Ministerial Instructions will be Jason Kenney’s Greatest Legacy

28th Apr 2012 Comments Off on Ministerial Instructions will be Jason Kenney’s Greatest Legacy

There are numerous significant changes to Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (“IRPA”) buried inside the 2012 Budget Implementation Act (the “BIA”).  The first change, the termination of approximately 300,000 Federal Skilled Worker Applications, was expected.  The other, the expansion of the role of Ministerial Instructions, was not.

Jason Kenney, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (the “Minister”), has made several significant changes toCanada’s immigration system.  Many of these are substantive (who is eligible to immigrate), and will likely be changed by future ministers and governments.  His involvement in the creation and expansion of the use of Ministerial Instructions, a procedural change, however, may be his most enduring legacy.

In 2008, amendments to IRPA provided that the Minister could issue instructions to immigration officers (“Ministerial Instructions”) regarding which applications were eligible for processing.  This overturned the government’s long standing obligation to process all eligible applications in the order in which they were received. The Minister was further empowered to issue Ministerial Instructions to limit the number of applications processed, accelerate some applications or groups of applications, and return applications without processing them to a final decision.

It was through Ministerial Instructions that Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC”) reduced and capped the number of occupations eligible for the Federal Skilled Worker Program, capped the number of Investor Applicants, suspended the Entrepreneur program, and put a moratorium on parental and grandparent applications.  The Minister was able to do all of this without consulting Parliament, or amending IRPA and its regulations.

Division 54 of Part 4 of the BIA expands the role of Ministerial Instructions by further providing that the Minister can give instructions establishing and governing classes of permanent residents as part of the economic class.  In other words,

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