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Pilot project for dependents of high-skilled Canadians or permanent residents returning to Ontario could go farther

On November 24, 2010, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC”) announced that it was implementing a pilot project to fulfill its commitment under Section 4.3 of the Temporary Foreign Worker Annex of the Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement, which was signed in August 2008. Guidelines for the pilot project appear in Operation Bulletin 229, published by CIC.

Under Article 4.3 of the Annex, where a Canadian permanent resident or Canadian citizen who has left Canada returns to Canada to re-establish his or her residence in Ontario and work in Ontario as a Skilled Worker, and he or she is accompanied by a foreign spouse or common law partner and/or dependents, Canada agrees to issue open work permits to that spouse or common law partner and those dependents upon application, provided the applicants are otherwise legally able to work in Ontario. These open work permits should have a validity period of two years. Article 4.4 of the Annex also exempts these dependents from the requirement to obtain a Labour Market Opinion (“LMO”).

The 18-month pilot program will operate from November 24, 2010, until May 24, 2012, inclusive. These dates refer only to the dates on which qualifying work permits can be issued, not to the duration of the work permits. A review of the pilot program will take place after 12 months of operation.

This all sounds very promising but, upon further review, it is clear that this pilot project does not go far enough. Operational Bulletin 229 states that, for the purposes of the pilot, occupations for the Canadian or Permanent Resident re-establishing in Ontario are limited to health professionals and academics in post-secondary public institutions.

While this pilot project is certainly welcome, most returning Canadians and permanent residents will not fall within its parameters. It is hoped that, once the pilot program has ended, CIC will implement a permanent program that extends to spouses, common-law partners, and dependent children of all skilled Canadians or permanent residents returning to Ontario.

Henry J. Chang
Blaney McMurtry LLP

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Henry J. Chang, Dentons LLP

Corporate immigration lawyer at Dentons LLP
Henry J. Chang is a partner in the firm’s Employment and Labor Group. He currently practices in the areas of Canadian and United States business immigration law, international business law, and cannabis law. Read more
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