Canada Immigration and IRCC 2021-

Written by  //  August 25, 2022  //  Canada, Immigration/migration  //  No comments

Immigration measures for people affected
by the Russian invasion of Ukraine

Jack Jedwab: Frank discussion on immigration needed in Quebec
The bottom line is that Quebec and the rest of Canada need immigrants to meet significant demands in the labour market in light of the aging of the population. When the CAQ promised cuts to immigration, many Quebec leaders of industry voiced their concerns about the proposed reductions at a time when there was a desperate need for workers to meet growing labour market needs.

15 August
Opposition MPs, non-profit groups urge Ottawa to step up efforts to help stranded Afghans
In the days that followed the Taliban takeover, governments around the world rushed to evacuate their own citizens, as well as Afghans who had assisted each country’s diplomatic or military mission in Afghanistan.
The Canadian government vowed to bring 40,000 Afghans to Canada. At first, it promised refuge to those who had worked alongside Canadian troops or at the Canadian embassy in Kabul. Later, it committed to bringing over Afghans who would be particularly vulnerable to harm under fundamentalist Taliban rule, such as women’s rights activists and people who are gay or transgender.
But one year on, many who believe they fall into one of those categories have repeatedly contacted Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to no avail. Afghans who formerly worked for Canada have told The Globe and Mail they feel completely abandoned. And they are growing increasingly anxious about what will become of them if Canada denies them resettlement.

3 August
Erik Richer La Flèche: Canada’s Tradition of Neglecting Local Hires Continues
(Future imperfect bis) In the last hours of the South Vietnamese regime, the United States—and others—chose people over things. It was not Canada’s finest hour, and Canada’s failure was noticed by the international press, including the New York Times.
History has a way of repeating itself. Over the past 24 months, Canada’s callous (and dangerous) attitude toward its local hires has once again come to light.
Firstly, there is the matter of the Afghan army translators and Canadian embassy staff and guards. Individuals entrusted with the lives of Canadians in a conflict should need hours to be vetted and given entrance to Canada, not months or years. There is no excuse: the Canadian Government has failed.
Secondly, the Globe and Mail reported on August 2, 2022, that the Canadian Embassy in Kiev had made no plans for its local staff in the event Kiev fell to Russia, even though there were indications that the staff would be subject to arrest and possibly worse should the Russians prevail.
Canada abandoned Ukrainian embassy employees despite their likelihood of being on Russian hit list
Before pulling Canadian diplomats out of Ukraine weeks ahead of the Russian invasion, Global Affairs Canada received intelligence confirming that Russia intended to wage war against its neighbour, and that Ukrainians who worked for the Canadian embassy were likely on lists of people Moscow intended to hunt down.
Despite the apparently dire situation, Ottawa told Canadian embassy leaders in Kyiv to withhold this information from those Ukrainian staff members and leave them behind.

15 July
Spots nearly full for Canada’s special Afghan immigration program
(CTV) The special immigration program is for interpreters, local embassy staff, or other Afghan nationals employed by the government of Canada during the Canadian Armed Forces mission in Afghanistan from 2001-2014. For the former Afghan employees who do not make the cut for Canada’s special immigration program, the government says other streams like its humanitarian program, or private refugee sponsorship are available.
Ottawa closes special Afghan immigration program to new applicants
With Ottawa processing the last of 18,000 applications, the program is winding down
Less than halfway to its goal of bringing 40,000 Afghans to Canada, the federal government is no longer taking new referrals for the special immigration program meant to prioritize former employees of the Armed Forces or Canadian government and their families.
CBC News has learned the government is processing the last of the 18,000 applications filled out by Afghans hoping to come here through the program. Advocates for refugees say the decision to wind down the program abandons Afghans desperate to come to this country.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s online referral portal for the program is still up but a spokesperson for Immigration Minister Sean Fraser confirmed in a media statement that all spots in the program have been taken up.

25 June
Prime Minister announces new task force to improve government services for Canadians
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced the creation of a new task force to improve government services, with a focus on reducing wait times for Canadians. The task force, a Committee of Cabinet ministers. …will drive action to improve the processing of passports and immigration applications by identifying priority areas for action and outlining short- and longer-term solutions, with a focus on reducing wait times, clearing out backlogs…

17 June
‘Our lives have come to a screeching halt’: Canada’s immigration backlog reaches 2.4M
(CTV) The immigration backlog in Canada has ballooned to 2.4 million people, with over 250,000 applications adding to the pile over a one-month span alone.
That’s according to recent data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) across all categories, from temporary residence and permanent residence to citizenship applications.
“I have not seen backlogs like these in 16 years of my career as an immigration lawyer,” Rick Lamanna, director at Fragomen Canada, an immigration services provider, told CTV News in a phone interview on Thursday.
Despite being among the top five destinations with immigrant-friendly policies around the world, Canada is seeing an upward trend in backlogs since the pandemic.
Long processing times and a lack of communication and transparency are some of the many issues highlighted by families that reached out to CTVNews.ca.

11 June
Immigration minister says he’s working on a faster path to permanence for temporary residents
Sean Fraser says he’s on a tight 120-day timeline set by the Commons
(CBC) A previous program called the “temporary resident to permanent resident pathway” — or TR to PR — was put in place last year for eight months after COVID-19 lockdowns shut the border to newcomers to prevent the spread of the virus.
It gave 90,000 essential workers, front-line health care workers and international students like Kushdeep Singh an accelerated path to permanent status.
… The federal government set a goal of accepting 432,000 newcomers this year alone. Fraser said his department is ahead of schedule, despite the pandemic and the unexpected pressures of working to resettle thousands of people fleeing conflict in both Afghanistan and Ukraine.
“This week we actually resettled the 200,000th permanent resident, more than a month and a half ahead of any year on record in Canada,” he said. “We are seeing similar trends across other lines of business like citizenship, like work permits, which in many instances are double the usual rate of processing.”

30 April
How affordability could scare off the immigrants Canada wants to retain
Retaining skilled immigrants matters to Canada, with a labour shortage and aging workforce. But the pay gap new Canadians face — along with soaring inflation and a housing crisis in many areas — could make that difficult
The federal government doesn’t track migrant retention, but according to Statistics Canada, 50 per cent of international students had no tax records one year after graduation, suggesting they’ve left the country.
In the ICC survey, 23 per cent of new Canadians with a university education responded that they were planning to leave the country in the next two years.
For new Canadians under the age of 35, that number was 30 per cent. However, it’s not clear how this compares to intentions in previous years.
On a national level, there are implications if immigrants choose not to stay. The country faces a labour shortage, and policymakers are hoping immigration can help fill gaps in the workforce — with plans to transition more than 400,000 new immigrants to permanent residents this year.

19 April
This veterans group says it can no longer help people get out of Afghanistan
The Veterans Transition Network says bureaucratic red tape has left its staff frustrated and tired
A Canadian veterans charity that has helped more than 2,000 Afghans get out of the country says it has to wind down its efforts on that front.
The Veterans Transition Network (VTN) cites logistical nightmares, bureaucratic red tape and worker exhaustion for the decision. The group is calling on the Canadian government to fast-track the immigration process for Afghans who supported Canada’s mission in the country.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) says the government has not wavered on its commitment to relocate 40,000 Afghans to Canada, but noted there are “obstacles facing us in Afghanistan that were not present in other large-scale resettlement efforts.”
“IRCC recognizes many vulnerable, at-risk Afghans who have qualified under our programs remain in Afghanistan, unable to leave. We have established new partnerships, as well as building on existing ones, to address safety and security constraints limiting the mobility of Afghan persons,” IRCC spokesperson Aidan Strickland said in an email.

11 April
Stop playing politics with our families’ lives, demand Afghan interpreters at Commons committee
‘The minister of immigration made promises directly to us, and we want him to keep these promises’
(National Post) Former Afghan interpreters who served alongside Canadian troops in Afghanistan accuse government officials of breaking promises and placing conditions on long-awaited family reunions that range from unreasonable to downright dangerous.
Interpreters have had “dozens” of meetings with IRCC, Khan said — accusing both the agency and the office of the immigration minister of making empty promises and blatant double standards, including alleged reversals of promises that family members who escaped to third countries prior to July 22, 2021 would be eligible for IRCC’s Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP.)

6 April
Canadian MPs want same immigration measures for other countries as Ukraine
(Global) Canada’s treatment of Ukrainians fleeing war has been distinctly different to those fleeing other humanitarian crises, the House of Commons immigration committee said Wednesday, and MPs want that to change.
The committee voted Tuesday to issue a public statement, urging the government to provide the same special immigration measures it extended to Ukrainians to refugees from other regions.

5 April
New documents reveal Ottawa’s election scramble to respond to Afghanistan crisis
In the midst of last summer’s federal election campaign, Canada fired up an unusual emergency loan program for Afghan nationals who had fled Afghanistan but found themselves short on funds in a third country while waiting to come to Canada.
The establishment of the emergency loan program was one of at least four key initiatives taken by federal immigration officials in the midst of the general election campaign in response to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan that took many Western nations, including Canada, by surprise.

4 April
Canada’s citizenship process is a problematic piece of political theatre. Here’s why I did it anyway
In the end, I did the Canadian thing, I used my privilege to benefit and protect myself
Callum Wratten
(CBC Opinion) I found the whole process deeply troubling, from the questions on the citizenship test that disingenuously framed Canada’s history, to having to swear allegiance to the Queen. I was troubled by just how easy it was for me, as a middle class, white Australian, compared to those from other countries, particularly agricultural workers.
To become a citizen you first have to be a permanent resident. I first came to Canada on the International Experience Canada Program, but many agricultural workers come here on the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program and the Temporary Foreign Workers Program. Despite performing vital labour, most of them have no pathway to permanent residence and hence no pathway to citizenship.
Although I can’t prove it with a reputable journalistic source, I can assure you that these people work harder than me and are far more important to Canadian society than I am. Any system that gives me a route to citizenship and not them is intrinsically discriminatory.
Once permanent residents have lived in Canada for long enough and filed their taxes they can apply to become a citizen. The first step to becoming a Canadian is to pony up. The cost for an adult citizenship application is $630 (a $530 processing fee and a $100 right of citizenship fee). That’s a lot of money. It was more than I would make in a whole week when I worked at Tim Hortons. By charging such a large amount for citizenship, Canada is putting basic rights behind a paywall, and unlike Netflix, you can’t just borrow your friend’s password to vote.

21 March
​​​The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB): Ukrainian files to be prioritized
The IRB does not deal with refugee protection claims that are made by people who are outside of Canada, nor does it manage Canada’s immigration programs, or provide assistance to Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

17 March
Canada launches special temporary residence pathway for Ukrainians
A fast-track visa processing pathway for Ukrainians is now accepting applications.
On March 17, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced the launch of the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET), an accelerated temporary residence pathway for Ukrainians fleeing war.
Ukrainians and their immediate family members of any nationality may stay in Canada for up to three years. Overseas applicants need to apply online for a visitor visa and provide their biometrics.

9 March
Is Canada’s welcome to fleeing Ukrainians a new era of refugee policy?
(The Conversation) In less than two weeks, more than two million people have fled Ukraine following the Russian invasion. Many in the Ukrainian-Canadian community have had to flee before as refugees and Canada now boasts the world’s second-largest Ukrainian diaspora.
Canada is known to be welcoming to refugees — to those from Vietnam in the 1970s, for example, and from Syria and Afghanistan more recently — and is seen as a global refugee resettlement leader. But Canada’s response to Ukrainians fleeing the war is different than past policy.
Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has long been plagued by processing delays. The new measures have raised concerns that they might have an impact on other refugees awaiting resettlement to Canada, in particular those from Afghanistan.
Immigration Minister Sean Fraser has stated: “We can do more than one thing at a time,” and says delays in the admission of Afghan refugees is a logistical challenge on the ground rather than a processing problem.
IRCC has, however, pointed to processing delays to justify technology acquisitions and purchases to speed up decision-making on the admission of refugees. Yet the use of artificial intelligence to deal with immigration applications raises issues of discrimination and racism.

24 January
Where is officer DM10032? Applicants stumped, stranded by idle immigration worker
(CBC) Would-be immigrants around the world are seeking information about a Canadian immigration officer who has left their applications largely untouched for years. They wonder if the person is still working, assigned to their case or even exists.
… Applications are processed at both the Ottawa visa office and in Sydney, N.S.
Several permanent residency (PR) applicants told CBC News they’ve been assigned to an officer they know only as “DM10032” at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
Some theorize that DM10032 is not an actual person, but a code for applicants who are waiting in queue.
That was the case with a supposed officer — CB01126, based in Sydney — with whom thousands of applicants had much difficulty. In an access to information request seen by CBC News, IRCC admitted CB01126 was just a “placeholder” code.

19 January
Canada will meet Afghan refugee goals despite ‘extraordinary’ challenges, vows minister
Immigration Minister Sean Fraser says more than 200 Afghans landed in Canada on Tuesday, with more to come; Minister says bringing 40,000 Afghan refugees to Canada is ‘a top priority for the government of Canada.’
(CBC radio As It Happens)A flight with more than 200 Afghan refugees landed in Vancouver on Tuesday night. Fraser tweeted the news, noting that “many put themselves at risk to help Canada before, during, and after our mission in Afghanistan.”
But many Afghans with ties to Canada are at risk right now. They’re dodging the Taliban in Afghanistan. They’re trying to support families as refugees in Iran and Pakistan. And they’re desperate to take Canada up on its promise of safe haven.
The challenges in Afghanistan are extraordinary. We had an influx of just shy of 4,000 in the immediate evacuation. But then, of course, when Canada lost its diplomatic presence after the fall of Kabul, getting access to the people who may have made an application facilitating their safe passage from or travel to Canada is extraordinarily challenging in a way that most people who’ve not been to a war zone could appreciate.

2021

16 December
AT LAST! Prime Minister releases new mandate letters for ministers
“Continue to bring newcomers to Canada to drive economic growth and recovery, as set out in the 2021-2023 Immigration Levels Plan.
Expand the new immigration stream for human rights defenders and work with civil society groups to provide resettlement opportunities for people under threat.
With the support of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, continue to facilitate the safe passage and resettlement of vulnerable people from Afghanistan, with an emphasis on individuals who supported Canada and our allies over the past two decades, women, LGBTQ2 people, human rights defenders, journalists and members of religious and ethnic minorities and increase the number of eligible refugees from 20,000 to at least 40,000.
Reduce application processing times, including to address delays that have been impacted by COVID-19.
Make the citizenship application process free for permanent residents who have fulfilled the requirements needed to obtain it.” And the list goes on!
Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Mandate Letter

15 December
Even a powerful Canadian law firm has problems dealing with IRCC (audio)
(CBC The Current) …the Canadian government promised to give asylum to 40,000 Afghan refugees after the Taliban took over. But as 2021 comes to an end, only about one tenth of that number have set foot on Canadian soil. We speak to Saeeq Shajjan, an Afghan lawyer and recent refugee to Canada, about the work his law firm has done with the Canadian government in Afghanistan; and Carla Potter, a lawyer at Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP, who’s leading the team advocating for Shajjan’s employees.

7 December
Ongoing immigration-processing delays leave many in limbo in Canada and overseas
(CBC) IRCC says it has experienced processing delays amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But nearly two years into it, most of the department’s in-person offices remain closed. And many applicants told CBC News they feel stuck in limbo, with no clear way to check on their files.
According to data received from IRCC, Canada had a backlog of nearly 1.8 million immigration applications as of Oct. 27, including:
548,195 permanent residence applications, including 112,392 refugee applications.
775,741 temporary residence applications (study permits, work permits, temporary resident visas and visitor extensions).
468,000 Canadian citizenship applications.

6 December
Lawyer who helped female judges escape Afghanistan is ‘begging’ Canada to take them in
Helena Kennedy says the women are in safe in Greece — but their visas expire Dec. 24
(CBC As It Happens) Canada owes a debt to the dozens of Afghan female judges who had to flee their home country after the Taliban seized control, says a U.K. lawyer who helped get them out.
They dedicated their careers to bringing abusers, drug traffickers and terrorists to justice in Afghanistan, Helena Kennedy told As It Happens guest host Nil Köksal. Now that the Taliban has released thousands of inmates, those women have targets on their backs.
As the director of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), Kennedy helped facilitate the escape of 104 Afghan female judges, prosecutors and their families after Kabul fell to the Taliban earlier this year.
Those women are now in Greece under temporary visas that expire on Dec. 24. If they don’t find countries to take them in before then, they’ll be forced to claim asylum and will be transferred to the country’s notorious refugee camps.

4 December
Tweet from Minister Sean Fraser
“Last night the very first chartered flight carrying privately sponsored Afghan refugees landed in Canada.
This group of 243 will be meeting their sponsors and settling in Kitchener, Richmond Hill, Pickering and Ottawa.”

3 December
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced a new team of parliamentary secretaries.
Marie-France Lalonde becomes Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship About Marie-France Lalonde

29 November
Immigration Minister Sean Fraser offers no timeline on resettling Afghan refugees as desperation grows
Immigration Minister Sean Fraser cannot say when the 40,000 Afghan refugees the government has promised to resettle in Canada will arrive, citing the limited referral capacity of partners and saying it would be irresponsible to give people the false hope of a firm date.
Afghans still waiting to leave the country have said the Canadian government has abandoned them. Many worked alongside the Canadian military and with the embassy in Afghanistan, and now they are terrified of Taliban reprisals. Meanwhile, the country has plunged into a worsening economic and food crisis. Afghans waiting in neighbouring countries are also growing desperate as their savings dwindle, clinging only to the hope that they will receive an e-mail with news from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Mr. Fraser said the capacity of referral organizations in third countries, which identify vulnerable refugees and recommend them to Canada, and extraordinary challenges within Afghanistan make it difficult to set a timeline for resettlement – adding that, as Afghans hang on to every word he says, it would not be fair “to start putting potentially arbitrary markers down.”

1 November
Open Letter to Government of Canada: Urgent Call to Action in Response to the Afghanistan Crisis
Prime Minister and Ministers: this urgent situation requires an immediate, multi-faceted, and focused response. Afghans at risk, such as female judges, are in hiding and are being actively pursued by released prisoners, Taliban officials, and ISIS-Khorasan. Afghanistan continues to fall into a deepening crisis where individuals are left at the mercy of the Taliban, often without the essentials needed to meet basic sustenance needs.
Just days into the mandate of the new Cabinet, its members are called upon to deal with this crisis. Yet moments of crisis can offer extraordinary opportunity. They invite us to reveal who Canadians are. The effective and safe evacuation of vulnerable individuals from Afghanistan will help illustrate the values and priorities of the newly-elected government. It will also demonstrate the compassion and humanity of Canadians while invoking a collective sense of purpose.
As the new Cabinet begins its important work, the signatories eagerly await a meaningful response to this letter, and the signatories undertake to do everything they can to assist the government in the achievement of these vital goals.

29 October
How Sean Fraser became Canada’s immigration minister
Sean Fraser got into politics to create opportunities in the community where he grew up, now he is the minister responsible for Canadian immigration.
During the pandemic, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has accumulated a backlog of hundreds of thousands of applicants. This past summer, the Toronto Star reported there were more than 561,000 permanent residency applications to process, 748,000 temporary residence applications, and 376,000 citizenship applications. These figures do not include applications that were sitting in the mailroom, and not yet entered into the system.

26 October
Government data breach exposes Afghans to more danger
IRCC quietly apologizes for leaking names and some faces of several hundred at-risk Afghans
(CBC) The names of several hundred vulnerable Afghans seeking refuge from the Taliban were recently leaked in emails sent in error by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), CBC News has learned.
The Afghans in question fear reprisals from the Taliban, who took over the country in August. Some are in hiding because of past roles in the Afghan government, armed forces, judiciary, or as human rights or women’s rights activists.
One email seen by CBC News listed 200 names. Not only did names and emails appear but also, in some cases, faces could be seen.
The risks of such a release are serious. It would only be necessary for the Taliban to see a single copy of the email to obtain all 200 names.
IRCC has been writing to the people in question to apologize.

25 October
‘A dysfunctional process’: Thousands of Canada’s allies and their families still stranded in Afghanistan
Tom Blackwell
(National Post) The government set up a special immigration program in June to expedite the admission of such Afghans with “enduring relationships” to Canada. Relatively few made it onto the C-17 Globemaster planes the Canadian Forces flew out of Kabul this summer as the Taliban seized control of the country.
The government set up a special immigration program in June to expedite the admission of such Afghans with “enduring relationships” to Canada. Relatively few made it onto the C-17 Globemaster planes the Canadian Forces flew out of Kabul this summer as the Taliban seized control of the country.
Shifting rules from Pakistan — a long-time ally of the Taliban — on what documentation is needed to cross its border with Afghanistan explains some of the delays.
But many applicants are still waiting for final approval from Canada. And some have yet to even receive a response from Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), their helpers say.
In total since the program began, IRCC has approved 9,500 ex-workers and their dependents to come to Canada, said Alex Cohen, a spokesman for Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino.
Cohen said 1,000 “refugees” have been brought to Canada since the air evacuation ended. Most were former employees under the special program, but some arrived under a separate Canadian initiative for “vulnerable” Afghans with no particular connection to this country.
Cohen said the government has added staff to key missions overseas to try to expedite the process, has cut some red tape and is working closely with neighbouring countries.
Canada promised to take in 20,000-40,000 Afghan refugees. Where are they?
Justin Trudeau has yet to clarify how many Afghans will receive government assistance and how many will be supported through private sponsorship

27 September
Canada Doubles Its Afghan Refugee Resettlement Target to 40,000 People
The official announcement was made by Canada’s foreign minister on Monday evening, speaking at the United Nations General Assembly.
(NYT) Canada has doubled to 40,000 the number of Afghans fleeing the Taliban that it plans to take in, the Canadian foreign minister said Monday, fulfilling a campaign pledge made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The announcement, which came a week after Mr. Trudeau’s party won re-election, was certain to be welcomed by humanitarian groups in Canada. They had been pressing the government to do significantly more when it initially committed last month to take in 20,000 refugees after the Taliban swept into power

10 September
Escape from Afghanistan
The Globe and Mail tells the story of how Canadian journalists saved their Afghan colleagues in the nick of time, with Ukraine’s help.
… The Canadian army, which ended its mission in Afghanistan in 2011 but redeployed special forces troops to Kabul airport last month to stage its own evacuation, was also unable to rescue many of its own citizens and support staff, let alone those who had worked alongside Canadian media, including The Globe. …Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (or IRCC) had only a vague plan in place, and it buckled swiftly under the sheer volume of Afghan allies in need of evacuation.

3 September
Visa problems persist for international students
Striking diplomats mean delays for processing visa applications
International students studying in Canada are being faced with the possibility of having to leave the country due to an ongoing strike by civil servants who process foreign visa applications.
Eight years ago, different government/same problem
Foreign service strike slowing down visa applications

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