Better Safe Than Sorry

February 25th, 2009

On most days, I truly love what I do. Many lawyers spend their working lives locked in adversarial battles, where one side wins and the other loses. Not much fun, if you ask me. In my job I get to work in an environment, where most of the time, there are no losers. Our clients almost always get what they want…Canada gets what it needs…and I get to make a decent living from it all.

But some days, my work is not much fun at all. Take last Thursday for example. That’s when we received notification from the provincial government in Alberta that, effective immediately, candidates, who apply under the special nomination program for H-1B status holders in the U.S. would have to maintain their H-1B status and U.S employment up until the time that the provincial nomination certificate is issued, a process that can last 2 to 6 months. Before last Thursday, applicants only needed to be employed at the time the application was submitted and if they lost their U.S. job after submission of the application it would not negatively affect their Canadian immigration plans. So there you have it…no warning and the rules change.

So now, when H-1B holders contact us to inquire about immigrating to Canada and they are concerned about possibly losing their U.S. jobs, I have to advise them that they will need to maintain their H-1B status and have a job in the U.S. up until the time that the provincial nomination certificate is issued. That could be very sad news to someone who has already received a lay-off notice from his/her U.S. employer. Before last Thursday applicants, who submitted their applications, were not negatively affected for Canadian immigration purposes if they unfortunately lost their U.S. job.

I bring this to the attention of readers because recently the Federal Government has been making noises about perhaps reducing the number of immigrants that Canada accepts this year. While the Minister of Immigration stated that the government still intends to meet 2009 immigration target numbers (240,000-265,000) he went on to note that they are monitoring the situation closely, in light of the worldwide economic downturn. The Minister will be consulting with his provincial counterparts in March and we can expect an update following those meetings. Don’t be surprised if the government then announces adjustments to our Canadian immigration programs.

As a general rule, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) gives no warning in advance of changes that will affect an applicant’s chance to qualify. This makes sense, because a pre-announcement would likely cause a flood of applications from applicants hoping to get in while the door remains open for them. In this instance, the Minister of Immigration is signaling that there may be changes coming in the near future, even if that is not the government’s preference today.

How to respond to this?

If you are considering Canadian immigration and you are qualified under the current selection system, then the prudent thing to do is submit your application while you can.

Better safe than sorry.

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