The purpose of this blog post is to provide an overview of the changes to Humanitarian & Compassionate Applications (“H&C“) resulting from the Balanced Refugee Reform Act and the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act which are now in effect.  In brief, there are now several restrictions on when H&C applications can be made.

Permanent Residence Applications Only

Perhaps most importantly, section 25 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act now states:

Subject to subsection (1.2), the Minister must, on request of a foreign national in Canada who applies for permanent resident status and who is inadmissible or does not meet the requirements of this Act, and may, on request of a foreign national outside Canada who applies for a permanent resident visa, examine the circumstances concerning the foreign national and may grant the foreign national permanent resident status or an exemption from any applicable criteria or obligations of this Act if the Minister is of the opinion that it is justified by humanitarian and compassionate considerations relating to the foreign national, taking into account the best interests of a child directly affected.

[Emphasis Added]

As such, officers cannot consider H&C factors in temporary resident applications, including work permits, study permits, and visitor records.

One Year Bar (and Five Year Bar)

The following table explains how Citizenship and Immigration Canada will process H&C applications in certain scenarios.

If
Then

CIC receives the H&C application on or after June 29, 2010, and the applicant has a pending H&C application (this could include an H&C request made in the context of another type of PR application)…
the H&C application will NOT be examined, fee and application will be returned.

the application is received on or after June 28,  » Read more about: Explanation of the H&C Bars  »

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The purpose of this blog post is to provide an overview of the changes to Pre-Removal Risk Assessments (“PRRAs“) resulting from Bill C-31 which are now in effect.  A PRRA is a paper application in which individuals can submit that they would be at risk of persecution, risk to life, or risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment if returned to their countries of origin.  For most applicants, a positive determination results in the granting of refugee protection and the opportunity to apply for permanent residence as a protected person.  Bill C-31, the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act, introduced several restrictions on the ability of people to apply for PRRA.

One Year Bar

A person may not apply for a PRRA if less than 12 months have passed since the Immigration and Refugee Board (“IRB“) rejected their refugee claim, or determined the claim to be abandoned or withdrawn.

A person may also no longer apply for a PRRA if less than 12 months have passed since Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC“) rejected the individuals previous PRRA application, or determined it to be withdrawn or abandoned.

The above bars apply retroactively to PRRAs currently being processed.

Applicants from certain countries are exempted from the one year bar.  These countries include the Central African Republic, Egypt, Guinea-Bissau, Libya, Mali, Somalia, Sudan, and Syria.  Nationals from these countries are exempt from the 12-month bar only if their IRB or PRRA decision (rejected, abandoned or withdrawn) was rendered between August 15, 2011 and August 14, 2012.  There are no exemptions to the 12-month bar for cases decided by the IRB or CIC from August 15, 2012, onward.

Designated Countries Of Origin

Rejected refugee claimants from a Designated Country of Origin are not eligible to apply for PRRA for 36 months after the date of their final decision at the IRB.  

 » Read more about: Overview of PRRA Changes  »

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On December 5, 2012, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness (the “Minister“) made his first designation of irregular arrival under Bill C-31, the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act.

The Washington Post is reporting that the 85 people were designated, including 35 children.  Thirty of the irregular arrivals have already been arrested thus far.  The refugee claimants appear to be Romanian, and arrived in Canada between February and October.

 » Read more about: First Designation of Irregular Arrivals  »

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Some Twitter followers have asked me to explain my comments regarding a press release that I have described as extremely misleading.

On February 22, 2012, Citizenship and Immigration Canada released a press release titled “Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act Earning Rave Reviews“.  The press release contains quotes from politicians, lawyers, the media, and interest groups.  After reading it, one would reasonably assume that everyone quoted supported Bill C-31, the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act.

However, anyone remotely familiar with who some of the people quoted in the press release are will realize that something is amiss.

Lets start with Don Davies, the Opposition Critic for immigration.  Are we really supposed to believe that Mr. Davies supports Bill C-31?  Of course he doesn’t!  It’s basically his job not to!  A quick glance at his website and youtube confirm that he does not support the Bill, so why is he included as someone who is positively raving about Bill C-31?

Next.  Lets turn to some of the press release’s examples of the media “raving” about Bill C-31.

The press release quotes the Globe and Mail as saying:

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s refugee reforms, aimed at making the process more efficient and decisive, are generally good. If implemented, they will improve an unwieldy asylum program.

The legislation rightly focuses on weeding out claimants who are not genuine, and stemming the flow of asylum seekers from countries such as Mexico and Hungary that are democracies with respect for basic rights and freedoms.

Fast-tracking refugee claims from these countries, and ensuring failed claimants are promptly deported, is an excellent way to ensure Canada does not become a magnet for abuse.

 » Read more about: Anatomy of a Misleading Press Release  »

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Much of the media attention towards Bill C-31 – the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act – has been focused on its shortening of the time periods for processing refugee claims and its removal of some appeal rights for refugee claimants that were supposed to be introduced under the Balanced Refugee Reform Act.  This past week, members of the immigration bar raised concerns about another questionable change.  In short, Bill C-31 will make it so that refugees who became permanent residents of Canada will lose their permanent residence status if their refugee status ceases.

Currently, the Immigration and Refugee Board may cease a person’s refugee status.  Amongst other reasons, it may do so if the reasons for which the person sought refugee protection have ceased to exist, or if the person reavails himself to the protection of his country of origin. Until now, the cessation of refugee status did not result in the loss of permanent resident status.  Accordingly, ceasing a refugee’s refugee status was rarely pursued where the refugee had become a permanent resident.

Bill C-31, however, changes this.  It provides that when the IRB ceases a refugee’s refugee status, then the former refugee also loses his/her permanent resident status.  Bill C-31 also provides that such an individual would be inadmissible toCanada.  Through omission it also provides that there will be no appeal to the Immigration Appeal Division, meaning that humanitarian & compassionate grounds (such as hardship and establishment inCanada) cannot be considered in deciding whether to revoke the person’s permanent resident status.

This will apply to refugees who made their claims in Canadaand to those who were resettled to Canadafrom refugee camps from abroad.  It would apply to refugees who recently obtained status, and to refugees who became permanent residents many,

 » Read more about: Should People Who Lose Their Refugee Status Be Deported?  »

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On February 16, Jason Kenney and the Conservative government introduced Bill C-31, the Protecting Canada’s Immigration Act.  The Act makes many reforms to Canada’s refugee system, and amends previous amendments to Canada’s immigration legislation contained in the Balanced Refugee Reform Act which have not yet come into affect.  Bill C-31 was greeted by many refugee lawyers and advocates with much criticism, and was received with particular indignation from the New Democratic Party.

It is not difficult to see why the NDP was outraged by the introduction of Bill C-31.  Less than two years ago, the Conservatives and the NDP worked together to introduce the Balanced Refugee Reform Act.  Its passage was seen as a good example of compromise, and how the parties in a minority Parliament can cooperate to introduce what was generally viewed as good legislation.  I would also imagine that the NDP spent some political capital with its base by cooperating with the Conservatives and to makeCanada’s refugee system stricter.

Minister Kenney has now thrown all of that to the wind.

By abandoning the grand compromise that was the Balanced Refugee Reform Act, Mr. Kenney has taken several political risks.  First, he has abandoned any good-will that he had with the NDP.  Should the Conservatives ever find themselves in a minority government again, I doubt that they will find the NDP being very willing to work with them in the same away as they did in 2012.

Second, he has provided the NDP with the ability to criticize the upcoming reforms to Canada’s refugee system.  Because the NDP were co-drafters of the Balanced Refugee Reform Act, they could not really criticize the upcoming changes because they themselves owned the amendments. 

 » Read more about: Was Bill C-37 Worth the Political Cost?  »

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