Just days into the new Canadian Government, immigration and citizenship issues have arisen as one of, if not the most pressing concerns of the Justin Trudeau lead administration. To many, it may not be at all surprising that a Liberal government, that is traditionally regarded as subscribing to more immigrant-friendly immigration policies, relative to the Conservatives, would take a much different approach towards immigration. However, few would have expected that immigration would have been the most challenging policy concern of the new administration.
Many observers feel that the new Government, at least in part, owes its election victory to its more aggressive policy, relative to that of its rival. One may recall, that during the campaign leading up to the election, the major parties desperately sought to position themselves as the party best able to handle the immigration and citizenship portfolio that has no doubt become one of the more sensitive portfolios.
An important part of the immigration discourse centers around the role Canada has played, or should be playing, in what has been described as the Syrian refugee crisis. The new Government has indicated that it is committed to following through with its campaign promise to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada by the end of 2015. To this end, Prime Minister Trudeau immediately established a committee, led by senior cabinet ministers to implement its policy in order to ensure that the target is met. However, it remains to be seen what, if any impact, the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, and the apparent link to Syria, will have on the Canadian government’s refugee policy.
Changes to Canadian Immigration
In terms of what has been proposed and may be expected on Canada’s immigration and citizenship landscape, the government has indicated a commitment to the following:
- A substantial allocation of funds and resources geared to the resettlement of refugees, primarily from Syrian.
- Fully restoring the Interim Federal Health Program, for refugee claimants.
- Ending the practice of appointing members to the Immigration and Refugee Board who lack subject-matter expertise.
- Increasing the emphasis on family reunification, by doubling the budget allocated to immigration processing, in an effort to reduce processing time and increasing number of applications processed.
- Doubling the number of new applications accepted under the Parents and Grandparents Sponsorship category.
- Restoring the dependent child age to under 22 from the current under 19.
- Abolishing the policy of conditional permanent residency for newly sponsored spouses and common-law partners.
- Repealing elements of the Citizenship Act that would allow the government to seek to rescind the citizenship of dual citizens who are convicted of certain serious offences.
- Reviewing the new Express Entry system to ensure that it operates in an efficient manner in order to meet the stated objectives.
Prospective immigrants, prospective citizens, dual-citizens, and immigration practitioners, all anxiously wait to see how the policy announcements will translated into practices, and what the real impact will be on those concerned. We will continue to monitor all developments on behalf of our clients, and would be happy to answer your questions and concerns, and to help you navigate the process towards your immigration and citizenship goals.
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