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Immigration Update

Quebec’s Bill 21 is Oppressive to Religious Minority Immigrants

Bill 21, “An Act Respecting the Laicity of the State” came into force June 16th 2019. The Act’s stated purpose is to affirm the laicity, or secularity, of the state. However, the Act significantly restricts religious freedoms of certain public sector employees by prohibiting them from wearing religious symbols in the exercise of their functions. Religious symbols are described broadly as any object, including clothing, a symbol, jewelry, an adornment, an accessory or headwear that is either a) worn in connection with a religious conviction or belief; or b) reasonably considered as referring to a religious affiliation.[1] This definition would include crosses and crucifixes and other religious jewelry, turbans, hijabs and kippahs, inter alia. Part-two of this two part publication concludes that the new law is neither legal or justifiable.

In part two of the two-part article, published in The Lawyer’s Daily, Jacqueline Bart and Clara Morrissey write: “Canada is a multi-religious society. There is no need for a laicity law in Quebec, unless it has been determined that the religious majority is discriminating against religious minorities. If the latter had been the problem, then the law should specifically apply to the religious majority. There is no scientific evidence that religious wear results the obstruction of the rule of law. Bill 21 restricts religious freedoms and rights and weakens participation in government or in positions of by religious minorities. Bill 21 effectively violates the fundamental Canadian charter right to freedom of religion. Rather than protecting the secular nature of the state from a powerful and unified religious organization, in a multi-religious society strict laicity and the refusal to accommodate religious wear instead has the effect of further oppressing and excluding religious minorities, and is not conducive to the successful integration of new immigrants into Québec society, particularly Sikhs, Jews and Muslims, inter alia.”

The article can be accessed here.

Express Entry

Today, December 11th 2019, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) issued another round of invitations to apply for permanent residence under the Express Entry system. IRCC issued a total of 3,200 invitations. The minimum score selected in today’s draw was **472**, an increase of one point from last week’s draw.

This week’s draw was the smallest draw open to all application categories we have seen so far this year, with only 3,200 invitations being issued. IRCC indicates there are 15,917 candidates in the Express Entry pool with scores between 451-600 as of December 11th 2019, an increase from when this data was last released on November 23rd 2019. Given the increasing number of high-skilled candidates in the pool and the smaller number of invitations issued this week, we anticipate that the minimum scores selected in early January 2020 will be high.


Canadian Immigration Facilitates Reunification of Protected Persons with Overseas Family Members

On December 4, 2019, Immigration Canada announced a new initiative that aims to improve the processes for protected persons applying for permanent residence in Canada. Protected persons in Canada with dependent family members abroad can now submit a permanent residence application for themselves and on behalf of their overseas family members inland, where the applications for both the protected person in Canada and their overseas family members will be processed concurrently. Eligibility for the pilot project is limited to overseas family members living in select regions outside Canada and will only apply to applications submitted on or after December 4, 2019. This pilot policy is a welcome development as it will allow applicants in Canada to apply with their family and streamline the application process. Together with the recent change to government’s policy on excluded family members, these improvements to the processing of permanent residence applications will better facilitate the reunification of protected persons with their overseas family members in Canada.


Canada Announces In-Canada Biometrics Collection Service

Canada’s biometrics collection program has expanded to include temporary and permanent resident applicants applying from within Canada. Effective December 3, 2019, foreign nationals who apply from within Canada to extend or renew their temporary resident status, or who are applying for permanent residence, must provide biometrics (fingerprints and a photo) as part of their application, unless otherwise exempted. In-Canada biometric services are available by appointment at 58 Service Canada and Passport Canada sites across Canada.

For more information about Canadian immigration, please contact our office.