Last Updated on November 24, 2014 by Steven Meurrens

The following is a summary of the Environmental Overview of the immigration functions at the Canadian High Commission in Colombo, Sri Lanka (the “Environmental Overview”).  The Environmental Overview was prepared as part of the Citizenship and Immigration Canada 2014-2015 planning exercise, and is current as of January 2014.

Areas in blockquote are direct passages from the Environmental Overview.  If you would like to obtain a copy of the full Environmental Overview, please contact me.


The Canadian High Commission in Colombo (“CIC Combo”) is a full-service processing operation responsible for Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

Continued engagement with Five Country Conference members will remain as the cornerstone of CIC’s activities in Sri Lanka

Ongoing scrutiny of immigration consultants (disclosed and not) in concert with CBSA will remain key to maintaining program integrity.

CLMBO IM continues to meet with educational institutions and maintains a dialogue to ensure that they better understand CIC’s operational requirements. It is expected that Canadian Institutions will increase their partnership involvement with Sri Lankan educational providers

There is a steady stream of referrals to Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s office in New Delhi.

Permanent Resident Program

The PR program consists largely of Sri Lankan family class cases and Indian provincial nominees transferred from DELHI.

CLMBO has a notably high rate of litigation (JR and appeals) actively pursued by a handful of consultants and lawyers in Canada.

Fraud is not uncommon, especially in the DR and FC4 caseload but not unheard of in the FC1 and other programs. In the DR and FC caseloads that are supported by principals/sponsors who received refugee
protection in Canada, there are often attempts to support the statements the principal/sponsor made in his or her PIF, or discrepancies between the applicant histories and the in-Canada person’s PIF. These issues do not stand up well to scrutiny. Applicants’ background information is frequently inconsistent, incomplete or inaccurate. Some do not list accurate places of residence and other historical details. Given the grossly discrepant details on matters critical to admissibility determination, the use of A40 is common.

Indeed, admissibility review and decision-making absorbs a disproportionate amount of resources, and cause delays.

The changes to the Federal Skilled Worker Program have also created both a decline in applications, and an increase in issues of misrepresentation.

A trend has been the attempts by applicants to contort their work experience to fit (i.e. medical doctors as sonographers) occupations on the current ‘demand’ list. This is usually not contested by the CIO, resulting in time-consuming procedural fairness and refusals based on not meeting minimum requirements. This exaggeration/fraud gives rise for the need for rigorous anti-fraud protocols.

Currently about half of those interviewed are refused.

Delays are also occurring in the Family Class:

The principal concerns in the family class categories are admissibility in FC4 applications and timeliness for FC Priority applications. FC4 intake volumes remain steady as they are still being drawn from a premoratorium
inventory. FC4 applications often come with complex admissibility determinations and stale documentation. The primary motivation in going to Canada is often to facilitate the entry of the sponsor’s siblings, not the parents. The siblings are often just under or over the upper age limit for dependency and were locked in many years ago. It is often difficult to determine whether or not the parents of the dependents or even their accompanying children (now adults) were involved in the civil war. Background clearances remain slow and resource intensive. Applicants are frequently slow to respond to requests, responses are incomplete, or there is suddenly no response at all after previous compliance, ergo, non-compliance refusals are not uncommon which is frustrating given the time and resources required and propensity for requests to reconsider after refusal.

Almost all refusals are appealed, and almost all refusals which are excluded from appeal seek JR. While economic applicants are more likely to be represented by consultants, especially those with a presence in Sri Lanka, Family Class applicants are much more likely to be represented by well-known members of the immigration bar in Canada, especially those with extensive experience on admissibility issues.

Temporary Residents

Refusal rates for work permit applications remain high, and given the number of mala fide applicants this is not expected to change.  In 2013, work permit applications dropped by 17%.

It is possible that some applications fail to meet the bar for visa issuance even when bolstered by fraud and thus, fraud remains undetected. Indicator-led verification often results in discovery of fraud, and we have determinedly sought to apply A40 inadmissibility whenever appropriate. It is also likely that other options for irregular migration that circumvent the visa process absorb a portion of the potential clientele that would use fraud.

Student and worker applicants are interviewed at a higher rate. It is more common that the eligibility of student applicants is less clear from documentation, and interviewing offers a direct and efficient means
of gauging the plausibility of the applicant’s academic intentions. Student interviews are more likely to result in approval, as most student refusals are straightforward and done on paper. Worker applications are more complex, as abilities in English are frequently in doubt, push factors greater, ability to perform the work specified questionable, and, concerns regarding experience and bona fides are common.

In 2013, processing times for visitor visas was generally about 40 days.  A significant number were for parents and grandparents who require medical examinations.

There is a steady, but small movement of business visitors, often employees of Canadian, European or American companies’ offshore operations, or purchasers of Canadian goods and services on a B2B basis.  There have been few risks associated with these applicants. Based on past experience, however, additional scrutiny is warranted on intra-company transfers.

A continuing trend is a pattern of smaller, family-based-business Muslim business applicants presenting applications with little credibility.

The Environmental Overview contains a considerable amount of information on study permit applicants.

Applications increased by 26% in 2013 following an increase of 52% in 2012. We see a few different archetypes of students which make up the large majority of applicants:

1- Poorly established applicants with minimal or poorly paid work history and marginal academic records and English skills with marginal motivation to depart from Canada, seeking to study at public and  private colleges in programs with relatively low entrance requirements, and without any clear or reasonable explanation for how such studies would benefit them in their career or represent value for money. These applicants are believed to be using studies as a pretext for access to the Canadian labour market and present high risks of non-compliance and usually are refused.

2 – Graduate students being funded by Canadian universities to complete graduate research degrees, with high levels of academic achievement in Sri Lanka (and abroad in many cases). They frequently have established themselves as entry-level academic lecturers or working in their field in Sri Lanka. They are believed be low risk and generally approved. Unfortunately the volume of such applications is low. Many are accompanied by spouses applying for open Work Permits and are recently married. It appears that these applicants, if not yet married are of marriageable age and the family wants the marriage done before a two-year or longer absence. In most cases, the accompanying spouse application is approved. In relatively few cases, children accompany.

3 – Children of wealthy Sri Lankans seeking undergraduate or college education in Canada because they can afford it and perceive it as better value than US postsecondary education.

Category one accounts for most of the refusals of SP applications and most of the increase in application numbers. We suspect that a significant influence on the continuing flow of these applications is the activities of some unscrupulous education recruiters/agents who offer unrealistic expectations to potential applicants. Mixed in are various other combinations of motivation and academic intentions and funding arrangements, but there is frequently a connection to a Canadian resident relative who may or may not be nominally offering funding or lodging, but which explains the choice of institution in Canada. Few applications are for SW-1 Study Permits though recently we have seen a company promoting “Work & Study in Canada; Work with real employers while studying” – note that the focus on “work”. Representations on student refusals are rare.

There are very few high-skilled workers applying for work permits.  Indeed, a recent trend is to see someone leaving a position of managerial responsibility to take a low paying job in Alberta.