In Blow to Tech Industry, Trump Shelves Start-Up Immigrant Rule – The New York Times

Building more opportunities for Canada and others:

The Trump administration said it would delay, and probably eliminate down the line, a federal rule that would have let foreign entrepreneurs come to the United States to start companies.

The decision, announced by the federal government on Monday ahead of its official publication on Tuesday, was quickly slammed by business leaders and organizations, especially from the technology sector, which has benefited heavily from start-ups founded by immigrants.

“Today’s announcement is extremely disappointing and represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the critical role immigrant entrepreneurs play in growing the next generation of American companies,” Bobby Franklin, the president and chief executive of the National Venture Capital Association, a trade association for start-up investors, said in a statement.

He added that even as other countries are going all out to attract entrepreneurs, “the Trump administration is signaling its intent to do the exact opposite.”

The policy being delayed by the Department of Homeland Security, known as the International Entrepreneur Rule, was to go into effect next week, after being approved by President Obama in January during his final days in office.

The rule was enacted to give foreign entrepreneurs who received significant financial backing for new business ventures the ability to come temporarily to the United States to build their companies. Silicon Valley leaders had praised the rule as a kind of “start-up visa.”

The department said it would delay the start date of the rule until March 14 of next year, during which time it will seek public comments on a plan to rescind the rule. The department said it decided to delay the rule after President Trump signed an executive order on improvements to border security and immigration enforcement on Jan. 25, shortly after taking office.

The order required the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to take action to ensure that “parole authority” — through which the department can temporarily allow individuals into the country without being formally admitted with a visa — be used only on a case-by-case basis and “when an individual demonstrates urgent humanitarian reasons or a significant public benefit derived from such parole.”

The International Entrepreneur Rule was designed to use that authority to effectively give a lift to start-ups. Under the Obama administration, the Department of Homeland Security estimated that nearly 3,000 entrepreneurs would be eligible to come to the United States annually under the rule. They were to be granted stays of up to 30 months, with the chance of extending the stays another 30 months if the entrepreneurs met certain criteria.

To qualify, they had to show that they had raised $250,000 or more for their businesses from established American investors or $100,000 or more in grants from government entities.

Steve Case, an investor who was a founder of AOL, blasted the decision on Twitter. “Big mistake,” he wrote. “Immigrant entrepreneurs are job makers, not job takers.”

Gary Shapiro, chief executive of the Consumer Technology Association, a trade group representing the consumer technology industry, said the delay of the rule would damage American innovation and job creation.

“The 44 immigrant-founded billion-dollar start-ups now in the U.S. have created an average of 760 American jobs per company,” Mr. Shapiro said in a statement. “Without these immigrant entrepreneurs, it is unlikely America would stand as the beacon of innovation that it is today.”

Douglas Todd: Fake jobs fast-track permanent residency for migrants

Hard to know full extent of problem compared to overall numbers of Permanent Residents but number of anecdotes and some high profile convictions indicate is an issue:

Canadian employers are creating fake jobs so would-be immigrants can quickly get citizenship.

Immigration “consultants” often arrange the illicit deals, which frequently result in Canadian business owners being paid to fabricate non-existent jobs.

Other times, the immigrants perform actual work, while themselves handing cash to the employer under the table to top up their own salary.

The employers, for their part, devise fraudulent pay stubs so the foreign nationals can “prove” to immigration officials they have needed skills to go to the front of the queue to become a permanent resident of Canada.

“It’s very widespread. I have met a lot of clients who tell me how this is being done underground,” says George Lee, a veteran Burnaby-based lawyer who specializes in immigration law.

Immigration department officials, lawyers, employers, prosecutors and migrants are increasingly providing accounts of how immigration consultants and companies fabricate bogus records so foreign nationals can obtain permanent resident status.

Migrants are handing company owners anywhere from $15,000 to more than $150,000 to create the counterfeit jobs, with immigration consultants pocketing large fees in the bargain.

One immigrant department report said fraud is “commonly associated” with such jobs, called “arranged employment offers.”

“There are lots of cases like this and they’ve been going on for a long time,” said Lee. “In most cases, jobs are needed to become a permanent resident, yet in many cases they are just jobs on paper.”

Both Lee and Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland have been informed by clients, who range from young international students to professionals with degrees, about different deals would-be immigrants strike with employers.

In one standard example, Lee said, a foreign student who received paycheques worth $30,000 a year for part-time work was paid $15,000 by the employer, but also secretly handed over another $15,000 in cash to his boss to prop up his declared salary.

It’s a violation of the law, say Lee and Kurland, to offer cash in exchange for a job.

CBC TV in Saskatchewan last month secretly recorded Bill Sui, of the Vancouver-based immigrant consulting company Vstar International, offering cash to a Prairie retail employer to create jobs for his clients from Mainland China.

Since the news story came out about how Vstar International promised the owner of a Fabricland outlet $15,000 to produce a false job, plus enough to pay the migrant’s salary, people in three other Saskatchewan communities have come forward with similar accounts.

Kurland provided documents in which people complain to the Immigration department about such practices.

In one redacted letter obtained under an access to information request, a Canadian provided details about how her colleague was “getting her cheques and returning cash money to her employer just to show fake employment.”

Kurland, who publishes the newsletter Lexbase, said: “My research uncovers allegations of fake jobs, examples of fake jobs, and complaints by visa officers about fake jobs. It shows that some people who can’t qualify under our rules will pay big money to get their visa illicitly.”

An Iranian-Canadian businessman in Metro Vancouver told Postmedia that each month offshore professionals offer to pay him large sums to cook up artificial jobs in Canada.

“I get this on a regular basis. I’m offered fees from $10,000 to $50,000, plus they will pay their own salaries. So I could bring employees here and have them work for free,” said the businessman, who asked to not be identified.

In a related case, he cited how three years ago an Iranian couple ago went public about paying a B.C. film company $15,000 to come to Canada for jobs that turned out to be non-existent.

The businessman, who said he does not engage in such practices, said any Canadian company with more than six employees can offer a job to a foreign national.

Many job descriptions, which are either bogus or exaggerated to make them seem more “skilled,” are facilitated through immigration consultants, some of whom are not registered, even though registration is supposed to be a requirement in Canada.

Richmond immigration consultant Xun (Sunny) Wang hauled in $10 millionover eight years by producing phoney paycheques and other documents for up to 1,200 clients in arguably the largest immigration fraud case in Canadian history.

Wang’s employees counterfeited thousands of employment documents for clients, most of whom had no real jobs in Canada.

In 2015 Wang, who was not registered as a consultant, was sentenced to seven years in jail.

Source: Douglas Todd: Fake jobs fast-track citizenship for migrants | Vancouver Sun

Why Google’s newest AI team is setting up in Canada – Recode

The Canadian advantage includes immigration and related policies:

DeepMind, Google’s London-based artificial intelligence research branch, is launching a team at the University of Alberta in Canada.

Why there? Two reasons come to mind:

1. Canada has a history of AI research

DeepMind is launching a team at the university partly for proximity to the broader AI research community in Canada.

A number of leading AI researchers in Silicon Valley hail from Canada, where they plugged away at deep learning, a complex automated process of data analysis, during a period when that technology — now popular at major tech companies — was considered by the larger computer science community to be a dead end.

Plus, almost a dozen DeepMind staff came from the university, according to a blog post by DeepMind co-founder and CEO Demis Hassabis announcing the new lab. An Alberta PhD and a former post doc from the school played key roles in one of DeepMind’s hallmark accomplishments, getting its AlphaGo software to beat the human world champion at Chinese strategy game Go.

“Our hope is that this collaboration will help turbocharge Edmonton’s growth as a technology and research hub,” wrote Hassabis, “attracting even more world-class AI researchers to the region and helping to keep them there too.”

2. The Canadian government is friendlier to AI research than the U.S.

Political realities also make Canada a particularly attractive place for Google to expand its AI efforts.

The Canadian government has demonstrated a willingness to invest in artificial intelligence, committing about $100 million ($125 million in Canadian currency) in its 2017 budget to develop the AI industry in the country.

This is in contrast to the U.S., where President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget request includes drastic cuts to medical and scientific research, including an 11 percent or $776 million cut to the National Science Foundation.

Another contrast to the U.S. is in immigration policies. Canada doesn’t have an equivalent of the U.S. travel ban, which restricts travel for immigrants and refugees from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. In the U.S., the ban makes it more difficult for tech and academic talent to enter the country.

Something interesting: One of the three researchers leading the team, Dr. Patrick M. Pilarski, is part of the university’s Department of Medicine. Google won’t comment on whether Pilarski’s medical background will play a role in his machine learning work for DeepMind, but Google is working on ways to integrate AI for health care as part of its cloud offering.

Source: Why Google’s newest AI team is setting up in Canada – Recode

International students in B.C. could be in fake marriage schemes: Douglas Todd

The ingenuity of persons wanting to come to Canada knows no bounds. No hard numbers but widespread anecdotes indicate that there is an issue (India sends the second largest number of students to Canada after China: 77,000 in 2016):

The newspaper ads in India are the visible tip of a booming underground industry in fake marriages involving would-be international students.

The prize for the “spouse” whose family buys an instant marriage with a foreign student is back-door access to a full-time job in Canada and a fast-track to citizenship.

The matrimonial ads normally promise that the foreign students’ sham marriage, plus all travel and study expenses, will be paid for by the Indian families who are determined to have their son or daughter emigrate.

The type of Indian student the ads seek is usually a teenage girl, who must have passed an English-language test and therefore be in line to be accepted as an international student.

Media outlets in India, such as the Hindustan Times, report there is a “booming matrimony market for ‘brides’ who can earn the ‘groom’” coveted status as a migrant to a Western country.

Canada is among the most sought-after destinations for Indian foreign students, say migration specialists, because it is the most generous toward foreign students and their spouses. Australia has also been popular, but recently tightened its rules.

Here is a typical recent ad from one Punjabi-language newspaper in India, Ajit:

“Jatt Sikh, boy, 24 years old, 5 feet 10 inches, needs girl with IELTS band 7. Marriage real or fake. Boy’s side will pay all expenses.”

The ad is listed by a high-caste “Jatt” Sikh male, or more likely his parents. It seeks a contractual marriage with a young woman who has scored well (“band 7”) on an international exam called “IELTS,” the International English Language Testing System. Almost three million IELTS exams are conducted each year.

Here is another ad, from the newspaper Jagbani:

“Barbar Sikh, 24, 5 feet 8 inches. Finished Grade 12. Looking for BSc or IELTS pass girl. Boy’s side will pay all expenses to go to Canada.”

In this ad the family of a lower-caste “Barbar Sikh” is seeking to have their son marry an Indian female with a bachelors of science degree, or a passing mark on the IELTS test, so their son can be allowed into Canada as her spouse.

As these kinds of ads illustrate, the parents of the male “spouse” typically offer to cover all expenses for the international student, who often end up attending one of the scores of private colleges in Canada with low to non-existent standards.

B.C. is home to 130,000 international students, the vast majority of whom are in Metro Vancouver, which has the highest concentration of foreign students in Canada.

In exchange for financing the foreign student, the phony spouse gets to live in Canada and legally work up to 40 hours a week, plus receive medical coverage and other benefits. That puts them in a strong position to become permanent residents of Canada.

The foreign-student marriage rackets are gaining attention in newspapers in India.

Indian media are reporting angry fallout when students financed by other families either fail to get into a Western college or university, or try to break up with their spouses of convenience.

Kwantlen Polytechnic University political scientist Shinder Purewal, a former Canadian citizenship court judge, says Punjabi- and Hindi-language newspapers in India run dozens of such ads each week.

“Families are looking for matches to get their sons or daughters abroad. And the most successful route to Canada is through international-student channels. It’s an easy way to get immigration,” said Purewal.

Source: International students in B.C. could be in fake marriage schemes | Vancouver Sun

What an Irrational Immigration Policy Looks Like | Commentary Magazine

Hard to argue but not optimistic regarding change:

President Trump was elected on a platform that called for deporting more illegal immigrants who committed crimes and doing more to stop illegal arrivals. In theory, there is little here that anyone can quarrel with. Few Americans other than the most extreme pro-immigration activists will dispute the need to secure our borders and to evict criminal aliens. In the quest for border security, though, we should not sacrifice our humanity or common sense.

To wit: Recently, six teenage Afghan girls assembled a robot to enter into an international robotics competition behind held in Washington this month. They had to travel 500 miles from their home city of Herat to Kabul to apply for visas at the U.S. Embassy—a trip that is far from safe, and yet they made it twice. They had to order components from abroad, and it took extra long for them to arrive because they could easily be confused with bomb-making parts. Yet after trying so hard, and assembling their robot, they were crestfallen to learn that the State Department had denied their visas.  This is all the more inexplicable and heartbreaking given that girls’ education—forbidden under the Taliban—has been one of the major achievements of the post-2001 state created at such great cost in American blood and treasure.

That’s hardly the only episode of temporary insanity resulting from the president’s new tougher immigration initiatives.

Radwan Ziadeh is exactly the kind of Syrian that the U.S. would like to see running the country. He is a young, liberal, pro-American activist. He has lived in the U.S. for the past decade, and his three children were born here. Yet the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has notified him that he may soon be deported because he provided “material support” to an “undesignated terrorist organization.” The “terrorist organizations” in question were the Free Syrian Army and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, which, the USCIS notes, “used weapons with the intent to endanger the safety of Syrian government officials.”

What ICE’s judgment leaves out is that many of the weapons provided to the Free Syrian Army came from the United States. Ziadeh’s association with these two groups stems from his work as an organizer of Syrian opposition conferences in 2012 and 2013 in Istanbul that were sponsored by the U.S. and Canadian governments. “ In effect,” notes a Washington Post editorial, “Mr. Ziadeh is being accused of terrorism because he acted at U.S. urging (and with Canadian funding) to bring together U.S.-backed Syrian leaders.”

Amid this hysteria, the U.S. is at risk of not just sacrificing its soul but also its security.

The Pentagon launched a program in 2009 called Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) to enlist foreigners with vital skills in the U.S. military. They would receive expedited citizenship in return for service. More than 10,400 troops have since served honorably and bravely under the program, bringing vital skills in such disciplines as medicine and Chinese, Pashto, and Russian language skills that are in short supply among native-born recruits. But now the Pentagon is contemplating canceling contracts for roughly 1,000 recruits who are ready to start Basic Training, thus exposing to them to the danger of deportation.

These episodes are the work of three different government departments: Rex Tillerson’s State Department is responsible for not issuing visas to the Afghan girls robotics team. John Kelly’s Department of Homeland Security is responsible for notifying Radwen Ziadeh that he is likely to be deported. Jim Mattis’s Department of Defense is responsible for possibly canceling the enlistment of 1,000 foreign-born volunteers.

The good news is that none of these decisions are irreversible—yet. There is still time for the Cabinet agencies in question to display some humanity and common sense. The risk is, in pursuit of a rational immigration policy, America could lose its mind.

Source: What an Irrational Immigration Policy Looks Like | commentary

Canadian immigration: Why are Europeans renouncing immigrant status?

I find this concern overblown. If people are renouncing their Permanent Resident status, it suggests that they are likely not here on a permanent basis. Hard to imagine that European-origin permanent residents would renounce their PR status if only travelling back and forth for annual visits or occasional business travel.

The eTA requirement is not onerous:

Foreign nationals from visa-exempt countries who are permanent residents of Canada (who used to be called landed immigrants) are being confronted with the new step before they can get approval to board flights to this country, but also at port-of-entry airports such as Vancouver International.

The trouble arises for these travellers when they arrive at an airport without their plastic permanent resident card — or don’t realize their permanent residence status has expired for certain reasons, including not spending enough time in Canada.

They are thrust into a state of limbo.

When such travellers try to get an eTA — and airport officials then discover they are permanent residents of Canada, but their documentation is inadequate — they are not granted an eTA to board a plane to Canada or, if they somehow make it to Canada, they are not allowed through immigration checkpoints.

As a result, says Toronto immigration lawyer David Lesperance, customs and airline officials are advising such people the quickest way to be allowed to fly into Canada is to renounce their opportunity to immigrate.

As Lesperance puts it, airport officials are telling them: “Either you voluntarily relinquish your (permanent residence) status right here and right now, and we let you in as a visitor, or we deny you entry and fly you back home.”

Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland confirms European and anglophone clients who have had permanent resident status have been running into many difficulties at international airports because of the eTA.

The overall number of people from all countries who have renounced their Canadian immigrant status has gone up sharply since 2014, when Ottawa began making the process of renouncing easier.

The total volume of renunciations has jumped from just a handful a year to more than 30,000 in the past two-and-a-half years.

Of course, would-be immigrants from Europe, Asia or Africa renounce their attempt to gain citizenship for a variety of reasons. Some dislike Canada’s cold weather, some earn more money in their homeland and some are trying to avoid paying Canadian income taxes.

But the immigration lawyers say the biggest reason Germans, Australians, French, Danes, Dutch and Britons have recently renounced is the change Immigration Canada introduced last year and formalized on Nov. 10 — requiring all travellers from visa-exempt countries to apply online for an eTA.

More than 2,530 people from Britain have renounced their Canadian permanent resident status in the past year and a half, compared to just 305 in 2015, before the eTA was announced.[average number of new PRs 2006-15: 7,124]

The pace of Australians recently renouncing their PR status has jumped 17-fold — to 509 in the past year and a half compared to just 30 in 2015. [average number of new PRs 2006-15: 1,054]

More than 571 Germans have also renounced in the past year and a half, compared to 153 in 2015. [average number of new PRs 2006-15: 2,334]

So have 775 French citizens, contrasted with 117 in 2015. [average number of new PRs 2006-15: 4,902]

Most of the Europeans and anglophones renouncing their chance to become Canadian citizens are “relieved” to end their travel aggravations by forgoing their permanent resident status in Canada, Kurland said.

Many are deciding instead to travel to Canada as tourists, or by applying for increasingly popular 10-year visas.

Source: Canadian immigration: Why are Europeans renouncing immigrant status? | Vancouver Sun

ICYMI: ‘They were very persistent’: CBC finds more cash-for-jobs immigration schemes

Good article on one of the fraud schemes, appears largely related to Saskatchewan’s provincial nominee program:

An ongoing court case suggests this sort of thing may have been going on for years in Saskatchewan.

In December 2015, Qi Wang and Yujuan Cui, a couple from White City, Sask. — a bedroom community of Regina — were charged with violating the Criminal Code and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act for allegedly creating fake job offers or inducing others to do so.

The husband and wife, who now live in Roberts Creek, B.C., are set to stand trial in January for their actions related to hundreds of immigration files in Saskatchewan.

Wang and Cui have been on the radar of immigration authorities since 2008.

In its fact statement filed in court, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) says from 2008 to 2010, the province of Saskatchewan had suspended Wang from using its Immigrant Nominee Program because “he had been offering jobs from Saskatchewan companies that were not in existence and offering positions from a company for which authorization had not been received.”

Then, in 2012, CBSA was tipped off by provincial officials about some more suspicious activity.

During the two-year investigation that followed, from 2012 to 2014, CBSA seized material including “documents containing signature blocks and business header information taped onto job offers as well as documents with the employer’s email address portion cut out or taped over with a new address.”

Investigators allege that Wang and Cui made fake job offers to Chinese nationals, sometimes using non-existent companies. They also theorize that the couple approached and counselled “legitimate Saskatchewan companies to provide fraudulent job offers to Chinese nationals” and promised “to compensate legitimate Saskatchewan companies for providing fraudulent job offers.”

In all, CBSA says the couple “illegally received $600,000 from Chinese nationals” and “paid out approximately $95,000 to seventeen different Saskatchewan business owners.”

In documents seized from the couple, investigators found the names of 1,229 people. The province had received immigration applications from 422 of them.

CBSA found that 27 of those had their applications rejected, but 78 had already become permanent residents.

The court document says “CBSA did not have the capacity to ascertain with certainty the number of applications that were fraudulent.”

Permanent residency marketed as ‘commodity’

None of this is surprising to Raj Sharma, a Calgary immigration lawyer who used to work for the immigration refugee board as a hearing officer.

“Wherever you have this hot economy and favourable immigration climate, you’re gonna see this type of action,” he said.

He said this is precisely the sort of thing they’ve been seeing for years in Alberta.

Sharma said he knows it goes on because he regularly gets calls from people wanting his firm to find them a job in exchange for money — which he says is illegal.

“We respond and say that’s not what we do. But obviously they make that inquiry because there are others who do,” he said.

He said those who are willing to flout the law can command “five to 10 to 100 times more than our fees.”

“Canadian residency is a sought-after commodity and an asset,” he said.

He insisted in order to stop people from exploiting that fact, enforcement needs to be tougher and the rules need to be strengthened.

He said that’s especially so in Saskatchewan, where the program “is looser and more generous than Alberta.”

When asked about CBC’s Vstar investigation, the Saskatchewan premier’s office responded with a brief written statement, saying, “Saskatchewan has the strongest nominee program in Canada and we are determined to make sure that it remains the strongest.”

“As always, the government treats any suspected immigration infractions very seriously. Government officials look into information provided by anyone showing potential evidence of wrongdoing.”

When asked, the premier’s office didn’t explain what it meant by “strongest.”

Sharma said Alberta prioritizes approving the immigration applications of people who already live in the province and work or study there, whereas Saskatchewan “will still allow someone to come directly from overseas and I think perhaps that should be tightened up.”

He said it’s implausible that someone from China with weak language skills would be able to land a job in Canada without assistance.

And he said there are many who are willing to “help.”

“It is inevitably fostering fraud,” Sharma said.

Source: ‘They were very persistent’: CBC finds more cash-for-jobs immigration schemes – Saskatchewan – CBC News

A tale of two Canadas: Where you grow up affects your income in adulthood – Corak

Good in-depth coverage of Miles Corak’s work on intergenerational mobility. Paras on immigration of note:

Many parts of Canada’s income-mobility map are shaped by immigration: People who’ve arrived in Canada in the past 10 to 15 years tend to have lower incomes and higher poverty rates than average Canadians. But what this map shows – and other studies verify – is that their children are rising from the lowest to the highest fifth of the income scale at very high rates.

“It is well established that it is the first generation in Canada – those born abroad – that takes the hit and has the hardest time in establishing themselves in the labour force,” says Don Kerr, a sociologist at King’s University College at the University of Western Ontario. “But clearly we see that their children are eventually doing much better than they did, armed with a Canadian education and Canadian credentials.” This is especially true in southern Ontario, which receive the largest share of Canada’s immigration, and whose very high mobility levels, Dr. Kerr says, can be attributed in good part to the fast rise of newcomers: “Here we are seeing the success of the second generation in Canada.”

Source: A tale of two Canadas: Where you grow up affects your income in adulthood – The Globe and Mail

IRCC Datasets: What they say about government priorities

While preparing a presentation on how immigration, settlement, citizenship and multiculturalism worked together to facilitate integration, I accessed a broad range of the IRCC operational datasets on the government’s Open Data website. Intrigued by what was available and what was not, I reviewed all  227 unique datasets.

IRCC has, to its credit, invested considerable resources in these datasets for both internal and external use, having the fifth largest number of datasets on Open Data (excluding Statistics Canada). Moreover, these datasets are among the most widely used: 11 of the top 25 government datasets downloaded are from IRCC (April 2017).

IRCC demonstrated considerable flexibility and agility in the creation of datasets with respect to the recent wave of Syrian refugees, and the introduction of monthly operational statistics for key programs.

Part of my motivation was to assess the long-standing weaknesses in citizenship datasets, reflecting the relative lower priority of the citizenship program, and make recommendations for improvements.

Not surprisingly, the datasets reflect IRCC’s overall management emphasis on immigration as well as stakeholder demand: permanent and temporary resident datasets are 93.5 percent of the total. The datasets include:

  • Permanent residents (immigrants: economic, family and refugee classes): 110 datasets of 47.6 percent of the total.
  • Temporary residents (Temporary Foreign Worker Program: includes agricultural workers, live-in caregivers and others; International Mobility Program: includes those admitted under international services agreements like NAFTA, those under “Canadian Interests,” primarily under youth work exchange program and spousal employment; international students): 106 datasets or 45.9 percent.
  • Citizenship and passport: Six datasets or 2.6 percent.
  • Settlement services: Nine datasets or 3.9 percent.

IRCC datasets can be divided into four categories: ongoing and published on a regular basis (80.5 percent), archived or historical datasets (16.5 percent) and specialized datasets pertaining to international students (2.2 percent).

The majority are updated annually (54.1 percent), followed by the recent introduction of monthly reports (21.6 percent), quarterly (9.1 percent) and other (15.2 percent). Monthly and quarterly reports focus on operational data: the number of applications, approvals, approval rate and inventory.

Permanent and Temporary Residents

The comprehensive datasets for permanent and temporary residents include information regarding program and category, country of origin (whether processing source area, country of citizenship or country of birth), gender and age. Table 1 summarizes this information with most datasets having several variables (e.g., gender and age).Given the shared federal-provincial jurisdiction for immigration, and the increased and active role of the provinces in selection (i.e., the Provincial Nominee Program), it is no surprise that the majority of permanent resident datasets are broken down by province (52.7 percent), with 31.8 percent at the national level. To assist the planning and programmes of municipalities and service provider organizations for settlement services (integration), ten percent are at the Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) level, with a further 4.5 percent at the Census District (CD) level.

In terms of immigration class, over one-quarter are for refugees (27.3 percent), 21.8 percent for economic class, and 1.8 percent for family class, with 49.1 pertaining to all classes.

For temporary residents, who cannot access settlement services, the majority (60.4 percent) are at the national level, 34 percent at the provincial level, and 4.7 percent at the CMA level.

By program, datasets for international students form 23.6 percent, IMP and TFWP each at 21.8 percent and other ten percent, with 22.7 percent pertaining to all programs.

By and large, these datasets are coherent and consistent, with any variation reflecting program needs and a balance between the overall picture and greater detail (e.g., top 10 for refugees, top 20 for IMP or top 50 for students or all (various) countries of birth or citizenship).

However, as shown in Table 2, the main difference concerns age data, with permanent residents focused more on younger immigrants, compared to temporary residents with a relatively greater focus on older workers. The difference in age cohorts between all permanent residents and those admitted under Express Entry likely has a policy justification. However, it is hard to understand the policy rationale for settlement services using the temporary resident breakdown given that only permanent residents can access these services. IRCC may wish to review whether there is a need for greater consistency and coherence regarding the age cohorts.

Citizenship, Passport and Settlement Services

There are only six datasets for citizenship (including one for passport) and nine for settlement services (three general, six for refugees). This reflects a number of reasons:

  • Citizenship has always been a secondary priority for IRCC at both the political and official levels. The program is under-funded and under-managed, as seen in the large and repeated fluctuations in the number of applications and new citizens, in sharp contrast to the number of new permanent residents which is more tightly managed to deliver on the annual levels plan (Chart 1);
  • The provinces have no role in citizenship and thus no data demands. Immigration stakeholders have limited interest in citizenship as they focus on immigration and refugee issues;
  • Passport is a new program to IRCC (previously was with Global Affairs Canada), with similarly low interest with outside stakeholders beyond basic operational data; and,
  • Service provider organizations (SPOs) and others that are interested is settlement services data have a wide range of useful permanent resident data that assists them in planning and operations. IRCC has responded to the needs of SPOs by providing general refugee settlement datasets as well as specific ones for Syrian refugees.

Table 3 lists these datasets:

Moreover, these are more limited than other datasets. Annual permanent and temporary resident provide ten year data, adequate to assess trends and changes. In contrast, annual citizenship data covers only five years, settlement services data only two years and passport processing data is not even presented on a full-year basis, making it impossible to assess trends and the impact of policy and program changes. Citizenship datasets are even more limited with no gender and age breakdowns.

They are also updated less frequently than other datasets. Monthly datasets for permanent and temporary residents and settlement services include April 2017 at the time of writing (14 June); citizenship only until February 2017, and passport until December 2016.

Concluding observations

As noted, IRCC has invested considerable resources in developing and maintaining these datasets. In doing so, it has naturally enough reinforced its main focus on immigration statistics, responding to overall stakeholder interests, with minimal attention to citizenship.

The datasets appear to have grown organically as program changes created needs for new datasets. There appears to be potential to review the number and type to see if some datasets are no longer needed or duplicative (e.g., the introduction of monthly datasets may make quarterly ones necessary, are csv versions needed in addition to xls?).

Another area for improvement with respect to provincial datasets is to ensure that these all include national totals by program, as there is currently some inconsistency (e.g., Transition from Temporary Resident to Permanent Resident Status – Quarterly IRCC Updates tables versus the “Facts and Figures” series for both permanent and temporary residents).

Other areas for improvement at the Open Data level include, particularly those that are likely within IRCC control:

  • Order the dataset groupings alphabetically as it currently appears random, with related sets not grouped together;
  • Review grouping titles for clarity, particularly “Quarterly Updates” as the vast majority of datasets listed are a mix of annual and quarterly data;
  • Review all data set titles for consistency (e.g., temporary resident facts and figures are numbered, permanent residents are not; set a standard sequence: program/category then geography, then specific variables such as gender, age, education etc.; inclusion or not of ‘Canada’ in title; indicate specific immigration class if appropriate);
  • Advocate with other departments for a wider field for data set descriptions (appears to be only 37 characters) to make these more readable and shorten the wasted space of the titles for other fields (type, format, language, links);
  • Advocate for more than 10 dataset groupings per web page to minimize clicks.

My particular focus, however, is with respect to citizenship.

The lack of attention to citizenship, seen operationally in the wide swings of application and new citizens, requires greater management focus and attention. While IRCC has been very helpful in the provision of special runs, more comprehensive citizenship datasets on Open Data are needed. IRCC should ensure a minimum degree of consistency with permanent and temporary resident datasets that would help flag operational and policy concerns. For citizenship, passport, and settlement services, these would include:

  • 10-year time series data for citizenship and settlement services;
  • 1947-2016 long-term citizenship data (new citizens);
  • gender breakdown for citizenship (not just for adoptions), passport and settlement services (not just for refugees);
  • age breakdown for citizenship and passport, using the permanent resident age groups; and,
  • monthly citizenship applications by country of birth, not just monthly number of new citizens.

Should resources permit, a number of additional citizenship datasets should be considered to provide a more comprehensive understanding of how well the program is working with respect to integration and reinforcing the immigrant-to-citizen transition:

  • Annual data on the number and percentage of immigrants who have taken up citizenship within six years of landing in order to assess the recent naturalization rate, not the overall one that IRCC cites in its performance reports and elsewhere. While a target of 70 percent naturalization within six years of landing is proposed, more analysis might suggest a different target. Having this data collected and reported would inform the establishment of a meaningful performance standard; and,
  • Annual breakdown by immigration class of new citizens and approval rates by gender to assess the impact on each class of citizenship policies.

Given the importance of immigration, settlement, citizenship and multiculturalism to integration of newcomers and their children, good and comprehensive data is central to evidence-based policy making. IRCC has again commendably invested in such data with respect to immigration data but should address the above mentioned gaps in citizenship data to strengthen the management and oversight of the citizenship program.

Services d’immigration: hausse importante des vérifications policières | Montréal

The limits to the “sanctuary city” designations:

Malgré la désignation récente de Montréal à titre de «ville sanctuaire», les contacts des policiers avec les autorités fédérales pour vérifier le statut d’immigration de personnes interceptées pour diverses infractions ont augmenté de façon marquée depuis le début de l’année, et de 67% en moyenne depuis 2014.

Au cours de la même période, les policiers de Toronto ont réduit de 20% leurs vérifications auprès de l’Agence des services frontaliers du Canada (ASFC), tandis qu’elles ont été à peu près stables à Vancouver, révèlent des documents obtenus par La Presse en vertu de la Loi sur l’accès à l’information.

Selon l’assistant-directeur du Service de police de la Ville de Montréal, Daniel Touchette, cette hausse est due à l’amélioration des communications avec l’Agence des services frontaliers du Canada, notamment grâce à l’implantation d’une ligne téléphonique directe, dans le but de mieux combattre la criminalité ayant des ramifications internationales.

Même en cas de délit mineur, comme traverser la rue à un endroit interdit ou prendre le métro sans payer, ces vérifications peuvent entraîner l’arrestation d’un individu, sa détention et parfois son expulsion, si les policiers constatent qu’il se trouve au Canada illégalement. Il sera alors remis aux autorités frontalières.

Des victimes d’actes criminels qui font appel à la police pour être protégées peuvent elles-mêmes être arrêtées si les agents découvrent, en contrôlant leur identité, que leur statut n’est pas en règle, indique Daniel Touchette, confirmant ainsi ce que dénoncent les organismes qui viennent en aide aux sans-papiers.

Quelle protection offre la «ville sanctuaire»?

Cette question est au coeur des débats entourant la décision de Montréal de se donner le statut de «ville sanctuaire», en février dernier. Ce statut est censé permettre aux immigrants sans statut légal d’obtenir n’importe quel service municipal, incluant l’aide des policiers, sans crainte d’être dénoncés aux autorités frontalières.

Les policiers ne devraient jamais s’enquérir du statut d’immigration de qui que ce soit, sauf en cas d’infraction criminelle, selon les organisations qui travaillent avec les personnes sans papiers.

«On ne fait aucune vérification aléatoire de statut d’immigration, répond Daniel Touchette. Mais l’ASFC peut être un outil pour nous permettre de vérifier l’identité d’une personne. Et si on voit un mandat d’arrestation dans la banque de données, on a une obligation légale d’appliquer.»

Pourtant, l’Association canadienne des chefs de police (ACCP) affirme que les policiers ne se préoccupent pas du statut d’immigration, sauf en cas d’infraction criminelle ou autre raison valable. L’ACCP reconnaît que «les victimes, témoins et plaignants cherchent l’assurance que s’ils doivent faire appel aux services policiers, leur statut d’immigration ne sera pas une préoccupation», a-t-elle fait savoir dans une déclaration envoyée par courriel, tout en précisant ne pas avoir de position officielle sur la question des villes sanctuaires.

Source: Services d’immigration: hausse importante des vérifications policières | Isabelle Ducas | Montréal