Expect 2018 to Be the Year of the “Yes, No, Maybe (After a Delayed While)” in Canadian Immigration

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I have noticed a bit of a trend in immigration over the past half year one that I believe will set the stage for 2018.

There are some applications – straight-forward Express Entry applications (for example) and on the province-side, certain nomination applications that are going fast. Incredibly fast.  I recently had a few Express Entry’s take less than a month when the going rate for 80% is supposed to be six months. My colleagues have had self-employed applications go through in months. Some extensions are being granted in weeks where they previously took months.

There are also applications that will inevitably be “no’d” – returned to sender per R.10 IRPR or S.13 of the Citizenship Act. Applications where seemingly minute details of questionable “legal requirement” are deemed to necessitate the return of Applications. I am already telling my clients (and those self-rep consults that come chat with me) to be extra careful. Dot the i’s, cross the t’s – include specific checklists, flag the fee receipts, include the postal codes, and do whatever you can to ensure the application does not get rejected (especially in the case of something like Express Entry). Refusals will also be quicker on some cases, especially where visa offices have low acceptance rates and the demand for the category (e.g. international student will be higher). Expect temporary resident refusal reasons to leave you scratching your head and learning to file judicial reviews.

The most worrisome pile is perhaps the “maybe pile” – the Citizenship applications missing strong proof of residency and the PR cards that enter what we deem in the industry as the “immigration black hole.” There are applications that I have seen where because an individual barely met the residency obligation (or even met it only by a month), or otherwise claimed an exemption that will sit and linger for months, if not years. I have a file in front of me that has been in processing three years without so much as a person having counted the days or assessed the eligibility of the exemption requested. To avoid the maybe pile, individuals may start choosing to buffer applications with additional days spent in Canada, advanced gathering of exit/entry records, and front-end addressing of back end consequences.

On the immigration appeals side, the lack of sitting members have facilitated a very fast, transparent, and excellent Alternative Dispute Resolution system that many applicants have utilized. However, the transitions from ADR to re-processing, and the wait for those files for members to hear their cases will test patience, no doubt.

Expect more historically straight forward applications – such as PGWPs and self-employed/Quebec investor to hit the maybe pile. There will be more due diligence on certain clients and Immigration will utilize more tools in their tool box – compliance updates from schools, open source intelligence on asset holders in countries such as China, to dig up a little more dirt. Expect misrepresentation to continue to be pursued, sometimes for cases where materiality may be nominal but there, in some form, all the same.

Other quick thoughts…..

Atlantic Canada – will become a hots pot immigration destination. PNPs will continue to flourish. Immigration will eventually have to rethink the current process of whether LMIAs and the Employer Compliance Regime are really serving the needs of local Canadian small businesses and their employees, who may not have the resources of corporate powerhouses and may require a little patience rather than their picking off as lower hanging fruit for non-compliance and other immigration violations. International students will be the education version, with their “employers” – DLIs, in a similar position – jockeying for credibility and strengthened compliance systems.

Information sharing – between administrative bodies – will turn from a consent question to a norm. Threatening to delay some applications and in other reveal webs of possible deceit or planning that traditionally would have been considered smart. Honesty – and hopefully the ability to correct mistakes uncovered prior to Government intervention by way of a 5-year bar or the writing of an s.44 report, hopefully will become the norm.

2018 has officially started kicking into high gear. Cases have started piling up. Time to strap on the boots (dress shoes in my case today), put on my glasses (I’m blind without them) and start reviewing some paperwork and make some submissions.

I’m going to Federal Court (solo) for the first time (my streak of consents officially ends now) next week on an interesting procedural fairness case. Here’s to making better law and policy in 2018!

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