Saturday, November 29, 2008


Immigration levels to be maintained

Faster Visas; In-demand skills will speed process for applicants

Tiffany Crawford, Canwest News Service
Published: Saturday, November 29, 2008

Despite uncertain economic times, Ottawa announced plans yesterday for Canada to take in up to 265,000 new permanent residents in 2009 and to speed up the processing of applications for potential new Canadians in dozens of high-demand occupations.

At a news conference in Toronto, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said while countries such as Australia, Germany and England are cutting back on the number of people they allow to immigrate, Canada will maintain its immigration levels.

Under the plan, people wishing to move to Canada who work in 38 highly skilled job fields, such as health, finance and the oil industry, will go to the front of the line. That means skilled immigrants could have their visas processed in six to 12 months instead of having to wait five to six years.

"Nurses for instance, are needed whether you are in Nunavut or Vancouver or Toronto," said Mr. Kenney, adding that Canada is one of the few G7 countries that still has labour shortages, despite the economic downturn.

"Having said that, we will have to monitor the economy as it develops and, of course, we reserve the right to modify our policy if need be."

However, critics argue that when the government consulted with the provinces and with labour representatives, it did not take into account how deeply the global economy would fall.

Sergio Karas, chairman of the citizenship and immigration section of the Ontario Bar Association, believes the list of skilled workers gives potential new Canadians the impression there are jobs when those jobs could soon disappear, a problem he says that will "create chaos."

"We are going to be granting residency like lollipops and we're going to encourage them to come to Canada because they are on the list and we do not know, given the economic situation. We're giving them the impression that there are jobs to be had," he said.

While some occupations on the list, such as doctors and nurses, do not relate to the economic crisis, Mr. Karas said most are technical jobs that may be affected by the downturn. And he cited positions in Alberta's oilsands as an example. He suggests the government speed up the admission of temporary workers rather than hand out permanent residencies.

But Mr. Kenney said a backlog in foreign applicants has grown to 900,000 cases, up from 50,000 in 1993. He said of those, 600,000 people waiting in the queue are in the skilled-worker category.

"This is unacceptable and we need to take action," said Mr. Kenney.

The Minister said the government also will accelerate the immigration process for people who have an offer of employment or have already been living legally in Canada for one year as a temporary foreign worker or international student.

Mr. Kenney said the list of 38 occupations was developed after consultations with the provinces and territories, business and labour.

The Liberals have criticized the immigration reforms, arguing everyone should be treated on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Immigration Department said it expects 156,600 immigrants in the economic category; 71,000 in the family category; and 37,400 in the humanitarian category.

The Immigration Department also has expanded its Web site -- -- in an effort to make it easier for people to navigate the range of immigration options open to them.

Friday, November 28, 2008


Minister Kenney Announces Immigration Levels for 2009; Issues Instructions on Processing Federal Skilled Workers

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 28, 2008) - Canada will stay the course on immigration in 2009, welcoming between 240,000 and 265,000 new permanent residents, Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, announced today.

"While countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia are talking about taking fewer immigrants, our planned numbers for 2009 are on par with last year and are among the highest for this country over the past 15 years," Minister Kenney said. "The numbers reflect a continued commitment to an immigration program that balances Canada's economic, humanitarian and family reunification goals."

The 2009 plan includes up to 156,600 immigrants in the economic category; 71,000 in the family category; and 37,400 in the humanitarian category.

Minister Kenney also announced another step in measures to improve the immigration program's responsiveness to Canada's labour market. Retroactive to February 27, 2008, the date specified by the Federal Budget, the Action Plan for Faster Immigration includes issuing instructions to visa officers reviewing new federal skilled worker applications to process those from candidates who:

- are in 38 high-demand occupations such as health, skilled trades, finance and resource extraction; or

- have an offer of arranged employment or have already been living legally in Canada for one year as a temporary foreign worker or international student.

The list of 38 occupations was developed after consultations with the provinces and territories, business, labour and other stakeholders. New federal skilled worker applications that do not meet the eligibility criteria outlined above will not be processed, and the application fee will be fully refunded. This, along with funds set aside in the 2008 Budget to improve the immigration system, will stop the backlog from growing and will start to draw it down.

"The eligibility criteria apply only to new federal skilled worker applicants and will not affect Canada's family reunification or refugee protection goals," said Minister Kenney. "Applicants who aren't eligible for the federal skilled worker category may qualify under another category, such as the Provincial Nominee Program, or as temporary foreign workers, which could then put them on a path to permanent residency through the new Canadian Experience Class. There are many ways to immigrate to Canada."

The Department has expanded its website in an effort to make it easier for people to navigate the range of immigration options open to them. The site now includes a specific section for employers ( and a new interactive tool ( that matches information provided by potential applicants with immigration programs that best suit their circumstances.

"We expect new federal skilled worker applicants, including those with arranged employment, to receive a decision within six to 12 months compared with up to six years under the old system," said Minister Kenney. "All other economic class applications-including applicants chosen by Quebec, provincial nominees, the Canadian Experience Class, and live-in caregivers-will continue to be given priority."

These improvements, coupled with a number of recent initiatives that include the introduction of the Canadian Experience Class, bring Canada in line with two of its main competitors for highly skilled labour: Australia and New Zealand. Both of these countries have eliminated their backlogs and have systems that deliver final decisions for economic applicants within a year.

"The recent steps this Government has taken to improve our immigration system will help ensure that Canada remains competitive internationally and responsive to labour market needs domestically," said Minister Kenney.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


New migrant class draws few

Program to retain skilled immigrants attracts just 210 applicants since its launch in September

November 24, 2008
Nicholas Keung
Immigration/Diversity Reporter

A highly touted new immigration program has been hit by slow response from prospective skilled migrants and may fail to bring in the targeted 8,000 newcomers with Canadian academic credentials and work experience.

Since the program's inception in September, Citizenship and Immigration Canada has only received 210 applications under the Canada Experience Class, a new category designed to retain temporary foreign workers or foreign students as permanent residents with established credentials in Canada.

While some immigration lawyers say it is too early to gauge the initiative's popularity among immigration applicants, others are worried the economic meltdown would deny these workers and students the job experience they need to qualify.

"Let's face it. These people are trying to get into entry-level jobs. Few of them have the Canadian experience they need and they will be competing with Canadian workers who have been laid off," said lawyer Sergio Karas, chair of the Ontario Bar Association's immigration and citizenship section. "How can an employer justify hiring foreign students and workers while he's downsizing the workforce?"

A foreign worker must have at least two years of full-time Canadian work experience in managerial, professional, technical occupations or skilled trades to qualify for the program. A foreign graduate from a Canadian post-secondary institution needs a minimum one-year full-time work experience.

The initiative was part of Ottawa's answer to the decades-old "doctor-driving-cab" conundrum faced by immigrants whose foreign credentials are not recognized by Canadian employers. The plan is also expected to cut processing time since most applicants are already in Canada, presumably employed, allowing for easier access.

Toronto immigration lawyer Mario Bellissimo, who has a few such applications in the works, said slow response to the program – based on a pass-fail system as opposed to points – can be attributed in part to a language test requirement. "People ... need to prepare themselves psychologically and to study."

While many potential applicants may need more time to meet job experience requirements, lawyer Robin Seligman said those who've left Canada but still would qualify within a year after departing may be unaware of the program. "Others ... could have applied under other categories and decided not to file yet another immigration application under CEC," said Seligman.

Friday, November 14, 2008

CANADA: Sergio R. Karas chairs seminar on Employment and taxation law for Immgration lawyers

Visalaw International lawyer Sergio R. Karas chaired a successful seminar for the Ontario Bar Association on November 12,2008, on the topic "Making the right move: Employment and taxation law issues for immigration lawyers". The seminar was extremely well received and attended by close to fifty lawyers from accross Canada.


This is quite interesting. Regardless of whether or not the accuses is Innocent or guilty, it is amazing that a member of the PFLP terrorist organization was granted permanent residency in Canada, and even citizenship later! Who scrutinizes these applications? Are they incompetent or just stupid?As a member of a terrorist group, this person should have NEVER been allowed to set foot in Canada if immigration law had been enforced, let alone grant him citizenship. This is not the first case involving PFLP terrorists: Mahmoud Mohammad Issa Mohammad, a PFLP terrorist convicted in Greece after a plane hijacking in Athens, who gained residency in Canada after hiding his true identity, is still in Canada fighting deportation back to Lebanon on "humanitarian" grounds.

Synagogue bombing suspect vows to fight


From Friday's Globe and Mail

November 14, 2008 at 1:21 AM EST

Until last year, Hassan Diab was leading the quiet life of a Canadian sociology professor.

Prof. Diab was teaching at both Carleton University and the University of Ottawa, was said to be a popular colleague and teacher. After leaving the violence of his native Lebanon and earning his doctorate in the United States, Prof. Diab, 54, received his Canadian citizenship and appeared to settle into Ottawa.

There, friends said he was a secular man with an interest in sociology and Middle East studies, and was not without a warm side.

"He has a great rapport with students," said Carleton professor Nahla Abdo, a friend of Prof. Diab's. "He's intelligent, he's smart, he's witty. … I really think highly of his academic skills."

But just before noon on Thursday, the RCMP showed up at a home in Gatineau, Que., and arrested Prof. Diab on behalf of French authorities, who allege he was an integral part of the bombing of a Paris synagogue 28 years ago. That 1980 attack, involving a bomb hidden in the saddlebags of a motorcycle parked outside the synagogue during a Sabbath service, killed three French men and an Israeli woman. It sparked thousands of French citizens to protest against the targeted attack on the Jewish community, France's largest since the Second World War.

Today, Prof. Diab will appear in court in an extradition hearing. He steadfastly maintains his innocence, saying he wasn't in Paris at all that year, his name is very common, and that French investigators simply have the wrong man.

"It's a case of mistaken identity," his lawyer, René Duval, told The Globe last night. "I'm telling you he's innocent, and we'll fight that up to the Supreme Court of Canada."

The first allegations against Prof. Diab surfaced last November, when a French newspaper, Le Figaro, received a leak that he built the bomb in the 1980 attack. Citing French sources, the paper has since said that France's overall case includes tenuous evidence such as a handwritten note and fingerprints on a rental car. Prof. Diab was a member of a Palestinian terrorist group at the time of the attack, the paper also alleges, citing a French arrest warrant.

For Mr. Diab, life hasn't been the same since. He has been harassed, followed, and had one person attempt to break into his apartment, his lawyer alleges. None of the specific charges against him have been made openly and French authorities have not attempted to contact Mr. Duval. In today's hearing, he hopes to hear the charges on which the French hope to extradite Prof. Diab.

"They have to make a case that he should be detained, so they're going to have to show some of their cards," he said. "How would you like to be dragged into public scrutiny for something you haven't done, but is extremely serious nowadays?"

The Justice Department approved the "provisional arrest warrant" as per the extradition agreement between France and Canada, spokesman Christian Girouard said. A Canadian judge approved the move after reviewing basic evidence in the case, he added.

RCMP then carried out the arrest at a residence in Gatineau and held Prof. Diab in Ottawa overnight, Corporal Jean Hainey said.

French officials say anti-terrorist judges Marc Trevidic and Yves Jannier travelled to Canada earlier this week in hopes of advancing their inquiry into the bombing. There was no comment on that by the Justice Department or the RCMP in Ottawa.

The Canadian Jewish Congress, while cautioning that the allegations against Prof. Diab aren't proven, applauded French authorities for continuing the investigation.

"They have followed this case relentlessly to this international arrest warrant, and I think it gives a strong message, and a very needed strong message in the post-9/11 world," CJC chief executive Bernie Farber said.

After today's scheduled hearing, French authorities will have 45 days to lay out a more detailed case against Prof. Diab. Pending approval of that evidence by the Justice Department, a Canadian judge would have to approve an extradition order, which the Minister of Justice would then have to approve.

With a report from The Canadian Press