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Traveling to Canada from Europe, the Middle East or Africa? You may need to get fingerprinted

The Canadian government is expanding the list of continents needing biometrics when applying for a visitor visa, study or work permit, or permanent residence. Starting July 31, 2018, applicants from Europe, the Middle East and Africa will be required to provide biometrics. Additional applicants from Asia, Asia Pacific, and the Americas will be required to provide biometrics starting December 31, 2018. The new rules also apply to refugee or asylum seekers.

According to the Government of Canada the purpose of Biometrics is to effectively manage identity, facilitate application processing, simplify entry for travelers and protect the health, safety and security of Canadians.  Biometrics allow the government to manage identity documents of travelers and residents of Canada, as it is a trusted service used by over 70 countries around the world. This process involves scanning fingerprints through a criminal and immigration search in databases including official government information from Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

The following applicants will be exempt from the requirements to provide biometrics:

  • Canadian citizens, citizenship applicants (including passport applicants), or existing permanent residents
  • visa-exempt nationals coming to Canada as tourists who hold a valid Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)
  • children under the age of 14
  • applicants over the age of 79 (there is no upper age exemption for asylum claimants)
  • heads of state and heads of government
  • cabinet ministers and accredited diplomats of other countries and the United Nations, coming to Canada on official business
  • S. visa holders transiting through Canada
  • refugee claimants or protected persons who have already provided biometrics and are applying for a study or work permit
  • temporary resident applicants who have already provided biometrics in support of a permanent resident application that is still in progress

There is an additional exemption for applicants applying for a visa, work or study permit or permanent residents of Canada, who are exempt until the in-Canada service is established.

Biometrics cost CAD$85 for individual applicants, CAD $170 for families, and CAD$255 for 3 or more performing artists, applying for work permits as a group. First time applicants must give biometrics. To facilitate repeat travel, applicants for a visitor visa, study permit or work permit will only need to give their biometrics once every 10 years. Permanent residence applicants only need to submit their fingerprints once, with their application.

Most applicants must apply for biometrics outside of Canada at a Visa Application Centre (“VAC”). Asylum claimants and select eligible work and study permit applicants may apply at a Canadian port of entry.

It is important to note that time allotted for the collection and screening of biometrics is not part of the application processing times, so applicants are encouraged to apply for biometrics as soon as possible to avoid delays in the processing of their application. Although the actual process of giving biometrics only takes about 15minutes, applicants should consider factors that may delay their application like travel time if there is no VAC in their area/country.

After July, 2018, when biometrics become required for nationals of many more countries, if biometrics are not provided when requested, you application will be considered incomplete and lack of a timely response may cause delays in the processing of your application.

For more information about how the new biometrics requirements may affect you, contact Véronique Malka at: vmalka@ckrlaw.com.

 


The Cannabis Act and Its Effects on Canadian Immigration

There has been a great deal of talk about the legalization of marijuana in Canada, regardless of what side of the debate you are on, legalization may affect your travel plans. Legalizing marijuana (or “cannabis”) in Canada has been one of Prime Minister Trudeau’s biggest projects yet and the revised Cannabis Act will soon become law.

Legalizing marihuana affects many different areas of Canadian law, such as intoxicated driving charges, commerce control, and immigration. In June 2018, two bills: Bills C-45 and C-46, received royal assent and will soon become law. These bills suggest changes and clarifications to certain immigration laws in regards to the Cannabis Act.

We have included a short summary of Bill C-45 detailing what changes will be made, and what the government wants to keep intact. We also highlighted the aspects related to immigration in Bill C-46.

Bill C-45

Most offenses listed under this bill have to do with two central aspects: (1) authorized use and commerce of marijuana, and (2) what the government of Canada has determined to be “illicit cannabis”. In order to legally possess or sell marijuana, one must be licensed and/or authorized to do so by the federal government. If someone wishes to possess or sell illicit marijuana, which is medically harmful to its users, they will be penalized. In terms of immigration, offences related to illegal Cannabis possession, production or commerce, may render foreign nationals inadmissible to Canada, depending on the severity of the crime.

Personal Possession and Production of Marihuana

  • The unauthorized possession of less than 30 grams of cannabis for personal use is a summary offence (less serious): A single conviction for simple possession of less than 30 grams cannot render foreign nationals inadmissible. This clause is supported by Section 36 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), which requires a minimum of 2 summary convictions to render a foreign national inadmissible.
  • Illicit cannabis is prohibited in any quantity, and one conviction for illicit cannabis under the Cannabis Act will cause inadmissibility to Canada.
  • Cannabis that is imported, sold, produced or distributed by someone not licensed to do so under the Act or any provincial law, is prohibited under the Act.
  • Certain types of marihuana are prohibited and carry a greater penalty under Section 8 of the Cannabis Act. This is significant for immigration purposes, as the prohibition in Section 8 can be prosecuted as a hybrid offence, which means that it could either be rendered a summary or indictable offence (more serious). For the purposes of immigration, a hybrid offence is deemed to be an indictable offence and one indictable offence represents grounds for inadmissibility to Canada.

Trafficking, Importation and Production of Marijuana

  • Unauthorized trafficking, importation and production of cannabis will constitute serious criminality in Canada, despite some changes, especially the removal of mandatory minimum penalties for this crime, and may render applicants inadmissible.
  • Changes under Section 13 of the bill will make it an offence to possess, produce, sell, distribute or import any materials or products with the intention that it will be used to produce, sell or distribute illicit cannabis.

Bill C-46

When modifying certain criminal laws, changes from “criminality” to “serious criminality” are significant, as inadmissibility issues arising from serious criminality can also affect Permanent Residents. For example, under Bill C-46, the penalties for Driving Under the Influence (“DUI”) are to increase from 5 to 10 years, which means that a Permanent Resident committing a DUI could face loss of status and deportation. This change in the level of criminality is not expected to be practiced retroactively, which means that Permanent Residents with a pre-existing DUI would not be deported because of it.

Moreover, cannabis continues to be listed in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA). This means that authorization to possess cannabis for personal medical use under the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) only applies within Canada, and prohibits any import or export of cannabis.

We expect to see additional changes to current legislation as the law is implemented and unforeseen consequences arise. To find out if your travel plans or Permanent Residency may be impacted by these changes, contact us at info@canadianlawgroup.com or vmalka@ckrlaw.com.

 


Trade Wars: A NAFTA and Tariffs Update

Mexico-Canada Relations and Negotiations

Canadian and Mexican immigration lawyers continue to be concerned about the future of the North American Fair Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”), an agreement signed by Mexico, the United States, and Canada, allowing for more open commercial trade between the three countries. This treaty has been serving as a useful vehicle to facilitate the cross-border admission of foreign workers in North America since 1994, but some fear that it may come to an end. Throughout his campaign for the Presidency of the U.S.A, President Trump announced that he would be renegotiating the terms of NAFTA, and possibly disbanding it.

It has now been a little over a year since the negotiations began, and it seems like no conclusions have been reached yet. Both the Canadian and Mexican governments are growing impatient with the U.S. government, wanting the discussions to finally come to an end. The Economy Secretary of Mexico, Ildefonso Guajardo, stated in June 2018 that he seeks to maintain the trilateral trade agreement.

Mexico-Canada relations are multifaceted, ranging from economic to political dialogues to promote collaboration on areas like security, environmental protection, trade, and tourism. Here are a few facts about Canada’s relationship with Mexico:

  1. Over 2 million Canadians traveled to Mexico in 2017 for both tourism and business, and with Mexico’s rising middle class, over 250,000 Mexicans visited Canada during that year.
  2. Canada’s direct investments into the Mexican economy reached over $16.7 Billion CAD in 2017.
  3. Around 6,000 Mexican students are attending a Canadian higher education institution, strengthening the academic and cultural exchange between the two countries.

The state of NAFTA is still unsure to this day, but we are confident that, regardless of the final negotiations, Mexico and Canada’s diplomatic and economic relations will remain strong. Same cannot be said about Canada-U.S. relations, which now involve a war on tariffs. Companies in the U.S. are already feeling the impact of double tariffs on certain imports of steel and aluminum. In order to minimize the impact of the tariffs, both the U.S. and Canada have legislation that provides relief.

 

Navigating U.S. Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum Imports

In a Presidential Proclamation, issued in March 2018, President Trump announced that aluminum imports to the U.S. threatened “the national security of the United States” and weakened the domestic economy. The Trump Administration subsequently imposed tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum imports. In response, the Canadian Government imposed a “dollar-for-dollar” retaliatory tariff on the U.S.

Many corporations in the USA are already feeling the hit of the Tariffs placed by the Trump Administration.  Some of our clients conducting cross-border trade between Canada and the USA are actually being taxed twice on the movement of steel and aluminum.  Before the conflict escalates (and we hope not) to the automotive industry, it is imperative to grasp the implications and possible remedies available currently to those companies affected.

The tariffs may mean higher prices on everyday goods such as cars and sodas. Critics argue that although the tariffs may benefit U.S. aluminum and steel companies in the short run, they may hurt the economy overall, as U.S. companies try to navigate the higher import costs and retaliatory tariffs by cutting jobs. One consulting firm estimated that five jobs would be lost for every one gained as a result of the tariffs.

The Government of Canada has established a framework for considering remission requests to allow relief from payment of surtaxes or issue refunds for surtaxes already paid by a Canadian business. Requests for remission will be considered by a federal inter-departmental committee and must follow the strict template for submission laid out by the Department of Finance Canada. Requests for remission will only be considered where:

  1. They address situations  of short supply in the national or regional domestic market,
  2. A Canadian business has contractual obligations, existing prior to May 31, 2018, to use U.S. steel or aluminum,
  3. They address other exceptional circumstances that could have severe adverse effects on the Canadian economy (determined on a case by case basis).

The U.S. Department of Commerce has also implemented a process for businesses to obtain relief from these tariffs. Individuals and businesses using aluminum and steel products in the U.S. can submit an exclusion request. A separate exclusion request must be submitted for each product imported, along with a detailed description and the request must show that there is no harm to U.S. national security as a result of the imports.

The uncertainty caused by these tariffs and the escalating trade wars, has made it increasingly difficult for businesses to navigate cross-border trade. It is essential to have access to a dedicated cross-border legal team that can assist in finding the most cost effective method for your business. CKR Law’s global team is skilled in dealing with international cross-border issues, the Firm’s Global Mobility Co-Chair can be reached at: vmalka@ckrlaw.com.

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