Friday, December 31, 2010
Ottawa clamps down on immigrants found cheating
Image via WikipediaOttawa is stepping up its effort in combatting cheating immigrants who are selected under one province’s entrepreneur program but end up breaking the terms and moving to another. Cheaters will be issued a warning letter and may lose their permanent resident status, according to a new Citizenship and Immigration Canada operational guideline. Legal experts say this is just the beginning of Ottawa’s attempt to stamp out what they call “trampolining” by immigrants — being accepted by one province but settling in another. The enhanced enforcement begins in Quebec but is expected to expand to other provincially administered immigration programs. Provinces are increasingly taking charge of the selection of economic immigrants to serve the needs of their local labour market and economy, though the federal government is still responsible in issuing permanent resident visas. “These immigrants are selected on the strength of that province. They commit themselves to a province in exchange for an immigrant visa,” said Quebec immigration lawyer Richard Kurland. “It is not right if an entrepreneur or investor says they are going to go work and live in a province and then go to another.” According to Canada’s immigrant database, 11 per cent of the one million new immigrants who came to the country within five years and filed tax returns in 2006 had moved from their declared province of destination. More than 24,000, or 14 per cent, of immigrants originally destined for Quebec ended up filing taxes in other provinces. In recent months, immigration lawyers are seeing a surge of cases where newcomers landing in Canada are turned away at port of entry because they fail to show plane tickets or proof of arranged accommodation for their declared destined city, according to Kurland. The courts, so far, have sided with border officials, Kurland said. In the new department guideline, front-line immigration officers are ordered to “monitor” the entrepreneurs selected by Quebec who now live or have a mailing address outside of the province. It applies to all those admitted under the program after Oct. 16, 2006. A report “should be prepared detailing the allegation of non-compliance . . . (and) be referred to the Immigration Division for an admissibility hearing,” it said. To gain permanent resident status under the Quebec entrepreneur program, an applicant must own at least 25 per cent of a company in the province, with an investment no less than $100,000. Not only do they have to manage the enterprises’ day-to-day operations, they must also stay and live in the province for at least 12 months in the initial three years of residence. Kurland said other provinces will benefit from the new directive, especially if it is going to be expanded to other provincial immigration classes, such as investors and skilled workers programs. The federal government provides funding to newcomers’ language training and integration programs in each province based on the number of immigrants who declare it as their destinations in their immigration applications. The funding doesn’t take “secondary migrants” into account.