Immigration to Canada? Hiring a Right Immigration Lawyer Can Make a Difference

You may wish to live, work, or go to school legally in Canada. Perhaps you are trying to reunite with family members, your spouse or a common law partner. Whatever your immigration needs, choosing a right  immigration lawyer is probably one of the most crucial decisions that you can make to maximize the chances of obtaining a visa, permanent resident status or Canadian citizenship.

Invariably, the first question that comes to mind, before you even consider retaining an immigration lawyer for spousal sponsorship, work or visitor visa is: “should I hire an immigration lawyer? Do I actually need one?

There is no legal requirement for you to be represented by counsel in your applications and dealings with the Citizenship and Immigration Canada or Canada Border Services Agency. These government agencies do not offer priority processing or other automatic preferential treatment for clients who are represented by immigration lawyers or licensed consultants. Nevertheless, as this article will show, the benefits of retaining a knowledgeable immigration lawyer to handle your immigration matters are real and quantifiable.

You probably heard rumors and suggestions from well-intentioned friends and family members that sound something like this: “You don’t need an immigration lawyer! Why waste money? Family sponsorships are easy and fast. My friend Mary just got her permanent residence and she did everything by herself. You just need to ask people who have been through the process for help and guidance, and if you must get help, go to an immigration consultant.”

Your best bet would be to thank your friend for their help and concern and start lawyer shopping – and here are the reasons why. First, you are not privy to all the details of Mary’s case that make it different than yours. Each person’s circumstances are unique and raise unique evidentiary and legal question. If you wish your application to succeed in a reasonable time and with relative ease, you must reject that temptingly simplistic but faulty cookie-cutter approach to immigration law. Second, the immigration laws and regulations that Mary faced have likely changed. Immigration law is a complex and evolving area of law, marked by rapidly changing policies, guidelines and case-law.  Third, immigration process, be it spousal sponsorship or one of the economic migration classes, can be confusing and the paperwork overwhelming. If you are juggling the responsibilities of full-time work , social and family obligations, preparing the forms and pulling together the required evidence can turn into a harrowing experience. Remember also that in many cases, the submission of your application for processing by CIC is not the end of your hard work. It is merely the beginning. CIC may request additional evidence, legal submissions, clarifications and request in-person interviews. Without a lawyer to act as a filter, your ongoing communications with immigration officials may needlessly delay the process and inadvertently reveal information that appears harmless but which may jeopardize the final outcome of your application.

So where do we stand right now? You don’t know where to start. You feel confused. Your paperwork looks simple but you are not sure… You are planning to marry or have already married a non-Canadian and you are living in Canada. Maybe you are in a common-law relationship and your partner lives with you in Canada. You want to file a sponsored application for permanent residence so that you can build a life together. You read through the guides and the forms. Some of the questions seem tricky. You want to avoid hidden traps. You fear making a mistake that kills your chances of being together. Preparing papers by yourself or giving up does just not feel right. You know that mistakes and inconsistencies can lead to delays, give rise to misrepresentation and even cast doubt on the veracity of your marriage or common law relationship. These weighty considerations and your future happiness should not be left to chance.

Choosing a Right Immigration Lawyer FOR YOU

You have decided that your future is worth investing in and that you would like to be represented by an immigration lawyer – a wise decision!

While most immigration lawyers in Toronto and Canada are competent and dedicated professionals, you need to find a lawyer that you feel comfortable with – someone who is not just right, but who is right for YOU.  Follow your intuition and consider the following suggestions when choosing the right immigration lawyer for you.

Here are some ways the right Canadian immigration lawyer can change the way you experience the immigration process – and improve your chances of winning.

1. Immigration Law Is Complex and Unpredictable

Immigration laws, rules and procedures can change overnight, usually with little or no warning. A court decision or a departmental policy change on a seemingly small point of law can change or significantly affect the outcome of your case. Some changes can have a retroactive effect. Remember Mary and her application? It is precisely because of this fluid nature of immigration regulations that her example will likely not help you today.

As you can imagine, keeping track of constant changes and new developments is time consuming. That is why you should look for an immigration lawyer that specialized in your particular type of matter. While most of us can do anything in the area of immigration law, the unpublicized truth is that each of us has our preferences and strengths. For example, I specialize in family and spousal sponsorships and certain economic class applications, such as Canadian Experience Class and Federal Skilled Workers. Some of my colleagues focus heavily on immigration appeals, while others practice overwhelmingly in the area of refugee protection.

2. Define the Role of Your Immigration Lawyer

Each lawyer should clearly define his or her duties and your responsibilities as a client in a written and signed Retainer Agreement. If a lawyer does not provide you with this document, keep looking. Some of the qualities that you should be looking for in an immigration attorney include:

  • Guiding you competently through the complex immigration law system
  • Evaluating your qualifications and eligibility at each stage of the process
  • Exploring the full range of legal and practical immigration options and considerations which may be open to you
  • Being honest and firm with you, especially if serious issues arise in your application. Your lawyers should assess problems and try to develop an alternative plan for you to achieve your goals – if any.
  • Ensuring that your representations are truthful, relevant and that your actions today do not cut off avenues for future success, and refusing to take short cuts which may hurt your case
  • Understanding the immigration system inside and out, and know how to work with immigration officials to your benefit

3. Whether you are rick or poor, male or female, straight or gay Immigration Lawyer Should See You as a Person, Not a File Number

Yes, law is a business, but it as also much more than that. A successful and effective immigration lawyer will be able to empathize with you and devote all the time that your file deserves.  As a general rule and unless you are dealing with high level litigation, it may be wise to choose small and medium size law firms or sole practitioners over large immigration law firms, which are more likely to delegate the bulk of the work to their assistants. After all, you are paying for lawyer’s expertise and that is what should get. Each application for family sponsorship, permanent residence, citizenship, or a visa is unique and has at its core a person seeking to better his or her life. Your immigration lawyer cannot lose focus of the main goal of your application, which is to bring your together or keep it from being torn apart. Few immigration clients bring perfect documents; sufficient evidence and almost none have simple histories. A good lawyer will work with you to fill these gaps and present the best possible application to CIC for processing.

4. Immigration Law Is About Advocacy and Commitment

No immigration lawyer can guarantee the outcome of a particular case, but through our attention to detail and strategic approach, we can drastically improve your chances of a positive outcome.


Mu name is Ivan Steele, and I am an immigration lawyer in Toronto, Canada. Throughout my career, I have specialized in family and immigration law – two areas that deal heavily with personal connections and high stake family dynamics. While I cannot guarantee the outcome of your immigration matter, I can offer you excellence in advocacy, my knowledge, my commitment and my background as a psychotherapist.

Whether you are gay or straight and trying to bring a spouse or a common-law partner to Canada of otherwise seeking permanent residence, I am here to explore your immigration options, counsel you and advocate tenaciously on your behalf. My assistant, Rolando, and I will sit down with you, go through your personal history,  identify all possible solution and devise a plan to  work towards obtaining the results you want.

As a gay immigration lawyer in Toronto, I am uniquely equipped to address the concerns and unique challenges of same-sex immigration to Canada.  At Ivan Steele Law Office, you will find a safe haven and the help of passionate and compassionate immigration professionals.

This legal information brought to you by Ivan Steele Law Office

Ivan Steele, Toronto family and divorce lawyer

Ivan Steele, Toronto family and divorce lawyer


The Respondent in Divorce Proceedings – B.C.

Script 122 gives information only, not legal advice. If you have a legal problem or need legal advice, you should speak to a lawyer.

This script will be helpful if your spouse is about to begin divorce proceedings, or if you’ve already been served with divorce papers. In most cases, you’ll want to hire a lawyer to represent you, but this script should give you a general understanding of your situation. Note that you only have a limited time to respond to the divorce papers.

This script only applies to married spouses. Unmarried spouses do not need to get a divorce.

What are the court forms used to start a divorce court case?

The document you’ll receive (or have already received) is called a Notice of Family Claim. Your spouse, the person who started the court case, is called the claimant, and you are the respondent.

The claimant must arrange for personal service of the Notice of Family Claim. This means that the Notice of Family Claim must be delivered to you in person. If you’re not available to receive the papers or the claimant has difficulty personally serving you, he or she can ask the court to serve you “substitutionally” by, for example, leaving the papers at your last known address, with your close relatives, or in your mailbox. Make sure you read the Notice of Family Claim carefully.

Consider consulting a lawyer

Because the claims made in the Notice of Family Claim could significantly affect your rights, you should consider asking a lawyer to review them with you and to explain exactly what orders your spouse is asking the court to make. Many family law lawyers will explain these documents for little or no charge.

There are strict time limits to respond

You must respond to the Notice of Family Claim within 30 days of the date you were served by filing a Response to Family Claim in court and serving the filed Response to Family Claim on the claimant by ordinary service. It is very important that you do this if you object to any of the orders the claimant is asking for. If you don’t respond, the court can make orders without any further notice to you.

Ordinary service means mailing or faxing (or sometimes emailing) the document to the claimant’s Address for Service. The claimant’s Address for Service will be set out in his or her Notice of Family Claim.

What’s in the Notice of Family Claim?

The Notice of Family Claim gives the court basic information about you and your spouse, and the details of your marriage and separation. The schedules to the Notice of Family Claim describe the orders your spouse is asking the court to make. At a minimum, this will be an order for your divorce, but your spouse can also ask for orders about the care and control of the children, spousal support and child support, the division of assets and other subjects.

The reasons why your spouse is asking for a divorce will be given

For information on the legal grounds for divorce, refer to script 120 called “Requirements for Divorce and Annulment”. If you don’t dispute the basis upon which your spouse is applying for a divorce, such as a one-year separation, you might not object. On the other hand, if he or she is claiming adultery or cruelty and those claims aren’t true, you might want to contest the court case.

Consider carefully the claims made

The claimant’s claims are the orders your spouse wants the court to make.  If your spouse is seeking sole custody of the kids under the Divorce Act, do you feel that joint custody or sole custody yourself is better? If property is to be divided, do you want half or more than half of the family property? Is there a reason to apply to share in your spouse’s excluded property? If you dispute any of the claimant’s claims, you must do so in a Response to Family Claim, explained a little later. If you wish to make claims of your own, you must do so in a Counterclaim, also explained later on in this script.

What if you don’t agree with what’s being asked for in the Notice of Family Claim?

You should file a Response to Family Claim, which tells the court what claims you agree with and which you oppose. Be aware, however, that filing a Response to Family Claim changes the proceeding from an “uncontested divorce” which doesn’t require an appearance before a judge to a “contested divorce” in which a trial may be necessary to resolve things if they can’t be settled beforehand.

What if you want to make your own claims?

If you have claims of your own that you want to make, for example about the care of children, child support, spousal support, the division of property or another order, you must file a document called a Counterclaim. The Counterclaim sets out the orders that you want the court to make.

What’s a “judicial case conference”?

You or the claimant can schedule a judicial case conference after you have filed a Response to Family Claim or Counterclaim. A JCC is an informal hearing before a judge or master to talk about the claims each of you have made, see what can be agreed to and talk about how the claims will be resolved. JCCs are conducted in private and on a “without prejudice” basis. Without prejudice means that each of you can make settlement proposals at the JCC without being held to your proposal later on.

The JCC is an excellent opportunity to tell the judge and the claimant what you really want

Everything you say at a JCC is confidential and cannot be repeated outside the hearing room or used later, so speak your mind and explain what orders you’re looking for and why. The judge won’t make any decisions, however, unless you and your spouse both agree.

When will the divorce be granted?

If the claim for divorce is based on separation, the divorce order can be made any time after the one year period is over. If the claim is based on cruelty or adultery, the order can be made at any time. (Remember that no matter why the divorce is claimed, the court must be satisfied that adequate arrangements have been made for the financial support of any children before it can make the divorce order.) Although the divorce order can be made before all of the issues are wrapped up, at a trial or by a settlement, the court will usually be reluctant to make a divorce order in advance without a very good reason for doing so.

What is an “interim application”?

It can take a year or more from the time the Notice of Family Claim is filed to have a trial if a court case can’t be settled. Before the trial, you or your spouse may need the court to make a temporary or “interim” order about an important issue, such as the payment of child support or spousal support, where the children will live, or who will live in the family home. Interim orders are made following a party’s application to the court, called an “interim application”.

Interim applications are made by filing a Notice of Application (a court form which explains the orders you want the court to make and sets the date for the hearing of the application) and a supporting affidavit (a sworn statement describing the background to the application), to which the other spouse will have the opportunity to reply. Typically, these pre-trial applications take anywhere from 15 minutes to three hours to complete, depending on the complexity of the issues.

Interim applications should be taken very seriously as interim orders are often influential in the final outcome of the case. For more information, see script 112 on “Applying for an Interim Order in a Family Law Case”.

Remember that each time you go to court, it will cost time and money

The more you can agree on things with your spouse, the easier it will be on each of you. Try to save interim applications for really important problems, and always (if you can) see whether you can reach an agreement before going to court. If you need help talking with your spouse, you can contact a mediator. For more information on mediation, refer to script 111 on “Mediation and Collaborative Settlement Processes.”

Can you object to a divorce?

You can object to a divorce, but you’re not likely to succeed. Most of the time, the judge will make a divorce order as long as the ground for the divorce is proven, whether you want the divorce or not. There are rare situations where a divorce might be refused, for example, if the divorce means the termination of pension benefits a spouse is receiving or if adequate arrangements have not been made for the support of any children.

When does the divorce order take effect?

Divorce orders take effect 31 days after the date the order is made, unless the judge making the divorce order directs that it take effect sooner. The reason for the delay is to allow one of the spouses to appeal the divorce. Such appeals are very rare.

What are your rights after the divorce order is made?

If your divorce order doesn’t make orders about the division of property and you didn’t claim a division of assets in your Notice of Family Claim or Counterclaim, you have two years after the date of your divorce to make the claim under the Family Law Act. After the two years, you will be out of time to make the claim.

Divorced spouses are always entitled to make a claim for spousal support under the Divorce Act, no matter how long they have been divorced. Divorced spouses are always entitled to make a claim about children, such as about custody or guardianship or child support, as long as the children qualify as “children of the marriage” under the Divorce Act or as “children” under the Family Law Act.

[updated March 2013]

© Copyright 1983-2013 The Canadian Bar Association

Toronto Divorce Lawyer’s Advice: The Benefits of an Out of Court Settlement

In a vast majority of family law cases, other than those involving abuse, violence and significant power imbalance, the negative consequences of protracted court involvement far outweigh its benefits. This is especially true when the children are involved. Ongoing family conflict, which lies at the heart of family law litigation is a significant and detrimental factor that undermines the children’s long term emotional and psychological well-being and resilience. If you have reached the conclusion that separation and divorce are inevitable, you will need to decide if it is in your and your children’s best interest to spend the time and money on a court battle or if it is possible for you to move on with your life by settling out of court.

Certain matters, such as mobility and custody issues may require litigation. If your case does pose complex legal and evidentiary issues, however, there are several significant benefits to settling out of court.

First, the most evident benefit to settling your divorce and separation out of court is the cost. Almost invariably, negotiations leading to Separation Agreements are far morecost-effectiveand less time-consuming. Note that “cost effective” is a relative notion. While your negotiation may not be cheap, any amount you spend on out of court settlement would likely be dwarfed by the cost of litigation. Complex cases involving there are large amounts of assets to be divided or custody disagreements, could take years to complete and end up costing you anywhere from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Often, a losing party will appeal, adding time and money. Lastly, a losing party may have to pay not only his or her lawyer’s fees but the opposing spouse’s costs as well. Settling out of court may involve compromise but it also means you will not have to spend large sums of money on family and divorce lawyers or be forced to spend needless time in court.

The next benefit of settling your case out of court is that you and your spouse will maintain control over your life and finances, including division of family property, which is a significant benefit. Unless absolutely necessary, no one wishes a stranger (i.e. a judge) to make decisions that fundamentally affect one’s future. If you negotiate in good faith, you and your spouse will have the ability to come to conclusions about the division of your assets together. Instead of handing over a large portion of control to lawyers and judges, settling out of court means that you and your spouse will be able to make decisions on the assets that mean the most to you.

Lastly, out of court settlement represents the best option for situations involving children. You and your spouse will be able to mutually come to terms regarding parenting and custody. As parents, you are intimately familiar with your child’s needs and you are invested in his or her future happiness. Agreeing on the terms together will effectively be better for future communication between you and your spouse and will help create a better situation for your children after the divorce has been finalized.

An experienced Toronto family and divorce lawyercan help you greatly in getting your life back on track. He or she will also ensure that a separation agreement reflects your intentions, preserves your rights, is properly drafted, reasonable and that both parties are fully aware of what they have agreed upon. If you have questions or concerns about which decision is the best for you and your family, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced and trained divorce lawyer. Call Ivan Steele Law Office to get the answers that you’re looking for and explore the options that best suit your needs.

Ivan J. Steele, M.A., J.D., Toronto family and divorce lawyer

Ivan Steele, Toronto family and divorce lawyer

Ivan Steele, Toronto family and divorce lawyer

Latest Immigration Development – CIC closes Buffalo and Detroit Consulates

Immigration lawyers in Canada and the applicants alike are working hard to keep track of the rapid changes and reorganization of the immigration laws, rules and regulations in 2012 and 2013.

First, there was Buffalo. Now Detroit too. Due to major changes in Canadian immigration rules and policies, the Canadian government has closed the Consulate in Buffalo, New York and Detroit is the next to go. North America is not the only region that has seen a rapid consolidation of visa posts. In Europe, Vienna has taken on processing responsibilities from several Canadian embassies in the region, most prominently from Belgrade, Serbia.

Foreign students and temporary workers in Canada can now extend / renew their status inside Canada, without having to travel to a visa post in the U.S. Visa services, including permanent residence applications have been transferred to the New York City and Los Angeles Visa Offices. Applications and passports received in Detroit after February 15th, 2013 are now automatically forwarded to the Case Processing Pilot Office in Ottawa, which is functioning with surprising efficiency. Stay tuned.

Ivan J. Steele, M.A., J.D., Toronto immigration lawyer

Ivan Steele, Toronto family and immigration lawyer

Ivan Steele, Toronto family and immigration lawyer

Free Consultation in Family Law – Good Idea?

If it is free, why not take advantage of it, right? Yet, in that simple “F”  word lies the central problem with free family law consultations. In the arsenal of dirty divorce tricks and tactics, “poisoning the well” or “conflicting out” certain divorce lawyer so that your spouse cannot retain them takes a place of great distinction and infamy.

Here is how this ploy plays out: A husband or a wife makes an appointment with  top family and divorce lawyers in a geographic area. He or she proceeds to meets with each one in order to establish a solicitor-client relationship,  effectively preventing that lawyer from representing the other spouse. Of course, the lawyer-shopping spouse doesn’t actually have to hire any of these family lawyers. The entire goal with this tactic is to “conflict out” family lawyers so they cannot be hired by you. While celebrities frequently use this strategy, it is also a popular one in high conflict divorce cases, where the goal is not simply to win a legal battle but to inflict as much damage as possible (scorched earth approach). The lesson here is  twofold. First, do not procrastinate. While interviewing lawyers to find a good fit is perfectly acceptable and even advisable, being indecisive could cost you an excellent attorney, if you spouse gets there first. Second, when a lawyer tells you the consultations are not free, don’t get mad and jump to the conclusion that such decision is motivated purely by greed.

Once you have decided to meet with a lawyer, you need to be prepared to ask questions, evaluate and temporarily step back from the emotional charge of your separation. The following steps will go a long way towards maximizing the chances of a positive outcome in your family law or divorce matter:

Pick Your Battles Wisely

In many cases, during your first visit to a lawyer you may still be feeling of anger, betrayal or disappointment, following the breakdown of your relationship. You may feel overwhelmed, anxious and fearful, faced with financial and emotional uncertainty of the  future. All of that is normal. While these emotions are a necessary and even helpful part of a healing process, you should know that divorces can get expensive very fast, especially when spouses are unable to agree on the terms. This is not the time to be guided by volatile emotions. That is precisely why you need a realistic ally by your side. Your family and divorce lawyer will make sure to explore all possible ways to reach an out-of-court solutions and quicken the process, saving you a tremendous amount of money, which you put towards re-building your future.  Do not be shy to ask for an estimate on time and cost from your lawyer, especially if litigation is the only or the most likely option. Although your divorce lawyer may not be able to give you an accurate estimate during the initial interview, considering the uncertainties in law and evidence, you will at least have a general idea of ow you will be billed and what type of work you can expect to see on your invoice.

Take Notes

Go back to basics. Your may be nervous or preoccupied during your meeting with a lawyer, but make sure that you remember what is said. Take notes but don’be fixated on writing down revery detail of the conversation. Remember that the consultation also serves as a two-way interview where both, the family lawyer and  you need to dtermine if you are comfortable with one another.

Ask, Ask and Ask Again

Ask your family or divorce lawyer as many questions as you can think of during your initial consultation. Family law is a highly complex and constantly evolving area so no question is too silly or too obvious. After all, we are talking about your life here. Come prepared with a list of questions that you want answered about your case AND the lawyer him or herself. Be sure that you understand the answers  thoroughly and that they were answered to your satisfaction. This back and worth will also reveal a great deal about your prospective lawyer’s communication style. Family lawyers should be able to communicate with you in non-legal terms.

Cheaper Is Not Always Better

Let’s face it – hiring a lawyer is a little different than finding a pair of awesome jeans at Winners. Cheap legal services will often yield cheap results and may end up costing you more money in the long run. On the other hand, expensive is not always better either, unless you are have millions at stake and/or a highly complex case that is likely to drag through the appeals process. Follow the “Goldilocks Rule” and choosing a moderately priced family lawyer who offers honest, effective and most importantly, personalized service. Making the right decision the first time could end up saving you quite a bit.

Bring the Paperwork

As a family and divorce lawyer, I want to know as much as possible about situation, before I give you my legal advice. Seeing your tax returns, bank accounts, prior agreements, detailed childcare history and any other evidence that you may believe is material to your case will make my job easier and my advise more accurate and tailored to your circumstances. Knowing the other party’s income, finances, property, and debt would make me even happier.

Often times, consulting with a solicitor is a person’s first step in beginning a family law case.  More often still, consulting with a divorce lawyer marks the end of a significant chapter in your life. Allow yourself to be unsure. You do not need to know exactly what is going to happen next.. That’s what your family or divorce lawyer is there for.

Happy Hunting!

Ivan J. Steele, M.A., J.D.,

Ivan Steele, Toronto family and immigration lawyer

Ivan Steele, Toronto family and immigration lawyer

Immigration Law and the City of Toronto

It is trite law and common sense that the federal government of Canada has the primary jurisdiction over immigration, which does not leave much “law-making” to the cities and municipalities across Canada. Yet, despite their inability to draft immigration legislation and regulations, the local government across Canada function and struggle at the forefront of most hot button immigration issue. It is our cities that provide countless service that affect the quality of life for most Canadians. It is not surprise then, that cities are being forced to take a position of illegal immigration. After all, estimated 100,000-200,000 of undocumented immigrants live in Toronto alone. This estimate is likely a very conservative one. With the help of human rights activists, immigration lawyer and other fair minded and concerned citizens, Toronto has joined the likes of Chicago, New York City and San Francisco in becoming Canada’s first “sanctuary city” — a place where anyone can can access city services, regardless of immigration status!. While the limitations of Toronto’s move are evident – undocumented migrants cannot access provincial-level services, this decision is a bold move that needs to be celebrated.
This is my position as a Toronto immigration lawyer: affording basic human dignity to the struggling immigrants in search of a better life does not send a message that it is alright to break the law to come to Canada. Rather, it sends a message of compassion, tolerance and sensitivity to the plight of the less fortunate.

Ivan J. Steele, M..A., J.D., Toronto Immigration LawyerIVAN AND ROLANDO 135

Changes to Canadian Exprience Class Applications in 2013

Although one of the newest permanent residence programs implemented by the Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) is Canada’s fastest growing immigration program. CEC provides a straightforward path to permanent residency for foreign workers and international graduates of Canadian institutions by essentially rewarding them for the work and educational experience acquired in the country. One the most important changes to the program eligibility was introduced in January 2013. Canadian work experience requirement was lowered from 24 to 12 months, providing additional incentive to the prospective applicants. This reduction is a signal that the Government of Canada places high premium on the experience obtained in the Canadian social, educational and employment content. This reduction, therefore, benefits foreign graduates in Canada on a post-graduate work permit.  Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney explained the changes with the following commentary: “The Canadian Experience Class makes Canada more competitive in attracting and retaining the best and brightest individuals with the skills we need,.  “These are people who have already demonstrated their ability to integrate into the Canadian labour market and society. The CEC allows these skilled and educated individuals to bring their skills and talents, contribute to our economy and help renew our workforce so that Canada remains competitive on the world stage.” The following is a brief overview of CIC’s explanation of eligibility for CEC:

Work experience

To apply for permanent resident status through the CEC, you need at least one year of full-time experience (or the equivalent in part-time work) as a skilled worker in Canada. Full-time work means at least 30 hours per week. The one-year work experience must have been obtained within the three years preceding the date your CEC application is received.

To work in Canada after graduating, your best option is to apply for a post-graduation work permit. Information on obtaining a work permit is available on CIC’s website at These permits may be valid for up to three years. There are no restrictions on the type of work you can do or where you do it, but to qualify for the CEC, remember that at least one year of your work experience must be in a skilled occupation (see “skilled work experience”).

It is also important to note that work experience you may have acquired as part of your academic program, such as an internship or a co-op placement, does not qualify under the CEC. Part-time work you may have performed during your studies does not qualify either.

If your existing work permit is about to expire you may be eligible for a bridging open work permit. Bridging open work permits allow qualified applicants to keep working while they await a final decision on their permanent residence application. For more information about bridging open work permits including eligibility, visit
Skilled work experience

Your work experience in Canada must be in a job or an occupation that requires a specific level of skill, education or training. To qualify, your experience must be in one of the following categories of Canada’s National Occupational Classification (NOC).

Skill Type 0
This includes senior management occupations, middle and other management positions.
Skill Level A
Occupations at this level usually require university education at the bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate level.
Skill Level B
Occupations at this level usually require education obtained at a college or vocational institute, apprenticeship training or three to four years of secondary school followed by more than two years of on-the-job training, specialized training courses or specific work experience.

To find out if your work experience qualifies, check the NOC website at
Language requirements

To qualify for the CEC you must prove your proficiency in English or French. This includes speaking, reading, listening and writing in one or both official languages.

The expected level of ability in English or French will vary according to your occupation. For example, the language requirements for managerial and professional positions are higher than the requirements for applicants who have been working in a technical occupation or in a skilled trade.

To prove your language skills, you will need to take a language test given by an agency that is approved by CIC and include the results with your application.

You will find more information about specific language requirements on CIC’s website at These language requirements are subject to change.”

This legal information brought to you by Ivan J. Steele, M.A., J.D., Barrister and Solicitor

Ivan Steele, Toronto family and immigration lawyer

Ivan Steele, Toronto family and immigration lawyer