Canada’s College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants Act Comes Into Force

Good overview by one of the immigration law firms:

We will see how well the new regime works and whether it results in better practices and more professional immigration consultants:

Canada’s College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants Act has come into force, representing another step on the way to forming a new self-regulating body for immigration consultants. 

The act provides the framework for the creation of the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants (CICC), the body replacing the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC).

The act, which came into force on Thursday, November 26, 2020, but was first tabled in 2019, will see the introduction of a new licensing regime and a new code of professional conduct for immigration consultants.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) says the CICC will be subject to ‘significant government oversight’.

The government will establish the code of conduct, set the composition of the College Board of Directors, and appoint up to a majority of directors, IRCC says.

“We’re taking decisive action to hold immigration and citizenship consultants to account by improving oversight and increasing accountability to protect both the public and consultants in good standing from dishonest consultants who are taking advantage of vulnerable people,” said Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino.


College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants Act

1.  Creates a licensing regime for immigration and citizenship consultants and requires that licensees comply with a code of professional conduct established by the minister, through regulations to be tabled by the government.

2. Authorizes the College’s Complaints Committee to conduct investigations into a licensee’s conduct and activities.

3. Authorizes the College’s Discipline Committee to take or require action if it determines that a licensee has committed professional misconduct or was incompetent.

4. Prohibits persons who are not licensees from using certain titles and representing themselves to be licensees and provides that the College may seek an injunction for the contravention of those prohibitions.

5. Gives the immigration minister the authority to determine the number of directors on the board of directors and to require the Board to do anything that is advisable to carry out the purposes of that Act.

6. Gives the new regulatory body to hear complaints regarding licensed members under the former regulatory body (ICCRC).

7. Fines doubled for consultants found to be violating rules.


In reality, the formation of the CICC represents a missed opportunity for the federal government to bring the regulation of immigration consultants directly under its remit. Self-regulatory bodies like the ICCRC and its predecessors have failed to the required job.

Ottawa should follow the example of Quebec, which regulates immigration consultants within the provincial government Ministry of Immigration. There is an established infrastructure that successfully regulates immigration consultants, without the repetitive problems faced by ICCRC and its predecessor.

The new act comes after years of investigations and reports citing abuse and violations by licensed and unlicensed consultants in the Canadian immigration industry.

The regulation of the immigration consultancy industry has long been a source of controversy, even before a Standing Committee report in 2017.

That report called for action in three main areas:

  1. The legislative framework for the body responsible for governing immigration and citizenship consultants.
  2. Investigations and enforcement concerning the offense of practicing while not authorized and other offences.
  3. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada procedures for processing applications and for communicating with clients and with prospective applicants.

Previously there have been a number of damning reports into the conduct of the existing ICCRC, exposing an unprofessional organization beset with infighting and poor practices.

An overwhelming concern is that unregulated ‘ghost’ consultants who operate in Canada and overseas without sanction.

The previous legal framework did not enable ICCRC to police unlicensed consultants inside Canada or abroad.  

This left the task for CBSA and RCMP, as well as the federal government, to try and address this problem. A number of high-profile fraud cases have thus made their way into the Canadian legal system.

The advice for immigration candidates is to exercise caution when hiring an immigration consultant.

Candidates who wish to receive representation are encouraged to hire a qualified immigration lawyer, monitored by a provincial law society.

Source: Canada’s College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants Act Comes Into Force

Green: Canada should revive the investor immigrant program and fix its past failures

Not aware of any studies that show meaningful benefits from investor immigration programs in OECD countries. Green is notably vague with respect to how he proposes to “fix its past failures” beyond increasing the investment threshold. The IRCC evaluation was devastating (https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwjN2Z6D2qDtAhX8GFkFHWXyCD4QFjAAegQIAxAC&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.canada.ca%2Fcontent%2Fdam%2Fircc%2Fmigration%2Fircc%2Fenglish%2Fpdf%2Fpub%2Fe2-2013_fbip.pdf&usg=AOvVaw2KiDUWqxbDR2xBXtujZnYm) and census data indicates the median incomes based on tax data to be minimal and lower than refugees. Quebec’s comparable program largely serves as a backdoor entry to other parts of the country:

From the earliest days of Confederation, immigration has been essential to Canada’s evolution and identity as a country. The labour – and tax dollars – of successive waves of people from around the world have supported universal health care, pension plans, education, national infrastructure, and the creation of small businesses and employment.

The economic stress caused by a global pandemic, on top of the dual realities of an aging population and a slow-growing population, make immigration more important than ever. It is also an opportune time for Canada to revive the investor immigrant program that was terminated in 2014, with a view to integrating it into our long-term economic strategy.

The federal government has clearly flagged that expediting immigration to Canada is a priority over the next several years.

In addition to setting a target to welcome 401,000 permanent residents in 2021, Ottawa recently made it easier for Hong Kong students and youth to quickly come to Canada on work and study permits, as well as offering new ways to stay permanently. The new permanent residence rules will also benefit people from Hong Kong already in Canada under existing work and study permits.

Then there’s the 300,000 Canadian citizens living in Hong Kong, many of whom, in light of recent political developments there, may be contemplating a return.

Also consider that although many applications were delayed by COVID-19, most are already well down the approval pipe and will proceed quickly once embassies and visa agencies fully reopen. Ottawa has already flagged that it will work to fast-track increased admission to Canada in 2021.

For all of that, there is much more that can be done for both prospective immigrants and Canada. At the top of that list is a practical reassessment of the investor immigrant class.

In 2020, the practical benefits of reviving the program far outweigh any misplaced concern about those “buying” Canadian citizenship.

Let’s not be hypocritical: Those of us already fortunate enough to live here stand to benefit as much as anyone who is new to the country.

The key to making it work this time around is to be clear-eyed about past failures, to refine the tax structure and better manage the five-year deposits required by these immigrant investors. It does not seem excessive to increase the $800,000 fee that was required before the Harper government cancelled the program. But in the past, those deposits were directed to provinces to foster the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises – a well-intentioned initiative that never took shape.

By learning from that disappointing experience, Canada can win on several counts.

It can seize opportunity to create a COVID-19 fund to help offset the economic cost of the coronavirus and attract immigrants who have the means to make a big difference in short order.

It can also attract a group of educated and financially secure immigrants who, along with their families, will make a lasting contribution to our economy. It is also an opportunity to bring regional and local governments into the process to ensure the funds are put to the best use.

Nowhere would that difference be felt more immediately than in the stabilization of the domestic residential real estate market, small business and employment, something of great importance to all Canadians and their families.

For some time now, there have been claims that housing markets, especially condominiums in urban centres, are threatened by an imbalance of supply and demand.

That’s a tough prospect for municipalities and provinces that have already been economically ravaged by the effect of the coronavirus.

Higher immigration levels – especially in the economic class – address this on a number of levels.

Furthermore, while much has been made of the pandemic-driven urban exodus, new Canadians tend to gravitate to and revitalize our cities.

Immigration is an important way for Canada to build long-term economic, social and cultural bridges around the world. Does anyone think it will be anything but beneficial to our relations with Washington that vice-president-elect Kamala Harris had such a positive experience as a student in Montreal?

We have always been justifiably proud of being a country of immigrants. Clearing the 2020 backlog, expediting new permanent residency applications and reinstating the investor immigrant class is both timely and strategic at a time when we need to reinforce our country as seldom before, and to ensure the long-term prosperity of all Canadians.

Green is a Managing Partner at Green and Spiegel and past chair of the Canadian Bar Association, National Section, Citizenship and Immigration

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/commentary/article-canada-should-revive-the-investor-immigrant-program-and-fix-its-past/

Korea: Immigration not the only solution to demographic change

Interesting take, reflecting under-employment of women in Korea:

From an agrarian economy in the 1960s to now one of the strongest economic forces in Asia, Korea has evidently achieved tremendous economic growth, which not only comes with fiscal and welfare improvements but also demographic changes. The United Nations predicted that Korea’s population will peak in 2024 and decrease from then on and a 2000 UN Population Division report suggests immigration as a solution to this issue.

Yet, the rate at which Korea’s population is decreasing would require a mass immigration so large that it becomes an ineffective solution. Therefore, it has to be done at a smaller scale and coupled with other solutions that rely on Korea’s existing population.

The demographic change looming over this country ― and others ― is called demographic transition, which is the decrease in fertility and infant death rate due to improved welfare and technological development. It occurs in developed countries and results in a declining and aging population. The latter is the change in age structure to one with a greater proportion of older age groups, whereas the former is the change in the total overall population.

Immigration intended to offset the decline in the population size is called replacement migration, yet it can also address the declining working-age population. Based on the UN report, Korea has to aim for an annual net immigration of 800,000 between 2035 and 2050 to maintain the ratio of a working-age individual to retiree at 3.0. To bring in that number of people annually is close to impossible considering Korea’s past trends: 156,000 in 2018, and 32,000 in 2019.

To actualize our goal of sustainable economic growth, our solution itself should be sustainable. Therefore a more direct immigration policy is suggested. An example is Japan’s 2019 immigration policy that created two new visa status types for foreigners working in sectors experiencing labor shortages. With this solution, the country with the highest proportion of people over 65 years old was able to target specific industries that require manpower.

The proposed solution above greatly reduced the UN’s recommended annual net immigration, which means we have to look within the country and utilize existing human capital ― Korean women.

Despite having the highest tertiary education rates out of 36 OECD countries for women aged 25 to 34, Korea ranked 30th in women’s employment. An Ewha Law School professor suggests in a CNN interview that such contradicting statistics are proof that discriminatory hiring is still prevalent despite anti-discriminatory laws.

The Korean judicial system needs to address this issue with stricter consequences. The initiative to change should also come from organizations, and at all levels of management. Every individual is responsible to correct old prejudices and biases that promote sexism.

Yet, encouraging female employment means more than just hiring more women. It also means hiring them for leadership positions, and jobs that are historically perceived to be more appropriate for men ― referring to labor-intensive work.

Other potential solutions are empowering the elderly and extending the work-life of workers. It’s important to mention that this solution is not simply done by increasing the retirement age. Instead, it’s done by carrying out health-related initiatives and promoting lifelong learning.

Firstly, lifelong learning. Currently, Korea already has the Lifelong Education Act. Under this statute, the Korean government can plan programs purposed for cultivating human capital potential.

One way to do that is by providing opportunities for people to learn emerging skills, similar to what the Singapore University of Social Sciences is already doing. They’re offering credits for courses in emerging skills to their alumni. This is a potential solution because technological innovations also mean a workforce that needs to be trained in utilizing said technology. This resource should also be available to people of all ages and employment status.

Secondly, concerning health, investing in preventive countermeasures is impactful. Educating the public on ways to take care of their health will be cheaper compared to subsidizing healthcare costs due to ailments.

One supporting case is the company Johnson & Johnson (J&J) that strategically planned wellness programs for their employee’s social, mental, and physical health. Their efforts resulted in $250 million in healthcare savings. For every dollar J&J spent on wellness programs, they received a return of $2.71 between 2002 and 2008. Harvard Business Review even suggests that every dollar invested in health-risk prevention saves $6 in healthcare costs.

Korea’s working population has been decreasing due to population aging and decline. Replacement immigration has been suggested as a solution to this issue.

Yet the answer to whether or not Korea should embrace more immigration to ensure sustainable growth is not a simple yes or no. Replacement migration is one solution to this, but it shouldn’t be the only one. An issue as complex as this one needs more than just one big solution. Like a pride of lions hunting their prey, so should we address this issue, with several solutions.

Maria Natasha Lintang is a student at the State University of New York, Korea.

Source: Immigration not the only solution to demographic change

This program lets global investors buy a Canadian business — then hire themselves as foreign workers. Proposed changes will kill it, some say

Would be helpful to have a formal IRCC/ESDC evaluation of this “loophole” and the outcomes of those availing themselves of it (IRCC’s evaluation of the investor immigrant program resulted in the program being killed under the previous government given its limited contribution to the economy):

With years of experience managing a travel agency in Saudi Arabia, Asgar Khan spotted an investment opportunity in Canada’s home-care sector.

So he purchased a franchised senior-care agency and applied for a special government approval document — an owner/operator LMIA.

The document is designed to attract migrant investors who want to start a business in Canada then come to this country on a temporary work permit so they can run it.

Now, almost two years after he opened his first Right at Home Canada location in Ajax, Ont., Khan has bought the right to open a second outlet in Kingston. He says he has 57 employees, from personal support workers to nurses, between his two locations.

“The owner/operator LMIA is a great program for people who want to run their own businesses in Canada,” says the 38-year-old native of India, who is in Canada on a work permit. “The (foreign) investment can create jobs and be a huge economic boost for Canada, especially during the pandemic. … It’s a win-win for immigrants and Canada.”

However, some immigration consultants and lawyers say they fear proposed changes by Employment and Social Development Canada, the federal department that approves the LMIA, or labour-market impact assessment, will essentially kill the program.

In recent consultations with lawyers and consultants, federal officials said they’re considering changes that would include requiring that a business be bought and in operation for at least one year before a person could apply for a LMIA and that the owner/operator position be advertised to ensure all attempts are made to fill that job with a Canadian first.

That could mean someone like Khan would need to advertise for someone to do his job and only get approval for an owner/operator LMIA — and a work permit — if a Canadian can’t be found.

“Which investor in their right mind will invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in a business that they cannot oversee?” said immigration consultant Sharmila Perera, who has experience helping clients in the program.

“Why would a person invest so much money in a business in Canada if they are not allowed to come and work in their own business? They can’t run it from overseas.”

The program has become increasingly popular in recent years. The number of the owner/operator LMIA applications skyrocketed from 228 in 2016 to 505 last year. In 2019, there were 372 applications approved, according to Employment and Social Development Canada.

What makes the owner/operator LMIA attractive is that, in some ways, it offers a loophole in the immigration system.

It lets someone buy a business in this country, then essentially hire himself or herself as a temporary foreign worker. Then, they use that job offer in a bid to become a permanent resident.

Under Canada’s immigration system, applicants are awarded points for attributes such as language proficiency, educational achievements and professional experience.

Typically, work experience gained through self-employment is ineligible for points under the immigration point grid.

Yet someone applying for permanent residence can qualify for as many as the 200 bonus points through employment arranged by a Canadian employer.

Those with jobs under an LMIA qualify. They receive bonus points, ranging between 50 and 200, depending on the level of their positions. Senior managers and CEOs can claim the maximum points.

“To get 200 points, you need to be a senior manager with at least six or more employees, which will cost you ideally at least $250,000 to buy or start a business. Jobs must be created or saved, so it is perfect” as an economic stimulant during the pandemic, Immigration consultant Phil Mooney said.

An applicant’s fate can hinge on the job they’ve created for themselves.

“If the business fails before you get it, you are only a temporary foreign worker, so you have to leave Canada” because one would no longer have a job,” Mooney said. “Once you get your permanent residence, there are no terms and conditions to be met.”

Not everyone is convinced this is how the system is meant to work.

Immigration lawyer Ravi Jain, president of the Canadian Bar Association’s immigration division, said these individuals should be ineligible for the bonus points for permanent residence because they are essentially self-employed.

“The program has been heavily marketed around the world as a pathway for immigration. But people are being misled. I don’t think it is (a clear pathway). That’s a grey area,” Jain said, speaking on behalf of his own law practice.

“There is a tremendous amount of room for discretion (from immigration officials evaluating an application). I think they are responding to that and are essentially looking to kill the program.”

There are also concerns in some quarters that the program might be abused.

Immigration lawyer Colin Singer said he can see how people might abuse it, by buying a business and flipping it back a year later after they obtain the coveted permanent residency in Canada.

But Singer said the program works well for those applicants who do not fit squarely into other immigration programs.

“Every program, no matter what it is, is subject to abuse. Why? Because there are so many people who want to come to Canada and they are willing to do anything,” said Singer. “That being said, there are other ways to control it. You don’t kill the entire program.”

The new rules, in particular the need to advertise the jobs to for a Canadian first, might very well spell the program’s demise, Singer predicted.

“I don’t think people are going to be able to prove that the advertising wasn’t able to capture qualified managers (in Canada) for a gas station or a Starbucks. You are not talking about the highest skills that are needed.”

Employment and Social Development Canada said the owner/operator LMIAs is not a formal stream of the temporary foreign worker program. It would not say when the new changes would take effect.

A department spokesperson said the proposed changes are all part of its ongoing program reviews.

However, it appears the newly proposed, one-year operational requirement has already been used to assess some applications.

Sanya Kalra, 37, along with her husband, Sunny Kalra, bought a franchised pizzeria in Brampton with their own savings but her owner/operator LMIA was refused in October, the same date she received her building permit for the George Street location. She was told she’s only eligible after the shop is opened and in operation for a year.

The couple from India have already paid the bulk of the money but are unable to oversee the project themselves and must count on the help of her brother-in-law in Canada, who has a full-time day job himself in human resources.

“We have invested so much money in it. It’s just so difficult to manage it due to our different time zone here,” said Karla, who stays up in the wee hours to remotely administer and supervise the restaurant opening, now scheduled for mid-December. “It just doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Source: This program lets global investors buy a Canadian business — then hire themselves as foreign workers. Proposed changes will kill it, some say

Migrant worker groups critical of Ontario’s new farm outbreak plan

It would be helpful to have some independent analysis rather than just quoting the various stakeholders on either side:

A new strategy to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks on Ontario farms does not go far enough to protect vulnerable employees, migrant worker groups said Tuesday, as the province and farmers pledged to do more ahead of the 2021 growing season.

Agriculture Minister Ernie Hardeman launched the strategy Monday, promising millions in funding and issuing 35 recommendations aimed at helping the sector whose workers were hit hard during the first wave of the pandemic.

The strategy aims to prevent and contain farm outbreaks, protect workers and secure Ontario’s food supply chain.

Several migrant worker groups said workers themselves were not consulted in the development of the plan and none of its safety recommendations are mandated by law.

The executive director of the Migrant Workers Alliance said without any binding enforcement, the plan will offer little protection for workers.

“What is the enforcement mechanism?” Syed Hussan said. “What is the complaints mechanism for workers when things are not happening? And what protections do they have when they raise their voices and about complaints?”

Justice for Migrant Workers spokesman Chris Ramsaroop called the document “biased” towards the agri-food companies and said the government is putting business profits over the health of workers.

“The government does not have workers’ interests as their foremost priority,” he said in a statement. “The decades of systemic discrimination and oppression of migrant farm workers which are the causes of the COVID outbreaks are not addressed.”

Development of the strategy was launched earlier this year by Hardeman in partnership with the agri-food sector when COVID-19 outbreaks infected hundreds of farm workers, highlighting problems with their cramped living and working conditions.

Hardeman acknowledged that he had not consulted any migrant worker groups during the development of the document, but stressed that industry compliance with the recommendations will be high because the strategy was largely created with ideas from the agri-food sector itself.

“I can’t emphasize this enough, everyone’s number one interest is to keep the workers safe,” Hardeman said. “With safe workers, we have a productive industry, with sick workers, we don’t have an industry at all.”

The province and federal government will direct $26.6 million towards health and safety measures to bolster pandemic workplace protections.

Ontario will also spend $25.5 million over the next three years to help farms increase infection control practices, worker screening, and cover equipment costs under the plan.

The strategy also recommends limiting workers to one job site and increasing communication with workers about their access to health care and employment services.

The document establishes a steering committee to continue to investigate a number of key issues, including addressing housing for workers.

During the first wave of the pandemic crowded bunkhouses where many workers live together were cited as a reason why the virus spread so easily.

The strategy says the province and industry need more data on available housing stock on farms and must do more to harmonize standards across the province and access additional space before next spring.

The president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture said it will be a challenge to ensure adequate housing is secured before the next growing season.

“I don’t think we can get it all right for the spring of 2021 but we’re going to try,” Keith Currie said.

“It’s a plan towards the best case scenario. Do we need to look at renting more hotel rooms (or) keep fewer people in the same area for housing, those kinds of things.”

Currie dismissed the criticisms of the migrant worker groups, saying the temporary foreign worker program that brings them to Canadian farms has been around for 55 years and helped farmers establish relationships with employees who return to work every year.

“If you and I were treated like what the Migrant Workers Alliance is accusing us of treating workers, there’s no way in heck I’m getting on a plane and leaving my country and going to a foreign one to work,” he said. “Certainly, if anyone knows of an employer who’s not doing things right, we want to know because we want to deal with them.”

Source: Migrant worker groups critical of Ontario’s new farm outbreak plan

Will Canada’s immigration scheme for Hong Kong drain young talent from city?

Likely yes. Economic class immigration is not altruistic:

Canada’s latest immigration scheme for Hong Kong may spark an exodus of talent from the city as heightened local political tensions push educated young people to seek opportunities elsewhere, according to experts.

The forecast on Friday referred to new rules unveiled by Canada a day before to make it easier for Hong Kong’s youth to study and work there, in response to the sweeping national security law imposed by Beijing on the city.

“[The] announcement is set against the backdrop of a number of developments which have been gravely concerning to Canada,” the country’s immigration minister Marco Mendicino said on Thursday, citing the move by Beijing to disqualify four elected legislators in Hong Kong.

Under the new pathway to permanent residency for Hong Kong youth, any resident of the city who has graduated from a recognised university in the past five years can apply to work for up to three years in Canada, and will be offered a way for easier transition to permanent residency.

Canada also plans to accelerate the process for the spouses, partners and children of young Hongkongers to emigrate to the country.

Violations of Hong Kong’s national security law, or of any laws that Canada does not itself have on its books, will be disregarded when the country evaluates requests for asylum, permanent residency or other permits, according to Mendicino.

Source: Will Canada’s immigration scheme for Hong Kong drain young talent from city?

Ottawa announces new Hong Kong immigration options as committee warns Uighurs face ‘genocide’

A reminder that Canadian immigration policy has a large element of self-interest given the priority given to younger, highly-educated potential immigrants rather than political refugees (which it may prefer to be discrete about given likely Chinese government thuggish reactions):

The federal government today announced long-awaited plans to help more people living in Hong Kong come to Canada as the Chinese government cracks down on the pro-democracy movement in the territory.

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said Canada is introducing a new measure targeting students and young people in Hong Kong: a work permit designed to speed up the process toward permanent residency.

“This announcement also supports the commitments made by the Government of Canada to maintain the many connections between Canada and Hong Kong in response to the Chinese government’s imposition and implementation of the national security law in Hong Kong on June 30, 2020,” his department said in a statement.

There are about 300,000 Canadians living in Hong Kong, the department said, adding that the new Chinese national security law criminalizes “secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces,” using very broad definitions that undermine rights and freedoms.

Hong Kong was supposed to operate under a “one-country, two-systems” framework after Britain handed its former colony over to Beijing in 1997 under an international agreement. But human rights and pro-democracy advocates say Beijing’s new national security law is undermining freedom in Hong Kong.

Mendicino said the new immigration stream announced today was crafted in response to the Chinese crackdown on some Hong Kongers.

“We find ourselves at a challenging moment. Canada remains deeply concerned about China’s passage of the new national security law. We have unequivocally stated that this legislation and the unilateral powers within it are in direct conflict with China’s international obligations,” Mendicino said.

By targeting young Hong Kongers with post-secondary degrees from Canadian and foreign universities, Mendicino said Canada hopes to bring in “the best and the brightest” individuals fleeing repression.

On Wednesday, Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said Canada was “deeply disappointed” by China’s latest decision to remove four elected lawmakers from office in Hong Kong.

“This decision further narrows Hong Kong’s autonomy and the space for freedom of expression and public participation in governance in Hong Kong,” the minister said in a media statement. “This action clearly demonstrates a concerning disregard for Hong Kong’s Basic Law and the high degree of autonomy promised for Hong Kong under the ‘one-country, two-systems’ framework.”

Earlier today, members of a House of Commons committee looking into the plight of ethnic Muslim Uighurs in China’s Xinjiang province cited their recent conclusion that the Chinese Communist Party is guilty of perpetrating a genocide against the ethnic minority.

The all-party Commons subcommittee on human rights heard harrowing testimony from survivors of China’s imprisonment of Uighur Muslims. They shared accounts of mass incarceration, rape, forced sterilization of women and mass surveillance.

Critics say China has detained as many as one million Uighurs and members of other Muslim groups in what amount to mass prisons, where they are subjected to “re-education.”

The Chinese government has denied any abuse of human rights in the region and insists that reports claiming that are false.

“The subcommittee is persuaded that the actions of the Chinese Communist Party constitute genocide, as laid out in the Genocide Convention,” said Liberal MP Peter Fonseca, the committee chair. “In particular, the subcommittee would like to thank the Uighur witnesses that provided evidence at great risk to themselves and their families living in Xinjiang.”

New Democrat MP Heather McPherson said the most compelling testimony she heard came from women who “survived the concentration camps and shared their stories of abuse and violence.”

“It has been shown again and again that to wipe out a people, to perpetrate a genocide, one must destroy the women. Acts designed to prevent births constitute genocide,” she said.

Thursday’s developments are sure to anger China, which has warned the Trudeau government not to intervene in Hong Kong and to stop levelling criticism related to the Uighurs.

Canada’s relations with China are at an all-time low because the People’s Republic has imprisoned two Canadian men, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor — an action the Trudeau government has branded as one of coercive or “hostage” diplomacy.

Kovrig and Spavor were rounded up by Chinese authorities in December 2018, nine days after Canada arrested Chinese high-tech scion Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. extradition warrant.

The subcommittee made it clear it was pointing the finger at the Chinese Communist Party specifically.

“This is not about a people. This is not about a country,” said Liberal MP Sameer Zuberi. “What we want are these practices to stop and then we will have nothing to say on the matter of the Uighur people.”

The subcommittee’s report will make its way up to the full Commons committee on foreign affairs and international development before it goes to the government for a response.

The Trudeau government has said repeatedly it won’t back down on public criticism of China’s human rights record.

Source: Ottawa announces new Hong Kong immigration options as committee warns Uighurs face ‘genocide’

Immigration committee study highlighting coronavirus impact on Canadian immigrants

Will be interesting to follow, particularly with respect to backlogs and processing (hopefully citizenship as well):

Separated family members, approved permanent residents unable to travel to Canada, and others are speaking up in the House of Commons as witnesses in a study on Canadian immigration.

Canada’s Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration is conducting a study that will examine the impact of COVID-19 on the Canadian immigration system over the course of no more than eight sessions. Once the study is complete, the committee will report its findings to the House. The government then has 120 days to table a comprehensive response, however, they are not obligated to make any change in policy.

This particular study will look into the following issues relevant to the coronavirus impact on Canadian immigration:

  • Application backlogs and processing times for the different streams of family reunification and the barriers preventing the timely reunification of loved ones, such as denials of Temporary Resident Visas (TRVs) because of section 179(b) of the Immigration and Refugees Protection Regulations, and the ongoing closures of Visa Application Centres;
  • Examine the government’s decision to reintroduce a lottery system for the reunification of parents and grandparents; to compare it to previous iterations of application processes for this stream of family reunification, including a review of processing time and the criteria required for the successful sponsorship;
  • TRV processing delays faced by international students in securing TRVs, particularly in francophone Africa, authorization to travel to Canada by individuals with an expired confirmation of permanent residency, use of expired security, medical, and background checks for permanent immigration.

While House is in session, the committee is meeting at 3:30 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays. The next meetings are scheduled for November 16, and 18. Immigration minister, Marco Mendicino, has been invited to appear before the committee on November 25 and December 2.

How travel restrictions are affecting immigrants’ mental health

Among other early findings, the mental health of immigrants and their Canadian family members was examined in two scenarios relating to family separation.

Faces of Advocacy is a grassroots organization established to reunite families in Canada during COVID-19 travel restrictions. They say they are directly responsible for the exemption on extended family members, which was announced on October 2.

The group indexed the mental health of 1,200 members at the end of August. They used validated mental health rating scales for depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress in civilians. The results are not diagnostic, but offer a glimpse into the mental health effects that have resulted from travel restrictions.

Despite 49 per cent of respondents reporting they have never been diagnosed with mental illness, just over 69 per cent would screen positive for symptoms of clinical depression. In addition, 16 per cent of respondents had a history of self harm or suicidal thoughts prior to the travel restrictions, but after family separation this nearly doubled to 30 per cent.

Spousal Sponsorship Advocates was established during the pandemic. It is as another grassroots movement, created to advocate for the accelerated reunification of families with ongoing spousal sponsorship applications in Canada.

Their survey took a mental health snapshot of 548 respondents, who had been separated from family for months or even years at a time. Of these, a reported:

  • 18 per cent have suicidal thoughts;
  • 22 per cent had to stop working;
  • 70 per cent have anxiety and 44 per cent generalized anxiety;
  • 35 per cent started having panic attacks;
  • 78 per cent have periods of severe depression;
  • 76 per cent have severe energy loss;
  • 57 per cent now have physical pain;
  • 52 per cent gained or lost weight abnormally;
  • 85 per cent have sleep problems.

The mental state of expired confirmation of permanent residence, or COPR, holders was also mentioned. These are people who were approved for permanent residence, but were not able to travel to Canada before their documents expired. As a result, many are unable to come to Canada without an authorization letter from Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada, and they have already upended their lives in their home country. The evidence includes a series of tweets that are intended to show the “pains, agony, [and] mental torture” experienced by COPR holders.

Source: Immigration committee study highlighting coronavirus impact on Canadian immigrants

La part québécoise de l’immigration continue de diminuer

No surprise. Conscious policy decision with longer-term political impact:

Le Québec n’a peut-être pas accueilli autant d’immigrants qu’il le souhaitait en 2020 à cause de la pandémie, mais il n’en accueillera pas plus l’année prochaine que ce qu’il avait initialement prévu. Du coup, parce qu’Ottawa, lui, entend procéder à un rattrapage, la part québécoise de l’immigration canadienne diminuera encore.

Québec a reconnu fin octobre qu’il recevra cette année entre 30 % et 40 % moins d’immigrants que prévu et qu’il effectuerait un « rattrapage » de 7000 dossiers au cours des deux prochaines années. Plusieurs en ont déduit que ces 7000 personnes s’ajouteraient aux 44 500 à 47 500 personnes que Québec avait planifié d’accueillir en 2021. Ce ne sera pas le cas, a appris Le Devoir.

« Nous maintenons le cap sur les seuils d’immigration. En effet, la cible d’admission pour 2021 demeure la même, soit entre 44 500 et 47 500 immigrants », précise par courriel Flore Bouchon, l’attachée de presse de la ministre québécoise de l’Immigration, Nadine Girault. « L’ajustement des 7000 personnes est pour compenser la baisse des admissions qu’on pourrait avoir. » En d’autres mots, on pense que l’effet de la pandémie pourrait se prolonger en 2021 : garder la même cible constitue donc en soi un « rattrapage » aux yeux de Québec.

Or, le gouvernement fédéral entend vraiment, au cours des trois prochaines années, augmenter le nombre d’immigrants reçus par rapport à ce qu’il avait initialement prévu. Ainsi, il vise 401 000 admissions en 2021 (au lieu de 351 000), 411 000 en 2022 (au lieu de 361 000) et 421 000 en 2023 (les anciennes projections n’allaient pas jusque-là).

Or, le gouvernement fédéral entend vraiment, au cours des trois prochaines années, augmenter le nombre d’immigrants reçus par rapport à ce qu’il avait initialement prévu. Ainsi, il vise 401 000 admissions en 2021 (au lieu de 351 000), 411 000 en 2022 (au lieu de 361 000) et 421 000 en 2023 (les anciennes projections n’allaient pas jusque-là).

Ces hausses feront donc en sorte que Québec recevra une part plus faible qu’avant de nouveaux arrivants au Canada. En 2018, Québec avait reçu 15,9 % du total canadien. Ce taux a chuté à 11,9 % en 2019 et il sera seulement de 11,5 % en 2021 si les cibles des deux gouvernements sont atteintes. Pour l’année 2020 en cours, Ottawa pense être en mesure de respecter sa cible de 341 000 admissions, alors que Québec prévoit d’arriver bien en deçà, dans une fourchette de plus ou moins 25 000 à 30 000 arrivants, ce qui représenterait alors environ 8 % du total canadien.

La baisse de l’apport québécois à l’immigration canadienne se fera surtout sentir dans la catégorie des réfugiés et de la réunification familiale. Le Québec avait accepté 14,4 % de toutes les personnes arrivant au Canada pour rejoindre leur famille en 2018 et 10,6 % en 2019, mais ce taux passera à 9,6 % en 2021. Le déclin est de même amplitude du côté des réfugiés. La part québécoise était de 17,8 % en 2018 et de 13,6 % en 2019, mais ne sera plus que de 12,1 % en 2021.

La baisse de l’apport québécois à l’immigration canadienne se fera surtout sentir dans la catégorie des réfugiés et de la réunification familiale. Le Québec avait accepté 14,4 % de toutes les personnes arrivant au Canada pour rejoindre leur famille en 2018 et 10,6 % en 2019, mais ce taux passera à 9,6 % en 2021. Le déclin est de même amplitude du côté des réfugiés. La part québécoise était de 17,8 % en 2018 et de 13,6 % en 2019, mais ne sera plus que de 12,1 % en 2021.

L’accord entre Ottawa et Québec sur l’immigration commande que Québec accepte plus ou moins 20 % de tous les réfugiés venant au pays. Même si Québec est loin du compte, le gouvernement de Justin Trudeau accepte ses cibles, indique le bureau du ministre fédéral de l’Immigration, Marco Mendicino. « Le plan des niveaux d’immigration du gouvernement du Québec a été intégré au plan des niveaux d’immigration 2021 annoncé par le ministre Mendicino 30 octobre dernier. Nous collaborons avec le Québec afin de nous assurer de leur permettre de recevoir les immigrants nécessaires à la prospérité des entreprises », indique le porte-parole du ministre, Alexander Cohen.

Des craintes

Stephan Reichhold, qui dirige la Table de concertation des organismes au service des personnes réfugiées et immigrantes, trouve « très inquiétante » cette diminution. « Depuis deux ou trois ans, le Québec privilégie beaucoup plus l’immigration temporaire », note-t-il. Ces gens viennent travailler au Québec, mais attendront des années avant que leur statut soit régularisé, faute de place. Cela aura un impact sur leurs droits démocratiques et leur accès aux programmes sociaux ou encore les soins de santé.

Aussi M. Reichhold dit-il à ceux qui seraient tentés de se réjouir de cette diminution des seuils d’immigration que « c’est de la poudre aux yeux ». « Il y a autant de bodiessur le territoire québécois que lorsque les niveaux d’immigration étaient plus élevés. C’est ça que les gens ne comprennent pas. Ils sont déjà parmi nous. Ils vivent parmi nous. Ce sont nos voisins, ils sont là, ils participent, ils travaillent. […] Mais tout ça précarise beaucoup de personnes. »

La hausse des cibles d’immigration d’Ottawa a été généralement bien reçue par le milieu des affaires, qui y voit une solution à la pénurie de main-d’œuvre. Mais la population semble l’accepter avec moins d’enthousiasme. Un sondage Nanos Research Group effectué pour le compte de Bloomberg au début du mois indique que seulement 17 % des répondants pensent que le Canada devrait accueillir plus d’immigrants. 40 % ont dit qu’il faudrait plutôt maintenir les niveaux actuels d’immigration, tandis que 36 % des répondants ont dit qu’il faudrait abaisser les cibles.

Source: https://www.ledevoir.com/politique/canada/589588/immigration-la-part-quebecoise-continue-de-diminuer?utm_source=infolettre-2020-11-12&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=infolettre-quotidienne

A Biden Immigration Policy: New Hope For Immigrants And Businesses

Good overview. Money quote: “The simplest rule Joe Biden and his team may follow on immigration policy would be to ask: What would Stephen Miller and Donald Trump do? And do the opposite.”:

Joe Biden is the next president of the United States. Unless Democrats win two runoff elections in Georgia, Biden may not have a Democratic majority in the Senate, making ambitious immigration legislation more challenging. Despite that, Joe Biden will have an opportunity to enact significant changes to U.S. immigration policy.

Legal Immigration: By 2021, Donald Trump will have reduced legal immigration by up to 49% since becoming president – without any change in U.S. immigration law, according to a National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) analysis.  Reducing legal immigration most harms refugees, employers and Americans who want to live with their spouses, parents or children, but it also affects the country’s future labor force and economic growth: “Average annual labor force growth, a key component of the nation’s economic growth, will be approximately 59% lower as a result of the administration’s immigration policies, if the policies continue,” according to the NFAP analysis. Reversing these policies could be a vital part of the Biden immigration agenda.

High-Skilled Immigration: If the Biden administration understands only one thing about business immigration, it should be this: H-1B visas are inextricably linked with the ability of highly educated people to become employment-based immigrants and eventually American citizens. Restrictions on H-1B visas can prevent the next potential founder of a billion-dollar company from gaining a green card and certainly will hurt international students. In addition to academic research that shows imposing H-1B restrictions push more jobs outside the United States, the country’s future can be affected in other ways: 75% – 30 out of 40 – of the finalists of the 2016 Intel Science Talent Search had parents who worked in America on H-1B visas.

Legislative reforms could make it easier for individuals to gain permanent residence without an H-1B, but until that happens (if it ever does), an H-1B will remain the only practical way for many people to work long-term in the United States, including international students. Approximately 75% to 80% of fulltime graduate students in key technology fields at U.S. universities are international students.

H-1B visa holders understand that H-1B status is part of the American Dream for many outstanding future immigrants, which is why Stephen Miller, the chief architect of the Trump administration’s immigration policies, focused so much energy on restricting H-1B visas.

The Trump administration did not pursue “merit-based” immigration. “Denial rates for new H-1B petitions for initial employment rose from 6% in FY 2015 to 29% through the second quarter of FY 2020,” according to a National Foundation for American Policy analysis. An April 2020 proclamation blocked the entry of legal immigrants to the United States in nearly all categories, including employment-based immigrants. Before a judge issued a preliminary injunction against it in October, a June 2020 proclamation suspended the entry of foreign nationals on H-1B, L-1 and certain other temporary visas.

In October 2020, the Trump administration issued three new regulations that would profoundly change – and broadly restrict – H-1B visas:

–       The Department of Labor’s (DOL) rule that inflates salaries for H-1B visa holders and employment-based immigrants.

–       The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) H-1B rule that changes the definition of a specialty occupation and seeks to codify restrictions against companies whose H-1B employees conduct work at customer locations.

–        A rule to eliminate the H-1B lottery and replace it with a highest-to-lowest salary system likely to shut out international students and younger information technology (IT) professionals.

Legal challenges to the regulations may tell much of the story of the Trump administration’s legacy on H-1B visa policy. Companies will be relieved if a Biden administration returns U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) policies to those of the Obama administration. There is a reasonable chance that will happen.

USCIS and State Department Processing: “One barrier that will be hardest to break is the enormous backlog with both USCIS and State,” said Jeffrey Gorsky, senior counsel at Berry Appleman & Leiden and a former State Department attorney, in an interview. “While Biden is likely to shift resources from enforcement to adjudication, it may take a year or years to burn through the piles of unfinished work. For the State Department, once normal processing resumes, bearing in mind that some of this suspension is due to legitimate Covid-19-related concerns and not just immigration restrictions, it may increase the visa wait times by 6 months to a year.”

A priority at USCIS should be to rescind memos that have slowed processing, increased Requests for Evidence and made it more difficult to gain approval of previously-approved applications, such as the 2017 memo that no longer provided deference to previous adjudications. Putting the USCIS fiscal house in order will take a combination of a more reasonable fee rule, using the authority Congress provided for premium processing and a legislative funding or loan package.

Executive Orders, Proclamations and Regulations: Analysts believe if the Biden administration is smart, it will make a clean break from the Trump era by undoing all executive orders and proclamations on immigration that are not directly tied to health concerns related to Covid-19. That would include the most high-profile measures, such as the ban on the entry of individuals from primarily Muslim countries. Undoing the April 2020 immigration proclamation would allow immigrants in the family-sponsored and Diversity Visa categories to enter the United States, once State Department processing is normalized. Reversing regulations, most notably the public charge rule, may take more time and be influenced by court rulings.

H-4 EAD and Per-Country Limits: For years, the Trump administration has placed a proposed rule on the regulatory agenda to rescind an existing regulation that allows many spouses of H-1B visa holders to work – called H-4 EAD (employment authorization document). The administration could still attempt to take some restrictive action before Donald Trump leaves office.

A priority for the Biden administration should be to fix processing for H-4 EADs. In a recent lawsuit, plaintiffs argued H-1B spouses cannot renew their H-4 employment authorization documents because USCIS added an unnecessary biometrics requirement and adopted an erroneous interpretation of government regulations by prohibiting automatic extensions of H-4 work authorization.

Biden’s immigration policy document mentions eliminating the per-country limit for employment-based immigrants. Due to per-country limits, an employment-based green card applicant from India can potentially wait decades before gaining permanent residence. Legislation to address the problem passed the House of Representatives, but a series of demands by senators, the latest beings Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), first slowed then blocked the bill. It is unclear whether anything will change this Congress but if major immigration legislation moves next year, fixing the per-country limit is likely to be included. Another standalone bill may be possible as well.

DACA and Dreamers: Over the past four years, it took a great deal of legal activity, including a Supreme Court ruling, to protect the legal status of more than 600,000 recipients of the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Joe Biden said protecting Dreamers will be a priority. How he protects them will matter.

Biden administration attorneys will need to decide if keeping the current program intact is the best approach legally or if a different administrative approach would work better. Continuing protections for DACA recipients is favored by a 2-to-1 margin among voters, according to poll results released by FWD.us. That does not mean a legislative solution will be easy, particularly one that goes beyond DACA recipients, which the Biden campaign has said he will pursue. Even if Democrats control the Senate at some point during the next four years, some compromise on the scope of a legislative solution (i.e., how many unauthorized immigrants, other immigration measures) is expected to be necessary for a bill to become law.

International Students: The Trump immigration team made it a priority to break the link between international students and their ability to work in the United States after graduation. The DOL and DHS H-1B rules, along with along with eliminating the H-1B lottery, would make it much more difficult for international students to work in America after completing their studies, say universities. “For students considering a degree abroad, 62% mentioned that being able to work in the country following the degree is very important,” according to a survey of international students by Studyportals.

The comment period ended last month on a significant proposed rule, opposed by U.S. universities, to limit the period of stay for international students. New enrollment of international students in the U.S. has fallen for years (while rising in other countries), and this rule would drop U.S. levels lower. Generating uncertainty as to whether students can complete their studies in the U.S. is a good way to ensure they won’t come to America in the first place. Research has found the proposed student rule is based on flawed DHS reports on student overstay rates. A Biden administration may need to decide what to do with this rule.

Refugees, Asylum and TPS: The first immigration challenge of the Biden presidency could be how to address asylum seekers at the southern border. Biden has pledged to end the process that has forced tens of thousands of asylum seekers to live in camps in Mexico. Ending the camps with an orderly process and providing a set of new procedures that will affect other asylum seekers may need to be accomplished quickly. The priority will be to ensure human rights and avoid scenes of overwhelmed Border Patrol agents. It would be a disaster if after campaigning against “kids in cages,” a shorthand reference to the Trump administration’s family separation policies, a Biden administration created anything remotely similar.

Biden officials should consider solutions that allow refugees to be interviewed outside the United States, including in their home countries, and develop solutions to enable individuals to work legally in the United States at jobs that do not require a high school degree, similar to, or even including, H-2B visas. Not everyone fleeing danger may qualify for asylum, but offering opportunities to earn a living in safety may be a desirable alternative, and it can take place in an orderly fashion.

The Biden administration is likely to pursue unraveling Trump administration rules and Bureau of Immigration Appeals decisions that restrict asylum. That includes a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) order that expels individuals before they are allowed to apply for asylum. Reforms to the system of immigration judges, including legislative reforms to make immigration courts independent, may be on the agenda.

Joe Biden’s immigration policy document states, “He will set the annual global refugee admissions cap to 125,000, and seek to raise it over time commensurate with our responsibility, our values, and the unprecedented global need.” Donald Trump reduced the annual refugee ceiling by over 86%, down to 15,000 in FY 2021, compared to 110,000 in the final year of the Obama administration. Biden has the authority to adjust the annual refugee ceiling after taking office, although rebuilding refugee processing and resettlement will take time.

“Order an immediate review of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for vulnerable populations who cannot find safety in their countries ripped apart by violence or disaster,” is cited in the Biden policy document. Biden mentioned TPS for Venezuelans during the campaign, but hundreds of thousands of individuals from other countries, primarily from Central America, have lived in the United States for years and seen their TPS status ended by the Trump administration. The document mentions including such individuals in a possible legislative solution.

Startup Visas: Startup visas is a modest, bipartisan legislative idea that could see renewed interest, given the need for job creation. It was part of an immigration bill that passed the U.S. Senate in 2013. The United States does not have a startup visa for foreign-born entrepreneurs. A National Foundation for American Policy reportfound the federal startup program in Canada has helped create jobs, as has a program run by the province of Quebec. The U.K, Australia and New Zealand also have startup visas. The Trump administration attempted to rescind a modest effort to allow foreign entrepreneurs to stay in the U.S. via parole.

A Difference in Tone: During the final days of his presidential campaign, Donald Trump warned people in Minnesota that Joe Biden would turn their state into a refugee camp. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) plastered the faces of dark-skinned immigrants on billboards in swing states. Building a wall to keep out foreigners remained one of the federal government’s top priorities. That will change in a Biden presidency: The ICE billboards will come down, and construction crews on the border wall will go home.

The difference between the two presidents’ rhetoric on immigrants and refugees should be night and day. “Generations of immigrants have come to this country with little more than the clothes on their backs, the hope in their heart, and a desire to claim their own piece of the American Dream,” reads the Biden immigration plan. “It’s the reason we have constantly been able to renew ourselves, to grow better and stronger as a nation, and to meet new challenges. Immigration is essential to who we are as a nation, our core values, and our aspirations for our future. Under a Biden Administration, we will never turn our backs on who we are or that which makes us uniquely and proudly American. The United States deserves an immigration policy that reflects our highest values as a nation.”

What will be the guiding principles of a Biden-Harris administration on immigration? Stephen Miller spearheaded the Trump administration’s immigration agenda, working tirelessly to move the United States as close as possible to a policy of zero immigration. The simplest rule Joe Biden and his team may follow on immigration policy would be to ask: What would Stephen Miller and Donald Trump do? And do the opposite.