at a minimum, create an employment opportunity for themselves and that will make a significant contribution to cultural activities or athletics in Canada.

This category includes such as music teachers, painters, illustrators, filmmakers and freelance journalists. As well, the category is intended to cover people who work behind the scenes such as choreographers, set designers, coaches and trainers. Management experience in the world of arts and culture may also be a viable measure of self-employment. In this case, theatrical or musical directors and impresarios are included.

Note that your financial assets may also be a measure of your intent and ability to establish yourself economically in Canada, but there is no minimum investment level for a self-employed person.

The capital required depends on the nature of the work. You must have sufficient funds to create an employment opportunity for yourself and maintain yourself and your family members. You must show that you have been able to support yourself and your family through your talents and would be likely to continue to do so in Canada. This includes the ability to be self-supporting until the self-employment has been created. Participation at a world-class level in cultural activities or athletics is intended to cover performers who perform in the arts and in the world of sport. ‘World class’ identifies those who are known internationally but also covers persons who may not be known internationally but who perform at the highest levels in their discipline.

The category of self-employed persons also allows for those experienced in farm management to come to Canada to purchase and manage a farm.

The average cost of farmland varies significantly from province to province but ranges from about CDN $330 to CDN $4,600 per acre, with farmland closest to urban centres having a higher market price. Average farm size varies from province to province with Newfoundland reporting an average farm size of 146 acres while Saskatchewan reports an average farm size of 1,152 acres.

Family Class Immigration

Canadian citizens and permanent residents may sponsor close relatives or family members who want to become permanent residents of Canada. Sponsors must promise to support the relative or family member and their accompanying family members for a period of three to 10 years to help them settle in Canada.

The intent of the family class program is to facilitate the reunion in Canada of Canadian citizens and permanent residents with their close relatives and family members. The Canadian citizens and permanent residents may sponsor their relatives. Only close blood relatives are eligible for sponsorship, such as parents, grandparents, siblings, nieces or nephews, aunts and uncles; cousins do not count. Dependent children being sponsored must be less than 22 years of age when the sponsorship application is received.

Refugees

Convention refugees who seek refuge or asylum in Canada are not technically immigrants. However, those refugees whose claims are accepted by the Immigration and Refugee Board (if refuge is claimed inside Canada) or by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (if refuge is claimed outside Canada), then become eligible to apply to remain in Canada as immigrants.

There are two focuses to Canada’s refugee program: 1) an inland refugee determination program; and 2) a refugee selection program abroad. The inland determination program meets Canada’s obligations as a signatory to the Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees. The refugee selection program abroad reflects Canada’s commitment to share in resettling refugees. Inland refugee determination decisions are made by an independent quasi-judicial tribunal, the Refugee Protection Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board. There are about 25,000 claims every year and approximately 15,000 of these are granted. If you are found to be a genuine refugee, you and your dependants become permanent residence of Canada. Canada does not restrict itself solely to the Convention Refugee definition but selects, as well, people in war-like situations, women at risk and special large movements of people.

Humanitarian and Compassionate Cases

There are circumstances where people may be allowed to immigrate to Canada for “humanitarian and compassionate considerations.”

If you wish to live permanently in Canada, you must submit your application from outside Canada. However, the Act and the immigration regulations provide for circumstances in which you may submit your application in Canada to become a permanent resident. Applying to have your application considered under humanitarian and compassionate grounds can be complex since there is a high degree of discretion in the process. If you are considered eligible, then you will still have to qualify in whichever category you are applying.

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