Illegal Immigration in Canada Expected to Surge in 2015

temporary foreign worker

Over 190,000 temporary foreign workers entered Canada last year. Many of those whose work permits are set to expire in April 2015 are expected to remain in Canada illegally (CICS News)

The number of people in Canada illegally is expected to increase substantially in April 2015, when a large contingent of foreign workers see their work permits expire.

Their work permits will expire on April 1st 2015 because of a rule enacted on April 1st, 2011, that created a four year limit on cumulative time a foreign national can spend in Canada as a temporary foreign worker.

The rule change was made to reduce the perceived over-dependence of Canadian employers on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) to meet their permanent labour needs.

The number of temporary foreign workers in Canada has increased from approximately 100,000 in 2002, to over 300,000 today, which some have criticized as a subsidy for business at the expense of Canadian workers.

Setting limits on how long a temporary foreign worker can work in Canada was seen as a way to limit the use of the TFWP to its intended role: to temporarily meet labour shortages until a permanent solution could be found.

People familiar with visa and immigration controls expect a significant percentage of those whose permits will expire on April 1st 2015 to over-stay their visa and reside in Canada illegally, leaving Canada with a problem that Americans are more familiar with: a sizeable illegal immigrant population.

The immigrant magnets of Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto are expected to host the majority of those illegal migrants, which will likely put pressure on their infrastructure, public transit and policing resources, which are already being strained by rapid population growth.

Costs vs Generosity

Canadians are a generally generous people, who don’t like deporting individuals whose only crime is to stay in a country that affords them a better quality of life, but that generosity has to contend with the reality that unskilled foreign workers represent an economic cost for Canada.

Each additional person living in Canada comes with additional set costs in government spending, that can only be compensated if the person pays taxes that are at the Canadian average – something low-wage unskilled workers do not.

Allowing any of the literally hundreds of millions of people who would choose to immigrate and work in Canada if they could, to do so, would, in real terms, result in skyrocketing government spending levels and lower wages / higher unemployment rates for less skilled Canadians who would have to compete with the entrants in the labour market.

This means that immigration controls, and their integrity, are important for the economic well-being of Canada. Nevertheless, an extensive policing campaign that deports thousands of illegal immigrants, many of them living as families in Canada, would spark public outrage and would also be logistically difficult.

How Canada deals with the surge in the illegal immigrant population in 2015 remains to be seen.

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Canadian Immigration Department Enacts New Marriage Sponsorship Rules

Under rules announced today, sponsored spouses will receive conditional permanent residence upon arriving in Canada and be required to live with their spouse or partner for two years to receive full permanent residence

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) introduced new spousal immigration sponsorship regulations today to reduce the incidence of marriage fraud. The new rules require sponsored spouses who have no children with their sponsor to be in a live-in relationship with their spouse for two years to get full permanent residence status.

Under rules in place until today’s announcement, a sponsored spouse received permanent residence on the day they arrived in Canada, and subsequently could leave their spouse and retain their residency status in Canada.

Calls to reform immigration sponsorship rules have increased as several high-profile cases, like those of Lainie Towell and Heinz Munz, have brought the issue of foreign spouses leaving their Canadian husbands and wives soon after arriving in Canada to the public’s attention.

The new rules will not apply to sponsored spouses who have a child with their sponsor on the date of their spousal sponsorship application submission. The regulation also includes an exemption for sponsored spouses or partners who suffer abuse or neglect from their Canadian partner or someone related to their partner.

Those not exempt from the regulation must be in a relationship with their sponsoring spouse or partner for two years from the date that they receive their permanent residency or have their status in Canada revoked.

“I have consulted widely with Canadians, and especially with victims of marriage fraud, who have told me clearly that we must take action to stop this abuse of our immigration system,” said Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney in announcing the new rules.

“Sometimes the sponsor in Canada is being duped and sometimes it’s a commercial transaction. Implementing a two-year conditional permanent residence period will help deter marriage fraud, prevent the callous victimization of innocent Canadians and help us put an end to these scams.”

Until today’s announcement, Canada was one of the few countries that did not have an initial conditional permanent residence period for foreign nationals sponsored for immigration by a spouse, and consequently, CIC says was considered a “soft target” by criminal organizations seeking to exploit Canadian immigration rules.

Several large-scale marriage scams have been uncovered in recent years, including the case of over 600 people involved in trading marriage sponsorships for money between 2007 and 2009.

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Charges Laid in Marriage Immigration Scam Involving More Than 600 People

The RCMP investigation into the alleged 'marriage of convenience' fraud has now moved to the stage of laying charges. (Vince Alongi)

The RCMP laid charges against 39 people on Tuesday for their part in a marriage scam involving Canadian women marrying North African men and sponsoring them for Canadian permanent residency, in exchange for money. The RCMP investigation has so far uncovered 315 marriages, involving over 600 people, that it believes to be fraudulent, and it’s possible more people will be charged in the future.

The group arrested on Tuesday are having a total of 78 charges laid against them, including for misrepresentation and procuring feigned marriage. The alleged organizer of the scam is unlicensed immigration consultant Amado Niang, who was indicted on 42 counts.

He allegedly found Canadian women, many of Haitian descent, and offered them an arrangement whereby they would get paid to marry men from North African countries who were in Canada and had visas that were close to expiry. Mr. Niang appeared in court in Montreal on Tuesday and has another hearing scheduled for October 23rd.

Project Conjugal, the RCMP investigation that led to the charges, began in 2009 with the purpose of investigating suspicious marriages that took place between 2007 and 2009, and lead to the dismantling of the alleged criminal organization behind the scam in February. The purpose of the investigation is now to lay charges against those allegedly involved.

Reform of Immigration Rules

In an effort to reduce marriage sponsorship fraud, the Canadian government this year changed spousal sponsorship rules to bar a sponsored spouse from sponsoring a new spouse for at least five years after they are granted permanent residence.

The Department of Citizenship and Immigration has also proposed that Canada adopt the US-style sponsonship process of granting sponsored spouses a two year ‘conditional resident status’, after which they can apply for permanent residency if they have met all of the conditions required of them, instead of the current process of granting permanent residency to sponsored spouses immediately upon their arrival in Canada.

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Company Gets Fined $12,000 for Hiring Illegal Immigrants

The "Three Amigos" worked at a Shell gas station in Thompson, the largest city in northern Manitoba (Bobak Ha'Eri)

In a case more reminiscent of American immigration woes, a Manitoba company has been fined $12,000 for hiring three Filipinos in Canada illegally.

The workers, Antonio Laroya, Arnisito Gaviola and Ermie Zotomayor, began working for a Shell gas station owned by 5896941 Manitoba Limited in northern Manitoba after they were laid off from their jobs in Alberta.

The company owner, Adnan Chaudhary, attended the civil motion.

The three Filipino workers, nicknamed the “Three Amigos” in their Thompson, Manitoba community, were ordered deported from Canada in May 2011 and barred from returning for one year.

They are now attempting to get work permits to resume working in Canada.

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One of our licensed immigration consultants can speak with you in person, online or on the phone about your unique immigration situation and give you a breakdown of your options.bookappointment