Friday, 25 January 2013

Australia meets Canada

On the eve of Australia Day, it is interesting to reflect upon the connections between Canada and Australia that go beyond our common relationship with the Queen. Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has publicly expressed his admiration of Australian immigration policies, and it is clear that the changes he has introduced into Canadian immigration criteria are almost perfectly geared toward Australian immigration to Canada. These include:

- working holiday programs for young Australians that lead to the issuance of open work permits for up to two years, with extensions,
- an increased emphasis on English language skills, and youth,
- the Canadian Experience Class, which is almost perfectly tailored to Australians who come to Canada through the working holiday programs.

In addition, many Australians file sponsored applications based upon their relationships with Canadians.

As we celebrate Australia Day, we also celebrate the well-traveled, worldy citizenry of this great country. While many of Minister Kenney's immigration changes have generated controversy, his courting of Australian immigration to this country is beyond dispute.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Advocating equality

The LGBT community and bi-national same sex couples were encouraged to hear President Obama mention the importance of equality for same sex relationships in his recent inaugural address. It is more than just symbolism: for years bi-national same sex couples in the U.S. have lived with fears of separation due to the impact of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which prohibits the recognition of same sex couples in U.S. immigration law. This year will be crucial for binational same sex couples in the U.S. as the Supreme Court decides whether DOMA is constitutional. Advocacy organizations like Immigration Equality will be looking to draw upon support not only in the courts of law but in the court of public opinion:

Monday, 14 January 2013

What makes a marriage?

Last week an Ontario court judge recognized that a British civil union between a same sex couple should be recognized as a marriage in Ontario for the purposes of divorce, division of assets and support.

In Britain, same sex couples are not allowed to marry. Instead, they are able to form civil unions which provide almost all rights of marriage, except for the name of marriage and ceremonial aspects.  In this case, the gay male couple formed a civil union in Britain but after they moved to Ontario one party asked an Ontario court to find that it qualified as a marriage and could be dissolved according to Ontario law. The judge agreed. This agreement was based primarily on the discriminatory denial of marriage to same sex couples in Britain as well as the similarity of British civil unions to marriage in Canadian law.

Interestingly, the Canadian federal government intervened to argue against the recognition of British civil unions as marriages in Canadian law. This may lead people to wonder why the Canadian government would care.

The answer could lie in Canada's policies regarding the recognition of same sex relationships in immigration law. The current policy states that the only relationships recognized for immigration purposes are married relationships (which, in the case of same sex couples must be in a jurisdiction which recognizes same sex marriage), common law relationships (defined by cohabitation of at least one year) and conjugal partner relationships (a committed relationship of at least one year when one party resides outside Canada). Civil unions are not in themselves recognized, although the same sex couple may still be treated as a couple for immigration purposes if they fall into the married, common law, or conjugal partner definition.

It will be interesting to see if the federal government challenges last week's ruling. If they do not, civil unions will be a fourth type of relationship to be recognized in Canadian immigration law.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Resolutions revisited

If you are struggling to keep your New Year's resolutions, you are not alone. When Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney put the Federal Skilled Worker program on hold last June, he promised that he would revise the program and begin accepting new applications in January, 2013.

In December, Citizenship and Immigration Canada announced that this promise would not be kept and that new skilled worker applications would be accepted beginning May 4, 2013.

The good news is that the skilled worker program, which is still the category which brings most immigrants into Canada, has been revised, with a point system that places more emphasis on youth and English or French language skills. The government has also promised a system of credential recognition by designated organizations, but has not announced how this process would work, or by whom.  This credential recognition process would be a mandatory step for all skilled worker applicants, similar to the requirement to produce language test results. It adds another layer of bureacracy in the processing of skilled worker applicants, however the government's intention is to maximize the capacity of skilled workers to integrate into the Canadian labour market.

The government has also promised to introduce annual application caps for the skilled worker category, so it will be important for qualified applicants to file their applications as quickly as possible. If you would like to have your credentials as a skilled worker assessed in advance of the re-opening of the program on May 4th, 2013, contact Michael Battista at

Could it happen in Canada? Ask Kelly Jordan

A sperm donor in the United States was recently ordered to pay child support. Could this happen in Canada? Find out what fertility law expert Kelly Jordan has to say:

Friday, 26 August 2011

Success for family in surrogacy mix up

The success we were able to achieve for our clients in this case should not overshadow the fact that to date the government has not released a policy in cases involving assisted human reproduction, despite stating that such a policy would be released in October, 2010.

Friday, 8 July 2011

In regulations pre-published this week, the Canadian government has announced that it will eliminate the 180 day deadline for Convention refugees and protected persons to apply for Canadian permanent residence. This deadline has previously resulted in great hardship for refugees who cannot afford the $550 per person application fee. This is a welcome change which refugee advocates in Canada have urged upon the government for years.