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Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) have been advised of yet another telephone scam, this time targeting international students living in Canada.
International students across Canada have reported that people claiming to be employees of IRCC have called to threaten them with arrest or deportation if the students do not obtain an immigration lawyer and, in some cases, transfer money to the callers. The caller tells the student that there is an immigration or arrest warrant against them and that the student could be removed from Canada if they do not comply with the caller’s request. IRCC has reported that some students have transferred thousands of dollars because they believed that they were following IRCC’s instructions or retaining an immigration lawyer who would ensure that they would not be deported from Canada.
These calls can be frightening and it is important to remain calm if you are contacted by an individual claiming to be from IRCC and requesting you to pay money or hire a particular lawyer to avoid deportation. Do not respond to these requests, give the caller any personal information, or transfer any funds to them.
An IRCC employee, officer or legitimate lawyer or legal representative will never make a phone call of this nature. Further, no IRCC officer or lawyer would ever request you to transfer the money as a guarantee to avoid deportation or the revocation of your study permit or another immigration status.
IRCC has issued an alert on its website confirming that it never contacts individuals over the phone, in person or online asking for fees or fines related to preventing deportation proceedings or avoiding revocation of immigration status. IRCC will never ask applicants to deposit money into a bank account, send an email money transfer or deposit money through a private money transfer service (e.g. Western Union).
Also, if you receive an email from an individual claiming to be from IRCC, check the sender’s email address. Government employees will never contact you from a Gmail, Yahoo mail, Hotmail, or other free email service account and will have an email that contains “@gc.ca” or another government identifier.
Choosing a Legal Representative
It is also important to understand who is legally authorized to provide immigration advice and help you with an application. Authorized professionals are lawyers or paralegals in good standing with a Canadian law society, immigration consultants who are members in good standing with the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council, or notaries who are in good standing with the Chambre des notaires du Québec. No other individual or company is legally allowed to charge a fee for immigration advice.
You can confirm the identity of a potential legal representative by asking them for their professional registration information and checking with their licensing organization over the phone, or online. If they are not registered as a professional in one of the official organizations listed above, then they are not legally authorized to give you advice.
If you are contacted by an individual who claims to be an immigration lawyer or consultant and they tell you that you must transfer them money so they can keep you in Canada, you should report them to Canada’s Anti-Fraud Centre or the Border Watch Tip Line.
How to Report Immigration Fraud
If you suspect that you have been contacted by a fraudulent individual or company, do not engage with them or give them any personal information. You should immediately report the activity to IRCC by calling the Border Watch Tip Line (Toll-Free): 1-888-502-9060 or Canada’s Anti-Fraud Centre by calling 1-888-495-8501. All information you provide will be kept confidential and can help prevent others from being targeted. Law enforcement authorities would be happy to receive relevant information so that they can investigate and arrest the scammers involved.
Express Entry – There are Changes Coming
Changes are coming soon to Canada’s Express Entry system. Express Entry is the electronic management system designed to selected skilled workers for immigration to Canada, in force since January 2015.
- Any person applying for the Federal Skilled Worker Program,
- Federal Skilled Trades Program,
- Canadian Experience Class must apply through Express Entry.
Several Canadian provinces also participate in Express Entry and nominate qualified, skilled workers for it. Based on an online profile created by the user, the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) awards points for a variety of factors, including age, education, language ability, employment experience, Canadian employment experience, adaptability (including a job offer from a Canadian employer) and similar factors for an accompanying spouse.
Applicants are ranked and placed in a pool, and the Canadian government issues Invitations to Apply (ITAs) on a regular basis, allowing applicants to submit a complete application for permanent residence then. To date, the lowest score of a person issued an ITA was 450.
On November 19, 2016, the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) will award points differently for several factors.
Most notably, applicants who have a job offer from a Canadian employer approved by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), known as a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), will no longer receive 600 points. Instead, they will receive 50 points for most occupations, and 200 points if they will work in an executive position. The Comprehensive Rankling System severely impact applicants who were relying heavily on points achieved due to a positive LMIA.
On the positive side, applicants who have a work permit issued under international agreements or Canadian interests may now be eligible for points based on arranged employment without their employers needing to apply for an LMIA.
If they have employer-specific work permits, are currently working for that employer and have accumulated at least one year of full-time work experience (or the equivalent in part-time employment) over a continuous period of work for that company, they are eligible for the 50 or 200 points referred to above.
However, this can is extremely helpful for applicants in Canada under NAFTA or other free trade agreements, intra-company transferees, and other special work permits. Unfortunately, international students working under post-graduation work permits will not benefit from this change.
As before, applicants who receive a nomination from a Province under a Provincial Nominee Program will continue to receive 600 points.
Happily, for students, a new factor has been introduced to award additional points to Express Entry candidates who have Canadian education credentials. This factor will award 15 or 30 points, depending on the type of diploma or degree, to candidates who have eligible credentials from a post-secondary program.
Finally, changes have also been made on Invitations to Apply (ITA). Candidates will now have up to 90 days to prepare their permanent residence applications, up from 60 days in the past. TInvitations to apply (ITA) allows applicants extra time to prepare the numerous documents to support their requests for permanent residence.
Candidates who are already in the Express Entry pool are highly recommended to review and update their profiles, and they, along with prospective applicants, should urgently check how the changes on November 19th will affect their ranking, and therefore their chances for immigrating to Canada.
Is it possible to get a study permit extension while still studying in Canada?
My study permit is going to expire in July 2012, and I have not finished my studies yet. I normally should have graduated in 2010, but I still have several credits to get. The problem is that last year, I applied for a study permit extension as I had still not finished my program, and I was only given one year. I have only obtained one credit since then, so I am worried that I will not get a renewal.
What are my chances?
It appears that you are either having academic difficulties or you are not attending classes. It is very important for us to identify the reasons for your failure to complete your program, as this will influence whether Immigration will issue a further study permit. In addition, in order to determine your chances of obtaining an extension of your study permit, we would need to review the previous application to ensure that there are no other issues that need to be addressed. In normal circumstances, an extension of a study permit will be granted when a student has struggled academically but is making efforts to improve or changing to a more compatible program. In cases where the student is not actually studying, the issue becomes more difficult and complicated. It would be best for you to obtain more detailed legal advice.
I am in Canada on a study permit which will expire very soon, and I would like to continue studying part-time. Is it possible to obtain a part-time study permit for studies?
The Regulations make no special mention of part-time versus full-time studies. Pursuant to the Act, Regulations and manual, a student requires a study permit whether or not their studies are on a full-time or part-time basis. Therefore, it is possible for you to obtain a study permit to study part-time. In addition, there are no minimum hours of study required of a study permit holder to satisfy the conditions of their study permit, unless otherwise indicated in the study permit’s conditions. However, you should pay attention to the fact that you will not be entitled to an on-campus or off-campus work permit while only a part-time student.
What you may have heard is that changes are being planned for the International Student Program (ISP) including limiting who might be granted a study permit. As you may know, foreign nationals that are in Canada on a valid visitor visa may enroll at any academic institution in a program of six (6) months or less without requiring a study permit. At the moment, any students wishing to attend at an academic institution for a program of a longer duration must obtain a study permit.
Under proposed changes to the ISP, the rules will not change for programs of six (6) months or less. For longer programs, however, only students attending an institution which has been designated as an “academic institution” by a province or territory will be able to apply for a study permit.
In addition, upcoming changes may include requiring international students to provide proof of studies. If implemented, the changes would allow CIC to verify adherence to the study permit conditions and could result in students being removed from Canada for failing to meet the requirements.
Although these prospective changes have been announced, the Government has not indicated when they might be implemented. If you are interested in studying in Canada, our lawyers would be pleased to assist you in the preparation of a strong and comprehensive study permit application and we invite you to contact us for a consultation.