May 29, 2020 @ 03:00 pm by Patricia Wells
The FCJ Refugee Centre  is a settlement organization in Toronto. It is providing virtual information in Spanish and English on the impact of COVID-19 on the immigration system and how it is affecting refugee claimants.
There is a calendar with upcoming online information sessions available at FCJ’s website:


Also you can find  immigration information in FCJ’s podcast on Spotify :

For more information, contact FCJ:

Carolina Teves, Communication and Networking Coordinator


May 04, 2020 @ 11:20 pm by Patricia Wells

Like every other aspect of life around the world, Canadian immigration has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (the disease caused by the novel coronavirus).

Our services

Patricia Wells Immigration Lawyers is continuing to assist our clients in these extraordinary times. Our firm has been in the forefront of technology and office processes that allow us to work remotely with no interruptions, so we are able to keep both our staff and our clients safe.  We are continuing to meet deadlines, prepare and file applications, and provide legal advice. as usual.  The best way to contact us now – as at any other time – is by email. However, our phone lines are also open. The only change we need to mention: please do not come to our office at this time unless you call first to make arrangements.  If you need to send us your documents or other packages, we can arrange for that too, when you call.

Immigration programs

At the level of the Canadian government and individual provincial governments, immigration services continue to be offered. Some programs are temporarily closed and many others are open but with temporary modifications.

Travel to Canada, whether by Canadian citizens, permanent residents or others, has been restricted, and the rules and guidelines about who is allowed to come to Canada are changing constantly, in response to the changing pandemic conditions.

It is anticipated that when the pandemic is over, Canada will still be accepting immigrants, refugees and temporary foreign workers, students and visitors.

Meanwhile, you may find up-to-date information about how the pandemic is affecting immigration applications, refugees, citizenship applications, and passport services, at the government of Canada’s website: 

Please note that there may also be service disruptions in each provincial government’s immigration programs (“Provincial Nominee Programs”). Consult each province’s website for specific information.

Finally, across Canada many courts and tribunals – including immigration and refugee tribunals – are changing the way they operate because of the pandemic.  Contact your lawyer or the tribunal in question for information about your case.

Financial help

The government of Canada and all provinces have made  financial assistance available, to help individuals and businesses through the pandemic.   Even some people living in Canada who are not yet Canadian citizens or permanent residents may be eligible for these financial benefits.   Please consult the official Canadian government website for detailed information about “Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan” and specific assistance programs:

In the province of Ontario, you may consult for more information, and find legal information about many different programs at


As always, Patricia Wells Immigration Lawyers looks forward to helping you find answers to your immigration questions at this difficult time.



May 04, 2020 @ 11:30 am by Patricia Wells

According to Canadian immigration law, all children under 22 years old and unmarried are considered “dependents” of their parents.  This means all children under 22 years of age and single have the right to immigrate to Canada with their parents (including parents immigrating to Canada in skilled worker and other independent immigration programs, or as refugees or sponsored family members) and they may also be sponsored by their Canadian citizen or permanent resident parents.

Please note: The only exception to the age cut-off is for over-age children who are still dependent because of a medical condition – those children, of whatever age, are still eligible to accompany their parents and to be sponsored.

Important note: If you submitted an application for permanent residence (or if you already sponsored your parents), before October 24, 2017 (the date when the law changed), please contact your lawyer or the Immigration Call Centre (1-888-242-2100 in Canada) – there are special procedures available to add in a child over 18 who was excluded before because of the old rule.


If you have questions about your particular situation, or for more information, please contact your own lawyer, or Patricia Wells, Immigration Lawyers at 



Nov 04, 2017 @ 11:00 am by Patricia Wells

In 2017, significant changes have been made to the eligibility rules for Canadian citizenship.  As of October 11, 2017, if you want to apply for Canadian citizenship:

  • you must have been physically present in Canada for at least 3 years (1095 days) out of the last 5 years
  • to make up the 3 years physical presence, you may be able to count half the time you lived in Canada before you obtained permanent resident status  but only if you were a Protected Person, Convention Refugee or “Temporary Resident” in the 5 years before you became a permanent resident (and you will only be able to count up to 2 years’ physical presence – equivalent to a maximum 1 year of the 3 years you need – so you will still need to wait at least 2 years after you become a permanent resident before you can apply for citizenship)
  • you must have filed any required Income Tax returns for 3 years of the past 5 years
  • you must prove your ability in English or French (if you are between 18 and 54 years old at the time you apply for citizenship)
  • you must pass the citizenship test of your knowledge of Canada (if you are between 18 and 54 years old at the time you apply for citizenship)

PLEASE NOTE: Some of the most significant changes in 2017 have to do with the length of time you must live in Canada before you can apply for citizenship (3 years), the age after which you do not need to take an English/French test or pass the knowledge test (54 years old), and being able to count the time you lived in Canada before becoming a permanent resident (up to 2 years) towards your time in Canada before applying for citizenship.

PLEASE NOTE: If you applied for Canadian citizenship before October 11, 2017, your application will continue to be evaluated under the old rules, with one exception – age. If you are now 55 years old or older, you will not be required to pass the English/French or knowledge test, even if you applied for Citizenship before October 11, 2017.  If you apply on or after October 11, 2017, your application will be evaluated under all the new rules – see the list above.

If you have questions about the new citizenship rules, or any citizenship questions at all, please contact us – Patricia Wells Immigration Lawyers:



Sep 10, 2017 @ 11:00 am by Patricia Wells

Under new rules, all sponsored spouses are now full permanent residents as soon as they receive their permanent residence in Canada.

Under old rules in effect between 2012 and 2017, certain sponsored spouses were given only “conditional” permanent resident status for the first two years, and then they could only become full permanent residents after living with their sponsor for two years after receiving their permanent residence.

This has now changed for everyone.  Even if you were previously given “conditional” permanent residence, you are now a full permanent resident.  There is no extra requirement to live with your spouse for 2 years.

Please talk to an immigration lawyer if you have questions about this significant change to sponsorship rules, especially if you are currently being investigated by immigration because of the old rule.

If you live in the U.S. and want to move to Canada

Feb 05, 2017 @ 10:46 pm by Patricia Wells

U.S. citizen or permanent resident (green card holder)

If you are a citizen or permanent resident of the United States, you can come to Canada quite easily as a visitor, without a visa. However, if you have a criminal record, you should talk to a Canadian immigration lawyer before trying to come to Canada even as a visitor.

If you want to work or study in Canada, or if you want to immigrate to Canada (live here permanently), you must meet other requirements, even if you are a U.S. citizen or green card holder. You will usually need a work permit or study permit, and you will usually have to apply for the permit before coming to Canada. Talk to a Canadian immigration lawyer about the options. Or visit the official Canadian immigration website:

Not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident?

If you are not a citizen or permanent resident of the United States, you cannot automatically come to Canada, even for a visit. If you want to fly to Canada, you will need either a visa or an eTA (electronic travel authorization). If you arrive in Canada via the land border, you will not need an eTA but you might need a visa, depending on your country of nationality.

Work in Canada

If you want to work in Canada legally, you will usually need a work permit, which usually means you need a job offer from a Canadian employer. The Canadian employer should talk to a Canadian immigration lawyer for more information, as there are often strict requirements to make sure no Canadians/permanent residents are available for the job before they can offer it to a non-Canadian. Exceptions make this process  easier for people coming to work for religious organizations in Canada and also for specific kinds of jobs  offered to citizens of Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Chile and Korea.

However, please be aware that getting a work permit will not be so easy if you have no status in the United States.

Live in Canada permanently

If you want to immigrate to Canada as a permanent resident, you can apply even if you have no status in the United States. (However, you will not be able to come to Canada until your application is approved, which could be several months.)

Canada has two main immigration programs for people applying from outside Canada (Federal Skilled Worker and Federal Skilled Trades) and one program for people who already have legal work experience in Canada (Canadian Experience Class). In addition, each of Canada’s provinces and territories has its own immigration program (look up Quebec-selected skilled workers or Provincial Nominee Programs on the Canadian government website: There are also some opportunities for people wanting to buy or invest in Canadian businesses.

You will usually have a better chance to be accepted as an immigrant to Canada if you have:

  • post-secondary education – university, college or technical training (and you must demonstrate your education by obtaining an Educational Credential Assessment -ECA – see government website
  • good English or French (and you must demonstrate your ability by doing an approved language test – IELTS for English or TEF for French – see government website
  • at least one year’s experience in an occupation that is professional, managerial or in a skilled trade (experience can be in any country and it does not matter if it was authorized work or not, except if it was in Canada it must have been authorized work)
  • a permanent job offer in Canada (not as simple as it sounds – again, the Canadian employer should talk to a Canadian immigration lawyer for more information, as there are often strict requirements to make sure no Canadians/permanent residents are available for the job before offering it to a non-Canadian)

On the other hand, it will be more complicated to be accepted to immigrate to Canada if you or your spouse has a criminal record or certain kinds of immigration problems. However, it might still be possible – it depends on the exact criminal record or immigration problem.

If you are approved to come to Canada as a permanent resident, your family will be able to come too – that is, your dependent children and your spouse (common-law or legally married, same-sex or different sex).

Refugee and similar programs

If you want to come to Canada to make a refugee claim (that is, if you fear persecution or face serious risks in your country of origin), and if you come to Canada’s land border, you must usually have a family member already living in Canada (because of the Safe Third Country Agreement). Otherwise you will not be allowed to make a refugee claim at the border, and you could be deported to your country of origin when you get turned back to the U.S.

Note: This rule does not apply if you either have a visa to enter Canada, or if Canada does not require citizens of your country to have visas – in those circumstances you may make a refugee claim at Canada’s land border even if you do not have a family member here.

If you are already in Canada and want to make a refugee claim, or if you are arriving in Canada by air, you also do not need to have a family member already living in Canada. You can make a refugee claim.

If you are thinking of making a refugee claim in Canada, please talk to a Canadian refugee lawyer first, and if you are still in the U.S.  talk to one of the non-profit agencies in the U.S. that helps refugees – for instance, Vive La Casa near Buffalo or Freedom House in Detroit.   These agencies can provide shelter and also important information, guidance and support before you make a refugee claim in Canada.

If you do not want to make a refugee claim but you think there are humanitarian and compassionate reasons why you should be allowed to stay in Canada, please talk to a Canadian immigration lawyer.



Feb 05, 2017 @ 03:35 pm by Patricia Wells

The Federal Skilled Trades (FST) immigration program allows skilled tradespeople – such as carpenters, electricians, others with experience in construction and industry, and also chefs, cooks, butchers and bakers – to immigrate permanently to Canada with their families.

See the detailed criteria below.

As you will see, you will probably need a job offer from a Canadian company. However, if you have been working in Canada and you already have a “Certificate of Qualification” from a Canadian province or territory, you do not need a job offer – you can apply right away, as long as you meet the language and experience requirements.  If you are in Canada now, and want to apply for a Certificate of Qualification, please contact your provincial trades authority (in the province of Ontario, for instance, you would contact

 Eligibility criteria:

Persons with at least 2 years’ experience in the skilled trades from the following NOC Skill Level B groups are eligible.  For detailed information about the jobs listed here,  visit the website of the NOC (Canada’s National Occupational Classification).

  • Major Group 72, industrial, electrical and construction trades,
  • Major Group 73, maintenance and equipment operation trades,
  • Major Group 82, supervisors and technical jobs in natural resources, agriculture and related production,
  • Major Group 92, processing, manufacturing and utilities supervisors and central control operators,
  • Minor Group 632, chefs and cooks, and
  • Minor Group 633, butchers and bakers

To apply, the applicant must show:

  • at least 2 years full-time work experience within the past 5 years in that occupation (post-training) – in any country, whether authorized work or not (except if  the work experience was in Canada, it must be legally authorized work).




  • A one-year-plus job offer in that occupation (from one or two employers) plus LMIA or a Certificate of Qualification from a Canadian province




  • English or French test score (on one of the following tests: IELTS, CELPIP, or TEF) equivalent to at least CLB 5 in speaking and listening, and at least CLB 4 in reading and writing


Please contact us if you have questions, or if you want to know if you qualify for the Federal Skilled Trades immigration program.  




May 12, 2014 @ 03:09 pm by Patricia Wells

As of May 1, 2014, the Canadian government has announced the following changes to the Federal Skilled Workers (FSW) program. These changes will allow qualified applicants and their families to immigrate permanently to Canada – without first having a job offer in Canada – as long as they have at least one year experience in one of 50 new “eligible occupations” and meet immigration requirements.  Details are explained here:  

IMPORTANT: Applications will only be accepted in the FSW program from May to December 2014

Eligibility criteria:

The applicant must have at least one year of continuous, full-time (or an equal amount of part-time) paid work experience, in a NOC 0, A, or B occupation within the last ten years


  1. have an offer of arranged employment and LMO in a NOC 0, A, or B occupation


  1. have  at least one year of continuous, full-time (or an equal amount of part-time) paid work experience, in one of the following 50 “eligible occupations”  (2011 National Occupational Classification (NOC) code is included in brackets):
  1. Senior managers – financial, communications and other business services (0013)
  2. Senior managers – trade, broadcasting and other services, n.e.c. (0015)
  3. Financial managers (0111)
  4. Human resources managers (0112)
  5. Purchasing managers (0113)
  6. Insurance, real estate and financial brokerage managers (0121)
  7. Managers in health care (0311)
  8. Construction managers (0711)
  9. Home building and renovation managers (0712)
  10. Managers in natural resources production and fishing (0811)
  11. Manufacturing managers (0911)
  12. Financial auditors and accountants (1111)
  13. Financial and investment analysts (1112)
  14. Securities agents, investment dealers and brokers (1113)
  15. Other financial officers (1114)
  16. Professional occupations in advertising, marketing and public relations (1123)
  17. Supervisors, finance and insurance office workers (1212)
  18. Property administrators (1224)
  19. Geoscientists and oceanographers (2113)
  20. Civil engineers (2131)
  21. Mechanical engineers (2132)
  22. Electrical and electronics engineers (2133)
  23. Petroleum engineers (2145)
  24. Information systems analysts and consultants (2171)
  25. Database analysts and data administrators (2172)
  26. Software engineers and designers (2173)
  27. Computer programmers and interactive media developers (2174)
  28. Mechanical engineering technologists and technicians (2232)
  29. Construction estimators (2234)
  30. Electrical and electronics engineering technologists and technicians (2241)
  31. Industrial instrument technicians and mechanics (2243)
  32. Inspectors in public and environmental health and occupational health and safety (2263)
  33. Computer network technicians (2281)
  34. Nursing co-ordinators and supervisors (3011)
  35. Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses (3012)
  36. Specialist physicians (3111)
  37. General practitioners and family physicians (3112)
  38. Dietitians and nutritionists (3132)
  39. Audiologists and speech-language pathologists (3141)
  40. Physiotherapists (3142)
  41. Occupational therapists (3143)
  42. Respiratory therapists, clinical perfusionists and cardiopulmonary technologists (3214)
  43. Medical radiation technologists (3215)
  44. Medical sonographers (3216)
  45. Licensed practical nurses (3233)
  46. Paramedical occupations (3234)
  47. University professors and lecturers (4011)
  48. Psychologists (4151)
  49. Early childhood educators and assistants (4214)
  50. Translators, terminologists and interpreters (5125)

(There is a cap of 1,000 applications per year in each of the above occupations, and a total cap of 25,000 applications in all the above “eligible occupations”. There is no cap on the number of applications submitted with an offer of arranged employment plus LMO.)


3.   be an international student with at least 2 years’ study towards a Ph.D. (or received the Ph.D. in Canada within the past 12 months) (cap of 500 applications per year May 2014 to April 2015)

In addition to meeting one of the above eligibility criteria, all FSW applicants must:


  • have an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) of your educational qualifications, from one of the following recognized assessment agencies:


(1)   International Credential Assessment Service of Canada (


(2)   Comparative Education Service – University of Toronto School of continuing Studies (


(3) World Education Services (


  • meet language requirements – Canadian Language Benchmark 7  in all four language skill areas (speaking, listening, reading and writing) in the IELTS or CELPIP test (English) or TEF (French)


  • have sufficient settlement funds – $11,115 to approx. $30,000 depending on family size (not required if there is an offer of arranged employment)


  • meet the passmark of 67 points on the 5-factor point system:


Selection Factor

Maximum points

English and/or French skills 28
Education 25
Experience 15
Age (under 36 = 12 points) 12
Arranged employment in Canada 10
Adaptability 10
Total 100


Please contact us if you have questions about the FSW program, or if you want to know if you qualify. 


Apr 20, 2012 @ 04:51 pm by Patricia Wells

As of late 2011, your parents and grandparents overseas have the option of applying for a “supervisa” to come and stay with you in Canada. They also have the option of applying for a regular visa, just as they always have.

Which visa is best? It depends …

The SUPERVISA might be best if:

  • you wanted to sponsor your parents or grandparents, but now you can’t because of the 2-year “pause” in sponsorships imposed in late 2011
  • you meet the Low Income Cut Off for sponsoring your parents or grandparents (minimum income needed to sponsor, amount depending on your family’s size)
  • your parents or grandparents are in good health
  • your parents or grandparents want to come and live in Canada eventually

The REGULAR VISA might be best if:

  • your parents or grandparents only want to visit Canada and do not want to live here
  • you do not earn enough money to sponsor your parents or grandparents
  • you want to invite another relative, such as a brother or sister, and not a parent or grandparent – supervisas are ONLY for parents or grandparents

A SUPERVISA will allow your parent or grandparent to travel to Canada during the next 5 or 10 years, and it will allow your parent or grandparent to stay in Canada for up to 2 years each time.

A REGULAR visa may also be valid for up to 5 years. How long your guest may stay in Canada depends on the border or airport official who admits them into Canada.  Any visitor to Canada may also apply to extend their visit in Canada once they are here.

How to apply for a SUPERVISA or REGULAR visa

Your parents or grandparents must submit an application to the Canadian Embassy or Consulate outside Canada where they live or are staying, whether it is for a SUPERVISA or a REGULAR visa.

The cost is the same for a supervisa or a regular visa – $75 per person for a single-entry visa or $150 per person for a multiple-entry visa.

For a regular visa or a supervisa, your parents or grandparents will need to show they (or you) have enough money to make the trip to Canada and for their stay in Canada, and that they will leave Canada at the end of their stay, or otherwise obey the law.

Parents or grandparents who apply for the SUPERVISA must ALSO:

  • pass medical examinations
  • show they have health insurance for at least a year in Canada, with $100,000 coverage
  • show that their child or grandchild in Canada has enough income to sponsor them – documents will be required

To find out what exact documents you need to send with the application for a visa – whether SUPERVISA or REGULAR visa –  it is important to visit the website of the Canadian Embassy or Consulate where your parents or grandparents will be sending their application.  Every Embassy or Consulate has specific instructions. Find the appropriate Embassy or Consulate by visiting the website of Citizenship and Immigration Canada at  and following the links.

Talk to an immigration lawyer if you have questions. about this or any other topic.

News for spouses

Apr 13, 2012 @ 03:22 pm by Patricia Wells

As of March, 2012, you may not sponsor your new spouse to Canada if you yourself were sponsored by a spouse and you became a permanent resident less than 5 years ago.
If you are in this situation, please talk to an immigration lawyer to find out if this new regulation applies to you, and what your options are. There are almost always options!

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