2021 Canadian Law Blog Awards Winner

Ronalee Carey Law’s Newsletter Wins a Clawbie

by Ronalee Carey Law

January 2022

 

We’ve been publishing a monthly newsletter since July 2013.  We have over a hundred publications.  The most famous, Today I Become a ‘Zero’, was quoted by an IRCC panellist during the 2016 Canadian Bar Association’s spring conference.  After we knew it was being read by IRCC staff, we started including policy suggestions in many posts. 

In December, I reached out to a few colleagues, cap in hand, asking if they would nominate our newsletter for the Canadian Law Blog (Clawbies) Awards.  

I am pleased to announce that we won! 

Best Newsletters

Over the last few years, email newsletters have been gaining popularity as a medium. These three winning publications are must-subscribes, but also reside online for the benefit of future searchers. 

Ronalee Carey Law Newsletter 
Ronalee Carey’s monthly newsletter has many fans, who praise its accessibility, timeliness and wit. From the nominations: “It’s quoted/shared internally by IRCC because it’s that good.”

2021 Award Winner Clawbies (white writing on a red background): Canadian Law Blog Awards (darker red writing on a lighter red background).

PGWP Applicants Must Now Provide Authorized Leave Documentation

by Ronalee Carey Law

January 2022

On January 10, 2022, IRCC published a program delivery update affecting those applying for a post-graduation work permit.  The instructions for IRCC staff  now state the following:

If the applicant took a period of leave that was authorized by their DLI at any time during their studies, they must include documentation proving the leave was authorized by the DLI with their application.

These new instructions to immigration officers are highly problematic for two reasons: 

  • They ignore the Federal Court decision Munyanyi v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2021 FC 802. In that decision, a refusal of a PGWP was found to be unreasonable. The applicant was a student at a university that did not require its undergraduate students to request an authorized leave to take a semester off.  The Federal Court chided the immigration officer for not considering this when refusing the PGWP application for lack of documentation that the leave was authorized.   

IRCC must mandate that Canadian post-secondary institutions offering programs to international students have a formal policy regarding authorized leaves.  Until they do so, they should not be denying PGWPs to students who do not have documentation from their designated learning institution. 

  • IRCC has not updated the information on its website meant to be read by international students. The webpage Study in Canada as an international student has no information about complying with the terms of study permits. One must consult the webpage Work in Canada after you graduate: Who can apply to find out that taking an unauthorized leave from studies can result in ineligibility for a PGWP.  International students would not read this webpage until after graduation.  By then, it would be too late, as they cannot request a letter from their school retroactively.  Consider the student experiencing mental health issues and dropping their semester’s courses rather than having failures in their transcript.  This student would be considered to have taken an unauthorized leave.  According to the new instructions, they would be granted no mercy from IRCC.

Further, and most problematic, the instruction guide for PGWP applicants makes no mention of a requirement to provide documentation concerning an authorized leave.  Regarding documents to be included with the application, it refers to the Document Checklist.  This checklist is similarly silent:

 

Post Graduation Work Permit Applications Must Also Include the Following. Document stating you have completed all of the requirements for your programs of study. This must include: Checkbox A final transcript, and Checkbox A letter from the institution and/or the formal notice of graduation. NOTE: if you have completed more than one program, please upload the transcript and the letter from the institution of your choice in the appropriate fields. The other transcripts/letters of completion must be submitted in the additional documents field. Checkbox Proof of Payment.  NOTE: When applying to the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program, you must pay a CDN $100.00 open work permit holder fee in addition to the $155.00 work permit processing fee.

 

IRCC is instructing its officers to reject PGWP applications when documentation about an authorized leave is missing despite the instructions to applicants and document checklist making no mention of the requirement to provide this documentation.  Certainly, this will come before the Federal Court again. 

Climate Migrants are Coming Canada Must Prepare

by Ronalee Carey Law

December 2021

In the last few months, Canada has seen the impact of climate change first-hand.  Recent floods in British Columbia displaced 15,000 people.  However, climate change is inequitable.  Other nations will see more significant consequences in the future.  Some are even at risk of ceasing to exist, submerged by rising sea levels.  By 2050, it is estimated that 216 million people will be displaced due to climate change.

The obligations of nations to assist those impacted by climate change were discussed at the recent United Nations Glasgow Climate Change Conference (COP 26). After debate, the following platform statement was pronounced:   Acknowledging that Parties should, when taking action to address climate change, respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on …the rights of migrants…

Despite promises made at COP 26, Canada is ill-prepared for the coming climate migrant crisis. Our legislative framework does not contemplate giving protection to individuals who arrive in Canada after losing their homes due to climate change. We have no special programs in place to resettle displaced individuals.

The Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers encourages Canada to prepare for the inevitable. The group’s 2021 Report on Climate Migrants sets out concrete suggestions for how Canada can respond, including providing Temporary Resident Permits for those impacted by environmental disasters and instructing immigration officials to consider the long-term risks associated with environmental degradation.

The saying, ‘think global, act local’ has never been more apt. Like most first-world countries, Canada is a top emitter of greenhouse gasses. (We come in 9th, globally.) Yet, we will not be the most impacted by climate change. We need to be prepared to share our land with those who are.

Delays in Permanent Resident Card Issuance may Scuttle Holiday Plans for New Immigrants

by Ronalee Carey Law

November 2021

Pandemic-related processing delays continue to plague Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC.)  With the holidays fast approaching and international travel opening up, the delays in issuing permanent resident cards for new immigrants are becoming a huge problem.

Permanent residents can only fly into Canada with a permanent resident card or permanent resident travel document. (A PRTD is inserted into a passport like a visa.)  Once permanent resident status is confirmed, either upon entry to Canada or through the new permanent resident confirmation portal, individuals can no longer use their visa or electronic travel authorization to enter Canada. 

According to the IRCC website, the current processing time for issuing permanent resident cards for new immigrants is 75 days.  Unfortunately, this is inaccurate for many applicants.  We have applicants who have been waiting eight months for their permanent resident cards to arrive.  Further, it may be accurate for one member of a family and not others.  I have a husband waiting for a permanent resident card despite his wife receiving hers in early October. 

Unfortunately, we can do little to help individuals without a permanent resident card who want to travel.  It is almost impossible to get through to IRCC’s client service centre by telephone. Webforms receive an auto-reply stating that unless the inquiry is considered a ‘priority,’ no reply will be sent.  Applicants can contact their Members of Parliament.  Constituent assistants have access to a dedicated telephone number for IRCC and might find out whether there are issues with the photos provided or if the card was mailed out. 

We advise clients that if they can enter the USA, they may consider leaving their vehicle at the airport and then driving back to Canada after their trip.  At land borders, the Confirmation of Permanent Residence document can be presented as proof of status. 

PRTD applications can only be submitted to a visa office.  We can’t help clients apply for them until they have left Canada.  The applicant must submit their passport through a Visa Application Centre.  Processing times vary by the visa office.   As such, for individuals who want to make a short trip or won’t be close to a Visa Application Centre, applying for a PRTD won’t be feasible.

There are solutions: allowing an eTA or visa to be used for a certain period after permanent residence is confirmed and allowing PRTD applications from within Canada are two.  Unfortunately, IRCC seems unwilling to provide a remedy.  We are assured that IRCC is doing its best to get through its backlog, but that will be little solace to my clients looking to visit friends and family after long separations caused by pandemic travel restrictions.