Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Immigration Corner | How do I sponsor myself to go to Canada?

Published:Tuesday | July 5, 2016 | 7:00 AM

Dear Ms. Powell,

I recently finished my degree at University of the West Indies (UWI) and job prospects here seem very slim. I would like to do the self sponsorship programme to become a citizen of Canada.

I have a half sister living there, plus my Dad said he would give me the funds. How do I sponsor myself? Do I need to have a job offer before I apply? How easy is it to get through? How long will it take? Thank you for taking the time to guide me as I see so many advertisements out there that I don't know who to trust and I don't want to get scammed.

B.L.

Dear B.L.

Canada has several immigration programmes under which you could apply to become a permanent resident, provided that you can meet the requirements.

The main programmes are the Federal Skilled Worker Programme, Federal Trades Programme, Canadian Experience Class and Provincial Nominee Programme. These programmes are accessible via the Express Entry System. It is a two-step process which involves, firstly, acceptance into the pool and, secondly, receiving an invitation to apply. Once you receive an invitation to apply you could receive permanent residence within six months.

Express Entry System

The Express Entry system is a points-based, electronic system implemented in January 2015 by Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) formerly known as CIC. It is a system of managing prospective applicants under the above mentioned programmes, both in Canada and the rest of the world.

Although the system is promoted as not being occupation specific, thereby not having a specified list of occupations, the system is more challenging than the previous first come, first serve method. Under the express entry system all applicants are lumped into one pool for selection based on their Comprehensive Ranking Score (CRS). That means an individual will be competing with individuals currently in Canada and those internationally.

Points under this system are allotted based on core human factors such as education, work experience, age, language. The number of points that you will be allotted is also affected on your marital status and the ability to combine points as a couple.

To exceed the 500 points threshold, international applicants will need to have Canadian work experience within the last three years which qualifies them to be classified under the Canadian Experience Class and/ or receive a provincial nominee certificate from one of the Province and / or receive a legitimate job offer from an employer your can produce a Labour Market Impact Assessment Report (LMIA). With any of the above the maximum points that an applicant can get is 1200 points. So far the lowest CRS to date is 450.

CAUTION

You do not need to have a job offer in order to be accepted into the pool. The challenge is to score enough to receive an invitation to apply for permanent residence. This is where individuals could get scammed.

There are many individuals claiming that they can get you a job. However, the key question to ask them is whether or not the perspective employer has a LMIA report or if the particular job is LMIA exempt. There is a list of LMIA exempt occupations on the Canadian government's website. A quick Google search will reveal that information.

It is your duty to investigate whether or not the offer is legitimate. Furthermore, in most cases, employers pay their own recruiting agencies to find quality workers and you do not need to pay employment agencies to find work for you. Note also that once you have been accepted into the express entry pool, you will have access to the Canadian government's job bank which allows you to apply for legitimate jobs without fear of being scammed.

Do you need a representative?

You do not need to pay a representative to act on your behalf, if you are able to effectively navigate the system yourself. The key thing is to do it right the first time.

There are two types of representatives - compensated and uncompensated. A compensated representative must be authorised in order to assist you with your application. These representatives are limited to lawyers and paralegals who are members in good standing with a Canadian Provincial or Territorial Law Society. Also, immigration consultants who are members in good standing with the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC).

The individuals who are authorised to practice as a paid representative can easily be found on the various regulatory body websites. Do not be afraid to ask your paid representative for proof that they are authorised to represent you. IRCC will not accept your application or deal with the individual on your behalf, if the person is not authorised.

The key thing to note is that using a representative is a choice. That representative will guide you in the process and show you how to maximise your points. The representative also ensures that you escape some of the pitfalls of the system, based on his/her experience and knowledge.

How do you protect yourself from getting scammed? Do your own research and ask questions. Search the Gleaner website for previous articles on how to avoid being scammed. Discuss your concerns with your representative before making a decision. Do not blindly turn over your confidential documents and information to individuals that you have never seen or heard of before. Most importantly, check the Canadian government websites for information.

Basic information that you should know before you apply

Your goal is to maximise your points. Pay attention to the following:

1. Education: You will need to get an Educational Credential Assessment Report (ECA) of your university degree/ diploma/certificate if it is from a non-Canadian school.

2. Experience: You need a minimum of one year work experience in a job in certain specified trades, or at a supervisory, management or in certain professionals such as CEO, engineer, lawyer, and doctor. The key thing to check is if your occupation is listed under the category A, B, O. If you have three or more years full time or equivalent part time work experience in the particular job you will be able to get the maximum points under this category.

3. Language: You will need to sit the IELTS, General Training Examination. There is no way around this. To maximise your points, ensure that you get a minimum of eight in each category. Pay attention to your listening skills.

4. Age: Individuals between the age of 20 and 29 can get a maximum of 100/ 110 points. The number of points allotted will decrease as you get older. Individuals over 45 will not get any points under this category.

5. Settlement funds are required: You will need to provide proof of a minimum of CAD$12,162.00 (current figure) based on the number of individuals in your family.

Quebec is an option

You should note that the province of Quebec has its own electronic system for the Quebec Federal Skilled Worker programme (QSWP). This route has been very popular, as the minimum criteria for receiving a Certificat de selection (CSQ), is similar to an Invitation to Apply for permanent residence, and has a lower threshold. Key factors to note: there are no points for adaptability/ having relatives in Canada, there is an area of training list, you do not need to speak French, you do not need a job offer and applications should be submitted through the Mon project Quebec portal.

• Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator, and notary public who is admitted to practise in Jamaica and Canada. Submit your questions and comments to info@deidrepowell.com.

Find her on Facebook: jamaicanlawyer.

Call 613-695-8777 or

876-922-4092.