Canadian Visa Section in Tehran Embassy Closed – Relocated to Turkey

Citizenship and Immigration Canada announced yesterday that the Visa and Immigration section of the Embassy of Canada in Tehran is being closed, and its services for Iranian nationals are being transferred to the Embassy of Canada in Ankara, Turkey, effective immediately.

The department said in a statement that it regularly “evaluates its network of immigration offices and explores ways of doing business more effectively and efficiently”, and that the closure was part of these efforts.

This move will affect the processing of temporary resident applications. Permanent resident services were transferred from the Canadian embassy in Tehran to the embassy in Ankara several months ago.

There have been a number of downgrades in diplomatic relations between Canada and Iran in the past few years. Tensions between the two governments have increased since 2007, as the showdown over Iran’s nuclear program has ratcheted up.

               The Embassy of Canada in Tehran

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Federal Government to speed up Work Permit Application Process

Human Resources Minister Diane Finley talking to workers

In a visit to the Alberta manufacturing facility of Advance Engineered Products on Wednesday, Human Resources Minister Diane Finley announced the federal government’s update to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program that speeds up the process of acquiring work permits.

Before a foreign worker can receive a work permit in Canada, their Canadian employer/sponsor must get a Labor Market Opinion from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (Services Canada) that states that the employer made a significant effort to hire a Canadian and was unable to, and that hiring a foreigner would not have a negative impact on Canadian jobs.

Currently, Labor Market Opinions take months due to red tape. In Wednesday’s announcement, a new Accelerated-Labour Market Opinion (A-LMOs) was introduced, which allows qualifying employers to get a fast-tracked Opinion in 10 days.

Employers who have a record of following the rules on hiring foreigners are eligible to receive A-LMOs for those they sponsor, but if they break the rules, Ms. Finley said they will be suspended from sponsoring foreigners for work permits for two years.

The new A-LMO process includes a simplified, online application process, which became available on Wednesday, and more automation to reduce paperwork.

Overseas Canadian Immigration Officers will be Anonymous

Canadian visa officers will be anonymous to reduce risk of corruption and threats

According to a bulletin released by the Canadian Immigration Ministry last October, Canadian visa officers working abroad will be made anonymous, with their names not being published in official Canadian documents, in order to reduce the risk of corruption and possible threats against them.

Some visa officers abroad have been subject to threats and harassment after refusing to issue visas to applicants, and in some countries visa officers currently are given a security detail.

The bulletin stated that immigrants and their representatives will continue to be able to get the names of the visa officer in charge of their case through a written request to an embassy, an access of information request or a request by their MP.


Canadian Company receives Immigrant Success Award for Hiring Skilled Immigrants

Maxxam is a Canadian analytical services provider for the energy, environmental, food and DNA industries (Maxxam 2012)

Maxxam Analytics, a Canadian provider of analytical services for industry, has received the Toronto Star Award for Excellence in Workplace Integration at the sixth annual Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council Immigrant Success Awards on Thursday.

The Mississauga Ontario based company was praised at the ceremony for enrolling over 400 skilled immigrants into its co-op program, which is similar to the co-op program it offers to students and graduates.

Maxxam has ended up hiring over half of the skilled immigrants that have gone through its co-op program, providing them with much needed skills and Canadian work experience.

The Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council hosts an annual Immigrant Success Awards ceremony (TRIEC)

Citizenship and Immigration Canada has been looking for ways to improve skilled immigrants’ employment prospects in recent years, as evidence has been mounting that recent immigrants have lower average incomes and a higher unemployment rate than natural-born Canadians and longer term immigrants.

The Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council has received federal funding for several programs to help skilled immigrants find employment in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) recently, including the creation of an online jobs networking site for Canadian Immigrant communities,, as part of its Professional Immigrant Networks initiative.

Immigration Ministry to Expedite Deportations of Refugee Applicants from European Countries

Hungarian Roma Asylum Seekers (MTI Hungary)

The Immigration Ministry will create a list of ‘safe’ European countries with independent judiciaries and a demonstrated commitment to international human rights agreements, where residents are unlikely to be facing persecution, and expedite deportations of asylum seekers originating from them.

The move is a response to a large scale wave of Roma asylum seekers that have recently been arriving in Canada from Hungary, which Immigration Minister Jason Kenney described as “highly organized”. Mr. Kenney said the claimants often don’t show up to their refugee hearings and enroll in Canadian welfare programs.

The Immigration Minister said it was strange that there were more refugee applicants from European countries than from African and Asian ones, and that the changes that Bill C-31 will make to Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act will help change this situation.

The Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act, Bill C-31, was introduced in February this year, and the federal government hopes it will be passed before the summer




2,300 People to Have Canadian Citizenship Revoked

Canadian citizenship ceremony (Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada)

In a meeting with the editorial board of the Montreal Gazette, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said that 2,300 people are to have their citizenship revoked for providing fake proof of residency, with 6,000 additional cases under investigation, after a two year RCMP investigation into the issue.

Mr. Kenney said that most of the offending individuals are clients of particular immigration citizenship consultants who offer to fabricate proof of residency.

The Immigration Minister also talked about the Quebec Investor program in the meeting, criticizing the fact that only one out of ten immigrants accepted through the provincial program end up settling in Quebec.

He said most end up going to Vancouver or Toronto, and this can create problems for those cities:

“Here’s what often happens. Quebec will get the $800,000 for five years. B.C. will get the social services costs for health care and everything else for the dependents who have been brought to Vancouver.

People in Vancouver are always asking me why are we facilitating this because it is leading to inflation of real estate prices. Which is great if you are well-established and you have paid down your mortgage. But if you are a young family starting out, good luck being able to afford a house in Vancouver. A lot of people who aren’t rooted in Vancouver are inflating the costs.”

Permanent residents taking their oath of citizenship (Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada)

Mr. Kenney added that the federal government is planning on increasing the price that immigration applicants would have to pay to qualify for the Federal Immigrant Investor Program, given the large number of wealthy individuals looking to immigrate to Canada.

He also said the Ministry would like to change the Investor Program requirement of loaning the government money without interest to making a more active investment, so that Investor class immigrants become financially more committed to Canada.


Low-skill Provincial Nominee Program Applicants to Face Language Requirements

Low-skilled applicants for Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) will be required to pass language tests to immigrate to Canada according to an announcement by the Immigration Ministry on Wednesday in Saskatoon.

Until now, provinces have been relatively free to determine their own criteria for nominating foreigners for immigration to Canada, but Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said this has allowed a large number of people without sufficient English or French language proficiency to immigrate to Canada.

He stated that there is a “correlation” between lack of language skills and immigration fraud, and that language testing for PNP applicants are being made mandatory as part of an effort to reduce fraud.


Canada Immigration Minister says Foreign Doctors could be ‘Fast-Tracked’ into Canada

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney during an interview with the London Free Press editorial board in London, Ont. on April 17, 2012 (Morris Lamont/QMI Agency)

In an interview in the London Health Sciences Centre on Tuesday, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced that the Canadian government is looking to fast-track foreign-trained doctors to help fill Canada’s shortage of physicians.

“It’s critical our immigration system respond to current and future shortages and across the spectrum of the labour market” Mr. Kenney said in the interview.

The reports of the possible fast-track program for physicians are being looked on favourably in the province of Saskatchewan, as provincial officials say it currently takes two years for foreign physicians immigrating to the province to have their application approved.

No details have been released about the fast-track program for physicians, so it is not known what qualifications foreign-trained doctors need to meet to be eligible, and how long a fast-tracked application would take to get approval.


Canadian Government to introduce ‘Startup Visas’ for Foreign Entrepreneurs

Kevin O'Leary (right) and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney in a joint news conference on Wednesday

In a joint announcement today, Kevin O’Leary’s venture capital firm, O’Leary Ventures, and the Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Ministry introduced a new ‘Startup Visa’ for foreign entrepreneurs looking to start a company in Canada.

The Canadian government will be consulting with venture capitalists and other leaders in the startup industry over the next few months to get their input on how the program should be designed to maximize the benefit for Canada’s venture capital industry, and a pilot program is planned to be instituted later in the year.

Venture capital industry leaders like O’Leary believe the Startup Visa program will help attract global entrepreneurial talent to Canada and attract more capital to Canada’s startup sector, which will contribute to creating a more innovative and prosperous economy.

O’Leary has a large following in Canada due to his successful investment record, which includes founding an education software company, Softkey, and selling it for $4.2 billion, and for his starring role in the Canadian venture capital reality show, Dragon’s Den, among other programs.

Immigration Canada Offices in St. John and Manitoba “Not Closing”

Earlier reports that the Citizenship and Immigration Canada offices in Winnipeg Manitoba and St. John’s Newfoundland would be closing have been corrected by CIC authorities. Neither office will be closing.

According to the latest clarification from a representative at the St. John’s office, staff at the office will be reduced by one employee and the office will remain open.

The federal government has been down-sizing several departments recently as part of a measure to reduce the growing federal deficit.