Immigration Policy and Delays: An Election Issue
By Author: Admin | March 13, 2011
The Conservative’s intention to target the South Asian vote in Toronto, as well as Chinese voters in other large Canadian cities, is, if one removes the unethical use of Federal government resources, pragmatic and logical. The Conservative strategy likely seeks to target those minorities who are successfully established, socially conservative, pro-business/small government. Many within these minorities emigrated from countries whose governments are inefficient and corrupt. Bribing government officials is seen by many in these communities as the cost of doing business. Giving ‘protection money’ to police or paying an ‘extra fee’ to get faster service in a government department is seen as a ho-hum, ordinary occurrence.
However, the motivation many immigrants to settle in Canada is to escape such arbitrary government behaviour. Immigrants, once established in Canada, pay their share of taxes to the Canadian government, but expect, consistent, fair, and transparent service in return. Such service would, in the immigration context, mean the ability for their friends and family to visit them in Canada, or settle in Canada after complying with Canadian law. Novelty cheques, ribbon cutting, and a photo-op with Stephen Harper donning ethnic headgear will not be enough; a fair, efficient, immigration system would do wonders for the Conservative aim of breaking into urban Federal ridings.
A news reporter for Canadian Immigrant recently posed the following questions to me about the delays in sponsoring parents for immigration to Canada. My answers follow.
- There has been a constant reduction in the number of visas to parents and grandparents in family class immigration. What’s your take on this? ANSWER 1 – The Liberals started the trend of reducing family class immigration of parents, but this reduction has been accelerated by the Conservative party. The Conservative party is attempting to balance a tight rope between its constituents who are not pro-immigration , and its other potential constituents who are new immigrants and have successfully integrated into the Canadian economy. In my law practice, I have had direct experience with this latter group; they are dismayed by the current 5-6 year waiting time for sponsoring parents, not to mention the excessive medical scrutiny that the immigration department metes out on elderly sponsored parents.
- Is there an alternative, like temporary/short term visa for parents and grandparents of immigrants? How easy or difficult is it to get such short-term visas? ANSWER 2 – Although extending an existing visitor visa for parents has been easier since April 2005, the issuance of the initial visitor visa is notoriously arbitrary in visa offices like New Delhi, Islamabad, Manila, Beijing and Hong Kong. I have seen cases where elderly applicants are rejected for visitor visas 4 times and be granted a visitor visa the 5th time. New immigrants who have established themselves as productive Canadian taxpayers are very frustrated at the difficulty in getting their parents a visitor visa.
- Some argue that these generally elderly family members who come as immigrants are a drain on the government’s resources and a burden on the economy. What’s your view on this? ANSWER 3 – it is a fact that if such sponsored parents ever take social assistance, it is the sponsor who is financially responsible for the repayment of that social assistance for the first 10 years after a sponsored parent lands. Similarly, sponsored parents are subject to many extensive medical examinations before approval. Admittedly, there may be an increased health burden in bringing elderly immigrants to Canada, but this burden is slight, given the few additional elderly immigrants that have been admitted under Canada’s immigration program. Further, why should native-born Canadians’ parents be a burden and not immigrant parents, given that both pay taxes to support Canada’s healthcare system ?
- How does this policy change affect your clients? ANSWER 4 – I have witnessed the stress experienced by the Canadian-based relatives who are frustrated when their elderly parents have lost most of their relatives in their home country, particularly those parents who are not well off; such parents often lack their own community for support. The Canadian-based son or daughter is very stressed, particularly when there is an illness that their parent is enduring. Those who have submitted an application to sponsor parents with a health condition are on an emotional roller coaster characterized by stress at their parents having to take repeated immigration medicals and the disappointment at having to take further medical tests, often leading to a refusal.
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