Foreign Investor Immigrants Stymied By Restrictive U.S. Border Entry Rule

Even though not a great believe in the value of investor immigration, still notable these restrictions under USMCA:

Foreign investors investing in the United States today are being stymied by a U.S. immigration border policy that is preventing them from looking after their businesses in the country. The policy is particularly aggravating to Canadian investors, but is also a problem for other foreign investors that are not visa exempt, that is, from countries where the applicant must apply for a B-1/B-2 visitor’s visa to come to the USA. The relevant rule could be easily changed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) through a policy directive. The question is what useful purpose does the current policy serve if it is needlessly interfering with foreign investments in the United States?

The Problem

The problem has arisen largely due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Foreign investor appointments for E-2 treaty investor visas under the USMCA, formerly the NAFTA free trade agreement, are taking an inordinate period of time to schedule. Indeed, at one point, consular officials in the past were even unable to say how long it would take to get interviews for E-2 visas. This left foreign investors having to come to the U.S. in some other way until they could finally get their E-2 visas. While applying for a change from visitor to E-2 status inside the U.S. is a possibility, some time ago the Consul General at the Toronto Consulate advised U.S. attorneys to avoid that option, implying such applications are likely to be denied. It appears that U.S. officials saw resorting to a change from business visitor to E-2 status inside the U.S. as playing the system because processing of E-2 visas are normally in the purview of U.S. Consulates abroad. So the only reasonable way has been to enter the U.S. as business visitors.

The key snag is the limitation in the amount of time that E-2 investors are allowed to stay in the U.S. in visitor status. Current border policy is to grant a maximum of six months. Indeed, the policy is to refuse entry to business visitors who have already been physically present in the U.S. for six months in any year.

Unwritten Policy Rule

In a previous Forbes article I described the rule as follows:

“For Canadians, one of the issues that often arises is whether the visitor has already spent more than 183 days in a year in the USA. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) officers have been enforcing what Ira Kurzban, the Dean of American immigration attorneys and author of the authoritative book Kurzban’s Immigration Law Sources, diplomatically calls an “unwritten rule” that visitors may not spend more than 183 days in any year in the USA. Written or not, the USCBP custom at the U.S.-Canada border is to prevent visitors from entering in most cases when it is determined that the visitor has already accumulated 183 days of U.S. physical presence in the last year.

The rationale for the rule comes from the way USCBP officers assess visitors coming to the U.S. As a general rule, such officers consider the following elements in making a decision about allowing a visitor to enter the U.S. Firstly, is the applicant a security threat? Secondly, is the applicant a criminal? Thirdly, is the applicant working illegally in the U.S.? Finally, is the applicant really living in the United States permanently but only saying he is visiting? A convenient way of implementing the policy considerations raised by such thinking is to prohibit visitors from entering the U.S. for more than 183 years in any year. After all, how many people can live without earning income for six months or more?”

Serious Hardships

Until visa wait times at the U.S. consulate in Canada are reduced to reasonable levels, however, this rule is imposing serious hardships on E-2 investors. To qualify for E-2 visas, investors have to make more than a marginal commitment of their funds into the United States. Usually this takes the form of a purchase of a business, a hotel for example. Sometimes it takes the form of a start-up where the investor hires employees or commences offering products or services. Whatever the form taken, foreign investors want to be able to be where their money is to be on top of what is going on.

What is needed is for the USCBP to realign its policy with the needs of investors and with the processing times of the U.S. consulates abroad, including the ones in Canada. At the present time, scheduling interviews at U.S. consulates in Canada for E-2 visas for example, are taking at least eight months or more. Applying the current USCBP 180-day policy means that Canadian investors can be shut out of the United States for at least two months or more while awaiting approvals. Clearly these investors need to be granted more than six months time in the U.S. under these circumstances. In the normal course of events the USCBP has the authority to grant business visitors up to one year’s time on an entry. So why not grant these investors such approvals?

A False Alternative

It is true that such investors can apply to extend their visitor’s status for another six months from inside the U.S. But that is a needless extra hardship that is fraught with uncertainty and possible unpleasant future consequences while the investor awaits a ruling. Why put the investors in that position?

What E-2 Visitors Can Do

While business visitors are constrained in what they can do while being in the United States, still such a visitor is at least entitled, “to examine or monitor potential qualifying investments” so as to be ready to apply for an E-2 visa. True, the investor must behave as a business visitor and is “precluded from performing productive labor or from participating in the hands-on management of the business.” Still, there is a list of things such a visitor can do. For example, a business visitor can observe the conduct of business, negotiate contracts, undertake study incidental to the purpose of the stay, consult with clients or business associates, participate in conventions, conferences, or seminars, make phone calls, give employees instructions, take clients to their cars and even engage in commercial transactions outside of gainful employment. The key is no “hands-on-work” and no salary being paid. This can all work if handled properly.

Being Reasonable For A Change

Assuming the USCBP officers applied a more reasonable time frame policy for business visitors dealing with E-2 investments by matching visiting times with likely consular processing times of E-2 visa application, and assuming officers were reasonable in how they viewed what these investors are doing while complying with their periods of authorized stay, these headaches could be avoided and a more reasonable business-friendly environment could be created for E-2 investors.

Why not give it a try?

Source: Foreign Investor Immigrants Stymied By Restrictive U.S. Border Entry Rule

#COVID-19 Immigration Effects: December Update with 2018 baseline comparison

Key trends from December IRCC operational data, which reflect in part a normal seasonal decline:

Overall, comparing 2021 with 2018 data, most immigration programs have largely recovered from the steep impact of COVID travel and other restrictions, with the exceptions of the Provincial Nominee Program, asylum claimants, citizenship and visitor visas.

As trumpeted by the Minister, the number of permanent resident admissions slightly exceeded the 2021 target: 403,540, compared to 401,000. Compared to 2018, admissions have increased by 26 percent.

As seen throughout the year, this is largely due to two-step immigration by temporary residents, largely from the International Mobility Program and the Post-Graduate Work Program. The percentage of the economic class increased to 63 percent, up from 58 percent. 

While on a monthly basis, permanent residency applications increased, compared to 2018, applications declined by 43 percent. This likely reflects recognition by potential applicants of large backlogs and two-step immigration.

Temporary Residents – IMP: While on a monthly basis, IMP declined in December, compared to 2018, numbers increased by 35 percent. 

Temporary Residents – TFWP: While December numbers remained stable, compared to 2018, numbers increased by 24 percent, with the greatest increase in LMIA.

Students: Study permit applications increased slightly in December while study permits issued almost tripled. Compared to 2018, applications increased by 64 percent, and permits issued by 27 percent. 

Asylum Claimants: The number of asylum claimants continued to increase in December, mainly due to the reopening of Roxham Road. Compared to 2018, the number of claimants decreased by 55 percent. 

Citizenship: The citizenship program continues to recover with traditional numbers of new citizens on a monthly basis. Compared to 2018, the number of new citizens declined by 38 percent..

Visitor Visas: While on a monthly basis, the number of visitor visas issued continues to approach traditional levels. However, compared 2018, the number of visas has decreased by 82 percent.

Canada Admits 3 Times More Non-College Immigrants per Capita than the U.S.

Useful comparative data:

Many Americans want a more “merit‐​based” legal immigration system, and the country most commonly associated with this framework is Canada. Former‐​Attorney General Jeff Sessions, for example, characterized U.S. immigrants as largely “illiterate”, with “no skills”, and argued that America “should be like Canada” on immigration, evaluating them on their skills. But while Canada does favor economic‐​based paths to residence, it still admits far more non‐​college educated immigrant workers than the United States does as a proportion of its population—and it is planning to let in even more in the coming years.

According to Canada’s statistics, 244,800 non‐​college‐​educated immigrants over the age of 25 in the labor force entered Canada from 2015 to 2019, 0.65 percent of the Canadian population. During the same period, 729,797 immigrants with the same characteristics entered the United States, 0.22 percent of the U.S. population (Figure 1). In other words, Canada saw nearly three times more entries into its labor force from lower‐​skilled workers than the United States did in recent years on a per capita basis. This disparity would be greater if illegal immigrants were excluded from the calculation.

Despite admitting far more non‐​college‐​educated immigrant workers, Canada also admitted nearly 5 times as many immigrant workers with bachelor’s degrees and 4 times as many immigrant workers with advanced degrees as the United States did from 2015 to 2019 on a per capita basis. This means that overall, Canada admitted nearly 4 times more immigrant workers into its labor force than the United States did from 2015 to 2019. Note that the Canadian share of lesser‐​educated workers would be even higher if they were not also admitting so many higher skilled immigrants.

While it is true that Canada admits a much larger share of immigrants through economic channels than the United States does, it also makes it easier for them to qualify based on jobs where a college education is not required. It also admits as a share of its population more immigrants based on family ties and humanitarian grounds than the United States. Canada has just announced its largest ever legal immigration targets for the next several years, which will increase the rate of admission for both skilled and lesser‐​skilled workers.

While college‐​educated immigrants offer the United States the greatest productivity boost, the fact that a majority of job growth will come from jobs not requiring a bachelor’s degree provides a strong basis for the United States to increase both skilled and lesser‐​skilled immigration in tandem.

Source: Canada Admits 3 Times More Non-College Immigrants per Capita than the U.S.

Black immigrants are more likely to be denied US citizenship than White immigrants, study finds

Unfortunately, only the overall rejection rates with no other data on other factors or reasons for the differences. In Canada, factors explaining differences in naturalization rates are income and education (see Trends in the Citizenship Rate Among New Immigrants to Canada):

Black male immigrants are less likely to be approved for United States citizenship than White immigrants, a new study released this week shows.

Researchers at the University of Southern California analyzed more than 2 million citizenship applications filed by US permanent residents between October 2014 and March 2018, and found racial disparities among those whose applications were approved.

Black immigrants, researchers say, have been denied citizenship more often than any other racial and ethnic group.

About 94% of White women and about 92% of White men were approved for US citizenship while Black men and women received an approval rating at or below 90%, the study shows. Black Muslim immigrants also had lower approval ratings at around 86%.

The data analyzed by researchers did not include details about reasoning behind each application denial — a key piece of information that would help determine what leads to the disparities, said Emily Ryo, the lead author for the study and a professor of law and sociology at the USC Gould School of Law.

CNN reached out to US Citizenship and Immigration Services for comment on the study’s findings.

May: Federal paymasters struggle to rise from Phoenix

Ongoing so many years lager:

Thousands of workers are still owed money when they leave or retire from Canada’s public service, and some are still waiting years to get paid. Thousands more move to jobs in other departments and wait months, if not years, for their paperwork to catch up with them.

It’s been six years – and more than $1.4 billion in fixes – since the disastrous Phoenix launch. The government wanted the pay system to be stabilized this year, meaning the backlog of erroneous pay cases would be eliminated permanently. It’s not there yet.

The spotlight on the Phoenix fiasco all but disappeared when the pandemic took the national stage and the number of pay hardship cases fell. The errors that remain aren’t as egregious as they were in the early days when people were getting underpaid or overpaid massively, or not paid at all. However, despite improvements, a backlog of trouble remains.

The Office of the Auditor General found an overall error rate of 47 per cent in the pay of employees it sampled in 2020-21. That’s slightly lower than the 51 per cent error rate the prior year. It also flagged that 41 per cent still had pay errors waiting to be fixed at the end of the year – compared to 31 per cent the year before.

With $910 million in funding in 2020, Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) put together a three-year plan to get rid of the backlog by December 2022.

The backlog-reduction strategy was built around using technology, boosting the productivity of pay advisers and reducing the volume of cases coming in. The idea is to help pay advisers plow through the flow of transactions every pay cycle and also have enough time to work on the backlog.

The size of the backlog steadily decreased for more than two years, from the peak in January 2018 of 384,000 transactions, to a low of 98,000 in April 2021. The number of people affected dropped. The pay centre also improved its wait times, meeting the service standard of dealing with most pay requests within 20 days at least 80 per cent of the time.

But then it started to backslide.

Phoenix’s processing started to hiccup and sputter for a couple of months before it inched back up throughout the summer and fall of 2021. The active backlog of transactions settled at 141,000 cases by late January 2022.

“When it comes to Phoenix, it is two steps forward, one step back. The backlog of outstanding transactions has reduced since 2016, but whenever a new collective agreement or MOU is signed, it slows down the progress,” said Dany Richard, president of the Association of Canadian Financial Officers.

PSPC officials argued the backslide was nothing more than the normal flux in the volume of work.

They said the number of transactions processed each month varies depending on the complexity of transactions, the pay centre’s capacity, any new collective agreements being implemented, and the normal seasonal spikes in demand, such as hiring summer students.

The size of the public service has also grown 24 per cent since 2015 and there’s been a considerable amount of churn – with people moving in and out of jobs, creating more transactions.

“Although we have made significant progress this past year in reducing the number of transactions in the backlog and queue from 2016-2020, we have seen an increase in new transactions received at the pay centre in 2021, which challenged our ability to reduce the backlog,” said PSPC spokesperson Michèle LaRose in an email.

Some say public servants, many safely working from home, aren’t complaining as loudly about pay errors when so many Canadians lost their jobs during the COVID-19 crisis. Some argue that unions backed off on Phoenix after winning $560 million in damages to compensate workers for pay gaffes. Others say public servants are now so used to pay errors that they have simply become inured to them.

“As the backlog of Phoenix pay issues continues to grow, it seems the government has quietly accepted that Phoenix can’t be fixed, “said Chris Aylward, president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada.”

“We’re nearing the six-year anniversary of the Phoenix fiasco, and thousands of workers are still having pay problems while waiting years for their previous issues to be resolved…Over the past few months, we’re seeing more and more members turn to us for help.”

The auditor general found that 141,100 employees had at least one outstanding “pay action request” last June, down from more than 182,000 in 2018.

The improvements made to Phoenix came partly through technology, such as automating retroactive payments like backpay for 2018 collective agreements. Processes were streamlined, programs introduced to speed up processing of routine work. This was all aimed at freeing up pay advisers to be deployed on the backlog.

The next focus was the culture change around timeliness and accuracy, which should have happened before Phoenix was launched. Managers, human resource and employees had to learn how to manage pay differently. The old pay system could handle late transactions – largely because pay advisers manually fixed things. But Phoenix runs in real time and can’t digest late or after-the-fact transactions.

That cultural shift from late to on-time transactions is slowly taking hold but problems remain around the timeliness and accuracy of requests for terminations and transfers.

At last count, 30,000 terminations were waiting to be processed, either in the queue or dumped into the backlog after the 45-day service standard is missed. Terminations are issued for anyone who leaves the public service.

About 34 per cent of the cases in backlog are less than a year old, but 12 per cent are more than four years old and the rest are between one and four years old. Employees could be owed vacation pay, overtime, allowances and/or severance pay.

About 10,000 transfers are waiting to catch up with employees in their new departments. Those who move to new jobs with raises or promotions could wait months or years for that extra money to kick in – and then discover they have other pay adjustments such as higher pension premiums.

Overpayments are another headache. Departments are racing to recover salary overpayments to employees in 2016, when Phoenix went live. By law, the government has six years to collect salary overpayments from employees – after which they become unrecoverable and are written off as debt. The government has collected about $2.3 billion so far but has another $552 million to collect.

Sources familiar with Phoenix say the problems dogging the system can be fixed with more pay advisers. PSPC has already quadrupled its pay workforce— to about 2,500 people—since Phoenix was launched.

Source: Federal paymasters struggle to rise from Phoenix

India: Why is Karnataka HC deciding if the hijab is an ‘essential religious practice’ in Islam?

Very different approach from Canada where the basis is “sincerely held” religious beliefs, not pronouncing on the religion itself:

As the Karnataka High Court hears petitions by Muslim women seeking wear the hijab to college, the case has included debates about whether the headscarf is an essential religious practice of Islam.

Senior advocate Devdatt Kamat, who is representing a petitioner, has argued that the hijab is indeed an essential religious practice. But the Karnataka Advocate General, Prabhuling Navadgi contesting the claim.

While the Constitution does not draw a distinction between “essential” and “non-essential” practices of a religion, courts have formulated this test starting from the 1950s in cases involving disputes over religion. They have held that the constitutional guarantee of the freedom of religion applies only to practices that are essential to that religion, conventions without which the nature of the faith would be transformed.

As a result of this emphasis, in cases involving the freedom of religion, parties often argue on whether a practice is essential to a religion or not.

What is the essential religious practices test?

Article 25(1) of the Constitution of India guarantees freedom of conscience and the right to practise religion. Article 26(b) also gives religious denominations the right to manage their “own affairs in the matters of religion”.

Over the years, the courts have held that only the practices that are essential to a religion will be protected under these provisions. Thus courts are often called to test whether something is an essential religious practice or not.

While there is no precise definition of what constitutes essential religious practice, courts have laid down some principles. The Supreme Court has held that the essential part of a religion refers to the “core beliefs upon which a religion is founded”. The test for essential religious practice is to see if the “nature of the religion will be changed without that” practice.

The Supreme Court has said that if taking away that practice results in a “fundamental change in the character of that religion”, then that practice is an essential practice.

The Supreme Court has also said that the determination of what qualifies as essential has to be made “according to its tenets, historical background and change in evolved process etc”.

How did the essential religious practice test start?

Initially, essential religious practices were bought in by courts in order to distinguish between what is secular and what is religious. Since Article 25(2)(a) gives the government power to enact a law to regulate or restrict “any economic, financial, political or other secular activities which may be associated with religious practice” this distinction was important.

As a result, in 1954, when the Supreme Court first used the term “essential part of a religion” it was to separate an “essentially religious” activity from a secular activity in a case that involved government control over temples. Here the court gave the power to the religious denomination to decide what would constitute an essential practice.

However, the courts went beyond this in the next few years.

A 1958 Supreme Court judgment looked into ancient texts to determine if temples had the right to determine which ceremonies and rituals were essential in a case relating to the entry of Dalits. This was a shift in the court’s approach in dealing with religious cases, as noted in later judgments as well.

Thus from differentiating religious practices from secular ones, the essential religious practices test morphed into determining what practices are “essential to a religion”. With this, the courts also started looking into texts and the practices themselves to determine if a religious practice was essential.

What are some examples of essential practices?

The doctrine of essential religious practices has since been used in multiple instances, often with major consequences. The first instance of the Supreme Court deciding on a ban on cattle slaughter, in 1959, was tested on whether it was essential for Muslims to sacrifice cows on Bakr-Id. If it passed the essential religious practises test, it could then be protected under Article 25. The court looked at various scriptures and texts and decided that cow slaughter was not a compulsory practice in Islam.

In 1994, while deciding on the acquisition of property in and around the site of the Babri Masjid, the Supreme Court said that a mosque is not an essential part of Islam and prayers could be offered anywhere, even in the open. It also said that the government could acquire the site on which the mosque stood and that would not be prohibited by the Constitution.

In 2017, the Supreme Court held that instant triple talaq is not an essential practice of Islam.

In the Sabarimala case from 2018, where women between the ages of 10 and 50 were prohibited from entering the Sabarimala temple, the judges held that this was not an essential religious practice and thus women could be allowed to enter.

In 1962, the court held that the religious head of the Dawoodi Bohra sect of Islam has the power to excommunicate members while in 1983, it ruled that the tandava dance was not essential to the Ananda Margi sect of Hinduism.

Currently, the essentiality of different religious practices such as female genital mutilation and entry of Muslim women in mosques is pending before the Supreme Court.

What are the criticisms of the essential religious practices test?

The essential religious practices test developed by the Supreme Court has come under significant criticism. In the Sabarimala verdict, Justice DY Chandrachud spent an entire section talking about why this test is problematic and could be replaced with better tests given that courts don’t have the competence to rule on faith.

He pointed out that the essentiality test is a “judicial creation” and the court’s legitimacy to decide on the faith of people “may be questionable”. Other authors have pointed out that our judicial system exists to adjudicate on “secular constitutional statutory and common law issues” and not on theology.

Criticism has also revolved around the allegations that courts apply the test arbitrarily. For instance, Chandrachud said that the tandava dance in public was “prescribed in a religious text by the founder of the sect [Ananda Margis]”. Yet the Supreme Court disregarded that to rule that the practice was not essential since the practice did not date to the founding of the sect and the founder had not provided justification for it.

Currently, a review of the Sabarimala verdict from 2018 is pending before the Supreme Court. In that case, it will reconsider the legality of the essential religious practices test, amongst other issues.

How has essential religious practices been used in the hijab case?

The essential religious practices test has taken the centre stage in the hijab case. Although the petitioners have also argued that disallowing the hijab is discriminatory and affects freedom of speech, the primary argument from their side is based on the essentiality of the hijab to Islam.

This, in turn, has been challenged by the government. They have said that such a declaration would force other Muslim women to wear the hijab. “In a case like this, where you want to bind every Muslim woman, and which can give rise to religious sentiments and division, you should have shown more circumspection to lay a foundation,” the advocate general said.

He also added that the government has left the choice to institutions on what uniform they want to prescribe. The advocate general has further pointed out that the petitioners should have framed this issue not as a denial of a “religious symbol” but as a denial of a “head scarf”.

The government has also said that the burden is on the petitioners to show why the hijab is an essential religious practice. As part of its arguments, the government drew attention to instances where the court held certain Islamic practices to not be essential – such as cow slaughter, triple talaq and praying at a mosque.

Earlier, lawyers like Gautam Bhatia had also pointed out that framing the hijab as an essential religious practice takes away the individual agency of the woman to decide if they wish to wear the hijab. Rather, arguments along the lines of freedom of speech, right to privacy and freedom of conscience would respect individual agency better in this case.

Source: Explainer: Why is Karnataka HC deciding if the hijab is an ‘essential religious practice’ in Islam?

Les établissements francophones ontariens eux aussi plus touchés par les rejets de permis d’études

Of note. Would really be helpful to have more in-depth analysis of the factors that underlie these differences, rather than just the differences:

Les établissements postsecondaires francophones et bilingues de l’Ontario peinent à recruter des étudiants étrangers. Leur taux de refus de permis d’études auprès d’Immigration Canada est de loin supérieur à ceux observés dans les collèges et universités anglophones, a constaté Le Devoir.

Des directions francophones disent devoir travailler beaucoup plus fort que leurs collègues anglophones pour pouvoir atteindre leur cible de recrutement. Les deux seuls collèges de langue française de l’Ontario ont vu respectivement 67 % et 73 % des demandes de permis d’études de leurs futurs étudiants être refusées en 2021, d’après des données fournies par Immigration, Réfugiés et Citoyenneté Canada (IRCC). Il s’agit d’une amélioration par rapport à 2020, où la moyenne pour les deux s’élevait à 79 %. Dans les 22 collèges anglophones répertoriés dans la base de données d’IRCC, ce sont en moyenne 40 % des demandes qui ont été refusées en 2021 et 50 % en 2020.

L’écart est similaire entre les universités francophones et bilingues d’un côté, et celles anglophones de l’autre. À l’Université de Hearst, au nord de la province, par exemple, 72 % des demandes de permis d’études pour étudiants étrangers ont été déclinées en 2021 et 86 % l’année précédente. Quelque 85 % des demandes l’ont été au cours des deux dernières années à l’Université Laurentienne. À Thunder Bay, à l’Université Lakehead, la plus grande du nord de l’Ontario, un établissement anglophone, la situation est tout autre : en 2021, seulement 28 % des demandes de permis d’études ont été refusées.

Bululu Kabatakaka, le directeur des programmes postsecondaires et de l’intégration au collège Boréal, ne comprend pas ce qui cause cet écart. « Est-ce qu’il y a un biais inconscient par rapport aux pays francophones ? » se demande-t-il. Le Devoir révélait en novembre qu’Ottawa refusait de plus en plus d’étudiants de l’Afrique francophone.

Le dirigeant estime qu’il doit travailler considérablement plus fort que ses collègues pour atteindre ses cibles. « Quand nos collègues [d’autres collèges] travaillent 35 heures, nous, on travaille 150 heures », dit-il.

Le même phénomène se produit au collège La Cité d’Ottawa et à l’Université de Hearst. Le recteur de l’université, Luc Bussières, critique le gaspillage associé aux taux de refus élevés : des ressources sont dépensées inutilement pour le recrutement, et des rêves d’étudiants sont gâchés, dit-il. « Ça rendrait notre travail plus efficace si on avait un meilleur taux, explique le recteur. Si on veut 100 personnes, il faut faire 500 offres. »

« Nous devons généralement faire de 15 à 20 offres aux candidats pour que 10 étudiants acceptent notre offre et que 3 de ces étudiants obtiennent un permis d’études », raconte pour sa part Pascale Montminy, directrice des communications de La Cité. En 2021, 67 % des demandes de permis d’études au collège ont été refusées. À quelques kilomètres à l’ouest du centre-ville d’Ottawa, au collège Algonquin, qui est anglophone, le taux tombe à 40 %.

Problème difficile à régler

Ce type de problème dure depuis environ quinze ans, estime Martin Normand, directeur de la recherche stratégique et des relations internationales à l’Association des collèges et universités de la francophonie canadienne (ACUFC). « Les établissements interpellent IRCC et ses prédécesseurs pour demander des explications et des modifications, ou à tout le moins plus de transparence », fait savoir le directeur.

Le gouvernement fédéral souhaite depuis 2003 que les immigrants francophones représentent 4,4 % des nouveaux arrivants à l’extérieur du Québec. L’échéancier pour atteindre la cible avait d’abord été fixé à 2008, mais il a ensuite été reporté de 15 ans. Pourtant, Martin Normand remarque que les agents du ministère « reprochent souvent aux étudiants leur intention de rester au Canada à la fin de leurs études », explique le directeur de l’association. L’intention de faire une demande de résidence permanente après les études constitue un motif de refus pour les permis d’études, soutient-il. Le directeur était du groupe de témoins qui ont récemment critiqué l’approche d’Ottawa, qu’ils estiment contradictoire, devant le Comité permanent de la citoyenneté et de l’immigration.

Selon IRCC, même s’il existe une possibilité pour un étudiant étranger d’éventuellement devenir un résident permanent, chaque demandeur de permis doit convaincre l’agent d’immigration qu’il a l’intention de respecter ses obligations à titre de résident temporaire. Ainsi, chaque demandeur « doit être capable et désireux de quitter le Canada à la fin de sa période de séjour autorisé », explique Julie Lafortune, porte-parole du ministère, par courriel.

L’exercice d’analyse des établissements en ce qui concerne les motifs de refus est encore plus compliqué du fait du manque d’accès aux données. Lorsque contactées par Le Devoir au sujet des taux de refus, des directions ont dit ne jamais les avoir vues. « C’est un peu une boîte noire », lance Luc Bussières, recteur de l’Université de Hearst, qui compte entre 250 et 300 étudiants.

De l’université au collège

Les étudiants détenant un diplôme universitaire dans leur pays natal seraient aussi désavantagés s’ils souhaitent retourner aux études dans un programme collégial en Ontario, estime Bululu Kabatakaka. Dans sa campagne de recrutement, le Collège Boréal évoque la pénurie de main-d’œuvre dans la province, qui touche certains secteurs couverts par ses programmes, mais si des candidats étudiants tentent de répondre à ce besoin, ils se voient bloquer par IRCC, affirme M. Kabatakaka.

Il s’agirait plutôt de juger de la « bonne foi » des demandeurs, fait valoir IRCC. La demande d’une personne détenant déjà un diplôme universitaire pour suivre des études dans un domaine non connexe « ne pourrait peut‑être pas convaincre l’agent qu’il est un étudiant de bonne foi », cite comme exemple la porte-parole Julie Lafortune.

« Il faut que les agents comprennent bien les besoins des communautés francophones en matière d’immigration et de main-d’œuvre », affirme de son côté Martin Normand, de l’ACUFC.

Source: Les établissements francophones ontariens eux aussi plus touchés par les rejets de permis d’études

Switzerland Wants to Make It Easier for Third Generation Immigrants to Gain Swiss Citizenship –

Still one of the harder citizenships to acquire:

The Swiss Federal Migration Commission wants to make it easier for third-generation immigrants to obtain Swiss citizenship by removing several bureaucratic procedures and requirements.

Though in a referendum held on February 12, 2017, the voters had supported changes to the constitution in order to make it easier for people born in Switzerland, whose grandparents had immigrated to the country to obtain citizenship, a recent study of the Federal Commission on Migration shows that there is still a low rate of applicants who meet this condition that are gaining citizenship.

In a press release issued last week, the Federal Commission has revealed that out of the approximately 25,000 applications for citizenship submitted by this category since February 15, 2018, only 1,847 had been granted Swiss citizenship until the end of 2020.

The Commission believes that there are too many unnecessary requirements hindering the process for these people.

The will of the people and the estates must be implemented. These people have long been part of Switzerland – Switzerland needs them!” the President of the EKM, Walter Leimgruber, says.

Amongst the main requirements that the Commission wants to abolish is the age limit. The current rules on applying for Swiss citizenship as a third-generation immigrant state that the application must be submitted before the 25th birthday.

Since many people only want to naturalize a little later, after completing their training or when starting a family, this age limit is not justified. The legal age limit does not correspond to the reality of the life of those affected. It should therefore be abolished,” the Commission claims.

It also states the requirement of proof of belonging to the third generation of foreigners is too complicated, as amongst others it includes:

  • proof that the grandparents were entitled to reside in Switzerland
  • proof that the father or mother attended compulsory school for at least five years,
  • evidence one parent lived in Switzerland for ten years and has a permanent residence permit

And finally, the Commission wants to make it easier for people wishing to become Swiss citizens as third-generation immigrants to access information and advice on the procedures.

Due to the complicated regulations, it is often a challenge for local authorities to provide competent advice to those wishing to naturalize. In order to facilitate the naturalization of third-generation people, local authorities need to be empowered to give them appropriate advice,” the Commission states.

Data by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office show that 0.2 per cent of the Swiss population are foreign nationals from the third or a higher generation. Another about five per cent are second-generation immigrants, of whom 3.6 are naturalized and another 2.4 of foreign citizenship.

The Swiss are one of the world populations that are most satisfied with the quality of life in their home country. According to the 2020 Income and Living Conditions Survey (SILC) of the Swiss Statistical Office, 40.4 per cent of the population aged 16 and over noted that they were very satisfied with their current life. Whereas in 2014, 39 per cent of the population aged 16 and over believed the same.

Source: Switzerland Wants to Make It Easier for Third Generation Immigrants to Gain Swiss Citizenship –

How Israel’s citizenship law legalises racism; Despite court ruling, Israel tells some converts they don’t attend synagogue often enough

Perspectives regarding the different discriminations inherent in Israeli citizenship, starting with respect to Palestinians, highlighting the cultural and political divides:

Introduced in 2003, Israel’s Citizenship and Entry into Israel lawbars Palestinians who are married to Israelis, often Palestinian citizens of Israel, from obtaining permanent residency or being naturalised as citizens of the state.

In 2007, it was extended to include citizens from countries deemed “enemy states” like Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria.

The law has been renewed every year since, until last July, when the Knesset failed to secure a majority to renew it. The newly appointed PM Naftali Bennett was undermined by members of his coalition, particularly those from the Arab party Ra’am and some rebels from his Yamina party, who voted against extending the law.

Former PM Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party – traditionally avid supporters of the law – also blocked the renewal. The move was interpreted as an attempt by Netanyahu to follow through on his promise to “bring down [Bennett’s] dangerous government.”

The failure was evidently more about the internal rivalries and less about a principled reconsideration of the controversial law. Another vote was only a matter of time.

“Israel’s Citizenship and Entry into Israel law bars Palestinians who are married to Israeli citizens from obtaining permanent residency or being naturalised”

Early this month, with help from the opposition, the bill introduced by right-wing Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked to reinstate the temporary law passed with a 44-5 majority in the first reading in the Knesset plenum.

Members of Knesset (MKs) also approved a stricter version of the bill proposed by MK Simcha Rothman from the far-right Religious Zionism party, which suggests further restrictions on immigration to Israel, including limitations on temporary and permanent residency as well as citizenship.

Ra’am, the only Arab party in the governing coalition, and the left-wing Meretz party opposed the bill but failed to influence the vote. In response, the Arab Joint List called for a no-confidence vote in the government.

The two versions of the bill are expected to merge before the second and third reading at the Knesset in the coming weeks. Shaked tweeted that reinstating the law saw “Zionism and common sense prevail.”

Security grounds

The law was originally enacted against the backdrop of Palestinian attacks in Israel during the first years of the Second Intifada (2000-2005). Some of the attackers were allegedly Palestinians who received residency status in Israel through family unification proceedings.

Soon after the March 2002 suicide attack in Haifa’s Matza restaurant by a naturalised Palestinian from the West Bank, the Israeli authorities took the step to impose an en bloc prohibition on granting residency or citizenship rights to any Palestinians from the West Bank or the Gaza Strip.

The state said the move was necessary since it was almost impossible to individually examine the security risks presented by every person seeking family unification.

Petitions by rights groups in 2006 and again in 2012 to the Israeli Supreme Court challenging the security argument on the grounds that the law violated basic human rights were rejected.

The majority of judges agreed that the law violated the human right to family life, yet upheld the law on security grounds. Citing “state sovereignty” and the “state of war,” they maintained that, like other states, Israel is legally entitled to limit immigration of foreign nationals into its territory, including the spouses of Israeli citizens.

The limitations are especially justified if those nationals belonged to countries deemed as “enemy states.”

In 2016, Israel granted a few applicants “temporary permits” based on “humanitarian situations” after petitions to address years-old applications secured a Supreme Court hearing, but these were just a one-time relief based on an arbitrary cut-off date, argued a UN press release.

Legalising discrimination

One of the judges who opposed the law, Chief Justice Aharon Barak, maintained that it violates the Palestinian minority’s basic right to family life (to live together as a family) and equality. Even though he supported the state’s security rationale, Barak argued that human rights should be protected during the time of war.

Barak’s concerns were elaborately echoed in various international human rights treaties. In 2014, the UN Human Rights Committee found that the law violates Israel’s obligations under international law. The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in 2019 expressed deep concerns over Israel’s discriminatory citizenship legislation.

The Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Adalah, one of several rights groups that petitioned to Israel’s Supreme Court to revoke the law, described it as “one of the most racist and discriminatory laws in the world.”

The organisation rejected the security argument, saying the law is chiefly motivated by demographic concerns and its goal is to create separate citizenship tracks for Israel’s Jewish and Palestinian citizens that ensure a system of Jewish supremacy.

“Rights groups and scholars have long argued that the notion of ‘Jewish and democratic’, as stipulated in the 1948 Declaration of Independence, is paradoxical”

In its recent report on Israel, Amnesty International referred to the ban on family unification as part of the larger system of discrimination and oppression that amount to apartheid.

Since 1948, the organisation reported, Israeli officials from across the political spectrum have emphasised the overarching objective of maintaining Israel’s identity as a Jewish state, and their intention to limit Palestinian access to land, resources, and services. Discriminatory laws to control Palestinian demography, such as by denying Palestinians the right to family unification, are central to this mission.

While the citizenship law is discriminatory against all Palestinians, it primarily targets Israel’s Palestinian minority, who are viewed as a threat to the stability and continuity of a Jewish nation-state from within.

Here, the concept of sovereignty allegedly entails Israel’s right to shape and maintain the “state character,” namely its “Jewish identity.” This identity is the means through which Jews claim ownership of the state, and non-Jewish citizens – particularly those of Palestinian descent – are only recognised as having individual rights within it.

Theoretically, Israel is similar to other states in creating and maintaining a pattern of state-ethnic relations necessary for the establishment of internal cohesion and, inevitably, state security. In practice, however, Israel is different in understanding national security mostly in terms of the security of the Jewish people, not all the citizens of the state.

By seeking to enshrine its collective identity as a Jewish state, Israel fails to commit to its declared democratic ideals. Adalahhas pointed out that Israel is the world’s only democracy that “denies residency or citizenship to spouses of its own citizens on the basis of their spouses’ national, racial, or ethnic affiliation, while simultaneously labelling them as enemies.”

Several rights groups and scholars have long argued that the notion of “Jewish and democratic,” as stipulated in the 1948 “Declaration of Independence,” is paradoxical. It is practically impossible to apply the fundamental principles of democracy, specifically those related to the equal political and legal rights of all citizens, yet continue to determine the character of the state on ethnoreligious grounds.

The Advocacy Centre for Arab Citizens in Israel, Mossawa, states that the Jewish character of the state has been used to bypass democratic principles of equality. This is not exclusive to citizenship legislation, but also visible in a series of laws –over twenty of them since 2001 alone – that explicitly discriminate on the basis of ethnicity.

The 1952 Citizenship Law, for instance, which sets the primary legal ground for its 2003 successor, explicitly stipulates that there is “no Israeli nationality save under this Law.” As such, it does not grant rights and benefits on the basis of citizenship; rather on the grounds of ethno‐nationality.

“It is practically impossible to apply the fundamental principles of democracy, specifically those related to the equal political and legal rights of all citizens, yet continue to  determine the character of the state on ethnoreligious grounds”

This rationale was emphasised in the 2018 Nation-State Law, which makes the right to the land exclusive to Jews, encourages settlements as a right, and downgrades Arabic, spoken by over 20% of the population, to a “special status” language.

Attempts to challenge discriminatory laws are stifled through, among others, the 2002 Knesset Members Law, which strips MKs of their parliamentary immunity for expressions that reject the existence of the state as a Jewish state. The law effectively curbs the ability of Palestinian MKs to challenge the state’s Jewish identity and, by extension, related legislation.

Israeli legislators took advantage of the heightened securitised environment in the post-Oslo period to pass laws previously deemed indefensible and undemocratic. Encouraged by the significant rise in right-wing tendencies in Israeli-Jewish society, the Israeli state solidified the myth that the Palestinian minority is a threat to the state that requires legislative actions.

A stricter version of the citizenship law will further tighten the screws on Palestinians in Israel. For the nearly 13,000 of them who are married to Israeli citizens and whose stay in Israel is based on temporary documentation, the prospect of permanent family unification is elusive.

Dr Emad Moussa is a researcher and writer who specialises in the politics and political psychology of Palestine/Israel.

Source: How Israel’s citizenship law legalises racism

And with respect to religious discrimination among Jews:

March 1 will mark a year since the landmark High Court of Justice ruling that recognized non-Orthodox conversions performed in Israel for the purpose of the Law of Return.

In theory, the decision meant that any individual converted in Israel by either the Reform or Conservative movements is now eligible for citizenship under the Law of Return. The Reform and Conservative movements, which often complain about discrimination in Israel, were quick to hail this ruling as a major breakthrough and a small step forward in their ongoing struggle for legitimacy and recognition.

Once the ruling was handed down, it had been widely assumed that those individuals who had undergone Reform and Conservative conversions in Israel, and who had been waiting patiently for years for the outcome of the court case, would automatically receive their citizenship papers.

That hasn’t happened, though. In fact, only a relatively small number have.

The group of petitioners who brought the case to the High Court back in 2005 all received citizenship within a month of the ruling, with few or no questions from the Interior Ministry.

The original group consisted of 11 petitioners, but several left Israel or received citizenship by other means, so the ruling was ultimately relevant for only eight of them. All eight had received temporary residency status because they were married to Israelis, but had lost their right to citizenship either because they later divorced or their spouses died.

But another 30 converts with similar stories, who had been granted special permission to stay in Israel until the case was decided, have not been as lucky.

Like the original petitioners, these 30 converts had been married to Israelis and were able to obtain temporary residency status. But because their marriages eventually failed or they were widowed, they were no longer eligible for Israeli citizenship through the process of “family reunification.” Only if their conversions were recognized, therefore, would they be able to avoid deportation.

Because they were given special permission to stay in Israel until the court ruling was delivered, these 30 converts – known as “the group in waiting” – assumed they would be treated exactly like the original petitioners and obtain their citizenship papers quickly.

But among this larger group, only four converts have thus far been approved for citizenship under the Law of Return, 17 are still awaiting responses from the Interior Ministry and nine have been rejected. The grounds for rejection in many of these cases were that the converts did not attend synagogue regularly.

The Israel Religious Action Center – the advocacy arm of the Reform movement in Israel that represented the original petitioners as well as the group in waiting – is now challenging the Interior Ministry on the matter.

‘Genuine’ motives

Under the Law of Return, any Jew by choice who has converted abroad in a “recognized Jewish community,” regardless of the denomination, has the right to immigrate to Israel and receive automatic citizenship. Until a year ago, the Law of Return distinguished between two categories of non-Orthodox converts: those who had converted abroad and were eligible for aliyah and automatic citizenship, and those who had converted in Israel and were not.

Among those who had converted abroad, the Interior Ministry required that they be active in their local Jewish community for at least nine months before making aliyah, so as to ensure that their motives for converting were genuine.

The ministry has decided to apply this same rule to conversions performed in Israel, but much more forcefully. It is now seeking proof that all those converted by the non-Orthodox movements, who are applying for citizenship under the Law of Return, provide proof that they have attended synagogue regularly since they converted. In certain cases, that requires proof of synagogue engagement for as long as 15 years.

“We do not believe this rule should apply in Israel, which as a Jewish state is a unique community,” said attorney Nicole Maor, director of the Legal Aid Center for Olim at IRAC. “Indeed, it is one big Jewish community and by virtue of the fact that they are living here in Israel, these converts are actively involved in a Jewish community.”

IRAC recently sent a letter to the ministry requesting that it not apply this rule in Israel. It has also sent a letter to the Attorney General’s Office charging that the ministry has misinterpreted the essence of the High Court ruling in its treatment of the group in waiting. According to Maor, it has not received responses to either of these letters.

Some of the converts were rejected on the grounds that their conversions were deemed fictitious and undertaken for the sole purpose of obtaining status in Israel.

IRAC has appealed all the rejections with the ministry. Except for one case, in which the appeal has already been rejected, the ministry has yet to respond to the appeals. IRAC is now appealing the one final rejection in Jerusalem District Court.

Asked for comment, Tomer Moskowitz, director of the ministry’s Population and Immigration Authority, said: “It is my job to establish that these were proper conversions and that there were no grounds for disqualifying them – such as, their being done for the sole purpose of obtaining status in Israel. We need time to respond to all the requests, but have already begun handing out our responses. Some people have been happy with these responses, others have not. But we are by no means trying to trick the High Court or to circumvent its ruling.”

The Reform and Conservative movements together convert about 250 people a year in Israel. The vast majority of these are already eligible for citizenship under the Law of Return, since they have at least one Jewish grandparent. Only about 10 percent every year are not eligible under the Law of Return.

Because the non-Orthodox movements, as a matter of principle, do not convert tourists or asylum seekers, this small group consists mainly of spouses or partners of Israelis who have temporary residency status.

Spouses and partners of Israelis are eligible for citizenship under the family reunification process, but this process is not automatic and can take anywhere from four-and-a-half to seven years. Of those converts who are not eligible for citizenship under the Law of Return, the majority eventually obtain citizenship through this process. The exceptions, for whom the High Court ruling is most relevant, would be those whose relationships have fallen apart. Until a year ago, these converts would have lost their right to Israeli citizenship and faced deportation.

Breaking the monopoly

The High Court ruling came in response to the 2005 petition submitted on behalf of a group of temporary residents who had been converted by the Reform and Conservative movements, but whose requests for citizenship under the Law of Return had been denied by the Interior Ministry.

The case dragged on for many years, during which time several unsuccessful attempts were made by the state and the non-Orthodox movements to reach an out-of-court agreement.

In a separate case in 2016, the High Court ruled – despite strong opposition by the Chief Rabbinate – that temporary residents converted by private Orthodox rabbinical courts are eligible for citizenship under the Law of Return.

Following this ruling, which effectively broke the Rabbinate’s monopoly over conversions in Israel, IRAC returned to the court and asked that its case be reevaluated in light of the precedent that had been set. If private Orthodox conversions can be recognized for the purpose of the Law of Return, IRAC’s lawyers told the court, then private conversions performed by the non-Orthodox movements should too.

“This is a civil matter and not a religious matter,” Supreme Court President Esther Hayut wrote in the ruling. “The petitioners came to Israel and went through a conversion process in the framework of a recognized Jewish community and have asked to join the Jewish nation.”

The Interior Ministry has also rejected the citizenship application of the one and only Jew by choice who converted after the High Court ruling.

In December, it turned down the request submitted by Yosef Kibita, a member of the Ugandan Jewish community who was converted through the Conservative movement. He was the first member of the 2,000-strong Abayudaya community to apply for citizenship under the Law of Return.

Kibita, who had been living in Israel for four years, had already converted twice in Uganda. He underwent a third conversion in Israel, at the recommendation of the High Court, after a previous citizenship application had been rejected.

The ministry said the second application had been rejected because the Conservative rabbinical court in Israel had decided to convert Kibita without requiring him to go through any further studies program. IRAC is contesting the decision.

Although the High Court ruling recognized non-Orthodox conversions for citizenship purposes, these conversions are not recognized by the Rabbinate. As a result, Reform and Conservative converts – whether the conversions took place in Israel or abroad – are prohibited from marrying in Israel.

Source: Despite court ruling, Israel tells some converts they don’t attend synagogue often enough

#COVID-19: Comparing provinces with other countries 23 February Update

Overall decline in infections and deaths as omicron wave passes.

Vaccinations: Some minor shifts but convergence among provinces and countries. Canadians fully vaccinated 81.9 percent, compared to Japan 79.3 percent, UK 73.2 percent and USA 65.5 percent.

Immigration source countries are also converging: China fully vaccinated 87.9 percent (numbers have not budged over past four weeks), India 55.9 percent, Nigeria 3.8 percent (significant increase from very low base), Pakistan 44.4 percent, Philippines 57.9 percent.

Trendline Charts:

Infections: Ongoing signs of omicron and other variants plateauing.

Deaths: Quebec continues to plateau.

Vaccinations: No major change but Alberta and Prairies continue to be laggards compared to other provinces given resistance among residents and political considerations. Jump in Prairies reflects delayed Saskatchewan reporting (weekly, rather than daily, and Globe updates less frequently).


Infections: Canadian North and Australia ahead of Alberta, Japan ahead of Philippines and India.

Deaths: No relative change. Of note, Chinese deaths were unchanged from September 22, 2021 until 9 February, 2022, unique among all countries and, frankly, hard to believe (infections were also relatively flat, from 107,789 to 121,629 during the same period).