Immigration Corner | I want to be a Canadian citizen
Dear Ms. Powell
I like reading your articles. I'm a farm worker and I want to apply to extend my visa to stay in Canada. I also want to bring up my wife and son from Jamaica. My wife is a teacher. What can we do to be citizens of Canada?
Your question is a timely one as you should note that a recent study by Statistics Canada revealed that one out of five foreign workers become permanent residents. Immigrants now represent 20.6% of the total population in Canada and the numbers are growing. So there is a strong possibility that you, your son and wife can become citizens of Canada with the correct application and with time.
Your ability to renew your work permit depends on the type of permit that you received or the programme under which you came to Canada in the first place. The rules differ for each category of temporary foreign worker. Since I do not know the details concerning your permit, I will provide you with possible options.
Seasonal Agricultural Programme
If you came to Canada under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Programme and your employer wants you to continue to work longer than the typical eight months, which is usually the maximum time you are granted, then you will need to return to Jamaica and reapply for a new work permit.
You will need the support of your employer as he will need to reapply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment report from the department of Employment and Social Development Canada. If you were working in Quebec, your employer will need to apply to Quebec's Ministere de l'Immigration, de la Diversite et de l'Inclusion for the LMIA. Once you have a copy of the report, you can reapply.
Usually, if you apply to extend your stay in Canada and you do not have a valid reason and your programme is not one which allows for the extension your application could be denied and you will be required to return home immediately.
If you came to Canada under an open work permit or employer-specific permit, your options are better as you can apply for extension of the work permit, and there is a strong possibility that it will be renewed if both you and your employer can show that you have the required skills and a positive LMIA report. This would be ideal, as you will be able to easily establish the minimum of one continuous year of employment in Canada and able to apply for permanent residence for you and your family and later, citizenship.
If you have the required skills and training as a tradesman, you could have other options under the Federal Skilled Trade Programme. There is also the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) and opportunities under the Provincial Nominee Programmes. Under these programmes, you can apply for permanent residence via the express entry system.
There are many options available to you and family depending on your age, skills, training and work experience. Since you say your wife is a teacher, if she has a diploma or degree, she could apply as the principal applicant under the Federal Skilled Worker Programme via the express entry system. Your combined effort could yield positive results for your family. Based on the recent changes to the Canadian Immigration laws, your son could be added to your application, provided that he is under 22 years old and is substantially dependent on you for support.
I strongly recommend that you and your wife consult with an immigration lawyer to ensure that you chose the best option for you, based on your education, training and work experience. Since you need to prove your language ability, I recommend that both you and your spouse sit the IELTS or CELPIP English examination which are the two approved examinations. IRCC will require proof of your language ability in at least one of the two main languages in order for your application to be accepted under the express entry system.
You will be required to have a minimum of Canadian Level Bench Mark (CLB) 5 for speaking and listening, and a minimum of CLB 4 for reading and writing. I recommend that you sit the CELPIP exam while in Canada, as that exam is not offered in Jamaica. The IELTS general training exam is offered at the University of the West Indies, Mona and Montego Bay campuses.
Under the programmes mentioned above, Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) have granted permanent residence in six months or less to qualified individuals. Then your next step would be to apply for citizenship.
After you have lived in Canada as a permanent resident for a minimum of three out of five years, prior to submitting a citizenship application, you could be granted citizenship of Canada. You may be required to provide proof of income tax filing and sit a citizenship test about your knowledge of Canada's history, values and symbols. You will also need to prove your competence in at least one of Canada's official languages.
There could be many options available to your family; therefore, you should meet with an immigration lawyer to help you to come up with an immigration plan for your family. I recommend that you do so before your current work permit expires. If you are under the seasonal work permit, you may be required to leave Canada by December 15, so time is of the essence and you must act now.
- Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator and notary public who is a member of the Jamaican and Ontario, Canada bars. Her office is located in Ottawa, Ontario. Submit your questions and comments via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject line: Immigration. Tel: 613-695-8777, Facebook: jamaicanlawyer.