Rejection rates for permanent residency sharply increase from 2019
Rejection rates for permanent residency sharply increase from 2019
For applications in humanitarian and compassionate grounds
July 19, 2021
By Veronica Silva Cusi
The Philippine Reporter
Migrant rights advocates have noted the doubling of rejection rates for applications for permanent residency based on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, from 2019 to January-March 2021, prompting them to suspect arbitrary and “secretive policy.”
On July 13, Migrant Rights Network released data which they said came from Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). The data, which they said are a cause for “grave concern,” showed that the acceptance rate for H&C applications dropped to 42 per cent in 2020 from an average of 64 per cent for applications up to 2019. In the first quarter this year, approvals have dropped to 30 per cent so far.
Rejection rates, on the other hand, climbed to more than 57 per cent in 2020 from 35 per cent in 2019. In the first quarter of 2021, rejection rate has so far climbed to almost 70 per cent.
“Humanitarian and compassionate application is the only way for most undocumented migrants to access permanent residency and yet it is a difficult expensive and time-consuming process,” said Syed of the Migrant Rights Network secretariat during the virtual press event. “… [It] is the only opportunity for over half a million residents to have a shot at getting basic labour rights, healthcare, and access to social supports that permanent resident status provides. By doubling rejections, Prime Minister Trudeau is doubling the potential for exploitation.”
He added that the “systematic pattern of rejection” has been happening for the last two years and “the rejections are specifically of racialized, low-wage migrants.”
MRN said these undocumented were either former international students or workers or refugees with expired permits because their applications for extensions or refugee status were not approved. Some were victims of illegal recruiters or human trafficking.
Divine Cruz of the Vancouver Committee for Domestic Workers’ and Caregivers’ Rights said she was brought to Canada in 2018 on a visitor’s visa by her elderly couple employers from Hong Kong. When her visitor’s visa was about to expire, she was assured that she would go back to Hong Kong. However, her employer reneged on this, so her visa expired. Her employer also stopped paying her soon as she arrived in Canada except for a one-time $20.
“I applied for a temporary residence permit three times, but all of them were refused, including my application for permanent residency because according to IRCC, he [IRCC officer] was not satisfied with the submitted documents,” said Cruz during the live press event. With community support, she now has a new lawyer and a court hearing in August to see if a new IRCC officer can review her case.
“I am afraid to go back to Philippines because my father was murdered, and I got shot there, and it’s very hard to find a job there. I left the Philippines for this. I’m scared not only for myself but for my 18-month-old baby,” Cruz added. “Without status, I do not have medical insurance, I cannot avail of any government services, I do not have any rights and most importantly, I cannot find a living for myself and for my son because I’m not allowed to find a job.”
Applicants who spoke at the virtual press conference said they have spent thousands of dollars on several applications, yet they were still rejected.
“The Humanitarian and Compassionate claim is an application of a last resort, for women fleeing gender violence, homeless people, and other undocumented families,” said immigration consultant Macdonald Scott from Carranza LLP in a statement.
Aside from being a lengthy process, Scott said during the press event that H&C applications can cost up to $5,000 each applicant and their families, with some applicants even hiring an immigration lawyer.
Lorlie Pude of Migrante Alberta has been in Canada since 2012 and has applied three times for H&C. Her application was denied the third time last January 2021. She works as a custodian at a public school in Edmonton. While she has an open work permit, she said her permit is valid only up to this month. She said her passport has been submitted to the Canada Border Services Agency for pre-removal assessment, and she has been regularly reporting to CBSA by phone.
“It’s stressful for me because anytime they [CBSA] can call me to go back home because my open work permit doesn’t have status,” said Pude, who has a seven-year-old daughter who she said has adapted to life in Canada. “I’m worried about my daughter. … My place back home in Mindanao is not safe for her. They rejected my application [because] they [IRCC] are not convinced that I can’t find work back home and my daughter can’t adapt to the situation in the Philippines.”
Both Cruz and Pude also said their jobs in Canada are essential, especially during the pandemic.
“The rejections increased without any announced change in policy, at the same time as immigration levels in Canada saw a historic downturn in 2020,” said MRN in a statement.
In October 2020, the federal government increased its immigration targets for 2021 to 2023 due to a “shortfall in 2020” due to the pandemic.
This April, the federal government opened temporary policies for essential and non-essential workers already in Canada to get PR status. However, groups such as MRN and their alliance members said these policies exclude thousands, including the undocumented.
Licel of Migrante Alberta based in Calgary came to Canada in 2014. But due to a then federal policy on moratorium for temporary foreign workers, her status expired. She gave birth to her daughter four years ago without her husband who was deported back to the Philippines.
With the help of a lawyer, Licel said she filed an H&C application, which was surprisingly rejected in a few months’ time. She said she has applied for Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) to know the reasons for the rejection but has yet to hear back.
“No one knows how or why the decision was made to suddenly increase refusals, and that makes it hard to challenge. This has made an already arbitrary policy much worse, and with a very serious human cost,” Scott added in the statement.
Licel said “it is very frustrating for undocumented migrants like me. We did everything we could for the application but still we ended up denied. We spent thousands of dollars for the applications and gathering of evidence and documents are overwhelming and stressful.”
“We cannot live our life like others. We’re not legally allowed to work while waiting years for this application. You cannot access healthcare; we live in constant fear of one day we might get deported,” Licel added.
Marisol Bobadilla of Migrante Canada based in Toronto came to Canada as a temporary foreign worker in 2012. However, two and a half years later, she was conned by an illegal recruiter, causing her to lose status.
“I applied for permanent resident through humanitarian and compassionate grounds for the best interests of my children [but after] the long wait, I was still refused,” said Bobadilla in a taped statement. “I am like many of the thousands of migrant workers who left their hungry families in their own country like the Philippines in exchange for working elsewhere to support them financially. Exhaustion, sleepless night and sadness are some of our experiences as a migrant worker here in Canada, and our situation has worsened during the pandemic.”
She called on Trudeau for sympathy given that many migrant workers continue with their essential work, such as farm work and caregiving, to deliver essential services and to keep the Canadian economy going.
“We chose Canada under the assumption that this government has good migrant policies. We thought that you had sympathy and concern for every migrant worker. Where is your promise? Where is your sympathy? Today, we demand the Government of Canada and ask Prime Minister Trudeau to keep your promise. We are also a human being with a family. If you are true to your promise, you will not hesitate to give the full protection,” said Bobadilla.