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The Expatriate Mind on LoonLounge - Are you outraged yet? Legislating away immigration backlog an option, Kenney declares

Posted on Mar. 8th 2012 by expatriatemind
views: 1122, comments: 1
According to a report in today's Globe and Mail (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/legislating-away-immigration-backlog-an-option-kenney-declares/article2362389/), Immigration Minister Jason Kenney knows no boundaries in remaking Canada's immigration system in his party's image. Forget the near 1-million individuals who are currently in the backlog: they don't exist if the Tories pass legislation saying they don't. Forget the immigration system that covers a broad range of applicants, from family class to refugees - the Tories are only interested in those who come to work. Let's have employers decide who comes to Canada with a "just in time" immigration system that they design for their own needs (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/kenney-urges-employers-to-help-build-just-in-time-immigration-system/article2356117/).

Under Harper, Canada's immigration system has deteriorated exponentially. What was a backlog of 600,000 has grown to nearly 1-million people. What was a 1-2 year wait for a decision has deteriorated to an up to 8-year wait. While the Tories played the immigration card in the last election, temporarily increasing the number admitted into the country to around 265,000, they have now reduced the yearly number to 225,000 and cut the Skilled Worker class application allowance in half. They are remaking the refugee claim system into one with no appeal. And family reunification? Well that only costs Canadians money - how could it be good for us?

Minister Kenney: you can't break a system by your policies and inaction and then blame the same system for being broken. Your mismanagement is more than a threat to the Canadian economy - it threatens the fabric on which the nation was built and continues to be grown. Deny if you want the research that shows Canada's  population growth cannot sustain social programs. Deny if you want the best and brightest the globe has to offer because they don't line up with your political master's goals. Your leadership on the immigration portfolio is a shame on this nation.

If you are one of the 1-million currently waiting for a decision on your case, this is not a time to remain silent. While you are not Canadians, you can still make your voice heard by the government. I want to encourage you to get active now, by writing to pm@pm.gc.ca - Prime Minister Harper; minister@cic.gc.ca - Immigration Minister Kenney and members of Parliament (http://www.parl.gc.ca/Parlinfo/Lists/Members.aspx?Parliament=1924d334-6bd0-4cb3-8793-cee640025ff6) in the part of Canada where you plan to live when you arrive.

Let the Prime Minister, the Immigration Minister and your member know what you think of these immigration proposals. Let them know your stories: the years you have waited, the expense you've gone to, the separations you've endured; the dreams you have for Canada. Don't stop there - write the Globe and Mail - http://www.theglobeandmail.com, The Star- http://www.thestar.com, and other publications.

Make your voices heard. If you don't stand up for yourselves now, you may lose the chance in the future. You'll forever be on the outside, looking in.

Follow The Expatriate Mind at http://expatriatemind.blogspot.com/

Don’t Get Ripped Off When Looking For a Job!

Posted on Feb. 19th 2012 by wendymr
views: 1186, comments: 6
When it comes to job-hunting, I’ve said around this site several times that you should NEVER pay anyone for a job. There are several things to know about the process of looking for work in Canada:

1. No-one can FIND a job for you. Anyone who promises that they can do that is more than likely lying

2. Employers never hire sight unseen. You would always have to be interviewed before you get hired. The most any career consultant can do is to get your resume under the nose of a hiring manager, and there is no guarantee of either an interview or a job offer

3. Most companies who charge to help you find a job offer little more than resume and interview advice, and access to job postings you can find elsewhere – and those services are all available free from government-funded employment agencies anyway

4. Finding a job is a long and often difficult process, especially in the current climate. There aren’t shortcuts, though it certainly helps if you’re able to build your own network of contacts in your desired industry. Anyone who leads you to believe that they can give you shortcuts, or make guarantees of success, or do all the work and all you need to do is sit back and wait for the offers to come pouring in... that person is not to be trusted, especially if they’re asking for money

This weekend, on CBC Marketplace, there is an exposé of a fee-for-service career marketing company called Toronto Pathways, which charges clients anything from $3000 to over $6000 in return for promises to find them a job – and all the clients who’ve handed over money they can ill-afford got in return was a bit of resume and interview coaching, and a job posting website that was barely updated and contained nothing not available elsewhere. There is some evidence that this company has been aggressively going after newcomers to Canada, who are likely to be less aware of how the system works here.

Here’s the documentary: http://www.cbc.ca/marketplace/2012/recruitmentripoff/

Watch it and you’ll see the promises that are made up front, but then evaporate once people actually pay the fee. The video describes it as a scam, and I can’t help but agree.

What’s even worse is that the kind of services people do get from this company are all available free in every province in Canada, funded by provincial governments. Here’s another video showing the services provided to newcomers by Costi Immigrant Services in Toronto, funded by Employment Ontario:

I work for an agency also funded by Employment Ontario, and providing similar services. No-one is ever charged to access these services, and counsellors who work at these agencies are all trained to be client-centred as well as knowledgeable about the labour market, so services are focused on the job-seeker’s needs, not on what the agency wants to give you.

This kind of service is available FREE all over Canada. Once you arrive and you have your Social Insurance Number, you can walk into any agency and get help. In Ontario, you don’t even need to be a permanent resident or citizen: even if you’re here on a temporary work permit or are a refugee, you can get free help.

How do you find these free services? Start here: http://www.settlementroadmap.ca/

As Nick Corcodilos, recruitment expert, says on another of the CBC Marketplace video: “No-one can guarantee anyone else a job, except an employer after he makes a decision to hire someone. Anyone who is charging you and telling you they’re going to guarantee you a job is probably lying to you.”

Please, if you’re looking for work, get the right advice and don’t get ripped off!

The Expatriate Mind on Loon Lounge - Come to Canada Wizard reaches 750,000 visits in less than six months

Posted on Feb. 16th 2012 by expatriatemind
views: 755, comments: 3
(reposting a press release from the CIC)

Ottawa, February 09, 2012 — The Come to Canada Wizard, which helps people determine if they are eligible to immigrate to this country, continues to gain popularity among prospective immigrants and newcomers. The Wizard has recorded more than 750,000 visits since it was launched six months ago.

Close to 90 percent of users say they would recommend the Come to Canada Wizard to someone they know.

“The Come to Canada Wizard was very useful in helping me better understand the requirements for immigrating to Canada,” said one user. “It also allowed me to know what professional skills are in high demand.”

The Come to Canada tool is interactive. It presents users with a series of questions to determine which federal immigration option best suits their specific circumstances. It then leads users through the application steps and provides instructions and forms.

“The Wizard is just one of the many steps in our modernization process to continually improve our services to immigrants,” said Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney.

“This online tool makes the application process easier, more reliable and helps avoid potentially fraudulent practices,” added Minister Kenney.

The Come to Canada Wizard also helps the department to be more efficient, which is a benefit to all Canadians. For more information, visit the Come to Canada Wizard at: http://www.cic.gc.ca/app/ctcvac/english/index

Follow The Expatriate Mind at: http://expatriatemind.blogspot.com

The Expatriate Mind on LoonLounge - What to wear on a cold day in Toronto

Posted on Jan. 3rd 2012 by expatriatemind
views: 1609, comments: 2
Happy New Year! I'ts bitterly cold in Toronto this morning. -13C, but with the wind chill, it's closer to -24C (or -11F). For a guy from temperate Seattle, WA, that's cold.

Luckily, and thanks to my Love, I am prepared. So what do you wear to stay warm on a bitterly cold day? Here are my outer gear choices, from the top down:

- Toque - Mine is just a red Nike woven cotton one. Nothing fancy.
- Neck Warmer - I got this polar fleece one from Mountain Equipment Co-op. It works well because you can pull it up over your face too.
- Scarf - A good scarf can be wrapped any number of ways to keep your neck, face and chest a little more comfortable and takes care of areas a neck warmer can't cover.
- Down Jacket - This is where I got fancy (but my Love says its an "investment"). The jacket is a Canada Goose "Banff" Parka and it's my pride and joy. I won't mention all the features, but a serious winter jacket is a must and this one keeps me more than comfortable without heating me up and making me sweat.
- Gloves - While most days I get away with lined leather, on a day like today you need snow gloves that are warm. These are also from Mountain Equipment Co-op
- Impermeable Boots - Toronto is big on salt. They spread it everywhere on cold days to keep cars on the road and people on their feet. Trouble is, it will ruin your shoes. So a pair of impermeable boots are a must, and insulated ones like my Kamik Icebreakers are good to -40C. No frozen toes for me.

What you wear under all this is up to you, but these basics will keep most of you warm and dry. All told, there's around $1,000 in gear here (blame the jacket). It can be done cheaper of course - but if you want to adventure in -24C temperatures, be sure and take your clothing seriously.

Have a warm start to your New Year!

Follow The Expatriate Mind at: http://expatriatemind.blogspot.com/

The Expatriate Mind on LoonLounge - Immigration is expensive

Posted on Oct. 17th 2011 by expatriatemind
views: 1431, comments: 10
I often get asked what it cost me to emigrate from the U.S. to Canada. A lot of people have no idea what they are getting themselves into when they start this process. My case is probably special in some regards, because my Love and I have what is recognized by Canadian immigration law as a "conjugal" relationship. It's also not so special in that we initially got some bad advice from a paid consultant. That led to the expense of a failed appeal and then a totally other immigration application. All the while, we maintained a long-distance relationship, involving many flights back and forth across the country.

As to the core costs - applications, consultant, interview travel expenses, eventually an immigration attorney; we spent around $10,000. To maintain our relationship by actually seeing each other while we were in limbo, and without getting into the nitty-gritty of expense, let's count only the last four-year round: about 30 flights at $500 per round-trip - $15,000. Phone bills? Let's add another $1000.

Now, I'm not counting vacation travel (though it was way more expensive because we were apart) or anything that could be considered optional-expenses (like sending presents and cards and such to each other), or even the non-optional cost of maintaining two separate households; but you should be aware that there are of course lots of other expenses in maintaining an immigration case and a relationship from a long distance. Still, I figure on the low side from the numbers above that my immigration to Canada from the U.S. cost us upward of $26,000.

This seems like a lot of money - and it is: but its not too hard when you are paying it out over the course of a few years as we did. It just adds up is all.

I provide this information so those who may be thinking about following my lead in family class immigration understand the financial magnitude of the effort. Immigration to Canada is not easy and it's not cheap. Attorney's fees only start with a flat rate (and that's for proper filing of forms). If you get into anything complicated and actually need their guidance and advice, be prepared to pay. The fees paid to the Government of Canada are really the smallest part of your expense. Be sure you're prepared for the long haul before start down this road.

Follow The Expatriate Mind at http://expatriatemind.blogspot.com

The Expatriate Mind on LoonLounge - Get involved - CIC Launches Online Consultation on Immigration Levels and Mix

Posted on Aug. 31st 2011 by expatriatemind
views: 1083, comments: 0
So you want to have your voice heard on Canada's immigration policy? Now you have your chance.

OTTAWA, ONTARIO, Aug 29, 2011 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- 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.

More than 1,600 people have already signed up to complete the questionnaire. It is available at the following link: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/department/consultations/index.asp .

A report on the consultations, including the online questionnaire, will be available on the CIC website in the fall of 2011 or winter 2012.

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The Expatriate Mind on LoonLounge - Landing as a Permanent Resident

Posted on Aug. 15th 2011 by expatriatemind
views: 831, comments: 3
I landed as a Permanent Resident of Canada in Toronto (at Pearson, YYZ) on Friday the 12th of August.

The flight in from Seattle, all 4-1/2 hours of it, was quiet and uneventful. I was nervous from the get-go. While I had brought some snacks to eat and entertainment to read and watch and listen to, I wasn't hungry and I couldn't focus long enough to read or listen or watch anything but the landscape passing by 38,000 feet below and the cycle of information presented by the in-flight map in front if me: altitude, speed, current time in Seattle, current time in Toronto, distance to destination, time to destination: over and over I watched as it ticked down and I closed in on the moment my Love and I had waited for for the better part of the last decade if you count all the time we've spent pursuing our immigration case.

I landed at Pearson and after a long walk with other passengers through Terminal 1, snaked through the long quay at Customs and Immigration. I let the officer there know that I was immigrating to Canada as a Permanent Resident and he made lots of marks on my customs declaration form, then directed me behind him and to the right where the Immigration office was located. This is where the actual "landing" process takes place.

I stood in line again with people from all over the world and who were there for a range of purposes. Some with tears in their eyes had been refused entry; some were going through a secondary check because they were entering for business purposes; and one other person, like me, was there to immigrate.

When my turn came and I was directed to an officer, the process itself was very straightforward. I handed the officer my passport, which contained a special immigrant Visa and a form called the "Confirmation of Permanent Residence" (COPR). The officer asked a handful of questions regarding the information on my COPR form, whether I was immigrating alone or if others were following, how much money I was bringing with me into the country, whether I had been in trouble with the law in any country (including my own). The questions were straightforward and I answered them easily. The officer wasn't there to trip me up, simply to confirm information on my application and the visa issued.

Next the officer reviewed a record of my file on her computer. This took awhile because my Love and I had a big file. You get one of those when you are conjugal partners and your case takes years to process. After she had reviewed it, she had me sign my COPR in a number of places, then she detached my copy and stapled it to my passport. She let me know that I would have a Permanent Resident card mailed to me within about six weeks at my Toronto address and that while I could travel out of the country, I could not return to the country without it.

With the first of two interviews complete, I moved to the area where I would declare the goods I was arriving with and those I would be importing later (remember the forms I've been mentioning - the B4 and B4a? This is where these came into play). The officer doing this review was as nice as the first officer I encountered. He took my lists of items (you need to have a copy for Customs and one for yourself) and generated the official forms for me to sign. The only mistake I had made was that I didn't calculate the total value of my lists. But he handed me his iPhone and in a flash, I was done.

"Welcome to Canada." He said with a smile. Those words were music to my ears.

Despite the stress I had in anticipation of this process, because I was well prepared, it went very smoothly. The officials I encountered were all thoughtful and professional. I think they realize how stressful immigration is for people. They see it every day - they are on the front lines.

I pushed my cart of a couple suitcases (I saw families bringing in literally dozens, so I felt pretty efficient) thorough two sets of doors and there was my Love waiting for me on the other side. We embraced a long time, my head sinking into her embrace. "We made it," I said.

"And now we can think about the future," she said.

Follow The Expatriate Mind at http://expatriatemind.blogspot.com
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