Saturday, 16 December 2017 13:29

Punjabis Sign up for Nanny School to get Visas

Canada’s commitment to boost its live-in caregiver program as a pathway to citizenship has boosted the business of “nanny institutes” in Punjab.

Traditionally, people from Punjab have gone to Canada as farmers, plumbers, carpenters, electricians and welders.

For Punjabis dreaming of better opportunities abroad, a caregiver visa is now one of the best white collar ways to get into Canada, reported the Indian Express.

“Going to Canada as caregiver is a relatively new trend. After an initial boom, there was a downturn in 2009 when the processing time took much longer due to the increasing number of aspirants. Since last year, there is again a boom as rules were changed. Now a caregiver need not live with the family round-the-clock, but for a minimum eight hours in a day,” said Gursharan Sodhi, who runs the Chandigarh-based Cali Healthcare Resources (CHR).

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“I will get a good salary and better environment there.”-Jatinder Kaur, 22[/quote]

There are about 10 institutes in the Chandigarh and Mohali areas alone offering the “nanny course”, charging between Rs 60,000 and Rs 90,000

The number of students in each class varies between 10 and 30.

 A network of agents offers “packages” to the aspiring immigrants, complete with the “nanny” course and a job offer from Canada.

Armed with a certificate from a training institute, and a signed agreement of employment, a visa applicant can apply for a two-year work permit. After two years of working as a caregiver, the candidate is free to apply for a permanent residency and later citizenship in Canada.

Jatinder Kaur, 22, is an economics graduate from Kapurthala and is enrolled with Chandigarh Immigration. She described the course as “first aid, taking care of children and elderly, prescription reading”. And admitted that her goal is Canada.

“I will get a good salary and better environment there.”

Fellow student Sukhjeet Singh, a 25-year-old electrical engineer from Hoshiarpur and the son of a Punjab Police inspector, said there is no money in engineering jobs. “I worked as an engineer for three years. I was getting about Rs 20,000 as salary. As a nanny in Canada, I hope to easily make more than Rs 1 lakh.”

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada recently said  it will have the backlog of permanent residence applications through the old Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) largely cleared by the end of 2018.

In an announcement on Dec. 3, IRCC said its goal is to finalize 80 per cent of applications for permanent residence submitted on or before Oct. 1, 2017, by caregivers and their family members through the LCP.

“The commitments the government has made today will mean that many Live-in Caregiver Program applicants who have faced long delays and family separation may soon reach their goal of permanent residence,” Canada’s Immigration Minister, Ahmed Hussen, said in a news release.

“After diligently providing care for Canadians, they may soon be in the company of their own loved ones, together in Canada.”

The program provided foreign nationals with at least two years of full-time, live-in employment as a caregiver in Canada with a direct pathway to permanent residence. The program was closed in 2014 but thousands of caregivers who were working in Canada were given an extended opportunity to apply for permanent residence.

As many as 6,000 more applications for permanent residence under the LCP could still be submitted, IRCC says.

In its announcement, IRCC also committed to processing 80 per cent of new, complete LCP applications submitted on or after Oct. 1, 2017, within 12 months.

As of Oct. 1, 2017, IRCC said the number of caregivers and their family members waiting for their applications to be finalized had been reduced by 63 per cent. This reduction was due in part to additional resources that IRCC dedicated to processing the backlog of applications.

IRCC says this push has it on track to finalize 5,000 more cases than it had originally forecast for 2017. In total, 20,000 new permanent residents will be welcomed to Canada this year in the caregiver category.

IRCC also said that developments could soon be announced regarding a proposal to eliminate the $1,000 Labour Market Impact Assessment fee for Canadian families looking to hire a foreign worker to care for a person with high medical needs. The fee would also be eliminated for Canadian families with an income of less than $150,000, who are looking to hire a foreign worker to provide childcare.

But not all Punjabis who turn up in Canada as caregivers remain as such, and might switch to other jobs after becoming permanent residents, said an immigration expert in Chandigarh.

 “The majority of Punjabi immigrants do not want to work at someone’s home abroad. Also, the many Punjabi families in Canada who give job offers do not want a nanny either. It has become a sort of business for many to charge money for paperwork. For others, it is a way to help relatives and friends enter Canada,” the expert, wishing not to be named, told Indian Express.

National Institute Chandigarh owner G L Kaushal said caregiver employers usually cross-check several times to ensure that the probable caregiver does the job diligently once abroad.

Students at the institutes confessed that they had tried unsuccessfully for US or Canadian visas earlier. “My family is settled in the United States. But the US turned down my visa twice citing that I was overage. There is no upper age limit for caregiver job,” said Rupinder Kaur, 26, who has come from Amritsar to the CHR institute.

A woman from Faridkot, with a B.Sc in Biotechnology, said her application for visa for Canada under the hairstylist category was rejected a few years back. She hid her B.Sc. qualification at the time of application. She is now trying again under the LCP.

Republished under arrangement with the South Asian Post.

Published in Top Stories

By: Kelly Toughill in Halifax

Thousands of families will soon get a second chance to bring parents and grandparents to Canada.

That’s the good news recently announced by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

The bad news is that there is no chance Canada will keep its promise to issue 10,000 permanent resident visas to extended family members in 2017.

Officials won’t even finish collecting the new applications until December and it will take months to process those applications after they arrive.

Problems with the parent and grandparent sponsorship program are a classic case of great intentions gone wrong. In this case, families who followed the rules were suddenly shut out of the system, and other families were given false hope that they could reunite with ailing relatives.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet have changed Canada’s immigration system significantly in the last 16 months. They reversed a much-criticized law that allowed the government to strip people of their Canadian citizenship. They set up new programs to help businesses recruit tech workers and to support Francophone immigration outside Quebec. They made it easier for entrepreneurs to come to Canada, and eased rules for workers who want to move to struggling Atlantic Canada. They shortened the wait time to sponsor a spouse and made the forms easier to read and understand. They helped international students by setting up a new, speedy immigration program in Atlantic Canada, giving students extra points for Canadian degrees and making it easier for international students to become citizens after they get permanent resident status.

Those changes were greeted with relief and even gratitude across Canada.

Changes to the parent and grandparent program were supposed to be another feel-good tweak to the system. Instead, the changes angered the very consitutuency the government was trying to please.

Under the Conservative government, Ottawa set a quota each year for the number of Canadian families that could sponsor a parent or grandparent for permanent resident status. The Liberal government doubled the quota from 5,000 to 10,000, but initially kept the same process: applications opened in early January and closed when the quota was reached – always within days.

To win one of the coveted visas, most families hired experienced immigration lawyers or consultants and paid stiff fees for private couriers to wait in line outside the Mississauga processing centre the night before the program opened.

Just three weeks before the program was expected to open this year, the government announced it was scrapping the first-come, first-served system. Instead, then-Immigration Minister John McCallum invited families to fill out an online form and promised to hold a lottery to decide who could formally apply. He called the new process “more fair and transparent.”

The announcement came after thousands of families had already prepared applications that require medical exams, police certificates and expensive translations, not to mention lawyers’ fees. Many families wasted months of work and thousands of dollars on applications they would never get to file.

The larger problem, though, was the online form set up to register for the lottery; families could fill out the form without figuring out if they were actually eligible to sponsor a parent or grandparent.

Most know that only Canadian citizens and permanent residents can sponsor a parent or grandparent for permanent resident status. But many don’t know that you must be able to support that parent and that the only acceptable proof of your financial ability is past income tax forms. Many also didn’t realize that parents and grandparents must be healthy to immigrate to Canada.

When immigration lawyers and regulated consultants saw the online form, many immediately warned of coming pandemonium. Some dismissed those warnings as sour grapes, suggesting that lawyers were just mad that clients might be able to sponsor relatives without their high-priced help.

It turns out the lawyers were right.

Almost 100,000 families registered for the lottery, but only a fraction of the 10,000 that were invited to apply actually managed to do so.

Immigration consultants shared stories of clients showing up on their doorstep with expectations that Canada was going to immediately fly their relatives here because the family had “won the lottery.” Many had no idea they still had to pull together the complex and expensive application in 90 days. In June, an immigration official told a conference that only 700 of the 10,000 families had filed applications, and that 15 percent of those applications were incomplete.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada still doesn’t know how many of the 10,000 families invited to apply will actually get to bring their relatives to Canada. A spokesperson said this week that 6,020 of the 10,000 families invited to apply last February actually filed applications. However, immigration officers still don’t know how many of those application are complete or valid. Those numbers are expected later this fall.

In the meantime, Ottawa has quietly launched a second lottery. The notice was posted Friday afternoon before Labour Day. The new invitations were sent out on Sept. 6. Families must finish the applications by Dec. 8, and it will take several months after that deadline for permanent resident visas to be issued.

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen vigorously defended the new application process in early summer, when the problems first became public. Hussen could not be reached for comment this week, but a spokesperson for the department suggested the new process might change.

“This is the first year that we’re using the new random selection intake process, and we are actively monitoring this model to see how we can make improvements in future years,” communications advisor Faith St.-John wrote in an email.

Kelly Toughill is an associate professor of journalism at the University of King’s College and founder of Polestar Immigration Research Inc.

Published in Policy
Tuesday, 04 April 2017 18:35

Feeling Like a Stranger at Home

Commentary by Laska Paré in Toronto

“If you were born in Canada, you won!” was the catchphrase that came to mind during my flight's turbulent descent into Toronto airport. The next thing I knew, flight EK 241 was making harsh contact with the runway, followed by the pilot’s announcement: “Welcome to Toronto Pearson International Airport.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. Am I really here? After twenty-nine months, am I finally back?

I stood up slowly, as you do after a 14-hour flight and let out a big sigh of relief.

I was back in Canada, my home and native land.

As I trudged through the airport, I considered how elated my grandma would be. During my time away, she always made it a point to end our calls by reminding me that people around the world were dying to get into Canada, hoping to create stable opportunities for themselves and their families.

And there I was, instead, gallivanting to every developing Asian country I could locate on a map. 

The birthright lottery

Having won the birthright lottery, that is, a Canadian passport, I've always felt as if it was my duty and responsibility to understand the value of my citizenship. My grandma was right – people risk their lives for a chance to have a decent life in Canada.

But, I've also always wanted to know more about the struggle of newcomers and perhaps gain a better understanding of how immigrants and dual citizens identify once they are in Canada. Do they identify as strangers? Does Canada ever truly feel like their home?

Two and a half years have passed since I set foot on Canadian soil. For some, that seems like a lifetime to go without seeing family, friends, or a house pet.

But after living across Asia and witnessing the sacrifices people make to provide for their family – seeing their spouses and children on a short holiday once a year, if that, for example – my absence and sacrifice seem very brief and insignificant.  

Defining Strangers at Home

A "stranger" is an individual who does not belong as her position in a group is determined by the fact that she has not belonged to it from the beginning. A "home" may be understood to be a place where individuals experience a sense of security and are comfortable in familiar surroundings.

Therefore, feeling like a stranger suggests that an individual does not identify with the people around him, and consequently, does not belong or does not feel accepted in the place that he identifies as home.

As I took my place in the "citizen" queue in the customs hall, I couldn’t help but feel as if something was wrong.

By now, I knew bits of several languages, had become accustomed to eating rice with my hands, greeted people by saying “Namaste” and mastered the skill of washing my hair upside-down in a bucket. My norms, customs and mannerisms would come across as abnormal to the rest of my native, Canadian comrades. For the first time, I felt like a stranger at home.

Understanding the Other

The customs officer signaled that it was okay for me to approach the counter. He flipped through my passport – pages now filled with stamps and visas – and without a question about my two-and-a-half-year absence, waved me through with a jaunty, “Welcome home.”

I looked back at the long line of anxious visitors, hands filled with papers and documents. Not only had I travelled all over Asia without struggle, but I was able to come “home” after an extended trip and not be questioned about my absence.

It was in that moment that I understood why all the sacrifice and risk was worth the chance in Canada.

Now settled in Toronto, not a day goes by when I don’t feel grateful for my citizenship.

While I’m still adjusting to life in the city, there’s no question I’ve gained a better understanding of how new immigrants and dual citizens may feel upon their arrival in Canada, as I now identify with countries and ethnic groups not part of my country of origin.

After so much sacrifice in the hopes for a better life, the ambiguity around identity and desire to identify with one’s new “home” must be difficult for new residents. Building a new life is one thing; however, reconstructing one’s sense of belonging to a nation must require time. 

As I greeted my uncle in the arrivals hall and looked around at the room filled with diverse faces, I realized that to identify as a stranger is to empathize with all Canadians – because diversity has built our land.

An experienced mentor to women in business and the youth, Laska has an unshakeable passion for writing. Inspired by helping people realize their human potential, when not coaching a client or sitting at her computer creating engaging content, you will find her outside seeking adventure.

Published in Arts & Culture
Wednesday, 01 February 2017 18:00

Listening to our International Students

Commentary by Will Tao in Vancouver
Canada’s international students, particularly those in major metropolitan cities such as Toronto and Vancouver, have been subject to intense criticism over the last year.
The students – over 363,000 of them – have been blamed directly or indirectly for a range of social problems, such as overheated rental markets, unaffordable housing, burden on public services, cheating, and bizarrely, even driving pricey cars.
The bulk of these criticisms are based on anecdotal accounts, in the absence of any strong statistical evidence. These accounts come from professors who study and interview as part of their work, and anonymous, retired institutional administrators who can now share stories freely, without needing to validate their assertions.  
These accounts also come from journalists looking to report on the latest cross-cultural phenomenon. At the end of the day, while they may capture some of the reality and part of the story, they are ultimately one-sided.  
Outsider narrative
What bothers me, as the Canadian-born son of a 1980’s international student and as someone who is now married to an international student, is that this outsider narrative represents only one side of the story. In drawing many of our conclusions, we have not been good listeners of international students, the true insiders.
In reality, we have generally silenced their perspectives and ignored their challenges, and taken for granted our own privileges while laying blame and assigning motives.
For starters, it is worth noting that an overwhelming majority of international students are bona-fide, meaning they are genuine, immigration law-abiding students.
In 2014, Canadian Bureau of International Education counted 336,000 international students, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (as it was then called) estimated that 20,000 of them were considered “high risk”, that is, likely to violate immigration law.
This accounts for only about six per cent of all international students admitted into Canada.
Jumping hoops
Next, it is important to hear from international students themselves to learn about the challenges and barriers they face, and for often understandable reasons do not feel like sharing them publicly. In my own practice, I have found that there are three major barriers.

Firstly, Canada’s own immigration policies have made it difficult for international students. On the front end, the financial requirements are difficult to meet. International students need to show unreasonably high available funds just to be approved for study permits and seek extensions for their studies.  The prohibitive cost of international tuition forces many students to take a break from their studies or resort to extreme measures (like taking up jobs in violation of their study permits or taking out private loans) to keep with the payments.

Once a student is here, Canada currently has a restrictive requirement that students ‘actively-pursue studies.’ Educational institutions now have two-tiered policies, under which international students are subject to excessive monitoring and reporting requirements. Depending on the institution, international students have to take a certain number of courses and maintain a certain attendance rate, while domestic students do not. Students with family emergencies, mental health episodes, poor grades, or who simply want to explore a different area, are often hamstrung.
On the back end, once they are ready to graduate, these same international students have difficulty obtaining post-graduate work permits based on their study history. Without the work experience from these permits, the already difficult pathway to permanent residence is mostly closed.
Societal barriers
Secondly, there are major societal barriers against international students. I have worked with many international student advisors at universities and colleges who recount anecdotal stories of students breaking down as a result of mental health issues. Without family and often inadequate knowledge or language ability to seek professional help, these students are particularly vulnerable.
Institutions, I am told by these students, have not always done the best to accommodate their cultural differences or to eliminate discriminative practices or advise without implicit biases. These issues are almost never reported in the media.
Finally, there is an underbelly of inadequate (often unethical) third-party services being offered and provided to international students. Many of these purported advisors are untrained and unqualified educational consultants and agents. Inevitably, if not sooner rather than later, students advised by these individuals find themselves personally liable in situations akin to fraud or misrepresentation, for which there are severe criminal and immigration consequences.
Seat at the table
Regardless of the economic and political questions raised by student immigration, we must not forget that international students need to have a seat at the policy-making table. We have seen the example from down south about what happens when immigration law is mandated by public opinion, fear, and top-down orders.
If we continue down this path of blaming and not understanding, I foresee only increased fracturing within our already increasingly fragile mosaic.
Ultimately, international students can only become an important asset when we as a society stop viewing them solely as cash cows or visitors. We should be viewing as prospective future citizens.
Will Tao is a Canadian immigration lawyer based in Vancouver, B.C., with a practice primary focused on complex immigration applications and refusals on behalf of educational institutions and international students. Tao is a former New Canadian Media Board Member. He currently sits on the Canadian Bar Association British Columbia’s Equality and Diversity Committee and on the City of Vancouver’s Cultural Communities Advisory Committee.
Published in Education

by Jeremy J. Nuttall in Ottawa

The federal New Democrats are demanding action from Ottawa after hearing the Chinese government is refusing to recognize Canadian citizenship when granting visas to those with roots in Hong Kong or Mainland China.

NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan said she is sending a letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion after speaking to travel agents in Toronto and Vancouver who report Beijing is denying Canadian citizens of Chinese origin the right to obtain visas using their Canadian passports.

Instead, they are reportedly being issued travel documents as Chinese nationals, which means they won't have the protection of the Canadian embassy while travelling in China.

Kwan said until June 2, Canadian citizens born in Hong Kong or Mainland China could choose to travel as Chinese nationals or Canadian citizens. Now Beijing is apparently forcing them to travel as Chinese nationals.

"It's a major shift in practice from what it used to be and is of big concern to people," she said.

Even Canadian citizens born here to Chinese parents must apply for Chinese travel documents if they have not travelled to the country as Canadians before, Kwan said.

One Toronto travel agent, who spoke to The Tyee on the condition of anonymity, said his company arranges visas for visitors to Mainland China. Applications have been denied for people born in Hong Kong, Mainland China, or Taiwan, the agent said. The Beijing government has also denied visas to Canadian-born children of Chinese origin parents, he said.

The rejections have come with notes directing the applicants to go to a Chinese consulate in person to apply for travel documents.

Many people have opted to cancel their trips to China rather than travel as Chinese nationals, said the agent.

Tightening controls?

China expert Charles Burton, a professor at Brock University, said the move appears to be part of Beijing's attempt to tighten control globally to mute dissent against the ruling regime.

Burton pointed to a recent case of a Hong Kong bookseller with a Swedish passport who was arrested in Thailand and sent to China for "interrogation" as an example of Beijing's actions.

He said the reported policy would be in line with China's policy of considering anyone with Chinese heritage as subject to Beijing's authority.

"I think it does have a chilling effect on people of Chinese origin who felt that acquisition of foreign citizenship gave them a degree of protection," Burton said. "It goes against international law; it's part and parcel of China's refusal to acknowledge the authority of international regimes in general."

He said the policy could be considered discrimination because Beijing is issuing visas based solely on people's ethnicity.

Burton said Canada must raise the issue with China at the highest levels.

The revelations come four weeks after Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi had a tantrumwhen a Canadian reporter in Ottawa asked him about China's detention of Canadian citizen Kevin Garratt, aggressive moves in the South China Sea, and the disappearances of merchants in Hong Kong selling books critical of the Chinese government.

Following the outburst Ottawa faced criticism for its declaration of plans to deepen ties with China.

Global Affairs Canada said it was aware of the visa situation and intends to raise the issue with Beijing, but would not grant an interview with Dion.

** Story update, June 30: Since NDP MP Jenny Kwan's initial complaint, the Chinese embassy in Ottawa has issued a statement saying it has not changed its policy, but gives no explanation for why it was asking people to apply for Chinese travel documents.

"It should be noted that we welcome visit to China by Canadians of Hong Kong origin," read the statement. "There is no such a thing as China tightening its travel document-related policies."

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei also addressed the issue in his regular press briefing in Beijing.

Kwan released a statement in response suggesting that people who had problems apply once again and to bring the full Chinese statement from the Chinese embassy with them when they do.

Republished with permission from The Tyee. 

Published in Top Stories
Thursday, 16 June 2016 18:06

Visa Officers Largely Bias-Free: Author

by Howard Ramos in Halifax, Nova Scotia 

In a country where over one in five people are immigrants and far more are children and relatives of immigrants, questions of who gets into Canada and how decisions are made on immigration matters are of central concern. For instance, does the immigration system profile people from particular countries or specific ethnic or racial backgrounds? How is family sponsorship evaluated? And why do some people get visas to visit while others don’t?

Questions like these are tackled head-on by McMaster sociologist Vic Satzewich in his prize winning book Points of Entry: How Canada’s Immigration Officers Decide Who Gets In. He offers a comprehensive overview of Canada’s immigration system by looking at the overall social and political context driving immigration, the organizational structure of the Immigration department, and most interestingly, how immigration officers on the ground make decisions on individual applications and prospective immigrants. [We have excerpted a section of the Introduction to give readers a flavour of the kind of dilemmas visa officers face.]

Biases in the system

The professor visited 11 visa office abroad between 2010 and 2012 across all regions and also met with officials in Ottawa several times. In his visits he tagged along with visa officers to see how they do their jobs, reviewing field operating notes and discussing with them about how they make their decisions.

He was particularly interested in examining the discretion that immigration officers have in their decisions, and their role as, what he calls, street-level bureaucrats. Their discretion and ability to make on the ground decisions have led some to question whether there are biases and hidden agendas in Canada’s immigration system.

Satzewich found no direct evidence of discrimination in approval and refusal rates across visa offices around the world, nor did he observe it through the practices of immigration officers. In fact, he found little variation in rates across regions and source countries, with officers very aware of the need for consistent application of policies. He drilled down into specific visa categories by looking at decisions made around spousal and partner sponsorship, decisions on those applying under the skilled worker program, as well as those seeking visitor visas.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Satzewich found no direct evidence of discrimination in approval and refusal rates across visa offices around the world, nor did he observe it through the practices of immigration officers.[/quote]

Continual change

His analysis of the family pathway offers important insights on the Canadian government’s concern with marriage fraud. His analysis is vivid and colouful, with descriptions of what goes into case processing and an explanation of how immigration officers identify anomalies they want to investigate and then ultimately the interviews they conduct with prospective immigrants and their sponsors.

His analysis of skilled workers offers a similar level of insight.

During his field research, Canada’s immigration system was in a period of rapid and constant change. Former immigration minister Jason Kenney tweaked how the system worked on a regular basis, ultimately leading to fundamental changes to the immigration system. Satzewich tracked those changes and how it affected the system and on the ground decisions by immigration officers.

One significant change documented is the increased importance of visitor visas over permanent residency with the introduction of a super visa for parents and grandparents, the rise of temporary foreign worker applications, and a move towards attracting more international students.

Another important change was the previous government’s move to rationalize the processing of immigrants and speed up the processing time.

Increased pressure

Rather than finding overt bias and discrimination in the immigration system, what Satzewich found was an increased pressure on immigration officers stemming from a move towards immigration processing targets, faster deadlines, increased use of impersonal evaluation criteria, the auditing of their decisions and a move away from interviews and discretionary autonomy.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]... Satzewich found was an increased pressure on immigration officers stemming from a move towards immigration processing targets, faster deadlines, increased use of impersonal evaluation criteria, the auditing of their decisions and a move away from interviews and discretionary autonomy.[/quote]

Despite all the changes, Satzewich did not find a nostalgic longing for “old times” among the immigration officers he spoke with. In part, this is because of generational turnover, with fewer and fewer officers having worked in the immigration system when their on-the-ground decisions carried more weight in the evaluation of files.

His research ultimately shows that Canadian immigration officers are highly dedicated to their jobs and recognize the weight of the decisions they make on a daily basis.


[toggle_item title="Points of Entry: How Canada’s Immigration Officers Decide Who Gets In"]Maria enters the interview booth with a broad, confident smile. Brenda, the visa officer responsible for reviewing her application, smiles back and asks her to close the sliding door behind her. There is no chair on Maria’s side of the small, six- by eight-foot interview booth, so she takes a few seconds to put her bag on the floor and try to get comfortable for the interview. She ends up leaning against the small ledge in front of the bulletproof glass window that separates visa applicants from visa officers. A few years ago, Canadian embassies installed the special glass in their interview booths because of safety and security concerns. People sometimes get angry when their visa application is refused, and in this day and age, you can never be too careful.

Brenda points to the telephone on the wall and gestures to Maria that she should pick it up. She welcomes Maria and introduces herself as “the visa officer responsible for your case.” She asks Maria in English if she can understand what she is saying. Maria nods in agreement, but Brenda asks her to please say “yes” or “no.” Maria says “yes.” Brenda needs a verbal response because she has to document her decision-making process by keeping notes of the questions asked, Maria’s replies, and her own assessment of the answers. Brenda then asks if she is comfortable conducting the interview in English, and since Maria lived in the United States for several years, she says “yes” but asks that Brenda “speak slowly.”

Brenda already knows a lot about Maria and her circumstances from the spousal application for immigration that she and her Canadian sponsor submitted eight months ago. Maria’s husband wants her to join him in Saskatoon, and as part of the application, couples are asked to tell the story of their relationship. Brenda reviewed the application about a month ago, but something about the couple’s story did not add up. Her program assistant contacted Maria to schedule the interview so that Brenda’s concerns could be addressed.

Visa officers do not interview every applicant for admission to Canada. In fact, headquarters in Ottawa likes them to keep the number of interviews down and encourages them to make their decisions solely on the basis of the information in the application. Interviews take a lot of time, and time in a visa office is in short supply. Officers are trained to make their decisions to approve or refuse visa applications relatively quickly. Brenda has two or three dozen files stacked on the corner of her desk and on top of two filing cabinets in her office. Her program assistant is working on a couple dozen other files at various stages of processing. Globally, there are thousands of applications in what Citizenship and Immigration euphemistically calls its “inventory,” which is its code word for “backlog.” The more time Brenda spends on one file, the longer other applicants must wait for a decision.

Officers must also meet their yearly visa issuance targets. It is early December, and Brenda’s office has not yet met its target for family class spousal visas. If Brenda fails to meet it, this will reflect badly on her and on her boss, the immigration program manager. Headquarters in Ottawa will also be unhappy because it will have to find another visa office to pick up the slack. All the other offices are also working hard to meet their own targets, so a last-minute request to increase a target because another office has not met its own quota means that something has gone awry. If no other office manages to fill the gap, the overall target for family class admissions will not be met, and the immigration minister will want to know why. The minister announced the targets the year before in Parliament and will be held accountable by the Opposition if the number of visas falls far below, or far above, them. Since politics are politics, Opposition colleagues can be rather unforgiving in their assessment of a cabinet minister’s performance and will relish any opportunity to cast the minister as incompetent or as failing to control his or her department.

In a family class spousal sponsorship case, such as that of Maria, Brenda must be “satisfied” that the relationship between Maria and her husband in Canada is “genuine” and that its primary purpose is not for Maria to gain permanent resident status in Canada. Upon reviewing the file a month earlier, Brenda suspected that this might be a marriage of convenience. She uses the interview to figure out whether the relationship is real and whether its primary purpose is immigration.

After asking a few simple, factual questions – Maria’s full name, date of birth, and other matters that already appear on the application – Brenda starts to focus more closely: “It says on your application that you lived in the United States for fifteen years and that you returned to Guatemala three years ago. Why did you return to Guatemala after living for so many years in the United States?” Maria explains that she missed her family and returned to Guatemala to be closer to them. This sounds odd to Brenda, who thinks to herself, “Why would someone voluntarily leave the United States to go back and live in Guatemala?” She suspects that Maria is concealing something, so she pointedly asks, “Were you deported from the United States?” After pausing for a moment to reflect on her answer, Maria admits that she was slated for deportation but chose to leave before the American authorities put her on the plane. She does not explain why she was going to be deported, but Brenda puts two and two together and surmises that Maria probably overstayed her original visa and then somehow caught the attention of US immigration authorities. For Brenda, Maria’s original evasive answer to the question of why she left the United States confirms her concerns and prompts her to dig deeper.

She moves on. “How did you meet your husband?” Maria explains that they first met at the birthday party of a mutual friend when they were both living in Los Angeles. They dated a few times, but nothing really came of the dates. A few years later, they met again at another birthday party of a mutual friend, this time after she had returned to Guatemala.

Brenda also knows a fair amount about Maria’s husband. She has access to the Field Operations Support System database, which contains information about the application history of everyone who has applied for admission to Canada in the past several years. Before the interview, Brenda pulled up the file for Maria’s husband, which told her that he, too, is from Guatemala and that seven years ago he submitted a successful refugee claim in Canada. He had lived in the United States for several years but then crossed the border into Canada at Surrey, British Columbia. She suspects that he, too, was scheduled for removal from the United States and that rather than return to Guatemala, he decided to take a chance with the Canadian refugee determination system. When he crossed at Surrey, he must have uttered words to the effect that “I am a refugee.” As soon as Canada Border Services Agency staff heard the word “refugee,” a complex refugee determination process came into play. Ultimately, Maria’s husband convinced the Refugee Protection Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board that he was genuinely in fear of his life in Guatemala, so he was granted permanent residence status in Canada.

After this, he returned to Guatemala to visit some old friends, where “by chance,” he met Maria again. Since he planned to be in Guatemala for a month, they started dating, and this time they fell in love. Within two weeks, they were married at a small civil ceremony. A few close friends attended. Though his mother and two brothers lived in Guatemala, they were not at the wedding. Maria explains that they lived “far away” and could not travel to Guatemala City for the wedding. She adds that her mother and sister stayed away because they thought that her husband was not “good enough” for her.

As Maria explains the circumstances of how she met and married her husband, Brenda looks through a pile of thirty or forty photographs that the couple included in the application to support the story of their relationship. The photos show the marriage ceremony and the small reception that followed it. One shot shows about twelve guests seated at a large restaurant table, all happily toasting the bride and groom.

The other pictures are of the wedding night and the honeymoon. The wedding night photos show the couple in the bedroom. She is wearing lingerie; he is in a bathrobe with his chest exposed. They are lying on a bed, smiling directly into the camera and toasting with champagne. Brenda looks at these pictures and cracks a barely visible smile. She thinks to herself, “Why on earth would they have a photographer in their bedroom on their wedding night?” The honeymoon photos show the couple on a beach in Panama. Maria explains that they chose Panama because they got a good deal on a package offered by a local resort. Shortly after their honeymoon, Maria’s husband returned to Canada and began the process of sponsoring her for permanent resident status.

Brenda then turns to the issue of children. “It says on your application that you have a child in the United States.” “Yes, she is grown and goes to college.” “Were you ever married before?” “No, this is my first marriage.” Finally, Brenda moves on to questions about Maria’s relationship with her husband. “It says on your application that you talk to your husband every day for about twenty minutes.” Also included in the file are a stack of phone cards that Maria says she uses to call her husband in Saskatoon. The cards provide no information about the numbers that were dialed or the length of the calls. Since, in themselves, they are not evidence of much, Brenda asks, “So what do you talk about with your husband when you call?” Maria says that they talk about how much they love and miss each other, and how they can’t wait to be together again. Brenda smiles, but then asks, “Okay, but you can’t talk about love all of the time. What else do you talk about?” “We talk about our lives and our future life together, things like that.” At this point in the interview, Brenda starts to drill down, to look for specifics. In her view, real couples talk about more than just love: genuine partners have some knowledge of each other’s past and everyday lives and circumstances.

“Where does your husband work?” “A trucking company; I think its name is On Time Trucking, or something like that.”

“What is the name of your husband’s boss?” “I don’t know.”

“What are the names of some of the people he works with?” “He does not really have any friends at work.”

“What are the names of his non-work friends?” “He sometimes talks about a guy named Sam, who lives in the same apartment building.”

“What kind of apartment does he live in, and how many bedrooms does it have?” “I don’t know.”

“What is his favourite meal?” “Hamburgers.”

“What does he like to cook for himself?” “Hamburgers.”

“What was the last movie he saw?” “Friday the Thirteenth.” “So, he likes scary movies?” “Uh huh.”

This back-and-forth about Maria’s knowledge of her husband and his life in Canada lasts about ten minutes, and then Brenda asks, “Are you looking forward to moving to Saskatoon?” “Yes, very much.” “What is Saskatoon like?” “I don’t really know, but it seems it is a lot like California.” Brenda, visibly surprised by this answer, says, “Really? What makes Saskatoon like California?” Maria pauses for a moment and replies, “There is shopping there, it is clean, things like that.” “Have you ever seen any pictures of Saskatoon in the winter?” “No.”

The interview lasts for about an hour, and after the last question Brenda takes a few minutes to review the overall application and digest Maria’s answers. She then tells Maria that she is not satisfied that her relationship with her husband is genuine, and that she believes that the primary reason for her marriage is to gain permanent resident status in Canada. She details the “concerns” that have led to her assessment. Maria listens with apparent surprise that her story is not believed and spends the next few minutes trying to address each of Brenda’s concerns by repeating what she has already said. After listening intently, Brenda says, “Thank you, I am ready to make my decision.”

In the end, what decision do you think Brenda made? Did she grant Maria her family class spousal visa, or did she refuse the application? Was Maria in a real relationship, or was it a fake? Did she get married primarily because she wanted to become a permanent resident in Canada or because she loved her husband and wanted to start a new life with him?

Canadian visa officers must answer these kinds of questions every day. They make decisions about who should, and should not, be issued a visa to enter Canada, both as permanent and temporary residents.

Excerpted with permission from Points of Entry: How Canada’s Immigration Officers Decide Who Gets In, by Vic Satzewich, 2015, UBC Press, Vancouver and Toronto, Canada.[/toggle_item]

Howard Ramos is a Professor of Sociology at Dalhousie University. His research focuses on issues of social justice including the non-economic elements of immigration and examination of family and non-economic streams of immigration to Canada. 

Published in Books

by Eva Salinas in Toronto

Mexico’s former Ambassador to Canada, Francisco Suárez Dávila, says Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto will likely refuse to attend Justin Trudeau’s proposed North American Leaders' Summit this summer unless the visa requirement on Mexico is revoked — a promise Trudeau and members of his cabinet have reiterated several times since forming government.

“I find it very difficult to concede that President Peña will come to Canada if he has to subject himself to the visa requirement,” Suárez said in an interview from Mexico City, where he retired following the end of his Canadian post in December. “It's a pity because we really could be in the beginning of a golden age of a really grand relationship.”

Trudeau indicated North American relations were a top priority on the campaign trail last year, when he first promised to revoke the visa if elected. He has repeatedly underscored the importance of regional cooperation, most recently in Washington earlier this month, where he emphasized working together on environmental policy and invited U.S. President Barack Obama to a North American Leaders' Summit in Canada this summer. 

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Published in International

by Will Tao in Vancouver 

Dear Hon. Minister McCallum:

I want to take this opportunity to share with my thoughts on family reunification.

Attending an early platform-planning conversation you organized in 2014, it became clear that family reunification and the challenges faced by new Canadian immigrant families formed the central issue of stakeholder concerns with the immigration system.

A year later, in September 2015, I was not at all surprised when the Liberal party released its immigration platform focused on family reunification as a core priority.

I applaud your party’s pledge to give spouses immigrating to Canada immediate permanent residency and drop the current two-year waiting period.

Rather than protect sponsors from being victims of marriage of convenience schemes, this rule trapped foreign national spouses by tying their statuses completely to their sponsors.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Foreign national spouses were left with little recourse in the case of psychological abuse, adultery, or other types of marriage breakdown.[/quote]

Foreign national spouses were left with little recourse in the case of psychological abuse, adultery, or other types of marriage breakdown. While some channels were available to report wrongdoing, the law put applicants in a difficult and vulnerable situation.

Along a similar line, the return of the maximum age of a dependent child to 22 from 19 is good for Canadians. This rule prevented several families from uniting due to the fact their children were too old and several years away from any possibility of their own economic immigration.

Canadian families and their reunification concerns

Before writing you, I thought I would survey several stakeholders – sponsors and applicants – who are currently in the process of sponsoring spouses and family members.

You may be interested to note that backlogs and processing times are not the overwhelming source of concerns.

Instead, the way immigration authorities are handling their inquiries and applications, and their lack of short-term options in Canada topped the list.

While Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) provides several instruction guides, they are unavailable in non-official languages and often list only minimum requirements.

Because of this, Canadian families have to spend money hiring lawyers and consultants when their applications are refused or when further information is requested by immigration officials.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]I believe today’s families deserve more from immigration authorities in terms of greater transparency and better technology.[/quote]

If unlucky, they will hire an unqualified practitioner that could ruin the family’s entire future. Many of these individuals operate abroad with little oversight by Canadian regulatory bodies.

Once applicants apply, they have a difficult time tracking the process of their applications.

The Electronic Case Application System (eCAS) does not often provide the necessary detail when missing documents and/or information are an issue.

Letters from CIC asking for further information are unnecessarily vague. Call centre agents, who are understandably under significant pressure due to the high volume of calls, are often prevented from providing updates.

For most applicants, who are without professional help, the only solution, Access to Information Requests (ATIPs), are a challenge to navigate.

I believe today’s families deserve more from immigration authorities in terms of greater transparency and better technology.

Often, during the time of application processing, the applicant cannot even visit or reside with their Canadian family member.

Given that processing times can take up to several years, this has the effect of separating families. This is particularly true with permanent resident sponsors, who simultaneously must meet their own Canadian residency obligations.

There is currently a pilot project providing open work permits to eligible spouses and common law partners living in Canada.

To qualify for an open work permit, a foreign national spouse must have be in Canada on a visitor, student, or worker visa prior to making their in-Canada sponsorship and work permit applications.

This program needs to be expanded to include all applicants who are found eligible to be sponsored. A spouse that has overstayed his/her Canadian visa for a legitimate purpose – such as to be with a Canadian partner – should have some options to work legally in Canada.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Canadian families want nothing more than to be here together and start contributing to the struggling economy earlier.[/quote]

A closing thought 

As you begin your term, Mr. McCallum, please direct your promises at giving Canadian immigrants and their families a greater peace of mind.

Canadian families want nothing more than to be here together and start contributing to the struggling economy earlier.

Yes, we as Canadians, may endure some short-term costs in facilitating this, but these individuals – wives, husbands, partners, children, parents and grandparents – are the foundation of this country and its future. They will pay it back.

Canada is a great country, an attractive country and personally, one that my foreign national fiancée and I hope to call our permanent home. However, it is not our only option and, as my fiancée reminds me on a daily basis, not our easiest option.

Like many other aspiring Canadians, she has an uphill battle to first earn the right, and then find the limited opportunities available, to work or study here. Anything your ministry can do to make our lives easier, and reduce the unnecessary fears engrained by the previous government, would be most welcome.

Will Tao is a Canadian Immigration Lawyer at Larlee Rosenberg, Barristers and Solicitors, in Vancouver, British Columbia. He would like to thank his Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers British Columbia mentee and University of British Columbia law student, Maria Qian, for her helpful edits.

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Published in Commentary

by Will Tao (@TheWillTruth) in Vancouver

The media has recently served as a powerful platform for immigrants seeking to appeal negative decisions, such as deportation orders and permanent residency denials.

This year alone, a star American CFL football player used the media to obtain his Canadian permanent residence, a family was able to keep its deaf child in Canada, and a Nigerian family was able to remain in Canada with their American-born son.

It’s part of a growing trend that has seen immigration issues receive much better coverage in the Canadian media from articles discussing Bill C-24 to stories about immigrant applicants’ trials and tribulations.

Interestingly, the way recent reporting on individual immigrant stories has occurred contrasts greatly with coverage of other legal issues, such as major crime. Rather than prematurely vilify and convict, the media has been quick to defend many immigrants, and to criticize the Canadian government for its poor policymaking.

Ironically, this has injected the presumption of innocence into an immigration system where such a concept did not previously exist. In my view, this has helped to level the playing field for applicants and to bring awareness to the challenges of our immigration system.

However, several recent stories have also highlighted the worrying trend of the mainstream media being overused or improperly used to deliver specific, individualized Canadian immigration results.

Emotion alone should not guide decision-making

It may seem hypocritical for an immigration lawyer and freelance journalist to be writing this piece. Like some journalists, I, too, have taken off my lawyer hat and criticized the government for producing certain immigration results, sometimes prematurely. 

The recent case of the U.K. man who was allegedly excluded from Canada for helping his girlfriend renovate her house is a great example. It was carried by two major British newspapers not necessarily known for balanced perspectives or understanding of Canadian immigration law issues.

I know I commented angrily based on my own experiences with clients with border issues, but admittedly both stories were short on the relevant facts needed to assess whether it was the correct decision by the border officers. 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]An immigration system cannot be based solely on who can present the most emotionally compelling case.[/quote]

I find that an increasing number of stories that I read tread dangerously close to appeals to emotion, where incomplete facts are presented and an ideal outcome is then suggested.

Perhaps even more troubling is the fact immigration officials are responding to these cases, seemingly only as a public relations effort, but not in accordance with their own laws and policies. As a result, I have seen clients in similar situations left scratching their heads, contemplating their own media campaigns.

An immigration system cannot be based solely on who can present the most emotionally compelling case. Successful applicants should be asked to meet a baseline of legally clear requirements.

Some individuals have stories of hardship, but will have no immigration options. There are also Canadian immigration programs that specifically consider applicants’ hardship. This balance is necessary. Anything else would inject too much officer discretion and encourage too much exaggeration from applicants, both of which are deeply harmful to system integrity.

Media coverage also raises an underlying ethical dilemma (we can call this the “Conrad Black example”) – should we be giving preference in our system to high-profile immigrants?

Inaccurate reporting can dramatically impact applicants’ lives

Don’t get me wrong. Some journalists write on immigration issues carefully. The best present the facts of immigrants’ cases diligently, outline their basic legal issues clearly and ensure that both the immigrants’ and the government’s sides of the story are presented properly. They encourage dialogue and protect privacy and anonymity when appropriate.

However, I have also read several stories in the media recently where it was apparent that outside input and assistance was not sought prior to publishing.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]It is vital that journalists seek some outside assistance when publishing pieces because their articles, while generally of limited evidential value in courts of law, can be relied upon as documentary evidence in immigration applications and appeals.[/quote]

I would suggest that the recent case of the American-born child to Nigerian parents is an example of this. I do not want to comment on its substantive merits, given the case is still in progress. However, I found that some of the articles failed to adequately present the law and policy in the area, which although quite harsh in its consequences, is more clear in its application.

It is vital that journalists seek some outside assistance when publishing pieces because their articles, while generally of limited evidential value in courts of law, can be relied upon as documentary evidence in immigration applications and appeals.

The information contained in these reports can also serve as outside evidence considered by immigration officers who verify applicants’ information themselves.

Factual inaccuracies or ill-advised quotes in these articles could affect future immigration. Meanwhile, if too much personal information is revealed in these news stories, some immigrants’ abilities to obtain jobs or travel safely to their home countries may be compromised.

The media’s role moving forward

Rather than acting as a mouthpiece for individual applicants on an ad hoc basis, the media could speak up with a loud and clear voice when a high-level of wrongdoing occurs – either to individuals or groups.

I think the best case for media importance is the Lucia Vargas Jimenez suicide in 2013, which began the present day scrutiny of our immigration detention system and the push to end the practice of transit police reporting immigrants to Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) simply for fare violations.

On the contrary, it is interesting to note that in the Jimenez case, CBSA’s internal response was muted due to fear of a media explosion over the issue. From the government perspective, more balanced media coverage may encourage proactive disclosure of negative news.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]I believe the media can, and does, play a key role in uncovering and highlighting institutional challenges.[/quote]

The media can also play an important role in probing key immigration stakeholders. By presenting more stories about the work of immigration settlement services, pro bono legal clinics and others serving immigrants, the media can help fund those resources.

Finally, the media is a key catalyst for access to justice. The fact that individuals have been increasingly willing to go to the media with their stories before engaging legal counsel and resolving issues with government officials highlights the inaccessibility of our immigration system. I believe the media can, and does, play a key role in uncovering and highlighting these institutional challenges.

Overall, the rise of media coverage that informs Canadians of, and holds government officials accountable on, immigration policy is a good thing for our democracy. What the public must do next is ensure the media is used to advance the integrity of the immigration system as a whole, rather than for just a few individuals.

Will Tao is a Canadian immigration lawyer and freelance journalist based out of Vancouver, B.C. He is the co-founder and lead-author of the Canadian immigration blog,

This article was written with assistance from Abigail Cheung. Passionate about immigration since her undergraduate studies in Ethnicity, Race and Migration at Yale University, Cheung will enter her final year at Osgoode Hall Law School this fall.

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Published in Commentary

by Maryann D’Souza in Toronto

Pulse takes a look at some stories that caught the attention of Canada’s Indian diaspora community. From cricket fever to the ethnic vote, here is a round up of the top five headlines coming from ethnic media outlets this quarter.

The Power of the Ethnic Vote

No party can afford to overlook the power of the ethnic vote. A perfect example: the NDP’s recent nomination of Farheen Khan (pictured to the right) as their federal candidate for Mississauga Centre. While demonstrating their diversity and support for the Muslim community and women all in one move, the NDP also took aim at Prime Minister Harper, who has come under fire for his seemingly disparaging remarks about Muslims.

As the Forum Poll carried in the Indo-Canadian Voice pointed out, the controversy over banning the niqab during Canadian citizenship ceremonies has clearly not helped the Conservatives — even though there are many who may agree with them.

In the Weekly Voice report, Khan is clear about the objective. “It is so important that at a time of heightened tensions amongst various cultures, we unite together and show the rest of world that Canada will not be phased by fear,” she explains. “We will show the Harper Conservatives that we can have a safer Canada without trading in our individual freedoms.” Many community newspapers, including South Asian Focus, have covered the news of her nomination. But, as Can-India News rightly points out, perhaps one should not be so concerned about what is on her head (the hijab), as what is in it.

According to Sikh Press — which also published a photo of Khan with Jagmeet Singh, NDP’s Sikh MPP for Bramalea-Gore-Malton — the political candidate is hurt, but undeterred by the, “[N]egative comments from individuals telling her to take off her scarf if she wanted to make it to Ottawa.” But considering there are many who wear a hijab in her constituency, it might be worth noting that long-time NDP members who attended the event said, “It was the largest NDP nomination meeting in Mississauga that they had seen.”

Lifelong Visa on OCI Card

The announcement of a lifelong visa on the OCI (Overseas Citizenship of India) card is a major win for the Indian diaspora who travel to India often, sometimes on short notice due to emergencies like an illness or death in the family. Dr. Azad Kaushik, a member of The Overseas Friends of BJP (OFBJP), who pushed for the changes according to an article in the Weekly Voice, states that, “[F]rom now, the OCI card will be the entry and exit document for India, though you are required to carry the Canadian passport as well.”

[quote align="center" color="#999999"][M]any in the community were upset when Canada was denied visa-on-arrival privileges last year, and the OFBJP had pledged to take up the matter at that time.[/quote]

Not being delayed by visa application formalities and the complex system that can have travellers going back and forth more than once has the community sighing with relief. It was what Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised during his visit to the United States: a simpler system. 

As Can-India News reported, many in the community were upset when Canada was denied visa-on-arrival privileges last year, and the OFBJP had pledged to take up the matter at that time.

Do We Need a Radicalization Tip Line?

Can-India News asks: Will a radicalization tip line be the solution to preventing acts of terror? With jihad being romanticized and idolized, many who have been pushed to the fringes of society are turning to radicalized groups for a sense of belonging and renewed purpose, or as a form of revenge for being left out.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]A tip line that allows Canadians to provide critical information without revealing the identity of the informer might reduce terror-related incidents — and a dedicated one for radicalization will no doubt speed up intervention.[/quote] 

Are these radicals protected by filial or community loyalty — or is it out of a fear of being targeted, as the editorial in the Bharat Times suggests? Jayant Gala says there are moderate Muslims who do not agree with the extremists that have drowned the voice of reason with their loud rhetoric. The moderates may know who these extremists are, but are afraid to reveal their identities because of perceived repercussions to them or their families.

A tip line that allows Canadians to provide critical information without revealing the identity of the informer might reduce terror-related incidents — and a dedicated one for radicalization will no doubt speed up intervention.

Cricket Fever

Cricket is to India what hockey is to Canada, and what soccer is to Europe and Latin America. While Indians might enjoy many other sports, it’s cricket that helps bond the country’s citizens together no matter where they are in the world. The Weekly Voice’s headline says it best: “For Indian cricket fans, heart rules over the head.” 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]As India blasts its way to the finishing line in the hope of retaining the World Cup, all eyes are on Australia and New Zealand where the tournament is being played.[/quote]

Pakistan is the opponent that really drives up the excitement. Any game the two countries play is like the finals. That’s why the first World Cup game between the archrivals was screened free in many parts of the Greater Toronto Area. As India blasts its way to the finishing line in the hope of retaining the World Cup, all eyes are on Australia and New Zealand where the tournament is being played. While India is set to take home the Cup again, no matter what team it plays, many feel an India-Pakistan game would be the perfect finish.

Man Sues Canada for Wrongful Conviction

“Miscarriage of justice” — that’s what a B.C. Criminal Justice Branch investigation (in 2013) deemed a ruling that turned the life of a falsely accused Indo-Canadian man named Gurdev Singh Dhillon upside down.

A report in the Weekly Voice, which was carried by several media outlets in India including the Times of India and NDTV, indicates he is filing a suit against two RCMP personnel, Crown prosecutor Don Wilson and his former defence lawyer Sukhjinder Grewal for the wrongful conviction.

The 36-year-old Surrey resident was found guilty of sexual assault in 2005 and extradited to India upon his release from prison in 2008. The conviction was made on the basis of the victim’s testimony, which placed Dhillon as one of the three men at the scene of the crime. DNA evidence later revealed the other two were responsible. 

In the meantime, Dhillon’s marriage and family broke up, and he was stripped of his Canadian permanent residency status.

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Published in India
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