Changes to 2017 Parent and Grandparent Program application intake process

December 14, 2016—Ottawa, ON – Family reunification is a key immigration commitment of the Government of Canada. The Parent and Grandparent Program brings together thousands of families each year. For 2017, the Honourable John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, today announced changes to how sponsorship applications will be submitted under the program.

In recent years, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada limited the number of parent and grandparent applications it would accept, in order to manage intake and interest in the program, and keep the number of applications from growing. Rather than the January rush to submit applications by courier or mail, those wanting to bring their parents or grandparents to Canada will now have 30 days to fill out an online form to indicate their interest. IRCC will then randomly choose 10,000 individuals from those who filled out the form, and those people will be invited to send in their complete application package.

The online form will be available starting January 3, 2017. Sponsors will have 30 days to submit the form.

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“We’re listening to what past applicants had to say and making the process fairer for people who want to sponsor their parents or grandparents. We’re ensuring everyone can access the application process by giving them the same chance to have their name chosen.”

– The Honourable John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Couple accused of having fake marriage — despite their child

Since 2008, the Brampton woman has made three failed attempts to bring her husband here, but officials said the birth of a child does not mean the marriage is genuine.

Would people go so far as to cheat Canada’s immigration system by having a baby to cover up a marriage of convenience?

Three different adjudicators presiding over a Brampton woman’s long-drawn-out spousal sponsorship application apparently think so, even though the couple has a daughter together.

Since 2008, Saranjit Kaur Sandhu has made three failed attempts to bring her spouse, Kulwinder Singh Sangha, to Canada from India — twice the Federal Court of Canada overturned the negative decision and sent the case back to the immigration appeal tribunal for reconsideration.

“The birth of a child does not definitely prove that a marriage is genuine. Each case will turn on its own facts, although there is much to be said for the presumption that ‘the parties to a fraudulent marriage are unlikely to risk the lifetime responsibilities associated with raising a child,’” wrote Justice Yves de Montigny in rejecting the second tribunal decision in 2014.

“(T)here is no evidence that having a child was a ploy to enhance the applicant’s husband’s chances of obtaining permanent residence in Canada.”

Sandhu’s appeal has recently been rejected by the tribunal for the third time and she is back before the Federal Court for another intervention.

“The focus of the past decisions has been the conclusion that the child of the marriage was conceived to bolster the relationship for immigration purposes,” wrote tribunal adjudicator Elena Rose in the latest rejection of the couple’s sponsorship appeal.

“The panel does not believe that the mere continuation of a purported relationship during a sponsorship and an appeal period, nor a shared child, is necessarily evidence inconsistent with a primary goal of immigration on entering the marriage.”

Sandhu, 35, was sponsored to Canada by her first husband in 2005 but the couple separated after six months “because he became abusive towards me and I could not take the sufferings any longer,” according to her affidavit filed with the court.

After the divorce, Sandhu remained in Canada. In 2008, she wed Sangha in an arranged marriage, set up by her family in India. However, her sponsorship application was rejected in the same year. Her battle with the immigration appeal tribunal ensued.

In the meantime, the couple had a daughter, Arshleen, who was born in Canada in 2010 before Sandhu took the then 4-month-old baby to India to be looked after by grandparents.

In the latest rejection, adjudicator Rose wrote she didn’t understand why Sandhu remained in Canada after her marriage broke down, given she had no ties to Canada. She also pointed out that the applicant had failed to specify grounds for the divorce as cruelty.

“Given the alleged difficult circumstances that the appellant had encountered with her first husband, her quick return and immediate embracing of a second marriage, without even considering any other candidates seemed curious,” Rose wrote.

She also questioned why the husband, a never-married 40-year-old would marry a divorcee, 35, whose divorce, by her own admission, put her into a “‘low’ place in society,” the adjudicator wrote.

Although the couple provided supporting evidence detailing their relationship — calls, photographs and Sandhu’s yearly visits to see Sangha in India — the panel concluded that “while corroborating evidence is often helpful in establishing genuineness, it can also be fabricated to bolster an appeal.”

The adjudicator also took issue with Sandhu sending her daughter back to India temporarily while working three jobs — as a cleaner, at a bakery and a plastics factory — in Canada to support her husband and girl in India.

She also suggested Sangha memorized details about his wife’s life, including her address and postal code, “to show he is knowledgeable about her.”

“There is no evidence of a genuine sharing of responsibility for the welfare of the family,” said Rose in dismissing the couple’s appeal. “The evidence throughout was clear that the applicant’s marriage exists for him if he comes to Canada, reunification with his wife and daughter are very secondary.”

In an interview, Sandhu said she insisted on remaining in Canada so she could raise her family and give her child a better future. Being in Canada by herself, she said she had no choice but to send her newborn daughter to her husband’s family back home. However, she did bring the girl back to Canada in 2013.

“I had to leave my daughter with my husband so I could work and earn money to pay for immigration litigation, my own living expenses and travel to and from India,” said Sandhu.

“Canada is a country of hope and good life if one works hard. This is my home. Since we came back, Arshleen often asks me why her father is not with us and why he does not take her to school.”

In the 2014 Federal Court decision, Justice de Montigny said that the fact Sandhu has spent a few months every year with her husband indicates their established relationship.

The tribunal’s decision “must rest on a reasonable assessment of the evidence and cannot be the result of irrelevant factors, peripheral considerations or, even worse, prejudice and insensitivity to cultural difference,” said the judge.

With all that her client has gone through, Jaswant Mangat, the couple’s lawyer, hopes that this time around the Federal Court will take the rare move to order officials to approve Sandhu’s sponsorship of her husband instead of deferring to the tribunal for redetermination, again. A court date is pending.

“No one would persist like this couple has just to bring someone over unless it is a bona fide relationship,” said Mangat. “They have suffered enough.”

Notice – Faster processing times for spouses and partners

Ottawa, December 15, 2016 — Family reunification is a key immigration commitment for the Government of Canada. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is speeding up processing for spousal sponsorship applicants. On December 7, 2016, we announced important changes to enable processing of most spousal sponsorship applications within a 12-month time frame. Cases that are more complex would need more time to process.

If you’re a new applicant

Use the new application package to apply to sponsor your spouse, partner or child, whether they are in Canada or outside Canada. See what’s new with the application package.

We will process the majority (about 80 percent) of applications within 12 months from the day we receive them. Find out what you can expect from the new process.

If you’ve already started filling out an application using the old application package, you can still use it. We will continue to accept new applications using the old package if we receive them on or before January 31, 2017. After this date, we will accept only applications using the new package.

In using the new application package, be sure to include all the forms and documents listed on the appropriate checklist. If you don’t include all the required forms and documents, we won’t accept your application for processing, and it will be sent back to you.

If you’ve already applied

As announced on December 7, 2016, we are working to finalize the majority (about 80 percent) of applications already received within 12 months, by the end of December 2017.

If you’ve already been waiting to have your application finalized for some time, the new changes do not mean you’ll have to wait an additional 12 months. We will continue to process applications in the order they’re received.

To help us process your file faster, you do not need to contact us, but please

Important information for all applicants

Please be sure to respond quickly to our requests for information.

  • If we ask you to give us additional information, please answer promptly and follow the instructions we give you in our request.

The success of our efforts to reduce wait times for everyone relies on your cooperation.

All applications will continue to undergo the necessary screening to ensure that individuals do not pose a safety, security or health risk to Canadians and that the relationships are genuine.

Canada experiencing a Trump bump? U.S. refugee claims were up last month

While the overall number remains tiny, Canada saw a five-fold increase in the number of Americans seeking asylum. But chances of being admitted are slim.

WASHINGTON—The number of Americans seeking refugee status in Canada has experienced a significant bump this year, increasing more than five times in November 2016 from the same period a year earlier.

The overall numbers, however, remain tiny.

Few people seek to flee the world’s largest economy, and one of its oldest democracies, on humanitarian grounds: A mere 170 Americans claimed asylum at Canada’s land borders through the first 11 months of this year.

Yet that was more than twice the total from 2015 — and it was led by a noticeable five-fold increase in the month of November, with 28 people claiming refugee status last month compared with merely five in November 2015.

Was any of this driven by politics — and Donald Trump’s Nov. 8 election?

The Canadian government won’t touch that question.

“Refugee claims are protected under the Privacy Act,” said Nicholas Dorion, a spokesman for the Canada Border Services Agency, which supplied the figures to The Canadian Press. “Therefore the CBSA will not discuss specifics of asylum cases.”

On the whole, Americans represented less than 3 per cent of the 5,939 people who claimed refugee status upon arriving at Canada’s land borders, in the first 11 months of 2016. Yet the claims from 170 U.S. citizens was more than twice the 73 who did over the same period in 2015.

Mario Bellissimo, a Toronto immigration lawyer, said he’s not surprised.

Such bumps are often driven by political changes, said Bellissmo: “Saw some of this when Bush assumed office (in 2000).”

In an interview, University of Ottawa professor and lawyer Jamie Liew said she concurs.

“I don’t think it’s surprising at all,” she said.

“The rhetoric coming from the (U.S. political) discussion … was filled with a lot of concerning language, including hate; exclusion; deportation … I could see why people would be concerned for their own safety, their own lives, and evaluate whether they could live (there).”

Liew has been involved in a handful of American refugee claims over the years. Such cases can involve victims of domestic violence, or soldiers escaping wars like in Iraq and Afghanistan. She recalled one case related to death threats against a same-sex couple.

“It really doesn’t matter what country a refugee comes from. That is not the central issue in determining if someone is a refugee,” Liew said.

“A country could be democratic. A country could be espousing … human rights. What really matters is how people are being treated on the ground, and protected by the state that they’re in.”

That said, Americans don’t have much success when claiming refugee status in Canada: “Obviously if you’re coming from a war-torn state that is obviously an easier case to be made. But that does not make it impossible for someone from the United States to make a claim for refugee protection.”

Only a minuscule share of American refugee claimants get approved in Canada.

The CBC found just two successful recent claims and hundreds of rejections in a 2010 investigation of worldwide cases. For 2015, federal data gathered by the Canadian Council for Refugees lists no successful U.S. refugee claims last year before the Immigration and Refugee Board.

 

Ottawa ends ‘4-in-4-out’ rule for migrant workers

Liberal government eliminates notorious rule that kicked out migrant workers after four years, ending what critics dubbed the ‘revolving door’ for indentured labour to Canada.

Ottawa has eliminated the notorious “4-in-4-out” rule that kicked out migrant workers after four years, ending what some critics call the “revolving door” of indentured labour to Canada.

“In many ways, the four-year rule put a great deal of uncertainty and instability on both temporary workers and employers. We had the sense that it was an unnecessary burden on applicants and employers, and also on officers who process applications,” Immigration Minister John McCallum said in a news releaseposted late Tuesday.

“We believe this important recommendation . . . requires rapid action, which we are taking today.”

The former Tory government introduced the rule in 2011 to ban migrant workers from returning to Canada for four years after they worked here for four.

“We’re caught off guard by the announcement. Everyone was expecting it in January, but this is a positive development,” said York University political science professor Ethel Tungohan, who specializes in migrant activism.

“Many migrant workers have felt insecure with their status because of this rule. This is the result of the hard work by advocacy groups who have been lobbying the government for change.”

Ottawa said it will also require low-wage employers to advertise openings first to the under-represented groups in the workforce — youth, persons with disabilities, indigenous people and newcomers — before they fill the positions with temporary migrant workers.

However, the percentage of low-wage migrant workers at a business will still be capped at 20 per cent for employers who accessed the program before June 20, 2014, and at 10 per cent for those who did after that date.

McCallum did not provide details on how the government is going to develop more pathways for eligible migrant workers to become permanent residents.

“This repeal is a first step which came about because migrant workers organized against an unjust rule that resulted in thousands of deportations and migrants becoming undocumented,” said Syed Hussan of the Coalition for Migrant Worker Rights Canada.

“We need permanent status for migrant workers already here and (for) those that were uprooted and forced out, for it to be really meaningful.”

Immigration Department promises to speed up spousal applications

The federal government says is devoting more resources and improving the process for Canadians whose spouses are immigrating.

Ottawa has vowed to cut the processing times and backlogs for spousal immigration applications by more than half with an expanded annual quota for 2017 and a new simplified application kit available next week.

Starting immediately, most spousal sponsorship applications submitted in and outside Canada will be processed within 12 months, down from the current average of 26 months and 18 months respectively, Immigration Minister John McCallum announced on Wednesday.

“We have listened to Canadians and are delivering results. Bringing families together makes for a stronger Canada. Canadians who marry someone from abroad shouldn’t have to wait for years to have them immigrate or be left with uncertainty in terms of their ability to stay,” McCallum told a news conference in Brampton.

“What we are announcing today is a more efficient, more considerate process to reunite families.”

Complaints by Canadians and their foreign spouses and dependants over long processing times and lengthy separations had fallen on deaf ears under the previous Conservative government.

Although the Liberals had made fixing the backlog a priority during the election campaign, the immigration department had been preoccupied with the ambitious project to resettle tens of thousands of Syrian refugees.

With an additional $25 million allotted to reduce the immigration backlog in it’s 2016 budget, the Immigration Department has managed to reduce the processing times of spousal sponsorship applications by 15 per cent for inland applicants and by more than 10 per cent for those waiting overseas.

The government also raised the annual quota for foreign spouses and dependants this year to 64,000 people from 47,000 in previous years. With limited spots and increasing demands, the backlogs persisted and grew over time.

Immigration officials said they hoped to clear all existing applications by the end of 2017 with the expanded quota, additional staffing resources and a streamlined process.

A new simplified application kit will be available December 15 for new applicants that cuts the current 14 application checklists down to four. All incomplete applications will be returned early in the process to prevent them from clogging the system, the government said.

McCallum said the streamlined processing was the brainchild of a special team of immigration staffers based on lessons learned through the Syrian refugee resettlement experience. The spousal sponsorship program is the first to be simplified and improved, he added.

“This is the single, biggest one we have focused on,” McCallum said. “It is something of a milestone. If there’s one most important campaign commitment on immigration, this is it.”

Although more complex applications will still take more than 12 months, 80 per cent of applications are expected to be processed on target. The department will also extend its pilot program, slated to end this month, for another year to issue open work permits to sponsored spouses within Canada while waiting for their permanent resident status.

Despite the streamlined process and the new time commitment, officials said full criminal, security and medical screening will continue to be in place.

McCallum said he did not expect a return of the backlog once it is cleared.

“We have changed the structure, the way this is done. There’s no way this is not going to be permanent,” he noted.

John McCallum says Mexican visa could be ‘reimposed’ if refugee claims spike

Canada's Immigration Minister John McCallum speaks in the House of Commons in Ottawa
Canada’s Immigration Minister John McCallum speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada October 31, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Canada is prepared to reinstate a visa requirement for Mexican travellers if the number of refugee claims jumps too high, says Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum.

The visa lift is set to kick in Dec. 1. McCallum said the federal government was aware of a possible spike in asylum-seekers long before Donald Trump was elected president in the U.S.

“There would come a point where a visa could be reimposed,” he said but would not specify what number of claims might trigger that. “Canada retains its sovereignty on this issue. There comes a point where it would become unsustainable, but we are hoping that point will not arrive.”

CBC News has learned officials at IRCC and other departments have held high-level meetings to discuss a potential flood of Mexican asylum-seekers due to both the visa lift and the result of the U.S. election.

Benefit ‘outweighed’ risk

Trump campaigned on promises to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and to swiftly deport undocumented workers and illegal residents.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the plan to lift the visa requirement during a visit by Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on June 28. During that meeting, Mexico announced it would fully reopen its market to Canadian beef in October.

A senior immigration official said Tuesday that a review was carried out in the run-up to that announcement and a number of risks were identified. But he declined to provide details or recommendations because it was “advice to the minister.”

Testifying to the immigration and citizenship committee by video from Mexico City, Olivier Jacques, IRCC’s area director for Latin America, acknowledged that more Mexicans could arrive from the U.S., and others directly from Mexico, due to changes.

Jacques said various criteria are reviewed to assess a country’s “readiness” for a visa lift. In Mexico’s case, those risks were measured against Canada’s “unique relationship” with the country, including geographic proximity and the close trade relationship within NAFTA.

“At this point, the assessment of the government is that the benefit related to a visa lift outweighed any identified risk we have with these migrants,” he said.

Trade, tourism boost

During the daily question period Tuesday, Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel pointed to that testimony and asked why the Liberals “blatantly” ignored the red flags in a rush to lift the visa requirement.

But McCallum said there are benefits associated with the visa lift, including increased trade and tourism.

“We are very happy to welcome more Mexican tourists to this country and to accept the jobs that go along with that.”

McCallum reiterated that Canada made the agreement with Mexico in June, before Trump’s presidential win.

“We went into partnership with the Mexican government to minimize those risks, so obviously we were aware of them from the beginning,” he said.

Under the previous Conservative government of Stephen Harper, Canada imposed the visa requirement due to a huge rise in refugee claims that were subsequently rejected for being invalid.

The number of Mexican claims referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board was climbing dramatically until it peaked at 9,511 in 2009. After the visa requirement was imposed, it dropped to 1,349, then continued to shrink to just 120 in 2015. Between January and June this year, there were only 60 cases, according to the most recent figures available.

IRCC Issues Public Statement on Improvements to Express Entry

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Canada’s immigration system may be set for further changes

he Express Entry immigration system will undergo important changes that will come into effect later this week on November 19, but that might not be the end of adjustments to be made to the system.

Earlier today, November 14, the department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) issued a press release in which it outlined the changes to be made in the short term.

As CICNews reported last week, these changes include: the awarding of points for certain job offers made to workers in Canada who do not have a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), additional points for candidates with a Canadian education, and an extension on the validity of Invitations to Apply (ITAs) for permanent residence. (To learn about these changes in more detail, see our previous article on the subject of imminent changes to the Express Entry Comprehensive Ranking System.)

Interestingly, IRCC’s press release also states that the reforms ‘are part of a number of improvements the Government is making on a continual basis to bring changes for a more fair and responsive immigration system that will address emerging needs and ensure long-term economic growth for the middle class.’

As a consequence, it may well be the case that the changes to be implemented on November 19 are the first in a series of possible changes that may be made over time. For example, the Liberal government has previously said that it would consider the awarding of points to candidates who have prior connections to Canada, such as having a sibling in Canada as a citizen or permanent resident.

At this time, IRCC has not brought in modifications with respect to awarding points having a sibling in Canada. However, that does not necessarily mean that such a change may not take place in the future. Today’s press release certainly leaves scope for such a change, or other changes, to be made in the future.

Being proactive

As the government’s statement demonstrates, Canada’s immigration system is constantly changing. In addition, it is not only the federal government that is in a position to make important changes — the provincial governments also do so through the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs).

Enhanced PNP categories that are aligned with the Express Entry system open and/or change on an ongoing basis, offering Express Entry candidates an opportunity to submit an application to a PNP and potentially be awarded 600 CRS points. Candidates should note that an enhanced nomination certificate is now the most important factor under the CRS, as a job offer is now worth either 200 or 50 points, depending on the position (to learn more about this change, click here).

The fact that stakeholders are now presented with a federal system (Express Entry) that is undergoing changes, as well as a range of PNP options that have also proven to change over time, highlights the importance for candidates to be proactive and engaged with the system at both the federal and provincial levels.

Speaking of the improvements to Express Entry that have been outlined, Canada’s Immigration Minister said that “We have committed to doing more to attract highly skilled immigrants to come to Canada and become permanent residents, because this is important to build our economy and strengthen our society. I am confident that the changes to Express Entry will be one of the many positive outcomes of the changes we will be bringing to our immigration system.”

What candidates can do to prepare

With only a few days left until the changes that have been outlined are brought into force, it is important for candidates in the pool — as well as other individuals thinking of immigrating to Canada through Express Entry — to understand how this may benefit them and their profile,” says Attorney David Cohen.

“Candidates should also note that IRCC, as the department itself states, is in a position to make changes to the system on a continual basis. Therefore, candidates who stay up to date and maintain a fully updated Express Entry profile, as well as stay abreast of all PNP options, put themselves in the best possible position to immigrate to Canada successfully. On this basis, I would encourage anybody who is thinking of entering the Express Entry pool to do so as soon as possible.”

The new and improved CRS Calculator   crs-calculator-2-2

Since the changes to the Comprehensive Ranking System were announced last Thursday, November 10, many thousands of people around the world have successfully been able to gauge their CRS points total using the CRS Calculator, which has been updated to reflect the imminent changes to the system.

To find out if you are eligible to immigrate to Canada permanently, fill out a free online assessment form.

Canadian officials preparing for potential flood of Mexican migrants after Trump wins presidency

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The federal government is preparing for a potential surge in Mexican migrants coming to Canada after Donald Trump’s election victory, CBC News has learned.

Sources confirm high level meetings took place this week with officials at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and in other departments.

The news comes as Canada prepares to loosen rules for Mexicans to enter the country by lifting a visa requirement on Dec. 1. That restriction has been in place since 2009.

Talks on a plan to cope with a possible spike in asylum-seekers have been ongoing for some time, but were accelerated this week after Trump’s surprise win.

Trump campaigned on promises to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and to swiftly deport undocumented workers and illegal residents.

Lawyer predicts ‘significant impact’

Toronto-based immigration lawyer Lorne Waldman expects an increase in refugee claims from Mexicans once the visa requirement is lifted. He also predicts a “significant impact” from Trump’s election.

“The government was very concerned about the potential for a large number of new claims coming from Mexico, and that’s why they hesitated for so long before announcing that they were going to remove the visa,” he said.

“And that announcement was made before anyone knew that Donald Trump, with his very different immigration policies from those of the current administration, won the election.”

But Waldman cautioned it’s too early to tell exactly how the situation may unfold, saying it will depend on whether Trump follows through on his campaign pledges.

When Trump first launched his presidential bid in June 2015, he took sharp aim at Mexico, suggesting the country was unleashing criminals in to the country.

“They’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing their problems,” he said. “They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists and some I assume are good people, but I speak to border guards and they tell us what we are getting.”

In August last year, he released an eight-page policy paper on immigration that outlined plans to build a multi-billion-dollar wall along the Mexican border, but force Mexico to pay for it. He also vowed to detain and deport undocumented migrants and triple the number of U.S. immigration officers.

And just this September, he reiterated his hard-line commitment to remove illegal migrants en masse.

“There will be no amnesty,” Trump said at an Arizona rally. “Our message to the world will be this: You cannot obtain legal status or become a citizen of the United States by illegally entering our country.”

Potential abuse flagged

The possible Trump effect is on top of what some have flagged as a potential for immigration system abuse with the lifting of the visa requirement.

Conservative Immigration critic Michelle Rempel said the Stephen Harper government imposed the restriction in 2009 after ballooning numbers of bogus refugee claims from Mexico.

She accused the Liberals of making an “arbitrary” decision to lift the restriction without doing a formal study of the potential impact, or establishing new measures to prevent abuse.

“You don’t impose a visa on a nation that’s close to us in terms of trade unless there’s a serious, discernible problem. And there was,” she said.

If there is suddenly a dramatic rise in asylum claims, that will “give pause”  for the American government and for Canadians, she said.

Once in Canada, refugee claimants are entitled to a suite of benefits, including health care, until a decision is rendered in their case.

Longstanding issue

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the plan to lift the requirement during a visit by Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on June 28. During that meeting, Mexico announced it would fully reopen its market to Canadian beef in October.

A senior official in the office of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum confirmed the government is sticking with the Dec. 1 date to lift the visa.

“Our officials are working with Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) and Mexican officials to lay the groundwork for the visa lift, including measures to identify and deter irregular migration. And we’ll continue to monitor migration patterns post-lift,” the official said.

CBSA said a potential spike in migrants is speculative at this time.

“It is business as usual at our designated ports of entry, this includes processing any refugee claimants,” said spokeswoman Esme Bailey. “The CBSA processes over 90 million travellers a year and routinely monitors its operations to ensure proper resources.”

Asylum claims way down

The number of Mexican claims referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board was climbing dramatically until it peaked at 9,511 in 2009. After the visa requirement was imposed, it dropped to 1,349, then continued to shrink to only 120 in 2015. Between January and June this year, there were only 60 cases, according to the most recent figures available.

Government officials had suggested the visa requirement could be reinstated if the number of asylum claims from Mexico reaches 3,500 in any given year. But a news release announcing the policy did not mention any conditions attached to the change.

Vancouver-based immigration lawyer Richard Kurland called that cap a “close the barn door after the horse has bolted” policy. He said the government should carefully track weekly intake and “flip the switch” if it exceeds, for example, 100 cases.

“It is foolish to know claims will exceed 3,500 in a year, and do nothing during the year,” he said. “We have the technology to be more nimble.”