2021 has been a momentous year for immigration. I had made some general predictions in January of this year.
As I've said before in another forum, I am no soothsayer, but this statement turned out to be somewhat prescient:
2020 was like a storm that impacted every business line of immigration. 2021 will be the first year for rebuilding. However, it's not just systems and backlogs that need to be addressed: the government has set aggressive settlement targets -and it remains to be seen how those targets can be met with a still-hobbled system. One can only assume that CRS will drop and that will benefit the Canadian Experience Class. One can only hope that a pathway to PR will be created for essential (but low skill/wage) workers in Canada that have been on the front lines during the pandemic.
That pathway for essential workers was in fact instituted (along with a modality for international graduates); the statement "it remains to be seen how those targets can be met with a still-hobbled system" is true today and applicable for 2022.
Despite the challenges, there were some positives, one of which was the publication of a text written by Aris Daghighian and myself: "Inadmissibility and Remedies" Book 3 in Emond's Immigration Law Series (Chantal Desloges and Cathryn Sawicki as General Editors).
Inadmissibility is a complex area within immigration law. I had discussed criminality and deportation with crime reporter Nancy Hixt on her fantastic podcast "Crime Beat" at the start of the year:
While I had appeared before the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration near the end of 2020, a report was issued earlier this year detailing their study on immigration in the time of Covid-19. There may well be some silver linings to the disruptive force we witnessed these last 2 years.
Immigration practitioners were well placed to deal with the challenges of the pandemic. We're all used to providing advice remotely, whether video conference or telephone. Many of us have handled hearings remotely, even prior to the pandemic (and frankly, I'm enjoying running hearings whether IRB or Federal Court while in the comfort of my own office). The first time I was on the excellent immigration podcast, Borderlines, it was in person while I was in Vancouver; this second time around, it was done remotely. It was a great experience talking about responding to procedural fairness letters with Steven Meurrens and Deana Okun-Nachoff.
It took until November 20, 2021 but refugee claims are once again permitted at the border.
International students continue to face numerous challenges navigating a new life in Canada. There's a great article from the Walrus on the "Shadowy Business of International Education" the details the exploitation that international students face on every front.
From the article:
Students like Kushandeep have complicated the usual picture of international study. The 2000s-era stereotype of the pampered young foreigner, usually from mainland China, who drives flashy sports cars and shops for Gucci bags between classes was always a caricature, but now it’s entirely divorced from reality. In 2019, 34 percent of the more than 642,000 international students in Canada were from India, well ahead of China’s 22 percent.
Many of these students are from Punjab, and they generally attend small community colleges...Mortgaging land to cover tuition has become common, with more and more families literally selling the farm to send their children to community colleges.
According to Broitman, the economics of the system reveal a fundamental truth: a student who walks into an agent’s shop is not the client—they’re the product.
If an agent is getting commissions from an unremarkable community college in rural Ontario, then their only motivation is to get every teenager who walks through their door, no matter how brilliant or hopeless, to enroll in that one college. “That’s how the business works,” says Broitman. “You just direct people to where your bread is buttered.”
“What you see on the ground are a bunch of education agents who are absolutely taking advantage of your average consumer,” says Earl Blaney, an immigration consultant and education agent who works in the Philippines and has been outspoken about abuses in the business. “The bottom line is these kids are being set up for failure, left and right, by these education agents overseas who don’t know anything about the Canadian labour market and do not care.”
I handled a number of admissibility hearings -where it was alleged that my clients had utilized false documents to enter Canada. I had included the above article in my disclosure on some of those proceedings. Given the number of Indian international students, I discussed this matter on RedFM with host and news director Rishi Nagar:
One issue remained in the news throughout the year: the fate of Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, the driver in the Humboldt bus tragedy. I discussed this issue a number of times, including on Danielle Smith's show in January of 2021.
Jaskirat Singh Sidhu's fate is yet to be determined. Despite his conviction and lengthy jail sentence (which precludes an appeal to the Immigration Appeal Division) there remains some discretion in the hands of an immigration officer(s). An Officer can exercise discretion not to write a s.44 report/a Minister's Delegate can exercise discretion not to refer the report to the Immigration Division. Chantal, Cathryn and I discussed his case (and the Inadmissibility and Remedies text Aris and I co-wrote) on their new immigration podcast series:
The year ended with a sad statistic: a massive backlog of immigration applications.
From the CBC article:
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.
I discussed this development on RedFM with host news director Rishi Nagar and Member of Parliament and Conservative immigration critic, Jasraj Singh Hallan:
Looking forward -it seems clear that unless IRCC starts processing files the only recourse will be hundreds if not thousands of applications for mandamus at the Federal Court.
It seems that IRCC went from flogging the near-dead horse of the pandemic to the nascent intake of Afghan nationals to justify continued delays in processing and the growth of an unacceptable backlog.
I have written numerous times on the remedy of mandamus -but I think it's clear that there will be an absolute deluge of such applications next year given the frustration and suffering occasioned by IRCC delay (and lack of communication):