Immigration: everything is changing
Canadian immigration is something that is never constant but always changing. The forms, the rules, the practices, even the Immigration Act changes and sometimes the best we can do is try to stay informed about the changes. The onus is upon the user to know what has changed and to do the right thing by the legislation and program guidelines.
Consider, if you will, the recent announcements of the department or the comments of the federal Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Jason Kenny. The purpose of this article is to make the reader aware of some of the things that have changed or are changing as I write these words.
Many are alarmed by the dramatic headlines coming from comments from the federal Minister’s speech to the Economic Club of Canada in Toronto on Wednesday July 20, 2011. The CBC reports that Ottawa intends to revoke the citizenship of 1,800 people that it believes obtained their citizenship through fraudulent means. This decision is rare in Canada and such a large-scale crackdown is without precedent.
“We are in the process of notifying them that we will revoke their citizenship because Canadian citizenship is not for sale,” said Kenny. He clarified that the abusers are, “a small but not insignificant number who hired crooked consultants to obtain fake proof of residence.”
First, one must wonder, “why now?” And secondly, “for what purpose?” This is not to condone misrepresentation, but has the abuse just occurred now or have the current numbers skyrocketed? In the past only high profile offenders such as war criminals like John Demjanjuk, who lied about atrocities he committed in World War II, had their citizenship revoked. The attendant costs of such an initiative are high because all Canadians are entitled to an exhaustive and lengthy legal process.
Long-term immigrant visa
The Minister also referenced changes to the Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) application stream with the creation of a new long-term immigrant visa for frequent visitors, valid for 10 years without any limit on the number of entrances to the country. The long term multiple entry visas would allow family and friends abroad to come to Canada for up to six months at a time and as many times as they want over a 10 year period. In the case of applicants from the Philippines the multiple entry visa would be limited to the validity of their passports (five years) minus one month.
Cuts in Federal Skilled Worker Class
Visitors are not the only persons affected by immigration changes. On June 28, 2011, Citizenship and Immigration Canada announced further changes to the Federal Skilled Worker Class. Last year’s target of 20,000 in total or with 1,000 in any of 29 target occupations is changed. The number has been cut by 50% to a maximum of 10,000 new, complete applications per year with no more than 500 of this maximum in any one NOC (occupation) category. The federal Minister assured his audience that “skilled workers are needed in the country,” but this causes one to wonder aloud about how such a drastic cut helps to achieve the “right balance on immigration levels."
Increase in provincial nominees
It appears that the right balance is to be found in a shift from the federal Skilled Worker Immigration Stream to the provincial nominee category. Minister Kenny announced that provincial nominees will be increased for the current year to 40,000 from last year’s 36,428. The maths is not quite the same because a 3,572 increase in provincial nominees does not really cover a decrease in 10,000 skilled federal immigrant applicants. There is a net loss of roughly 6,500 skilled worker applicants. However, this is something that I leave to federal immigration spokespersons. It is good to know that the increase should mean that our beloved MPNP might not be cut but even expanded.
Keeping immigrants in province
Minister Kenny is also working with the provinces to make sure that landed provincial nominees won’t end up residing in provinces that did not nominate them.
“They’re coming here with the implicit agreement to go and live in the province that’s nominated them,”he said. “We’re working with the province to come up with a better way of tracking down where those folks are going.” (For an earlier discussion of destination, see my article, “Destination and PNP Refusals” in the Pilipino Express, Vol. 7, No. 13, July 1-15 2011.)
Some of the other recent federal changes concern the Federal Immigrant Investor Program (IIP), which has now been capped at 700 new applications considered for processing each year. The Federal Entrepreneur Program is temporarily suspended. This news is not necessarily bad for Manitoba but the changes are reflective of the new reality, with our Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program for Business (MPNP-B) benefitting from the shift from federal immigration programs to the provincial ones.
These are the major changes but there are more. For persons applying to sponsor under the Family Class, for example, be aware that you must use the Generic Application Form for Canada, which is this month’s replacement for the Application for Permanent Residence in Canada (IMM0008). There is the new Additional Dependents/Declaration Form (IMM0008DEP) and Schedule A Background Declaration (IMM5669).
Let us count the recent changes: new forms, new number allocations and a new tougher attitude. The ancient Greek philosopher could have been speaking about Canadian immigration rather than the composition of the natural world when he said, “everything is flux.”
Michael Scott BA (Hon), MA, is a 30-year veteran of Canada Immigration and the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program who works as an immigration associate with R.B. Global Immigration Consultants Ltd. He can be reached at 838 Ellice Avenue in Winnipeg, (204) 783-7326 or (204) 227-0292. E-mail: email@example.com