Weed the North

The Canadian Parliament has recently passed legislation legalizing some possession of cannabis (marijuana) and also to increase the punishment for driving under the influence. These laws will come into effect on October 17, 2018 and will have harsh penalties for permanent residents and foreign nationals who have DUI or possession of "illicit" cannabis.

We have put together a video here to explain some of these changes. Click here

Some of the most relevant changes include: 

Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

Penalties for DUI offences have increased from 5 to 10 years, making it a "serious criminality" offence. This change will have the following consequences for immigrants:

Permanent Residents

  • If convicted outside of Canada, they would lose their status and have no right of appeal. 
  • If convicted inside Canada, and a sentence of six months or more is imposed, they would lose their status and have no right of appeal. 
  • If convicted inside Canada, and a sentence of less than six months is imposed, they would lose their status, but be allowed to appeal to Immigration Appeal Division.  

Foreign Nationals

  • If convicted inside Canada, any DUI conviction will render them inadmissible and they would likely have to apply for a Temporary Resident Permit or a permanent Record Suspension to allow them to remain in Canada. 
  • If convicted outside of Canada, they will not be eligible for deemed rehabilitation and will have to apply for a Temporary Resident Permit to enter Canada on a temporary basis or make a permanent Rehabilitation application

Possession of Illicit Cannabis

Although possession and production of cannabis under 30g for personal use will now be legal, certain types of cannabis products will remain prohibited. These are outlined in the act as 'illicit cannabis,' and include cannabis that is obtained from a vendor that is not authorized under a Provincial Act.  For example, buying cannabis from a private dealer in Ontario would be a criminal act as only the government of Ontario is able to distribute cannabis in Ontario. It is also very possible that possession of cannabis outside of Canada can be interpreted as possessing illicit cannabis.

For Permanent Residents

  • If convicted inside Canada, and a sentence of six months or more is imposed, they will lose their status, with no right of appeal.

Foreign Nationals

  • If convicted inside Canada a conviction will render the person inadmissible.  The person would likely have to apply for a Temporary Resident Permit or Record Suspension.
  • If convicted outside of Canada (or even if it is determined that they committed the offence outside of Canada), they will need to apply for a Temporary Resident Permit, Rehabilitation, or in certain cases be eligible for Deemed Rehabilitation.

If you would like to learn more about how these changes may affect you please feel free to contact us at (416) 548-9089, or at inquiries@lmlawgroup.com.

New Medical Inadmissibility Changes

The Minister has just announced today important new changes to the medical inadmissibility policy. Individuals and their dependants who apply for permanent residence under most applications in economic categories, some humanitarian and compassionate categories, and some family sponsorship categories such as parents/grandparent sponsorships, are still required to pass medical admissibility.  

However, today's announcement will allow a significant number of people who would have previously been found to be medically inadmissible to no longer be in this category.  Here are some key points to note:

  • The threshold amount of medical costs for medical inadmissibility will now be tripled.  This means that many applicants who require higher medical costs to deal with their conditions (eg. HIV positive individuals who use government funded prescriptions) may now no longer be medically inadmissible.
  • Special education, social and vocational rehabilitation services, and personal support services will no longer be included in the medical costs.  As such, many individuals dealing with disabilities will now no longer be medically inadmissible.

Many applicants or their dependants who previously were found to be medically inadmissible may now reapply for permanent residence.

To speak with one of our lawyers to discuss your case, contact us at (416) 548-9101 or by email at inquiries@lmlawgroup.com.

Updates for 2018 Parent/Grandparent Sponsorship Program

The Parent and Grandparents sponsorship program re-opened for online expressions of interest from January 2 to February 1, 2018. On March 19, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) emailed out invitations to potential sponsors who were randomly selected to submit their sponsorship application.

Potential sponsors will have 60 days from the date of their invitation to submit a complete application.

Some key points to note:

  • Individuals who submitted the online form are urged to check their email inbox and junk mail, or to look up their unique confirmation number using IRCC's list of selected numbers here.  
  • Invitations are not transferrable; you cannot use an invitation to sponsor another parent/grandparent who was not listed in the initial online form.
  • It is vital to ensure that you provide proof of meeting eligibility criteria and that your application is submitted without any mistakes to avoid refused/rejected applications and thereby having to start again and re-enter the pool of interested sponsors.

Interested individuals who did not receive an invitation letter should continue to monitor their email for news on further draws. If IRCC does not receive 10,000 complete applications, additional potential sponsors will be invited to apply later in the year.

To speak with one of our lawyers to discuss your case, contact us at (416) 548-9101 or by email at inquiries@lmlawgroup.com.

The Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Program and How it Works

One of the most important benefits of studying in Canada is the ability to qualify for the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). The PGWP program allows international students who have completed a qualifying program at an approved post-secondary institution to obtain an open work permit. Only certain universities and colleges offer programs that are eligible for the PGWP.

In February, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada indicated for the first time which Canadian schools offer eligible programs. You can find this list here. The PGWP program is an essential step for foreign students to gain the high-skilled Canadian work experience they need to apply for permanent residence.  

Here are some of the key details on the PGWP program:

  • You must apply for a PGWP within 90 days of receiving written confirmation that you have met the requirements of your program. This can include: final transcripts, a letter, your degree, etc. After the 90-day period, you are no longer eligible to participate for a PGWP. 
  • You must hold a valid study permit in order to apply for the PGWP.
  • Once you have received written confirmation that you have met the requirements of your program, you are no longer authorized to continue working on your study permit. You may resume working upon submission of the PGWP application.
  • The length of your program of study determines the validity of your PGWP:
    • If your program was between 8 months and less than 2 years, your PGWP validity may match the length of the program.
    • If your program lasted 2 years or more, your PGWP may be valid for 3 years.
  • Some students who complete 2 programs (the second of which is a post-graduate program started within 2 years of the completion of the first program) may also be eligible for a 3-year PGWP.
  • You may only have one PGWP in your lifetime - there are no renewals, and no second permits even if you return to full-time studies.

If you are planning to study in Canada, it is critical to plan so to ensure you maximize the validity of your PGWP and obtain the Canadian work experience you need to qualify for permanent residence.

If you are already studying in Canada, it is vital to prepare early to ensure your application is submitted on time and without mistakes.

To speak with one of our lawyers to discuss your case, contact us at (416) 548-9101 or by email at inquiries@lmlawgroup.com.

Updates to Ontario's Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) for 2018

With the start of the new year, Ontario has announced some changes to their provincial nominee program. Here are some of the key details:

  • Ontario's nomination allocation has increased by 600 to 6,600 for the year 2018
  • An applicant has 45 calendar days from the day they receive a Notification of Interest (NOI) to submit their Human Capital Priorities application
  • To-date, Ontario has only issued NOIs to applicants with express entry profiles created on January 1, 2018 or after
  • The eligibility requirements for the PhD graduate stream now include 1. settlement funds and 2. residency in Ontario for a period of 12 months in the 2 years before submission

On January 18, most nomination streams re-opened and Ontario resumed issuing Notifications of Interest. The Masters Graduate and PhD Graduate streams re-opened on January 29, with the Masters' stream remaining open for only 1.5 hours before being paused for reaching the intake level.

Given the popularity of the program, it has become vital to prepare early to ensure that your application is submitted as soon as possible and without mistakes. To speak with one of our lawyers to discuss your case, contact us at (416) 548-9101 or inquiries@lmlawgroup.com.