Canadian Immigration Needs The Interview Process

By James Metcalfe | May 9, 2013

James Metcalfe – Pace Immigration: One of the problems with Citizenship and Immigration Canada is that it seems to have lost its memory. It has forgotten how to interview applicants to see if they are qualified for the job to which they are applying, whether for permanent residence (PR) or a temporary work permit.

When I was working for CIC outside of Canada, almost every applicant for any job was interviewed by a designated visa officer. Then came the current Immigration Act, which was introduced in 2002 (IRPA). Now, the majority of applicants that are interviewed are spousal applicants, where CIC has concerns about the truthfulness of their spousal relationships or refugee claims.

This lack of face to face interaction outside of the spousal category has led to an increase in fraud and misrepresentation by applicants in the work and PR classes. It has also made it easier for not-so-scrupulous prospective employers in Canada to make offers to unqualified applicants.

CIC has lost complete control of the selection process, simply because
there is very limited human interaction with persons applying for
immigration to Canada.

It’s not like the interview process has to be a prolonged, difficult one. There are all kinds of things that tipped me off about the veracity of an applicant’s claims. For example, I have never met a chef or cook who did not have burn marks or cuts or scars on their hands or arms. I have also never met a mechanic who had lily white hands with no cuts or split fingernails.

Those are rather simple examples of verifying an applicant’s qualifications for a job, but they work. If applicants are subject to interviews, visa officers would build up a wealth of knowledge of the traits common to a wide range of occupations. This knowledge would help them maintain the integrity of the immigration selection process.

In the “bad old days” prior to 2002, officers were allowed to award points for an applicant’s personal suitability for Canada. They could  assess the individual’s ability to communicate in English or French right there, because they were in the same room together. Likewise, I interviewed applicants with obvious prison tattoos or gang related tattoos, which was a big red flag. That kind of instant vetting is all gone now.

CIC has lost complete control of the selection process, simply because there is very limited human interaction with persons applying for immigration to Canada. Realistically, the decline in interviewing skills cannot be reversed, as CIC has closed so many offices around the world. Most initial processing, and a significant amount of the decision making, is now made by staff in Canada. These staffers – and it really isn’t their fault – have very limited knowledge of the country and circumstances of the applicants they are assessing.

If CIC wants to stop fraud in the immigration system, they should bring back the concept of looking an applicant in the eye when talking to them. Until then, the fraud will continue.