Proposed Changes to Temporary Foreign Worker Program Compliance

On September 24, 2014, the Ministry of Economic and Social Development Canada (“ESDC“) posted on its website a discussion paper titled “Regulatory proposals to enhance the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and International Mobility Program compliance framework.”  ESDC appears to recognize that the existing legal authority to ban a non-compliant employer for two years and revoke associated Labour Market Impact Assessments (“LMIA“) may be too severe in some circumstances and not severe enough in other cases.  As such, the Government of Canada is proposing to introduce some compliance activities that are preventative and educational in nature, and others where the penalty for non-compliance is more severe. Specifically, ESDC is proposing to expand the range of bans from two years to include one, five, and ten year bans.

As will be seen below, however, there appears to be alot more “stick” than “carrot” in ESDC’s approach.

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The Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement

On September 22, 2014, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and South Korean President Park Geun-hye signed the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement (“CKFTA“).  Chapter 12 of the CKFTA provides for the facilitation of the temporary entry of business persons.  The CKFTA Final Agreement Summary notes that South Korea’s commitments are the most ambitious the country has ever negotiated in a free trade agreement.  For Canada, the CKFTA’s temporary entry provisions are pretty similar to those contained in the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA“), although there are differences.

The CKFTA is significant from a Canadian immigration perspective because prospective foreign workers who are eligible for work permits under the CKFTA do not require Labour Market Impact Assessments (“LMIA”).  Indeed, as the CKFTA Final Agreement Summary states:

When it comes to investing and providing services, there is no substitute for being on-site, where clients are located. Investors want to witness their investments, talk to their partners and get a feel for the local environment. Professionals, including architects, management consultants and engineers, need to contact clients on-site in order to fulfil contracts in the South Korean market.

Temporary-entry provisions in the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement address barriers that business persons face at the border, particularly by eliminating the need to obtain a labour market opinion and/or economic needs test. The Agreement will establish new preferential access to our respective markets and facilitate greater transparency and predictability for the movement of business persons between Canada and South Korea. The Agreement’s temporary-entry provisions complement commitments taken in the area of services, investment, goods and government procurement.

Any Canadian businesses seeking to hire United States or Mexican nationals will typically begin by determining whether their prospective employees are eligible for work permits under NAFTA.  When the CKFTA takes affect, the same will be true for Canadian employers hiring Korean nationals.

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The ICCRC Disciplinary Process [Updated 13/09/14]

Two days ago I met with an individual who claimed to have received horrible treatment from two separate immigration consultants in Metro Vancouver.  The specific alleged deplorable actions included that:

  • Consultant A refused to give the individual her Visitor Record until she paid him $2,000.00.
  • Consultant A refused to provide her with a BC PNP refusal letter, and to this day has not provided a copy of the refusal letter.
  • Consultant B refused to submit a response to a BC PNP fairness letter without receiving a large payment that was not mentioned in the retainer agreement.
  • Consultant B refused to meet with her once the application was refused.

Both of these consultants are licensed consultants and members of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (“ICCRC“).  I recommended that the individual file complaints against both consultants.  Unfortunately, my recommendation came with the caveat that to my knowledge the ICCRC has not once yet disciplined a single consultant against whom a complaint was filed.

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The Right to Counsel at the Port of Entry

Section 10 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides that:

10. Everyone has the right on arrest or detention
(a) to be informed promptly of the reasons therefore;
(b) to retain and instruct counsel without delay and to be informed of that right; and
(c) to have the validity of the detention determined by way of habeas corpus and to be released if the detention is not lawful.

In the immigration context, the right to counsel does not arise at most secondary examinations.  CBSA’s policy is not to permit counsel at examination if detention has not occurred, although officers will often waive this policy if they are satisfied that legal representatives will not interfere with the examination process.  The right to counsel does, however, arise when a routine search or examination becomes a detention.

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Addressing Newfoundland Nurses

On December 15, 2011 the Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) issues its decision in Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses’ Union v. Newfoundland and Labrador (Treasury Board), 2011 SCC 62, [2011] 3 SCR 708 (“Newfounland Nurses”).  As far as I can tell, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) has since relied on this decision in almost every immigration judicial review since.

In Newfoundland Nurses, the Supreme Court essentially abolished “adequacy of reasons” as a stand-alone ground for judicial review.  Rather, the SCC stated that an officer’s reasons must be read together with the outcome and serve the purpose of showing whether the result falls within a range of possible outcomes.  The SCC further stated that:

Reasons may not include all the arguments, statutory provisions, jurisprudence or other details the reviewing judge would have preferred, but that does not impugn the validity of either the reasons or the result under a reasonableness analysis. A decision-maker is not required to make an explicit finding on each constituent element, however subordinate, leading to its final conclusion (Service Employees’ International Union, Local No. 333 v. Nipawin District Staff Nurses Assn., 1973 CanLII 191 (SCC), [1975] 1 S.C.R. 382, at p. 391). In other words, if the reasons allow the reviewing court to understand why the tribunal made its decision and permit it to determine whether the conclusion is within the range of acceptable outcomes, the Dunsmuir criteria are met.

The fact that there may be an alternative interpretation of the agreement to that provided by the arbitrator does not inevitably lead to the conclusion that the arbitrator’s decision should be set aside if the decision itself is in the realm of reasonable outcomes. Reviewing judges should pay “respectful attention” to the decision-maker’s reasons, and be cautious about substituting their own view of the proper outcome by designating certain omissions in the reasons to be fateful.

As one immigration lawyer put it, the DOJ has since argued that under the Newfoundland Nurses reasonableness standard the Federal Court must uphold a tribunal’s decision as long as it falls within the most extremely close to unreasonable range of possibilities that the most extreme officer dictates.  In one case of mine, the DOJ even argued that there could basically be no reasons so long as the Federal Court thought that the decision was a possibly correct one that the tribunal could reach.  But is this really the case?

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Standard of Review in Refugee Appeal Division Hearings

On December 15, 2012, the Refugee Appeal Division (“RAD”) began considering appeals against decisions from the Refugee Projection Division (“RPD”) to allow or reject refugee claims.  According to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada’s website, the steps to a RAD appeal are:

  • Once you receive the written reasons for the decision from the Refugee Protection Division, you have 15 days to file a Notice of Appeal.
  • You have 30 days from the day you received your written reasons for the RPD decision to perfect your appeal by filing an Appellants Record.
  • The Minister may choose to intervene at any point in the appeal.
  • The RAD Member makes a decision on your appeal. In most cases, this decision will be provided to you no later than 90 days after you have perfected your appeal, unless an oral hearing is held.

Almost immediately there was uncertainty over what the role of the RAD was.  The RAD began operating under the assumption that it would review RPD decisions using the reasonableness standard, and its members began stating that the following principles governed its appeals:

  • that deference is owed to RPD findings of fact and questions of mixed law and fact;
  • that deference is owed to the RPD where the issue in a claim is factual;
  • that the role of the RAD was to ensure a fair and efficient adjudication and that refugee protection be granted where appropriate. As such, the RAD can substitute the RPD’s determination with its own;
  • that in some cases the RAD, in order to bring finality to the refugee process, may be entitled to show less deference to the RPD;
  • that while both the RPD and the RAD are specialized tribunals, the RPD had advantages in fact finding (particularly on credibility) which suggests deference; and
  • that the failure to show deference to the RPD would undermine the RPD’s process.

In Huruglica v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration Canada), the Federal Court determined that this was an incorrect approach.

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Labour Market Impact Assessments – Recruitment Requirements

Employers wishing to apply for Labour Market Impact Assessments are required to conduct recruitment efforts to hire Canadian citizens and permanent residents.  The Ministry of Economic and Social Development (“ESDC” or “Service Canada“) is very stringent in its recruitment requirements, many of which are not publicly available.  In this blog post I seek to provide a comprehensive overview of Service Canada’s recruitment requirements, including providing a summary of the publicly available information on the Service Canada website, as well as summarizing and reproducing internal ESDC directives.

I would like to thank Jacobus Kriek, an immigration consultant with Matrixvisa Inc., for providing me copies of the internal Service Canada directives and e-mails that he has obtained.

Please note that what I have reproduced below should not be viewed as legal advice by ESDC or Service Canada.  The reproduction of the material below has not occurred with the affiliation of the Government of Canada, nor with the endorsement of the Government of Canada. As well, given the nature of relying on internal documents, some of the information may be out of date.

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Court Certifies Question on Judicial Review of 117(9)(d) Refusals – [Updated August 6]

The Federal Court (the “Court“) in Habtenkiel v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), has certified a question that if answered in the affirmative would seem to pretty much shut the door on humanitarian & compassionate (“H&C“) appeals of s. 117(9)(d) refusals.  The certified question is:

In light of sections 72(2)(a), 63(1) and 65 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, S.C. 2001, c. 27, and the case of Somodi v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)2009 FCA 288 (CanLII), [2010] 4 F.C.R. 26 (F.C.A.), where the applicant has made a family class sponsorship application and requested humanitarian and compassionate considerations within the application, is the applicant precluded from seeking judicial review by the Federal Court before exhausting their right of appeal to the Immigration Appeal Division where the right of appeal is limited pursuant to paragraph 117(9)(d) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, SOR/2002-227?

That question is long and confusing, but lets break it down.

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