Published on: Jun 04, 2019
Since 2015 and according to a national government report, Canada visa applications have more than quadrupled, testing the Department of Immigration's ability to respond to these. The applications recently flooding in include temporary resident visas provided to temporary workers, visitors and students.
According to the Department of Immigration's annual plan that ended on March 31 2018 in line with the fiscal year, over 5.7 million Canada eTA (electronic travel authorisations) and temporary Canada visa permits have been issued. This is way up on the 1.3 million Canada visa and eTAs for the 42 previous months.
Officials partly put this surge in Canada eTA and visa applications down to a sharp increase in tourists. This is good news since the Canadian government has been striving to promote tourism for sustained period of time.
Minister Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC), openly states that promoting tourism and building stronger relations between populations is part of his mission when he visits foreign countries.
Indeed, the Canadian government is working hard to promote tourism right across the world, using the country's various ministries as a method of doing this. The IRCC has also been focusing on the promotion of tourism. In fact, the government is currently running an 'apply early' campaign, which takes advantage of social media networks, among others, to spread the word about the benefits of applying early for Canada visas and other categories of travel authorisations and documents.
Department figures testify to more than a 45% increase in the numbers of Canada visas issued between 2015 and 2018. This percentage rise doesn't even take into account the number of Canada eTA documents issued over the same period. Issuing eTAs is part of the government's low risk, streamlined processes to allow individuals form selected countries, including the U.S., to come to Canada as visitors. When figures were checked at the end of September 2018, it was revealed that over 9.9 million eTAs had been granted over the past three years.
This major increase in demand for both visitor visas and eTAs has lead to logistical challenges for the Canada immigration systems in terms of processing the additional applications and the resulting workload. To assist with processing, 17 new overseas centres have been opened to handle visa applications and there are plans for more capacity to be provided this year.
Updates in technology have also helped visa offices to process more applications in shorter timeframes by forwarding some these to visa centres that are less busy so they can assist with the processing and even out the workload.
However, increased demand is also ringing warning bells with those who support temporary workers and international students. According to the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, the increase in figures points to Canada's workforce receiving increasing support from migrant workers, who might not necessarily have the same rights and protection granted to them as other immigrants.
Since the country has a multi-tiered immigration system, individuals can enter Canada with a non-permanent-residency status, which in turn leads to fewer rights and services when it comes to employment and other areas of welfare, health and housing. For example, some individuals who work in Canada may never join a union. At the worst end of the spectrum, there are cases of labor exploitation and other negative impacts on migrants.
International students can also face challenges when coming to Canada and looking for work. They are allowed to work a certain number of hours, however, a recent case has highlighted one particular international student who has breached these restrictions and is now facing deportation after exceeding the maximum number of hours permitted for a working week. The individual in question is currently in the custody of the immigration enforcement authorities for working more hours than allowed for public post-secondary institution students.
Although this may seem like harsh treatment, in fact, it highlights Canada's need for structure and law enforcement when it comes to immigration and related areas. For example, at present, ahead of the upcoming elections in the fall, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is promising to put a stop to “illegal” border crossings into the country. The leader has said he would close a loophole in the Safe Third Country Agreement between the U.S and Canada. This has allowed asylum seekers to enter the country by evading checkpoints at borders. They then attempt to claim refugee status when this would otherwise have been automatically refused at official crossings.
So, although considerable developments are afoot, the government still faces immigration challenges and is working hard to address these.