[Herald Interview] ‘Multiculturalism is inevitable in Korea’s future’

More on the changing nature of Korean society:

Over 2 million residents now live in Korea, according to government data. This is more than double the figure in 2007 when the number hit 1 million for the first time.

“Multiculturalism is inevitable in Korea’s future,” Kim Do-gyun, president of the Korea Immigration Service Foundation, told The Korea Herald on Tuesday, a day before International Migrants Day.

When the foundation was established in 2004, its chief aim was to provide administrative assistance to the immigration office. But as the immigrant population grew, the foundation broadened its role to supporting foreign immigrants in adapting to and settling in Korean society.

“We have run integration programs for nearly 10 years now with the goal of helping immigrants prepare for their lives here,” he said.

The program includes introduction to language and cultural characteristics, as well as immigrant rights.

Allowing immigrants to make a smooth transition to their new homes is beneficial not only to the immigrants as individuals but to society as a whole, according to Kim.

“Most immigrants are here through marriage or on employment permit,” Kim said.

“They are often at a disadvantage, and unfortunately subject to discrimination at times,” he said. “Support is needed for healthy adaptation and acculturation.”

“If we fail them as a society in helping them settle in Korea or assimilate — should they want to — into our culture, that is one more person isolated from being able to function as a member of our community.”

Kim also spoke against prejudices immigrants face.

“Some 7.5 million Koreans live overseas. That is three times the number of immigrants — 2.5 million — living here,” he said, pointing out that migration was a natural occurrence in a globalized world.

“We have to stop thinking of immigrants in the third person. Because we may well be in their shoes someday.”

Moreover, Korea will have to rely on immigrants for its future labor force, Kim said, given the aging population.

“Politicians refrain from talking about immigrants because the subject is not exactly a vote-winner,” he said. “But what alternative is there for the aging crisis (than immigration)?”

“Our future is multicultural,” he said. “No culture is independent from outside influences. Homogeneity is a myth.”

As for undocumented immigrants, Kim said there should be legal channels through which they could be allowed entry.

“For instance, there are vacancies in jobs unwanted by locals that these illegal immigrants are willing to fill,” he said.

Since assuming office in March, Kim said he has worked on reaching out to immigrant communities and raising awareness about the foundation.

Kim said from his decades of experience in immigration services that immigrants were the ones more eager to learn about Korea and Koreans.

“But Koreans are not as ready to learn about immigrants or understand them,” he said. “This has to be a two-way street. If we are welcoming and open-minded, our new neighbors will find their way soon enough.”

Source: [Herald Interview] ‘Multiculturalism is inevitable in Korea’s future’

Changes in outcomes of immigrants and non-permanent residents, 2017 Text – Selected

The latest. Some encouraging trends:

Immigrants admitted to Canada in 2016 reported a median entry wage of $25,900 in 2017, the highest recorded among immigrants admitted since 1981. Although the entry wages of recent immigrants have increased over the past few years, their income remains lower than that of the overall Canadian population. The Canadian Income Survey estimated the Canadian population’s median wage at $36,100 in 2017.

When immigrants arrive in Canada, they face a number of challenges, such as getting their credentials recognized, being able to speak one of the official languages and acquiring Canadian work experience. However, the longer immigrants live in Canada, the more their income increases and, for some, their income reaches the level of the overall Canadian population.

This analysis uses new data from the Longitudinal Immigration Database (IMDB), which comprises information on permanent and non-permanent (temporary) residents, including asylum claimants. It presents the type of information that can be extracted from the IMDB and its outputs to better understand how the socioeconomic situation of these individuals has evolved.

Recent immigrants have higher entry wages and more work experience prior to admission than before

Over the past 10 years, the median entry wage of immigrants, one year after admission, in 2017 constant dollars, has increased from $20,400 for the 2007 admission year to $25,900 for the 2016 admission year (+27%).

Not all immigrants face the same challenges after admission. Those who had work experience in Canada upon admission reported the highest median entry wages. For the 2016 admission year, income one year after arrival was $39,800 for study and work permit holders, and $38,100 for work permit holders only. These wages are comparable with those of the entire Canadian population. For immigrants who had no experience prior to admission, or who had a study permit only, incomes were $19,900 and $12,500, respectively.

In recent years, an increasing number of non-permanent resident permit holders are transitioning to permanent residence. The observed growth in entry wages can be partly accounted for by differences in income between immigrants with pre-admission work experience in Canada and immigrants without such work experience. From the 2007 admission year to the 2016 admission year, the number of immigrant taxfilers one year after arrival who had work experience in Canada increased by 166%, while the number of immigrants without work experience rose 2%.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Number of immigrant taxfilers one year after admission, by admission year and work experience in Canada prior to admission
Number of immigrant taxfilers one year after admission, by admission year and work experience in Canada prior to admission

Chart 1: Number of immigrant taxfilers one year after admission, by admission year and work experience in Canada prior to admission

Immigrants who hold at least a pre-admission study permit have stronger wage catch-up in the 10 years after admission

Overall, immigrants’ wages increase with the number of years since admission and, for some, their wages eventually reach that of the overall Canadian population ($36,100). For example, the median wage for immigrants admitted in 2007 increased from $20,400 in 2008 to $33,500 in 2017, an increase of 64%.

Wage catch-up factors include pre-admission work experience, which facilitates integration through increased knowledge of official languages and the development of professional networks in Canada, among other things. In 2017, immigrants admitted in 2007 who had held both a study permit and a work permit prior to admission had the highest median wage (up 81% to $63,800), and their wage exceeded that of immigrants who held only a work permit (up 36% to $48,100) and that of Canadians as a whole. The median wage of immigrants admitted in 2007 who held only a pre-admission study permit increased significantly over 10 years (up 163% to $37,600) and now exceeds the median wage of immigrants without pre-admission experience (up 72% to $30,700).

Chart 2  Chart 2: Median wage of immigrants admitted in 2007, 1 year and 10 years after admission, by pre-admission experience
Median wage of immigrants admitted in 2007, 1 year and 10 years after admission, by pre-admission experience

Chart 2: Median wage of immigrants admitted in 2007, 1 year and 10 years after admission, by pre-admission experience

The median wage for asylum claimants increases with length of residence in country

Asylum claimants are individuals who request refugee protection in Canada. Because of their situation, they face many challenges in terms of economic integration. Even after their refugee claim is accepted, asylum claimants have lower median wages than other immigrants with pre-admission experience.

According to a Statistics Canada article on asylum claimants published earlier this year, the number of claimants fluctuated from 2000 to 2018 and reached over 50,000 in 2017 and 2018. Asylum claimants are relatively young. Of those who arrived in 2017, 39% were younger than 25 years of age, while 14% were aged 45 or older.

The median entry wage for asylum claimant taxfilers refers to their income one year after they submitted their refugee claim. Among those who claimed refugee status from 2006 to 2016, the median wage fluctuated between $10,900 and $16,000. As with immigrants, the median wage of asylum claimants increases with each additional year spent in the country. Therefore, the median wage for those who submitted a refugee claim in 2006 was $14,100 in 2007 and $28,600 in 2017.

There are significant differences in income among the top 15 countries of origin for asylum claimants. Among asylum claimants in 2012 who filed taxes in 2017, the highest median wages were reported by claimants from Sri Lanka ($31,600), Somalia ($30,700) and Nigeria ($30,700). Claimants from Afghanistan ($18,200), Iraq ($17,300) and China ($14,300) reported the lowest median wages.

Economic immigrants and their dependants stay more frequently in their province of admission when they have pre-admission work experience

Reasons for immigrating to Canada can influence the likelihood of immigrants to remain in their province of admission over time. For example, family class immigrants come to Canada to be closer to their loved ones, while economic immigrants are selected based on their ability to contribute to the Canadian economy.

In 2017, 86% of immigrant taxfilers admitted in 2012 filed a tax return in their province of admission. The provincial retention rate was highest among family-sponsored immigrants (93%) and slightly lower among refugees (87%). For economic immigrants and their dependants, the retention rate was 82%. However, for these immigrants, the rate was higher among those with a pre-admission work permit only (90%) than among those with no pre-admission experience (81%).

A Crying Need for Japanese-Language Instruction Among Immigrants

Coming to terms with immigration and related integration realities:

The number of foreign residents in Japan has been growing by about 150,000 annually since 2014, reaching an all-time high of 2.8 million in 2019. At a time of mounting concern over labor shortages and other consequences of demographic aging and population decline, these newcomers—most of whom are under 30—represent a vital resource. The crucial question is whether they can build rewarding lives as productive and accepted members of Japanese society. That will depend very much on their ability to communicate in Japanese, a notoriously difficult language for foreigners to learn.

Unfortunately, it is not at all unusual to encounter foreign residents who are functionally illiterate in Japanese even after living here a decade or more. Many are ill-equipped to cope in the event of an emergency.

The Japanese government must bear much of the blame for this state of affairs. While Germany, South Korea, and many other countries sponsor semi-mandatory orientation and social integration programs, including language instruction, the Japanese government has left it to local communities to respond as they see fit with the resources at their disposal. Fortunately, that is beginning to change.

Signs of Change

The impetus for change has come from the passage in December 2018 of the amended Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act, which officially opened Japan’s doors to lower-skilled foreign workers. In conjunction with the new law, the government announced a package of “comprehensive measures for acceptance and coexistence of foreign nationals.” Although this policy document does not have the force of law, it articulates a commitment by the Japanese government to support the social integration of foreign nationals. This in itself is a major step forward.

With regard to the specific issue of language training for foreigners, the measures include budget allocations for improvement and expansion of the existing “community Japanese-language education” program, which relies on local volunteers, with the goal of  ensuring access to instruction in all communities nationwide. It also earmarks funds for the development of multilingual online language-training resources to meet the diverse needs of learners.

In the spring of 2019, the Commission on Japanese-Language Education (an advisory organ under the Agency for Cultural Affairs), of which I am a member, began deliberations on specific measures aimed at improving the level of Japanese-language education in Japan. One major agenda item is the development of a national system for the certification of qualified instructors. The goal is to boost the skills and expertise of Japanese-language teachers; to enhance the prestige of the profession; and to raise the level of Japanese-language education in Japan. We are also considering steps to standardize Japanese proficiency testing and align proficiency levels with those of the Common European Framework of References for Languages.

The Responsibility of the State

Meanwhile, an even more important step forward came in June 2019 with the enactment of a new law that recognizes the government’s responsibility to offer Japanese-language education to foreigners living in Japan. The bill was drafted and submitted by a cross-partisan group of lawmakers led by former Minister of Education Nakagawa Masaharu. While cognizant of the need for far-reaching, comprehensive legislative action to facilitate integration of foreign nationals into Japanese society, Nakagawa decided to place top priority on a Japanese-language education bill in the belief that it addressed an urgent need and was likely to win broad support in the Diet.

Article 1 of the law states that the government “shall carry out comprehensive and effective measures for the promotion of Japanese-language education and thereby contribute to the creation of a dynamic, inclusive society that respects cultural diversity.”

The law’s significance consists in its stipulation that providing Japanese-language education for foreign nationals in Japan is “a responsibility of the state.” It calls for a basic policy to be drawn up by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT) and approved by a cabinet decision. It also calls on local governments to draw up policies consistent with that of the central government.

Notwithstanding the recent change in the Immigration Control Act, the government of Prime Minister Abe Shinzō continues to insist that it is not adopting “immigration policies” in the sense of measures to encourage or facilitate the permanent settlement of foreigners in Japan. Amid this denial, the explicit commitment to providing Japanese-language education to foreign nationals as a foundation for their acceptance and meaningful participation in an inclusive society is a major step in the right direction.

Challenges on the Ground

But to get a real sense of the task before us, we need to heed the actual voices of foreign residents and those attempting to serve them at the community level.

The Shinjuku Multicultural Community Building Committee was established by municipal ordinance in Shinjuku, Tokyo, where foreign nationals from more than 130 different countries account for 12% of the population. The committee, which I have the honor to chair, consists of more than 20 Japanese and foreign residents representing various demographic segments of the community. The members gather once every few months to discuss the challenges and issues confronting Shinjuku’s foreign residents. In the course of chairing these meetings, I have learned a great deal about the issues surrounding Japanese-language learning and teaching in this diverse community.

The first point to understand is that most foreign residents here are genuinely eager to study Japanese but find the obstacles daunting. While Shinjuku’s international community includes corporate executives with ample time to learn the language, many other foreign residents are juggling school and work, often holding multiple jobs. Mothers with small children, likewise, have very few options when it comes to attending language classes. We need to recognize and accommodate the increasingly diverse and complex circumstances of Japan’s foreign residents.

I also hear many complaints from the teaching side. In the absence of funding from either the central or local government, community-level Japanese-language education has had to rely on volunteers. Most are middle-aged or older married women who only want to teach during daytime hours on weekdays, and more and more are retiring from their volunteer jobs. As a result, Shinjuku’s community Japanese programs suffer from an acute shortage of personnel. Nor are they equipped with the resources and expertise to meet the diverse learning needs of this growing population. The question many people are asking is whether continued reliance on volunteers is a viable option.

Foreign residents also stress the need not just for Japanese instruction but also for direct “life guidance” to equip people from other cultures with the practical skills they need to function on a daily basis. A committee member representing the Nepalese community, for example, has made the point that an increasing portion of the young Nepalese who come to Japan to study or train have no previous experience with urban living. They come from rural areas and have never even been to Kathmandu. It is essential, he argues, that such people receive a basic orientation immediately after arriving if they are to avoid the pitfalls of navigating this alien environment. Providing such orientation could head off needless trouble.

Although Shinjuku’s municipal government has prepared living guides in multiple languages, which it issues to foreign students and trainees when they arrive, it offers no orientation classes, nor am I aware of any local governments that do so. As the foreign population of Japan diversifies, the central and local governments must work together to develop and institute an orientation program for new arrivals, along with Japanese-language instruction geared to foreign nationals who must learn local customs while living and working in Japan.

A Brewing Educational Crisis

Although adequate Japanese-language instruction for adults is critical, the educational needs of foreign children today are even more pressing.

According to data published by MEXT, as of May 1, 2018, there were 50,759 students in Japanese public schools identified as needing remedial Japanese-language instruction—an increase of 6,812 from the previous survey two years earlier. A recent MEXT survey found that, of the high school students identified as requiring remedial Japanese instruction as of 2017, a full 9.6% subsequently dropped out, as compared with a 1.3% dropout rate overall. Of the students requiring remediation who graduated in 2017, only 42.2% subsequently enrolled in a university, college of technology, or other postsecondary school, as compared with 71.1% of all 2017 high school graduates. A full 18.2% of them were unemployed, as compared with a 6.7% rate overall.

Learning to speak Japanese is not the biggest linguistic challenge facing foreign schoolchildren in Japan. The biggest challenge is kanji. During their six years in elementary school, Japanese children learn to read and write more than 1,000 kanji. Foreign children who transfer into the system after the beginning of third grade are already at a serious disadvantage. Poor reading skills tend to affect academic performance in almost every subject. By fifth or sixth grade, when many Japanese schoolchildren are already attending juku or enrichment programs, foreign students often find themselves socially isolated. Bullying is also a serious problem.

In places like Tokyo and Hamamatsu (Shizuoka Prefecture), where foreign students are no longer a rarity, many teachers work extra hours coaching them to improve their Japanese skills and help them catch up academically. A few schools have even hired additional faculty and staff in order to offer pull-out classes, with interpreters providing assistance. But only a fraction of the foreign children living in Japan have access to such support.

Foreign students face a major hurdle when it comes time to take the high school entrance examinations. The test results determine what kind of high school they can attend, which in turn determines their college and career prospects. And the vast majority of foreign students must take the written examination in Japanese in direct competition with their Japanese peers. In big cities like Tokyo and Osaka, there are a few schools that offer special admissions processes for foreign students, and there are also a growing number of nonprofits and other organizations dedicated to helping those students. But again, all too few have access to those services.

As the foregoing suggests, the academic and social pressures of school education in Japan can be overwhelming for young foreign nationals. When the stress builds up, students are apt to avoid school or simply stop attending altogether. In Japan, elementary and junior high school education is compulsory only for Japanese citizens, not for the children of foreign nationals. As a consequence, when a foreign student drops out, school authorities seldom intervene.

Leaving these children uneducated and unsupervised cannot possibly be a good thing, either for them or for the community as a whole. The government needs to address this brewing crisis by drawing up a robust policy for educational support, intervention, and accommodation and implementing it rigorously at the local level in collaboration with foreign residents, NPOs, Japanese-language instructors, and others.

Leaving No One Behind

Some progressive municipalities are leading the way with their own initiatives to support the adjustment and social integration of foreign nationals living in Japan. The city of Yokohama has established the Himawari Japanese-language support center to help recently arrived children adjust to Japanese schools. Hamamatsu has launched a program to ensure that all foreign children attend school. But for most municipalities, the education of non-Japanese children is still uncharted territory.

South Korea has established Rainbow Centers at 25 locations around the country to provide basic instruction in Korean language and customs to foreign children before they enter school. By comparison, Japan has only begun to develop dedicated facilities for such purposes, and it has a long way to go in terms of training and hiring the qualified professionals—including language teachers and interpreters—needed to staff them.

The number of foreigners living in Japan is now roughly equal to the entire population of Hiroshima Prefecture. They have much to contribute to Japanese society, both culturally and economically. But that potential will go untapped in the absence of a concerted effort to develop our language-education infrastructure. Through flexible partnerships with municipalities and nonprofits, the government must actively support language and social-integration programs tailored to the needs of individual communities and fulfill its responsibility to “leave no one behind.”

Source: A Crying Need for Japanese-Language Instruction Among Immigrants

From Indians to Chinese, Singapore feels the strain of immigration

Tensions in Singapore’s carefully managed multiculturalism:
When a Singaporean man was caught on camera in October yelling vulgarities at a security guard outside his apartment building, telling the hapless worker he had paid S$1.5 million (US$1.1 million) for the place and should not have to fork out extra for guest parking, the video of the exchange soon went viral.

Singaporeans on social media quickly identified the man, assumed he was an Indian expatriate, and told him to “go home” and not bring his country’s caste system to the city state.

Internet users also soon latched on to the topic of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), a free-trade deal signed in 2005 between India and Singapore. They claimed the deal gave Indian nationals a free pass to work in the Lion City, as online vigilantes doxxed the man and called on his employer to axe him, claiming his qualifications had been falsified.

Days after the video went viral, hundreds of demonstrators turned up at a rally protesting against CECA and Singapore’s population growth. This public anger was reminiscent of that seen in 2013 when the government issued a projection that Singapore’s population could hit 6.9 million by 2030. The number currently stands at 5.7 million, roughly 1.7 million of whom are foreigners.

Over the past month, the authorities have attempted to quell the disquiet by making multiple clarifications about the case. The man, Ramesh Erramalli, was born in India but is a naturalised Singaporean with a Singaporean wife. His education certificates were real, CECA did not make it easy for Indians to gain entry to the country for work, nor would any free-trade agreement, the government said.

The display of xenophobia is not new to Singapore. “Foreigners” – from mainland Chinese to Filipinos – have been blamed for a range of problems, including overcrowding on public transport and unemployment.

Source: From Indians to Chinese, Singapore feels the strain of immigration

Immigrants’ occupational segregation in France: “brown-collar” jobs or a Sub-Saharan African disadvantage?

Unfortunately behind a paywall but looks interesting:

Large-scale labour migration is considered a recent phenomenon in most European countries; however, immigrants have been an integral part of the French labour-force nearly as long as in the United States. Numerous studies document Sub-Saharan African immigrants’ employment and wage disadvantages in France; however, few investigate an important aspect of Sub-Saharan African immigrants’ integration – occupational segregation. Using 2011 French census data, I examine Sub-Saharan African immigrants’ occupational segregation. I find that all immigrants are concentrated, but only Sub-Saharan Africans are concentrated in low-skilled work regardless of citizenship. Department-level regression analyses measuring occupational segregation show that after controlling for socioeconomic characteristics, Sub-Saharan Africans are most segregated. Control variables explain less of Sub-Saharan African women’s segregation than any other group indicating that they experience more discrimination in the labour market than even Sub-Saharan African men. Future research using longitudinal data is needed to determine if these results reflect a persistent disadvantage.

Source: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01419870.2019.1686162?journalCode=rers20

Study: Diversity is Shaping Pet Owner Population

Part of integration may be getting a pet:

Pets live in 67 million U.S. households, a statistic that is being driven by the increase in multicultural pet owners, according to a new report by market research firm Packaged Facts. Compared to a decade ago, pet owners are now more likely to be a member of a multicultural population segment, 28 percent in 2018 versus 22 percent in 2008, the report further noted.

“Between 2008 and 2018 the increase in the number of Hispanic, African American, Asian and other multicultural pet owners was five times higher than the increase in the number of non-Hispanic white pet owners,” said David Sprinkle, research director of Packaged Facts, which is headquartered in Rockville, Md.

Pet Population and Ownership Trends in the U.S: Dogs, Cats and Other Pets, 3rd Edition also revealed the following findings:

  • The number of Latinos owning pets increased 44 percent from 15 million in 2008 to 22 million in 2018, a growth rate vastly greater than that experienced among non-Hispanic white pet owners, according to the researchers.
  • Although a much smaller population, the number of Asian pet owners grew at the same rate (45 percent), between 2008 and 2018.
  • During the same period, the number of African American pet owners increased 24 percent.

The impact of Latinos on dog or cat ownership has been especially pronounced, the researchers also noted. Over the past decade, the number of Hispanic dog owners increased 59 percent. Likewise, the number of Latino cat owners increased 50 percent.

Overall, the report found that out of the more than half (54 percent) of American households that have a pet, dogs and cats are the most popular, coming in at 39 percent and 24 percent, respectively. One in eight households has other pets, including fish, birds, reptiles or small animals such as rabbits, hamsters or gerbils.

Source: Study: Diversity is Shaping Pet Owner Population

Election 2019: Party Platform Immigration Comparison

With all party platforms out, it is now possible to compare the written policy commitments of each party. 

While each party leader has made additional commitments on the campaign trail (e.g., Conservative Party of Canada leader Scheer on maintaining current Liberal immigration levels, New Democratic Party leader Singh pledging additional funding for Quebec integration and settlement services), this analysis looks only at the official party platforms, as these will form the basis of any future government “report card.”

In general, differences among the four main parties are a matter of nuance as all accept ongoing large numbers of immigrants, programs to facilitate integration, straight forward  pathways to citizenship  and the multicultural reality of Canada. 

The only major dissent from that overall consensus is from the People’s’ Party of Canada. The Bloc québecois’ narrow focus on Quebec issues is reflected in virtue signalling its intent to table private members’ bills that assert or seek to expand Quebec’s jurisdiction in immigration.

Party platforms reflect commitments, which are both concrete and “virtue signalling” to their respective bases and voters that they wish to attract.

The Conservative platform on immigration is sparse, with commitments that reflect their main focus on management of immigration, particularly the irregular arrivals at Roxham Road. This is balanced by their commitment to remove the cap on privately sponsored refugees while clarifying priorities for refugee selection (implicitly downplaying the UN Refugee Agency role). Commitments that reflect more strongly concerns of their base include banning values tests for Grant and Contribution programs (Canada Summer Jobs program) and re-opening the Office for Religious Freedom. 

The platform is silent on high profile issues previously raised in opposition such as M-103 on Islamophobia and other forms of racism and discrimination and their opposition to the UN’s Global Compact for Migration.

The lack of meaningful commitments on immigration levels and mix, citizenship and multiculturalism would provide a Conservative government considerable policy and program latitude should it form the government. The PPC picks up on some of issues the Conservatives dropped, along with prohibiting birth tourism and an overall hard-tone on immigration.

The Liberal platform is stay the course on immigration levels and most other policy areas. Apart from the major announcement of eliminating citizenship application fees, the platform places greatest emphasis on multiculturalism-related issues, whether it be with respect to diversity of appointments, anti-racism and anti-hate strategies, and resources to counter international far-right networks, including additional funding. The platform is silent on family reunification, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, refugees, and integration.

The NDP and Green platforms are to the left of the Conservative and Liberal platforms. Of the two, the NDP platform is the more coherent. In the event of a minority government, the almost “laundry list” approach in both platforms would provide some areas of agreement, but not their call to abolish the Safe Third Country Agreement with the USA.

Neither major party has chosen to make immigration the big issue that was predicted at the start of the campaign, reflecting that both parties need to win a substantial part of the immigrant and visible minority vote to win the election. So while there are differences in tone and substance,  these have been relatively downplayed in their respective platforms, campaign language notwithstanding.

This table (Election Platforms 2019 Comparison) highlights party positions on immigration (levels, mix, Temporary Foreign Workers, refugees, irregular asylum seekers), integration, citizenship and multiculturalism.

Immigration levels: The Conservative platform is silent on immigration levels. The Liberal platform continues the current trajectory of “modest and reasonable” annual increases along with making the Atlantic Immigration Pilot permanent and establishing a Municipal Immigration Pilot. The NDP platform states that levels should reflect labour market needs.

The Green platform commits to regularize the status of illegal (non-regularized status immigrants) and improve the pathway to permanent residency for international students and Temporary Foreign Workers.

The PPC platform proposes a cut of between 50 and 70 percent of current immigration levels, along with the addition of in person interviews to assess the “extent to which they align with Canadian values and societal norms.” The PPC also proposes increased resources to Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for the interviews and more thorough background checks.

Immigration mix:  While the Conservative, NDP and Green platforms all promise to speed up family reunification, particularly for parents and grand-parents for the Conservatives and NDP and children for the Greens, the PPC platform calls for abolishing family reunification for parents and grand-parents. The Liberal and Bloc platforms are silent.

The NDP platform calls for faster reunification of caregivers with their families. The Green platform calls for a “robust system” to assess the education and training credentials against Canadian standards prior to arrival along with clear explanations for professionals and an improved pathway to permanent residency for international students and Temporary Foreign Workers.

The PPC proposes to adjust the point system to increase the percentage of economic class immigrants.

Temporary Foreign Workers:  While the Conservative platform commits to match employment backgrounds to employment needs of companies that rely on TFWP, the Green platform calls for the replacement of Temporary Foreign Workers by increased immigration. The PPC platform calls for limiting numbers and ensuring they are only temporary. Both the NDP and Green platforms call for increased regulation of immigration consultants. 

The Liberal and Bloc platforms are silent.

Refugees: While the Conservative platform commits to the elimination of the cap for privately sponsored refugees, the PPC calls for relying solely on private sponsorship, accepting fewer refugees, no longer “relying” on the UN for refugee selection, and taking Canada out of the UN Global Compact for Migration.

The Conservative platform places priority on genocide survivors, LGBTQ+ refugees, and internally-displaced persons while the PPC platform places priority on persecuted religious minorities (e.g.,  Christians, Yazidis) in majority Muslim countries.

The NDP program calls for increased support for refugee integration. The Bloc calls for a moratorium on deportations to countries in conflict or where the life of a refugee would be in danger. The Liberal platform is silent.

Asylum seekers (Safe Third Country Agreement): While the Conservative platform calls for closing the loophole in the STCA that allows irregular arrivals between official border crossings, the Liberal platform states that it will work with the USA to “modernize” the Agreement. The NDP, Greens and Bloc call for its termination. 

The PPC would declare the whole border an official port of entry , deport irregular arrivals,  and fence frequently used border crossings like Roxham Road.

The Conservative platform commits to speed up refugee processing by deploying Immigration and Refugee Board judges to common arrival points and speed up deportations by hiring an addition 250 CBSA agents. The Green platform calls for the establishment of a Civilian Complaints and Review Commission for CBSA. The Bloc platform calls for the hiring of additional IRB members in Quebec to adjudicate claims.

Integration (settlement services): The Conservative platform commits to continue supporting settlement services while the Green platform calls for increased funding for language training through earmarked transfers to the provinces. The platform also calls for increased funding to multicultural organizations to provide language and other services. No other party makes integration commitments.

Citizenship: The Liberal platform commits to eliminate citizenship fees (currently $630 for adult applications). The Green platform commits to address the remaining cases of “lost Canadians” while the PPC platform commits to change the Citizenship Act to make birth tourism illegal.

Multiculturalism: The Conservative platform commits to end values tests for government G&C programs (e.g., the Summer Jobs program) and to reopen the Office of Religious Freedom.

The Liberal platform promises to continue improving the diversity of GiC appointments and senior levels of the public service. The Anti-Racism Strategy will be strengthened through doubling funding, along with increased G&C funding. The platform commits to improve the quality and amount of data collection regarding hate crimes. An additional $6 million over three years will be provided to the Centre for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence along with resources to counter the rise of international far-right networks and terrorist organizations.

Both the Liberal and NDP platforms commit to hold social media companies accountable for hate speech.

The NDP platform has the longest list of commitments including: ensuring all major cities have dedicated hate crime units; the convening of a national working group to counter online hate; funding for anti-gang projects to deter at-risk youth from joining gangs or becoming radicalized; a ban on carding by federal law enforcement and working to end carding in all jurisdictions; and a national task force to develop a roadmap to end over-representation of Indigenous and visible minorities in prison populations, along with an African Canadian Justice Strategy.

The Green platform commits to improving the integration into the multicultural fabric, assisting cultural organizations to obtain charitable status, amending the Anti-Terrorism Act and Public Safety Act to require that formal charges be brought against all those detained and lastly, investigating allegations that Canadian officials cooperated with foreign agencies known to use torture.

The PPC platform commits to repealing the Multiculturalism Act and eliminating funding that promotes multiculturalism.

The Bloc platform focusses exclusively on Quebec jurisdiction questions: opposing any federal intervention in Bill 21 and laïcité; strengthening relations with immigrant communities;  private member bill “virtue signalling” with respect to exempting Quebec from the Multiculturalism Act; banning offering or receiving public services with face covered; having citizenship applicants living in Quebec demonstrate knowledge of French; and making federally regulated sectors (banks, transport, communications) located in Quebec subject to Bill 101.

Les cours de francisation gagnent en popularité

May be some lessons for settlement services elsewhere in Canada in terms of which supports may be more effective:

La hausse de l’allocation hebdomadaire remise aux immigrants pour leur apprentissage de la langue a fait bondir la popularité des cours de francisation de 10 % au cours de la dernière année. C’est ce que constate le ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration dans son rapport annuel déposé mardi à l’Assemblée nationale.

Près de 31 000 personnes se sont inscrites au cours de français en 2018-2019 comparativement à un peu plus de 28 000 en 2017-2018, la plupart à temps complet. La hausse est plus marquée chez les femmes. Elles étaient près de 8500 à avoir suivi ces cours en 2018-2019, contre près de 7000 en 2017-2018. Une augmentation presque deux fois plus importante que celle des hommes.

L’allocation hebdomadaire remise aux immigrants inscrits aux cours avait été haussée de 25 $ par les libéraux et ainsi fixée à 140 $ en août 2017. Le nouveau gouvernement caquiste a fait de la francisation des immigrants l’une de ses priorités. Le ministre de l’Immigration, Simon Jolin-Barrette, a augmenté cette allocation à nouveau le 1er juillet 2019, à 185 $ par semaine. Il a également ajouté une allocation de transport et de frais de garde, en plus de donner accès à ces cours offerts par l’État à tous les immigrants vivant au Québec, y compris les travailleurs temporaires et les étudiants étrangers. Anticipant une plus forte demande, le ministre Jolin-Barrette avait également annoncé l’ajout de 300 nouvelles classes. Le coût de ces nouvelles mesures s’élève à 70,3 millions.

Si les inscriptions aux cours de francisation à temps plein offerts en territoire québécois ont augmenté, celles aux cours offerts en ligne ratent leur cible. Seulement 30 % des immigrants les ont suivis depuis l’étranger, alors que le ministère visait un objectif de 70 %. La baisse de participation à ces cours sur Internet est attribuable à la diminution du nombre de certificats de sélection du Québec délivrés aux personnes à l’étranger, selon le rapport annuel.

Source: Les cours de francisation gagnent en popularité

Four in 10 international students turned away by Canadian immigration

Study Permit Refusals by Level

Source: IRCC data

More than half the international students headed to undergraduate programs in Canada were turned away this winter and spring by immigration officials.

Between January and May, officers rejected 53 per cent of the study permit applications filed by foreign students hoping to begin a bachelor program in Canada, according to data provided by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

The record refusal rate is part of a trend that has seen immigration officials refuse a higher proportion of applications every year as international demand for Canadian education has soared. The overall refusal rate – including study permit applications to attend primary, secondary, post-secondary and language programs – was 39 per cent in the first five months of the year. (Rates for the first five months of 2019 may not reflect full-year rates.)

Reasons for refusal: fraud, danger, doubtful intentions

Twenty-eight per cent of all study permit applications were rejected by immigration officials in 2014. Four years later, in 2018, the overall rejection rate had climbed to 34 per cent. Demand for education boomed in that same period, with total applications almost doubling to more than 340,000 in 2018.

Increasing study permit refusals 2014 to 2019, Canada

Source: IRCC data

Robert Summerby-Murray is president of Saint Mary’s University, where 34 per cent of all students come from outside Canada. He is also chair of the Canadian Bureau for International Education, which promotes international education on behalf of more than 100 Canadian colleges, universities, schools and institutions.

He said study permit approvals have been improving for his students and he hasn’t heard of problems from other institutions.

“In some markets now, approvals are over 90 per cent,” he said of the experience of his own university this year. “We don’t see a 40 per cent refusal rate. That’s not our experience at all.”

Officials can refuse a study permit for many reasons: if they suspect the student may not return to their home country after graduation; if the student doesn’t have sufficient funds to pay for tuition and living costs while in Canada; if the student poses a health or security threat to Canada; if the officer doesn’t think the student’s academic plan makes sense; if the application is incomplete or inaccurate or if there is evidence of fraud in the application.

Harpreet Kochhar, assistant deputy minister of immigration, warned last fall that fraud had become a significant problem in study permit applications. He told a conference of the Canadian Bureau of International Education that a sample audit found that 10 per cent of the admission letters attached to study permit applications were false. In one case, he said, a supposed admission letter from Dalhousie University did not even spell the name of the university correctly.

Undergraduate refusals double

University-bound students are driving the higher rejection rate. While the study permit refusal rate for graduate university programs has increased slightly, the refusal rate for bachelor programs is soaring.

In 2014, only 20 per cent of international students headed to a bachelor program were refused a permit, compared to 37 per cent in 2018 and 53 per cent in the first five months of 2019.

Five years ago, visa officers were twice as likely to approve the study permit applications of international students bound for Canadian universities as students bound for Canadian college programs. Today the overall rates are similar.

The lowest refusal rates in early 2019 were for students who want to attend a doctoral program (11 per cent), high school (20 per cent), primary school (20 per cent), master’s program (31 per cent) or language program (31 per cent).

Refusals vary by source country

Refusal rates also vary dramatically by country, with students from Africa much less likely to receive a permit than students from many Asian and European countries.

Alain Roy, vice president of international partnerships with Colleges and Institutes Canada, said he is pleased that the rejection rate for college-bound students has remained steady despite a huge increase in the number of applications.

Summerby-Murray said his university works hard to build and maintain relationships with the consular officials who decide whether a student permit is approved, and they also work with expert agents who vet students thoroughly before an application is filed.

“We visit. We call,” he said. “I can pick up the phone. I can talk to the consuls in Shanghai, the team in Beijing, the folks in Hong Kong, Nairobi and other places and say, ‘Heh, we have these refusals, can you reconsider?’ We have worked very hard on these relationships.”

Polestar collected impressions from several other university administrators across Canada, all of whom shared information on the condition that neither they nor their institutions would be named. Two smaller universities said they have noticed an increase in problems with study permit approvals and two larger institutions said they had not seen any increase.

Universities Canada declined to comment on the study permit refusal rates.

International students who want to attend school in Canada must be admitted to a designated learning institution before they apply for a study permit from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. Most students will also need either a temporary resident visa or an electronic travel authorization to enter Canada.

Source: Four in 10 international students turned away by Canadian immigration

Singh promises bump to Quebec’s immigration funds to address labour shortage

Sigh. Quebec already receives about 40 percent of settlement funding and only received about 16 percent of immigrants in 2018:

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says his government would give a boost to Quebec’s immigration funding to help prepare immigrants to fill the province’s labour shortage.

At an announcement in Drummondville, Que., on Saturday, Singh promised to increase the federal immigration transfer payment to Quebec by $73 million per year to improve settlement services for newcomers, if he is elected prime minister.

The province has been dealing with a labour shortage, with more than four per cent of all jobs in Quebec left vacant for four months or longer, according to a Canadian Federation of Independent Business report. That’s roughly 120,000 jobs.

“Quebec is dealing with a serious labour shortage, and needs immigration to help meet the challenge,” said Singh.

“It’s a critical issue.”

The NDP’s platform also commits to bolstering immigration settlement in rural areas of Quebec. Many immigrants arrive in Quebec with no French language skills, which affects their ability to work in the province. Singh said that a funding increase from an NDP government would help to target those language barriers.

Quebec will already receive $25.5 billion from Ottawa this fiscal year in the form equalization payments and health and social transfers. In the 2017-2018 fiscal year, $490 million was allocated for immigration supports.

But the provincial government isn’t completely sold on the idea of increasing immigration.

Leaning on temporary foreign workers

The CAQ government intends to accept around 20 per cent fewer immigrants this year, or 40,000 instead of the nearly 52,000 accepted last year.

However, Premier François Legault said temporary foreign workers can counter the shortage.

His government recently launched a $21-million plan to make it simpler for smaller businesses to recruit foreigners. It includes subsidizing recruitment missions by Quebec companies overseas and offering to cover $1,000 in moving expenses for the workers.

The province also announced $34 million for measures aimed at better integrating immigrants into the workforce.

Source: Singh promises bump to Quebec’s immigration funds to address labour shortage