Canada Still Welcomes Immigrants (加拿大歡迎移民)

Sing Tao newspaper recently published an editorial of mine stating that Canada still welcomes immigrants.  The article was a response to an article by another immigration lawyer stating the opposite.  The article was in Chinese, and stated that:

作者:穆偉士(Steven Meurrens)律師、王捷(實習律師)

最近有移民律師表達了對加拿大政府不再歡迎移民的顧慮。這會讓在加拿大移民部工作的官員感到奇怪,因為在2010年來到加拿大的永久居民和國際學生的數量創了新高,外國工人的數量也接近紀錄。
很多人對最近移民入籍考試的修改、續楓葉卡時要求730天居住義務,以及對聯邦技術移民和加拿大經驗類別要求的語言考試這三方面,非常關注。
在分析這些變化時,須要考慮的一個重要也是更深層問題就是,確保移民到加拿大的人在經濟上成功融入加國。菲沙研究所最近有一項研究表明,2006年的調查顯示加國移民收入顯著低於本地出生的居民。移民部引入這些政策是為了減少這種不能讓人接受的差距。
關 於引進標準化語言考試,值得指出的是,聯邦技術移民和加拿大經驗類別不需要先找到工作,它們是基於該移民能夠立即找到工作的可能性而設立的類別。顯然,英 文或法文能力是某個人能否達到這一要求的關鍵因素,語言考試提供了測試的標準方式。但是,如果你已有工作安排,而對語言考試有顧慮,那麼對你來說可能有其 他更好的移民方式。
關於強制730天居住義務,須要注意的是它的目的是促進新移民對加國的經濟融入。舉個極端例子,它避免人們在獲得永久居民身分 後回到本國,直到退休才回來。五年中在加拿大境內居住兩年的義務,包括為加國公司在境外工作或陪同加國公民在境外旅行,並不是過於嚴苛。並且,和公眾所認 知的相反,移民部和移民部覆議庭經常以人道主義和同情因素作出豁免。
關於對入籍考試的更改,我曾經說過我認為這些更改非常無聊,但不是基於它們增 強一致性或減少多元文化。我的立場是不明白為甚麼要答對九成問題。和永久居民身分相比,國籍帶來可以永遠居住加國和投票的好處。我不理解關於加國歷史、地 理和體育的問題和這些好處有甚麼關係。我們容忍在加國出生的人在地圖上找不到自己國家,那又何必在這些無關緊要的事情上測試移民呢?
讓我們回到加 拿大如何歡迎移民的話題上來。過去幾年中,聯邦政府為國際留學生引進了校外工作簽證項目和畢業後工作簽證項目。獲得省提名移民的人數,因此有極大增長,省 提名項目在卑詩省是沒有語言要求的。加拿大政府採取措施打擊那些動輒騙取幾千加元費用的偽劣移民顧問。它取消了對普通台灣護照持有者的簽證要求。它還縮短 某些申請的受理時間。
因此我對一些同仁的觀點不敢苟同。儘管移民部的項目和系統離完美還差很遠(一個政府怎麼可能達到完美呢?),加拿大政府還是一如既往地歡迎移民。

For those that don’t read Chinese, the English version stated that:

Recently, some immigration lawyers have voiced concerns that the Canadian government no longer welcomes immigrants.  This must seem odd to those working at Citizenship and Immigration Canada, who in 2010 admitted a record number of immigrants as permanent residents and foreign students, and a near record number of foreign workers.

Three areas of repeated expressed concern are the recent amendments to the citizenship test, the enforcement of the 730-day rule for the renewal of a permanent residency cards, and the introduction of language tests to the Federal Skilled Worker Program and the Canada Experience Class.

In analyzing these changes, it is important to consider the broader issue of ensuring that people who immigrate to Canada successfully integrate economically into Canada.  As a recent study by the Fraser Institute reported, the 2006 Census showed that the incomes of people who immigrate to Canada are considerably less than those born here.  Many of the changes that have been introduced were done so to reduce this unacceptable disparity.

Regarding the introduction of standardized language tests, it is important to recognize that the Federal Skilled Worker Program and the Canada Experience Class do not require an offer of employment to immigrate, and are based on the likely ability of an immigrant to readily find work.  Obviously, the ability to speak English or French is a key factor in whether an individual can do so, and the language tests provide a standard way of measuring that.  But, if you do have a job offer, and you have concerns about the language test, then there are likely other, better, immigration programs for you.

Regarding the enforcement of the 730 day rule, it is important to note that it also exists to promote economic integration into Canada.  At its extreme, it avoids scenarios where people obtain permanent residency, and then go back to their home country only to return to retire.  Living in Canada for two-years out of five, which includes working abroad for a Canadian company or travelling abroad with a Canadian citizen, is not overly strict.  Furthermore, contrary to public perception, both CIC and the IAD routinely exempt people from the requirement for humanitarian and compassionate reasons.

Regarding the changes to the citizenship test, I have commented before that I think the changes are silly, but not because they enforce conformity or reduce multiculturalism.  My criticism of the citizenship test is that I do not understand what the point of ninety percent of it is.  Compared with permanent residency, citizenship has the added benefits of the permanent ability to reside in Canada, and the right to vote.  I don’t understand what questions about Canada’s history, geography, or sports have to do with either of those benefits.  We let people born in Canada who cannot locate their country on a map vote, so why are we testing immigrants on such irrelevant things?

But back to my main point of how Canada still welcomes immigrants.  In the past several years the Canadian government has introduced the off-campus work permit and the post-graduate work permit for international students.  It has greatly expanded the amount of people admitted under Provincial Nominee Program, which in British Columbia doesn’t have a language requirement.  It has taken steps to crack down on fraudulent consultants that bilk people out of thousands of dollars.  It removed the visa requirement for possessors of ordinary Taiwanese passports.  And it has decreased the processing times for certain applications.

So I have to disagree with some of my colleagues.  While its programs and systems are no where near perfect (but then when was the last time anything a government ever close to perfect?), the Canadian government seems to be just as welcoming to immigration as it ever was.


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