Sunday, June 22, 2008

Getting a U.S. visa in a hurry for PR

Immigration by Guidy Mamann
Last week, I chatted with two senior officials of the U.S. Consulate in Toronto about my recent urgent application for a visitor visa on behalf of a Canadian permanent resident whose mother was in intensive care in the U.S. following a serious car accident.
Some of the following is what I learned from Consul Jeffrey Tunis and Public Affairs Officer Nicholas J. Giaccobe.
Although Canadian citizens don’t need visas to visit the U.S., many foreigners, including Canadian permanent residents, do depending on their country of nationality.
Applications for these visas are strictly by appointment only, regardless of how urgent the situation. Appointments must be booked online using the consulates’ Visa Appointment Reservation System at www.nvars.com.
Appointments are not always available, and when they are, they are often several weeks away and too far into the future to be of any use. At the time of this writing, no appointments were available for the next six weeks.
Understandably, my client wanted to be at his mothers’ side now, not in weeks.
I was directed by consular staff to its emergency instructions on its website at http://toronto.usconsulate.govbut, frankly, I had quite a bit of trouble finding them. For those in need, they can be found by clicking “Visa Info” on the top blue bar and then “Visa FAQs” at the bottom of the yellow section on the left.
The consulate instructs individuals in such situations to select any appointment available online regardless of how far away it is in time. The applicant will need a passport number and pay $9 to book the appointment. The system will give them a reference number.
Applicants must then send an e-mail to TRTNIV@state.govrequesting an urgent appointment and must provide all the information specified in the FAQ. An automated response will be generated. However, a case-specific one will usually follow within a day or two with an earlier date, if the request is granted.
Examples of what constitutes a legitimate emergency are listed in the FAQ but both Tunis and Giaccobe stressed the circumstances contemplated are those that are “unforeseen.” Applicants who waited till the last minute to apply for a visa to attend a wedding in the U.S. will probably have to settle for a piece of frozen wedding cake brought back by a caring guest who did make it to the event.
Same day visas are simply out of the question because procedures implemented since 9/11 require certain security screenings, including facial recognition checks, to be done in the U.S.
Hopefully, you’ll never need this service. But if you do, perhaps this will help.

Guidy Mamann

Work permits unfair to spouses

Immigration by Guidy Mamann
How is it possible that it is easier for the spouse of a foreign­er to get permission to work in Canada than it is for the spouse of a Canadian citizen?

A few years ago our minister of immigration facilitated the issuance of work permits to spouses of foreign workers on the grounds that it was necessary to Canada’s economic competitiveness to grant them limited access to our Canadian labour market.
Since then, the accompanying spouse of a foreign worker could immediately apply for an “open” work permit — i.e. a permit that allows them to work in virtually any occupation of their choosing — provided that their spouse had a work permit that authorized them to work in a managerial occupation or in an occupation that usually requires a university or college education or apprenticeship training. Accompanying spouses were exempted from the usual requirement of obtaining a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) from Service Canada certifying their employment would not have a negative impact on our labour market. Furthermore, their work permits could be issued simultaneously with the work permit of the principal applicant or at a later date right at a Canadian port-of-entry.
Although this initiative was definitely a positive one, the plight of spouses of Canadian citizens and permanent residents was overlooked or ignored.
Unlike a foreign worker, a Canadian citizen or permanent resident who gets married to a foreigner cannot normally get their spouse working in Canada immediately. The foreign spouse of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident is not exempted from the LMO process and may need to wait a year or more to get working in Canada.
Spouses overseas are not given any special consideration that would allow them to work here before their sponsorship is finalized.
Foreign spouses who are in Canada with their Canadian spouses can apply for an open work permit only after their case has received “first stage approval.” This can easily take five to six months where an interview is waived or about 11 to 14 months where an interview is needed.
A fix to this glaring inequity is now overdue and should be given priority attention in 2008.

guidy mamann

Federal court rules U.S. unsafe for refugees


In a stunning decision released last week, our federal court struck down our agreement with the United States, which renders refugee claimants seeking entry to Canada by land ineligible to make a claim here.
In December 2004, Canada and the U.S. implemented an agreement in which each declared the other a “safe country” for refugee claimants.
Canadian refugee advocates became concerned for the fate of asylum seekers destined here who, they believed, would be unfairly denied needed protection down south.
The “Safe Third Country Agreement” addressed this concern by requiring our federal cabinet to conduct a “continuing review” of the policies and practices of the “safe country,” i.e. the U.S.
Our cabinet never conducted the reviews, but Canadian refugee advocacy groups did. They brought their findings to court and alleged the U.S. was not, in fact, safe for those seeking safe haven.
Our federal court agreed.
The court found the experts presented by the applicants were more credible, “both in terms of their expertise and the sufficiency, directness and logic of their reports” than the experts marshalled by our government.
The court couldn’t understand why our government didn’t bother to conduct the required review of American refugee practices even after the release of the Maher Arar report, which put into serious question U.S. assurances that it does not deport people to places where they may be tortured.
The court didn’t set out to decide which system was better or more generous. Instead, it sought to determine if the U.S. was meeting the minimum standards required of it.
The court was troubled by many deficiencies. For example, the U.S. generally bars asylum claims after one year of the claimants’ arrival. The court ruled this could disproportionately affect gays who may have to deal with cultural issues of shame, and women who may be unaware that spousal abuse may give rise to protection. Also, the U.S. Patriot Act renders refugees ineligible for protection if they are deemed to have given “material support” to a terrorist organization even where it is done under duress. In contrast, Canada makes allowances for duress, i.e. when it gave protection to a woman who was forced to cook for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
The groups had evidence that claimants in the U.S. were more likely to be detained and had less access to counsel than claimants here. The court, however, couldn’t find proof these factors would result in the actual denial of asylum.
The court’s 124-page decision is not likely to be the last word on the matter since it has given the parties the opportunity to propose questions for appeal.

Therefore, the current situation will stand … for now.
guidy mamann

Sponsoring adult sibling tricky


Immigration by Guidy Mamann
Q: I have a 36-year-old brother back home who probably does not qualify under the independent category. He is separated and was looking after my father who just passed away. He is the last surviving member of our family and is also the godfather of my oldest son. In addition, I have another brother in Toronto and we are both Canadian citizens. Can we sponsor him?

A: My condolences for your dad. Canadians can sponsor their brothers and sisters only if they are orphaned, under 18, and single. Adult siblings can only be sponsored indirectly.
For example, if you were sponsoring a parent, they could include their child who is under 22 and single.
They could also include a child who is over 22 if the child was substantially dependent on their parent since before they turned 22 and if they have been in continuous full time studies or pursuing vocational training since turning 22.
Since your brother was married and probably left school long ago, he is out of luck here.
You describe him as a “last surviving member”. Our laws allow you to sponsor one relative regardless of the relationship provided that you are alone in Canada and that you have no relatives abroad who you are eligible to sponsor.
In other words, Canadian immigration law serves the lonely Canadian, not the lonely foreigner.
Since you have a Canadian brother, and a spouse and child who I assume are also Canadian, you are not alone here and therefore cannot sponsor your brother under this provision.
If your brother is close to the 67-point passing mark for our Federal Skilled Worker Class (i.e. independent category) he might try to close the gap.
He could get additional points if he has an HRSDC-approved Canadian job offer waiting for him when he gets landed. He can also boost his points by obtaining a work permit and gaining one year of Canadian work experience or acquiring two years of studies here.
He can apply even if he is short on points. However I would discourage this since we have 850,000 applicants in the backlog many of whom have far more than 67 points.
He can also apply for permanent residence on humanitarian grounds. (Yes, this is possible from overseas, albeit uncommon.) I would only recommend this in the most unusual and compelling circumstances and where there can be no question of how he will support himself here.
If he remarries, he can come as the dependent of his wife if she qualifies for permanent residence. I would also check his qualifications against each provincial nominee program. This is a common, and clearly tough, situation but not one that is hopeless.

guidy mamann

Nanny should wait to marry


Immigration by Guidy Mamann
Q: I always read your article in the newspaper and noticed that you have been a blessing to a lot of people who need assistance and advice. Now I am writing this letter to seek some. I am under the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) and soon will acquire my landed status. I have a fiancé overseas. What is the best, right and fastest way to be reunited? Thanks a lot. God bless.

A: Congratulations on your engagement. Since you are under the LCP you are entitled to apply for permanent residence from within Canada after completing two years of caregiving here. Your fiancé cannot be included as your dependant in your application until you are married, or in a common law or conjugal relationship, as defined under our immigration laws.
Family members will be processed concurrently if they are included “at the time the application was made.” Applicants must list all family members in Canada and abroad, and indicate which ones they wish to have processed concurrently for permanent residence. Family members may not be added to an application once processing has begun (i.e. passing the initial evaluation stage).
You absolutely must notify immigration authorities in writing of any changes in your marital or common law status before you are landed. If you marry after applying but prior to landing, make sure you have confirmation that CIC has received your notice and ensure your spouse is examined before you are landed. If he is not examined prior to your landing, you will not be able to sponsor him later as your spouse. Furthermore, an undisclosed marriage prior to landing will be treated as a material misrepresentation and could lead to deportation proceedings, if discovered. CIC usually catches these misrepresentations when a sponsor includes a marriage certificate that pre-dates their own landing as a single person.
It is unimportant where you marry. However, the biggest reason for you to avoid getting married before you are landed is if your husband is medically or criminally inadmissible, both your applications will be refused. A newly wedded nanny can see two to three years of hard work go down the drain because of their grooms’ undisclosed drunk driving conviction or previously undetected medical problem.
He can apply for a visa to visit you here but there is no guarantee it will be approved. He should be truthful about having a fiancée/spouse in Canada even though it may make it more difficult for him to get the visa. Any lack of candour may come back to haunt you later when you sponsor him.
Of course, this will result in a longer separation from your partner, but this may be better than risking your hard work and future in Canada.
Guidy Mamann

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တနဂၤေႏြေန႕သတင္းမ်ား

Sunday, June 22, 2008
ထိပ္သီးစစ္ေခါင္းေဆာင္ႏွစ္ဦး စစ္တပ္ရာထူးမွ အနားယူၿပီ...
ျမန္မာစစ္အစိုးရ ထိပ္သီးေခါင္းေဆာင္ႏွစ္ဦးျဖစ္သည့္ ဗုိလ္ခ်ဳပ္မွဴးႀကီး သန္းေရႊႏွင့္ ဒုတိယ ဗိုလ္ခ်ဳပ္မွဴးႀကီး ေမာင္ေအးတို႔ႏွစ္ဦး စစ္တပ္တြင္ ထိန္းခ်ဳပ္ထားသည့္ တာ၀န္မ်ားမွ အနားယူ သြားသည္ဟု စစ္တပ္အသိုင္းအ၀ိုင္းက ယေန႔ေျပာဆိုသည္။တပ္မေတာ္ကာကြယ္ေရးဦးစီးခ်ဳပ္ႏွင့္ ဒုတိယ တပ္မေတာ္ကာကြယ္ေရးဦးစီးခ်ဳပ္ ေနရာမ်ားမွ အနားယူကာ အျခားအဆင့္ျမင့္ဗိုလ္ခ်ဳပ္ႀကီးမ်ားႏွင့္ အစားထုိးခဲ့ျခင္းျဖစ္သည္။
၎တုိ႔ႏွစ္ဦးေနရာတြင္ ဗိုလ္ခ်ဳပ္ႀကီးသူရေရႊမန္းႏွင့္ ကာကြယ္ေရး၀န္ႀကီးဌာန စစ္ဆင္ေရး အထူးအဖြဲ႔(ကစထ)မွဴး
တဦးျဖစ္သူ ဒုတိယဗိုလ္ခ်ဳပ္ႀကီး ျမင့္ေဆြအား အစားထုိးခန္႔အပ္ခဲ့သည္ ဟု အမည္မေဖာ္လုိသည့္ စစ္ဖက္အရာရွိ
တဦးက ေျပာသည္။
“တပ္ခ်ဳပ္နဲ႔ ဒုခ်ဳပ္က တပ္အမိန္႔ပုံစံမ်ိဳးနဲ႔ တပ္က အနားယူတဲ့သေဘာပဲ၊ (နယက)ေကာင္စီမွာ ေတာ့ ဆက္ရွိေနမယ္၊
အရင္ (ကစထ)မွဴးေတြလည္း အနားယူတယ္ဆုိေပမဲ့ အဲ့ဒီေကာင္စီမွာ ဆက္ပါေနအုံးမယ္၊ တပ္ခ်ဳပ္နဲ႔ ဒုခ်ဳပ္က
ရန္ကုန္ျပန္လာမယ္၊
သူတုိ႔နဲ႔အတူ (ကစထ)မွဴးေတြ ထဲက ဒုတိယဗိုလ္ခ်ဳပ္မွဴးႀကီး ခင္ေမာင္သန္းလည္း ပါလာမယ္၊ သူလည္း
အနားယူၿပီ”ဟု အဆုိပါတပ္မေတာ္အရာရွိတဦးက ေျပာသည္။
ထို႔အျပင္ ရန္ကုန္တိုင္း၊ ေတာင္ပိုင္းတိုင္းႏွင့္ အေရွ႕ေျမာက္တုိင္းမွ တုိင္းမွဴးသုံးဦးမွာလည္း ကာကြယ္ေရးဝန္ႀကီးဌာန စစ္ဆင္ေရးအထူးအဖြဲ႔မွဴးမ်ားအျဖစ္ တဆင့္တိုးခန္႔အပ္လိုက္ၿပီး ထိပ္ပိုင္းေခါင္းေဆာင္အမ်ားအျပား အေျပာင္းအလဲ
ဲျပဳလုပ္ခဲ့သည္ဟု ၎က ဆက္လက္ေျပာဆုိ သည္။
ရန္ကုန္တိုင္း တိုင္းမွဴးအျဖစ္ အမွတ္ (၇၇) ေျချမန္တပ္မဌာနခ်ဳပ္ တပ္မမွဴး ဗုိလ္ခ်ဳပ္ဝင္းျမင့္ႏွင့္ မုံရြာခ႐ိုင္မွ အေနာက္ေျမာက္တုိင္းစစ္ဌာနခ်ဳပ္ တုိင္းမွဴးအျဖစ္ တပ္မေတာ္ေဆးတကၠသိုလ္ ပါေမာကၡခ်ုဳပ္ ဗိုလ္ခ်ဳပ္ရာျပည့္တုိ႔ ေျပာင္းလဲေရာက္ရွိလာမည္ျဖစ္ေၾကာင္း သတင္းမ်ား ထြက္ေပၚေနသည္။
“ဒါက တပ္တြင္းေနရာအေျပာင္းအလဲေတြျဖစ္ေတာ့ သတင္းစာေတြကေတာ့ တရား၀င္ ပုံ ဘယ္သူဘာညာဆိုၿပီး
ေတာ့ ထြက္လာမွာမဟုတ္ဘူး၊ အရင္ (ကစထ)မွဴးေဟာင္းေတြ နားတယ္ ဆုိေပမဲ့ ႏိုင္ငံေတာ္ေကာင္စီထဲမွာ
ဆက္ရွိေနအုံးမယ္၊ ၂၀၁၀ က်ရင္ ေနရာယူမယ္လို႔ေတာ့ ခန္႔မွန္းေနတာပဲ”ဟု ေျပာသည္။
တုိင္းတပ္မအတြင္းရွိ စစ္ဦးစီးအရာရွိ ပထမတန္း အေယာက္ (၂၀) ခန္႔မွာလည္း တိုင္းတပ္မ ဗ်ဴဟာမွဴး မ်ားအျဖစ္အေျပာင္းအလဲမ်ားရွိမည္ျဖစ္သည္ဟု ၄င္းက ဆက္လက္ေျပာဆိုခဲ့သည္။
ယခုအေျပာင္းအလဲမ်ားႏွင့္ပတ္သက္၍ တပ္တြင္းတင္းၾကပ္ေနေသာ ရာထူးေနရာအမ်ားအျပား အေျပာင္းအေရႊ႕
မ်ား ျဖစ္ေပၚလာသည့္အတြက္ ေရွ႕အလားအလာကို ခန္႔မွန္းရခက္ေနေသးၿပီး အာဏာ အရပ္ရပ္အား
ဗိုလ္ခ်ဳပ္မွဴးႀကီးသန္းေရႊ ဆက္လက္ထိမ္းႏိုင္မည့္ အခြင့္အလမ္းအခ်ိဳ႕ အတြက္ စဥ္းစားစရာျဖစ္ေနသည္ဟု
အဆုိပါစစ္ဘက္အရာရွိက ေျပာဆိုသြားခဲ့သည္။