In this post, I will discuss the basic tenets of Canadian immigration law, specifically the basic tenets of the current system.
Although Canada has a reputation for being an open and welcoming country to immigrants from all over the world, as anyone who attempts to navigate the system soon discovers, the reality is far more complex. Historically, Canada has been open to immigration from some regions and closed to others, although the system is nominally more equitable today. Because the federal government is given purview over immigration by the Canadian constitution (primarily through two agencies, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), its policy priorities determine how easy or difficult any potential immigration route will be. As these priorities change with different elected governments, as well, making immigration policies to satisfy their political constituents, and even from month to month or week to week, in programs such as Express Entry, making any predictions about whether an application will be accepted or rejected is never a good idea.
One of the foundations of modern immigration is the concept of status. Everyone on Earth is divided, by immigration authorities, into various groups. These include Canadian citizens, permanent residents and foreign nationals (such as visitors, workers, diplomats, refugee claimants, asylum seekers, and others). Status is gained both by simple chance (where you are born and who your parents are) as well as active work to fulfill certain requirements. Different statuses give different rights and privileges, and some can be lost depending on personal conduct, government policy, or court decisions.
Anyone who enters Canada has a status, based on the evidence provided to the government. Sometimes this is permanent, based on employment (such as foreign diplomats, who are treated differently from other foreign nationals), other times it is temporary, with a set expiration date, for foreign workers or students
These statuses can be confusing, especially when they overlap with dates such as passport expirations, work or study terms, or urgent travel needs. Government requirements can change without warning, processing fees can be increased (or occasionally decreased), forms can be updated, and new court decisions can make a case easier or more difficult to meet. Communications from IRCC may be lacking or ambiguous, with requests for additional information catching applicants off guard. Finally, external factors out of any government's control can shut borders down, such as the health crisis currently affecting the world as of the time of this writing.
All of these potential pitfalls highlight the need for a lawyer or other immigration professional to assist you. When it comes to immigration, even a seemingly 'simple' application or request can be rejected, causing problems later on. As a lawyer, I can assist with an immigration matter in the following ways:
This blog details the many legal issues among Luka's practice areas, for a general audience. None of this information is a substitute for legal advice.