Certified Questions on Re-Opening Refugee Hearings

The Federal Court has certified the following two questions:

(1) Does section 170.2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, where it states, “The Refugee Protection Division does not have jurisdiction to reopen on any ground – including a failure to observe a principle of natural justice – a claim for refugee protection … in respect of which the Refugee Appeal Division or the Federal Court … has made a final determination”, withdraw jurisdiction from the Refugee Protection Division to decide questions of law and, by implication, constitutionality, arising under that provision?

(2) In spite of the availability of other possible applications under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, does section 170.2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Actunjustifiably breach a claimant’s rights under section 7 of theCharter of Rights and Freedoms such that the provision must be found unconstitutional and declared to be of no force and effect?

Answers will be posted when the Federal Court decides.

The Right to Counsel at the Port of Entry

Section 10 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides that:

10. Everyone has the right on arrest or detention
(a) to be informed promptly of the reasons therefore;
(b) to retain and instruct counsel without delay and to be informed of that right; and
(c) to have the validity of the detention determined by way of habeas corpus and to be released if the detention is not lawful.

In the immigration context, the right to counsel does not arise at most secondary examinations.  CBSA’s policy is not to permit counsel at examination if detention has not occurred, although officers will often waive this policy if they are satisfied that legal representatives will not interfere with the examination process.  The right to counsel does, however, arise when a routine search or examination becomes a detention.

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Environmental Overview – Bangkok

The following is a summary of the Environmental Overview of the immigration functions at the Canadian Embassy in Bangkok (the “Environmental Overview“).  The Environmental Overview was prepared as part of the Citizenship and Immigration Canada 2015-2016 planning exercise, and is current as of March 2015.


The Canadian High Embassy in Bangkok (“CIC Bangkok”) provides temporary resident visa services to residents of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand.  It assists in permanent resident applications where possible, as it is a sub office of the Regional Processing Centre based in Singapore.

It is a small office and does not have the resources to undertake sites visits.



Temporary Resident Program

As with other visa posts, CIC Bangkok is reporting that E-apps “sap considerable resources” due to the time that it takes to process an E-app compared to a paper file.  The fact that Thai police certificates take 4-6 weeks also significantly impacts processing times.

The TRV approval rate is 87%.   For study permits the overall approval rate is 65%, with most refusals being based on lack of medicals.

The full report is below.  Please note that this report did not occur with the affiliation of the Government of Canada, and the report was obtained through an Access to Information Act request.

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Environmental Overview – Abu Dhabi

The following is a summary of the Environmental Overview of the immigration functions at the Canadian Embassy in Abu Dhabi (the “Environmental Overview”).  The Environmental Overview was prepared as part of the Citizenship and Immigration Canada 2015-2016 planning exercise, and is current as of March 2015.


The Canadian High Embassy in Abu Dhabi (“CIC Abu Dhabi”) provides visa services to residents of Yemen and the six Gulf Cooperation Council (“GCC”) countries: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Due to continued unrest in Yemen, this office has not been able to conduct an area trip there since spring of 2010. We are unable to predict when we will be able to resume travel. This has created a large inventory of cases in Yemen, primarily refugees. Serving temporary resident applications from Yemen presents a challenge in itself. Yemeni citizens cannot easily travel outside the country, and they must provide biometrics. Getting documents in and out is also difficult because some couriers have suspended their services in Yemen.

Area trips to Saudi Arabia are subject to all restrictions applicable to that country, such as that women must have their heads covered and must be accompanied by a man in all public places.

Quality Assurance

CIC Abu Dhabi shares work with the visa offices in London and Riyadh on a regular basis.  London is responsible for Federal Skilled Worker Program applications and business applicants residing in the Gulf.

This sharing agreement sometimes confuses clients who do not fully understand how this matrix works. In addition, we have shared cases with other offices in order to use the international network to its full potential..

Permanent Resident Program

In 2015, CIC Abu Dhabi’s target for visas was 2,945.  This represented an increase of 30%, which was largely a result of higher targets for Quebec Skilled Workers, provincial nominees, and family class applicants.

Overall, this is a very significant increase. In many ways, it is an exciting opportunity for the office to grow and realize its full potential. In order to position ourselves better, we have undertaken a number of initiatives to render our processing more efficient, such as establishing standard operating procedures, more efficient use of GCMS, bundling document requests during processes instead of sending them piecemeal, having more carefully targeted security screening initiatives, asking for medicals and RPRF earlier in the process, etc. This is resulting in more streamlined processing and will put us in a better position than in previous years towards our overall objectives.Economic immigrants represent approximately 49% of CIC Accra’s inventory.  Approval rates in 2012 were 75%.  Processing times for 80% of the total economic class cases finalized in 2012 was 31 months.

Despite all these efforts and initiatives, there is only so much that can be done with the available resources. We will be stretched to the limit if we are to meet the 2015 target, particularly because we have been facing a steady surge of TR application intake of about 20% per year, and there isno reason to expect that this will slow down in 2015. Higher TR numbers, particularly during the busiest season (April through August), mean that officers normally involved in PR processing sometimes have to be diverted to TR work to meet tighter deadlines.

In the Family Class, CIC Abu Dhabi faces unique issues in determining intention to reside in Canada.  As well, permanent residency determinations are a complicated area, with residency fraud remaining a significant concern.  In 2014 there were 811 applications for Permanent Resident Travel Documents.  The refusal rate was 44%.

Temporary Resident Program

Abu Dhabi processed just over 26,000 TRV applications in 2014, representing an increase in output of nearly 20% over 2013.  TRV applications were received from 113 different nationalities. Host country nationals (UAE) account for less than 6% of our clientele.  In 2014, the approval rating was 71%.

Since the release of GCMS version 7, we have faced regular spontaneous shutdowns, system crashes, and general slowness of GCMS, which is having a negative impact on our processing speed and efficiency.

The introduction of eApps has had a positive impact on registry workload, but a serious negative impact on the amount of time an officer must spend on each case.

The full report is below.  Please note that this report did not occur with the affiliation of the Government of Canada, and the report was obtained through an Access to Information Act request.

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Certified Questions on Cessation

Section 108 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act states that a person’s refugee protection chall cease when:


108. (1) A claim for refugee protection shall be rejected, and a person is not a Convention refugee or a person in need of protection, in any of the following circumstances:

(a) the person has voluntarily reavailed themself of the protection of their country of nationality;

(b) the person has voluntarily reacquired their nationality;

(c) the person has acquired a new nationality and enjoys the protection of the country of that new nationality;

(d) the person has voluntarily become re-established in the country that the person left or remained outside of and in respect of which the person claimed refugee protection in Canada; or

(e) the reasons for which the person sought refugee protection have ceased to exist.

Cessation of refugee protection

(2) On application by the Minister, the Refugee Protection Division may determine that refugee protection referred to in subsection 95(1) has ceased for any of the reasons described in subsection (1).

Effect of decision

(3) If the application is allowed, the claim of the person is deemed to be rejected.


(4) Paragraph (1)(e) does not apply to a person who establishes that there are compelling reasons arising out of previous persecution, torture, treatment or punishment for refusing to avail themselves of the protection of the country which they left, or outside of which they remained, due to such previous persecution, torture, treatment or punishment.

As previously noted on this blog:

Traditionally, the CBSA rarely initiated cessation proceedings because the loss of refugee status did not also lead to a loss of permanent residence status.  However, as a result of changes to Canada’s refugee system in 2012, when the RPD ceases a permanent resident’s refugee status for any of the first four reasons above, then the individual also automatically loses their permanent resident status, and is inadmissible to Canada. (Note: a permanent resident who loses his or her refugee protection for the fifth reason will not lose his or her permanent residence status.)

There is no time limit on when the CBSA can initiate cessation proceedings, and there have been cases where cessation proceedings occurred 14 years after the refugee became a permanent resident.

It is important to note that cessation is not based on fraud on the part of the refugee; it is based on a change in circumstances or decision by the refugee to travel.  One simply has to question the fairness of this, especially in light of the fact that the CBSA has a quota to initiate cessation and vacating proceedings.

Advice to refugees

The resolute manner with which CBSA is initiating refugee cessation applications means that there are several things that refugees should note.  First, it is important that refugees apply for and acquire permanent residency so that a change in conditions in their home country will not result in them losing their refugee status and being removed.

There have been numerous Federal Court decisions on the issue of cessation, many of which have led to certified questions.  In this post I hope to reproduce all of the questions and answers as they become available in this extremely contentious area of immigration law.

Continue reading “Certified Questions on Cessation”

The Parent & Grandparent Sponsorship Program

With the incoming Liberal government of Canada promising to double the number of applications in the Parent & Grandparent Sponsorship Program (the “PGSP“) there will likely be renewed interest in the program.

Under the PGSP, Canadian citizens and permanent residents can sponsor their foreign national parents and grandparents.  Sponsors must sign an undertaking with the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration (“CIC“) or with the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Diversité et de l’Inclusion for those in Quebec.  The undertaking ensures that the sponsored individuals and their family members do not have to apply for social assistance. The length of undertaking in the PGSP is 20 years.

As per the CIC website, sponsors must:

  • be 18 years of age or older;
  • be a Canadian citizen, Registered Indian or permanent resident;
  • be sponsoring their parents or grandparents;
  • live in Canada;
  • sign an undertaking promising to provide for the basic requirements of the person being sponsored;
  • sign an agreement with the person theyare sponsoring; and
  • prove that they have sufficient income.  Co-signers are permissible.

In 2015, the minimum income requirements were.

Federal Income Table for Parents and Grandparents Sponsorship
Size of Family Unit Minimum Income
Minimum Income
Minimum Income
2 persons $37,708 $36,637  $35,976
3 persons $46,354 $45,040  $44,229
4 persons $56,280 $54,685  $53,699
5 persons $63,833 $62,023  $60,905
6 persons $71,991 $69,950  $68,689
7 persons $80,153 $77,879  $76,475
If more than 7 persons, for each additional person, add $8,148 $7,929  $ 7,786

A Canadian citizen or permanent resident cannot be a sponsor if they:

  • are in receipt of social assistance for a reason other than disability;
  • are in default of an undertaking, an immigration loan, a performance bond, or family support payments;
  • are an undischarged bankrupt;
  • were convicted of an offence of a sexual nature, a violent criminal offence, an offence against a relative that results in bodily harm or an attempt or threat to commit any such offences—depending on circumstances such as the nature of the offence, how long ago it occurred and whether a pardon was issued;
  • are under a removal order; or
  • are detained in a penitentiary, jail, reformatory or prison.

Additional information on the PGSP can be found in the CIC internal processing instructions below.  Please note that these instructions were obtained through an Access to Information Act request, and their reproduction has not occurred with the affiliation of the federal government.  As well, they are current as of February 2014, although except for the minimum necessary income requirements were substantially accurate for 2015 as well.  The instructions include the following topics:

  • Duration of Undertakings
  • Co-Signers
  • Eligible Applicants and Dependants
  • Ineligible Dependants
  • Document Requirements
  • Document Deficiencies
  • Lock-in Dates
  • Visa Office Destination
  • Quebec Cases
  • Switching Principal Applicants
  • Settlement Arrangements
  • Calculating the Size of the Family Unit
  • Financial Assessment
  • Ineligible Types of Income
  • Notice of Assessment
  • Reassessments
  • Referrals to the Special Unit

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