Immigration Rule Changes Have Consequences

By Patrick Rocca | May 15, 2012

Karen Kwan Anderson – Pace Law Firm: There has been a lot of talk in the press about the changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Let’s look at the facts. How do the changes affect those who want to emigrate to Canada?

On March 30, 2012, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada announced that applicants who applied before February 27, 2008 under the Federal Skilled Worker program would no longer be considered.  I think this is unfair.  Applicants have essentially put their lives on hold while waiting for the Canadian government to process their applications.  Will there be a constitutional challenge to this change?  Perhaps a group of immigration lawyers will bring a class action suit against the Minister on the doctrine of legitimate expectations or detrimental reliance?

Another tightening of the rules is the overhaul of the refugee determination system – the theory behind the June 29, 2012 implementation of changes is that there will be quicker determination of refugee claims, meaning people will be rejected faster and removed to their home countries if they don’t meet the criteria, rather than wait 2 years for a refugee hearing.

The changes which have happened in a relatively short amount of time definitely have an impact on all consumers of the immigration system.

As of March 2, 2012, a sponsored spouse can no longer sponsor a new spouse within 5 years of becoming a permanent resident.  This rule is intended to combat marriage fraud.  I’ve dealt with and am dealing with cases in which clients are accused of entering into Marriages of Convenience to gain status in Canada.  Permanent residents of Canada who are accused of marriage fraud have the right to due process – and often retain counsel to guide them through two hearings, one of which is a deportation appeal hearing.  If there are merits to challenging a negative appeal decision, we seek leave from the Federal Court for judicial review of the decision.

The next influx of cases – and I have seen this happening already – are those in which permanent residents are accused of fraud in applying to renew their PR card and/or applying for Canadian citizenship.  The changes to the immigration regime clearly show that there is no tolerance for fraud in any part of the immigration process. Interestingly, there is more work for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), which is the enforcement and removal arm of Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

In sum, the changes which have happened in a relatively short amount of time definitely have an impact on all consumers of the immigration system.