Canadian immigration lawyers nix proposals to make country more open to foreigners

IRCC is reportedly planning to waive requirements for half a million visitor visa applicants

By Charmaine Y. Rodriguez

In an effort to address Canada’s labour shortage and reduce the number of pending temporary resident visa applications, the Immigration Refugee Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is reportedly looking at waiving eligibility requirements for close to half a million foreigners who want to visit the country.

This proposal was opposed by Canada’s immigration lawyers who issued a statement calling on the government to cancel the proposed measure.

“It is counterproductive to repairing trust in the IRCC, which is one of the intended goals of this proposed new measure,” said the Canadian Immigration Lawyers Association (CILA).

“If the criterion for approval is unilaterally waived, this will erode public confidence in the integrity of Canada’s immigration system and rules, not rebuild trust. The public will fear a spike in the number of individuals who overstay; work without authorization due to insufficient funds; or make refugee claims,” CILA said in a statement posted on its website last Jan. 25, 2023.

The lawyers’ group was commenting on a report by The Globe and Mail that the Canadian government is considering extraordinary measures to reduce its backlog of immigration applications by February.

The report quoted a draft document that said IRCC is willing to use “aggressive measures” to significantly reduce or eliminate its inventory of visitor visa applications.

It reported that there were more than 700,000 temporary resident visa (TRV) applications in the system as of early December, a portion of the overall sum.

Canada is facing a critical labour shortage and said it needs over one million workers. At the same time, it has more than two million pending visa applications.

IRCC has been processing TRVs faster than before and said it is has seen “significant improvements in recent months and will continue to process temporary resident visas more quickly to respond to the growing number of people who want to visit Canada.”

⁠It reported that in November 2022 alone, over 260,000 visitor visas were processed, compared to the monthly average of 180,000 applications in 2019, a Yahoo News report cited.

Furthermore, Canada’s new Immigration Levels Plan aims to welcome 465,000 permanent residents in 2023; 485,000 in 2024; and 500,000 in 2025.

IRCC declined to comment directly on the contents of the draft memo which reportedly outlined the two options, the same Yahoo News report said.

The first option is for IRCC to process an estimated 195,000 applications in bulk, including a large number of tourists from countries that require a visa to visit Canada.

The other option is for Immigration Minister Sean Fraser to waive certain eligibility requirements for roughly 450,000 applications.

“By waiving eligibility rules, foreign nationals would not need to establish that they will leave Canada when their visa expires,” the report said.

CILA warns of problems, like bogus refugee claims, occurring under the IRCC’s proposal and said they only aim to protect the integrity of the immigration system and the safety and security of Canadians.

The lawyers’ group also said it has significant concerns about the lack of consultation with stakeholders about the proposed changes and is demanding more transparency from IRCC.

In context, immigration lawyers earn thousands of dollars for visa applications.

According to job site, the national average salary for an immigration lawyer is $93,944 per year.

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