Canada Drops Visa Requirement for Mexico

CA drops visa requirement for MXCanada has lifted its visa requirement for Mexican resident in an effort to re-establish relationship with Mexico. The move is made in an effort to strengthen ties between the countries. The lift on the requirement will increase business between the two countries as well as tourism. Mexican residents will now apply for an electronic travel authorization (eTA) before flying out to Canada.

The eTA is available for Mexican residents as of November 25, 2016. The cost to obtain an eTA is $7 CAD. The eTA is valid for 5 years or until the migrant’s passport expires. Applicants may receive an answer of approval or denial within minutes. According to the IRCC all visa-exempt foreign nationals — except United States (U.S.) citizens — need an eTA to fly to or transit through Canada.

“Canada values strong ties with Mexico, and we are pleased to be able to extend visa-free travel to Mexican citizens. Improved bilateral relations stemming from the visa lift are expected to facilitate increased business opportunities, trade and investment—a growth opportunity for Canadians and Mexicans alike.” said John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship in a news release on December 1st.

Mexican travelers are still required to present themselves to a border services officer before entering the country. Most visitors are allowed a six-month stay from the day they enter Canada. Officials from both countries will stay in contact to make sure the process moves forward smoothly and there is control on excessive migration.

“Canada and Mexico have a rich and diverse relationship. I am confident that the lifting of the visa requirement will facilitate people-to-people ties, opportunities for youth mobility, education and prosperity and that it will enhance engagement between our two countries,” Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

How To Move To Canada

Canada ImmigrationMany U.S. Citizens are searching for ways to move to Canada. Before you pack your bags, read below for some tips you might find useful.

In order to move on a permanent basis to Canada you will need to apply for permanent residence. The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) department has a system for selecting candidates to apply for permanent residency through employment. Another way to apply for permanent residence status is through a family relative who is a Canadian citizen or resident.

Permanent Residency through Employment

Express Entry

Express Entry assists IRCC with the selection of candidates to immigrate to Canada for permanent residency. Eligibility factors are determined through a point-based system. The general time-frame for processing applications is within six months of the date of submission.

Express Entry is an umbrella term for four different programs:

Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)

In order to apply for the Federal Skilled Worker Program, you must meet certain requirements to increase your chances of obtaining permanent residence:

  • Speak English or French.
  • Have at least one year of continuous full-time employment in a skilled occupation.
  • Have a permanent job offer from a Canadian employer.

Federal Skilled Trades Program

This program allows individuals with job offers and proper certification in certain trades, to move to Canada. The applicants must have:

  • 24 months of qualified work experience
  • Proof of basic language proficiency
    • Meet minimum threshold set by the Minister
    • Canadian Level Benchmark (CLB) 5: speaking and listening
    • Canadian Level Benchmark (CLB) 4: reading and writing
  • Offers from up to two employers

Canadian Experience Class

Foreign workers who wish to become permanent residents may apply under this immigration program. This program is highly encourage due to foreign workers work experience and adaptation to society of Canada.

The requirements are as follows:

  • Meet or surpass CLB
    • 5: initial intermediate
    • 7: adequate intermediate proficiency
  • Within 36 months of application date, have obtained at least one year of skilled, professional or technical work experience in Canada
  • Plan to work and live outside of the province of Quebec

Permanent Residency through Family

Family Sponsored Residency

Spousal And Common-law Partner Sponsorship, or Family Sponsored Residency, is an alternative to begin the process for Canada migration without work related experience. A sponsor must fall under one of the following three categories:

  • Spouse
  • Common-law Partner
  • Conjugal Partner

Certain conditions must be followed when sponsored under the Spousal Sponsorship program:

  • Two year “legitimate relationship” regulation
    • The sponsor must live with the sponsee to prove legitimate relationship for two years or face the possibility of their residency being revoked.
  • Sponsor is financially responsible for sponsee.
  • Sponsees are barred from sponsoring a spouse in turn for five years after receiving permanent residence.

The cost for the application varies on the reason for applying. If you are applying for Express Entry, under one of the three categories, the fee would be CAD 550. The cost to file a Family Sponsored Residency application is CAD 1,250. You must pay your application fee in full in order for it to be processed.

There is also the possibility of going to Canada on a temporary basis. For example you may work in Canada temporarily under the SWAP Working Holidays, formerly known as the Student Work Abroad Programs. SWAP allows you to work in Canada while studying. North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), allows for U.S. citizens to work in Canada under a temporary Work Permit. The three categories are NAFTA Professional, NAFTA Intra-Company Transfer, and NAFTA Traders and Investors.

There are many ways to immigrate to Canada temporarily or permanently, each requires a plan.

#WelcomeRefugees

Below we provide a timeline of the occurring events by month, as Canada prepares to welcome refugees from Syria.

9522059894_7152aa602a_qSeptember 2016
More communities are preparing to welcome Syrian refugees. The IRCC states, “The Municipality of Chatham-Kent in Ontario applied to become a “Welcoming Community” through the Community Partnership Settlement Plan process and was recently accepted.” The CIC also stated the government is currently conducting research on issues for resettlement for Syrian refugees. “Immigration helps build our society, culture and economy in long-lasting ways. The research that will be undertaken, thanks to the investments announced today, will help ensure that Canada’s settlement programs provide the best possible supports to newcomers and refugees to help them integrate into their communities and thrive,” said Minister McCallum.

 

9522059894_7152aa602a_qJune 2016
In June, the government released a table showing approximate expenditures for resettling Syrian refugees. The table shows estimates at each of the different 5 phases refugees must go through. The table shows the total amount spent so far is at $319.1 million, less than the planned $136 million. The government expects to spend $678 million in the next 6 years. According to the Government of Canada web page, “The total amount was an estimate of the work required of the Government of Canada and its partners to fulfill this commitment and included contingency funds and amounts for partners such as the Canadian Red Cross and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).”

 
 
 
6250439326_954046598b_qMay 2016
As of May 15, 2016, Canada has welcomed 27,190 Syrian refugees.
Government-supported and privately sponsored refugees have arrived at multiple communities, with more scheduled to come in the next months.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
9522059894_7152aa602a_qApril 2016
Four more communities have joined the plan to resettle Syrian refugees. “Today’s announcement is another great example of Canadians working together to welcome refugees, giving them the tools and support they’ll need to be able to properly settle and contribute to their new communities,” said John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
9522059894_7152aa602a_qFeb. 2016
Many communities across Canada have been invited to apply to show assistance to refugees. The city of Victoria has been added to the list of Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) providers. Sydney and Nova Scotia will also join Victoria, as they are on track to join RAP as providers. Canada has successfully reached their commitment goal of 25,000.

 

 

 

6250439326_954046598b_qJan. 2016
Surpassing 10,000 refugees to arrive in the country in January, Canada is closer to their 25,000 goal. Canada hopes to reach their goal by the end of February 2016. The CIC website states “Today, Syrian Family Links was launched to help connect Syrian refugees abroad with private Canadian sponsors through the help of the refugee’s family in Canada.
Through this initiative, Syrians in Canada can identify family members who are refugees in Lebanon, Jordan or Turkey and help link them with local sponsorship groups in Canada who are seeking someone to sponsor.”

 

 

3641368047_53dfc69b13_qDec. 2015
After forums and discussions on bringing Syrian refugees to their new home Canada, the first flight of refugees arrived on Dec. 10, 2015. A total of 163 Syrian refugees arrived at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. Canada has pledged $5 million to assist Syrians. Throughout the month more syrian refugees arrived on private and chartered flights.”I’m proud of the hard work that has been done quickly to resettle as many Syrian refugees as possible to Canada. We have processed more than 10,000 Syrian refugees, and 6,064 will have arrived. We will continue to work hard to bring in the remainder to Canada as quickly as possible. We also met our commitment to identify all 25,000 Syrian refugees to come to Canada as part of the #WelcomeRefugees initiative,” said Minister McCallum.

 

 
20643299043_fbca1fb8e9_qNov. 2015
Nine Cabinet ministers have created a Cabinet Ad Hoc Committee to assist Syrian refugees to come Canada. “According to the CIC The UN Refugee Agency sent the first SMS text messages to registered Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon to determine which refugees are interested in coming to Canada,” says the Canadian government. Towards the end of November, CIC has created a five phase plan to welcome refugees. The plan CIC has strategized is to welcome 25,000 Syrian refugees to resettle in Canada. Ministers met with Jordan refugees and experienced first-hand the situation.

Filipino Immigrants Targeted In Major Canadian Immigration Scam

citizenship canadaToronto police allege that hundreds of Filipinos hoping to immigrate to Canada were targeted in what’s being called a massive immigration fraud that promised applicants a chance at reuniting with their families in Canada and securing permanent residency.

It’s alleged that Imelda Fronda Saluma charged hopeful immigrants as much as $5,000—including $1500 for being matched with a job, as well as $2,000 for an employment contract and successful labor market opinion and $1,500 more once the work visa was attained. The fraudulent ‘opportunity’ to immigrate to Canada became well known through word-of-mouth in the close knit Filipino community.

However, police allege that hundreds of individuals who paid the required fees ended up stranded around the world, without either their Canadian immigration papers or funds. Under Canadian immigration rules, as a result of their false applications, they are now also prohibited from reapplying to immigrate to Canada for another two years.

According to police, through her company GoWest Jobs, Saluma bilked the hundreds of Filipino hopeful immigrants out of approximately $2.3 million; she now faces 73 charges for allegedly selling forged documents to foreigners to assist them in their efforts to immigrate to Canada. Police also allege that she saw clients in a Toronto-based office, and used social media such as Facebook to help promote her fraudulent products and services.

Toronto police were first alerted of the alleged fraud last fall, when several job recruiters began to suspect the size and scope of the scam.

The alleged scope of the fraud included potential immigrants from several countries around the world; in addition to the Philippines, fraud victims affected were also from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, the United Arab Emirates, Israel and the United Kingdom.

Toronto police had been investigating GoWest Jobs as far back as 2012. And while a large number of those hopeful immigrants to Canada lived offshore, many were actually already residing in Canada and promised visa extensions or permanent residency by GoWest. Police allege that, despite the number of people drawn into the fraud, they are not aware of a single immigrant who actually received any legal status or document.

In addition to the international immigrants, police allege that many Canadian employment recruiters also found themselves drawn into the fraud through a check cashing scheme that was also run by Saluma.

The GoWest fraud charges are just the latest in a number of high profile cases targeting fraudulent Canadian immigration consultants.

Last month, Nageshwar Rao Yendamuri, who resides in Toronto and worked as a regulated immigration consultant, faced 88 charges in connection with immigration fraud. Yendamuri’s case was seen as quite troubling, considering that he was actually employed by the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC), which is a national regulatory authority designated by the Government of Canada.

The ICCRC’s mission is supposed to be to protect the interests of potential immigrants to Canada who are seeking representation and advice.

Yendamuri is now facing 44 charges under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, and an additional 44 charges under the Criminal Code of Canada for forgery and use of forged documents.

Number Of Non-Permanent Residents Continues To Grow In Canada

canadian work visa

Broadway bridge and Saskatoon skyline at night, Saskatchewan. / Jay Van Doornum

A new study by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) reveals that the number of non-permanent residents living in Canada has more than doubled within the last decade.

The CIBC study found that the number of non-permanent individuals living in Canada under the age of 45 grew to 770,000 over the last decade, greatly impacting the areas in which they reside. In a country whose entire population numbers only about 35 million, the considerable growth in the number of younger non-permanent residents is notable; the impact of these non-permanent residents is felt the most in two provinces—British Columbia and Ontario—where the majority of them reside.

The CIBC study also revealed that almost half of the non-permanent residents were temporary foreign workers or workers employed on contract; the survey indicated that the number of those individuals had increased by about 10 percent over the last decade.

Other facts revealed by the study include the fact that 38 percent of non-permanent residents in Canada were students—an increase of five percent over the last 10 years—while the number of refugees awaiting word on their permanent status had decreased to 12.2 percent.

Of the more than 384,000 non-permanent residents who were temporary foreign workers, many were employed in mid-level positions and had ‘expectations’ of eventually gaining permanent residency within Canada.

An important finding of the survey was that more than 95 percent of the total number of non-permanent Canadian residents were under age 45, in direct contrast to the aging of the overall Canadian population.

However, one somewhat surprising finding of the survey was that the impact of the non-permanent resident group was felt more in BC and Ontario than in the provinces with the greater labor shortages—Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.  According to the survey, the number of non-permanent residents tripled in Ontario over the last decade; without the addition of those people to Ontario’s population, the province would have seen a decline of about 120,000 during that same period.

Meanwhile, in BC, the number of people aged 25-44 would have remained stagnant if the non-permanent resident population hadn’t doubled over the last decade.

The survey also clearly illustrated the economic impact made by the non-permanent residents in the two provinces within which the majority reside—Ontario and British Columbia.

The report’s author, Benjamin Tal, pointed out that the two provinces that experienced the strongest housing markets were also the ones with the most non-permanent residents..

“”It is not a coincidence that those two provinces are also the ones to experience long-lasting strong housing market activity,” Tal explained in the survey.  That fact will likely be taken into consideration as the federal government moves forward with revamping its temporary foreign worker program.

Tal also pointed out that the numbers used in the survey—from 2013–may well underestimate the current numbers of non-permanent residents, given that there had been a 14 percent growth in the number of permits for temporary foreign workers in the ensuing years.

More Than 70,000 Sign Petition To End Commonwealth Immigration Controls

Reduced Immigration ControlsA petition calling for the end of immigration controls between the four leading Commonwealth countries has gained considerable support, with over 70,000 signatures supporting the proposed measure.

Calling itself the Commonwealth Freedom of Movement Organization (CFMO.org), the group’s online petition has attracted a wide array of support since it began in March. Started by James Skinner, a 27-year old paralegal originally from Britain but currently residing in Vancouver, the group initially consisted of just Skinner and several of his friends—with at least one member in each of the targeted Commonwealth nations.

“Commonwealth Nations” are usually defined as being the countries that comprise the United Kingdom and other nations that were at one time British colonies. In addition to Canada, Australia and New Zealand, other Commonwealth countries include India and several West African nations.

The idea for ending the immigration controls between the four Commonwealth countries evolved from Skinner’s experience working in Australia in 2011. After beginning to put down roots in Melbourne, Skinner’s temporary work visa expired and he encountered a very difficult, complex immigration system in Australia. Skinner said he encountered several other visitors from Canada and Britain who had similar difficulties remaining in Australia.

After leaving Australia, Skinner moved to Vancouver, where he again had to go through the litany of immigration procedures in order to live and work in Canada. As he awaits a decision on whether he will be granted permanent residency in Canada, he acknowledged that if he isn’t granted residency he may have to leave—again—when his two-year visa expires.

Those experiences, and similar foreign work experience of his friends, prompted them to start the petition to permanently eliminate immigration controls among Commonwealth countries.

Since the online petition began on the website Change.org, hundreds of signatories have shared similar stories of frustration with immigrating between Commonwealth nations.  According to Skinner, he and many of his fellow petitioners have already approached some of the Commonwealth country governments regarding the possibility of easing immigration restrictions between the nations.

There has been some initial interest in the idea among New Zealand legislators, as well as some in Australia, although Skinner and his colleagues realize that it will be a difficult task to convince all four Commonwealth governments to ease immigration laws.

Some immigration experts, including the University of British Columbia (UBC)’s Catherine Dauvergne point out that temporary immigration between Commonwealth countries is already relatively simple. “These (Commonwealth nations) are countries where it’s pretty easy to get temporary foreign work permission or to travel as students,” she explained.

However, Skinner and his petitioners believe that removing the existing immigration controls between the four primary Commonwealth countries would be economically desirable and ease travel between all the nations involved.

Average Canadian Immigrant Arrives With $47,000 In Savings

105490073A new study by the Bank of Montreal reveals that the average immigrant to Canada arrives with approximately $47,000 in total savings, but spends as much as half of that amount in order to resettle in their new homeland.

According to the study, after paying for all the costs of relocating to Canada, the average new immigrant is left with about $20,000 in total savings.

Additionally, the same study found that about one out of every five new Canadian immigrants arrives with no savings at all.

The study marks the first of several similar studies by the Bank of Montreal that will be examining an array of financial challenges faced by new immigrants to Canada.

The initial study found that, for those immigrants who do have money remaining after they resettle in Canada, the largest uses for those funds are investments in their future: saving for retirement (53 percent of immigrants ) and paying for their children’s education (49 percent), as well as purchasing either a house or a car (44 percent) were the main uses of immigrant savings.

In addition, according to the study about two-thirds of new immigrants to Canada send some of their funds back to families in their native homelands; the average amount sent back to immigrant families was about $2.300.

A large majority, about 67 percent, of new Canadian immigrants said that their quality of life had improved after moving to Canada from their homeland, with 27 percent of new immigrants saying that their quality of life had “improved greatly” after resettling in Canada.

The president of the Bank of Montreal’s ‘InvestorLine, Julie Barker-Merz, said the results of the study seemed to reflect very well on Canada as a destination for immigrants from around the world.

Barker-Merz said compared to the other ‘G8’ countries—those industrialized nations with the world’s largest economies—Canada has the highest proportion of foreign-born residents. She added that the high percentage of foreign-born Canadian residents was “not a coincidence”, in that Canada offered one of the best places for immigrants to raise their families due to “the opportunities available to newcomers.”

According to the study, the location within Canada selected by immigrants also reflected the difference in net savings that they bring with them when resettling.

The study found that immigrants who chose to relocate to British Columbia (BC) had the highest level of savings ($86,270); by comparison, new immigrants who relocated to BC’s neighboring province Alberta had the lowest level of savings upon arrival ($28,784). This is not entirely surprising, as in recent years many immigrants to BC have been wealthy citizens from both Hong Kong and Mainland China, while Alberta has attracted a large number of skilled and unskilled labor to service its booming energy sector.

According to the study, new immigrants to Quebec were left with the lowest amount of savings after resettling, only an average of $7,388, after initially arriving in the province with an average of $36,527 in savings.

The survey was conducted in February, and was based on an online sampling of 507 immigrants who had arrived in Canada within the last decade.

Up To 70,000 Canadian Temporary Foreign Workers Face Deportation

Entrance to CanadaCommencing this month, tens of thousands of Canadian temporary foreign workers could face deportation due to changes to the country’s immigration laws made in 2014.

Although Employment Minister Jason Kenney recently granted a one-year amnesty to about 1,000 temporary foreign workers in Alberta, it’s estimated that as many as an initial 16,000 temporary foreign workers could lose their status commencing April 1st; in reaction to this reality, migrant advocacy groups within Canada are lobbying on behalf of the many thousands of immigrant workers who stand to be affected by the change in immigration laws.1

In Alberta, a new advocacy group has been formed with the express purpose of advocating on behalf of the immigrant workers who may face deportation. The new Temporary Foreign Workers Support Coalition (TFWSC) consists of members from several other advocacy groups, including Migrante-Alberta, UNIFOR and Industrial Workers of The World, among others. In recent weeks, the TFWSC has sponsored rights-awareness workshops for temporary foreign workers to make them aware of the changes to immigration law, how it may affect their status within Canada, and what their rights are under Canadian law.

The TFWSC workshops are open to the general public, and also feature guest speakers—such as immigration lawyers—who are familiar with the subject of Canadian immigration.2

The coalition has also been soliciting the support of Canadian labor unions, in an effort to link the challenges faced by temporary foreign workers with those of unionized Canadian workers. In the past, there has been some reluctance from Canadian workers to support immigrant labor issues for fear that foreign workers could be taking away jobs from native-born Canadians.

Since the new laws affecting temporary foreign workers became effective on April 1st, the Canadian media have highlighted specific examples of how the changes affect individual foreign workers. Most of the stories have focused on how the stricter immigration rules have meant that some foreign workers either face deportation, or are not being allowed back in the country to continue their prior employment.

Among those profiled was Josephine Angott, a Filipino fish plant worker in the province of New Brunswick, who has been stopped from returning to work at the Canadian plant due to changes in the temporary foreign worker law. Angott had been employed at the packing plant since 2011, but the changes in the law mean she would be exceeding her four-year limit if she were allowed to return. Under the current rules, Angott will have to wait an additional four years prior to being allowed back into Canada to work.3

Mirroring the concern expressed by Western Canada’s food service industry, companies in Canada’s agricultural and seafood processing industries have also expressed concern about a possible worker shortage due to the change in immigration laws.

Earlier this year, Bill Stevens, head of Mushrooms Canada, said his $900 million industry relies heavily on foreign workers, and due to the stricter immigration laws, could be facing “major decreases in production” if the changes to the temporary foreign worker rules were not altered.4

Canada Experiences Dramatic Drop In New Citizens

Citizen Taking OathA new report reveals that the number of new immigrants to Canada who went on to become citizens declined dramatically in the new millennium.

The new study by Canada’s former citizenship director-general Andrew Griffiths finds that the percentage of Canadian immigrants who became citizens declined from 79 percent to only 26 percent during the period of 2000-2008.

The study arrives at a time when immigration has become a ‘hot button’ topic within the Canadian political discussion, particularly in the wake of recent major reforms to Canada’s immigration laws; in addition, it is widely anticipated that the Conservative government will call a national election before year’s end, and that immigration will be one of the key issues during that election.

According to the study, one of the main reasons for the dramatic decline in the number of new Canadian citizens may be the increasing difficulty for immigrants to obtain their citizenship. The study, entitled Multiculturalism in Canada, is critical of the new immigration laws and states that changes to the laws have “made it harder and prohibitive for some to acquire (Canadian) citizenship, turning Canada into a country where an increasing percentage of immigrants are likely to remain non-citizens.”

Based upon government data, the study found that the rate of new immigrants who became Canadian citizens increasingly declined in the first eight years of the new millennium; in fact, in 2008, only 26 percent of permanent residents within Canada had acquired citizenship, compared to 44 percent just one year earlier and a whopping 79 percent who arrived in 2000.

According to Griffith, the citizenship numbers from 2008 are the most reliable indicators of the impact of the current Conservative government’s immigration policies; the Stephen Harper Conservative government was first elected to office in 2006.

Not surprisingly, the government rejected the view that their immigration policies have negatively impacted the number of immigrants who become citizens. A spokesperson for Citizenship & Immigration Canada (CIC) pointed out that Canada still has “one of the highest naturalization rates in the world”, and that 86 percent of permanent residents go on to receive their Canadian citizenship.

The CIC spokesperson said one explanation for Griffith’s findings of a steep decline in citizenship for immigrants could be that he was not taking into account “permanent residents who are not yet citizens because they have not yet met all the requirements of obtaining citizenship.”

Griffiths, the author of the study, retired from his position with the government in 2013 and said he actually understands “the rationale” behind the changes made to the immigration law by the Conservative government. However, he said he worries that the recent changes to immigration rules “creates excessive barriers” for Canadian immigrants who wish to become citizens.

Griffiths added the decline in obtaining Canadian citizenship varied based on the nationality of new immigrants; for example, immigrants from the Caribbean experienced a 20 percent decrease in obtaining citizenship, compared to South Asia and Southern and Eastern Africa immigrants whose rate of citizenship dropped by 15 percent.

Among the recent changes made to obtaining Canadian citizenship were increases in processing fees for individuals from $100 to $530, with an additional $100 “Right To Citizenship” fee also required to complete the citizenship process.

New Law Would Give Canadian Immigration Officials Access To Personal Data

Citizenship and Immigration CanadaA proposed new Canadian law would give the country’s immigration officials access to personal information of permanent residents and citizens that is garnered from other government agencies. The law, which would allow officials from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to share information from other government agencies, is intended to help CIC enforce Canada’s immigration laws.

The agencies that would be permitted to share personal information include border enforcement officials, Employment and Social Development Canada, Revenue Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and other provincial and federal agencies.

One of the key aspects of the plan would be to allow immigration authorities access to information from Revenue Canada—the nation’s federal tax agency. According to the government, this access would be granted in order to identify “possible false representation…and fraudulent information” that was presented by citizenship applicants to immigration officials.

The Canadian government believes that this new law is vitally important to its efforts to crackdown on immigration fraud, validate citizenship for those applying for government services and authenticate the identity of immigrants and others who take part in Canada’s immigration process.

Most observers believe that immigration will play a large role in Canada’s next federal election campaign, which is widely expected to take place before the end of the calendar year.

Last year, the Conservative government passed sweeping new immigration legislation, that tightened the laws for foreign workers seeking both work visas and/or permanent residency or Canadian citizenship. Critics of the law—and the government—say that, much like this new proposal, last year’s new regulations represent a fundamental shift away from Canada’s traditional view of immigration; critics charge that the government now approaches immigration almost solely as an economic, rather than a humane, issue. As a result, they say, it is much more difficult for many foreign applicants to meet the new requirements to obtain either work visas or permanent residency.

However, despite tightening the rules regarding the admission of immigrants under ‘refugee status’, recent statistics appear to indicate that Canada continues to admit a growing number of immigrants as refugees. Almost half of the 19,960 refugee claimants to Canada processed in 2014 were approved, a considerable jump from the 38 percent of refugee claims that were approved the previous year.

One reason for the increase in the acceptance of refugee claims could be that Canada’s Immigration & Refugee Board is actually running two parallel review systems, one dealing with backlog files under the earlier, more lenient rules, and the second under the more recent, restrictive law. Even government critics acknowledge that the new system—which was designed to be more restrictive in accepting refugees—has yet to actually make that type of impact on the number of refugees accepted.

Not surprisingly, the Canadian government is touting these results as an example of their new laws being both fair and firm. A spokesperson for Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said the minister was “pleased with the results of the (refugee law) reforms, so far.”