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The immigration machine is complicated

The Immigration Line
|Written By Jennifer Nees
The immigration machine is complicated

The immigration machine is a complicated one. There are many competing priorities including the need to help refugees, reunite families, bring in permanent residents, and support the international mobility of workers.

The majority of my practice focuses on business immigration and helping mobilize temporary foreign workers. This also extends into supporting permanent residence for individuals who want to stay in Canada, and it can sometimes branch into areas such as humanitarian and compassionate applications or inadmissibility issues. This experience has exposed me to a multitude of issues that plague not only companies who need workers but also to those workers who often leave a lot behind to come to Canada.

It may not be as dramatic as a refugee who has been uprooted, but in our brave new world of multinational companies mobilizing global workforces, these workers often leave their homes and families to explore the world. It’s often very rewarding work, but it’s also one of the more difficult areas to sell to the public.

So imagine my surprise and delight when, recently, at a Toronto Board of Trade luncheon, Minister of Immigration Refugees and Citizenship John McCallum spoke candidly about challenges with the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the reality of public perception.

It certainly wasn’t the first thing he mentioned, nor in many respects was it the most important. He made announcements about the lessons the ministry learned when processing the 25,000 Syrian refugee cases that will be passed on to help it process more quickly just generally. This is welcome news. In recent memory, some applications for permanent residence, for example, have taken years to process, creating uncertainty for those applicants who qualified for permanent residence but were stuck in lengthy queues waiting for their turn.

McCallum also spoke about the new Express Entry system and some of the issues the government has spotted within that system. This includes the students who are losing out on the opportunity to become permanent residents of Canada after investing years of their lives and dollars into the Canadian education system.

The ranking system in Express Entry tends to place these students at the bottom of the pool. He discussed the need to add points into Express Entry for those students who have studied in Canada and are working to increase their chances.

Further, the minister spoke about reducing some of the barriers to permanent residence, such as the Labour Market Impact Assessment for temporary foreign workers who are already in Canada working under one of the many LMIA-exempt categories. He stated the government needed to assist in reducing some of the barriers for employers, including giving employers greater latitude in whom they want to hire.

All of these things would help attract people to Canada, something that is desperately needed in our country with an aging population and a decreased number of people entering the Canadian workforce.

Following a panel discussion, McCallum’s comments opened a door to what I see as one of the key issues: what’s good for immigrants, temporary or permanent. And we speak about how it’s good for business. But what we often don’t focus on is how all of these measures are good for Canada. That’s the key.

Getting Canadians on board with these programs and letting them see where and how these programs benefit them is critical.

Bad press is hard. Over the last few years, there have been several instances where companies have gotten black eyes over some of their dealings with the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Those negative reports really changed public perception against employers who hire foreign workers. And while in many instances this backlash was unwarranted, it can’t be denied that there is a public perception that must be overcome.

So you may be asking yourself why McCallum’s comments are so important.

They show he is looking at this issue from a lens of how to work with the government and the public to create a program that makes sense, benefits everyone, and is defensible. He is not taking the path of his predecessors who would make sweeping changes based on public perception that was largely not based on facts.

Managing the public message is critical to ensuring that Canada has a fair, accessible, and secure Temporary Foreign Worker Program. McCallum seems well on the way.

  • Additional Points under Express Entry for Professionals

    Professional NOC
    In addition to University Graduates in Canada, It will be fair to award extra points to those admitted as a Professional with a provincial Regulatory Body in Canada because these people admitted as Professional has to work very hard, considering the hard exams and strict requirements to comply with (say, stressful exams at Congress Centres, ethical exams, duties, good character requirement, amongst others) and also for the tie they developed by the fact that they got registered as a Professional in a particular Canadian Province.
  • Professional registered with Regulatory Body (in Canada))

    Yurana Alexis
    Petition seems to ask for change for only those with Work Experience and eligible under the Canadian Experience Class (mainly for people who attended colleges and engaged in low skilled jobs);

    McCallum is proposing better as additional points will be awarded for Fresh Graduates as compared to the Petition which seems to prefer only those with Work Experience; But how much points will be awarded for Canadian Education? May be we can reach the government to ask for 600 points which will secure an Invitation to Apply; University graduates or a Provincial Regulatory Body should be given very high additional points as they work hard to become a professional in Canada (to be admitted with a Regulatory Body is hard, considering the hard exams and strict requirements
  • Professional registered with Regulatory Body (in Canada))

    Yurana Alexis
    it makes no sense to see in Toronto too many students from the same country who attended colleges rather than university and engaged in low skilled jobs in order to acquire work experience, passing through the back door to get PR; after all these students do not stand out from the crowd as they cannot speak French which is in need all across outside Québec;

    Foreign University graduate in Canada (excluding colleges) or those admitted with a Canadian Provincial Regulatory Body should be awarded additional points and be given priority for Permanent Residency because these students had paid high tuition fees, promote diversity and had to work very hard in order to be admitted as a Professional with a Regulatory Body in a Canadian province, considering the hard exams, strict requirements and the tie they had developed in the respective Province when being admitted with Canadian Regulatory Body;
  • Take Steps Immediately

    Ankur Parekh
    Liberals have made changes in the Express Entry Program which Conservatives started and after 1.5 years, I believe the previous program was much better than this. We call it as Express Entry but is it really an Express Entry in which the processing takes so much time so many applicants change their mind because of the long processing wait. This wait is only for those who gets direct ITA CIC in the draw but what about other applicant who take the route of PNP Program to get enough points to get ITA. PNP Processing time is the biggest barrier in the PR application in which the best example is Ontario. so overall it is a 1-2 year long process with PNP and many applicant change their mind to come to Canada and look for other opportunities like an Australia which process applications in just a period of 3 months.
    So if steps are not taken immediately than I fear that after 1 year no one wants to come to Canada because of lots of loopholes and long tedious processing.
  • international Sudents

    Malek Kalthoum
    Please, Don't forget the internatiomnal Students in Canada. I presonnally love to be part of this country. I moved to Canada and I live in Moncton NB since I was 18 years old. I just got graduate as a Mechanical Engineer and I love to be part of New Brunswick Province.
  • Inadmissibility

    Kara Ann
    What about those with criminal backgrounds who want to turn their life around and work and start a family in Canada but cannot because they aren't even allowed over the border....the strict laws regarding criminal admissibility should take into account the length of time it's been of certain charges and how the individual has behaved since then. The rehabilitation program allows 5 years since the sentence is completed.....what if the charge was 8 years before and they're still paying off fines? They cannot even come visit let alone makes it difficult for those with family in Canada to not have their loved ones with them. That all parties suffer because the individual made some mistakes in their past that they are trying to fix and change for the better.....
  • express entry

    Sue Grundy
    express entry Point system disadvantages those who have taken time out to parent.

    The newness of the program means that it is hard to get definite answers even from high cost immigration lawyers about the effects of personal situations on applications.

    For those applicants here in Canada who have permanent jobs, not all companies are willing to undertake LMiA for their staff which means they rely totally on competition with others in the pool.