Refugee Lives and Political Whim: On Trump, Trudeau, and the refugees they seek to shut out

February 2017

Incredulously, I watched a video of a crowd of hundreds of protesters chanting, ‘Let them see their lawyers NOW!’ The video was taken at a US airport over this past weekend.  Photographs taken in that same airport showed lawyers sitting in groups on the floor, hunched over their computers. They were drafting emergency court petitions in support of the individuals who were detained when their flights arrived – people who had been mid-air when Donald Trump’s Executive Order banned the entry into the US of individuals from seven predominately Muslim populated countries.  I have never been as proud of my fellow immigration lawyers and human rights activists as I was this past weekend.  And I have never felt more grateful for the rule of law, when those court petitions were successful.

Express Entry Missing out on Selecting Skilled Tradespersons

January 2017

My daughter just finished her first semester at the University of Ottawa. As a first year business student, she had no elective courses.  Her best mark after her first semester?  Philosophy.  Her worst?  Economics.  It seems to me that it should be the other way around.  But the problem is that although she’d probably do better in a social sciences or humanities program, she wants a job when she graduates.  So she has chosen a program of study that she feels will lead to job opportunities. 

Faster processing times, simpler application forms for spousal sponsorships: A welcome announcement today for Canadians wishing to bring their spouses to Canada

December 2016

An early Christmas present arrived today from Immigration Canada.

In a major policy announcement, the government streamlined the methods by which it processes spousal sponsorship applications. Highlights of today’s announcements include:

  • Processing times for the majority of applications will be 12 months. This will apply to future applications, and also those already submitted.
  • New forms will be available as of December 15th. The same forms will be used for both inside and outside-Canada applicants. Only one questionnaire/sponsorship evaluation form will be needed. Old forms will be accepted until the end of January.
  • The Instruction Guide will be simplified, and shortened, to make it easier to read.
  • The Background/Declaration form (Schedule A) will not be required until requested.
  • Medical examinations and police certificates will not be provided up front, but later when requested.
  • The temporary policy allowing inland spousal applicants to receive an open work permit has been extended for another year.

Finally, relief for international students: Changes to the Express Entry system announced

November 2016

Way back in April, I attended the Canadian Bar Association’s annual national immigration law conference. Our Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada, John McCallum, knew that the Express Entry application management system wasn’t quite working out how the department was expecting.  At a luncheon address, he advised those of us in the crowd that changes to the way ‘points’ were allocated to applicants would be changing.  International students, he said, would be one group who would benefit from the changes. 

So, for over six months, I’ve been meeting with potential Express Entry applicants and telling them that the points system would change. In mid-October, I heard that the changes would be in November.  Two weeks ago, I stopped doing consultations for most potential clients – what was the point when everything was about to change!

Yesterday, the changes were finally announced and you can read them in all their complexity here:

Ministerial Instructions Amending the Ministerial Instructions Respecting the Express Entry System, 2016-1

How will the 2017 Canadian Immigration Levels Plan affect Express Entry Scores?

November 2016

The 2017 Immigration Levels Plan has been announced.  These ‘levels’ are the numbers of permanent resident applications Canada plans to approve during 2017.  The numbers are broken down based on the type of application (family reunification programs, economic immigration programs, and refugees/humanitarian cases.)  The number of applications in each category will impact processing times; the more space in the category, the more staff that will be assigned to process those applications.