For decades, Canada developed a reputation as one of the most welcoming countries in the world. Since 2008, this is sadly no longer true. It is now much harder to get into Canada, to stay here permanently, and to become a citizen. This is due to a steady stream of changes by the federal government that affect virtually all aspects of our immigration and refugee policy.
Many of the changes came without public discussion or debate with the minister of citizenship and immigration acquiring the power to make significant changes by issuing “ministerial instructions”, thereby bypassing the democratic parliamentary process.
Despite immigration remaining fairly constant at approximately 255,000 immigrants per year over the past 10 years, more people in the economic class have been selected, fewer in the family class and far fewer refugees. With a current population of just under 36M, Canada should be admitting 288,000 newcomers annually, just to maintain its historical rate of immigration. But in the year ending July 1, 2015, Canada admitted only 239,800 immigrants during the 12-month period, down from 267,900 the previous year. The shortfall, close to 30,000 immigrants, places Canada’s per capita rate of immigration at .66%, the lowest under the Harper government and far lower than the .8% that was predominant prior to 2006. This represents a huge loss in human capital benefit to our country.
In 2014, refugees represented less than 9 per cent of the immigration flow to Canada, while the economic class rose to nearly 70 per cent.
In January 2015, a new system was introduced called Express Entry for the management of economic immigrants. The mid-year report of the program, issued in July, indicates that 85 per cent of successful applicants were already living in Canada as temporary entrants. This confirms a move toward a “two-step” immigration system where individuals first come to Canada as temporary workers or international students and then try to make the transition to permanent residence.
The number of individuals holding temporary work permits and working in Canada more than doubled between 2005 and 2013. Yet many temporary workers, particularly those in lower skilled jobs, are ineligible to apply for permanent residence, while the rest are potentially competing with each other, international students, or individuals around the world for the approximately 78,000 spaces available to applicants under Express Entry. Under Harper’s watch, there is an increasing perception that Canada promotes an exploitive, revolving door system that readily disposes its foreign workers.
For those who manage to become permanent residents whether in one step or two, changes to the Citizenship Act have made it much harder for them to obtain Canadian citizenship. As a result, fewer can apply and succeed in becoming citizens, the true indicator of belonging and becoming part of this country. Applicants must now wait longer to qualify and cannot receive credit for time spent in Canada as students, or work permit holders as under previous rules. Older citizenship applicants face more difficult knowledge based language tests. Those who obtain citizenship may now be at risk of losing it due to policies in which dual citizens can have their Canadian citizenship taken away with greater ease and minimal oversight. Even persons born in Canada to parents holding dual nationality could, in certain circumstances, face revocation of their citizenship.
Recent changes have made it practically impossible for people in Canada to sponsor their parents or grandparents for permanent residence while children over 18 are no longer considered to be dependents who can be sponsored or accompany their parents to Canada. Sponsored spouses now enter Canada on a conditional basis for their first two years.
Perhaps the harshest changes since 2008 have been those aimed at refugees and refugee claimants, and in particular, legal reforms that deny due process to vulnerable asylum seekers under a discriminatory two-tier system based on nationality. These modifications are currently being challenged in Federal Court. The Conservatives also tried to eliminate the basic health care services refugees are entitled. The Federal Court struck down the government’s cuts to refugee health care describing it as “cruel and unusual” because it jeopardizes refugees’ health and shocks the conscience of Canadians.
Since mid-2013, Canada has settled less than 2500 Syrian refugees. In January, the conservatives announced we would welcome 13,000 Syrian refugees over a 3-year period, mostly through private sponsors. Yet our government has been near silent since then – until recently when it was forced to respond to this international humanitarian crisis. In contrast, Germany plans to admit as many as 800,000 asylum seekers this year alone, nearly 1% of its population. Sweden with a population almost four times smaller than Canada, took in more than 25,000 last year.
The Harper government’s pitiful refugee policies lay bare its punitive agenda against immigrants and refugees. Over the past 10 years, the federal government jailed more than 10,000 migrants per year, including hundreds of children as young as age 16, without charge. Canada is one of the only Western countries to have indefinite incarceration. A credible report finds these policy changes imply reduced access to justice for refugees for whom consequences of refugee protection decisions are frequently life or death matters. Even permanent residents are now subject to arrest, detention and could face deportation for even minor criminality such as driving while intoxicated traffic offences.
Canada has traditionally been a safe haven to oppressed minorities across the world, being home to thousands of refugees from Vietnam, Hungary, and Uganda, among other countries. In 1979 and 1980 Canada opened its doors to 50,000 Vietnamese boat people who were fleeing the Indochina refugee crisis. But this has all changed under the Conservative government, which to date, has seen its refugee acceptance rates decline by 30%. It has been very reluctant to admit refugees from Syria. When pressed recently on the matter of excessively long approval and processing delays, Prime Minister Stephen Harper asserted that national security background checks take long and the safety of Canadians is first and foremost. If Germany and Sweden can successfully orchestrate a much larger refugee program with similar safety and security concerns to guard against infiltration by terror groups, surely Canada could do likewise. It just needs a more compassionate government.
Immigration has been an important part of government agenda. It remains essential in most OECD countries, but especially in Canada, in part to offset demographic developments, including low fertility rates, an aging population, a growing elderly dependency ratio, a shrinking labour force and high out-migration rates. Immigration policy decisions affect how Canada is perceived in the world and will shape our nation for generations to come. It is important that the next party to ascend into power give priority to addressing these failures in order that we regain our tarnished reputation.
About the author:
Colin R. Singer is immigration counsel for www.immigration.ca and Managing Partner of Global Recruiters of Montreal. He is one of Canada’s foremost senior corporate immigration attorneys. Colin is internationally recognized as an experienced and recommended authority on Canadian immigration and foreign recruitment. In addition to being a licensed human resources professional, he is a licensed Canadian lawyer in good standing with the Quebec Law Society for more than 25 years and is authorized by the Canadian government in all immigration matters.
The authorities have made changes to the definition of excluded marriages with effect from June 10, 2015. From this date, officers would need to interpret all references to proxy, telephone, fax, internet and other similar forms of marriage as excluded marriages in the immigration context, when they process applications across all permanent or temporary immigration programs, including protected persons. This new interpretation comes into effect from June 11, 2015.
Therefore, officers would need to note that:
- All sponsorship, permanent resident or temporary resident applications received on or after June 11, 2015, will be subject to the new regulations i.e. 5 (c), 117 (9) (c.1) and 125 (1) (c.1)
- All sponsorship, permanent resident or temporary resident applications received prior to June 11, 2015, will be subject to the previous regulations i.e. 5 (c), 117 (9) (c.1) and 125 (1) (c.1)
Source: Citizenship and Immigration
With only a quarter of the population of China, there is little possibility for the U.S. to continue its reign in the economic sphere unless China suffers a stunning collapse. However, during the next couple of centuries, Canada also has a surprisingly good chance of becoming an economic and cultural superpower.
With a population of only 35 million (in 2015), a famously frigid climate and a below-replacement fertility rate, Canada would seem an unlikely candidate to become a superpower. But Canada has three fundamental strengths that will almost certainly make a difference in the long run: natural resources, good government and an almost unbelievably tolerant and open culture.
In terms of natural resources, Canada is almost unmatched. In terms of renewable freshwater, Canada is exceeded only by the U.S. and Brazil. Its percentage of arable land, at 4.6 per cent, is relatively small, but this probably will increase as climate change proceeds and the glaciers retreat. Basically, there is room for a lot more people in Canada.
Good government is another hallmark of Canadian strength and according to Transparency International, Canada regularly ranks in the top 10 least-corrupt countries in the world. This is especially impressive given Canada’s rich endowment of fossil fuels, which usually causes countries to become more corrupt — a phenomenon known as the Resource Curse.
It is probably because of these high-quality institutions that Canada was able to implement universal health care. Universal health care definitely requires that citizens trust their government. In a country as diverse as Canada, attaining a level of public trust equivalent to that received by the ethnically homogeneous countries of Europe is quite a feat.
Canada’s strong institutions have allowed it to implement less controversial economic policies, such as a low corporate tax rate (15 per cent, compared with the U.S.’s 35 per cent). However, Canada’s immigration policy is its biggest win. Unlike U.S.’s immigration system which focuses on family reunification, Canada focuses on recruiting the best and the brightest economic immigrants.
The Federal Skilled Worker Program assigns prospective immigrants “points” based on language skills, education, work experience, age, existing job offers and a catch-all category called “adaptability.”
Canada now has a net annual immigration rate of about 0.57 per cent of its population, which has declined during the past decade. This corresponds to about a quarter-million immigrants a year. But with its strong record of assimilation, and a change in government policy, and increased resources to such programs, Canada might be able to increase this rate. With climate change making the country less frigid, Canada will certainly become a more attractive destination.
Even though it may be centuries before Canada competes with the likes of the U.S. in terms of total population, since it is starting from such a low base, in terms of an educated, high-skilled population, Canada may soon become pre-eminent.
What would the rise of Canada mean for geopolitics and global culture? Canada is one of the world’s freest countries, an unflagging supporter of tolerance, openness and human rights. Its immigration program could make it one of the world’s most multiracial countries.
As part of the anti-terrorism initiative, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced a trifecta of measures aimed at beefing up the country’s ability to thwart violent jihad. Some of these measures had previously been announced in the budget, including more money for Canada’s spy agency and more scrutiny of foreign visitors.
NDP member Randal Garrison, MP from Esquimalt – Juan de Fuca, said the program is a “worrying expansion” of the biometrics collection program for visitors.
“It raises some obvious and serious questions about how the information will be handled and who it will be shared with,” Garrison said. “How will these policy impact international business activities, our tourism industry or visits by immigrant family members? There are far too many unanswered questions.
Under the new measures, the federal government will commit $137 million more over five years to Canada’s Security and Intelligence Service, along with $41 million more a year afterward. The additional funding, Harper said, would allow CSIS to beef up its frontline capacity to counter terrorist threats and activities.
Some experts have argued the earmarked money simply isn’t much given the current threat environment, especially with legislation giving the agency more power to stop Canadians from joining terror groups abroad, disrupt bank transactions, and secretly interfere with radical websites.
The government also plans to expand biometric screening to all foreign citizens needing visas to come to Canada including those who require work or study permits and immigrants. The procedure is already required for travelers from 30 countries such as Afghanistan, Syria and Egypt, but would now apply to visitors from a further 150 others.
Harper said Canada already has access to biometric data collected by other countries and would share its data with them, but said privacy and legal standards will be in place to protect Canadians.
The identity verification measures, which require legislative changes, are expected to take effect in 2018. Harper said the government would kick in $313 million over five years to support the new requirement.
Under the current system, applicants must pay a biometric fee of $85 per person, in addition to the application fee. According to a Citizenship and Immigration Canada spokesperson, this fee would be extended to visa applicants from new countries added to the list requiring biometric screening.
Operational Bulletin 378-A – April 24, 2015
The Sanctions Against Iran
The authorities had imposed amended sanctions against Iran. These amended sanctions are in accordance with the Special Economic Measures Act (SEMA).
As a result of this imposition, the authorities have placed certain prohibitions on:
- People in Canada and,
- Canadians residing outside Canada
The authorities have prohibited these individuals from providing or acquiring any financial services:
- To, from or for the benefit of Iran or any person in Iran or,
- On the direction or order of Iran or any person in Iran
In addition, Iranian nationals could face restrictions in transferring funds to Canadian banks as a result of this imposition.
However, the authorities have provided one exemption to this imposition. The amended sanctions provide an exemption for:
- Financial services in respect of non-commercial remittances of $40,000 or less or,
- Financial services required with regards to a contract that existed prior to November 22, 2011
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) assessed Iran’s nuclear program on November 09, 2011. In response to the results of this assessment, Canada imposed further sanctions on Iran. These amended sanctions were in accordance with the Special Economic Measures (Iran) Regulations (SEMA). Since then, the authorities have amended these regulations on several occasions. The latest amendment took place on May 29, 2013.
The sanctions against Iran typically include broad prohibitions on:
- Imports from Iran
- Exports to Iran and,
- Dealing with designated persons as specified in Schedule 1 of the Special Economic Measures (Iran) Regulations (SEMA)
In addition, the Special Economic Measures (Iran) Regulations (SEMA) contain a blanket prohibition on the provision or acquisition of financial services between persons in Iran and persons in Canada. This prohibition also applies to various Canadian financial institutions. However, the authorities have provided certain exceptions. They have detailed these exceptions in paragraph 5 (d) of the Special Economic Measures (Iran) Regulations (SEMA).
As mentioned earlier, the imposition of these amended sanctions will have an impact on:
- People holding Iranian citizenship or,
- People residing in Iran
These individuals might face restrictions in transferring funds to Canadian financial institutions. This is especially so if their activities do not fit within the exemptions to the sanctions.
In addition, the restrictions also impose other measures on these individuals. For example, they serve to prohibit people in Iran from opening a bank account in Canada. This is especially so if they are opening this account prior to their immigration to Canada and for the express purpose of transferring funds. This prohibition applies even if the authorities would allow the funds themselves under the exemptions specified.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs has the authority to issue permits. These permits would typically enable individuals to conduct certain activities that the authorities would otherwise regard as prohibited. Therefore, a person in Iran would need to apply for such a permit. This permit would authorise a Canadian financial institution to undertake a financial transaction or financial service with the person in Iran. This is in accordance with the provisions specified under the Special Economic Measures (Iran) Permit Authorization Order.
The offices of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will continue to process applications for permanent and temporary residence for:
- People holding Iranian citizenship or,
- People residing in Iran
All offices of the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) – whether in Canada or overseas – would need to process these applications to visa issuance. They will also process these applications as per normal office procedures.
In certain situations, applicants might need to demonstrate that they:
- Can transfer funds to Canada or,
- Have transferred funds to Canada
This scenario could typically arise in the case of federal investor class applicants. Federal investor class applicants need to make their investment of $400,000 or $800,000. In this scenario, officers would need to:
- Notify these applicants that they might face restrictions in transferring funds to a Canadian financial institution and,
- Refer these applicants to the text concerning the sanctions specified in the Special Economic Measures (Iran) Regulations
Similarly, the officers would need to provide the same information to all other applicants too. However, in the case of other applicants, they would receive this information at the time of visa issuance.
People affected by the sanctions on financial transactions would need to apply for permits. They would need to obtain permits from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD). This is applicable for people who are:
- Applicants for a visa or,
- Already in Canada
The permits issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) authorise specific activities or transactions. They authorise these activities or transactions despite the prohibitions currently specified under the sanctions. Therefore, these permits would typically enable individuals to conduct certain activities that the authorities would otherwise regard as prohibited.
Officers would need to consider this permit process, when they assign a deadline for submitting evidence that:
- Applicants can transfer funds to Canada or,
- Applicants can make investments in Canada
Only after considering this would officers be able to refuse an application for failure to transfer the required funds or investments from:
- People holding Iranian citizenship or,
- People residing in Iran
The authorities have drafted specific text for communicating with clients affected by the sanctions. All offices of the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC in Canada and overseas missions would need to use the following text when communicating with the clients affected by these sanctions:
“As a result of economic sanctions against Iran, Iranian nationals and persons residing in Iran are likely to face restrictions in transferring funds to, or opening bank accounts with Canadian financial institutions. The text of the Special Economic Measures (Iran) Regulations can be found at the following address: http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-2010-165/index.html. Persons affected by the prohibitions on financial transactions may apply for a permit from the Minister of Foreign Affairs that authorizes specific activities or transactions otherwise prohibited under the sanctions. The granting of a permit is an exceptional action and applicants should not rely on receipt of a permit.
For more information about the sanctions and applications for permits, applicants should consult the website of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD). Applicants may also contact Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD):
Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development
Economic Law Section (JLHB)
125 Sussex Drive
Canada K1A 0G2
e-mail: [email protected]”
Source: Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC)
Appendix B – Language Requirements – Federal Skilled Workers
- The Process for Applications Received Prior to May 04, 2013
- The Process for Applications Received On or After May 04, 2013
- The Evidence of Language Proficiency – The Criteria for Designation as a Language Testing Agency
- The Evidence of Language Proficiency – The Designated Language Testing Agencies
- The Evidence of Language Proficiency – The Equivalency Charts
- The Evidence of Language Proficiency – The Integrity Concerns with Respect to Language Testing Results
Source: Citizenship and Immigration
The Express Entry Pool
The foreign nationals would need to meet the eligibility requirements specified in section 5 above. If they do, the system would include their names in the express entry pool of candidates for a period of one year. However, the system would exclude the time it takes the foreign nationals to meet the following requirement:
- The foreign national would need to register with the Job Bank of the Department of Employment and Social Development not later than 30 days after the day on which they submit their expression of interest if:
- They do not have a qualifying offer of arranged employment or,
- Their name does not appear in a nomination certificate issued by the government of a province referred to in paragraph 2 (d) under its provincial nominee program express entry stream at the conclusion of that period
Source: Citizenship and Immigration
Thousands of foreign students were unable to apply for permanent residence under the Canada Experience Class (CEC) last year after the 2014 limit on the program was exceeded. The students had tried to file their applications prior to the introduction of the Express Entry system which makes it more difficult for them to get permanent residency.
Foreign students made up to 40% of eligible candidates under the CEC, a program which was also used by highly skilled temporary foreign workers. The CEC was hugely popular among international students as it almost guaranteed permanent residence to them if they had relevant Canadian work experience.
Figures show that about 8,000 applications filed under CEC last year were not accepted. These applicants will now have to apply under the new Express Entry system, which is not a favorable option for students.
“Students now have to engage in this kind of lottery. When someone is coming here and paying international tuition fees and getting work experience, why should they be judged like someone applying from abroad,” says immigration expert Lev Abramovich.
Until recently, candidates who possessed a positive LMIA (labor market impact assessment) were more likely to receive invitations to apply for permanent residence under the Express Entry system. However, the latest group of Express Entry invitees included many applicants without an LMIA, increasing the chance for foreign students to receive invitations.
But most international students still feel that the new system makes it tougher for them to get jobs in Canada. “Under the old system, you could tell your manager legitimately that you are applying for permanent residency. It created more of a trusting relationship. Under the new system, you are waiting to be invited. … there’s now a risk that is involved,” says a recent foreign graduate.
The federal government insists that Express Entry will benefit foreign students even more once it is fully implemented by 2017, as the students then would not have to get their credentials assessed for Canadian equivalency.
But immigration experts have warned that countries that have implemented work restrictions on international students have seen a huge decline in their numbers, and that the same could happen in Canada as well. For instance, the UK saw an alarming 50% decline in students from India and Pakistan after it imposed restrictions on their right to work there after graduation. With foreign students paying more than double the tuition fees compared to local students, their declining numbers would mean losses in revenues that Canadian universities want to avoid.
In 2014, Canadian universities had about 133,000 undergraduate and graduate foreign students in attendance, with a total of 120,000 study permits granted to international students at colleges and universities. Surveys show that more than half of these students intend to stay on in Canada after graduation.
The Proof of Studies
Purpose: To verify education claims and to validate the applicant meets the program requirements
- To receive program-specific points for education, the applicant would need to:
- Provide evidence of having completed a Canadian secondary or post-secondary educational program or,
- Obtain an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) and provide the Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) reference number in their application
- In addition, the applicant would need to provide proof of the foreign educational credentials for which the applicant is claiming points
- For submitting proof of completed Canadian or foreign educational credentials, the applicant could include copies of:
- Secondary or post-secondary educational documents (i.e. degrees, diplomas and certificates) and,
- Transcripts for successful completion of secondary or post-secondary studies, if available
- On obtaining an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA), the applicants would need to provide the Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) reference number in their electronic Applications for Permanent Residence (e-APRs) for online validation directly with the issuing organisation
- Applicants do not need to submit a scanned copy of the Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) when submitting the electronic Applications for Permanent Residence (e-APRs)
- However, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) might request for this subsequently
The Individuals who would need to submit this documentation:
- The principal applicant
- Their spouse or common-law partner
The documents specified below are mandatory. As such, all applicants would need to provide them. The authorities would consider applications submitted without these documents as incomplete and reject them. Thereafter, the authorities will refund the fees accordingly as well.
- The Medical Examination Confirmation
- Police Certificates (PCs)
- The Copy of Passport / Travel Document Bio Data Page
- The Proof of Work Experience
- The Proof of Funds
Other Mandatory Documents (If Applicable)
The documents listed in this section are mandatory, if applicable. This means that applicants might need to submit these documents based on their personal circumstances as well as those of the applicants’ dependents.
In case applicants do not provide these documents with their applications (when applicable), the authorities would reject the applications as incomplete. In addition, they would refund the appropriate fees.
- The Copy of the Birth Certificate
- The Proof of Studies
- The Provincial or Territorial Certificate of Qualification
- The Letter of Offer from the Employer
- The Use of a Representative Form [IMM 5476]
- The Evidence of a Common-Law Union and Cohabitation
- The Marriage Certificate
- The Divorce Certificate and the Legal Separation Agreement
- The Death Certificate
- The Adoption Certificate
Other Required Documents:
Applicants would need to submit the following documents as part of their electronic Applications for Permanent Residence (e-APRs) in their MyCIC accounts. The submission of these documents would typically depend on the situation applicable to them. It is worth noting that the system does not let applicants submit their electronic Applications for Permanent Residence (e-APRs) until the applicants have uploaded the documents into the applicable fields provided.
In case applicants do not provide these documents with their applications (when applicable), the authorities would reject the applications as incomplete. This is especially the case if the applicants do not provide the documents according to the proper specifications.
In addition, the authorities could also consider refusing applications if the processing office does not have sufficient information on file for satisfying themselves that the applicants meets the requirements of the program to which they are applying.
- The Proof of Relationship to a Relative in Canada, the Status of the Relative in Canada and the Residence Status of the Relative in Canada
- Digital Photographs
- The Other Name Documents
- The Authority to Release Personal Information to a Designated Individual Form (IMM 5475)
- The Documents Related to the Electronic Applications for Permanent Residence (e-APRs) Not Captured in Other Fields
Source: Citizenship and Immigration