Canadian immigration: Why are Europeans renouncing immigrant status?

I find this concern overblown. If people are renouncing their Permanent Resident status, it suggests that they are likely not here on a permanent basis. Hard to imagine that European-origin permanent residents would renounce their PR status if only travelling back and forth for annual visits or occasional business travel.

The eTA requirement is not onerous:

Foreign nationals from visa-exempt countries who are permanent residents of Canada (who used to be called landed immigrants) are being confronted with the new step before they can get approval to board flights to this country, but also at port-of-entry airports such as Vancouver International.

The trouble arises for these travellers when they arrive at an airport without their plastic permanent resident card — or don’t realize their permanent residence status has expired for certain reasons, including not spending enough time in Canada.

They are thrust into a state of limbo.

When such travellers try to get an eTA — and airport officials then discover they are permanent residents of Canada, but their documentation is inadequate — they are not granted an eTA to board a plane to Canada or, if they somehow make it to Canada, they are not allowed through immigration checkpoints.

As a result, says Toronto immigration lawyer David Lesperance, customs and airline officials are advising such people the quickest way to be allowed to fly into Canada is to renounce their opportunity to immigrate.

As Lesperance puts it, airport officials are telling them: “Either you voluntarily relinquish your (permanent residence) status right here and right now, and we let you in as a visitor, or we deny you entry and fly you back home.”

Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland confirms European and anglophone clients who have had permanent resident status have been running into many difficulties at international airports because of the eTA.

The overall number of people from all countries who have renounced their Canadian immigrant status has gone up sharply since 2014, when Ottawa began making the process of renouncing easier.

The total volume of renunciations has jumped from just a handful a year to more than 30,000 in the past two-and-a-half years.

Of course, would-be immigrants from Europe, Asia or Africa renounce their attempt to gain citizenship for a variety of reasons. Some dislike Canada’s cold weather, some earn more money in their homeland and some are trying to avoid paying Canadian income taxes.

But the immigration lawyers say the biggest reason Germans, Australians, French, Danes, Dutch and Britons have recently renounced is the change Immigration Canada introduced last year and formalized on Nov. 10 — requiring all travellers from visa-exempt countries to apply online for an eTA.

More than 2,530 people from Britain have renounced their Canadian permanent resident status in the past year and a half, compared to just 305 in 2015, before the eTA was announced.[average number of new PRs 2006-15: 7,124]

The pace of Australians recently renouncing their PR status has jumped 17-fold — to 509 in the past year and a half compared to just 30 in 2015. [average number of new PRs 2006-15: 1,054]

More than 571 Germans have also renounced in the past year and a half, compared to 153 in 2015. [average number of new PRs 2006-15: 2,334]

So have 775 French citizens, contrasted with 117 in 2015. [average number of new PRs 2006-15: 4,902]

Most of the Europeans and anglophones renouncing their chance to become Canadian citizens are “relieved” to end their travel aggravations by forgoing their permanent resident status in Canada, Kurland said.

Many are deciding instead to travel to Canada as tourists, or by applying for increasingly popular 10-year visas.

Source: Canadian immigration: Why are Europeans renouncing immigrant status? | Vancouver Sun

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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