2009 has been an interesting year. From issues as diverse as the Dziekanski inquiry, marriage fraud, visa controls on Mexico and the Czech Republic, to the Tamil migrant ship, immigration has been at the forefront of the public discourse. I believe that it will continue to dominate the news in the new year.
With the more aggressive stance of this current Immigration Minister, 2010 promises more changes. Jason Kenney has consistently promised reforms, and these seem likely once Parliament is back in session, after the Vancouver Olympics.
One safe bet is significant refugee reform. This is a topic that appeals to the Conservative base, and the public at large, and is therefore not an issue the other parties will seek to topple the minority government over. What form these reforms will take is yet unknown, but bank on a higher refusal rate of refugee claimants by the politically appointed members of the Immigration and Refugee Board, Refugee Protection Division.
The emphasis on enforcement, including removals, will continue and I believe we will see more charges under both the IRPA and the Criminal Code for immigration related offences.
Finally, I believe that that 2010 will see increasing rate of refusals from overseas visa decisions. Marriage fraud is a concern that has been brought to this Ministers attention, and applicants will undoubtedly be held to a more rigorous onus in establishing the genuine nature of their relationship.
2010 will be a busy year for immigration practitioners, and a difficult one for individuals seeking relief from Citizenship and Immigration Canada or the IRB. I sense that Canada's reputation as a country with a generous and lenient immigration and refugee system is about to change.