Palestinians start applying for citizenship under family unification laws

Of note. Creating ‘facts on the ground’ while the law has not been renewed:
Palestinians who are married to Israeli citizens but who have not been able to obtain Israeli citizenship or residency due to the Citizenship Law which the government failed to renew this week have begun filing requests for such standing with the Interior Ministry.
NGOs, including the Hamoked civil rights group, have begun filing requests for citizenship and residency on behalf of their clients, and are encouraging others to do so as well.
There are some 9,200 Palestinians married to Israeli Arab citizens who have the most basic “stay permits” allowing them to reside in the country but which have to be renewed every one or two years, and another 3,500 who due to special circumstances were able to obtain temporary residency visas.
They will all now be able to apply for citizenship, although since the Arab population of east Jerusalem generally shuns citizenship in favor of residency those with stay permits in the city will likely request residency visas.
Until now, the 2003 Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law prevented Palestinians who marry Israeli Arab citizens from obtaining citizenship through naturalization, as is available to other foreign national spouses of Israelis.
The law was passed on security grounds and later extended to Syrians, Lebanese, Iraqis and Iranians who marry Israelis.
But the law has been criticized by human rights groups as discriminatory and on humanitarian grounds, and was opposed by coalition partners Ra’am and Meretz.
Although compromises were found, two Ra’am MKs abstained, while Yamina rebel MK Amichai Shikli voted against, and the law was toppled.
This means that those Palestinians married to Israeli citizens can now start the application process with the Interior Ministry for citizenship or residency like any other foreign national.
They will be able to apply first for a B1 visa, then an A5 temporary residency visa, and ultimately for citizenship if they do not live in east Jerusalem.
Jessica Montell, Executive Director of the Israeli human rights organization HaMoked, said that her organization represents approximately 400 families and that it has begun filing visa applications for them to the Interior Ministry.
In some families not just the spouse needs to obtain residency, the children do as well, she said.
Asked whether the ministry might hold up the processing of applications while the government ponders new steps, Montell insisted that the “Ministry doesn’t have right to drag its feet,” and that it had to “respect people’s rights.”
She said the standard response time for a request to a government authority is 45 days, and that if her clients did not receive responses in such time they would take the issue to court.
“The ministry cannot ignore these requests for a year in the hope a new law is passed,” said Montell.
“Israelis are just as safe as they were before the law expired. The authorities still have all the tools necessary to prevent dangerous people from entering the country, but without this law we will be a little bit more free and equal,” she said.
“Without this law, all Israeli citizens and residents have an equal right to fall in love and build a family, and that’s good news for these families and for everyone who cares about basic human rights.”
Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked has said however that she intends to bring the law back to the Knesset for a vote in the coming weeks in a fresh attempt to get it approved, meaning that the gateway to citizenship for such people may soon be closed.
Shaked has emphasized the security basis of the law, stating this week that the majority of terror attacks carried out by Arab Israeli citizens have been committed either by individuals who obtained some form of status in Israel through family reunification under the Citizenship Law, or by their offspring.
The Shin Bet said in 2018 that since 2001 some 155 individuals involved in terror activities obtained entry to Israel under family reunification laws.
But the law has also been justified to preserve Israel’s Jewish majority, something emphasized this week by Shaked, as well as  more centrist figures like Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and, a few weeks ago, Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

Source: Palestinians start applying for citizenship under family unification laws

No English, no visa: Australia to block visa for partners if they don’t speak English


Australians who fall in love with non-English speaking foreigners will be barred from bringing their partners into the country to be married if they do not speak English.

In Tuesday’s federal budget the government said it would introduce an English language test for both the person being sponsored for a visa to move to Australia to marry their partner and their sponsor if they are non-English speaking permanent residents.

“These changes will help support English language acquisition and enhance social cohesion and economic participation outcomes,” the budget papers said.

The measure is estimated to save the government $4.9 million over the forward estimates.

Chelsea Sonkar, 30, from Canberra, has applied for a partner visa for her husband Sanjay Sonkar, 30, from Varanasi, India.

She has been raising their one-year-old son alone for the past year while working and studying because Sanjay was caught in India when the borders closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mrs Sonkar said the government was sending a clear but ugly message about the type of husband or wife that they deemed suitable for Australians.

“My instinctive reaction was that the government has a preference for the type of spouse that they want to include in the Australian community,” she said.

“It sends a very strong message that spouses coming from poorer backgrounds are not welcome.

Mrs Sonkar is confident Mr Sonkar would pass an oral language test because he works as a tourist guide and converses in several languages conversationally. But she is worried that if the test is written he will be at a disadvantage because he dropped out of school when he was 16 to support his family after his father became ill.

“To think that small instance could potentially cost him, he’s just doing the best he can and he’s a good man,” she said.

Mrs Sonkar said the new requirement was in addition to the minimum $8000 visa application fee, the more than two years it takes the department to process partner visas plus the extensive paperwork required to prove that a relationship is genuine.

“I felt angry because now there’s another hurdle that we have to jump through when we’re doing everything we can,” she said.

The changes were criticised by the Opposition’s spokesman for multicultural affairs, Andrew Giles.

“English proficiency isn’t a test of someone’s love,” Mr Giles said.

“These changes arrived without any warning, consultation or explanation and take us back to the 1950s. Why would Australia’s government seek to do something like this, instead of keeping partners together?”

Amelia Elliot, who runs an online support and lobbying group for Australians trying to obtain visas for their partners, said the change was “pure discrimination.”

“It dictates that we cannot love who we love, and that instead we must marry according to what is dictated by budget policy. This government treats multi-national couples as second-class citizens and it must stop.”

Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge did not respond to requests for comment.


Immigration NZ partnership visa policy labelled ‘racist’ [spouses]

Main issue in Canada appears to overall delays although Canada also faces challenge in determining whether a relationship is “genuine and stable” or just for immigration purposes:

Indian migrants are angry at a sudden, and unexpected, change to the interpretation of immigration rules, which is barring their spouses from moving to New Zealand.

Newsroom has reported extensively on the delays in the processing of partnership category visas. Now, New Zealand residents and citizens, mostly from India and other South Asian countries, are having their visas processed.

But dozens, if not hundreds, of these partnership visa applications are being declined, as they don’t meet Immigration New Zealand’s (INZ) new interpretation of the partnership test.

These changes come under a Government that’s now making significant changes in immigration policy, after two years of continued strong migration and residency application that outstripped lowered targets.

But those in the Indian community are angry with the changes, with some being forced to sell up, pack up, quit their jobs and move back to India.

Others talk about hopelessness, financial and mental health issues, as well as stress put on new marriages and relationships.

And one immigration lawyer has labelled the sudden and unexpected change racist.

Change to pragmatic policy

Since 2009, following a ruling from the ombudsman, INZ has taken a somewhat pragmatic approach to granting partnership visas to those from India, who commonly engage in non-resident Indian (NRI) marriages.

These marriages are not the same as a traditional arranged marriage, but usually come about through a conversation between parents, extended families, and the parties looking to marry.

It isn’t uncommon for the pair to meet for the first time upon their engagement.

Those familiar with Indian culture, who spoke to Newsroom, said this was common practice, and did not reflect negatively on whether the relationship was genuine, or whether it would last.

However, it did create a difficulty for immigration officers applying the test to determine whether the partnership was “genuine and stable”.

Immigration instructions for partnership applications not only require INZ to determine whether the couple is genuine, and the relationship stable, but that the couple is “living together” in the same home at the time of the application.

This is often impossible for the sponsor partner who is working or studying in New Zealand.

While the New Zealand-based partner will often visit India for a few weeks or months at the time of the marriage and for brief holidays, it is often not possible to live with their new spouse long-term.

In the past, if INZ was not satisfied the couple had enough evidence to meet the relationship test, they would often grant a temporary visitor visa, which allowed the pair to live together in New Zealand, with the view to later apply for a partnership visa.

However, in the past fortnight, those applying for visas, and others working in the sector, say this workaround has been effectively removed as an option.

A stricter interpretation of immigration instructions is stopping those partners from gaining a temporary visitor visa, because they did not meet those specific tests, including having a strong enough incentive to return to their own country and prove their primary reason for travel was as a visitor.

While INZ said general short-term visitor visas would still be looked at on a case-by-case basis, those impacted say the approach from INZ has changed.

They say this more hardline interpretation of the instructions has left many from India, and other countries, with no path to joining their spouse.

While it’s hard to draw a trend from such a recent change in policy interpretation, the percentage of all approved applications for patrons of New Zealand residents or citizens was slightly down last month to 88.7 percent (from an average of 89.8 percent over the previous eight months). For applications where the applicant held an Indian passport, that approval percentage was at 77.4 percent last month (from an average of 91.2 percent over the previous eight months).

Policy ‘racist’, ‘Eurocentric’

Immigration lawyer Alastair McClymont said INZ was no longer looking for a pragmatic solution, and was instead strictly applying the policy.

He had written to senior managers at INZ and Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway, but unless INZ changed its interpretation of how to apply its partnership tests, things weren’t looking good for applicants and their partners.

“I don’t know what to advise my clients either, I don’t know what they can do, apart from quitting their jobs, leaving their homes, selling up and going and living in India with their partner,” he said.

“This is why I’ve said that it is racist, at its core – it’s determining what kind of relationship someone can have. And it’s a European relationship, not an Indian relationship.”

“It’s really almost like saying: there is only one kind of partnership we recognise and that is a European, Kiwi-type marriage, and if you don’t enter into a relationship of that type, you can’t bring your partner to this country.”

The immigration instructions were “completely Eurocentric”, he said, adding that it sent a message that unless someone was married “the white, Kiwi way” they wouldn’t be able to get a visa.

“This is why I’ve said that it is racist, at its core – it’s determining what kind of relationship someone can have. And it’s a European relationship, not an Indian relationship.”

Since the change in policy a couple of weeks ago, McClymont’s practice has dealt with more than two dozen clients affected.

McClymont said while he was speculating, it was convenient the changes came at a time when INZ was under pressure to clear the massive backlog of partnership visa applications.

Last month, Newsroom reported New Zealand residents and their partners were suffering mental health issues, with some returning to India due to lengthy delays in visa processing.

High application volumes, coupled with the closure of offshore processing offices, had led to a massive backlog in the processing of partnership visa applications, particularly those coming from India.

In response, INZ has recruited more staff to its Mumbai and Hamilton offices, with 28 officers processing applications in Mumbai, and 140 in Hamilton working on partnership visa applications alone. INZ planned to expand to 170 in the coming months.

INZ business and specialist visa services national manager Peter Elms said INZ was working to provide certainty to applicants and their partners and was continuing with its recruitment drive.

Average visa processing times for partners of New Zealanders is currently nine months.

An angry community

While McClymont suggested the visa application backlog could be the driving force, National Party MP Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi said he believed it was an effort by the Government to curb immigration numbers.

While both New Zealand First and Labour campaigned on cutting immigration at the 2017 election, the number of people coming into New Zealand have remained high, and the number of people applying for residency was outstripping the Government’s lowered planning range.

“There is a lot of anger and people are frustrated.”

Bakshi said the Government needed to be upfront about plans to change immigration policy, and consult communities rather than making decisions from their Wellington offices.

The current approach from INZ showed a lack of sympathy, he said.

Bakshi was overseas when he got the call from his parents to tell them they had found him a good match.

The first time he met his wife was on their engagement, and they’ve been happily married for 30 years.

The latest changes to the INZ interpretation of the partnership instructions had caused worry within the Indian community, Bakshi said.

“There is a lot of anger and people are frustrated.”

INZ’s Elms said the department was mindful of cultural complexities and sensitivities when dealing with visa applicants.

“However, INZ must observe immigration policy as set by the Government.

“Immigration officers must consider all applications, regardless of the applicant’s background or country of origin, against the guidelines set out in immigration instructions,” he said.

“An immigration officer must be satisfied the applicant meets these instructions. It is also the responsibility of applicants to satisfy the immigration officer that the requirements of immigration instructions have been met.”

‘Our lives are on hold’

About a dozen people contacted Newsroom to share their experiences, many of whom had waited months to be assigned a case officer, only to have their applications declined within days.

Others had been declined multiple times.

Many of these people received the same reasoning from INZ: “We are not satisfied that you meet immigration instructions V3.10 as you have not demonstrated that you and your partner are living together in a genuine and stable relationship.”

While most who contacted Newsroom were from India, others had partners from Egypt or Thailand.

Ankur Shokeen married his wife in January and she applied for a partnership visa in February. Their case was assigned to an officer early last month, and declined three weeks later.

INZ told the pair while they had been married for 10 months, they had spent just a month together, and therefore did not meet the test.

Gagandeep and Jaspreet (who did not want their surnames used) were married last year and applied for a partnership visa in January, and after almost nine months of waiting to be assigned a case officer, their application was declined on the same day.

They WhatsApp for two hours every day, but have spent a total of five weeks together since their wedding.

Ehsanul (Sunny) Bashar married his wife in May 2016, and has had her visa application declined six times.

They have lived together for four months but that timeframe did not satisfy the requirement, and INZ said their partnership could not be categorised as “genuine and stable”.

Bashar is a New Zealand citizen, living in the country for 24 years, and said he believed this treatment was “unfair and unjust”.

“I wonder do we give up our jobs, our lives, desert our parents in New Zealand, face financial ruin? Is this what Immigration NZ wants?

“If there is a deliberate ploy to reduce numbers (of) migrants why have a policy where we can pay fees and apply for visas multiple times, to get the same negative result?

“Our lives are on hold, pained, traumatised, mentally and emotionally scarred,” he said.

Source: Immigration NZ partnership visa policy labelled ‘racist’

Letter to spouse applying for Canadian citizenship ‘offensive,’ Kwan says

Not easy to make these determinations and assessment of normal vs abnormal patterns of behaviour are valid approaches to identifying possible fraud or misrepresentation. Perhaps the language used could be more neutral in tone but hard to think of alternate ways to assess spousal applications but others may have ideas:

“To me, it’s completely inappropriate and I think it’s offensive and insulting,” Kwan said.

“I would like for the government to look at the systemic issue of this letter and why such letters are being sent out through those spousal sponsorship applications.”

The letter, from a Canadian immigration officer based in London, England, to a female applicant from Pakistan, says her permanent residency application appears suspect for a number of reasons — including that she is three years older than her husband, a Canadian citizen who has lived in Canada since 2005.

“You and your sponsor (husband) do not appear well matched,” the letter states, a copy of which was provided to The Canadian Press.

“You are three years older than him, he comes from a town four hours from where you live and you are not related, so it is unclear to me why the match was made.”

It is unusual for Pakistani men to marry older women, especially if they are not related, the unnamed immigration officer writes. The officer also notes their wedding guest list of 123 people was small compared to traditional Pakistani weddings.

“This apparent deviation from the cultural norm raises concerns that your wedding may have taken place in order for you to gain permanent residence in Canada.”
Kwan said she followed up with the department, only to find letters with such language are routinely sent to spousal sponsorship applicants from Pakistan to “‘tease out a response.'”

“Who are they judge whether or not that marriage is well-matched?” Kwan said.

“It’s one thing to say, ‘I do not believe in the authenticity of this marriage,’ it’s another to make a judgment on the quality of the marriage…. I find that offensive.”

Kwan raised the issue in question period this week and again with Hussen during a Commons committee meeting Thursday, asking for the government to review its treatment of spousal applicants.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended the program during question period, saying he was pleased his government has reduced a backlog of applications under spousal sponsorship and has also reduced waiting times from two years to 12 months.

“We also know there is more to do,” Trudeau said.

Improvements to the program have been made, and scrutinizing spousal sponsorship applications is an important part of the work of his department, Hussen added.

“Our department continues to uphold measures to safeguard against marriage fraud and other program integrity risks.”

Indeed, it’s not uncommon for the immigration minister to become involved in cases involving spousal citizenship cases that go before the courts.

Last week, a Federal Court judge rejected a judicial review application from Hussen’s office in a spousal case that was initially rejected and then won on appeal. The office felt there was evidence contradicting the wife’s claim that her marriage to a Nigerian man in 2014 was legitimate.

via Letter to spouse applying for Canadian citizenship ‘offensive,’ Kwan says

Make spousal sponsorships work to reunite families: Meurrens

Valid observation that the returning of incomplete applications, while valid from an administrative streamlining perspective, has the political advantage of reducing reported processing times.

Meurrens makes a useful suggestion that follow-up questions could be sent to applicants at the same time as medical forms, which are sent after applications. However, this would likely require a greater degree of process coordination that may be challenging to implement:

On February 14, 2018, Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), announced that the processing time for spousal sponsorship applications had been reduced from 26 months to 12 months in 80 percent of cases. The Minister attributed the reduction to a “Family Class Tiger Team” that had redesigned application packages and introduced workflow efficiencies.

What the Minister didn’t mention was that IRCC achieved its reduction in processing at least in part because it has established an unbelievably strict triage system for marriage-based immigration applications. As reported in several media outlets at the end of January 2018, this intake-management system has in many instances left Canadian families in limbo, caused people who were legally in Canada to lose their status and impeded the ability of the foreign-national spouses of Canadian citizens to work.

On the same day that the Minister made his announcement, IRCC issued an Operational Bulletin stating that effective March 15, 2018, IRCC would return as incomplete applications that do not include a detailed form listing personal and address history, and police certificates from countries where applicants have lived. These forms and police certificates were previously required but not subject to the triage system.

This triage system makes it difficult to accurately compare application processing times and, more importantly, it creates unnecessary and unwarranted hardship for Canadians seeking to reunite with their families.

The drive for faster processing times 

It is true that under the former Conservative government, processing times for spousal and common-law sponsorship applications were generally slower than they currently are. These slower processing times were in large part due to lower quotas that the Conservatives had for family reunification. Indeed, the Liberals have increased Canada’s target for spousal sponsorship applications by 50 percent.

The slower processing times under the Conservatives also existed because the government did not apply to family reunification programs the rigid application-completeness system it had implemented in economic immigration programs, whereby the department would return as incomplete any applications that contained a technical deficiency.

Because the Conservatives refrained from introducing the triage system into family reunification programs, if a Canadian seeking to sponsor a spouse missed a signature or forgot to include a document, IRCC would send a letter requesting the missing document. While this approach often delayed processing times by months, foreign spouses who were already in Canada were able to continue living here with status and to work if they had a work permit. Ironically, with its relentless drive to boast of reduced processing times, the Liberal government has abandoned the more compassionate approach of the Conservatives.

On December 16, 2016, John McCallum, then the minister of citizenship and immigration, decreed that effective January 31, 2017, Canada’s immigration department would return as incomplete any spousal or common-law sponsorship applications that were missing required signatures or documents. That this step was taken to reduce processing times has been confirmed in internal IRCC documents obtained through an Access to Information Act request. A fact sheet that the Family Class Tiger Team provided to manager-level staff confirms that previously a majority of spousal sponsorship applications were missing documents, which slowed down processing, and that the government wanted to reduce processing times.

Problems with the triage system

The current rigid triage system distorts a fair comparison of processing times. Suppose an individual applies to sponsor a spouse to immigrate to Canada and forgets to include in one of the forms the city where a non-accompanying brother was born. Previously, processing might have been delayed by two to three months while IRCC contacted the family, informed them of the mistake and requested they provide the information. Now, IRCC would instead return the application one to two months after it is submitted, and the family would have to resubmit. If some supporting documents have expired, they may have to reobtain them, and the process can easily take several months. Under the previous system, this delay would have added two to three months to the processing time. Under the Liberals’ triage system, technically there is no delay because processing doesn’t start until the application is resubmitted. So while the government can boast of reduced processing times, applicants are frequently worse off, and the time that it takes IRCC to approve their immigration applications is lengthened.

More importantly, an application being returned for incompleteness has implications beyond the annoyance of having to resubmit. Since January 31, 2017, foreign spouses already working in Canada have frequently lost the ability to work because their immigration application was returned, and they’ve found themselves now to be in Canada “illegally,” because their valid status hinged on their immigration application being in processing. Depending on the province, access to health care for a spouse could be delayed or jeopardized. In British Columbia, for example, the foreign-national visitor spouse of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident only becomes eligible to access that province’s public health system three months after IRCC accepts their application into processing. Every time IRCC returns an application for incompleteness, it delays those people’s access to health care.

Some Canadians may wonder why sympathy should be shown to people who submit incomplete applications. But the ability to be reunited on a permanent basis with a spouse should not depend on a person’s sophistication when it comes to completing paperwork — unless, of course, the government wants to push families into the hands of immigration lawyers and consultants.

Furthermore, an application can be incomplete for many reasons beyond simply missing forms and documents. The reasons that IRCC can return applications include using outdated versions of the forms (even though the old forms are often still available on the IRCC website), incorrectly stating which programs are being applied to even if the supporting documentation makes it obvious, an insufficient written explanation for why an individual cannot provide a supporting document at the time of submission (like a divorce certificate or police certificate that is in processing), photo specifications that are not met and errors in completing the forms.

An alternative approach

Given that processing times are easily measured, it is understandable that the government wants to reduce them. Indeed, it is hard to go a few days without reading a media storyabout a family upset with how long their immigration application is taking. Perhaps in exchange for immigration stakeholders not complaining to the media every time processing times increase, Canada’s immigration department could stop applying such a strict approach to accepting an application into processing. Can we not all agree to this?

A solution to longer processing times is readily apparent. IRCC does not currently let people complete their immigration medical exams until after several months into processing. Given that IRCC sends these requests for medical exams after processing has already started, it seems reasonable that a request for any missing information could be sent at the same time. Such an approach might cause a small increase in processing times, but it will ultimately benefit Canadians seeking to sponsor their spouses and common-law partners.

Source: Make spousal sponsorships work to reunite families

Liberals repeal Conservative immigrant residency requirement targeting marriage fraud

Balance of risks but tend to share Dench’s view that marriage fraud was blown out of proportion, reflecting a few high profile cases:

The Liberal government is repealing a measure brought in by the Conservatives that required newcomers to live with their sponsoring spouse for two years or face deportation.

The conditional permanent residency status policy, which kicked in October 2012, was designed to clamp down on marriage fraud. But immigrant advocates said it had the effect of trapping some people in violent, abusive relationships.

Scrapping the two-year probation for permanent residency checks off another 2015 Liberal campaign promise, which the government signalled it would pursue last fall.

According to the Privy Council Office website, the cabinet decision was formally taken April 13 and will be published on May 3 in the Canada Gazette, the government’s official newsletter.

A formal government announcement on the change is expected Friday.

Under the Conservative policy, sponsored spouses and partners were given a status of “conditional” permanent residence, and were required to cohabit and remain in a conjugal relationship with their sponsor for two years. If they didn’t, their status could be revoked, leading to deportation.

At the time, former immigration minister Jason Kenney said the change targeted con artists who dupe Canadians into marriage then dump them once they get to Canada. The measure was also designed to deal with “marriages of convenience,” where two persons pretend to be in love for one to gain entry to Canada, often in exchange for money.

Exemptions for abuse

The probation policy allowed for exemptions when there was abuse or neglect by the sponsor, but Janet Dench of the Canadian Council for Refugees said many people didn’t understand the process. They remained trapped in violent relationships, while others who applied for an exception found the ordeal excruciating.

“They often end up getting the exception, but it’s a very difficult process, retraumatizing people who are already broken down by the panic of correspondence and interviews and having to go through everything that they suffered,” she told CBC News.

Dench said reports of fraudulent marriage have been blown out of proportion, and noted there are already provisions in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to crack down on people who misrepresent themselves or make false claims.

But Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel said the 2012 policy was brought in to address a real problem of marriage fraud, and called the Liberal move to repeal it a “giant step backward.”

“I think it’s the wrong approach,” she said. “I think it erodes public confidence in the integrity of the immigration system and it puts vulnerable persons at greater risk.”

Source: Liberals repeal Conservative immigrant residency requirement targeting marriage fraud – Politics – CBC News

Immigrant spouses may have to meet language and education requirements | Canadian Immigrant

The Government sometimes can’t help itself making partisan shots rather than a serious discussion of the issues. There are integration challenges for spouses coming to Canada, best addressed through settlement and related services, as not allowing immediate family reunification, should the Government decide to go there, will hamper not foster integration:

Alexander’s office would not confirm if language and education requirements are in the cards. It said the government is proud of its record of condemning intolerance, hatred, and barbaric cultural practices.

“We can’t say the same for Justin Trudeau, who has refused to call honour killings barbaric,” said Alexis Pavlich, the minister’s press secretary. “Everyone is expected to respect Canadian values and abide by Canadian laws.”

Lawyer Avvy Go, executive director of the Metro Toronto Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, who attended one of the consultations, said such a move would be “a direct attack on Canada’s family reunification program.”

“We will go back to a bachelor society, like when Canada had its Chinese head tax in place and people were prevented from bringing their wives and children here,” she said.

Alexander has been meeting with invited representatives of communities across Canada for input into a strategic plan to “strengthen the integrity of the immigration spousal sponsorship program.” In those meetings, he raised the idea of imposing the new requirements, some of those invited told the Star.

However, Pavlich, the minister’s press secretary, said it’s “irresponsible and unproductive” to characterize such discussions at the meetings as an indication of future policies.

Immigrant spouses may have to meet language and education requirements | Canadian Immigrant.