Recently on September 18, the Canadian
government has decided to make changes to it’s new immigration policy.
Now the new rules, which came into effect in June 2002, will not be applied
to pending cases filed before January 1, 2002.
This comes as a big relief to media,
lawyers and MPs of the Liberal party who have been pressing for the changes
ever since the new policy was unveiled 18 months ago. The government decision
came after the Federal court of Canada passed a judgement to put an end
to the controversial immigration policy decision.
This change in policy was mainly
facilitated due to a writ petition filed by law firms and lawyers in June
2002. A judgment was given in favour of the 102 applicants on April
21, 2003. In that judgment the court cited nine
reasons in favor of the petitioners and found that the Federal government
had acted very irresponsibly in dealing with the 120,000 pending immigration
applications. The court also found that in 2002, the government had made
a net profit of Canadian $125 millions by collecting visa fees.
Based on this judgment, almost 10,000
appeals were filed, beginning in March 2003, and on June
20, 2003, a stay order was issued against the immigration
department directing it to stop processing all old applications that were
filed before 1-1-2002.
At the same time, the court was also considering a class-action suit as
well. The court ordered in its interim judgment that the Canadian immigration
department will be required to issue a letter to each and every applicant
who has filed for Canada
immigration before 1-1-2002
on this class-action suit.
However as appeals are still pending
in the Federal court of Canada the next hearing is scheduled for October
3, 2003 during which all lawyers are likely to
demand an early interview for clients who have filed an appeal against
the government. They also plan to demand compensation and other appropriate
remedy for each applicant.
After announcing the changes, Denis
Coderre, minister of Citizenship and immigration has said in his speech:
“The court suggested that more is required of the government. I have
listened to that message. That is why I am proposing these changes.”
Under the new regulations and points
system, points are awarded on the basis of education, age, language (English
and French), work experience, job offer from Canada
and personal suitability which includes spouse’s education, applicant’s
education in Canada
and Canadian work experience.
The new regulations also make it
necessary that assessment of the language will not be undertaken by the
visa officer as was the norm in past, but applicants will be required
to take the IELTS for English and TEF for French language proficiency.
This will allow the immigration department to process majority of the applications
without conducting an interview and will eventually result in reduction
of processing time.
Language points are awarded on the
basis of the score obtained in the language tests and it may be possible
that many applicants may not obtain the necessary score to qualify for
Canadian immigration. For many applicants the language test will make or
break the outcome of their application. These applicants could then consider
their options for coming to Canada
under other immigration programmes such as Quebec
immigration or work permit visa.
Two recent surveys conducted by the
government of Canada
show that in the past 10 years, i.e. from 1991 to 2001, new immigrants
constituted 70% of the work force. Considering the present rate of immigrant
influx, by 2011 the entire workforce in Canada
will be made up of new immigrants.
Another report has found that low
birth rate and an ageing population will create a huge shortage of the
workers in the next 5 years and people from other countries will be required
to be brought into Canada
to fill this labour shortage. If this is not done, the shortage will force
young school children to drop out of school and join the work force.
The high living standard and cost
of living in Canada
has created a huge shortage of workers in the low and high ends of the
work force. Recent regulations made by the government reflect this and
the new policy allows blue-collar workers to come to Canada
on work permit visa. This situation is not only true for Canada
but also Australia, New
and all other western countries who are facing labour shortages. These
countries have no choice but to bring new immigrants from out side the
The Canadian government has, in fact,
made a commitment to bring more than 300,000 immigrants each year into Canada.
And now it seems the country is open for the right applicant and the government
will keep changing immigration regulations in response to the socio- economic
demands of the country.
The writer is an immigration expert.