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Canadian Citizenship Gets A Cool Sci-Fi Twist

September 29th, 2018

Couple Get The Ultimate “Geek” Welcome As Canadian Citizens

The Edmonton Journal did a wonderful piece last month on a couple who became Canadian citizens in style. Daniel Straka and his husband Ali Finley became Canadian citizens at the Edmonton Comic and Entertainment Expo. Strake, citing his childhood fascination of Star Trek, referred to Canada as his “dreamland”, much like the fantasy worlds he’d watch William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy visit every week on television when he was a child. Strake and Finley took part in the citizenship ceremony in matching astronaut outfits.

Straka hails from Czechia and resided in the U.S. with Finley, originally from Chicago. The couple had to travel to Washington, D.C. to be married because same-sex marriage wasn’t legal yet in their home state of Pennsylvania.

“It’s an important day for us because neither of our native countries would have us at the time when we got married. Canada was the only country that would have us, so we’re incredibly grateful.” – Daniel Straka

This was the first Citizenship Ceremony held during the Edmonton event, expo spokeswoman Alex Kingcott said, but not the first in the country. The Saskatoon expo was initially approached by Citizenship Canada with the idea. The new citizens were greeted at the Edmonton Expo Centre by the local cosplay community in classic Star Wars fashion, that included appearances from storm troopers, Jedi, and even Darth Vader.

 

CFL Hosts Canadian Citizenship Ceremonies

August 28th, 2018

 3 Citizenship Ceremonies Hosted By The CFL in Celebration of the League’s Diversity is Strength Campaign

The CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos hosted a citizenship ceremony on August 18th, welcoming 50 new citizens at Commonwealth Stadium. August 24th had the Montreal Alouettes take their turn and the 25th had the B.C. Lions hosting another ceremony. After reciting the oath of citizenship at all three events, Canada’s newly sworn citizens headed to the football field to sing the Canadian national anthem alongside football players and thousands of fans. This is all part of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and the CFL’s collaboration on the Diversity is Strength campaign, which is complimenting the greater #ImmigrationMatters initiative by the department. The campaign aims to demonstrate the benefits of immigration to Canadian communities and promote positive engagement between newcomers and Canadians. The ceremonies were part of the league’s Weeks 10 and 11 game calendar.

Since last year, CFL teams are incorporating a wide variety of activations and activities into their individual Diversity is Strength game days. Some teams have hosted visitors and fans from remote areas of Canada or facilited citizenship ceremonies to welcome new Canadians. Fans have also had the opportunity to experience pregame and halftime cultural showcases as teams celebrate their heritage and community.

“This initiative builds on the strength of the campaign we launched a year ago, when CFL coaches, players and fans rallied around this positive message by donning Diversity Is Strength t-shirts. Football is the ultimate team game because it welcomes and includes participants from every background as well as of every shape and size. It’s in this spirit that we invite and welcome all Canadians, be they Canadians by birth or Canadians by choice, to join us in our stadiums.”  – Commissioner Randy Ambrosie.

This year, participating teams have worn special edition t-shirts (in team colours) on the sidelines and during the pre-game walkthrough that honour trailblazers such as Tiger-Cat Bernie Custis, the first black quarterback in professional football, and Ottawa’s Jo-Anne Polak, the first female general manager in the CFL and in North American professional sport. Check out more on the initiative here.

 

Newfoundland Restauranteur Inspirationally Becomes Citizen

July 29th, 2018

Thy Nguyen’s Inspires With The Story Of Her Journey To Citizenship

Thy “Cathy” Nguyen, as she’s come to be known to her customers and friends, came to Canada in Saskatchewan under the province’s Immigrant Nominee Program. It required her to stay there for three years in order to acquire permanent resident status, and that 72 months saw her work 4 jobs tirelessly in pursuit of her dream of opening a restaurant. After deciding that she didn’t want to do it in Saskatchewan, Nguyen inquired on a Kijiji ad for a restaurant for rent almost 5000 kilometres away in Corner Brook, Newfoundland. She packed everything she had and ventured out east in late 2013. When she arrived, she realized there were no other Vietnamese people in the city.

Regardless, that same year, she opened Pho Vietnam, but a few months in issues with the building forced her to close. Citing electrical code violations and work completed by unqualified workers without permits, the province shut the building’s doors in early 2014, leaving her and several apartment tenants out in the cold. Luckily, she had built up a following in the small city of about 20,000 people and was able to relocate and continue the establishment of her business in the community. She brought her father over from Vietnam to help with her growing restaurant and the last five year’s has seen the business become an institution  in the small Newfoundland town. During that time, Nguyen realized that she wanted to become a citizen and applied herself to doing doing whatever she needed to do to achieve her dream while supporting her business.

“It’s months of studying and working and preparing in order to be able to pass the citizenship exam in order to attend the ceremony, so yeah, besides working hard six days a week running a restaurant, then she had to study as well. She put a lot of effort into it and it’s been rewarding for her.”

Customers and residents would often see her studying in the corner of the restaurant and remarked on her perseverance and determination. Since she opened, her business has thrived, she married, and while simultaneously running her restaurant as she studied for her citizenship test, she became a Canadian citizen this month. Her incredible story merited another CBC piece being done on her and has attracted national attention as a shining example of the thousands of immigrant success stories that occur every year and during every citizenship ceremony.

 

Canada Is A Global Leader In Climate Change Mitigation

June 30th, 2018

The Canadian Reputation As Climate Advocates Is A Global Example

Canada is a massive, resourcefully rich country. We have a strong energy sector, a strong trade relationship with the United States (even with the current political issues occurring between President Trump and PM Trudeau), and a strong and growing economy. Canada is internationally recognized under the current Prime Minister’s government as being a global leader in the fight against climate change and much of that is with due credit to the federal minister responsible for the file – Catherine McKenna. The first order of business for the Minister and Prime Minister was changing the public perception of the government as being inactive on the file, so the former Environment Canada was officially changed to Environment and Climate Change Canada in 2015. That same year, Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions were equivalent to 722 megatonnes of carbon dioxide, according to recent estimates by ECCC. This is a slight decrease from 2005 when annual emissions were 738 megatonnes.

“Canada is unwavering in our commitment to fight climate change.” – Prime Minister Trudeau

Last month, Minister McKenna was in LondonBerlin, and Brussels to meet with international partners to ensure continued progress toward global climate commitments in the lead-up to the upcoming international climate talks in Poland, in December. Minister McKenna later co-chaired the second Ministerial Meeting on Climate Action, co-hosted by EU Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete and China’s Special Representative Xie Zhenhua, in Brussels. As co-chair, the Minister worked with other ministers to push for the adoption of common and robust implementation guidelines for the Paris Agreement, ahead of the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24), in Poland, this December.

“Canadians expect our government to take ambitious action to fight climate change at home and abroad. These meetings with other international climate leaders were essential to continue building momentum toward the ambitious global action we need to keep our climate safe and realize the opportunities of the transition to cleaner economic growth. We will continue to work with our national and international partners to ensure we can all meet ourParis commitments to protect our planet for our kids and grandkids.”
– Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Minister McKenna helped bring about about the national agreement on climate change with emissions reduction targets and has created a low carbon infrastructure fund. She also set the target of Canada protecting five per cent of marine and coastal areas by the end of 2017, which was achieved, and 10% by 2020. She put together a globally recognized panel on climate change adaptation. Last month, her government invested heavily over the next five years in one of Canada’s biggest national park after concerns about its status as a world heritage site. The Wood Buffalo National Park, which covers almost 45,000 square kilometres of grasslands, wetlands and waterways in northern Alberta will receive $27.5 million dollars. One of the government’s biggest achievements is, of course, the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act. The soon to be official law sets a national carbon price regime that will apply in provinces and territories that have not established an equivalent carbon tax or cap-and-trade policy.

Last year, the New York Times asked who will fill the void left by the U.S. Canada might just be the country to do the job.

International Students Study and Desire To Stay In Canada

May 27th, 2018

Canada is one of the most popular academic destinations on earth

We’ve touched on why dual citizens should consider Canada as an academic destination. The primary reason being that you pay Canadian tuition rates – not international fees. In a world that is increasingly paying attention to Canadian academic institutions, citizens by descent have a tremendous advantage in this regard and have the added benefit of being entitled to stay in the country, pursue work, or reside here easier than most of the international student community.

According to the Canadian Bureau for International Education as of the end of last year there were 494,525 international students in Canada. This number from Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is an increase of 20% over 2016 and is particularly significant in that it surpasses Canada’s International Education Strategy goal of 450,000 international students in Canada by 2022, five years ahead of schedule.

This number representing all levels of Canadian education clearly demonstrates the continuing attractiveness of Canada as a study destination,’ said Karen McBride, President and CEO of CBIE. Our research shows that international students choose Canada because of the quality of the Canadian education system and our reputation as a safe and tolerant country. This reputation is especially attractive now, given a changing global climate, and 95% of international students tell us they would recommend Canada to family and friends. Moreover, the strong focus of our member institutions across the country on effectively supporting international students is a hallmark of Canada’s approach, one that we continually strive to improve. -CBIE

Sixty percent of international students surveyed harboured the desire to become a permanent resident in Canada after they graduate, according to a recently released survey by the CBIE. This represents a 51 per cent increase in a smaller survey conducted in 2015.

Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Ahmed Hussen, says the government wants international students to become permanent residents. He told parliament’s Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration that helping international students stay in Canada is a key facet of Canada’s new multi-year immigration levels plan for 2018-2020. Canadian Citizenship has also been made more accessible to international students through changes that now allow former students to count the time spent in Canada on a temporary visa, such as a study permit.

 

Multiculturalism Informs The Canadian Experience

April 30th, 2018

How Canadians Celebrate Culture and Diversity Is Yet Another Reason To Obtain Your Citizenship By Descent

There are a lot of reasons to love Canada and come here. The Canadian experience is unique on a number of levels. Canada, proudly, was the first country in the world to adopt multiculturalism as an official policy. On Oct. 8, 1971, Pierre Trudeau (Justin’s Dad) introduced Multiculturalism to the House of Commons. In addition to becoming an officially bilingual land, Canada would formally respect the diversity of its citizens’ languages, religions and cultures. The old melting pot vs. tossed salad analogy applies here heavily when comparing the American experience vs. the Canadian one. Erna Paris at The Globe and Mail published an interesting piece about Canadian society. One of the most important reasons for Canada’s success is the fact that we have eschewed demands for total assimilation to a defined identity in favour of integration. We are a tolerant harmonious society and the world has begun to increasingly take notice on how we do things, and how perhaps how others should follow. How we have formally embraced other cultures as a part of the Canadian experience has informed how our country is perceived around the world.

In 2015, Canada sat 6th out of 133 countries – the highest of any G7 nation – in an annual “social progress index”. It tracks 52 indicators – from crime levels to literacy rates and gender equality – that reflect whether a country is providing essential needs to its citizens and opportunities for people to improve their lot in society.

Canada comes second on a ranking of social entrepreneurship in the world’s 45 biggest economies. Canada scored highly on the ability of social entrepreneurs to make a living from their work, the ease of access to investment and the fact that social entrepreneurship in the country is gaining momentum.

Canada has one of the highest proportions of university graduates, according to figures compiled by the OECD. 59.2% of its 25-34 year-olds have completed the highest level of education.

We were just recently voted the second best place to live on the planet for the second year in a row, only behind Switzerland in a survey from the U.S. News & World Report, in conjunction with Young & Rubicam BAV Consulting and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. The survey evaluated 80 countries in a variety of categories including economic influence, citizenship and quality of life. One of the driving theories on why Canadian society is harmonious and highly tolerant is how we celebrate the diversity of our citizens. How we celebrate culture in this country creates a rich experience unlike anywhere else in the world – and people are better for it.

People used to talk about Canada with mild interest. In these politically volatile days, people express envy. They want to know how difficult it is to get citizenship, whether their professional credentials will transfer, how much tuition costs for non-Canadians. – Alexandra Wragge (Annapolis, Maryland – as quoted in the Globe and Mail)

As per the piece, 95 per cent of respondents in an Environics poll said that immigrants are as likely to be good citizens as the native-born. In major cities such as Toronto and Vancouver, roughly half the population consists of visible minorities. Vibrant Asian and Indian communities imbue these cities with richness and vibrancy. 12% of the Canadian parliament’s sitting members are foreign born people who belong to different ethnic groups. Almost 9% of full time employees in the country are immigrants.In a 2006 poll asking what made them “proud to be Canadian”, multiculturalism ranked second place, behind only the country’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

 

Canada continues to be one of the top immigration destinations in the world. Every year, about 250,000 people from around the world are issued a Permanent Resident Visa, which authorizes them to live, work and study long-term in this beautiful, multicultural country. If you have a Canadian parent, you are likely a Canadian citizen by descent. Your right to citizenship affords you a special opportunity to access the Canadian experience.

The Benefits of Canadian Citizenship Are Unique and Different Than Anywhere Else

March 31st, 2018

Citizenship by descent should undoubtedly be pursued if you have a parent that is Canadian

If you can get it, you absolutely should. The benefits to Canadian citizenship are unique and distinctive. We thought we’d list off a few here to illustrate why the process is worth pursuing.

As a Canadian citizen, you can get a Canadian passport. It is one of the most secure and respected travel documents in the world. We touch on this on a post at our sister site, here. Reputation goes a long way, and Canada is internationally recognized as a friendly and tolerant country that works hard to cultivate and maintain international relationships with other countries. Most importantly, you’re entitled to consular protection with a Canadian passport – even if you’re a dual citizens. That means that Canadian consulate can help you with a variety of issues if you lose your passport or need help contacting your family and you can enter 157 countries visa free!

You can get involved politically in Canada, too. As a Canadian citizen, you have democratic rights. This includes the ability to run for office. This means you can run in municipal, provincial or federal elections. It also means you can vote in federal, provincial and municipal elections. Voting means you get to have a say in who runs your town, city, school board, province, territory, or country.

This is all great, but the aforementioned is predicated on the assumption that you recognize the benefits of coming to and ultimately residing in Canada, even at least for a short while.

“Canada is consistently seen as a great place to live”

According to the OECD Better Life Index, Canada ranks above the average in housing, subjective well-being, personal security, health status, social connections, environmental quality, jobs and earnings, education and skills. These rankings are based on available selected data. To boot, according to the  2013 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development data on minimum wages, Canada’s average take-home wage, adjusted for purchasing power, is the ninth-best in the world. The US came in 11th, $0.92 behind Canada. Canada is the 7th happiest place on earth and widely viewed as a progressive, just, and fair society.

Need a bit more convincing? Check out Maclean’s and their 150 reasons on why it’s better to be Canadian.

 

How You’re Entitled To Canadian Citizenship By Descent

February 28th, 2018

If you have a parent who was born in Canada you are a Canadian citizen by descent.

One of the most commonly asked questions we field is related to Canadian citizenship by descent. Individuals born outside of Canada are Canadian citizens by descent only if one of their parents is a citizen of Canada either by having been born in Canada or by naturalization. That means if your mother or father was born in Canada, you are entitled to Canadian citizenship, even if your parent hasn’t lived in the country for most of their lives and even if you’ve never visited. Under Canadian nationality law any person born to a Canadian citizen parent is automatically a Canadian citizen.

The legal term for citizenship by descent is jus sanguinis, or “right of blood,” referring to laws which rely on a person’s heritage to determine his or her citizenship status. If you’re researching this, you’ll hear it thrown around a lot.

The Citizenship Act was recently changed in 2009 to limit that citizenship by descent to one generation – also known as the “first generation rule”. It is not retroactive. If you were born after 2009, you’re a Canadian if one parent is a Canadian citizen – but not if a grandparent was. if you were born prior to 17 April 17th, 2009 when the new rule came into effect, you’re in luck and can still claim Canadian citizenship regardless of how many generations back your Canadian direct ascendents were born in Canada.  This is particularly important for many Americans who may be descended from Canadians who moved to the United States for economic reasons a number of generations ago.

Obtaining proof of citizenship is something that some Canadian citizens by descent attempt to do themselves, with typical wait times ranging between 5 months to a full year for processing. The form lead up and process is complicated and even the slightest error in your paperwork will result in a rejection, forcing you to start the process over again. Many applicants will secure an immigration lawyer to take care of the details, but that can make the process more expensive than it needs to be. We offer the same service as an immigration lawyer, but at a significantly less cost. As part of our fee of $199, we take care of the application paperwork and package preparation and lead you from start to finish, offering a guarantee on the processing of your application.

The benefits to Canadian citizenship are far and wide. From access to some of the world’s best schools, the ability to travel with a Canadian passport, to vote or run for political office, or to reside or work in Canada while benefitting from social privileges like the national health care system and one of the world’s most multi cultural societies. Maclean’s published a great piece back in 2013 on 99 reasons why it’s better to be a Canadian. Not everyone is entitled to the privilege of Canadian citizenship. What are you waiting for?

 

Dear Canadian Dual Citizens: Go To School In Canada!

January 26th, 2018

Canada is more popular than ever with international students.

Back in December of 2016, we touched on an important bit of information that many Canadian dual citizens may not have been aware of. Post secondary school in Canada remains significantly more affordable than south of the border. Having dual Canadian and American citizenship, through parentage or birth, allows for greater and more cost effective options with respect to post secondary education and offers an opportunity to live abroad and enjoy the benefits of the citizenship you enjoy through birthright.

Since then, Canadian schools have been gaining some increased international recognition. As per CNBC, The American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers surveyed over 250 American colleges and universities and found that 39 percent of Americans schools witnessed a decline in international applications in the last year. Meanwhile, Canadian schools are enjoying a dramatic increase in applications from abroad. Wilfrid Laurier University reported a 32 percent increase in international applications, McMaster University reported a 33 percent increase and the University of Toronto (Canada’s top-ranked and largest university) saw a 20% increase.

Traditionally, Canada hasn’t been a hugely popular university destination for Americans. In 2014, it drew about 9,000 students from the U.S., compared with 57,000 from China, according to the Canadian Bureau for International Education. Many in higher education are of the opinion that there is a perception change of the United States as hostile and unwelcoming to immigrants because of the rhetoric and popularity of President Trump.

“I think everybody in international education is a little uneasy, in part because some of the rhetoric in the campaign frightened people overseas,” – Stephen Dunnett, vice-provost for international education at the University at Buffalo.

Canadian universities are renowned for their research and innovation. Canada’s higher education institutions are diverse — varying in size, scope, character and breadth of programs. Canadian universities like the University of Toronto and McGill actually rank higher than some American Ivy League schools — The University of Toronto ranks 22nd on the Times Higher Education list for 2016-2017, placing it way ahead of Brown, which clocked in at 51st place, and close behind Cornell, which ranked 19th. High academic standards and thorough quality controls mean that students may gain a high-quality education that will benefit their careers over the long term. A Canadian degree, diploma or certificate is generally recognized as being equivalent to those obtained from the United States or Commonwealth countries. Also, full time students registered in a degree or diploma-granting course are allowed to work on the campus of the institution without a work permit, which offers an advantage of being able to manage finances more effectively.

 

 

Canadian Citizenship Applications See Significant Spike The Week After Rules Change

January 23rd, 2018

Thousands of applications filed in week after October 11th, 2017

As per the CBC, there was a significant uptick in applications for Canadian citizenship after the government cooled the rules around residency requirements and language proficiency this fall. 3653 applications are filed in an average week, in the six months leading up to the rules being changed in October of last year. That number shot up to 17500 applications the week after the new requirements kicked in. There were also 12,530 applications submitted the week after that.

We touched on the changes in a previous post. The previous required length of physical presence in Canada was reduced to three out of five years, from four out of six years. As well, a portion of time spent in Canada before permanent resident status is now counted towards the residency requirement, which gives credit to temporary workers and foreign students. Lastly, the age range for language and knowledge requirements was reduced to 18 to 54 years old, from the previous requirement of 14 to 64.

“Reducing the physical presence requirement gives more flexibility to applicants to meet the requirements for citizenship and encourages more immigrants to take the path to citizenship. This helps individuals who have already begun building lives in Canada achieve citizenship faster.” -Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship spokeswoman, Nancy Caron

Data is continuing to get collected on whether the uptick trend keeps up. Back in 2015, The Toronto Star reported that the percentage of immigrants who become citizens had dropped dramatically from 79 per cent to 26 per cent among people who arrived between 2000 and 2008 – much of it being attributed to a significant fee increase to $630, which included a $100 “right of citizenship” fee.