Ford: Britons have wised up to the benefits of immigration. It’s about time politicians did too

Will see how immigration continues to play out in UK political strategies:

For political veterans, the recent arguments over immigration have a very familiar feel: dire warnings of crisis as official statistics show record numbers of people coming to Britain to work, study and join their families, while a dysfunctional Home Office struggles to cope with a new wave of refugees; a beleaguered government pledging to clamp down, yet lacking the means or will to do so. All are familiar plot lines from past political dramas on immigration 10 or even 20 years ago. The political responses are predictable too – social conservatives thunder about the failure, yet again, to deliver the swingeing cuts they claim voters demand. Liberals prevaricate and change the subject, afraid their arguments are doomed to fail with a sceptical electorate. All the players are locked into the same old roles. None of them seems to realise the script has changed.

One of the most remarkable, yet least remarked upon, changes in politics over the past decade has been the dramatic liberal shift in public opinion on immigration. The decades-long tendency to see immigration as a problem to be controlled is now in rapid decline. The rising view is that immigration is a resource that can deliver gains for all. A majority now see immigration as economically and culturally beneficial, as a driver of economic recovery and a vital source of support for public services. The share of voters who say migration levels should stay the same or increase has never been higher, even as migration has hit record highs.

The public now favours increased recruitment of migrants across a wide range of economic sectors, from the NHS and social care to fruit pickers and pint pullers. Some of the largest positive shifts have come in low-paid sectors struggling with shortages, such as catering and construction. Voters see a case for more migration in practically every economic sector asked about. Only migrant bankers are unwanted.

Like all big changes, this liberal shift has many sources. Demographic change is moving Britain slowly in a liberal direction on many fronts – inherently more migration-sceptical groups are shrinking a little every year, while pro-migration groups grow. Yet the change of the past decade is too broad and fast for population shifts alone to explain. Brexit may be another part of the story – voters approve of the post-Brexit points-based system, which applies equally to all labour migrants, and post-Brexit labour shortages have underlined the economic importance of migrant labour. The Covid and post-Covid period may also have generated a wider direct experience of the vital and often high risk work migrants do, from the NHS and social care, to transport and home-delivery services.

The more moderate and pragmatic public mood is not evident in government rhetoric. The Conservatives are constrained by their heavy reliance on migration sceptics attracted to the party since Brexit by the promise to “take back control”. Fears of an anti-immigrant backlash lock the party into hardline language and proposals, yet fears of an anti-austerity backlash ensure these remain empty gestures. The government needs migrant workers yet cannot bring itself to say so. Likewise, the Rwanda plan for asylum seekers is obviously unworkable yet no one in government can admit it.

This approach is now failing on numerous fronts. Voters have noticed the yawning chasm between Conservative words and deeds. Eight out of 10 disapprove of the government’s record, an all-time low. Even those who approve of the Rwanda scheme see it as gesture politics, expensive and doomed to fail. Nigel Farage remains a more attractive option for migration hardliners, while years of draconian rhetoric have alienated swing voters who now favour a more moderate approach. The Conservatives’ reputation on immigration has been trashed across the board – for decades they led Labour by large margins as the best party to handle the issue. Now Labour is favoured in most polls, the only Tory consolation being that most voters distrust both the parties equally.

A floundering government and a warming public should present opportunities for progressive politicians to make the case for open migration. So far, Labour’s response has been circumspect – balancing recognition of migrants’ economic contributions with calls for business to do more to raise the skills, productivity and wages of British workers. Yet caution brings its own risks. Tough language and vague policy may be prudent on the campaign trail, but risk storing up problems once in government.

A Labour government, like the current Conservative one, will rely on migrant contributions to grow the economy and staff public services. The party needs to make the case in opposition for the reforms it will need in government. It has made a start, pledging to make the current points-based selection system more responsive to changing economic and social needs and to junk the expensive, performative cruelty of the Rwanda scheme. Labour could go further, for example, by promising root-and-branch reform of the toxic “hostile environment” and by offering a new deal to migrants who make their lives here with liberalised citizenship rules, implemented by a swifter, cheaper and more transparent migration bureaucracy.

Labour’s instinct to tread carefully is understandable – the party has been bruised by immigration before, the public is still wary and liberalism on migration remains more prevalent in the big city seats the opposition already holds than the rural or small town seats it needs to win. Yet such risks can be overstated – the Tory voters most open to Labour are pragmatic moderates who see immigration as beneficial. The Conservatives, distrusted by voters, and terrified of a Farageist revolt on their right, cannot contest the new centre ground. Labour has a once in a generation opportunity to change the conversation on immigration. It may be a risk worth taking.

Robert Ford is co-author with Marley Morris of a new report, A New Consensus? How Public Opinion has Changed on Immigration, published by the Institute for Public Policy Research

Source: Britons have wised up to the benefits of immigration. It’s about time politicians did too

Immigration department finds no fault in Montreal AIDS summit visa debacle as another conference looms

Might help communications if IRCC would be more forthcoming with more data on the reasons for refusals, not stating the general reasons. Likely the systemic issue is concern that some attendees may file refugee claims or overstay, and the economic disparities between some of the countries or origin and Canada:

With Canada set to host a major international summit next month, advocates are warning about a possible repeat of issues that prevented some African delegates from attending a conference in Montreal over the summer, leading to allegations that the federal immigration department’s policies are racist.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said it found no fault in its handling of visa applications for the International AIDS Society conference last July. A number of delegates from Africa were either denied visas or were still waiting for a response by the time the conference got underway.

“The whole system is designed to exclude people,” said Madhukar Pai, the Canada Research Chair in translational epidemiology and global health at McGill University in Montreal.

Next month, Montreal is hosting a United Nations conference on biodiversity loss, stoking worries that delegates from the regions most impacted by declining species will be stuck at home.

“There is something about our governmental system that is, what I call anti-Africa or anti-Black, and that worries me a lot,” said Pai.

For years, Pai has attended conferences where his African colleagues have had more difficulty getting visas than his peers from Latin America and Asia.

It’s an issue he’s seen at events hosted in the U.S., Britain and Canada, and one he was particularly concerned about this spring as Ottawa struggled to process everything from refugee applications to passport renewals.

“I don’t know whether the government has genuinely learned much from the AIDS conference fiasco,” Pai said.

“The anger was so palpable, to have all those empty chairs of African delegates missing; it was egregious…I worry about any international conference that is being held in any part of Canada these days.”

The immigration department doesn’t share Pai’s concern.

“IRCC is using all the tools available at its disposal to facilitate the processing of thousands of visa applications in a short period of time,” spokesman Jeffrey MacDonald said in a written statement.

The department says it has a special events unit that works with conference hosts to try and ensure that visa offices abroad have a list of people who have registered for an event. People also use a special code when applying so that their applications are prioritized.

“IRCC works closely with the Canada Border Services Agency and event organizers to ensure the application process and immigration and entry requirements are understood, so that visa applications are processed in a timely manner and admission for participants can go smoothly,” MacDonald wrote.

The department suggested that people invited to this summer’s conference might have botched their applications.

“Waiting too long to apply, or omitting the special event code, may result in their application not being processed in time for the start of the event,” MacDonald wrote, adding that the department won’t get into specifics of the July event due to privacy legislation.

“There are always compelling reasons some individuals are not allowed to enter Canada.”

Issue is ‘systemic’, not technical, gender and health expert says

Lauren Dobson-Hughes, a consultant specializing in global health and gender, said Canada and other Western countries need to look beyond technical fixes and recognize “a much broader pattern” at these summits.

“It is a systemic issue across the world, where we tend to be divided into the Global North donors who host conferences, and the Global South who live these issues and should have ownership of them — and yet the conferences that are about them are not done with them.”

Dobson-Hughes recalled summits in 2016 and 2019 where African delegates had invitation letters on Government of Canada letterhead, but could not actually get a visa.

“I can’t imagine Global Affairs Canada is particularly delighted that they build respectful, meaningful relationships on a personal basis with colleagues in Africa, for example, only to have their own government turn around and deny them a visa,” she said.

“I have not seen anything that gives a sense that they [IRCC officials] have grappled with the sense of the problem as particularly African participants perceive it.”

Source: Immigration department finds no fault in Montreal AIDS summit visa debacle as another conference looms

N.L. immigration minister slams feds over lack of support

Of note:

Newfoundland and Labrador’s minister of immigration, population growth and skills is demanding more help — and more money — from his federal counterpart to support immigration and settlement in a province where deaths outstrip births two to one.

While speaking with reporters on Thursday, Gerry Byrne touted Newfoundland and Labrador’s population growth while slamming the federal government for a lack of support.

“There are many issues that need to be resolved with Ottawa,” he said. “Many.”

Byrne’s central frustration is the province’s federally granted immigration allocation, which he said was fulfilled as of Oct. 7.

Now that those spots have been filled, the provincial government won’t be able to nominate any more newcomers for permanent residency until Jan. 1. He said the province will continue to process applications and submit them to the federal government in the new year — but in the meantime, any newcomers who apply will have to wait.

“There is no room left this year,” Byrne said emphatically. “None.”

According to Byrne, the provincial government can nominate 1,140 people for permanent residency under the federal pathway, and 453 people under the Atlantic pathway.

“In previous years, we were lucky if we could fill a third of those spots,” he said.

Byrne said the provincial government is asking the federal government to expand Newfoundland and Labrador’s nomination capacity for the rest of 2022, and double capacity in 2023.

Byrne said he already asked federal Immigration Minister Sean Fraser for more capacity this year, but was turned down.

“Now we are seeing the results of this,” he said.

CBC News has asked the federal Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship for comment.

Largest population growth in N.L.

According to Byrne, Newfoundland and Labrador’s population grew by 6,200 people in the past 18 months — the largest increase since 1971 — largely through migration from other provinces and countries. He said 5,600 people have immigrated to Newfoundland and Labrador, while 3,700 people have moved to the province from other parts of Canada.

He said the growth doesn’t include Ukrainians who have moved to the province since March.

Byrne also called for more funding for the Association for New Canadians, an agency that helps resettle immigrants and refugees in Newfoundland and Labrador.

According to the province, the federal government provides the association with less funding per refugee than agencies in the other nine provinces.

“The ANC is the lowest-funded support organization in the country,” he said. “That has to change.”

Byrne’s criticisms come during a rocky week for the relationship between the provincial and federal Liberals. On Tuesday, Environment and Climate Change Minister Bernard Davis panned the federal government’s decision to impose the carbon tax on Newfoundland and Labrador.

Just a few hours after the news conference, Premier Andrew Furey reposted a photo of himself with federal Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc.

‘The perfect timing’

Tony Fang, an economics professor at Memorial University, said he’s in “full agreement” with Byrne’s demand for a higher immigration allocation — though he thinks the province should ask for triple, rather than double, the current capacity.

“The federal government certainly should collaborate with the provincial government to take advantage of this large interest in immigration,” he said.

Fang, who leads a research team exploring immigration in Newfoundland and Labrador, said attitudes toward immigrants have improved.

“This is the perfect timing to increase immigration targets,” he said.

Jaclyn Sullivan, executive director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Employers’ Council, said immigration is essential for the province’s economic growth and prosperity, calling the current federal approach “not good enough.”

‘We would like to see much more effort on behalf of the federal government,” she said.

Sullivan said Newfoundland and Labrador doesn’t have enough people to fill jobs.

“We’re all seeing the impact of this,” she said.

NDP MHA Jordan Brown said he supports Byrne’s request for a higher nomination allocation and more funding for the Association for New Canadians, but he also wants to see more help from the provincial government — particularly regarding health care.

“We’re lacking in support both federally and provincially,” he said.

Source: N.L. immigration minister slams feds over lack of support

UK: Rishi Sunak mulling curbs on overseas students after immigration rise

Another related article. Canada could benefit from a greater emphasis on “quality degrees” and institutions given how a large part of the international student population is becoming a source of low skilled and low paid labour:

The government is looking at introducing new restrictions on ‘low quality’ degrees and preventing foreign applicants from bringing family members to the UK with them.

Curbs being considered by Downing Street could see international students barred unless they gain access to a high-ranking university.

The move was briefed after it emerged net immigration hit a new high, 12 years after David Cameron pledged to bring numbers down to the ‘tens of thousands’.

Around 504,000 more people are estimated to have moved to the UK than left in the 12 months to June 2022, up sharply from 173,000 in the year to June 2021.

People arriving on study visas accounted for the largest proportion of long-term immigration of non-EU nationals, at 277,000, or 39% of the total, according to the Office for National Statistics.

There was a significant rise in students coming to the UK after a few years of lower numbers caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ONS said ‘unique’ factors such as visa schemes from Ukrainian and Hong Kong citizens had also contributed to the increase.

In the Autumn Budget published earlier this month, the government said it expected immigration levels to return to pre-pandemic levels once ‘these temporary factors ease over time’.

The prime minister’s spokesperson said he is ‘fully committed’ to reducing immigration and blamed ‘unprecedented and unique circumstances’ for the rise.

They added: ‘We’re considering all options to make sure the immigration system is delivering, and that does include looking at the issue of student dependents and low-quality degrees.’

Home secretary Suella Braverman has previously complained about foreign students ‘bringing in family members who can piggyback onto their student visa’ and ‘propping up, frankly, substandard courses in inadequate institutions’.

The move could potentially meet resistance from within the education department, which would be faced with a funding headache if numbers were restricted.

Overseas students paying higher rates than domestic applicants have become a major funding stream for universities and there is pressure on departmental budgets due to inflation and fiscal tightening from the Treasury.

There could also be friction with the Treasury which will be opposed to any immigration changes which risk stifling growth.

Despite higher levels of migration to the UK since Brexit, the UK is struggling with skills and labour shortages in a number of industries.

Confirmed the UK will enter a recession, chancellor Jeremy Hunt last week insisted that immigration is required to boost growth.

He said: ‘There needs to be a long-term plan if we’re going to bring down migration in a way that doesn’t harm the economy.

‘We are recognising that we will need migration for the years ahead – that will be very important for the economy.’

Source: Rishi Sunak mulling curbs on overseas students after immigration rise

UK: Rishi Sunak faces Tory backlash over record immigration figures

Of note:

Rishi Sunak faces backlash from Conservative MPs after new figures showed net migration to the UK soaring to a record high, with 504,000 more people arriving in the country than departing over the past year.

“Unprecedented” global events including the lifting of Covid lockdowns, war in Ukraine and the Chinese security clampdown in Hong Kong sent immigration figures soaring.

At 1.1 million, the total number of arrivals in the 12 months to June was the highest since statistics were first gathered in 1964 and far outweighed the 560,000 departures, despite the fact that for the first time since 1991 more EU nationals left the UK than arrived.

Even after allowing for humanitarian schemes for Ukrainians and Afghans, the figures gave additional weight to the observation that Brexit has not reduced overall migration, as many supporters of the Leave campaign hoped.

Instead, the figures suggest that the result of EU withdrawal has been to alter patterns of migration to the UK, with departing Europeans replaced by nationals of countries like India, Nigeria and China who dominate the tables of work and study visas.

More than 20 Conservative MPs are believed to have signed a letter to Mr Sunak demanding action to bring overall migration numbers down.

Organised by Sir John Hayes – the chair of the Common Sense Group of traditionalist Tories and a close ally of home secretary Suella Braverman – the letter calls on ministers to get a tighter grip on the system for work and study visas, as well as clamping down on unauthorised Channel crossings by boat.

Home Office figures showed an 87 per cent increase to 381,459 in the number of work visas issued over a 12-month period, while visas to study rose by 38 per cent to 597,827. Both figures were more than double pre-Brexit levels.

Sir John said the influx of migrants was placing pressure on the UK’s environment, housing and infrastructure and “displacing” homegrown workers from jobs and training.

“The home secretary has been very open and honest and straightforward about the need for robust action to take control of our borders in relation to small boats,” he told The Independent. “There is a similar job to be done to retake control of visas, which I think are out of control now.”

The scale of immigration flew in the face of a promise in the 2019 Conservative election manifesto – endorsed by Mr Sunak since his arrival at 10 Downing Street – to get overall numbers down, said Hayes.

Responding to the ONS figures on Thursday, Ms Braverman said the record number of people arriving in the UK was “thanks to the generosity of the British people” towards Ukrainians, Afghans and Hong Kong holders of BNO (British national overseas) passports.

“The public rightly expect us to control our borders and we remain committed to reducing migration over time in line with our manifesto commitment,” said the home secretary, who in October told the Conservative conference her personal ambition was to reduce net migration below 100,000.

“My priority remains tackling the rise in dangerous and illegal crossings and stopping the abuse of our system.”

Downing Street said Mr Sunak remained committed to reducing net migration but has not set “a specific timeframe” for achieving the goal. The prime minister’s official spokesman blamed “some unprecedented and unique circumstances” for the record figures.

ONS deputy director Jay Lindop said that a significant driver in the figures was migration from non-EU countries by students, who are no longer forced to work remotely by Covid lockdowns.

An estimated 277,000 arrived in the UK over the past year, an increase from 143,000 in the year before.

The numbers also revealed a growing backlog in dealing with asylum claims, with 117,400 awaiting an initial decision, of whom almost 80,000 have been waiting more than six months.

Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the statistics revealed “serious problems with Conservative mismanagement of the immigration and asylum systems where they have completely failed to get a grip”.

Ministers have failed to tackle the criminal gangs organising Channel crossings and have managed to process the claims of only 2 per cent of the people arriving in small boats over the course of the last year, she said.

“Work visas have also substantially increased as a result of major skills shortages in the UK – yet the Conservatives are not taking any serious action to address skills shortages here at home,” said Ms Cooper.

Maria Stephens, head of campaigns at charity Refugee Action, said that the “snowballing delays in processing asylum claims are destroying lives”.

And Amnesty International called for a “complete overhaul” of the asylum and immigration system, saying that the government should provide safe routes for people seeking to come to Britain.

The organisation’s refugee and migrant rights director, Steve Valdez-Symonds, said: “These figures show the UK’s system for processing asylum claims remains in complete disarray.”

But leading Tory Brexiteer Peter Bone defended the government’s record, telling The Independent: “The fact that we are taking in people from Hong Kong, from Afghanistan and especially from Ukraine is the right thing to do.

“The point is that we are controlling our borders and we are making the decisions, not the EU. Imagine what the figures would have been if we still had free movement of people. That is what Brexit was about – it was never about having no immigration.”

“Student numbers may be rising, but most of them will go back to their home countries. The government’s priority must be stopping the illegal migration by boat across the Channel.”

Source: Rishi Sunak faces Tory backlash over record immigration figures

Du «racisme» linguistique

Of note. Good réplique to some of the Quebec debate on language and immigrants:

S’il est légitime d’exiger du gouvernement fédéral de tenir compte des demandes du Québec en matière de langue, il n’y a par contre aucune légitimité à restreindre, comme le fait Mario Beaulieu dans un texte récemment paru en ces pages (cosigné par onze personnes), la qualité de francophone aux seuls locuteurs de français langue maternelle. Selon lui, il faudra s’attendre à un « effondrement du poids des francophones au Québec, de 81,6 % en 2011 à 73,6 % en 2036 ». Il faut en finir une fois pour toutes avec ce « racisme » linguistique. (Le mot « racisme » est ici entre guillemets pour n’en retenir que la notion de hiérarchie.)

Il est complètement ridicule de croire qu’un francophone est une personne qui a dit « môman » avant l’âge de deux ans. Un francophone, c’est aussi un plurilingue dont le français n’est pas la langue maternelle. On ne naît pas francophone, on le devient.

Au Québec, 85 % de l’augmentation de la population provient de l’immigration. Nul besoin d’être lauréat de la médaille Fields pour comprendre que la proportion du groupe non immigrant (et d’origine non immigrante) va décroître avec le temps. Ce qui n’est pas le cas des francophones, si par francophone on entend toute personne qui a appris le français à la maison, sur les bancs d’école ou sur les lieux de travail (ici ou ailleurs). L’objectif de la loi 101 était de faire du français langue maternelle une langue fraternelle, pour qu’on puisse mettre en commun nos mémoires plurielles, nos parcours et nos rêves afin d’y puiser les ressources et l’audace pour faire du Québec une société prospère, pluraliste et égalitaire, et non pas une société où il y aurait deux classes de citoyens.

Le Québec accueille des immigrants depuis des générations. Beaucoup d’entre eux ont appris le français avant la loi 101. Depuis 1977, cette loi a obligé des dizaines de milliers de jeunes immigrants à fréquenter les écoles françaises pendant onze ans. En outre, bon nombre de nos immigrants sont originaires d’anciennes colonies françaises. Ils se chiffrent eux aussi par dizaines de milliers. Comme très peu d’entre eux déclarent le français comme langue maternelle, ils sont pour la plupart disqualifiés comme francophones, même si parmi eux on compte des professeurs de français, des professionnels qui travaillent en français, des écrivains et tant d’autres citoyens venus d’ailleurs, profondément attachés au Québec, pour qui le terme « Québec français » est un pléonasme.

La hiérarchie ainsi créée, entre le français de langue maternelle et le français de langue seconde, ne doit pas être prise à la légère. Elle crée des catégories de citoyens n’ayant pas la même valeur dans la société, situation propice au racisme. Nous savons comment, dans d’autres lieux, mais encore aujourd’hui, la hiérarchisation des cultures s’est substituée à celle fondée sur la race — lorsque celle-ci est devenue une hérésie scientifique —, avec des conséquences néfastes sur les plans politique et social. Au Québec, où langue et culture sont souvent interchangeables, il est temps de remiser cette aberration avant que des esprits moins inoffensifs que des déclinistes et des comptables ne s’en emparent.

L’État québécois est doté de suffisamment de pouvoirs et de ressources pour assurer la pérennité et l’essor de la culture et de la langue françaises. Qu’il les utilise efficacement et judicieusement sans blâmer ni pénaliser les immigrants. Entre 1971 et 2016, l’utilisation du français dans les écoles (maternelles, primaires et secondaires) est passée de 64 % à 90 %, tandis que la proportion d’immigrants francophones dépasse les 60 %, et pourra facilement augmenter si, comme l’indique le démographe Richard Marcoux, on va puiser dans l’énorme bassin francophone africain.

Le français n’est pas près de disparaître. Au Québec, il n’y a que 6 % de la population qui n’a aucune connaissance du français. La complexité de la situation linguistique exige de ceux qui l’analysent qu’on tienne compte de multiples critères et, surtout, qu’on désethnicise enfin la notion de francophone. Il serait honteux que les « voleurs de jobs » de l’après-guerre deviennent maintenant des « voleurs de langue ».

Selon Machiavel, « celui qui contrôle la peur des gens devient le maître de leurs âmes ». Partout en Occident, populistes et démagogues ont réussi à faire croire que les minorités immigrantes représentent une menace pour les modes de vie et l’identité de la majorité afin de s’emparer du pouvoir. Le Québec ne fait malheureusement pas exception.

Source: Du «racisme» linguistique

Why Desperate People Are Suing Immigration Canada

Good article and discussion, with good comments by Kareem El-Assal and Richard Kurland, particularly liked Aurland’s contrasting IRCC lack of status updates and application tracking with CRA’s client service:

From January to the end of February, Alejandro Ginares woke up daily at 6 a.m. in order to grab a spot in the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada phone queue.

He went about the business of his day — preparing breakfast, doing dishes and feeding his cat — until eventually, sometimes after eight hours of being on hold, he’d reach the front of the queue and receive a pre-recorded message: “all our agents are busy, try again later.” He’d hang up. If it was early he’d try again. If it was after 3 p.m., when the offices out east close, he’d make dinner, go to bed and start all over again the next day.

While news articles have been filled with stories of long lineups of Canadians stymied while renewing passports, less has been reported on how the pandemic and its knock-on effects have impacted would-be Canadians, whose immigration applications have been left in a backlog that has only increased since the beginning of the pandemic.

In Ginares’s case, he was desperately trying to track down the status of a permanent residency application he’d submitted 15 months before.

Occasionally he’d reach a human being, only to be told that his application was “not in the system.” He was baffled. He had paid the processing fee and had a Canada Post delivery confirmation in hand, certifying that the application had arrived at IRCC. He knew they’d received it. So why wasn’t he in the system?

Ginares eventually reached an agent who promised to help him. A few days later he got a response confirming for certain that his application had not entered the system.

It was then that he realized that IRCC had most likely lost his application.

“It’s awful to be waiting,” he says. “We don’t know if we’re waiting for a purpose or if we’re waiting for nothing.”

Resubmitting his application was risky. It would mean starting all over again. And it would cost another $1,000. He didn’t know what to do.

A geological engineer in Uruguay, Ginares had left his home and family to join his husband, Wendall Seldura, in Canada. The two had met in a cocktail and music bar in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 2017. They’d fallen in love immediately and quickly decided that Canada was the country where they’d spend their future.

Ginares knew that permanent residency processing times can often reach 15 months. But he didn’t think it would take 15 months for the system to even receive his application, or approve a work permit.

Back home, Ginares worked, studied and volunteered. Now he feels like he’s stuck in limbo. “I fight every morning when I wake up to find motivation,” he says.

According to data released by IRCC Oct. 31, 2.2 million people are waiting for approval for temporary residence, permanent residence and Canadian citizenship applications. Like Ginares, 1.2 million have waited beyond the standard time expected for their application.

In permanent residency specifically, there are 603,700 applicants. Only 279,700 of these are being processed within standard times; 54 per cent, or 324,000 applications, are not being processed within the times projected by the agency.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix recently hit headlines when he called on Ottawa to halt the deportation of Claudia Zamorano, a hospital worker whose family is facing deportation because their applications have not yet been processed.

Nathaniel Preston, Ginares’s immigration consultant, says that he is seeing long wait times for all his clients. His colleagues report the same. “You exist but you don’t. You’re technically not supposed to be here. But maybe you could be here, if they approve the visa, or they restore your status,” he says.

One in three Ukrainians with visas have reached Canada as applications approach 700K

Of note. Possibly to ensure they have the option in case needed, as hinted at by Canada’s Ambassador to Ukraine::

Government statistics show fewer than one-third of Ukrainians approved for temporary Canadian visas have arrived in the country, even as hundreds of thousands of others remain in the queue waiting to find out if they qualify to travel to Canada.

The temporary visas are part of the special immigration measures introduced by the federal government in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine giving Ukrainians emergency authorization to travel and stay in Canada.

According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, the government received nearly 700,000 requests from Ukrainians to travel to Canada under the special program between March and November.

Yet the department says only around 420,000 applications have been approved so far, while statistics from the Canada Border Services Agency show about 117,000 have actually reached Canada. The majority of those arrived by air.

It wasn’t immediately clear why so few Ukrainians authorized to travel to Canada have done so.

Meanwhile, a document tabled in the House of Commons last week shows that the average processing time for the majority of visas between March and September was 72 days — or more than 10 weeks.

Tabled in response to a written question from Conservative MP Garnett Genuis, the document also says that as of September, about 14 per cent of the applications were for children under 18 while around five per cent were for people aged 61 and older.

The response also says 1,757 applications were rejected and 1,415 applications were withdrawn as of Sept. 20.

It goes on to caution that total application numbers held by the immigration department could be “inflated” because some people have multiple applications associated with their files.

Genuis had asked for data about whether anyone accepted under the program lived outside of Ukraine before Russia’s invasion.

But the department said it was not able to determine a person’s country of residence prior to their application, and that applicants are only required to declare their current country of residence.

In testimony to a Senate committee last week, Ukrainian Ambassador to Canada Larisa Galadza said that to her knowledge, Canada is receiving 14,000 applications a week from Ukrainians, and about seven million civilians have fled Ukraine in total.

She noted that the fact Canada is providing a three-year visa to applicants lessens the pressure to travel immediately.

Source: One in three Ukrainians with visas have reached Canada as applications approach 700K

UK: More relaxed immigration policies could win over swing voters, analysis finds

Of note and to watch:

Public opinion on immigration has warmed “at a striking rate” and adopting a more liberal approach would help both Labour and the Conservatives win over more swing voters, new analysis suggests.

Conventional wisdom in Westminster has long been that tougher border policies are rewarded at the ballot box, with Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer winning praise from Ukip founder Nigel Farage on Tuesday after claiming the UK must end its “immigration dependency”.

But voters’ views of immigration have become increasingly positive since prior to the Brexit referendum, with Ipsos finding for the first time this year that – of those with an opinion on the matter – a majority now believe immigration levels should either increase or stay the same.

This contrasts strongly with the situation in February 2015, when 67 per cent wanted immigration reduced, versus just 20 per cent who wanted it to remain the same and 10 who wanted increased levels.

As a result, new analysis of swing voter intentions by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) think tank suggests that the UK’s two largest political parties both would boost their electoral chances by adopting a more open immigration policy.

Source: More relaxed immigration policies could win over swing voters, analysis finds

UK: We must wean economy off immigration, Labour leader to warn businesses

Meanwhile, in Canada, the government takes the opposite tack with respect to ongoing increases in immigration levels, making it easier for businesses to employ Temporary Foreign Workers along with almost eliminating study requirement for international students given removal of work hour caps, the latter two reinforcing a low-pay model:

The days of “cheap labour” must end to wean the UK off its “immigration dependency”, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has told business leaders.

Sir Keir called for a plan to train British workers and move the economy away from its “low-pay model”.

But he accepted the need for skilled foreign workers and promise a “pragmatic” approach to immigration.

His speech comes at a time when businesses are calling for more migrant labour to boost economic growth.

The Labour leader’s speech to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference in Birmingham followed that of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Monday.

Mr Sunak told business leaders having “proper control of our borders” was one of the immediate benefits of Brexit and said curbing illegal migration was the “country’s number one priority right now”.

He spoke after CBI director-general Tony Danker said the UK needed more foreign workers to drive economic growth as the country faces a deep recession.

“People are arguing against immigration – but it’s the only thing that has increased our growth potential since March,” Mr Danker said.

There was considerably less migration during the Covid-19 pandemic than in previous years and the number of EU citizens moving to the UK has dropped since the UK left the European Union.

The Office for Budget Responsibility has forecasted a decline in net migration, with the number expected to settle at 205,000 a year from 2026 onwards.

In his speech, Sir Keir set out what the UK’s immigration policy would look like under a Labour government, should the party win the next general election.

He promised an immigration system that works better for the needs of business and recognises the need for skilled workers from abroad.

But he stressed that any changes to a points-based migration system “will come with new conditions for business”.

“We will expect you to bring forward a clear plan for higher skills and more training, for better pay and conditions, for investment in new technology,” he said.

“But our common goal must be to help the British economy off its immigration dependency. To start investing more in training up workers who are already here.”

Sir Keir outlined Labour’s plans for reform including:

  • Ensuring all employers able to sponsor visas are meeting decent standards of pay and conditions
  • Speed up visa delays to avoid labour shortages damaging the economy
  • Introduce training and plans for improving pay and conditions for roles that require international recruitment
  • Reforming the Migration Advisory Committee to project future trends more accurately

Sir Keir spoke about immigration in an interview with the BBC last week, saying the UK was recruiting too many people from overseas into the NHS.

Source: We must wean economy off immigration, Labour leader to warn businesses