Previous editions of this newsletter have discussed the changes to the Immigration Act and Regulations proposed under Bill C-31: Archive: November 2000
When a Federal election was called in late 2000, this Bill was placed on hold, and subsequently revised.
The Federal Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has now introduced a new Immigration and Refugee Protection Act on February 21, 2001. The new bill incorporates a number of new proposals, while maintaining the core principles and provisions of the immigration legislation introduced prior to last fall’s general election. New provisions put a greater emphasis on (a) the principle that minor children will only be detained as a last resort, (b) equality of treatment to both opposite- and same-sex couples, and (c) the equality of status of both English and French as official languages. The bill also increases the time allowed for filing leave for judicial review of overseas decisions from 15 to 60 days.
The proposed bill and promised new regulations greatly enhance the ability of families to unite and reside in Canada. The age of sponsored dependent children will be increased from 19 to 22 and parents will be considered members of the family class through provisions contained in the Act as opposed to the regulations. The bill creates a new “in-Canada” landing class, allowing spouses and children to apply for permanent residence from within Canada. Sponsored spouses, partners and their dependents will not be refused admission to Canada on the grounds that they create an excessive demand on the medical system.
The provisions affecting the rights and obligations of permanent residents have been enhanced, more clearly distinguishing between foreign nationals and permanent residents. The right to an oral hearing before the Immigration and Refugee Board is now guaranteed prior to the loss of permanent resident status. Permanent residents will be allowed entry back into Canada without a valid permanent resident card if they have been residing outside Canada for less than one year. A warrant will now be required to arrest a permanent resident on any immigration related matter.
The new bill improves upon the access available to the Refugee Determination System. The IRB will be allowed to consider the possibility of politically trumped-up charges against an applicant in their home countries, except where the Minister determines the person to be a danger to the public. Unsuccessful refugee claimants will have access to a risk assessment prior to removal, including a possible oral hearing depending on the complexity of the case. Repeat claimants will have access to risk review after six months instead of the current one year. Convention refugees and protection people whose identities have been established will be provided with a document indicating their status as well as allowing them to apply for refugee travel documents.