The Americas

Training for Professionals in Brazilian Companies: Comparing Normative Resolution 87 and 88 - Sep 13, 2011

Normative Resolution Nos. 87 and 88 are focused on training people in Brazilian companies. However, even though they have similarities, there are still details that distinguish the procedures and applications for work permits under these resolutions.

Normative Resolution No. 87 allows a visa to a foreign national, linked to a company abroad, for job training by the branch, subsidiary, or Brazilian headquarters belonging to the same economic group. In other words, this work permit, valid for one year (non-extendable), provides for a professional who already belongs to the same economic group of companies to come to Brazil for professional improvement, exchanging information with the Brazilian team and bringing new techniques and knowledge to the company abroad. The foreigner may not necessarily be paid in Brazil and may receive his or her salary from the company abroad.

On the other hand, Normative Resolution No. 88 provides for a visa to a foreigner who comes to Brazil for an internship for one year (extendable for the same period). This means that the foreigner will participate in a supervised educational exchange, developed in the workplace and aimed at preparation for productive work for students who are attending regular classes in institutions of higher education. Also, such foreign nationals may receive financial grants to support their stay in Brazil as well as other benefits under Brazilian internship law. The applicants for this type of permit should go to the Brazilian consular office in their country of origin to apply for this type of visa. They should bring a signed agreement between the assignee, the entity granting the internship, and the Brazilian educational institution.

Thus, both permits are geared toward training professionals, whether they have already graduated (Normative Resolution No. 87) or await graduation (Normative Resolution No. 88). The conditions under which the foreigner national may come to Brazil are what differentiate one from another. In both cases, however, the experience abroad provides an educational exchange and a convenient alternative for those seeking to improve their language skills and grow professionally and personally.

New Mexican Immigration Law Has Been Passed After 40 years Under the Same Law - Jul 19, 2011

On May 24, 2011, President Felipe Calderon of Mexico signed a new Immigration Law, which abolished and superseded the General Population Law that had been in existence for 40 years. The new law involves significant changes to the current immigration regime, although these will not become evident until the implementing regulations are published, which is expected to happen within six months after publication. At this time, therefore, we have a new law in place without specific guidelines for its practical application.

The main objectives of the new law are to protect the human rights of immigrants (making this the first statute that governs immigration matters with a social aim); to regulate a comprehensive immigration policy aligned with current conditions in Mexico; to develop immigration processes focused mainly on demographic and immigration control issues; to cooperate with national security and economic development; and to simplify immigration processes to attract foreign investors.

The new law provides that immigration responsibilities are to be shared with other governments. The law is a federal public order statute applicable to the entire Mexican territory. Along with nonimmigrants (FM3), nonresident immigrants (FM2), and resident immigrants, the characteristics regulated under the previous immigration status categories will change. New conditions of stay will apply to newly created immigration categories, including:

  • Visitor
  • Temporary Resident
  • Temporary Resident - Student

• Permanent Resident

Any immigrant, regardless of his or her immigration status, will have guaranteed access to educational and health services, may acquire fixed or variable income securities, will be able to make bank deposits, and will be able to acquire urban real estate assets, subject to the restrictions set forth in article 27 of the Mexican Federal Constitution.

Officers of the Vital Record Offices may not refuse to authorize any legal acts of a civil nature for immigrants, regardless of their immigration status. As a consequence, the requirement to obtain a legal-stay certificate in connection with marriages, divorces, and other administrative procedures will more than likely no longer be needed with the new law.

Also, all foreigners within Mexican territory must:

  • Keep and protect any documents evidencing their identify and immigration status; i.e., fulfill any requirements they need to fulfill in order to continue staying within the Mexican territory in conformity with their immigration status;
  • Show their immigration documents whenever required by immigration authorities;
  • Provide any data and information that the authorities may request;
  • Perform any obligations established in the Federal Constitution and other applicable laws of Mexico;
  • Inform the government any change of marital status, nationality, address, or employer, within 90 days from the occurrence of such event. If they fail to do so, a fine will be imposed ranging from 20 to 100 days of the minimum daily wage;
  • Prove their immigration status when carrying out any legal act before a Notary Public or Public Broker relating to real estate matters; and
  • Not change their immigration status, and leave Mexican territory upon expiration of the authorized period, unless they (a) have a family relationship with a Mexican citizen, or (b) need to stay for humanitarian reasons.

Regardless of applicable timeframes, requirements, and other conditions to be established in the new regulations, the new law provides that:

  • Consular officers must respond to visa applications within 10 business days.
  • Immigration authorities must respond to immigration applications within 20 business days from the date on which all the requirements established in the law, regulations, or other applicable administrative provisions are fulfilled.
  • If the applicant fails to fulfill any of the applicable requirements, the National Immigration Institute shall give notice and grant a 10-business-day period to remedy such failure.
  • The National Immigration Institute must respond to any regularization application within a 30-day period.
  • The National Immigration Institute should be able to grant reentry permits if a process is pending, as will be provided for in the regulations.

• Visa applications must be filed by the foreigner in person at the consular office.

Even though the new law's regulations have not yet been issued, the law meets the need of establishing a simpler framework to regulate the processing and issuance of visas and authorizations for the different immigration statuses in Mexico. It is also very focused on the defense of immigrants' human rights and the preservation of family unity.

Significant changes have been made to Canada's temporary foreign worker regulations - Jul 19, 2011

On April 1, 2011, the Canadian government introduced into law a number of important legislative amendments on employer immigration compliance concerning foreign worker work permits and Labour Market Opinions from Service Canada. In summary, the immigration law changes, which took effect April 1, 2011, are as follows:

A. The government has introduced a new test to evaluate the genuineness of an offer of employment to a foreign worker, based on:

  • Whether the offer is made by an employer that is actively engaged in the business in respect to which the offer is made;
  • Whether the offer is consistent with the reasonable employment needs of the employer;
  • Whether the terms of the offer are terms that the employer is reasonably able to fulfill; and

• The past compliance of the employer, or any person who recruited the foreign national for the employer, with the federal or provincial laws that regulate employment, or the recruiting of employees, in the province in which it is intended that the foreign national work.

B. The regulations limit to four the number of years in which certain foreign workers can remain in Canada on work permit status. Once they have completed the four-year work permit period, they are not authorized to work in Canada for another four years.
Fortunately for employers, some foreign workers are exempt from this four-year work permit limitation. Exemptions to the four-year limitation include foreign workers who have been on the following types of work permits or are in the circumstances listed below:

  • Temporary foreign workers in certain managerial or professional occupations.
  • Temporary foreign workers who have applied for permanent residence and received:

o A Certificat de sélection du Québec (CSQ) if applying as a Quebec Skilled Worker;
o A Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) certificate if applying as a provincial nominee;
o An approval in principle letter if applying under the Live-in Caregiver Class;
o A positive selection decision if applying under the Federal Skilled Worker Class; or
o A positive selection decision if applying under the Canadian Experience Class.

  • Temporary foreign workers who are employed in Canada under an international agreement, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program, or another agreement.
  • Temporary foreign workers who are exempt from the Labour Market Opinion (LMO) process, including:

o Spouses and common-law partners of international graduates participating in the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program and highly skilled temporary foreign workers;
o Charitable or religious workers;
o Entrepreneurs, intracompany transferees, researchers, and academics; and
o Others for purposes of self-support (refugee claimants) or for humanitarian reasons (destitute students, holders of temporary resident permits valid for at least six months).

C. The government has imposed sanctions on employers who do not comply with the new regulations by providing non-genuine job offers in the previous two-year period. The regulations require Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to post the name of the non-compliant employer on the CIC website.

D. Recent announcements by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) and CIC:
Effective April 1, 2011, the government has created a new Application for a Labour Market Opinion for high-skilled occupations. On the new application form, employers will be required to attest to the following, if appropriate (please consult your Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers (ABIL) Global attorney before attesting to a matter that may not be correct, and please review carefully for accuracy before attesting):
"I will provide any temporary foreign worker employed by me with wages, working conditions and employment in an occupation that are the same as those described in the Labour Market Opinion confirmation letter and annex."
"I will immediately inform Service Canada/Temporary Foreign Worker Program officers of any subsequent changes related to the temporary foreign workers' terms and conditions of employment, as described in the Labour Market Opinion confirmation letter and annex."
"I am compliant with, and agree to continue to abide by the relevant federal/provincial/territorial laws that regulate employment in the occupation specified and, if applicable, the terms and conditions of any collective agreement in place. I recognize that any terms and conditions of the attached offer of employment are considered null and void if they are less favourable to the temporary foreign worker than the standards stipulated in the relevant Labour Standards Act."
"I am compliant with, and agree to continue to abide by federal/provincial/territorial legislation related to the temporary foreign worker's recruitment applicable in the jurisdiction where the job is located. I declare that all recruitment done or that will be done on my behalf by a third party, was or will be done in compliance with federal/provincial/territorial laws governing recruitment. I am aware that I will be held responsible for the actions of any person recruiting temporary foreign workers on my behalf."
In addition, when renewing a foreign worker application, employers must demonstrate that they have been in compliance with previous LMO applications. To demonstrate compliance, employers may be asked to provide any or all of the following:

  • Payroll records (to demonstrate the appropriate prevailing wage and overtime paid, source deductions, and explanations of any non-standard deductions);
  • Time sheets (to demonstrate that the workers are working the number of hours set out in the LMO confirmation);
  • Job description (to demonstrate that the job description accurately reflects the information contained in the initial application and LMO);
  • Work permit (to demonstrate that CIC has issued a work permit in compliance with the LMO confirmation information); and
  • Various other documents depending on the circumstances, such as registration with provincial and territorial workplace safety, transportation costs, accommodation information and private health insurance, if applicable.

Service Canada and CIC have become much more enforcement-oriented concerning employer immigration compliance under the foreign worker programs.

Changes to Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker Program - Jun 01, 2011

On April 1, 2011, much-anticipated changes to Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker Program took effect. The main objectives are to introduce safeguards to better protect temporary foreign workers (TFWs) and improvements to the program to ensure that it continues to be fair to employers, and to maintain its focus on alleviating temporary labor shortages.

Genuineness of the Job Offer

Under these new rules, foreign nationals seeking to work in Canada will be better protected from exploitation through a more rigorous assessment of the genuineness of the job offer.

Four factors will be considered as part of the assessment of genuineness:

• the employer must be actively engaged in the business;

• the job offer is consistent with the needs of the employer;

• the employer is able to fulfill the terms of the job offer; and

• the employer has complied with the laws regulating employment in the province where the worker is to be employed.

In instances where a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) is required, this assessment will be completed by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada before the LMO is to be issued, whereas for jobs exempted from LMOs, the assessment will be completed by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) or the Canada Border Services Agency, upon request for a work permit.

Two-Year Ban for Noncompliance

Officers will have the authority to undertake a "substantially the same" (STS) assessment of whether an employer has, in the last two years, provided wages, working conditions, and an occupation as promised in a past job offer.

The legislation imposes a two-year prohibition from using the TFWP for employers found to have failed an STS assessment. Unless reasonable justification is provided or corrective action is taken, employers may face:

• the denial of work permit applications for any foreign national offered employment by that employer;

• becoming ineligible to hire TFWs for 2 years; and

• having their name displayed on CIC's public website.

Maximum Period of Work in Canada

Many foreign workers will be subject to a four-year "cumulative duration" limit on the length of time they may work in Canada.

However, this regulation is not retroactive in that the commencement date for this four-year period is April 1, 2011, regardless of how long the foreign worker has already been in Canada. Therefore, the earliest date that a foreign worker could reach the four-year cumulative duration is April 1, 2015.

After a TFW has reached his or her four-year cumulative duration limit, the TFW will not be granted another work permit for another four years.

The four-year limit will not apply to certain categories of TFWs, including TFWs in managerial or professional occupations, TFWs who have applied for permanent residence and have progressed to a certain specified stage in the processing, TFWs employed in Canada under an international agreement (such as the North American Free Trade Agreement), and TFWs who are exempt from the LMO process.

Canadian Regulatory Changes Will Affect Canadian Employers, Temporary Foreign Workers - Mar 21, 2011

Various changes to Canada's Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations will take effect on April 1, 2011, affecting both Canadian employers and their temporary foreign workers.

These changes are intended to:

1. Reduce the opportunity for exploitation of temporary foreign workers by employers and third-party agents;
2. Ensure greater employer accountability mechanisms, including a denial of service provision, thereby encouraging greater adherence by employers to the terms and conditions of their job offers with respect to wages, working conditions and occupations; and
3. Clarify that employment facilitated through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program is meant to be temporary in nature.

The changes include:

Rigorous assessment of the genuineness of the employment offer.

The amendments establish specific factors to assess the genuineness of an employer's offer of employment to a foreign worker both in Labour Market Opinion (LMO) cases and in LMO-exempt cases.

These factors include:

* Whether the offer is made by an employer that is actively engaged in the business with respect to which the offer is made;
* Whether the offer is consistent with reasonable employment needs of the employer;
* Whether the terms of the offer are terms that the employer is reasonably able to fulfill; and
* The past compliance of the employer, or any person who recruited the foreign national for the employer, with the federal or provincial laws that regulate employment, or the recruiting of employees, in the province in which it is intended that the foreign national work.
* Ban on employers for noncompliance with a previous LMO. The amendments will render an employer ineligible to seek a work permit on behalf of a foreign worker unless, during the period beginning two years before the initial request for an LMO is made to Service Canada or, in the case of an LMO-exempt work permit, beginning two years before the work permit application is received by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) or the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA):
* The employer provided each of its foreign workers with wages, working conditions and employment consistent with the wages, working conditions and occupation set out in the employer's offer of employment; or the failure to do so was justified.

Justifications include:

* A change in federal or provincial law;
* A change in the provisions of a collective agreement;
* The implementation of measures by the employer in response to a dramatic change in economic conditions that directly affected the employer, provided that the measures were not directed disproportionately at foreign nationals employed by the employer;
* An error in interpretation made in good faith by the employer with respect to its obligations to a foreign national, if the employer subsequently provided compensation or made sufficient attempts to do so to all foreign nationals who suffered a disadvantage as a result of the error;
* An unintentional accounting or administrative error made by the employer, if the employer subsequently provided compensation or made sufficient attempts to do so to all foreign nationals who suffered a disadvantage as a result of the error; or
* Circumstances similar to those set out above.
* The assessment is undertaken when a new LMO is requested or, in the case of an LMO-exempt work permit application, when the work permit application is received by CIC/CBSA. Employers must review all LMO applications to ensure compliance during the two-year period preceding April 2011. An internal immigration audit is recommended.
* List of banned employers posted on CIC Web site. The amendments authorize CIC to maintain a list of banned employers on its Web site, listing the names and addresses of each employer and the date that the determination was made. Service Canada will not issue an LMO and CIC/CBSA will not issue a work permit for any employer on the list.
* Four-year cap for most temporary foreign workers. The amendments provide for a cumulative four-year cap for most foreign workers. However, exemptions from the four-year cap exist in the following situations:
* The foreign worker intends to perform work that would create or maintain significant social, cultural or economic benefits or opportunities for Canadian citizens or permanent residents. Therefore, work permits based on LMO exemptions, such as significant benefit to Canada and intra-company transferees, along with other LMO exemptions, will be exempt from the four-year cap.
* The foreign worker intends to perform work pursuant to an international agreement between Canada and one or more countries. Work permits issued under international agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, the General Agreement on Trade in Services, the Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement, or the Peru Free Trade Agreement will be exempt from the four-year cap.
* A foreign worker who has reached the four-year cap is not necessarily required to leave Canada. However, the foreign worker would not be eligible for a work permit even under another category. He or she may be permitted to apply for status under a non-work category such as that of a visitor or student.

Repercussions of the Global Economic Crisis on Mexican Immigration Policies - Oct 15, 2010

Due to Mexico's close interconnection with the United States, the economic crisis has begun to have a significant and profound effect on the domestic economy in Mexico. There have been no specific changes in the immigration laws in Mexico thus far; however, immigration authorities have become stricter in their adherence to one immigration law in particular that regulates the proportion of Mexican and foreign employees in a company legally established in Mexico.

The number of foreign employees in a company in Mexico is regulated by the corresponding legal immigration guidelines. This restriction is established in Article 7 of the Federal Labor Law, which is also supported by Article 123(A) of the Mexican Constitution regarding the rights and obligations of employees. This legal disposition restricts the percentage of foreigners working in a company to a maximum of 10 percent of the total workforce to allow for greater job opportunities for Mexican personnel in areas such as industrial production and other business sectors. Under these terms, a company or establishment's workers must be 90 percent Mexican.

Some important points to highlight include:

1. In the technician and professional categories, all workers must be Mexican, except when Mexican personnel with a particular specialization are not available. Under this scenario, foreigners may be authorized on a temporary basis in a proportion that does not exceed 10 percent of such specialists.

2. The supervisor and foreign workers must have a sole obligation to the Mexican workers in such areas of specialization. The purpose of this policy is to train Mexican personnel in areas in which they do not have expertise or knowledge. In this manner, the domestic trained labor force is expected to grow and to continue to become more specialized in coordination with the foreign labor force.

3. Medical doctors who provide their services to companies in Mexico must all be Mexican.

4. All directors, administrators, and general managers are exempt from inclusion in the total computation of the proportion of Mexican to foreign workers. This is because these positions are considered to be key positions and essential to the development of business for the company in Mexico.

Mexican immigration authorities are very particular about the application of this immigration policy, now more than ever. Currently, they allow no flexibility in the percentages mentioned in this article. The main purpose of this regulation is to protect the domestic labor force from being displaced in a disproportionate manner by the foreign work force, especially in these times of economic uncertainty.

Temporary Business Visas in Peru - Aug 01, 2010

To visit Peru to carry out business activities, some aspects of the consular temporary business visa must be taken into account. The temporary business visa enables foreign citizens to perform activities typical of a businessperson in Peru.

The Peruvian "Aliens Law" defines "Business" migratory status as:

Business: Those who come to the country with no intention to reside and in order to perform business, legal or similar arrangements. They are permitted to sign contracts or settlements. They cannot perform remunerated or profit-making activities or earn any income from a Peruvian source, except for fees as directors of companies domiciled in Peru or fees as lecturers or international consultants by virtue of a service agreement. Such service agreement shall not exceed thirty (30) consecutive or accumulated calendar days, within a period of twelve (12) months.

The maximum period of authorized stay for a consular temporary business visa is 183 calendar days, non-extendable internally in Peru.

The consular temporary business visa must be obtained in a Peruvian consulate abroad, complying with the requirements established by the pertinent consulate; i.e., the consulate where the foreign citizen resides or, in absence of a consulate in the city of residence, one nearby.

This type of visa and migratory status allows a foreign citizen to carry out activities in Peru common to a businessperson, not a worker. A temporary business visa does not authorize rendering subordinate services as an employee (worker) of a local company or as an appointed worker of a company abroad.

Permitted activities with a business visa include:

  • Performing business arrangements
  • Performing legal or similar arrangements
  • Attending business meetings or discussions with Peruvian affiliates or related companies
  • Attending sales calls to potential Peruvian clients, provided the alien represents a commercial entity outside Peru
  • Observing operations of a Peruvian affiliate or client
  • Attending "fact-finding" meetings with a Peruvian affiliate or clients
  • Attending seminars
  • Signing documents, contracts, or settlements
  • Acting as an international lecturer or consultant
  • Acting as a director of a company domiciled in Peru
  • Collecting data or information regarding investments and similar activities
  • Supervising business or investments

A business visa does not allow the holder to perform labor activities in Peru or to earn income from a Peruvian source. Training or acting in an advisory capacity does not qualify as a business, legal, or similar arrangement.

In sum, if any foreign company is considering sending some of its employees to carry out business activities in Peru as businesspersons, they must enter Peru on a consular temporary business visa according to Peru's Aliens Law.

Temporary Foreign Workers - An Important Source of Labor Supply in Canada - Apr 01, 2010

Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker Program enables Canadian employers to hire eligible foreign nationals to work for them in Canada for a specified duration, provided they can demonstrate that the employers cannot find a suitable Canadian/permanent resident to do the job and that the entry of the foreign national will not have a negative impact on the Canadian labor market. Employers must note that all individuals wishing to work in Canada require a work permit.

In most cases, unless an exemption is available (a discussion of which is outside the scope of this article), an employer must obtain a favorable labor market opinion (LMO) from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada/Service Canada (Service Canada) before the foreign national can apply to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to obtain a work permit. An LMO is Service Canada's opinion on the likely impact that hiring the foreign national will have on the Canadian labor market.

If an LMO is required to hire a particular foreign national, the prospective Canadian employer must submit an application to Service Canada setting out, among other things: the occupation for which the foreign national is required; details of the job offer including wages and working conditions that will apply to the foreign worker; advertising and recruitment efforts on the employer's part to hire a Canadian or permanent resident to fill the position; the benefits that the foreign worker's employment may have to the Canadian labor market; a copy of the employment contract (required in some cases); the number of Canadians/permanent residents currently employed in the organization; whether any Canadians/permanent residents were laid off in the 12 months preceding the application; and education, experience, and skills (including language skills) required for the position.
The advertising requirements with which an employer must comply depend on the skill level of the occupation for which the LMO is being sought, having regard to the National Occupational Classification (NOC) Skill Levels O, A, B, C, and D. Generally, some combination of advertising on the National Job Bank (or the equivalent in Saskatchewan, Quebec, or the Northwest Territories) and/or conducting similar recruitment activities consistent with the practice within the occupation (e.g., Internet job sites, national newspapers, consulting unions, newsletters, or professional associations) is required for a minimum number of days and for a specified duration prior to making the LMO application. However, the specific requirements vary depending on the occupation at issue and should be carefully considered in each individual case.

Employers should seek legal advice to ensure they comply with the requisite advertising standards applicable to their particular case, because failure to comply with the advertising efforts required for the particular NOC level and category at issue will result in an LMO being denied.

If a favorable LMO is issued, the employer must send a copy of the written confirmation to the worker along with a signed job offer (and employment contract, if required). The foreign national then applies to CIC for a work permit, the issuance of which depends on the foreign national meeting admissibility requirements and is within the discretion of the CIC officer and Canada Visa and Border Services officer assessing the work permit application and the foreign national's entry into Canada, respectively.

Employers should be aware that any LMO issued to them expires 6 months from the issuance date and unless, within this time frame, the foreign national has applied to CIC for a work permit and certain other requirements have been met, the LMO will be deemed to expire and the employer will need to apply for a new LMO to hire a foreign worker.
Also, it should be noted that extensions of an LMO are no longer permitted. The elimination of the extension application is of particular importance to employers wishing to continue the employment of a foreign national beyond the duration of his or her current work permit. Employers should seek legal advice for their particular situation to ensure that they apply for a new LMO in a timely fashion so they can continue to employ their chosen foreign workers as desired.

Legal advice should also be sought regarding proposed changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program that will introduce a number of factors applicable to the assessment of the genuineness of an employer's job offer of employment under this program. These proposed changes, if enacted, will lead to a more rigorous approach to the assessment of LMO and LMO-exempt cases.

Canadian Immigration Update - Mar 21, 2010

Canada welcomes approximately 250,000 new immigrants each year, which represents the highest per capita immigration in the world.

The majority of those who immigrate to Canada apply to do so under Canada's Federal Skilled Worker Class Program or under one of the Provincial Nominee Programs for those chosen/selected by one of Canada's provinces or territories.

Canada's Federal Skilled Worker Class Program is a points-based system. Points are awarded for education, language abilities (English and French), work experience, age, arranged employment, and adaptability.

Until 2008, any applicant who was awarded the minimum required 67 points would have been accepted as long as they and their family members had no significant medical, criminal, or security problems. Since 2008, Canada has imposed an additional requirement of having at least one year of full-time work experience in one of 38 occupations (financial managers, computer and information systems managers, accountants, physicians, and others) for those not already working in Canada or those who do not have an "arranged employment offer with a Canadian employer."

Other options to consider for those interested in Canadian permanent residence who are not on Canada's Federal Skilled Worker Class Program "38 occupations list" are the province of Quebec's Skilled Worker Class Program and the province of Alberta's U.S. Visa Holder Category Program.

Quebec's Skilled Worker Class Program does not have a restrictive occupations list. Fifty-five points (for a single person) and 63 points for a married person are the minimum required points to be accepted for Canadian permanent resident status under the Quebec program, as of the most recent legislative changes of October 14, 2009. Points are awarded by Quebec (which accepts approximately 55,000 immigrants a year) principally for education, work experience, age, language abilities (oral French and oral English), visits to Quebec, family in Quebec, children's and spouse's educations, age, and oral French abilities. If a foreign national has some oral French abilities, or can readily acquire them, the Quebec Skilled Worker Class Program should be considered.

Alberta's U.S. Visa Holder Category Program requires the foreign national to:

1. Be currently working in the United States with valid H-1B, H-1B1, H-1C or E3 status;

2. Have a minimum of one year of work experience in the U.S. in one of the qualifying visa categories; and

3. Be on the Alberta Occupations Under Pressure list of 72 occupations.

Canada welcomes applicants and their spouses who are in common-law or same-sex relationships.

Canada may be an option for those in the U.S. or elsewhere with precarious or soon expiring status.

Mexican Immigration Update - Mar 10, 2010

On January 29, 2010, Mexico's National Migration Institute published its Manual of Criteria and Migration Procedures ("Manual de Criterios y Trámites Migratorios del Instituto Nacional de Migración" or "Manual"). The Manual will be enforced as of May 1, 2010, throughout the 32 delegations of the National Migration Institute across the country.
The intention of the National Migration Institute is to clarify, streamline, and simplify processing requirements for each immigration category. Applications currently being processed and those filed before May 1, 2010, will be analyzed and processed based on current policies, practices, and procedures.

Some of the most relevant aspects of the Manual include:

All migratory forms for tourists, business visitors, and technical visitors with lucrative activities, who intend to stay in Mexico for up to 180 days, will be replaced by a single "FMM" (Forma Migratoria Múltiple) form. The FMM will serve as evidence of the foreign national's immigration status while in Mexico;

The business visitor criteria are clearly defined. The new FMM form has an option for choosing the purpose of the visit as business (negocios), for which once the foreign national enters Mexico, the immigration officer will grant a 180-day stay.

There are three options that the immigration officer might mark that will grant the foreign national 180 days: (a) Business (Visitante Persona de Negocios), (b) Visitor with Lucrative Activities (Visitante con Actividades Lucrativas), and (c) Visitor with Non-Lucrative Activities (Visitante con Actividades No Lucrativas). Any of these allow the foreign national to visit Mexico for business, either for working purposes or only for meetings.

If the purpose of the business visit will extend the stay beyond 180 days, the foreign national will have to file for a change of immigration status to obtain the corresponding FM3.

The ABTC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation business travel card) criteria are clearly defined.

In the following weeks, the National Migration Institute will publish the formats of the new migration cards that will replace the FM2 and FM3 booklets. Changes of activity, domicile, marital status, and similar information will no longer have to be annotated on the migratory document, thereby allowing a foreign national to travel in and out of Mexico while a change of status/conditions application is in process without having to request an exit and re-entry permit.

Consular posts will no longer issue FM2 or FM3 booklets. Instead, the consular post will place a visa sticker on the foreign national's passport, upon receipt of the petition's approval from the National Migration Institute. The sticker will allow entry into Mexico within 365 days of issuance. Upon entry, the foreign national must obtain the new FM2 or FM3 migration card within 30 days.