The practice area of immigration lawyers divides into personal and business immigration. The first includes individual, family, student and human rights or refugee applications, hearings and appeals. The second includes services to companies transferring personnel, temporary visas and work permits, and special inward investment/immigration programs.
Immigration is the procedure whereby an individual, originally from a different country or state, becomes a permanent resident or a citizen of another country. Canada has a long history with immigration policies and laws, and which reflects the ongoing socio-cultural norms of its time. By passing and continually amending these immigration policies and law, Canada has long recognised the economic benefits of an established and inclusive immigration in the country. As immigration – from its substantive laws, its procedures, and the actual day-to-day process – may practically be confusing for most people, it is best to consult with a one of the immigration lawyers below to assist immigrants.
The Immigration Act (1976) is the predecessor of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and the principal law on immigration from 1976 until 2002, when the IRPA was passed. As such, the Act was the backdrop for IRPA.
The Act is a landmark legislation on immigration, setting out its difference from the earlier immigration policies or statutes, when it promoted demographic, economic, social, and cultural goals of Canada in its immigration policy. To achieve this, it prioritises family reunion, diversity, and non-discrimination, which is still evident in IPRA.
Another highlight of the Act was its definition of refugees as a distinct group of immigrants, which was done in Canadian laws for the first time. It hence required the government to follow the humanitarian standards set by international agreements on accepting refugees in the country.
Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) is currently the prevailing federal law on immigration and protection of refugees, while maintaining a lot of the substantial principles of the repealed Immigration Act (1976).
IRPA provides for the process of selection of permanent residency (Sections 11 and 12); the grounds and process of losing a permanent residency status (Division 5, Part I); and penal clauses, such as detention (Division 6, Part I), and against human smuggling and trafficking (Section 117). The IRPA established the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) (Section 151) which has the power to hear and decide cases regarding immigrants and refugees.
Implemented and regulated by the respective provincial and territorial governments, the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) provides for a process for a skilled worker to immigrate to Canada, eventually acquiring a permanent resident status. Except for Quebec which does not have a PNP and has its own selection criteria, each province and territory has its own “streams” for an interested immigrant to choose from and apply for before the provincial or territorial level for a nomination. Among most provinces and territories, the following are the most common streams:
Once a nomination is obtained, said immigrant may now apply for permanent residency before the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
Under Section 4, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship is the enabling authority responsible for the administration of the IRPA, in addition to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness as regards to the entry of immigrants or refugees, and the Minister of Employment and Social Development in matters relating to the conditions imposed on permanent residents and foreign nationals, and those who has acquired work or study visas.
Anent to this, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is the main federal government department with regards to the enforcement of the IRPA, especially its provisions on citizenship, and protection of refugees.
An immigration lawyer mainly coordinates with these agencies as to any concern regarding immigration and residency of their clients. One advantage of consulting with an immigration lawyer is their extensive knowledge of the bureaucratic processes of these government departments, to expedite their client’s transaction before them.
When the IPRA replaced the Immigration Act (1976), the former retained the latter’s classifications of immigrants. The following are the 4 types of immigrants in Canada for the purpose of selecting permanent residents, which has different procedures and requirements before a foreign national can acquire a permanent resident status. Under the law and administrative regulations, each type or class of immigrants have different specific procedures before being granted a permanent residency status. As such, it is important to refer to an immigration lawyer for pre-assessments and advice to acquire a favourable decision.
Under IRPA’s Section 12(1), a foreign national or an immigrant may be sponsored by a family member based on their relationship as a spouse, common-law partner, child, parent, or as any other family member, subject to other conditions. The sponsoring family member may either be a Canadian citizen, or a Canadian permanent resident. Immigrants under family reunification may also be referred as Immigrants Sponsored by Family or Family Class. IPRA has since expanded this to include same-sex and common-law relationships.
Section 12(2) of the IRPA defines economic immigrants as a foreign national chosen to become permanent residents because of their ability to become contribute economically for Canada, such as meeting labour market needs, establishing a business, investing a substantial amount, or meeting provincial or territorial labour market needs (which may correlate to the PNP).
Refugees, to be selected as a permanent resident under Section 12(3) of IRPA, are immigrants who are considered as a Convention refugee or is in a similar circumstance. A Convention refugee is generally a person who, because of a well-founded fear of persecution, is outside of their own country and is unable to avail of protections afforded to them by said country, or those who cannot or is unwilling to return to their own country.
Immigrants granted with permanent residency under this class are persons who do not fall under any of the three preceding classes. One may consult with an immigration lawyer for the other types of immigrants to acquire a permanent residency status.
Under international conventions ratified by Canada and its policies on immigration, all immigrants have human rights which needs to be respected, regardless of their country of origin, status of residency, age, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation, race and Indigenous roots, or political affiliation or opinion.
While immigrants have the right to be afforded due process (judicially or administratively), immigrants may be denied permanent residency status if said person has committed any of the crimes under the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act, or under the Criminal Code, and other grounds listed in Division 4, Part 1, of the IRPA.
When an immigrant’s right has been violated, or when applications for permanent residency has been denied, an immigration lawyer is the best person to consult with for the best route of action to be undertaken.
Generally, permanent residents are those who have been granted permanent residency status, but is not (yet) a Canadian citizen, by virtue of their pending application for Canadian citizenship or the lack thereof. Thus, it may be said that they retain their original citizenship for the meantime.
Note that citizenship under Canadian laws may only be acquired through birth, or upon application after becoming a permanent resident, subject to other qualifications, such as having lived in Canada for 3 out of the last 5 years, etc.
However, a refugee does not become a permanent resident, since the IRB must first review and approve their claim, and upon approval thereof, can now apply for a permanent residency status in Canada. Specific IRB procedures on permanent residency status are best explained by an immigration lawyer, especially with its requirements and other qualifications.
Interested in immigrating to Canada, or have question on permanent residency application? Consult with the best immigration lawyers in Canada by scrolling down below, all of whom are Lexpert Ranked.