…. instead of residency being seen as a set of ongoing obligations and privileges, it is reduced to the status of a commodity, bought and paid-for.
The Conference Board of Canada has released a report recommending reestablishment of entrepreneur and investor immigration programs. I laud the idea of bringing in smart, accomplished people who will start businesses and create jobs. But I’m completely adverse to the idea of an immigration program that will grant permanent residency based on payment (whether outright or in the form of a no-risk, interest-free loan). While such programs may directly line government coffers and indirectly help the economy through the purchasing of housing and goods and services in Canada, it’s not just about the money.
I want immigrants as my neighbours. I love the restaurants they start, the art and culture they share, and that they become my friends. But I want them to ‘buy into’ Canadian society. I want them to volunteer helping Canada’s needy, to help me clean up my neighbourhood park, to vote in elections, and to enroll their children in the half-empty school down my street. Will those who ‘pay’ for a permanent resident visa do all of these things? Maybe they would. But I’m inclined to think that immigrants selected for their skills and talents, not the amount in their bank accounts, will be more likely to integrate into Canadian society. Needing to earn a living in Canada makes integration a necessity. My country is great, and I’m keen to share it. But it became great only because a lot of smart, accomplished people helped make it like that. Those wanting Canadian permanent residency must we willing to do their part to keep Canada the great place it is to live.
In addition to the release of this report, many other interesting things have been happening in Canadian immigration law. Some points of interest:
The Immigration and Refugee Board is now publishing statistics. For example, it reports that in 2016, 23,665 refugee claims were filed. 9,972 claims were accepted, and 4,817 claims were denied. 128 claims were filed by citizens of the United States. 2 of these claims were accepted.
Less than half of refugee hearings are proceeding on their scheduled dates. My last two hearings were cancelled with only a few days’ notice. I have no idea when they will be rescheduled, a situation that is incredibly stressful for my clients. In response to the situation affecting clients like mine, Immigration Minister Hussen has ordered a review of Canada’s asylum system.
The Ontario provincial nomination program has had a major overhaul. New is a program for qualified tradespeople with a year of work experience in Ontario, who are currently residing in Ontario with a valid work permit. It may be necessary to delete and recreate your Express Entry profile to be selected for this program.
New Express Entry points are now available to those with a sibling in Canada and French language proficiency. You may need to amend your profile to add additional information to take advantage of these additional points.
Immigration is now providing regular updates on the number of individuals in the Express Entry pool, and their scores. At the recent Canadian Bar Association national immigration law conference, Immigration department representatives suggested the score may go below 400 in the coming months.
On May 26th, for the first time there was a draw just for individuals in the Express Entry pool who qualified for the Federal Skilled Trades Program. The minimum score for this draw was 199. I guess they finally read my blog post.
Last week, the government’s online immigration portals experienced massive technical issues. These problems were related to the June 6th changes to the Express Entry portal giving additional points for siblings and French language abilities. In his keynote address at the national immigration law conference, Minister Hussen apologized for these issues. The department is working on ways to allow people affected by the issues extensions to deadlines to file documents and submit applications. But another departmental representative at the conference stated her opinion that the answer to such woes is simply not to leave filing ‘to the last week’. Such is not an option when only 7 days is given to upload additional documents.
Finally, yesterday evening (June 13th), the long anticipated changes to the Citizenship Act were passed in the House of Commons, 214 to 92. We are now awaiting Royal Assent.