Adjusting to Canada’s 2024 Policy Shift: A Guide for International Students

Introduction:

Canada has always been a beacon for international students seeking quality education. However, recent policy changes on study permits by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) signal a significant shift. Understanding these changes and preparing accordingly is crucial for prospective students and educational institutions alike.

Reasons for the Change:

IRCC’s policy revision is primarily driven by the need to preserve the integrity of the international student program, which has recently faced challenges. An unprecedented increase in student numbers has put pressure on Canada’s housing, healthcare, and other public services. Concerns also emerged about inadequate support for students and the exploitation of educational systems for financial gain. Additionally, the government is addressing issues with the designated learning institution (DLI) framework and has introduced financial requirement adjustments to reflect actual living costs in Canada.

The Proposed Changes:

  1. Cap on International Student Permits: For 2024, there will be a cap of approximately 360,000 new study permits, marking a 35% decrease from 2023. This cap will vary by province and territory based on population and growth rates.
  2. Exemptions and Start Date: The cap on study permits, effective from January 22, 2024, does not apply to renewals or to applicants for master’s, doctoral, and elementary/secondary education. Those who submitted their study permit applications before this date are not subject to the new policies. However, anyone who received a Letter of Acceptance (LOA) from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) but did not apply for their study permit by January 22nd will be affected by these changes.
  3. Distribution of Caps: Provinces and territories are responsible for distributing their caps among designated learning institutions. Starting January 22, 2024, all applicable applications must include an attestation letter from the respective province or territory. However, provinces have until March 31, 2024, to establish their processes for issuing these attestation letters. It’s important to note that these attestation letters are required in addition to, not as a replacement for, the Letter of Acceptance (LOA) from a Canadian DLI. This means, unless your study permit application falls under an exempted category, it’s not feasible to proceed until the attestation letter procedures are in place in your province or territory.
  4. Post-Graduation Work Permit Program Changes:
    • Starting September 1, 2024, those who begin a study program under a curriculum licensing arrangement will no longer qualify for post-graduation work permits. These licensing arrangements typically involve students attending a private college that delivers a curriculum licensed from a public college.
    • Graduates with master’s degrees will soon be eligible for a three-year post-graduation work permit. As of the date of this publication, the specific commencement date for this new eligibility rule has not yet been announced.
  5. Spousal Open Work Permits: The upcoming policy change will soon restrict open work permits to spouses of international students enrolled in master’s and doctoral programs. The exact date when this new policy will take effect has not been announced yet.
  6. Effective Period: These measures will be in place for two years, with a reassessment planned for the end of 2024.

Proactive Measures:

  • Exploring Exemptions: Prioritize programs not subject to the new caps, such as master’s, doctoral, and elementary/secondary education. This approach might offer more opportunities.
  • Understanding Provincial Allocations: Stay informed about the specific caps and requirements for the province or territory of interest. Considering destinations that are less popular among international students might increase your chances.
  • Alternative Pathways: If the new rules significantly impact your desired program in Canada, explore different immigration routes or consider studying in other countries.
  • Plan for Spouse Work Permits: If you plan to bring a spouse, assess how the new policies could affect their ability to get a work permit. You might need to explore other financial plans or investigate alternative programs that allow your spouse to work in Canada.

Conclusion:

These changes represent a shift in Canada’s approach to managing its international student population. However, while these new policies pose challenges, proactive planning and a deep understanding of the new policies can help navigate this new landscape effectively.

Maximizing Financial Growth in Canada: Mastering the TFSA for Newcomers

Introduction

Embarking on a new life in Canada comes with many opportunities, especially in financial planning. The Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) is a standout tool for anyone, particularly newcomers, looking to grow their savings. This guide aims to provide a detailed understanding of the TFSA, including year-wise contribution limits, withdrawal rules, and the unique aspect of cumulative contribution room for new residents.

TFSA Annual Contribution Limits: 2009-2024

The TFSA has annual contribution limits, which have varied since its introduction:

  • 2009-2012: $5,000 per year
  • 2013-2014: $5,500 per year
  • 2015: $10,000
  • 2016-2018: $5,500 per year
  • 2019-2022: $6,000 per year
  • 2023: $6,500
  • 2024: $7,000

Unused contribution room rolls over to the next year, allowing for increased contribution in subsequent years.

Cumulative Contribution Room for New Residents

A critical aspect for newcomers is the cumulative contribution room:

  • Starting Accumulation: If you weren’t a Canadian resident before, you begin accumulating contribution room in the year you become a resident. For example, if you become a resident in 2023, your contribution room starts at $6,500 for that year.
  • No Retroactive Accumulation: You don’t accumulate contribution room for the years before you were a resident. This rule ensures that your TFSA journey aligns with your residency status in Canada.

Withdrawal Rules and Contribution Room Restoration

Withdrawals from a TFSA are flexible but follow specific re-contribution rules:

  1. Tax-Free Withdrawals: You can withdraw funds anytime without tax implications.
  2. Re-contribution Timing: Withdrawn amounts can be re-contributed, but the contribution room is only restored in the next calendar year.

Investment Opportunities within a TFSA

A TFSA is not just a savings account; it’s a gateway to a variety of investment vehicles. Understanding these can help you tailor your TFSA to your financial goals:

  1. Cash and Cash Equivalents: The simplest form of investment, it includes savings accounts and high-interest savings accounts within a TFSA. They offer safety and liquidity but typically lower returns.
  2. Mutual Funds: These are collections of stocks, bonds, or other securities managed by professionals. Mutual funds in a TFSA can diversify your portfolio and can range from conservative to high-risk funds.
  3. Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs): ETFs are similar to mutual funds but are traded on stock exchanges. They offer the advantage of lower fees and a wide range of choices, including index funds, sector-specific funds, and more.
  4. Stocks: You can buy shares of individual companies within a TFSA. This option can offer high returns but comes with higher risks and requires market knowledge.
  5. Bonds and GICs: Bonds (government or corporate) and Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs) are fixed-income investments. They offer stable returns and are generally lower risk compared to stocks.
  6. Other Investments: This includes Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), which allow you to invest in real estate markets without owning physical property, and more specialized options like foreign currency accounts.

Each of these investment types has its own risk profile, potential return, and suitability for different investment horizons and goals.

Comparing TFSA and RRSP

Understanding the difference between a TFSA and a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) is crucial:

  • Tax Treatment: RRSPs offer tax-deductible contributions but taxed withdrawals, while TFSAs provide tax-free withdrawals without tax benefits on contributions.
  • Purpose and Flexibility: RRSPs are more retirement-focused, while TFSAs offer greater flexibility for different financial goals.

Conclusion

For newcomers to Canada, the Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) presents a fantastic opportunity for savvy financial planning and growth. It’s essential to understand the intricacies of the TFSA, including its annual contribution limits, the unique rules regarding cumulative contribution room for new residents, and the flexible withdrawal regulations. This understanding is key to maximizing the benefits of a TFSA.

The versatility of the TFSA in hosting a variety of investment options—from cash equivalents to stocks and ETFs—also makes it a powerful tool for building a diversified portfolio tailored to your financial goals. Furthermore, distinguishing between a TFSA and an RRSP, in terms of tax treatment and intended use, can significantly influence your financial planning strategy.

As you navigate your new financial landscape in Canada, embracing the TFSA can be a decisive step towards achieving your financial aspirations. Whether for short-term savings or long-term investment goals, the TFSA is a cornerstone of financial empowerment for every newcomer to Canada.

Embark on your journey of financial discovery in Canada with confidence, knowing that tools like the TFSA are designed to facilitate your growth and financial wellbeing in this new chapter of your life.

Choosing the Right Bank: Ensuring Your Financial Security

When embarking on your financial journey in Canada as a new immigrant, selecting the right bank goes beyond just the array of services they offer—it’s about safeguarding your hard-earned money. Fortunately, Canada boasts a highly regulated and insured banking system, providing a robust framework to protect your deposits.

The Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) is a federal Crown corporation that provides deposit insurance against the loss of eligible deposits at member institutions in case of a bank failure. Here’s what you need to know about how these banks are insured:

CDIC Coverage:

Coverage Limit: CDIC covers eligible deposits up to a limit of $100,000 per insured category per depositor. This includes savings accounts, chequing accounts, GICs (Guaranteed Investment Certificates), and more.

Member Institutions: Most major banks in Canada, including RBC, TD, Scotiabank, BMO, and CIBC, are members of the CDIC. This means that your deposits with these banks are protected up to the specified limit.

Understanding Insured Categories:

It’s essential to be aware of how CDIC categorizes accounts. Common categories include single accounts, joint accounts, and certain types of registered accounts. Make sure to diversify your deposits across different categories if you have substantial savings to ensure maximum coverage.

Foreign Banks and Deposit Insurance:

If you choose to bank with a foreign bank operating in Canada, be aware that not all are CDIC members. Ensure the bank is a member or inquire about alternative insurance arrangements for your deposits.

Research and Informed Decision-Making:

Before finalizing your decision, check the CDIC website for the most up-to-date information on member institutions and coverage limits. Take the time to understand how your accounts are categorized and insured.

Choosing a bank that is a member of the CDIC ensures that your deposits are protected, providing peace of mind as you navigate the Canadian financial landscape. While it’s unlikely for major banks to face financial difficulties, having CDIC coverage adds an extra layer of security for your financial well-being.

Remember, information on CDIC coverage is subject to change, so it’s advisable to stay informed about any updates to the regulations. Always consult with your chosen bank or financial advisor if you have specific questions about deposit insurance or need clarification on any banking services.

Choosing the Right Bank: Exploring Your Options

Canada offers a diverse banking landscape, catering to a range of preferences and needs. While major banks like RBC, TD, Scotiabank, BMO, and CIBC are prominent and widely accessible, it’s essential to consider alternative options that might better suit your individual requirements.

Major Banks:

RBC, TD, Scotiabank, BMO, and CIBC are among the most well-known and established banks in Canada. They provide extensive branch networks, a multitude of ATMs, and a broad range of financial services. This can be particularly beneficial if you prefer in-person interactions or need easy access to physical branches.

Credit Unions:

Credit unions are member-owned financial cooperatives that operate locally or regionally. They often emphasize community involvement and customer service. Credit unions can be a great option for those who prefer a more personalized banking experience. While they may have a smaller branch network, they often compensate with competitive interest rates on savings and loans.

Online Banks:

With the rise of digital banking, online banks have become increasingly popular in Canada. Institutions like Tangerine, EQ Bank, and Simplii Financial operate exclusively online, providing a streamlined and convenient banking experience. Online banks typically offer competitive interest rates and lower fees due to their reduced overhead costs. They are an excellent choice for those comfortable with online transactions and who prioritize digital accessibility.

Considerations When Choosing:

Branch Locations: If physical branches are important to you, consider the proximity of branches and ATMs when choosing a bank. Major banks usually have widespread coverage, while credit unions and online banks might have a more limited presence.

Fees and Services: Compare account fees, transaction charges, and service offerings. Some banks may provide no-fee accounts for newcomers or students. Assess your banking habits and choose an account that aligns with your needs.

Digital Services: Evaluate the online and mobile banking features offered by different banks. Consider the ease of use, availability of mobile apps, and the functionality that matters most to you.

Customer Reviews: Research customer reviews and testimonials to get insights into the customer service and satisfaction levels of different banks. This can provide valuable perspectives from actual users.

Conclusion:

Choosing the right bank involves understanding your financial preferences and needs. Whether you opt for a major bank, credit union, or online bank, each option has its unique advantages. Consider the factors that matter most to you, and explore multiple institutions to find the one that aligns with your financial goals and lifestyle. Remember, staying informed about changes in CDIC coverage is crucial, so regularly check for updates on regulations and consult with your chosen bank or financial advisor for any specific inquiries.

Navigating Personal Finance in Canada: A Comprehensive Guide for Newcomers

Introduction:

Welcome to Canada! As you embark on your journey in this beautiful country, understanding the basics of personal finance is crucial for a secure and successful future. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the essentials of Canadian banking, introduce you to various registered accounts, and provide valuable insights into building a solid financial foundation.

Section 1: Banking Basics in Canada

1.1 Choosing the Right Bank

Canada boasts several reputable banks, such as RBC, TD, Scotiabank, BMO, and CIBC. Consider factors like branch locations, ATMs, and online services when selecting your bank.

1.2 Basic Account Types:

  • Chequing Account:

A chequing account is your primary account for daily transactions. It comes with a debit card for purchases and ATM withdrawals, as well as checks for more traditional payments. Online banking is widely used and convenient for managing your account.

  • Savings Account:

A savings account is designed for accumulating funds. While it offers lower interest rates than investments, it provides easy access to your money. Consider setting up automatic transfers to your savings account to foster a savings habit.

Section 2: Registered Accounts in Canada

2.1 Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA):

A TFSA is a powerful tool for tax-free growth. You can contribute a certain amount annually, and any earnings and withdrawals are tax-free. TFSAs are flexible, allowing you to invest in various options such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.

2.2 Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP):

An RRSP is crucial for long-term retirement planning. Contributions are tax-deductible, reducing your taxable income. Consider a diverse investment portfolio within your RRSP for optimal growth.

2.3 Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF):

As you retire, your RRSP can be converted into a RRIF, providing a steady income stream. Understand the minimum withdrawal requirements and consider professional advice to manage your investments during retirement.

2.4 Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP):

If you have children, a RESP helps save for their education. The government provides grants to boost your contributions. Learn about withdrawal rules and explore investment options to maximize growth.

Section 3: Building Credit in Canada

3.1 Importance of Credit History:

In Canada, building a positive credit history is crucial. Your credit score influences your ability to secure loans and credit cards. Pay bills on time and monitor your credit report regularly.

3.2 Credit Cards and Loans:

Responsible use of credit cards helps build credit. Start with a secured credit card if needed. Explore options like personal loans or a small credit limit to establish a credit history.

Section 4: Budgeting and Financial Planning

4.1 Creating a Budget:

Budgeting is the cornerstone of financial stability. Track your income, categorize expenses, and set realistic financial goals. Numerous budgeting apps can help streamline this process.

4.2 Emergency Fund:

Establishing an emergency fund safeguards against unexpected expenses. Aim for three to six months’ worth of living expenses in a separate account for peace of mind.

Conclusion:

Congratulations! You’ve taken the first step towards financial success in Canada. Remember, continuous learning is key. Seek advice from financial professionals, stay informed about changes in the financial landscape, and make adjustments to your financial plan as needed.

Additional Resources:

For more information and assistance, explore the resources provided by the Government of Canada, your chosen bank, and reputable financial education websites.

Navigating Canada’s ‘Foreign Buyers’ Ban’: Impact and Implications

Navigating Canada's 'Foreign Buyers' Ban': Impact and Implications

Introduction of the ‘Foreign Buyers’ Ban’ and its Amendment

In December 2022, the Privy Council approved regulations for the Prohibition on the Purchase of Residential Property by Non-Canadians Act. Published on December 21, 2022, in the Canada Gazette, these regulations became effective on January 1, 2023, alongside the Act. The Act and the Regulations, in place from January 1, 2023, to December 31, 2024, restrict non-Canadians from purchasing residential property in Canada.

This legislation has stirred debates due to its far-reaching implications. They prohibit not only non-Canadian individuals but also foreign-controlled entities from buying vacant or developed residential-zoned land, affecting commercial development and Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs). Leases, mortgages, and shares are also classified as purchases, impacting contracts for builders and suppliers.

In response, Minister Ahmed Hussen introduced four amendments on March 27, aimed at striking a balance. Effective since March 27, 2023, these revisions expand exceptions, enabling non-Canadians to purchase homes under specific circumstances. They emphasize the importance of Canadian housing for those seeking to establish roots in the country and discourage speculative foreign investments.

Definitions

  1. Understanding Non-Canadian Status and Exceptions


The Act applies to non-Canadians, including corporations and entities not listed on a Canadian stock exchange, and controlled by non-Canadians. It does not apply to Canadian citizens, permanent residents, or temporary residents who meet the exception criteria outlined in the Regulations.

Non-Canadians are individuals who do not fall into one of the following categories:

  • Canadian citizens,
  • Permanent residents of Canada,
  • Persons registered under the Indian Act.

Non-Canadians also include corporations and entities that:

  • Are formed under Canadian federal or provincial laws,
  • Are not listed on a Canadian stock exchange,
  • Are controlled by non-Canadians.

Certain exceptions allow non-Canadians to purchase residential properties in specific circumstances. It’s important to be aware that in some regions, such as in parts of British Columbia and Ontario, additional property transfer taxes may apply to foreign buyers. Notably, property transfer taxes fall under provincial legislation, while the Purchase of Residential Property by Non-Canadians Act and Regulations are federal laws. Consequently, these regulations are distinct and do not share the same exemptions. Regarding the prohibition on the purchase of residential properties, the following groups of individuals are exempt:

  1. Non-Canadian individuals who purchase residential property jointly with their spouse or common-law partner, provided that the spouse or common-law partner is a Canadian citizen, a person registered under the Indian Act, a permanent resident, or a non-Canadian for whom the prohibition does not apply.
  1. Temporary residents under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, who meet specified conditions, including:
  1.  Temporary residents studying in Canada, if:
  • They are currently enrolled in an authorized study program at a designated learning institution, as defined in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.
  • They have submitted income tax returns for each of the five taxation years preceding the year in which the property purchase is made.
  • They have been physically present in Canada for a minimum of 244 days in each of the five calendar years preceding the year in which the purchase was made.
  • They have not previously purchased a residential property in Canada while the prohibition is in effect.
  • They purchase a property for a price not exceeding $500,000.
  1. Temporary residents working in Canada, if:
  • They hold a valid work permit or are authorized to work in Canada.
  • They have 183 days or more of validity remaining on their work permit or work authorization at time of purchase.
  • They have not previously purchased a residential property in Canada while the prohibition is in effect.
  1. Protected persons under subsection 95(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, including individuals who have been granted refugee protection or are protected persons under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
  2. Individuals who have made an eligible claim for refugee protection under subsection 99(3) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, if:
    1. They have submitted a claim for refugee protection in accordance with the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, and this claim has been determined as eligible and referred to the Refugee Protection Division; or
    2. They have been granted temporary resident status under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act based on humanitarian public policy considerations to provide a safe haven to those fleeing conflict.
  3. Foreign nationals holding passports with valid diplomatic, consular, official, or special representative acceptance issued by the Chief of Protocol of Canada.’
  1. Foreign nationals with valid temporary resident status, whose temporary resident visa was issued, or their temporary resident status was granted by a justified exemption under section 25.2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
  1. Section 35 Rights – Indigenous People and Communities: Section 35 recognizes and confirms the existing Indigenous and treaty rights of Indigenous peoples in Canada. These rights may include ownership of land, rights to occupy and use land and resources, land reserved for First Nation use, self-government rights, and cultural and social rights. The Regulations make it clear that the prohibition does not apply when it conflicts with the rights recognized and affirmed by Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.”
  1. Understanding ‘Residential Property’ and Exceptions

The Prohibition on the Purchase of Residential Property by Non-Canadians Act defines residential property as structures containing up to three dwelling units or parts of buildings, such as semi-detached houses or condominium units. Larger buildings with four or more dwelling units are not subject to this prohibition.

The Regulations specify that the prohibition applies to residential properties located in Census Metropolitan Areas (CMA) or Census Agglomerations (CA) as identified in Statistics Canada’s Standard Geographical Classification 2021. Non-Canadians can freely purchase residential properties situated outside of Census Metropolitan Areas (CMA) and Census Agglomerations (CA).

Both CMAs and CAs are composed of one or more adjacent municipalities centered around a population center or core. A CMA must have a total population of at least 100,000, with 50,000 or more residing in the core, while a CA must have a core population of at least 10,000.

Effective from March 27, 2023, Section 3(2) of the regulations was repealed, allowing non-Canadians to purchase vacant land zoned for residential and mixed use, and utilize it for any purpose, including residential development.

Special Considerations

  • Housing Cooperatives (“Co-ops”): When purchasing within a housing cooperative, the buyer technically acquires shares in an association incorporated under the Cooperative Association Act. The cooperative remains the owner of the lands and building(s). Housing cooperatives generally own buildings with more than three dwelling units, which are not individually owned. Thus, housing cooperatives do not fit the Act’s definition of residential property. However, the reasons for their exclusion are not entirely clear, and industry consensus remains pending.
  • Leasehold Properties: The Act applies to leasehold properties, including those on First Nations lands. A leasehold interest in a dwelling unit satisfies the Act’s criteria for both “purchase” and “residential property,” without exception.
  • Modular and Mobile Homes: The Act applies to modular and mobile homes that are affixed to land. The determination of whether a modular or mobile home is affixed to land, rather than considered personal property, involves legal and factual analysis, and this determination relies on whether they were intended for temporary or permanent affixation to the land.
  1. Defining ‘Purchase’ and Exception Scenarios

The Prohibition on the Purchase of Residential Property by Non-Canadians Act applies to both direct and indirect acquisitions of residential property. However, there are specific scenarios where the prohibition does not apply, including:

  1. When an individual obtains an interest in a residential property resulting from a divorce, separation, gift, or death.
  2. When a non-Canadian leases a dwelling unit for the purpose of occupying it; in other words, the act of renting and occupying a dwelling unit does not qualify as a purchase.
  3. When a creditor enforces a security interest or secured right as part of a financing agreement, which may include actions like seizing and foreclosing on a residential property.
  4. When a non-Canadian acquires residential property for the purpose of development.
  1. Definition of “Control”

When the initial ban was introduced, a privately held company was categorized as non-Canadian if 3% or more of its ownership was controlled by a foreign entity. This stringent criterion had adverse consequences for the development sector, hampering developers’ capacity to undertake residential projects. It proved particularly burdensome for developers with partial non-Canadian ownership and for real estate investment trusts (REITs). REITs, which manage, own, or finance income-producing real estate, pool the resources of numerous investors, providing individuals with dividends from real estate investments without requiring them to purchase property directly.

Now the threshold for foreign control of private corporations and entities, including REITs, has been increased to 10% with the amendment effective since March 27, 2023. Note that publicly traded corporations and entities are excluded from the ban. In addition, the purchasing of residential property for the purposes of development is also exempt from the ban, regardless of whether the corporations and entities are privately held or publicly traded.

For the purposes of the prohibition with regards to privately held corporations or entities formed under the laws of Canada or a province and controlled by a non-Canadian, the Regulations now define “control” as:

  • Direct or indirect ownership of shares or ownership interests of the corporation or entity representing 10% or more of the value of the equity in it or carrying 10% or more of its voting rights.
  • Control in fact of the corporation or entity, whether directly or indirectly, through ownership, agreement or otherwise.

Other Key Amendments and Their Impact

  1. Foreign buyers ban no longer applies to purchasing for the purpose of development.

The recent amendments to the Prohibition on the Purchase of Residential Property by Non-Canadians Act introduce a significant exception that allows non-Canadians to purchase residential property for the explicit purpose of development. Notably, this exception is no longer limited to publicly-traded corporations, providing a broader scope for foreign investment in development initiatives. According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), ‘development’ encompasses activities that go beyond leasing or renting, and some expansions or remodels that transform a property, creating a new residential unit, are now permissible. This exemption extends to publicly traded entities formed under Canadian laws and controlled by non-Canadians.

While the amendments offer a welcomed flexibility, it’s essential to note that they don’t specify the type of development or activities constituting development. CMHC guidance suggests a broad interpretation, but routine repairs, renovations, or modifications may not qualify. House flipping, characterized by acquiring property for renovation and resale, remains unlikely to be permitted under this exemption.

This change is particularly advantageous for developers with foreign ownership or equity, fostering opportunities for projects such as demolishing existing properties for new construction or acquiring adjacent residential properties for larger-scale development.

  1. Foreign buyers ban no longer extends to (the majority of) commercial real estate properties.

The original Regulations inadvertently classified urban land zoned for residential or mixed use as “residential property,” impacting many commercial assets like office buildings and shopping centers. Amendments have eliminated this classification, offering greater flexibility for most commercial real estate transactions. However, certain considerations remain, such as farmland within census areas, which may still be subject to the Act if it contains habitable structures. It’s crucial to scrutinize commercial transactions involving interests in farmland or traditional residential real estate to ensure compliance.

  1. Foreign buyers ban now excludes publicly traded Canadian REITs (and other non-corporations).

The amendments address a significant loophole by clarifying the status of publicly traded Canadian Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and other non-corporations listed on major Canadian stock exchanges. The original definition of “non-Canadian” failed to include language specific to publicly-traded non-corporations, potentially classifying them as “non-Canadian” based on even minimal foreign ownership. The amendments rectify this, offering a clear exemption for publicly traded corporations and entities formed under Canadian laws and listed on designated Canadian stock exchanges. However, it’s essential to note that publicly-traded entities formed under foreign laws still fall under the “non-Canadian” category, emphasizing the importance of jurisdiction in this legislation.”

Conclusion: Balancing Affordability, Investment, and Development in Canadian Real Estate

The introduction of Canada’s ‘Foreign Buyers’ Ban’ and its subsequent amendments mark significant efforts to strike a balance between fostering homeownership for Canadians and encouraging foreign investment in the country’s real estate sector. These measures reflect the noble goal of making housing a place to live, not just an investment asset for foreigners.

While the ban seeks to address the housing affordability crisis, its efficacy has stirred debates. Critics argue that non-Canadian buyers represent only a minority in the housing market, and the root causes of rising prices lie in the inadequate supply. This contention is supported by the New Zealand experience, where a similar ban led to a marginal decrease in foreign buyers but failed to halt soaring home prices.

Alan Walks, an urban planning and geography expert, adds that the ban may be more political theater than sound policy, citing data from Vancouver showing that foreign buyers constituted a mere one percent of all home purchasers.

In conclusion, Canada’s housing ban emphasizes the need for a multifaceted approach to address housing affordability. While foreign investment is a part of the equation, the real drivers of housing prices may lie elsewhere. These measures serve as a reminder that addressing housing challenges requires comprehensive solutions that encompass supply, demand, and economic factors, rather than focusing solely on foreign buyers. Striking the right balance remains an ongoing challenge as Canada works to ensure accessible housing for its citizens while promoting investment and development in the real estate market.

An Overview & Q&A regarding the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in Canada

According to a Stats Canada survey published at the end of 2022, shortage of labour force was expected to be an obstacle for 35% of businesses in 2023, and retaining skilled employees is expected to be an obstacle for 27.6% of employers. Last fall 2022, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship announced Canada’s 2023-2025 Immigration Levels Plan, which outlined the goal of welcoming 500,000 immigrants a year by 2025. The Immigration Levels Plan cites increased immigration as a strategy to help businesses find employees to meet labour market shortages.

Because of the labour shortages Canadian employers are experiencing, many employers will look to hire foreign nationals to work temporarily. There are multiple ways that foreign nationals can come and work in Canada, including the Temporary Foreign Workers Program. 

Often, to hire a foreign worker, a Canadian employer must obtain a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). An LMIA is a document issued by Employment and Social Development Canada, which assesses the impact of hiring a foreign national on Canada’s labour market. A positive LMIA indicates that there is no Canadian citizen or permanent resident to fill the specific position, thus allowing an employer to hire a foreign national.

This article aims to provide an overview and answer common questions of Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

Temporary Foreign Worker Program

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program assists employers in filling temporary labour needs. Before an employer can hire a foreign worker through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, the employer must obtain a positive LMIA. An individual cannot apply for a work permit under this program until they receive a valid job offer from an employer with a positive LMIA. At Kahlon Immigration Law, we assist both employers in obtaining an LMIA, and employees in obtaining a work permit.

Q&A

Does the employer or employee apply for an LMIA? An LMIA is a document that must be applied for by the employer, not the employee. Once an employer has a positive LMIA, the prospective employee will then need to apply for a Work Permit.

How long is a positive LMIA valid for? A positive LMIA is usually valid for six to twelve months after the date of issue, depending on what LMIA stream the employer has applied for. This means that the employer must hire the foreign worker within this time frame of receiving a positive LMIA as the LMIA will then expire. It is important to note that just because an employer has received a positive LMIA once, this does not mean that they can continue to hire as many foreign workers as they want based off that one approved LMIA.

If I have a positive LMIA, can I hire a temporary worker for any position I want? LMIA’s are job specific, meaning that they only approve the employer to hire an employee to fill a particular job. Therefore, the employer must hire for the position they have received an LMIA for. 

How much are the government fees for an LMIA? If you would like to support your temporary foreign worker with a work permit, then there is an LMIA processing fee of $1000. If the temporary foreign worker does not need a work permit, then there is no LMIA processing fee charged.

What documentation is required to obtain a positive LMIA? To obtain a positive LMIA, an employer must follow specific procedures to show that they have made efforts to recruit a Canadian/PR for the position and have not been able to find a suitable candidate. An employer must also show various documents regarding their business status in Canada.

Staying in the North: Residency Rules for Maintaining Canadian PR and Qualifying for Citizenship

Introduction

Canada’s immigration journey is marked by key milestones, with Permanent Residency (PR) and Citizenship standing out as significant achievements. Yet, clients often find themselves tangled in the web of residency rules, blurring the lines between PR maintenance and citizenship eligibility.

At first glance, it seems straightforward: a day in Canada is a day, whether you’re a PR holder or a citizenship aspirant. However, it’s the time spent abroad that confuses many. The most perplexing part is that different rules apply, and it’s unclear to many whether these days count toward PR status maintenance or citizenship application requirements.

This blog post clarifies these distinctions, helping you navigate the intricacies of residency requirements for PR and citizenship. Let’s simplify the complexities of Canadian immigration, so you can plan your journey with confidence.

Residency Obligation for Maintaining PR Status

To maintain permanent residency in Canada, individuals must meet specific residency requirements, primarily centered around their physical presence within the country for a designated period. In particular, to maintain permanent resident status, individuals need to have spent a minimum of 730 days (equivalent to 2 years) within Canada during the last five years. It’s important to note that these 730 days do not need to be consecutive, and some time spent abroad may count toward fulfilling this requirement.

For those who have held Canadian permanent residence for more than five years, the calculation of the residency obligation is based on the five years leading up to the date when an application is received by the visa office.

However, if someone has been a Canadian permanent resident for less than five years, they may still be eligible to apply for a renewal of their permanent resident card or a Permanent Resident Travel Document (PRTD) if they can demonstrate the potential to accumulate the required 730 days of physical presence within the upcoming five-year period. In both scenarios, applicants will undergo an assessment by an immigration officer to determine whether they meet the residency requirement within the applicable five-year timeframe.

Here’s how individuals can accumulate residency days to fulfill their PR status obligations:

Inside Canada:

  • By physically residing within the country.

Outside Canada:

  • Full-time employment with:
    • a Canadian business or organization, or
    • the Canadian federal, provincial, or territorial government
  • Accompanying a spouse or common-law partner who is:
    • a Canadian citizen, or
    • a permanent resident working outside Canada, full-time for:
      • a Canadian business, or
      • the Canadian federal, provincial, or territorial government
  • Accompanying a parent as a dependent child and traveling with your parent who is:
    • a Canadian citizen, or
    • a permanent resident working outside Canada, full-time for:
      • a Canadian business or
      • the Canadian federal, provincial, or territorial government

As a permanent resident, you have the flexibility to travel outside Canada. However, it’s imperative to meet the specified residency obligations to maintain your PR status.

Physical Presence Requirement When Applying for Citizenship

When applying for Canadian citizenship, applicants must meet specific physical presence requirements, which vary depending on the date the application is received. For applications received on or after October 11, 2017, under paragraph 5(1)(c)(i) of the Act, the applicant must have accumulated at least 1,095 days (equivalent to 3 years) of physical presence in Canada within the five years immediately preceding the date they signed the application.

Key points to understand about the physical presence requirement for Canadian citizenship:

  1. Five-Year Calculation Period: The calculation of physical presence cannot extend beyond the five-year period before the date of the application.
  2. Day Counting: Each day of physical presence in Canada as a permanent resident counts as one day toward the requirement.
  3. Temporary Resident Days: Days spent in Canada as an authorized temporary resident or protected person before becoming a permanent resident also count, but as one-half day each, with a maximum of 365 days credit toward physical presence. Temporary resident status includes lawful authorization to enter or remain in Canada as a visitor, student, worker, or temporary resident permit holder. A protected person is someone who has been found to be in need of protection or a convention refugee by the Immigration and Refugee Board, or a person who received a positive decision on a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment from IRCC.
  4. Leap Day Inclusion: February 29 (leap day) is counted in either presence or absence.
  5. Absence Calculation: Absences are calculated only for days when an applicant spent no time at all in Canada. Days when an applicant left Canada and returned will not be counted as an absence because the applicant was physically present in Canada for a portion of both days.
  6. Sentence Serving and Absences: Time spent serving a sentence and absences must be subtracted from the total number of days of physical presence during the five-year period. This would include the days the applicant has been under a probation order, been a paroled inmate, or served a term of imprisonment.
  7. Time spent outside Canada: You can count time spent abroad toward the citizenship physical presence requirement if you were a permanent resident employed in or with the Canadian Armed Forces, federal public administration, or a provincial/territorial public service. Similarly, time spent outside Canada with your Canadian or permanent resident spouse, common-law partner, or parent who was employed in these roles also counts.

Understanding these rules and requirements is essential when applying for Canadian citizenship and calculating physical presence. Meeting the physical presence criteria is a critical step on the path to becoming a Canadian citizen.

Differences Between Residency Obligation for Maintaining PR Status and Physical Presence Requirement for Citizenship

While both permanent residency (PR) and Canadian citizenship involve residency and physical presence requirements, there are distinct differences between the two. Understanding these disparities is crucial for individuals navigating the Canadian immigration system. Here, we highlight the key distinctions:

  1. Minimum Physical Presence:
    1. PR Residency Obligation: To maintain PR status, individuals must spend a minimum of 730 days (2 years) in Canada within the last five years.
    2. Citizenship Physical Presence Requirement: For citizenship, applicants must accumulate a minimum of 1,095 days (3 years) of physical presence in Canada during the five years immediately before their application date (for applications received after October 11, 2017).
  2. Credit for Temporary Resident Days:
    1. PR Residency Obligation: Days as an authorized temporary resident or protected person before becoming a permanent resident do not count toward residency obligations.
    2. Citizenship Physical Presence Requirement: Such days count as one-half day each, with a maximum of 365 days credit toward physical presence.
  3. Absence Calculation:
    1. PR Residency Obligation: Days spent outside Canada count if accompanying a Canadian citizen spouse or common-law partner, a child accompanying their parent, full-time employment with a Canadian business or in Canadian public service, or accompanying the spouse, common-law partner, or child of a permanent resident employed in these roles outside Canada.
    2. Citizenship Physical Presence Requirement: Exemptions are narrower, typically limited to permanent residents employed by the Canadian Armed Forces, federal public administration, or a provincial/territorial public service. Also, accompanying a Canadian citizen or permanent resident spouse, common-law partner, or parent employed in these roles.

Understanding these disparities is crucial for individuals seeking to maintain PR status or embark on the journey to Canadian citizenship. It ensures they can successfully meet the specific requirements of each stage.

Conclusion: Navigating the Canadian Immigration Journey

Canada’s immigration journey encompasses significant milestones, from Permanent Residency (PR) to Canadian Citizenship. However, the intricacies of residency rules can often lead to confusion, blurring the lines between maintaining PR status and qualifying for citizenship.

While it may appear straightforward at first glance – every day in Canada counts – complexities arise when counting days spent abroad. Different rules apply; the days outside Canada may or may not contribute to PR status or citizenship.

This blog post aimed to demystify these distinctions, providing clarity in navigating residency requirements for PR and citizenship. By simplifying the complexities of Canadian immigration, we empower you to plan your journey with confidence.

Whether you’re meeting PR residency obligations or pursuing Canadian citizenship, understanding these nuances is paramount. It ensures you can fulfill the specific requirements of each stage, helping you achieve your Canadian dream with ease.

Remember, if you ever find yourself in need of guidance or assistance during your immigration journey, our team is here to help. Feel free to reach out, and we’ll be your trusted partner on the path to a successful Canadian future.

Revamped Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP) Set to Re-Open in January 2024

Revamped Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP) Set to Re-Open in January 2024

Canada’s only (passive) investor immigration program has been closed since 2019. However, the Quebec government recently accounted that the QIIP is set to re-open in January 2024 with significant updates to the program. One of the biggest changes will be that candidates will require strong oral French skills and a one-year residency in Quebec in order to be eligible for the program.It is the government’s intention that these requirements will allow immigrants to integrate into the province’s business community and make it easier for them to contribute to Quebec’s economy.

The program will still require the candidate to have a net worth of 2 million and at least 2 years of management experience in the last 5 years. The updated requirements of the program include the following:

  • Demonstrate minimum proficiency in spoken French, which corresponds to level 7 on the Échelle québécoise des niveaux de compétence en français des personnes immigrantes adultes;
  • Have a diploma obtained before the date of submission of the application and corresponding at least, in Quebec, to a secondary school diploma;
  • Have been issued a work permit following the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (MIFI’s) notice of intent to issue a selection certificate (PCSQ);
  • Within 2 years of the date of this work permit issuance, the principal applicant must have resided in Quebec for a period of at least 6 months and he or his spouse or de facto spouse included in the application has resided in Quebec for another period of at least 6 months;
  • Make a 5-year term risk-free investment, at 0% interest of C$1 million with IQ Immigrants Investisseurs Inc. and a non-refundable financial contribution of $200,000 to this company, through a financial intermediary, within 120 days of the acceptance decision

As such investor immigration in Canada will now be restricted to those candidates with good French speaking abilities as well as those that have an interest in living in Quebec (at least temporarily).

Canada Announces Tech Talent Strategy to Attract Tech Workers from All Over the World

In light of the labour shortages being experienced by Canadian employers, Immigration Canada has enhanced some of their current immigration programs and is creating or has created some new pathways dedicated to attracting the best tech talent in the world.

There are six main ways that Immigration Canada is prioritizing tech workers right now.

CHANGES MADE TO EXISTING PROGRAMS:

1. New and dedicated PR pathway for STEM sector: If you are a tech worker in Canada working in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics or “STEM”, Immigration Canada has created a STEM pathway for the PR Express Entry program, which is the main way obtain permanent residence in via your education and work experience. This means that if you are working in an occupation that is included in the STEM category, your PR application will be prioritized by the PR Express Entry program and you will be invited to apply for PR sooner than you would have before.

  • Occupations included in the STEM category are follows:
  • Architects: NOC 21200
  • Architecture and science managers: NOC 20011
  • Business systems specialists: NOC 21221
  • Civil Engineers: NOC 21300
  • Computer and information systems managers: NOC 20012
  • Computer engineers (except software engineers and designers): NOC 21311
  • Computer systems developers and programmers: NOC 21230
  • Cybersecurity specialists: NOC 21220
  • Data scientists: NOC 21211
  • Database analysts and data administrators: NOC 21223
  • Electrical and electronics engineers: NOC 21310
  • Engineering managers: NOC 20010
  • Industrial and manufacturing engineers: NOC 21321
  • Information systems specialists: NOC 21222
  • Land surveyors: NOC 21203
  • Landscape Architects: NOC 21201
  • Mathematicians, statisticians and actuaries: NOC 21210
  • Metallurgical and materials engineers: NOC 21322
  • Natural and applied science policy researchers, consultants and program officers: NOC 41400
  • Software developers and programmers: NOC 21232
  • Software engineers and designers: NOC 21231
  • Urban and land use planners: NOC 21202
  • Web designers: NOC 21233
  • Web developers and programmers: NOC 21234

2. Global Skills Strategy program: This program was launched 5 years ago. However, this program was obstructed due to processing delays resulting from the Covid-19 situation. Immigration Canada has announced in July 2023 that it has now rectified this situation and Canadian employers can expect work permit applications to be processed within approximately 2 weeks of submission. As such, Canadian employers now have access to talent they need when they need it. In order to be eligible for this program, the worker must be applying from outside of Canada. In addition, if workers are exempt from an LMIA, the job offer must be in a TEER 0 or TEER 1 position. For workers who require an LMIA, only the following NOC codes are eligible:

  • 20012   Computer and information systems managers      
  • 21300   Civil engineers   Prevailing wage 
  • 21310   Electrical and electronics engineers         
  • 21330   Mining engineers          
  • 21390   Aerospace engineers     
  • 21311   Computer engineers (except software engineers and designers)     
  • 21210    Mathematicians and statisticians
  • 21211    Data scientists
  • 21220    Cybersecurity specialists
  • 21221    Business system specialists
  • 21222    Information systems specialists
  • 21233    Web designers Information systems analysts and consultants
  • 21211    Data scientists
  • 21223    Database analysts and data administrators          
  • 21231    Software engineers and designers
  • 21211    Data scientists
  • 21230    Computer systems developers and programmers
  • 21232    Software developers and programmers
  • 21234    Web developers and programmers
  • 21233    Web designers
  • 21234    Web developers and programmers
  • 22310    Electrical and electronics engineering technologists and technicians
  • 22220    Computer network and web technicians
  • 22222    Information systems testing technicians
  • 52120    Digital media designers
  • 51120    Producer, technical, creative and artistic director and project manager – Visual effects and video game

3. Start-Up Visa Program: This program creates pathways for PR for entrepreneurs who create companies in Canada that hire Canadians/PRs. This program initially suffered from a flaw in program design, but Immigration Canada has now rectified this situation by increasing the number quota from 1000 to 3500 applicants per year and is prioritizing applications that have capital committed and are endorsed by trusted Canadian partners. This program gives open work permits for 3 years for the applicant and their families while they wait for permanent residence in Canada.

4. NEW WAYS TO ATTRACT TECH TALENT: Specific Stream for World’s Most Talented People: Immigration Canada announced in July 2023 that it will be creating a specific stream for some of the world’s most talented people to come to Canada to work for Canadian tech employers whether they have a job offer or not. No other announcement has been made to date, so we are still waiting to hear more about this upcoming pathway.

5. Digital Nomad Strategy: This will allow people who have foreign employers to work in Canada for up to 6 months at a time. This will allow the digital nomad to live in Canada and spend money in Canada as a visitor, while working for their foreign employer. Should the digital nomad receive a job offer in Canada, Immigration Canada will allow them to stay and work in Canada.

6. USA H-1B Visa Holders: As of July 16, 2023, Immigration Canada opened 10,000 spots for H-1B visa holders and their families in the USA to come and work in Canada with an open work permit for up to three years. This program was to stay open for one year or until the 10,000 spots were filled. Unfortunately, the cap of 10,000 applicants was reached within 48 hours of the program opening on July 17, 2023. Thus, this program is no longer accepting applications and is closed.

Canada’s Immigration Strategies to Increase Healthcare Workers in Canada with a Spotlight on British Columbia and Saskatchewan 

Canada’s Immigration Strategies to Increase Healthcare Workers in Canada with a Spotlight on British Columbia and Saskatchewan 

Government of Canada Immigration Initiatives for Healthcare Workers

In Canada, immigrants account for approximately 1 in 4 healthcare workers. Immigrants make up 23% of registered nurses, 37% of pharmacists, 36% of physicians, and 39% of dentists. The healthcare sector across Canada is experiencing unprecedented worker shortages. With a total of 96,000 unfilled healthcare positions in Canada at the end of 2022, the Government of Canada has sought to increase immigration of healthcare workers. To do so, Immigration Refugee Citizenship Canada has made changes to the Express Entry program, Canada’s major economic immigration program for permanent residency. The Government of Canada can now issue specific invitations to apply for permanent residency to health workers, including doctors, nurses, dentists, physiotherapists, and optometrists. Since the end of June 2023, two rounds of invitations have been issued, with a total of 2,000 healthcare workers being invited to apply for permanent residency.

Provincial Immigration Initiatives for Healthcare Workers

British Columbia 

The British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program enables the province to select and nominate foreign workers, international students, and entrepreneurs to help meet BC’s labour needs. If you are nominated by the Province, you and your family can apply to IRCC to become a permanent resident of Canada. Healthcare workers are a priority occupation in British Columbia for the Provincial Nominee Program. Priority occupations are specified occupations that have been identified by the Province of BC that may be invited to apply in periodic targeted draws. In August 2023, the Province nominated 127 healthcare workers for permanent residency through the BCPNP category draws.

Saskatchewan

In Saskatchewan, there are three different immigration categories that may allow foreign health care professionals to immigrate and obtain permanent residency. These categories are:

  • Saskatchewan Experience: Healthcare Professional
  • International Skilled Worker: Employment Offer
  • Hard-to-Fill Skills Pilots

A worker based in Saskatchewan with six months of full-time work experience in the province as a physician, nurse, or other healthcare professional can be nominated through the SINP Saskatchewan Experience Healthcare Professional category.

If you are an international healthcare worker looking to immigrate to Saskatchewan, you can create an expression of interest profile (EOI) to be contacted about job opportunities relevant to your skill set by the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP) or Health employers. If you are selected and receive a job offer, you may be eligible to apply in the SINP International Skilled Worker: Employment Offer stream, or the Hard-to-fill Skills Pilot stream. This EOI profile provides the opportunity to link foreign trained healthcare professions with Saskatchewan healthcare employers. However, you are not required to use the EOI profile if you are able to independently get a valid job offer from a Saskatchewan employer. The International Healthcare Workers EOI system is open to many occupations including pharmacy technicians, dental assistants, therapists, occupational therapists, pharmacists, nurses, public health professionals, chiropractors, midwives, psychologists, physiotherapists, nurse’s aids, and more.

Kahlon Immigration Law Services

If you are a healthcare worker looking to immigrate to Canada and obtain permanent residency, please do not hesitate to reach out to Kahlon Immigration Law. Our immigration lawyers and consultants would be happy to assist you on your journey through the provincial nominee programs and Canada’s express entry program. Obtaining permanent residency in Canada is highly sought after and is a competitive process with many specific requirements to be met. If you are an international healthcare worker, you may be able to take advantage of the increase in immigration options for such workers during this Canada-wide industry shortage.