BY TOM GODFREY ,TORONTO SUN
Vancouver Sun launches new Chinese-Language website Taiyangbao.ca
VANCOUVER SUN DECEMBER 6, 2011 5:33 AM
A screengrab of Taiyangbao.ca, a comprehensive Chinese-language website offering the latest in local and international news and files from prominent writers and leaders from the community and around the world.
Photograph by: Screengrab, Handout
The Vancouver Sun is launching a comprehensive
Chinese-language website offering the latest in local
and international news and files from prominent writers
and leaders from the community and around the world.
Taiyangbao.ca -- or "Sun newspaper" -- combines the
resources of Western Canada's largest newsroom, a
wealth of national and international content from Agence
France Presse's Chinese-language division, and a
growing network of local and international bloggers.
In addition to breaking news,c features health, sports,
lifestyle, fashion, entertainment, food, cars, real estate,
business and immigration news, trends and features --
all delivered in simplified and traditional Chinese
language characters, to better serve one of B.C.'s
A key feature on the site is Vancouver immigration
lawyer Richard Kurland's Lexbase publication and
blog, which provides an in-depth guide to immigration
"We're proud of this initiative, the most comprehensive
Chinese-language product in The Sun's 100-year
history," said Paul Bucci, The Vancouver Sun’s
deputy managing editor, digital. "We know it will bring
The Vancouver Sun's great content to an even greater
number of avid news readers and advertisers in our
Taiyangbao’s readers will be encouraged to follow
breaking news and join the conversation on various
social media sites including Facebook at www.facebook.com/taiyangbao
and Twitter @taiyangbao.
The site's blog network includes the following
writers and community leaders:
Wai Lam Cheung: Chinese community food critic,
former editor for Ming Pao Daily News in Vancouver.
Judy Hsu: National Public Relations associate,
formerly with BC Centres for Disease Control.
Richard Kurland: Vancouver lawyer & immigration
Jerry Li: President of the Canada-China Society of
Science and Technology and SFU communications
Stephanie Li: Hong Kong University graduate
Elisa Qiu: Hong Kong University graduate journalism
Lydia Tsui PR assistant manager at CNN
International and freelancer with Prime business
Kenneth Tung Kwantlen Polytechnic University
board member, former vice-chair & chair of
S.U.C.C.E.S.S., AM 1320 talk show host.
Yichun (Cherry) Yu Hong Kong University graduate
journalism student and a former reporting intern at
People’s Daily in Beijing.
Brian Yap Kwantlen Polytechnic University journalism
Henry Yuen Wine critic.
Stephanie Yuen Food critic, co-founder of Chinese
restaurant awards in Vancouver.
Sgt. Terry Yung Vancouver Police Department
officer and S.U.C.C.E.S.S. board member.
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun
Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Vancouver+launches+Chinese+Language+website+Taiyangbao/5815946/story.html#ixzz1fleQLhZc
Some immigrants faking language tests, officials
By TOM GODFREY, QMI AGENCY
Last Updated: November 15, 2011 8:39pm
TORONTO -- Federal immigration officials are targeting
unscrupulous immigrants who are paying big
bucks for fake certificates that show they have mastered
English or French tests required to come to Canada. The
fraudulent language tests were first detected among immigrants
applying to come here from Indonesia and Timor-Leste, according
to a report from a Canadian visa officer in Indonesia Some Toronto
lawyers claim a number of tradespeople and immigrants find the
standardized International English Language Testing System
(IELTS) difficult and have to write the test twice or three times to
pass Immigrants are required to have a working knowledge of
either of the official languages before they're allowed to come to
Canada as permanent residents "Fraud exists primarily with
language testing," the officer told Ottawa of the high failure
rate. "Candidates for immigration to Canada must demonstrate that
they have a solid knowledge of English or French. The officer said
the fraud is being looked into and some applicants submit
questionable paperwork to try and obtain a visa "Often IELTS
fraud ... is suspected by our office," the visa officer said.
"Financial statements, such as bank letters and accounting reports,
are not reliable. The officer warned "unreliable civil documents
and financial statements make the screening of legality of
net worth a challenge. Canadian immigration lawyer Richard Kurland,
who obtained the report, said the language testing fraud has
spread from Indonesia to other countries "The fraud range goes
from the wrong people taking the test to hacking into the system
to change grades," Kurland said on Monday.
THE PROVINCE NEWSPAPER
Gangs a threat to refugee kids
Surrey: Mayor Watts adamant immigrant fees are pushing youth toward
lawlessness and criminality
BY KENT SPENCER AND IAN AUSTIN, THE PROVINCE NOVEMBER 9, 2011
Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts is warning the federal government that about 500 Surrey
kids are at risk of being recruited into gangs because of fees being charged to
vulnerable refugee parents. She told a meeting of The Province’s editorial board on
Wednesday that the fees, which can run into tens of thousands of dollars, put kids
at risk of recruitment because normal support systems are not available from the
hard-pressed adults in their families. “Some kids need more help than others so
they don’t end up joining gangs,” Watts said. “Of particular concern is the refugee
population in Surrey. “Typically, the kids can’t read or write, have lived in refugee
camps and been witness to violence,” she said. “The parents do menial work. Their
13-year-old is at the age to join Grade 8 even though he has never been to school
before. “These kids are off the scale in terms of their risk of being recruited by
a gang. It’s a real concern. The recruitment goes on in schools. If I’m a gangbanger,
I’m going to pick a refugee kid,” she said. “The kids have no tools and they’re in
survival mode, so guess what’s going to happen.” Officials with Citizenship and
Immigration Canada told The Province that individual refugees may be responsible
to repay up to $10,000 per person under the Immigrant Loans Program to
cover the costs of medical examinations abroad, travel documents and transportation
to Canada. “The maximum amount of the loan the refugee would pay is $10,000,
as there’s a cap,” said a CIC official. “Loans in excess of that amount are paid for
by the IOM [International Organization for Migration]. So the refugee pays zero
dollars to $10,000, then IOM would pay the remainder if it’s over $10,000.
“The global repayment record is over 90 per cent.”
Watts said the federal government has refused her request to drop the refugees’
transportation charges. “The feds told me, ‘We’re keeping it,’” she said.
Refugees’ participation in criminal activity is not just a theoretical concept.
Police sources say one of the suspects in a wild jewelry store shootout at Oakridge
Mall last year was a juvenile-aged refugee who had just arrived from a camp in Africa.
Three teens were charged with armed robbery in the incident. Surrey Coun. Judy
Villeneuve said it’s wrong for a country as rich as Canada to seek repayment from
penniless refugees. “For me, it’s a moral issue,” said Villeneuve. “Many of these
people have been in war camps for 10 to 20 years — when they come here, they have
no money, no resources. “In one of the wealthiest countries in the world, we should
not be asking the poorest of the poor to pay back that money.” Villeneuve said
the Union of B.C. Municipalities and Federation of Canadian Municipalities have officially
appealed to the federal government to stop demanding repayment.
Immigration lawyer Richard Kurland has a novel solution — have Canadians
donate their frequent-flyer points — so the Canadian government wouldn’t
have to pay in the first place and the refugees wouldn’t have to pay it back.
“It really depends on the size of the family — if they’re coming from China
where there’s a one-child family, it’s not so bad. “But if it’s a family from
Somalia with eight kids, that money won’t get paid back.”
Surrey is the primary destination for government-assisted refugees in Metro
Vancouver, with 33 per cent of the total number arriving there. The five largest
refugee groups who have wound up in Metro Vancouver to escape persecution are
from Afghanistan, Myanmar (Burma), Iraq, Iran and Somalia.
SURREY NOW NEWSPAPER
Feds opening Canada to more foreign grandparents, parents
BY TOM ZYTARUK, SURREY NOW NOVEMBER 8, 2011
The federal Tory government is introducing a new "super visa" designed to bring more
parents and grandparents into Canada, and faster. Immigration Minister Jason
Kenney revealed the new plan Friday to let 10,000 more parents and grandparents
into the country each year - to a total of 25,000 - by way of a new multiple-entry
10-year "super visa" that will permit stays of up to two years at a time. Currently, of
about 40,000 parents and grandparents who apply to visit their children and
grandchildren in Canada each year, about 17,000 get in. "We need to change the math,"
Kenney said. The new super visa is expected to speed up processing times and reduce
backlogs, "making it easier for parents to visit." The current wait time for Family
Class sponsorship applications for parents and grandchildren is more than seven years.
Kenney's super visa announcement for parents and grandparents comes on the heels
of a report released Thursday by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute in Ottawa, suggesting
Canada's increasingly aging population could lead to a debt crisis here similar to what
Greece is now facing when baby-boomers retire en masse and increase demand on
public spending. But Richard Kurland, a Vancouver-based immigration lawyer,
does not believe an influx of elderly visitors will result in large numbers of
foreigners attempting to draw on Old Age Security pensions. Such a concern is
"not supported by the data," he said, explaining that "at that stage of your life"
most visitors want to return to their own countries. "In many cases parents
have their own lives." He noted certain requirements must be met before a
person can receive a public pension in Canada. "Just because you're here,
doesn't mean you get it."
© Copyright (c) Surrey Now
VANCOUVER SUN NEWSPAPER
eases immigration to allow more foreign students
By KIM PEMBERTON, Vancouver Sun November 2, 2011
Korean student Dennis Yim is studying in Vancouver. Yim hopes to stay in Canda
after he is done school.
Photograph by: Ward Perrin, PNG
Canada is expanding the number of international students granted permanent resident
status, while also making it easier for foreign PhD students to gain status through a
new federal immigration initiative announced Wednesday. The announcement was
welcomed by Dennis Yim, a Korean international student who wants to stay in Canada
after he graduates next month from Vancouver Community College.
Citizenship and Immigration is set to welcome 7,000 temporary skilled workers and
international students through the Canadian Experience Class program next year — the
largest influx since its launch in 2008. The CEC allows those studying in Canada, as
well as skilled professionals here on temporary foreign worker permits, to jump the
queue and obtain permanent residency more quickly and without having to return
to their home country to fill out an application. “I love Canada but sometimes I think
they ask too much in order to have permanent residency status. I just want them
to make it easier,” said the 21-year-old Yim, who has been studying business at
VCC for nearly six years. Yim said one of the requirements for him to stay in
Canada is to have a job in management, which can be difficult to achieve when
starting out in the workforce. “If they don’t make it easier they will lose students,”
As part of the new and expanded initiatives announced Wednesday, the government
will start accepting 1,000 international PhD students a year as permanent residents
through the Federal Skilled Worker Program as those students have a tendency not
to qualify under CEC. As of Friday, students who’ve completed at least two years of
a PhD program and remain in good academic standing at a provincially recognized
post-secondary institution will be able to apply. The decision to increase the
number of students accepted is a good “first step,” said Vancouver
immigration lawyer Richard Kurland. “It’s the right direction at the right time
and long overdue. It’s one small step in a longer journey. You need young
educated people and to revise old [immigration] policies. We can cream off
the very best by targeting the students. Other countries might claim we’re
in the brain drain game but too bad, that’s global competition,” said Kurland.
He pointed out it’s expected there will be a labour shortage in three years
so taking steps to encourage international students to remain in Canada
makes sense. “They are already living here. They know Canadian values
and understand work and paying taxes. We need to be encouraging young
students to upgrade from temporary to permanent [residency] status,” he
Kurland added one of the unnecessary hurdles is requiring students to leave
the country in order to apply for permanent residency.
“It’s archaic. What’s the difference between sending in an application from
overseas and mailing it within Canada,” he said.
with files from Postmedia News
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun
CTV TELEVISION NEWS
Saturday Nov. 5, 2011 8:26 PM PT
A young Australian woman living in B.C. for almost five years is facing deportation after
her Canadian fiancé's sudden death from liver cancer.
Julie Andrews came to Canada to enjoy life in the mountains and study nursing at the
College of the Rockies in Cranbrook. Then in 2008, she fell head-over-heels in love with
David Grigat. "I met someone and he just got me. We got each other," Andrews told CTV
News. The pair got engaged and David signed on to sponsor his wife-to-be in her bid to
become a permanent resident. "Everything was going to plan. We knew it would take a
long time and we understood that you had to do the paperwork and cross all your t's and
dot your i's," Andrews said. But in the spring, David was diagnosed with liver cancer and
died within weeks. It was a terrible blow for Andrews, made much worse when
Citizenship and Immigration Canada declined her visa application and closed her file.
"I seem to be on a losing streak," she said, choking back tears. Immigration officials have
ordered her to pack up her belongings and return to Australia or face deportation in the new
year. Andrews has written letter after letter to the government, pleading for compassion.
"I am financially able to support myself. I wanted to go back to work. I've been in Canada
almost five years and I feel it's my home. I own my own house, my friends are here, my family's
here, my cat is here," she said. "David died, but this is still my home."
But officials are not budging, explaining that a sponsor is necessary to consider someone
for permanent residency. "If circumstances change and the sponsor is unable to fulfill the
undertaking, the application will be refused," CIC spokeswoman Jen Burkholder said in a
statement. Friends in Fernie are incensed by Andrews' ordeal.
"I couldn't believe that such an injustice could be happening, when so many people are
allowed to stay in Canada and they don't have nearly as much reason to be here as she
does," Amanda Parker said.
Immigration lawyer Richard Kurland said Andrews' case "cries out for compassionate
relief," but added that this sort of situation is all too common.
"Heartbreaking cases cause concern, not just at the level of the applicant, but
individual immigration officers fret this type of situation. They can pass the
buck up the food chain to the office of the minister, ensuring that justice and
humanitarian relief is provided in deserving cases," he said.
"The minister is responsible for solving humanitarian issues that do arise when
there's a death." But immigration officials say that Andrews doesn't qualify to stay
under strict humane-compassionate grounds.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Peter Grainger
THE NATIONAL POST
Record number of Hungarian asylum-seekers landing on Canada’s doorstep
Tyler Anderson / National Post
“I wanted a safe environment; that was my first priority,” said Zoltan Kiss, a 29-year-old
Hungarian Roma who landed at Pearson airport on Oct. 13. He said an Internet search told
him Canada accepted newcomers and already has an established Roma community.
Kathryn Blaze Carlson Nov 4, 2011 – 8:29 PM ET
When Jason Kenney made a surprise appearance at a roundtable with Roma community
leaders and asylum-seekers last weekend, the Citizenship and Immigration Minister
wanted answers: What is driving the record, silent flood of Hungarian Roma refugee
claimants streaming into Canada, and why are so many ultimately abandoning or
withdrawing their claims? The meeting — and a Saturday night spent sitting in on
immigration interviews at Toronto’s main airport, where an average of 17 Hungarians
make claims each day — did little to solve the mystery of why a European Union
country is Canada’s top source of refugee claimants, nor why only 2% of those
claims were accepted last year, Mr. Kenney told the National Post in an interview
A record number of Hungarian refugee claimants arrived at Pearson International
Airport in September and October, with an unprecedented 91 asylum-seekers
landing in a single day on Oct. 26, according to data obtained from the Canada
Border Services Agency. When Mr. Kenney visited the airport last weekend, the
answers to his first question were myriad: Canada is a safe, multicultural country.
It has a quality health-care system and education is free. Economic opportunities
abound. It is a “nice place to live.” Canada welcomes newcomers. It pays them
welfare. And what of his question about the number of Hungarians who drop their
claims? The process takes too long. Toronto’s bed-bug situation is insufferable.
“[Bed bugs] came up two or three times,” Mr. Kenney said, referring to the meeting
at Toronto’s Roma Community Centre, where he listened through a translator as some
of the two dozen claimants in attendance described their need for sanctuary. “I was
told that a significant number of people are attached to sanitation, and found the
bed-bug situation in Toronto intolerable.”
Mr. Kenney has long questioned the merits of claims put forth by members of the
stateless ethnic group that says it still faces persecution by ultra-right-wing nationalists
and neo-Nazi groups across Europe. Two years ago, he called Czech Roma claims
“bogus,” and last year told the House of Commons that some Roma asylum-seekers
are “coached to come to Canada, make a false asylum claim, and then register for
provincial welfare benefits.” That bed bugs could evict from Canada someone supposedly
fearing for their life, or that waiting a few months for a refugee hearing is a deterrent
to staying safe in a free country, all but confirmed for the minister what he already
thought: Many of the 2,298 claims filed last year are “not bonafide,” and the migration
by Hungarian Roma is “very peculiar,” “bizarre,” and “very well-organized.”
“Asylum isn’t about whether you like the country you live in, it’s not about whether life
is easy there or not, it’s not even about whether you might occasionally face discrimination,”
he said. “If people are interested in Canada because they want to pursue a quality
health care system, or economic opportunities, or they don’t like their country of
origin, then I would invite them to apply through our immigration system like everyone
else.” He also pointed out that Hungary is a member of the European Union, and
citizens can now live and work freely in fellow member states. According to the United
Kingdom Border Agency, for example, an EU citizen and members of his or her family
can accept a job offer, become self-employed, start a business, or manage a company
without asking permission or applying for refugee status. Still, in the first six months
of this year, 1,600 Hungarians claimed refugee status in Canada — three times the
number of Tamil asylum-seekers who arrived off B.C. aboard a smuggling ship last
summer, amid much controversy and media frenzy.
Hungary is today Canada’s top source country for refugee claims, ahead of African
and Asian nations, and the vast majority are believed to be Roma. The number of
claims increased almost 100-fold after the country’s visa requirement was lifted in
2008, with claims jumping from 34 in 2007 to 2,298 in 2010. Some 970 claims were
withdrawn last year, and another 117 were abandoned because either the claimant did
not show up to their hearing or they failed to inform the Immigration and Refugee Board
of an address change. Only 22 of the 1,181 claims finalized last year were accepted.
When asked where the hundreds of Hungarians who abandoned their claims over the
past three years might be, Paul St. Clair, a Roma resettlement worker, said, “Who
knows, they could be underground or they could have left the country.”
He pegged the high withdrawal rate, in part, to people becoming discouraged — due
largely to Mr. Kenney’s public statements that the Roma claims are mostly bogus.
The federal government has grappled to get a handle on Roma claims since the issue
flared with a boom in Czech Republic claimants two years ago, when the government
imposed a visa requirement on Czech citizens after 95 Roma landed at Pearson
International Airport one June night. The number of Czech claimants has since dropped
dramatically. The minister’s spokesperson has previously ruled out immediate plans
for a Hungary visa requirement, but Mr. Kenney told the National Post “Canada always
reserves the right to apply visas.” He said he would not comment on the government’s
plans beyond that. His unexpected visit to the centre on Saturday marked his first
official meeting with leaders of the community in Canada, the centre said in a statement.
The meeting was apparently planned months ago, but centre executives and guests were
expecting a half-dozen federal representatives — not the suit-clad, hands-on minister
himself. “He was here for about two hours, unannounced,” said Mr. St. Clair, who was
the centre’s executive director for 10 years and who now counsels Roma newcomers at
the affiliated CultureLink organization. “He was concerned with what to do about this
group — about how this is impacting Canada — and not so much about their future.”
Richard Kurland, a Vancouver-based immigration lawyer and policy analyst,
echoed Mr. Kenney’s skepticism, and chalks the flood of Hungarian Roma
claims to “sheer abuse.” He said many Hungarian Roma asylum-seekers
have “done a calculation on how much they can milk from the Canadian and
Laszlo Balogh / REUTERS
A Roma woman carries her baby as she leaves her house in Alsozsolca, 200km
northeast of Budapest. A large concentration of Hungary's Roma live in the
northeast of the country. It sometimes takes several years for the refugee board to
make a determination. In the meantime, refugee claimants are eligible for Interim
Federal Health benefits — including emergency treatment for serious medical and
dental conditions, immunizations, essential prescription drugs, contraception, and
pre-natal care — as well as provincial assistance and education for their children.
“If you can toehold into Canada and get free medicare, education for your
kids, and a welfare cheque until your refugee claim is disposed of,” he said,
“and if it takes two or three years for claim to be disposed, then that’s
pretty good.” He said that statement may no longer be true as of June, 2012,
when the new refugee determination system is expected to speed up
According to a refugee board spokesperson, 1,446 of the 1,600 claims in the first six
months of this year were made in Toronto, and many likely originated at Pearson
airport. Sandy Mangat, a spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Community and
Social Services, said refugee claimants in Canada are eligible for various levels of
assistance, as is true of all other applicants. A single Hungarian Roma, for example,
would be eligible for a maximum of $592 monthly for basic needs and shelter, while
a sole parent with one child under 12 or a couple with two children under 12 are
eligible for $922 and $1,124 respectively.
Zoltan Kiss, a 29-year-old Hungarian Roma who landed at Pearson airport with a
friend in the middle of the night on Oct. 13, told the National Post through a
translator he was unaware Canada offered such health and welfare benefits. He said
he plans to apply for provincial assistance and a work permit as soon as possible.
“I wanted a safe environment; that was my first priority,” he said, adding that an
Internet search told him this country accepted newcomers and already has an
established Roma community. “If I went somewhere else in Europe, I could not
be so sure.”
Mr. Kiss, who said he saved up for his plane ticket for two years, said he did
not want to jeopardize his claim or his family’s safety by discussing the persecution
he said he suffered in Hungary, only to say, “I feared for my life.”
The Hungarian-speaking carpenter is living in a Toronto shelter and is taking English
classes. He does not yet have a date for a refugee hearing.
• Email: firstname.lastname@example.org |
THE GLOBE AND MAIL
November 3, 2011
Changes to family reunification program would ease backlog
By STEVEN CHASE
From Friday's Globe and Mail
Immigration Minister expected to restrict applications and allow more family members
The Harper government is moving to restrict applications for a program allowing
immigrants to bring their parents and grandparents to Canada - part of a plan to eliminate
a massive backlog in this category that has people waiting eight years. But this is only
part of what Immigration Minister Jason Kenney will announce on Friday at noon ET
in Mississauga, immigration lawyers predict. Experts say they expect Ottawa will also
increase the number of parents and grandparents admitted annually under this family
reunification program. The waiting list is currently at more than 150,000 people.
The Immigration Minister's announcement will include details of a planned overhaul
of the grandparents and parents portion of the program. Mr. Kenney will also announce
that the Department of Citizenship and Immigration will hold consultations in early
2012 to solicit opinion from Canadians on how best to revamp the program.
The federal government each year receives about 40,000 applications from
grandparents and parents of immigrants and admits only about 17,500. At the same
time, the backlog grows by 13,000 to 14,000 annually. Mr. Kenney hinted at his plans
at a Commons committee in late October, saying the two best ways to eliminate the
backlog of applicants are to cut the number of applications considered each year and
to increase admissions. "Is the department going to have to issue directives limiting
the number of new applications that we receive? I think that it is a solution that we
have to consider," he told the Commons immigration committee last month.
Vancouver-based immigration lawyer Richard Kurland said he expects the
Harper government will restrict applications and increase approvals as a
solution to the backlog. "I think the only way out is going to be a Sound of
Music solution, where 'When a door gets closed, somewhere, a window
gets opened,' " Mr. Kurland said.
The immigration lawyer suggested Mr. Kenney could find a way to make it work.
"So even if applications are capped, the minister can direct that temporary visas
be issued in order to bring families together until the backlog is processed."
Sources said consultations in 2012 will be used to seek ways to redesign the
program to prevent future backlogs. All options are on the table, including different
rules for who can sponsor parents and grandparents, or increases in the
amount of income required to support newcomers under the program, the sources said.
Mr. Kenney promised to address the backlog in the parents and grandparents class
during the federal election campaign earlier this year. Parents often apply for
permanent residence on the advice of Canadian visa officers after they are refused
a visitor visa, lawyers say. Immigration lawyers say a more permanent solution to
the backlog should include changing visitor visa rules. They say Ottawa should devise
a way to allow parents of immigrants to visit without incurring the risk of a drain on
medicare if they fall ill while in Canada.
Mr. Kurland estimated that about 20 per cent of those parents and
grandparents in the queue for permanent residency would withdraw their
application if they could instead secure a long-term, multiple-entry visa that
stipulated they cover their own health insurance in Canada. Canada expects to
admit 254,000 immigrants this year in total.
The Globe and Mail Inc. All Rights Reserved. Permission granted for up to 5 copies.
All rights reserved.
Influx of Roma refugee claimants puts strain on airport staff
October 26th, 2011
TOM GODFREY | QMI AGENCY
TORONTO -- As many as 50 Hungarian Roma a day are filing refugee claims at
Pearson airport, putting a strain on airport staff and medical services, according
to border services officials. A record 110 claimants arrived at the airport one
night last week, creating a challenge for immigration and security personnel working
to process them, officers say. The Hungarian Roma are a stateless ethnic group
that considers the name "Gypsy" derogatory. Entire Roma families, from babies
to grandmothers, are getting off flights and claiming refugee protection at Pearson,
alleging they're being persecuted by "skinheads or Neo-Nazis" in their homeland,
border officers said. Frontline officers at Pearson said extra staff had to be called
in last week when the 110 claimants landed. Staff worked throughout the night to
process them before they were released to shelters or the care of family members.
Officers said many of the refugee seniors and children suffer from health issues and
expressed concern they're placing a burden on the health-care system.
Hungarian citizens do not require a visa to travel to Canada and Hungary has been
a leading source of refugee claimants in recent years, according to the Immigration
and Refugee Board (IRB). Some 2,400 Hungarian refugee claimants were referred
to the IRB for hearings in 2009. There were 2,300 in 2010 and about 2,500 from
January to September of this year. About 23% of the claimants are accepted as
refugees. Officials at the Canada Border Services Agency said Tuesday that they
are looking into the issue. Gina Csanyi-Roban, executive director of the Roma
Community Centre, said Toronto shelters are full and the newcomers are being
housed in other communities. "These people are scared and running for their lives,"
Csanyi-Roban said on Tuesday. "Neo-Nazi groups are setting up training camps and
committing violence against the Roma." She also said many are exploited or abused
by others when they arrive here. Three families of 13 people, including two
grandparents, were scammed of $270 in savings by a taxi driver who took them from
the airport to an east-end shelter, she said, adding that driver then sped off.
"The Canadian government has been silent on the issue," Csanyi-Roban said.
"The problems will still be there even if a visa on Hungary is imposed."
Immigration lawyer Richard Kurland said Roma don't have to travel to
Canada and can legally seek asylum in any European Union country.
"They don't have to remain in Canada," Kurland said. "They can return
to any European country and legally work." Some CBSA officers said many
Roma go underground in Canada rather than be deported to Hungary. Close to 700
refugee cases have been abandoned by Roma in the last three years.
Suspect war criminal still avoiding extradition
BY TOM GODFREY ,TORONTO SUN
MONDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2011 05:01 PM EDT
Arshad Muhammad, 42, was at a Mississauga hardware last summer when he was
spotted by a Halton cop who notified authorities. He has been hiding in Canada since
TORONTO - Public Safety Minister Vic Toews is looking at ways of deporting from
Canada a suspected war criminal from Pakistan whose government does not want him
back. “I am looking into this case,” Toews said on Monday of the deportation of
Arshad Muhammad, who is accused of taking part in crimes against humanity. “It is
a long-standing problem (obtaining travel documents) with both Pakistan and India.”
Toews said the case is being handled by immigration authorities and not the Canada
Border Services Agency (CBSA), that posted mugshots of Muhammad and 29 others
on a most-wanted website last July. Muhammad, 42, was at a Mississauga hardware
last summer when he was spotted by a Halton cop who notified authorities. He has
been hiding in Canada since 2002 after being refused refugee status and later appeals.
Muhammad was deemed inadmissible to Canada due to crimes against humanity.
A ban on publication on his activities in Pakistan has been ordered by an Immigration
and Refugee Board. He has been in detention for three months awaiting a travel
document. Officials of the Pakistan consulate in Toronto said they require permission
from Islamabad to issue a document. Members of the Pakistan High Commission in
Ottawa also refused to comment on the deportation.
CBSA officers said Ottawa can pressure the Pakistani government to issue a travel
document by witholding Canadian foreign aid or handouts to that country.
Immigration lawyer Richard Kurland said Ottawa can also stop issuing visas
to Pakistan’s elite and wealthy residents who want to travel here.
“This has worked before with the governments of other countries,” Kurland
said. “It will trigger political pressure by preventing Pakistan’s social elite
from entering Canada.”
Muhammad was arrested after his identity was released by the CBSA after pressing
by Sun Media. So far, six of the suspects have been arrested and four deported.
That success led to a second most-wanted list posted on a CBSA site, this time of
32 foreign-born criminals who are hiding in Canada to avoid deportation. Seven of
them have been arrested due to tips from the public. Two of them have been deported.
Authorities said people should not take any action to apprehend the suspects and
should report information to the Border Watch Line at 1-888-502-9060.
Cut immigration applications to fix backlog, Kenney says
By Laura Payton, CBC News Posted: Oct 20, 2011
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney appeared before a House of Commons
committee on Oct. 20 to discuss immigration backlogs.
(Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)
Kenney on immigration wait 7:42
Canada needs to accept fewer applications from people wanting to live here, Immigration
Minister Jason Kenney says, and he's eyeing the family class for cuts.
Canada is facing too big a backlog and, despite accepting 254,000 applications every year,
there are one million people who are waiting to hear whether they can move to Canada,
the citizenship and immigration minister said Thursday. Canada gets about 420,000
applications every year and refuses about 10 per cent of those. Speaking to the House
committee on citizenship and immigration, Kenney said processing applications faster
won't fix the backlog problem. And it isn't possible to accept enough people to deal
with it either. The only options, he said, are to vastly increase acceptances, or take
fewer applications and keep processing the ones already received. "Those are the only
two possible solutions. It's a math problem," Kenney told reporters after the
Cut family class applications
Kenney pointed to the family class, under which parents and grandparents of Canadian
citizens can immigrate. His department received 37,500 applications in 2010 but
admits 18,500. Right now, there's a 10-year wait time for processing.
"Merely for us just to tread water, we would have to double the number of people
coming into that program … and that wouldn't even reduce the backlog," he said.
Kenney said other countries require a minimal family income, private health insurance
or a bond to limit parent and grandparent applications.
Immigration lawyer Richard Kurland said Kenney's right to suggest a cap on
the parents and grandparents category. "Unless you solve the intake problem,
you're going to have a growing backlog with growing processing times and
it's time to bite the bullet," he told reporters after the committee meeting.
Kurland said a 20,000 cap is appropriate, and that the government should
break the applicants into categories. "Bring in as priority one the single
parents overseas. Priority two is you bring in parents where the families can
pony up $75,000 up front to defray medicare costs, either with permanent
resident visa on payment or [for $75,000] give that family a 10-year visitor
visa to Canada and that way they can be here waiting until their number
comes up in the immigration inventory overseas."
Speaking to Rosemary Barton on CBC's Power & Politics, Kenney called the $75,000
payment "a very interesting idea." "I’ve heard similar ideas about asking people to
share in a greater portion of the social and health-care costs. And maybe that’s one
practical way of bringing more fairness while limiting the number of new applications
so we can avoid the big backlogs. That’s a very valid idea," he said.
The Conservative government and previous Liberal governments averaged about
18,000 parent and grandparent entrants a year, he added. Kenney says the
department is launching consultations on cutting the backlog. NDP immigration critic
Don Davies said reducing parent and grandparent applications is the wrong way to go.
"What I object to the most is the minister has come into this so-called study, these
meetings, with a preconceived conclusion. The only policy tool that he's looking at is
capping applications. Well, that's not the only policy tool available to the minister,"
Davies said. He wants Canada to accept another 100,000 immigrants every year,
arguing a per capita measurement doesn't make sense because the country has
so much space.
GLOBAL TV NEWS
Cutting applications could solve immigration backlog: Minister
Amy Minsky, Global News/The West Block with Tom Clark :
Thursday, October 20, 2011 6:08 PM
Photo Credit: Chris Wattie/Reuters ,
OTTAWA -- Canada’s Minister of Immigration said the marathon wait times facing
many people who want to immigrate to Canada is a simple math problem.
to chip away at the backlog creating the wait, Jason Kenney said Canada might
decrease the number of applications it accepts from people hoping to join their
families in Canada.
Because Canada is such a popular destination for would-be
immigrants, the country is overwhelmed with applications that end up accumulating
exponentially year after year, the minister told a House of Commons committee
Canada on average has accepted 254,000 immigrants annually since 2006.
Still, there are currently approximately one million people waiting to have their
applications processed and assessed, the minister said.
Kenney blames the
quandary partly on the “good problem” of Canada’s reputation as a land of
opportunity, and partly on the system the Liberals set up wherein an unlimited
number of applications are accepted each year.
Kenney said he predicts the problem
might be resolved through a combination of decreasing the number of applications
accepted and increasing admissions.
“It will have to be a combination of both,
because the volume (of applications) is so great,” the minister told reporters after
the committee meeting.
Canada accepts several categories of immigrants – family
and economic among them -- each of which has a quota.
“Last year we received
38,000 applications for parents and grandparents. And this is at time when we’re
trying to reduce the overall age of the population ,” he said, hinting that if any class
of immigrant sees a decrease in the number of applications received, it might be
the family category -- those looking to join their children, parents or spouses in
Doing nothing could see wait times for applicants increase from the
current 10 years to 20, he said.
“That’s effectively keeping people from being
able to reunite with parents. So reasonable choices have to be made, and
I’m being transparent about that.”
NDP MP Don Davies, however, said the
minister’s words run contrary to his party’s behaviour.
“Every single year since
this government’s been in power, they have reduced the number of visas granted to
parents, spouses, children and grandparents,” Davies said. “They always talk about
Canada having the most generous immigration policy in the world per capita… It’s a
fool’s game to compare Canada that way. We are the second-largest land mass in
the world, with 34 million people. You don’t compare us to Germany or France.”
Cutting down on family reunification applications could be political suicide,
but is necessary, said Richard Kurland, a policy analyst and immigration
lawyer who spoke to the committee.
Several backlogs have been fixed,
but government officials haven’t touched the issue of reuniting families
in a quarter of a decade, Kurland said.
“That’s the bottom line here and
if a minister is suggesting to cap intake on parents, that’s kissing the
political third rail,” he said. “It’s the death card in immigration politics, but
if this minister has the guts to do it, good on him…The minister says cap
the parents. Well, he’s right,”
Tougher language exam proposed for citizenship
By Nicholas Keung
October 15, 2011
The federal government is cracking down on the language competency of newcomers
who apply for Canadian citizenship. In a government notice released Friday, Ottawa
says multiple choice tests are no longer enough to demonstrate immigrants can speak
one of the two official languages. It wants would-be citizens tested on their oral and
listening skills. “The written test is an inadequate proxy for assessing language as it
does not adequately assess listening and speaking skills . . . for effective communication
with fellow Canadians and for effective integration,” wrote Nicole Girard, a Citizenship
and Immigration Canada acting director general.
Currently, language competency is largely assessed through a multiple choice written
test, which also evaluates an applicant’s knowledge of Canada, and the responsibilities
and privileges of citizenship. If an applicant fails the test, the individual must satisfy
a citizenship judge through an oral interview. The changes would affect applicants
between the ages of 18 and 44, representing about 134,000 individuals a year.
Last year, the Conservative government tightened up the citizenship exam — 20
multiple questions answered in 30 minutes — by raising the passing mark to 75 per
cent from 60. The failure rate immediately skyrocketed from between four and
eight per cent to 30 per cent. The proposed changes would require applicants to prove
they meet the Canadian Language Benchmark level 4 descriptors such as “the ability
to take part in routine conversations about everyday topics, use basic grammatical
structures and tenses, have sufficient vocabulary. . . follow simple instructions.”
Immigration policy analyst Richard Kurland said the proposed language test
can provide a standard measure of one’s language ability, but could
inconvenience those born and raised in English and French. Since all skilled
immigrants must pass mandatory language tests to qualify for permanent
residency, Kurland said this group could use their old test result and be
exempted from the new requirement for citizenship. Immigrant advocate
Avvy Go said she appreciates that language proficiency can be a huge advantage
for newcomers to flourish in Canada. “But the language requirement is going to
be a barrier for some to fully participate in the society,” said Go. “Those who come
here under family reunification or as refugees and are illiterate in their own language
are going to be denied the opportunity to become full-fledged members of the
society.” Immigrant lawyer Joel Sandaluk agrees. “What the government is trying
to do here is to increase the value of citizenship by increasing the difficulty in
obtaining it,” he said. “It is excluding people from the right to vote and (carry)
passports based on the ability to communicate in English and French.” Citizenship
applications cost $200 for adults and $100 for minors. One must have lived here
for at least three years in the past four years to qualify. Current processing time
is 19 months from the moment an application is received.
Mercury news services
This article is for personal use only courtesy of GuelphMercury.com
a division of Metroland Media Group Ltd.
October 9, 2011
Hungary tops asylum claims again in Canada
Sunday, 09 October 2011
An increase in the number of bogus claims by Hungarian asylum seekers is raising
calls again for Hungarians to need a visa in order to travel to Canada.
Some 2,045 Hungarians filed refugee claims between January and August, the
majority by Roma. But many cases are dropped in the 10 to 18 months it takes to
process them, while the remaining cases are almost never approved.
“How much of our money do we want to haemorrhage before setting a visa
requirement on Hungarian nationals, just like we did with the Czech
Republic?” immigration lawyer Richard Kurland asked in an interview with
The Toronto Sun.
“The Government of Canada is concerned about the rising number of refugee claims
from Hungary, the vast majority of which are unfounded,” the Canadian Embassy
in Budapest said in a statement to The Budapest Times. “As per standard protocol,
Canada is monitoring the situation.” With 13 per cent of refugee claims in Canada
coming from Hungarians, the country tops the list of asylum seekers.
Several cases of human trafficking have been under investigation by Canadian
authorities in recent years, following allegations that asylum claimants had been
coached into filing refugee claims and collecting social assistance. The benefits were
then siphoned off by organised crime syndicates while the claimants were enslaved
in construction work and locked in basements. In the largest human trafficking case
in Canadian history this summer, nine members of an extended family of Hungarian
Roma living in Hamilton, Ontario, were brought to court on charges of human trafficking,
conspiracy, criminal organisation and theft. The accused allegedly lured at least 19
people from a town in northwest Hungary, with a promise of a better life and better
job opportunities, but then forced the victims to work in slave-like conditions for no
pay after having taken away their documents.
Immigration backlog keeping millionaires out of Canada
BY TOM GODFREY ,TORONTO SUN
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 07, 2011 07:15 PM EDT
TORONTO - More than 22,500 foreign millionaires are waiting abroad to resettle in
Canada, bringing with them more billion to help cash-strapped Ottawa, immigration
officials say. There are about 16,400 millionaires alone in Hong Kong, Jim Versteegh,
a federal immigration program manager at the Canadian consulate in Hong Kong,
said about classified numbers released this week. Versteegh said there are about
22,491 millionaire investors worldwide who’ve applied and are waiting to come to
Canada. They’ll bring about 77,800 family members with them. “We still
need a game plan for dealing with our inventory,” he said in a July 2010
memo obtained under an Access to Information request by lawyer Richard
Kurland. “The total number of investor cases we now have on hand is 16,400.”
He said it’ll take about 12 years for visa officers to process the backlog of
cases. Only about 2,000 cases involving the federal investor program are
processed yearly. Kurland said investors are required to dish out $400,000
in cash each to Ottawa to obtain visas for their families, providing they pass
medical and background checks. He estimated the millionaires will hand over
about $9 billion in cash to the federal government for use for the provinces.
“We are losing some of these people to other countries,” Kurland said.
“Many of these people don’t want to wait for years are going elsewhere.”
He said there’s stiff competition from the United States, Australia and some
European countries for the well-heeled crowd. “These people are paying
hard cash for Canadian visas,” Kurland said. “That money will go a long way
to create jobs and our deficit.”
Federal immigration officials have said officers can only process 2,000 cases yearly
because it takes a long time to determine source of the funds or whether the money
is linked to organized crime.
October 1, 2011
OTTAWA - As Canada receives thousands of dubious refugee claims from Hungarian
citizens, there's a call for drastic action. "How much of our money do we want to
hemorrhage before setting a visa requirement on Hungarian nationals, just
like we did with the Czech Republic?" asked immigration lawyer Richard Kurland.
Between January and August of this year 2,045 people claiming to be refugees came
to Canada from Hungary That's 13% of all refugee claims made during that time in
Canada, keeping Hungary as this country's top source of refugee claims. QMI Agency
has acquired a 2010 Canada Border Services Agency report that concluded most of
the claimants from Hungary are Roma – a stateless ethnic group that considers the
name 'Gypsy' derogatory. Once those claimants arrive, they're set up to receive
medical, dental and eye care at no charge, social assistance benefits, and financial
help for housing and furniture while their case is sorted out. But, claims from
Hungary are almost never approved and most cases are usually abandoned or
withdrawn during the 12 to 18 months it takes to process them. Citizenship and
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney spoke out about the problem in the House of
Commons in April 2010. "The allegations are that many of these people were
coached to come to Canada, make a false asylum claim and then register for
provincial welfare benefits which subsequently flowed to a criminal organization.
The asylum system was being abused as a tool to access welfare." said Kenney.
Over the last several years, the Mounties have investigated allegations people have
been trafficked from Hungary to Hamilton, Ont., coached into filing refugee claims
and collecting social assistance, enslaved in construction work, and locked in
basements while organized crime syndicates took every penny from them.
The Conservatives passed reforms to the refugee system last year to get claims
processed in just two or three months -- not long enough for most claimants to
get approval for provincial welfare benefits.
Budget considerations and the process for approving new regulations have bogged
down those reforms, so changes aren't expected until late June 2012.
Federal officials say a new visa requirement for Hungarian nationals is not under
Diplomatic breakthrough led to Zhao murder trial: lawyer
Amanda Zhao is seen in this undated file image. The trial for her murder will begin on
Sept. 20, 2011 - almost nine years after she was found dead. (CTV)
ctvbc.ca Monday Sep. 19, 2011 3:43 PM PT
Nine years after Amanda Zhao was killed in B.C., her ex-boyfriend is set to stand
trial in China for murder, thanks to a bit of diplomatic maneuvering.
The 21-year-old Chinese student was found dead in October 2002, her body stuffed into
a suitcase in Stave Lake. Beginning Tuesday, Ang Li will stand trial for the killing in
Beijing. Li was a suspect in the murder, but fled Canada to his home country two
days after Zhao's body was found. He wasn't arrested until 2009, and couldn't be
tried without information from investigators in B.C. Canada and China don't have
an extradition treaty, but a series of recent negotiations helped move the case
forward. "The Chinese government had agreed to waive the death penalty and
with that, the federal government agreed to share evidence with Chinese
authorities," NDP MLA Jenny Kwan told reporters Monday.
The move comes two months after China's most-wanted fugitive, Lai Changxing, was
booted out of Canada. To achieve his deportation, the Chinese government assured
Canadian officials that Lai would not be executed.
Immigration lawyer Richard Kurland says those negotiations may have
paved the way for Li's trial. "I think the return of Mr. Lai to China resulted
in a watershed diplomatic moment. The death card on the table has been
removed," Kurland told CTV News. "Canada said, ‘We're not going to send
him back if he's going to face the death penalty,' and today it's the same
card played diplomatically once more."
Investigators believe Zhao was strangled to death. She was studying English at
Coquitlam College at the time she was killed, and was living with Li in a basement
suite. Li reported her missing, but it wasn't until 11 days later that hikers discovered
her mangled body in the woods. After his flight to China, he lived with his father in
a military compound until the time of his arrest. Li's cousin Han Zhang was also
arrested in China and is accused of being an accessory to the murder.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Bhinder Sajan
IMMIGRANT INVESTORS SHOULD PAY MORE TO COME TO CANADA
By Mata Press Service
The Federal government should dramatically hike the visa fees for the
world’s wealthy who are lining up to get into Canada via the Immigrant
Investor Program, says one of the country’s leading immigration policy
Richard Kurland, an immigration lawyer who is also the
editor-in-chief of Lexbase, a monthly publication on current immigration
issues, is also warning that agents working with Canadian banks or
facilitators are “price-fixing” commissions as they scour Asia for potential
investor immigrants .
This practice, if left unchecked will incentivize fraud
in the investor immigrant class, Kurland warned.
financial institutions, approved by Immigration Canada to market the
Immigrant Investor Program (IIP).
The facilitators in turn pay “agents”
to bring clients to them.
These agents reportedly receive between $40,000
and $60,000 for each referral. Some agents are commanding as much as
$100,000 in commissions, the internal documents noted.
views on a draft briefing note obtained pursuant to the Access to
Information Act, Kurland said Immigration Canada has been warned about
‘price fixing’ by offshore Chinese agents.
The internal documents he states
in Lexbase, provide a candid explanation of how Canada’s federal immigrant
investor program works.
Last year, nearly 12,000 people, including
spouses and dependants, moved to Canada under the federal government’s
Immigrant Investor Program, up from 4,950 a decade ago, according to
Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
To qualify in this category, immigrants
must have a minimum net worth of at least $1.6 million, and are
required to “invest” $800,000 with the government, mostly through ‘facilitators’
which is returned after five years.
British Columbia, under its provincial
nominee program also saw 203 new permanent residents between 2005
and 2010 who invested $423 million in the province, creating more than
Kurland said there is now a three-year supply of federal investor
cases and that Canada can immediately increase the amount required for
the required investment from the present “$800,000” to $1.2 million.
minimum net worth from the current “$1.6 million” should also be raised to
$2.5 million, he suggested.
“Canada has dramatically underpriced the federal
investor program. It is a ‘no risk’ policy proposal (to hike the fees) because
the current investor case backlog is so large, that our inventory can
continuously supply investor cases right through 2015, even if no new cases
enter the system.
If the demand for investor visas grossly exceeds the
available supply of investor visas, increase the price until demand levels out
with supply,” he wrote.
In Hong Kong alone, there are 15,835 cases which
represent a potential $6.3 billion investment in Canada ($400,000 per case
processed under the ‘old’ rules; $800,000 per case under the ‘new’ rules).
The demand for investors’ visas is so great that Canada recently placed a
700 applicant limit on “new cases” in 2011. That quota was filled within a
matter of days.
Here is a sampling of who are in the queues around the world
trying to get into Canada under the investor visa program, based on the internal
documents obtained by Kurland;
Accra: “From the perspective of the selection grid, Accra provided the ideal Investors -
highly educated with a good command of English. This is the only Mission where
language points were consistently noted. The majority of applicants were awarded
16 points for moderate English. Their average net worth was $2,877,823. Average
age at application was 45. Accra Investors had the highest levels of education amongst
all Missions surveyed. 50% of the sample [had] a Masters or PhD. Many of them were
educated in the US and UK.”
Beijing: “Compared to the other Missions already surveyed, Beijing provided a pool
of younger applicants, with more business experience and a higher net worth. The
average PNW [Personal Net Worth] was $2,289,497. The average age at application
was 41. All applicants earned full points, and ages ranged from 34 – 49 All of the
applicants had at least secondary and 43% [had] a 2-3 year post-secondary credential.
9% [had] a Masters or PhD.”
Taipei: “Taiwanese are comparable to other applicants from the same region in terms
of how they scored on the selection grid. A large number of applicants (approx. 40%)
already had children studying in Canada at the time of application. The average Personal
Net Worth was $1,468,010. They are a younger group - average age at application was
46 and earned on average 9 points, out of a possible 10. The ages ranged from 32 - 59,
with the largest group in their 40s (69%) […] and only 5% was 54 and over.
Taiwanese applicants have a moderate level of education. There were a significant
number of professionals applying through Taipei, Many of these professionals were
in the medical field.”
Seoul: The majority of applicants (82%) had dependents living in Canada at the time
of application. Often the spouse and children were already taking up temporary
residence. 23% of the sample qualified via the Management option. There were a
significant number of medical professionals (15%) who qualified for business
experience through sale proprietorship medical clinics. The average personal net worth
was $1,565,181. The average age at application was 46The majority of applicants were
in their 40’s at the time of applying (82%).
Islamabad: The average PNW was $3,071,729. This was a younger group – average age
was 42 and average age points earned was 9. Ages ranged from 31- 57, with 88%
of the sample earning full age. Education levels were lower through Islamabad. 56%
of the sample had secondary or less, and 25% [had] a Bachelors and Masters.”
New Delhi: “The overall calibre of applicants applying through this Post was
comparatively lower. The education level was low, language abilities were often
noted as nil, and the majority were farm owners (67%) who were working on ancestral
lands. New Delhi received a young group of applicants - average age was 39.
New Delhi and Islamabad had the lowest average points for education. 20% had not
completed secondary, while 47% had only completed secondary.”
Buffalo: “Buffalo processed Investors with the highest average net worth -
$8,504,258, as well as the oldest Investors - average age of 52. All of the applicants
in this sample applied as business owners. Ages ranged from 29 - 71.
44% earned full age points, while the rest were 54 and above and earned 0 points.
55% [had] post-secondary studies.”
London: “They had a high net worth - $3,502,083 and there was a high intake of
Managers (44%). This was an older group, comparatively speaking. The average age
at application was 51 and average age points earned were 5. 44% were 54
or over and earned 0 points. The entire sample had completed at least secondary.
No applicants earned full education points.”
Cairo: “They had a high net worth - average of $3,429,493. Ages ranged from 28 - 52,
with 86% of the sample earning the full 10 points available for age. There was a high
level of education in Cairo. No applicant (in sample studied) earned less than 20 points
Moscow: “They were a young group, with high education and significant business
experience. Their average net worth was $2,384,684. All of the Investors were business
owners. The average age of the Russian Investor was 43. Education levels were high -
average points earned were 22.
Berlin: “Their average net worth was $2,384,836. 25% of this group qualified via the
Management option. The majority of applicants already had dependents living in
Canada, and in some cases the principal applicant’s primary residence was also in
Canada. There was a noticeable trend amongst those Investors already residing in
Canada to have sold their businesses a year or two before applying. Age: The average
age for this group was 51”.
Kuwait: “They had a high average net worth - $4,200,166. Average age at application
for this group was 48. Kuwaitis had the lowest levels of education in this region.”
“67% of the sample had only completed secondary.”
UAE: “Their average net worth was high $3,943,305. 39% were in their 40s’ and
33% were 50 and over when they applied. Education levels were lower in comparison
to other countries in this region.”
Saudi Arabia: “Their average Personal Net Worth was $2,101,523. The average age
at application was 43. 38% of applicants were 50 and over. All applicants had
completed at least secondary.
Damascus: “Typically, Investors from this area were older, wealthier and did not
fare as well on the selection grid. Their average PNW was $3,961,830. The average
age at application was 50.”
Court backs Husky oil executive’s bid to get visas for his Nepalese servants
TU THANH HA AND CARRIE TAIT
TORONTO AND CALGARY — Globe and Mail
Wednesday, Sep. 14, 2011 9:15PM EDT
Since he left his native Nepal 13 years ago, Shyam Thapa Chhetri has spent
his entire adult life working with his brother Shalik as domestic servants at the
home of a telecom executive in Delhi, for $130 to $186 a month.
Now their employer is trying to get the brothers to come with him as he runs
a major oil company in Calgary.
Asim Ghosh, the chief executive at Husky Energy Inc., has successfully gone to
court to force diplomats at the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi to
reconsider their initial decision to refuse the Chhetris temporary work visas.
The case has shone a light into the world of temporary workers, a category of
newcomers whose arrival has now outpaced permanent immigrants in Alberta,
raising union fears that Canada is becoming a country of guest workers.
If the Chhetri brothers eventually get their visas, they are to come to Canada to
keep Mr. Ghosh’s house clean, wash and iron clothes, cut grass and shovel snow,
and prepare meals in either of the Bengali, Uttar Pradeshi or southern styles of
Indian cuisine. Visa officers in Delhi were concerned that the brothers wouldn’t
leave Canada after their work visas expired. But a Federal Court ruling last July
ordered the applications to be reviewed again.
In Canada, the Chhetris would earn 13 times more than in Delhi, though
accommodation won’t be included so they would have to face Calgary’s housing
market on $28,537 a year. (They are to be paid $13.72 an hour, with 10 weeks of
paid vacation and medical and dental benefits. Alberta has an annual minimum wage
of $21,492 for domestic employees.) To justify their hiring, Mr. Ghosh obtained a
labour market opinion (LMO), a federal government document certifying that no
Canadian was available to fill the Chhetris’ jobs.
“These guys will likely do very well for themselves. Typically, a fellow like
this is looking for continuity,” said Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard
Kurland. Mr. Kurland, who has advocated for temporary workers, said
many others are not so lucky and languish in poorly paid jobs with little
oversight or legal recourse.
The issue is especially topical in Alberta, home to nearly a quarter of Canada’s
temporary foreign workers. Nearly 43,000 of the 113,000 LMOs issued last year by
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada were for Alberta.
Hiring temporary employees is supposed to be a tool of last resort, but looser
federal rules have allowed employers to fast-track foreign workers into Canada,
Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said.
Because Mr. Ghosh has employed the brothers for more than a decade, it is unlikely
that their stay in Canada will be temporary, Mr. McGowan argued. “The federal
government’s Temporary Foreign Worker program has completely gone out of
control,” he said. Still, Mr. Ghosh had trouble persuading consular staff to let him
bring his servants to Canada.
After successfully managing Vodafone Essar Ltd., India’s second-biggest telecom
firm, Mr. Ghosh was named Husky chief executive in June of last year, earning
an annualized salary of $1.2-million.
By October, he had obtained a favourable LMO for his two domestics. The following
month, visa officers rejected the Chhetris’ applications. Officers said the brothers
had weak ties to Nepal and suspected that the huge salary hike would lead them to
stay in Canada. The Federal Court, however, ruled in July that the wage gap
shouldn’t disqualify the two men. Earning more is “the very reason for coming,”
Mr. Justice Donald Rennie said.
While “a yellow flag was reasonably raised” by the visa officer, the case deserves
a second look, the judge ruled. Mr. Ghosh will not comment on the case, a Husky
Failed refugees can get $2G to leave
BY TOM GODFREY ,TORONTO SUN
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 24, 2011 6:54 PM EDT
Wearing surgical masks Canadian Border officials board the MV Sun Sea after it
docked at Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt with an estimated 490 suspected Tamil
migrants on board in Colwood, British Columbia on Vancouver Island August 13, 2010.
TORONTO - A controversial policy that will enable Ottawa to buy airline tickets for
failed refugees and give them up to $2,000 each to leave Canada is slated to
take effect in June next year. Failed claimants under a Balanced Refugee Reform Act
can use the $2,000 when they return home for education, vocational training,
job placements or business pursuits, federal immigration officials said.
The Act, which will have refugee cases decided in a year, contains an Assisted
Voluntary Returns (AVR) program to give financial incentive to failed claimants to
leave Canada and reintegrate them in their home country. The initiative has been met
with applause by lawyers and immigration workers.
"The Canadian taxpayers will save a lot of money by getting these people
to leave right away," said lawyer Richard Kurland. "If they don't leave, we
have to pay to carry them." It costs millions of dollars to "track, monitor a
nd remove" failed claimants who may go underground and not leave, Kurland
Public Safety Ministry officials said there are about 9,200 failed refugees who go
underground in the Toronto-area yearly. There are 44,000 immigration offenders on
the lam nationwide. The way things work now "money is not generally given directly
to the failed asylum claimant" besides incidental expenses such as meal money or
taxi fare, according to the AVR program. The new proposal would make "it more
likely for failed claimants to reintegrate into their home country and less likely to
return to Canada." Ottawa said the funds dished out to failed claimants would be
managed and distributed by an independent service provider on behalf of Ottawa.
The $2,000 being handed out is not a strong incentive for claimants to submit false
claims to defraud the system, immigration officials said.
Failed claimants are eligible for the program if they do not have a criminal record,
meet all their reporting requirements and abide by terms and conditions imposed.
Those who leave voluntarily are allowed to apply to return to Canada.
Officials said those who abuse the program can be imposed with a temporary
ban on returning to Canada or may have to reimburse the Canada Border Services
Agency for assistance received. The program is in existence right now in about
18 European countries. Federal immigration officials said the "funding support is a
conservative amount" compared to a program in the United Kingdom that dishes
out $7,200 per claimant. The program sparked controversy in the U.K. when it
began, from people who accused the government of doling out taxpayers' money in
times of economic restraint. Immigration officials said voluntary returns allow failed
claimants to go back to their homeland with dignity and anonymity.
August 24, 2011
Critics decry outsourcing of visa processing
Privacy commissioner notes 'challenges and risks.'
By Kristen Shane
Published August 24, 2011
The federal government is working to create a global network of visa processing
offices, many of which are now privately run—a move that critics say raises
concerns over information security, privacy and oversight. The government is
set to almost double the number of countries in which it outsources the operation
of visa application centres, from 20 to 35. During Prime Minister Stephen Harper's
visit to Latin America earlier this month, he announced the opening of one in Costa
Rica, and three in Brazil.
These are in addition to six more scheduled to open this month and seven next
month, all in South and Central America. They add to those already running
everywhere from Mexico to Moldova, Kenya to Kazakhstan. Citizenship and
Immigration Canada says it wants to continue to expand its use of these centres
globally, although a spokesperson says no final decisions have been made yet.
Some centres could also collect and transmit biometric information, such as
fingerprints, in the future.
Business sees efficiencies, convenience
Canadian missions abroad process applications for temporary visas to Canada.
But since 2000, they have been striking agreements with third parties to outsource
more and more of these activities. Most service providers are businesses. They
include a Canadian subsidiary of Computer Sciences Corporation, a Fortune 500
American information technology company that will run the new visa application
centres in 15 Latin American countries, and the India-based VFS Global. Embassy
tried to reach someone with VFS Global but did not receive a response. A CSC
spokesperson referred comment to CIC. The Canadian government also works
with at least one non-profit group. The International Organization for Migration is
an intergovernmental organization that runs application centres for Canada in
Vietnam and Tajikistan. On top of the Canadian government's processing fee,
application centre operators charge a service fee to each applicant for accepting
their application and supporting documents such as passports, making sure it's
complete, tracking it, sending it to a Canadian embassy or consulate and returning
documents after a government visa officer has decided whether to accept or deny the
application. CIC approves fees as part of a formal agreement it signs with each service
provider. They differ depending on the country. The base fee is about $14 CAD in
India and $36 in China. Countries such as the United States, UK and Australia also
outsource visa application processing. Business groups and the tourism industry like
it because it makes the process more efficient by ensuring there's less chance of being
rejected for incomplete or incorrect forms, and more convenient because visa
application centres may be easier to access than consulates and are typically open
longer hours. Stephen Cryne is president and CEO of the Canadian Employee
Relocation Council, which helps its member firms address workforce mobility issues.
It serves 400 companies with activities in Brazil. "Any way that we can make it easier
for those companies to move their people between Canada and the US is welcome
news," said Mr. Cryne. "It goes a long way to helping our economy." He sees the
Latin American visa centre boom as part of the Canadian government's larger trade
agenda in the region.
David Goldstein, president and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada,
said economically and demographically, Mexico and Brazil have the fastest-growing
upper- and middle-class populations in the hemisphere—people who can now afford
to travel the world. His lobby group would like the Canadian government to stop
imposing visas on them altogether, but if they have to be there, he said, a faster
visa process is "the semi-perfect solution."
While critics may complain about the inflated cost of getting a visa through a
privately-run application centre, Mr. Goldstein said consulates are still open to take
visa applications directly. "In the grand scheme of things, if you're booking a trip
from São Paulo to Toronto, you're going to spend thousands of dollars between
airfares, hotels and restaurants. Another $20, $30, $40 for convenience is not a
significant investment," he said. Visa application centres improve the productivity
and processing times of visa posts for temporary resident applications, said Phil
Mooney, president and CEO of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory
Council. "In most of the cases where they've been introduced the wait times for
temporary resident applications have decreased," he said.
Concerns over adequate safeguards
But Mr. Mooney also said some immigration consultants have raised concerns.
For example, visa application centre officials are to ensure applicants' forms are filled
out correctly, but not to offer advice. The federal government passed a law this year
to strengthen penalties against people who charge money but aren't authorized to give
immigration advice. CIC spokesperson Nancy Caron said that under the terms of the
agreement signed between CIC and each centre operator, the service is subject to
inspection and audit. If an operator doesn't comply, CIC could cancel the agreement.
"The government should be more open in how they monitor these facilities and there
should be reports that are readily available to individuals about that," said Mr. Mooney,
adding that this would help maintain the integrity of the system.
He also raised concerns about sensitive personal information falling into wrong hands,
for example if the business running a visa application centre must be licensed by the
country in which it operates, and the state security service requires access to the
company's files. NDP immigration critic Don Davies said there are certain government
functions that it must do itself, such as adjudicating income tax returns and visa
processing. Every deviation from that direct relationship between the government
and its client, he argued, raises the potential for risk in dealing with sensitive
information such as bank records. "If you're in India and you're handing this
information to a third-party provider, what kind of guarantees do you have? That
company could go out of business next week and flee the country," he said. "They
could be selling that information to someone else. They could have a breach of
VFS Global, which runs Canadian visa application centres in eight countries including
China and India, did come under pressure in 2007 when a security breach meant the
personal data of people applying online through VFS for a visa to the UK were visible
to others visiting the site. VFS has since said it has improved information security by
following industry best practices.
Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland said he's concerned that
contractors or subcontractors in other countries might flout legislated privacy
safeguards that the private and public sectors in Canada must both follow.
Monitoring should be done by third parties, he also argued, not "the foxes
guarding the foxes." And there should be accessible means of recourse for
users if something goes wrong.
Anne-Marie Hayden, a spokesperson for the federal privacy commissioner's office,
outlined similar concerns. She also said there are plans for some visa application
centres to collect and transit biometric information, such as fingerprints, which is
especially sensitive personal information. CIC should work to mitigate and manage
such "privacy challenges and risks," she said.
She noted that CIC has sought and is seeking advice from her office as it establishes
visa application centre management contracts. The office is currently reviewing a
CIC privacy impact assessment for some of its visa application centres. And privacy
and security requirements will be built into CIC's assessment of candidates in a
coming request for proposal process related to the creation and management of a
global visa application centre network.
Ms. Caron noted that safeguards on the protection of personal information are
built into agreements with application centre operators. Background checks and
screening are done on all centre staff, she said, and they must be given proper
training as provided or authorized by CIC. Mr. Davies suggested the government
open small satellite offices to process applications rather than use outside providers.
Alleged Serbian war criminal loses citizenship court battle in Vancouver
BY TRACY SHERLOCK, VANCOUVER SUN AUGUST 18, 2011
Alleged war criminal Branko Rogan leaves Federal Court in Vancouver, B.C.
on April 27, 2011. Photograph by: Ian Smith, PNG
Federal Court Judge Anne Mactavish found that Rogan, 49, intentionally hid information
about his work as a prison guard in the former Yugoslavia when he applied to come to
Canada as a refugee. “I have also concluded that Mr. Rogan participated, both directly
and indirectly, in the mistreatment and torture of prisoners held at those facilities,”
Mactavish wrote in her decision. Mactavish’s ruling won’t automatically strip Branko
of his citizenship, but it is an important step in the process, which began in 1996, with
a chance encounter at a Burnaby mall between Rogan and the wife of Huso Hatzic,
a childhood friend of Branko’s who was imprisoned in Bosnia-Herzegovina while
Branko was a guard. Hatzic told the RCMP about Rogan’s past, kicking off the first
attempt to revoke a person’s Canadian citizenship for a war crime committed after
the Second World War. Hatzic said he was thrilled Thursday when the Federal Court
ruled that Rogan lied about his past to get admitted to Canada. “Justice came after
16 years — finally — it was very slow,” Hatzic said. Hatzic said he assumed Rogan
would have been dealt with years ago by the Canadian authorities. “I thought Canada
was much quicker on these things,” he said. “With the ruling, everybody is just so
Rogan, a Serb, came to Canada as a refugee in 1994 and became a Canadian citizen
three years later. A woman who answered the phone at Rogan’s Port Coquitlam home
said he was away on vacation in Italy. Four Muslim men from Bileca told the court a
bout being arrested, severely beaten and held in deplorable and crowded conditions in
the detention centre, where they were only fed once a day. Bileca — home to 13,000
people, 80 per cent of whom were Serb in 1991 — is in Bosnia-Herzegovina, a province
in the former Yugoslavia. The country broke up in 1990, sparking a civil war in which
alliances were formed along religious and ethnic lines. Serbian forces arrested, detained
and tortured non-Serbs, including Bosnian Muslims. Although none of the witnesses were
beaten by Rogan, they gave chilling testimony about an elderly man named Asim
Catovic, who they said Branko beat on a daily basis for seven to 10 days.
Ramiz Pervan testified that he heard Catovic scream for an hour, then Rogan came back
into the prison and asked Catovic’s son if he had heard him kill his father. “Mr. Rogan
then told Mr. Catovic’s son that ‘As long as I am a guard, this is going to happen. This
is always going to happen to him.’ Pervan said in court. The testimony says after one
of the beatings, Catovic’s face was unrecognizable and that the bruises on his body
were “really, really bad and disturbing to look at.” Rogan insisted the witnesses were
lying, calling their testimony “incredible lies.”
Rogan testified in April that he had done nothing wrong, and that those who accused him
had lied to Canadian authorities. He did not regularly attend the hearing except to
testify, and he was not represented by a lawyer. Rogan admitted to working as a
reserve police officer at two jails in Bileca, and said he had heard stories of Muslim
prisoners being beaten and tortured, but said he did not participate in the beatings.
Hatzic said he feels he has helped make his new country a little safer and bring justice
for the atrocities in his former one. “It is better that whoever did something like this
is supposed to be punished even if it is my father, my brother or my relative.....
it doesn’t matter right is right and wrong is wrong.”
The Citizenship Act allows the Governor in Council to revoke a person’s citizenship if
they became Canadian through false representation or knowingly hid material
circumstances. If Branko had told the truth about his work at the detention centre,
his application for refugee status would have been rejected. “Mr. Rogan stated that
he did not tell Canadian immigration authorities about his work with the reserve
police ‘Because that is not considered a real job. I did not really receive a salary for
it. I was there under force, I mean, I wasn’t — yeah, I was there under force. It was
not a real job,’” court documents show. But in another interview reported by Mactavish,
Rogan said he omitted his work as a prison guard because he was scared that Canada
would not accept him because of it. Hatzic said the “Canadian government should
learn a lesson. They should check a little bit better. They should check closely. It is
okay to open the country and bring people in. It is really good. Canada is giving a
better life to a lot of people. But now we don’t have to be scared that we are living
next to somebody who maybe wasn’t checked properly.”
The Governor in Council’s decision, which is the next stop in the citizenship revocation
process, may be subject to a review, but no appeal is permitted on the finding of
facts by the Federal Court.
The process to deport Branko may take several more years, said Richard
Kurland, a Vancouver immigration policy analyst and lawyer.
“The court case likely needed a lot of preparation prior to commencement
back in 2007. All in, it would not be unusual if the entire process needs a
decade,” Kurland said.
“To all Canadians and others who contributed to the investigation on this file,
including those who were victims from the conflict in the former Yugoslavia,
this marks an important day of accountability and justice,” said the
Vancouver-based RCMP lead investigator in the case, Paul Richards.
Court documents show that Rogan is employed in British Columbia as a
With files from Kim Bolan
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun
Toews hopes plan will help turf illegals
By TOM GODFREY, QMI AGENCY
August 18, 2011
Public Safety minister Vic Toews speaks during a press conference on border security
in Winnipeg. (Brian Donogh/QMI Agency)
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews is hoping 95 new enforcement officers will help nab
and reduce a backlog of 44,000 illegal immigrants who made Canada their home.
Toews said each year 9,200 failed refugees go underground in the Toronto area and
they pose a big concern. "Many of these people are economic migrants who refuse
to go back home," Toews said Thursday. "Not all of these people are dangerous or
a danger to the public." There are 350 Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)
enforcement officers in Toronto who remove more than 9,000 failed refugees yearly,
but there's still a huge backlog of would-be deportees to find and remove, officials
said. Toews hopes the new hires will help deport an additional 4,200 failed claimants,
increasing the total to 13,400 yearly, for the next three years in a pilot Refugee
Reform Initiative that will involve the RCMP, Canada Immigration, Canadian Security
Intelligence Service, and the Immigration and Refugee Board.
"We are not happy to have all these people here illegally," Toews said. "They are
not all wanted for criminality." Under the initiative to take effect next year, all
failed claimants will be deported within a year of losing their cases.
Claimants will be tracked through an "asylum system" and failed claimants will go
through a removals program to stop them from going underground. The initiative will
also introduce an "Assisted Voluntary Returns," to help with the removal of "low-risk
failed refugee claimants," the CBSA said. Almost half of the new officers will remain
in Toronto with others working in Montreal and Vancouver, officials said. "Having
additional officers will help us clear the backlog," Toews said. "We are working as a
government to move these individuals out of Canada." The failed claimants have
warrants issued for their arrests for either missing hearings or appearances before
an Immigration and Refugee Board, the CBSA said. Most have been in Canada for
less than two years and have work permits that have been suspended.
The crackdown was met with applause by lawyers and immigration workers.
"This is Christmas come early," said immigration lawyer Richard Kurland.
"Canada is finally serious about immigration enforcement."
The failed refugees do not include 30 suspected war criminals, 1,400 foreign criminals
or 20,000 immigration offenders already on the lam.
American mice invade Canadian offices
by Charlie Smith on August 5, 2011 at 2:28 PM
Canadian diplomats are facing down some very tough mice.
Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland's newsletter always contains
some interesting items from inside government, but I can't recall it ever covering
rodent infestations. Until now.
In the July-August edition, Kurland includes a "security alert" written last
year by Diane Burrows, a staffer in the Canadian embassy in Washington.
"There was an epic struggle here yesterday evening as a rather plump mouse met
his demise in the middle of the visa section work area—he had clearly taken bait
and succumbed. When I left the office he was slightly drugged; later on he emerged
and slowly died. Lorraine alerted security and someone took him away.”
A followup message from Anna Mae Grigg, who works in the New York consulate,
declared: “We have failed rather spectacularly to bring our mice under
control—to the point where the mission has decided not to renew the infestation
treatments contract. Poison does not touch NYC mice—they are tough!!!”
I will resist the temptation to make any jokes about putting Maple Leaf food
products in the vicinity.
July 20, 2011
Kenney: Majority of fraudulent citizens outside Canada
By Bryn Weese, Parliamentary Bureau
Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney speaks in Calgary, Alta., July 12, 2011.
(QMI Agency/ Jim Wells)
OTTAWA — Most of the 1,800 people the feds believe obtained their citizenship
fraudulently are Canadians of convenience who don’t even live here, according to
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. And he doesn’t expect many to object to the
government’s move to revoke their citizenship, which he said could be completed in a
year. “Most of these people, we believe, have never really lived in Canada and are
still overseas,” he said Wednesday. “We frankly have got them dead to rights with
the proof that we have, and I don’t think a lot of these people want to go through a
long, protracted public court battle where it’s clear they fraudulently obtained our
citizenship.” Immigration officials said the suspects, through the use of crooked
consultants who charge thousands of dollars, use fake names or addresses to
circumvent the three years Canadian residency required to become a citizen.
On Tuesday, QMI Agency revealed the revocations, which come after a lengthy
RCMP and departmental investigation. “This investigation and these enforcement
efforts ... should send a very clear message to the little industry of crooked citizenship
consultants — we’re putting them out of business,” Kenney said. “Canadian citizenship
is not for sale, and we’re onto them.”
Kenney warned that the 1,800 are likely just the “first tranche” of people to have
their citizenship revoked as the feds crack down on the crooked consultants, many
of whom guarantee Canadian citizenship for a hefty price.
He said the “clues” that tipped the government off to the scam included, in some cases,
many applicants using the same address on their applications and some of the “dodgy”
applications coming from the same consultants. In 2006, the federal government shelled
out nearly $100 million evacuating 15,000 Canadian citizens from Lebanon during the
Lebanon-Israel conflict. It turns out many of them had rarely, if ever, set foot in
Canada, prompting some to blast them as “Canadians of convenience.” Kenney said
many of the people whose citizenships are being revoked were, in fact, living in tax
havens making money hand over fist and fraudulently obtained Canadian citizenship
as a “insurance policy” to access Canada’s free health care, subsidized tuition at
Canadian schools, or a free ticket out of a conflict.
Immigration lawyer Richard Kurland said it’s “about time” the feds got tough
with fraudulent citizens and the crooked consultants who fudge residency
requirements. “People need to know the government can check up and crack
down on fraudsters,” Kurland said Wednesday. He also said the government
should send in the tax man to try and recuperate some of the lost revenue
from the fraudulent citizens who have avoided paying income taxes here.
“They can’t have it both ways. Either they were a resident and physically
present in Canada, which is sufficient to trigger tax on global income,
or not,” Kurland said.
Since Confederation, Canada has only ever revoked 67 citizenships, 63 of them since
1977. Since 2006, more than one million people have been sworn in as new Canadian
citizens. If the people who obtained their citizenship fraudulently are living in Canada,
they won’t likely be deported, but would revert to their immigrant status prior to
becoming a citizen illegally.
Ottawa targets 1,800 in citizenship crackdown
Move shows Canadian citizenship 'not for sale': Kenney
CBC News Posted: Jul 20, 2011 9:00 AM
Beginning of Story Content
Ottawa intends to revoke the citizenship of 1,800 people it believes obtained their
status through fraudulent means, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says.
The decision to revoke citizenship is rare, and a large-scale crackdown such as
this one appears to be unprecedented. Fewer than 70 citizenships have ever been
revoked since the Citizenship Act was passed in 1947. The people were identified
through investigations conducted across the country by police and the Citizenship
and Immigration Department. People identified by the investigations will receive
letters informing them of the government's decision.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says the move to revoke the citizenship of 1,800
people shows Canadian citizenship is 'not for sale.' (Canadian Press) Most of the
1,800 individuals are believed to be living outside Canada, Kenney told reporters on
Wednesday in Toronto. The minister said the move sends a "very clear message" to
anyone who thinks of abusing Canada's citizenship system. "We are in the process
of notifying them that we will revoke their citizenship because Canadian citizenship is
not for sale," Kenney said. "We believe that the vast majority of new Canadian
citizens respect our laws. There is a small but not insignificant number who hired
crooked consultants to obtain fake proof of residency." The decision can be contested
in Federal Court, which can be a long process. If individuals choose not to contest
the decision, the federal cabinet will order their passports be voided and citizenship
revoked. That doesn't necessarily mean those affected would face deportation.
If citizenship is revoked, the individual returns to whatever status he or she held
before gaining it, such as permanent residency, which requires a separate process to
revoke, the CBC's Meagan Fitzpatrick reported from Ottawa. Kenney said he didn't
expect any of the identified cases to file for the "public battle" of a judicial review
and believes the vast majority of the revocations will be resolved quickly.
"There's a very fair and exhaustive legal process," he said. "We have strong,
convincing evidence of the fraudulent activity happening."
'If the minister's assuming most people are going to just roll over, he may have a
big surprise coming to him.' —Immigration lawyer Lorne Waldman
But Toronto immigration lawyer Lorne Waldman disagreed with Kenney, saying
Wednesday he believes many of those facing revocation of citizenship will try to appeal
the government's decision through Federal Court. "There are several questions that
arise from this," Waldman said. "One is, where are they going to get the resources
to proceed with this?" Waldman suggested the cost of the appeals process could force
the government to divert funds from other Citizenship and Immigration initiatives,
including settling new immigrants — something economic and demographic experts
say is badly needed.
"If the minister's assuming most people are going to just roll over, he may have a
big surprise coming to him," Waldman said. "Each time someone seeks the right to
go to Federal Court, that is an extremely expensive and time-consuming process."
Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland said it's about time the
government brought in a "no nonsense" policy to crack down on fraudsters.
"I would also send in the tax man," Kurland wrote CBCNews in an email
Wednesday. "They can't have it both ways. Did they pay tax? Either they
were resident and physically present, sufficient to trigger tax on global
income, or not. "Think of all the lost revenue. I sure do."
Kurland said the move will most likely affect individuals from the Middle East
and Persian Gulf countries, as well as China. He added the Federal Court
process will protect the rights of the individuals. But like Waldman, Kurland
warned the court system doesn't have the resources to handle 1,200
10-year travel visa announced
Canada is also creating a new visa for frequent visitors, valid for 10 years with limitless
entrances to the country, Kenney announced. The visas will let people come to Canada
for up to six months at a time, and as many times as they want, over the 10-year
period. The new permit is expected to appeal to travellers who come to Canada
frequently on business or to visit family. Kenney, who made the announcement in
a speech to the Economic Club of Canada in Toronto, said the move creates a
"more responsive and flexible" processing system to deal with more applications.
Multiple-entry visas are already recommended for parents and grandparents with
sponsorships being processed. But the ministry says it could now be extended to other
clientele, such as business visitors.
Wife feels victimized by legal system
Friday June 24, 2011
By John Thompson
Ian Stewart/Yukon News
Evangeline Ramirez at her Copper Ridge home on Thursday. Ramirez accuses her
husband of having another family in the Phillipines, but could be the one found in
contempt of court in her messy divorce trial.
‘I married a man I don’t know,” says Evangeline Ramirez, 61, between sobs.
Her husband, Benjamin Toquero, 64, filed for divorce in the autumn. At that time, the
Whitehorse woman learned his big secret. He already had a wife and five children
back in the Philippines, his country of origin. Toquero admits to the existence of
his previous marriage in court documents. That plainly contradicts his immigration
papers, marriage certificate and even his divorce statement of claim against Ramirez,
which all claim he’s single. Yet, in Yukon’s Supreme Court, Ramirez is the one
being punished. Toqero is seeking half of Ramirez’s assets in a messy divorce
settlement. He’s also seeking spousal support payments. Earlier this month, Justice
Leigh Gower awarded an interim payment of $1,500 to Toquero. So far, Ramirez has
refused to pay. “I’d rather go to jail or kill myself,” she says. Now she runs the risk of
being found in contempt of court. So it goes in Canada’s topsy-turvy legal system
when it comes to allegations of marriage immigration fraud.
“I hear it again and again across the country,” says Richard Kurland, a
Vancouver-based immigration lawyer. “Because, at the family law bar,
you don’t want to hear anyone’s story. First, you determine the money.
This stuff may be relevant for later, but it ain’t relevant now. So it looks like
she’s being strung up twice.”
Even if Toquero is found to have falsified his immigration documents, it could
take many years before he’s deported, thanks to several levels of appeal,
says Kurland. “If he has good counsel, he may have a good case for
compassionate humanitarian relief here.” Toquero declined to comment for this
story. But, in a statement filed in court, he asserts he disclosed his other marriage
to Ramirez early in their relationship and that it was her idea that he apply to
immigrate as a single man. Ramirez disputes this. “I thought he liked me,” she says.
“I thought he was a nice man. I thought he was single.”
Either way, Toquero’s court-filed explanation doesn’t get him off the hook,
says Kurland. Bigamy, or being married to two people, is illegal in Canada.
So is entering false information on immigration papers.
“A bigamist is a bigamist is a bigamist,” he says. “Even if she did know,
it’s still bigamy. He’s still out. The guy is facing the door. There’s no
getting around that. And, because he never became a citizen, he’s exposed,
in plain, open view. “There was no gun to his head to hide a marriage and
Such stories are especially familiar with Filipino immigrants, says Kurland,
“because there’s no divorce in that country.”
Ramirez reported Toquero to immigration authorities and the RCMP in the autumn.
To date, she’s heard nothing. Their case is to go to trial in September. In the meantime,
Toquero is living in one of Ramirez’s houses and driving her white Chevy Malibu.
Immigration officials are frequently swamped with complaints, says Kurland.
Allegations of marriage fraud don’t attract the same attention as
“drug-pushers, terrorists and guys who beat up on women.”
But recent changes made by Immigration Minister Jason Kenney should help, says
Julie Taub, an Ottawa-based lawyer who considers marriage immigration fraud to
be her “pet peeve.”
Last year, Kenney assigned one immigration officer the task of solely working on
marriage fraud complaints. She plans to pass Ramirez’s complaint on to him.
To Taub, “This is an open-and-shut case.” And she’s more optimistic than
Kurland about the possibility of Toquero being deported.
“This guy will be kicked out of Canada very shortly.”
Ramirez and Toquero struck up a pen pal relationship in 1989. Both originally hail
from the Philippines, and both were working abroad at the time. He was a boilermaker
in Saudi Arabia. She was a nanny in Singapore. He visited. They liked each other.
They stayed in touch. Ramirez arrived in Whitehorse in February of 1991. Toquero
followed her in September of 1994. They married two months later at Whitehorse’s
Sacred Heart Cathedral. By both accounts, it was not a happy relationship for long.
In court documents, he accuses her of making him labour away at her cleaning
business from the moment he arrived and for little compensation. She accuses him
of being sexually abusive. A statement by one of Ramirez’s daughters, Sarah
Yvonne, accuses Toquero of making sexual advances to her and other employees
at the cleaning business. Toquero denies this.
In court documents, he admits to having committed adultery with a woman in 1997.
The couple separated twice, but made amends.
Toquero lost his job as a janitor with the Department of Education. Two supervisors
accused him of kissing them and touching their groins, according to court documents.
Toquero denies all this in a court-filed statement, accusing one woman of being “a big l
iar, jealous, mean and bossy” and the other of plotting a “conspiracy to destroy my life.”
He eventually received a $12,000 settlement from the government, he says in a court
filing. During the lead-up to divorce, in the summer of 2010, Toquero accused Ramirez
of hiding his passport and immigration papers to prevent him from applying for
citizenship, according to court documents. Ramirez called the RCMP after the
argument and told them Toquero had threatened to burn their home down - something
he disputes. She received a restraining order for one year. It expires in August.
Toquero insists he’s the one being harassed. In court statements, he alleges that
Ramirez routinely threatened to have him deported. From the moment he arrived at
the airport, Ramirez put him to work at her janitorial business and only provided him
a monthly allowance of several hundred dollars, he writes in a court document.
He denies being abusive. “I have never hit her, but she has hit me,” he writes in
a statement filed with the court. Since their separation, Ramirez cancelled his
vehicle insurance and the fuel delivery and electricity hookup to his home, he
writes in court documents. His two stepdaughters have been intimidated into
denouncing him, he alleges. “I do not think they will want to testify for me as I
think they are afraid of losing their jobs.” And Ramirez racked up a $12,000
Visa bill in his name, he alleges in court documents. The one thing Toquero doesn’t
contest is his previous marriage. He wed Carmencita Duclayan August 27, 1966
in San Juan, La Union, according to documents filed in court. The marriage still
appeared in the database of the Philippines’ National Statistics Office, as of
March 23. Also on record is a blurry photo of a young bride and groom, and a
saccharine “pledge of love” certificate offered to Duclayan as a Valentine’s gift in
1990. “I love you and I’ll always do, through every hour of everyday. I’m always
thinking of you. For my greatest happiness in all my lifetime through is my only
feeling of always loving you.” Ramirez’s sister in the Philippines dug up these
documents, following the divorce application, along with the birth certificates of five
children. All these documents have sat in court files since the autumn. It
goes to show how the family court system is “ignorant” to the reality of immigration
marriage fraud, says Taub. “The court is actually, financially rewarding her
estranged husband,” she says.
Contact John Thompson at
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Citizenship judges want better security
By TOM GODFREY QMI AGENCY
TORONTO - Some Canadian citizenship court judges say they don't feel safe at work
and want increased security at their offices to deal with possible threats from the public,
documents show. "The primary concern is that clients in the wait room have direct
access to the judges offices, leaving them exposed to the direct public," said minutes
of a September 2010 relocation meeting attended by citizenship court judges in Toronto.
The minutes of the confidential meeting, that included senior immigration
officials, were obtained by lawyer Richard Kurland through an access of
The judges called for precautions to be taken in a "security conscious" world.
A security door was to have been erected at a Toronto office to separate judges from
the public, but it hasn't been installed yet, the document said.
Citizenship court judges from across the country have expressed security concerns, even
though they were told that their offices had undergone a risk assessment and were
deemed safe by federal officials, the minutes show.
"Security and safety needs to be a priority," said senior Judge George Springate.
"Paramount concern is the safety of judges in our new 'security-conscious' world."
The judges are responsible for screening and approving immigrants seeking entry into
Kurland said new Canadians should be welcomed into the country and not
sent packing. "A citizenship meeting isn't a police interview," Kurland said.
"Welcome our new Canadians, don't scare them."
Springate was a former Montreal cop, professor and football player who played on the
Montreal Alouettes in 1970 - a year the team won the Grey Cup.
Citizenship judges receive secret information
By TOM GODFREY, TORONTO SUN QMI AGENCY
Top-secret police intelligence reports and information on investigations are being
shared with citizenship court judges so they can make informed decisions on immigrants
trying to become Canadians, federal officials have confirmed. "Judges are the
primary decision makers for all resumption, renunciation and statelessness grant
applications," said Raylene Baker, Registrar of Canadian Citizenship, in a memo
obtained through an access of information request.
"All information relevant to the decision of an application before a citizenship
judge must be provided to the judge in order for them to make an informed
decision," Baker wrote in an October 2010 report obtained by immigration
lawyer Richard Kurland and made available to QMI Agency.
"lnformation regarding investigations, intelligence reports and analysis on fraud
trends or patterns could be useful to citizenship judges in the execution of their duties,"
Baker said. She said it "is not the role of individual officers and clerks to decide
when information of this nature should be distributed to citizenship judges."
Baker said it is the role of an office of Operational Management and Co-ordination
in Ottawa to decide what information is distributed to judges. The judges interview
and examine applications from landed immigrants to determine if they qualify
for Canadian citizenship. The court holds citizenship ceremonies for new Canadians.
"This information is provided to all citizenship judges through the Citizenship
Commission," she said. "Communications between both judges and staff are
important and should continue."
Kurland said secret intelligence reports appear to have been given to judges
without disclosure of the practice to the public, parties appearing before
the judges or to lawyers. "What if the secret information triggers
unfounded suspicion?" Kurland asked. "What if the secret information
is incomplete, misleading, or just plain wrong?" He said there is no
oversight process to review the secret information being provided to judges.