James Metcalfe – Director of Immigration: Canadian immigration has been in the press a lot lately. Since the Federal election in October there have been stories about:
1) A New Zealand national who had his application for PR status denied. His Canadian wife had died, leaving he and his Canadian citizen daughter with the prospect of being kicked out of Canada. However, a kinder and more gentle government had been elected into office. The decision was changed and the man and his child could stay in Canada. No doubt this was brought about by the moral suasion of the political arm of the immigration department.
2) Then there was the young Syrian boy who drowned off the coast of Greece. He and his family were part of a family sponsorship of refugees to Canada which had been bogged down in the Canadian bureaucracy. Then the government made Syrian refugees a priority. Three months later, the family is in Canada, though of course the boy, unfortunately, never made it.
Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds
3) The latest good news is about a 4-year-old boy who was separated from his mother because he was not on her immigration application. The mother claimed that it was because of bad advice from an immigration consultant, but the government wasn’t buying. Despite applications on Humanitarian and Compassionate (H and C) grounds, the little boy’s application was denied. Now it appears that the new Minister of Immigration has intervened and ordered the issuance of a Temporary Resident Permit on the H and C grounds. Eventually, the little boy will be granted Permanent Residence in Canada.
In my time as a visa official, such Ministerial orders were known as “Ministers’ Permits” and were the only device available to a Minister who wanted to cut through red tape.
4) A Minister using their own discretion in such matters is hardly new. Readers may remember Conrad Black, who gave up his Canadian citizenship so he could sit in the House of Lords in Britain. He subsequently ran afoul of the law in the USA and was thus inadmissible to Canada. However, upon release from a prison in the US, he boarded an airplane, flew to Canada, and was allowed entry on the basis of a Temporary Resident Permit. The Minister of Immigration of the day, Jason Kenney, denied any involvement in the process, but no one who has worked in Immigration would believe that.
I fully expect we will see future similar stories in the press regarding “exceptions to the rule” and that we will see a kinder and gentler approach to immigration to boot.
The next beneficial change we should see is the acceleration of the application process. As I’ve said before, processing times are too long for most classes of immigrants and delays for some of them can stretch into years. If the Minister could make one New Year’s resolution, it should be to set a better standard for processing times in all categories and countries in the world.