On June 29, 2010, Bill C-11, the Balanced Refugee Reform Act, received Royal Assent. This Bill provided the most significant changes to Canada’s refugee law in several years. Getting it through Parliament proved to be extremely contentious, and it took a last minute deal between the Conservatives, the NDP, and the Bloc to pass it. It is now law, though many of its provisions have yet to take effect.
The Bill introduced significant changes to Canada’s refugee system, including:
- Replacing the 28 days to prepare a Personal Information Form with an information-gathering interview which will occur no sooner than 15 days after a claim has been made;
- Reducing the wait for a hearing from approximately 18 months after arrival to 90 days after the informational interview for most claimants;
- Allowing the government to designate certain countries of origin. Whether a country is designated or not will depend on the approval rate of refugee applications from that country. If a claimant comes from a designated country, than their hearing will occur 60 days after the informational interview;
- Creating a Refugee Appeal Division. Decisions on appeals will be held within 120 days of the original decision unless a hearing is held. Decisions on appeals from people from designated countries of origin will occur within 30 days;
- Allowing the Refugee Protection Division to declare a refugee claim as being manifestly fraudulent. If this occurs, then the time for appeal will be 30 days;
- Removing people within 12 months of a final negative decision by the Immigration and Refugee Board;
- Limiting the ability to make either a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment application or an application for a Temporary Resident Permit for an individual who has received a final negative decision from the Immigration and Refugee Board so that he/she can only make such a decision if he/she has not voluntarily left or been removed from Canada during that one year;
Citizenship and Immigration Canada has released Operational Bulletin 226, which discusses the sharing of biometric information further to the Five Country Conference (FCC) High Value Data Sharing Protocol. The FCC (Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand) meets annually at the Deputy Minister level to discuss ways to improve immigration. In 2007, Canada, the US, the UK, and Australia (New Zealand was not yet a member) to committed to work towards the systemic exchange of biometric data for immigration purposes.
Biometric sharing has now commenced.Read more ›
Citizenship and Immigration Canada has released Operational Bulletin 228 – Visa Office Referred and Joint Assistant Sponsorships (JAS) for Refugees – New Templates and Instructions. This bulletin is somewhat timely given the recent media furor regarding Canada’s “failed” refugee system. It highlights that there are alternatives to becoming a refugee in Canada beyond showing up and declaring an intention to seek asylum. Indeed, the number of refugees who arrive in Canada through specific programs exceeds those who declare that they are refugees from within Canada.
In 2009, 7,202 people became refugees by declaring upon arrival in Canada that they were asylum seekers. 7,425 arrived as government-assisted refugees. 5,036 people arrive as privately sponsored refugees.
The Operational Bulletin highlights two programs designed to combined private sponsorship with government assistance. They are the Visa Office Referrals program and the Joint Assistance Sponsorship program.
Visa Office Referrals (VOR)
In the VOR program, visa offices identify refugees from their inventory for private sponsorship. Such a case is initiated either by the visa office or by the sponsoring group. According to the Bulletin, the program ensures that selected refugees who are ready to travel can proceed to Canada as quickly. The most appropriate cases for such referral are small families or single adults without special needs.
Joint Assistance Sponsorships (JAS)
The JAS program enables sponsoring groups to partner with Citizenship and Immigration Canada in the resettlement of refugees who, because of special needs or circumstances, are expected to require an extended resettlement period and support over and above that which is provided either through government assistance or regular private sponsorship alone.
Private sponsors provide resettled refugees with orientation, significant settlement assistance, and emotional support to supplement the financial assistance and immediate and essential services available through the government’s Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP).Read more ›
Singh v. Minister of Employment and Immigration was a 1985 Supreme Court of Canada decision that is to this day arguably the most significant decision that Canada’s Supreme Court has made in the area of Canadian immigration and refugee law.
The Appellants were a mixture of Sikh and Guyanese individuals who sought refugee status in Canada during the late 1970s and early 1980s. At the time, the Immigration and Refugee Board did not yet exist. Rather, asylum claimants submitted refugee claims directly to Canada’s immigration department, who would determine whether someone was a refugee based on advice received from the Refugee Status Advisory Committee. If the claimant was unsuccessful, they could appeal to the Immigration Appeal Board. Both the initial claim and the appeal were based on written submissions, and at the initial petition for asylum a claimant would also be questioned under oath by an immigration officer. Applicants were not allowed to make oral appeals. Nor could they respond to arguments made against them by the Refugee Status Advisory Committee.
The Appellants in Singh argued that the lack of a hearing violated Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The Supreme Court’s Decision
The Supreme Court of Canada’s decision was a split one, although all six justices determined that the previous approach which denied an oral hearing could not stand. Three of the justices based their decision on the Charter. Three based it on Canada’s Bill of Rights.
The key and lasting holdings of the Supreme Court of Canada were that while non-citizens do not have a right to enter or remain in Canada, a refugee who does not have a safe haven elsewhere is entitled to rely on Canada’s willingness to live up to the obligations it has undertaken as a signatory to the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and that the principles of fundamental justice demand,Read more ›
According to CIC, during the past 12 months the approval rate for different application streams for permanent residence has been as follows:
Quebec Skilled Workers
Federal Skilled Workers (Pre-C-50)
Federal Skilled Workers (Post C-50)
Canadian Experience Class
Parents and Grandparents
Spouses & Partners
Family Class (Other)
Government Sponsored Refugees
Private Sponsored Refugees
FCH – Family Relations – H&C
90%Read more ›
The Toronto Star is reporting that Steve Ellis, a former Immigration and Refugee Board member, has been sentenced to 18 months in jail. He was found guilty of breach of trust and bribery after being caught on videotape trying to pressure a Korean refugee claimant into having sex in return for a favorable decision.Read more ›
Please note that none of the information on this website should be construed as being legal advice. As well, you should not rely on any of the information contained in this website when determining whether and how to apply to a given program. Canadian immigration law is constantly changing, and the information above may be dated. If you have a question about the contents of this blog, or any question about Canadian immigration law, please contact the Author.
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