Canadian Immigration News: Interview With Andy Semotiuk

By Andy Semotiuk | July 27, 2016

AA-Leading Head ShotIn this interview, immigration lawyer Andy Semotiuk gives his take on some immigration issues that have arisen over the past month.

Canadian Immigration News

What are your thoughts on British Columbia implementing a 15% tax on property that is purchased by foreigners?

British Columbia is essentially trying to put the brakes on a runaway real estate market. The purchase of real estate by foreigners has been going on for years, but the government is now worried that locals are being squeezed out.

A recent article by the CBC stated that in a period of only 5 weeks, 10% of property purchases in Metro Vancouver were made by foreign buyers. That number shoots to around 20% in Burnaby and Richmond. As for prices, the average cost of a detached home in Vancouver has gone from around $800K in 2008 to almost $2 million today.

The government’s plan, which kicked in on August 2nd of this year, is to charge a 15% tax when any non-citizen or non-permanent resident registers their house. Be prepared for something similar in Ontario, as there could be a spill over from Vancouver if such a tax is not introduced as a buffer for the Toronto market. I would expect its introduction soon.

Permanent Residence Denied

There has been an ongoing story in the press about a professor from Costa Rica whose family was denied permanent residence because of a son’s Down Syndrome. The family appealed the decision but became so frustrated with waiting that they left the country. What happened here?

Cases like this come up from time to time and I’ve talked about them before. This is another instance where the government has denied someone immigration status because they might be a burden on the Canadian health care system. It’s really a no-win situation for the government. They do not want to appear heartless to those in need, but neither do they want to answer to the Canadian citizen and taxpayer who rightly feels that they should receive timely, quality health care.

In this particular case, the Canadian immigration system is working, probably as it should, but not on time. It’s not good that the family has had to wait so long for a decision on their appeal. Unfortunately, long waits are not a rare thing in immigration no matter what the context of the story.

Visitor Visas

Most EU countries do not require a visa to come to Canada, but Bulgaria does. Now it looks like Bulgaria’s visa restrictions will be lifted. Good idea?

Should there be visa-free movement between Canada and Europe? In theory, yes. The problem stems from certain EU travelers who came to Canada and filed refugee claims in the past. That was troublesome because there should not be such a thing as a refugee claim from Europe. But there is. This means that you have virtually two European Unions to which different rules apply.

Some travelers, particularly from Eastern Europe, have filed claims on the contention that they are being persecuted back home. Now Canadian tribunals have to deal with it. The Canadian government is no doubt nervous that the number of refugee claims will skyrocket if they remove visa requirements from those countries. The EU is playing hardball by threatening to require visas from Canadians if Canada doesn’t remove the requirements for all EU nations. Politics. We’ll see how it plays out this fall.

Mexico Visitor Visa

In a similar story, Canada will lift the visa requirement for Mexican citizens on December 1, 2016.

Yes. And similar worries apply.

The problem with lifting the visa requirement on Mexico is that the circumstances that led to its imposition have not changed. Many poor Mexicans are looking for a better life free of crime and poverty. The previous Canadian government put the visa requirement in place 8 years ago because there was a spike in Mexican refugee claims. From 2005 to 2008, the number of Mexican refugee claims tripled.

In my estimation, there will likely be another flood of bogus claims and overstays on the part of Mexicans coming to Canada once the restrictions are scrapped. Indeed, immigration officials themselves have warned the Trudeau government that this is the case. But as my colleague Jim Metcalfe pointed out earlier this month, it’s interesting to note that at the same time as this news, Mexico said it will open its doors to Canadian beef at the end of this year. If you’ve ever wondered how politics affects immigration, the Mexican and Bulgarian visa issues provide good examples.