Immigration

New measures help most vulnerable immigrants

By AdvocateDaily.com Staff

Three new measures recently announced by the federal government will help vulnerable newcomers establish themselves in Canada, says Toronto immigration lawyer Robin Seligman.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) unveiled the initiatives in late May, promising to help vulnerable migrant workers, newcomers facing family abuse, and immigrants who want to sponsor family members that they didn’t initially declare.

“These policy changes represent a step in the right direction, and are very welcome,” Seligman, principal of immigration law boutique Seligman Law, tells AdvocateDaily.com.

The first program update took effect on June 4, 2019, allowing temporary foreign workers with employer-specific work permits to escape abusive employment environments by applying for open work permits.

Seligman explains that the new rule will benefit migrant workers who endure mistreatment by employers, feeling trapped in abusive situations by the threat of punishment or termination, which could endanger their legal status in the country.

An open work permit will allow workers to legally find another job in Canada, while also triggering an automatic compliance inspection for the applicants’ former employers.

According to IRCC, more than 160 employers have committed violations of temporary foreign worker rules, resulting in monetary penalties or hiring bans. Cases involving potentially criminal behaviour are referred to Canada Border Services Agency or the appropriate police force, the news release adds.

The second new policy, which comes into force on July 26, 2019, creates a free temporary resident permit for newcomers fleeing family violence, allowing them to work and obtain health coverage independently of an abusive spouse or partner on whom their status in Canada would otherwise rely.

Also, IRCC will expedite the permanent residence process for individuals experiencing urgent situations of family violence in Canada, and whose applications are based on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

Finally, IRCC announced that on September 9, 2019, it will launch a two-year pilot program for refugees or people who were themselves sponsored as a spouse, partner or dependent child, to sponsor previously undeclared immediate family members.

Seligman says that previously, the consequence for failing to declare a family member on arrival in Canada was a lifetime ban on sponsoring that person in the future.

"This has been a problem since the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act came into force in 2002, and it is a change I have advocated for years along with the Canadian Bar Association," Seligman says.

“Today, we right that wrong,” added Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Ahmed Hussen in a statement announcing the changes.

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