For decades now, Canadian governments of all stripes have promoted immigration as a tool for nation building, and one of the purposes of Canada’s immigration laws is “to support the development of a strong and prosperous Canadian economy.” Unfortunately, this goal is often frustrated by bureaucratic red tape and an almost total lack of customer service.
Last month, the federal court decided an immigration case that demonstrated what happens when an immigration officer misses the forest for the trees. In this case, a prospective Canadian immigrant was refused a visa because his reference letter did not outline job duties that matched the required immigration criteria.
In this case, the prospective immigrant needed to prove that he supervised and coordinated staff or assigned work to certain employees in order to qualify for immigration. In refusing his application, the officer found that because the employer used the words “helping,” “assisting” and “aiding” in the reference letter, that the prospective immigrant did not actually carry out the required tasks outlined in the immigration criteria.
While the prospective immigrant won his case, one big question remains: why did this case have to go to court in the first place?
This case would not have gone to court if the immigration officer called, emailed or faxed the prospective immigrant’s employer to ask for clarification. Instead, the officer refused the application and thousands of dollars were spent by the government and the prospective immigrant in court. Does one really need to go to court to determine if “helping” to supervise is really supervising? Are these the important questions of our time that taxpayers need to spend money on in order for them to be considered by judges and government lawyers?
If Canada wants to develop a “strong and prosperous Canadian economy” through immigration, refusing an application on details that could have easily been clarified does not serve anyone well.
Unfortunately, this case is not an isolated example. One only needs to look at the general red tape that bogs down the immigration system to see how frustrating immigration is for our future neighbours, employees and taxpayers.
One breath-taking example is the number of pages an individual has to fill out to immigrate to Canada. For instance, if a Canadian wants to sponsor their foreign spouse to Canada, at least 29 pages of forms have to be filled out.
If making decisions without seeking clarification or requiring people to answer the same question multiple times is not enough, there is a bigger problem of “hidden” immigration rules.
Over the last year, Citizenship and Immigration Canada has changed numerous forms, multiple times, without warning. When an individual submits an outdated form, that individual runs the risk of having their immigration application returned.
Immigration lawyers in Canada have suggested numerous times to Citizenship and Immigration Canada since 2009 that a formal grace period be allowed, but such suggestions have fallen on deaf ears.
Such suggestions would not be reinventing the wheel; the U.S. government already has such a policy in place.
Is a little customer service really too much to ask when individuals and businesses pay hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to have their immigration applications assessed? Unfortunately, Canada’s answer has been “yes.”
Attorney Colin Singer Commentary:
The immigration landscape under the Harper Government has become since 2006 restrictive, inflexible, litigious and more enforcement driven than in recent memory. Yet, Canada continues to be a sought after destination despite this unwelcoming process.