Interventions in Committee
 
 
 
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View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Chair, I have a point of order.
I have about five questions to ask Mr. Arnold, so I'm wondering if it's possible to take time—
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
Since we have the opportunity to learn more about your system, I think it's a very valuable time for us.
Mr. Arnold, what is the approval rate and the average length of time to process, say, visitor visas?
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you.
One of the frustrations that constituents in my riding of Vancouver Kingsway have experienced when they've sponsored relatives to come over here to visit for a wedding or whatever, is that when they're rejected, there is no internal appeal process. The only option is either to apply again, brand new, or to ask for judicial review, which as a practical matter is simply just not done. The amount of time and money that it would take is simply not worth it in 99% of the cases.
I'm wondering if Australia has any kind of internal review process for an applicant who has been turned down for a visa?
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you. We've already heard a reference to the reasons. I've seen many of the forms that a person will receive if they're turned down for a visitor visa in Canada, and it's just a series of statements with some boxes checked off. There's immense frustration among people because the form essentially tells them nothing. That person then comes to our office. We then have to contact the member of Parliament line and can often get someone on the line to read us the reasons in the file, and we transmit those reasons to the applicant.
I'm just wondering, how does it work in Australia? Were someone to be rejected, are they told the reasons and, if so, in what kind of detail?
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
Thanks.
I joke with people that I don't have a constituency office, but an immigration law practice in Vancouver.
Another source of frustration for my constituents is that there's never anybody whom the applicant or the sponsor can talk to. It's very anonymous. You just get a case number. If someone has a pending application in Australia, is there anybody whom an applicant or a sponsor can actually talk to within your immigration structure to find out about the status of the case, or to discuss where it's at?
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
Excellent.
Does Australia do interviews for “permanent resident” applications to Australia—I don't know if you use that terminology—and if so, what percentage of the applicants would have to go through an interview?
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
One of the most troubling areas that we deal with in my Vancouver office is Chandigarh, India. Our experience is that there's over 50% refusal rate for people applying for visitor visas, and it's a source of incredible frustration to the community of Vancouver.
Is there a place like that for Australia, a place that you focus on particularly? Is there a country or a place with a particularly high rejection rate? I'm always told by the government that Chandigarh is difficult because there's a fear of a high rate of forgery or fraud. I don't know if that's true or not, but that's what we're told. Does Australia have a similar experience with a particular place?
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
Finally, if there is a single innovation that Australia has brought in to make its immigration system more user-friendly or efficient, what would it be? What advice would you give us?
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2016-12-13 15:31
Committee members, I call the meeting to order, please.
As you know, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), today we're studying the motion adopted by the committee on October 4 to resume the study of the modernization of client service delivery.
We have for the first hour, 3:30 to 4:30, two witnesses. The first one, from the Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants, is Dory Jade, the chief executive officer. We also have a presenter from the Canadian Council for Refugees, Loly Rico, president. She comes to us by video conference, and she is in Toronto today.
Welcome to our witnesses. We'll begin with Mr. Jade.
You have seven minutes to make a presentation, and then we'll move to Ms. Rico for seven minutes.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2016-12-13 16:01
Moving to the next round, which is mine, I'm just going to stay in the chair to ask my seven minutes of questions, if committee members are fine with that.
First off, thank you to both of the witnesses for being here today.
Processing is one of the biggest issues that I think MP offices face and, of course, it's the same in your line of work. The big question is, how do we improve the system?
There is this automated system that's being worked on at the moment. My first question is to Ms. Rico. Those changes do not apply at the moment to refugee applications. Would you recommend that the government undertake those kinds of changes and apply them to other categories as well?
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2016-12-13 16:02
I'm asking whether or not the changes that have been undertaken for the economic class ought to be applied also to the refugee class and other categories in the immigration stream.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2016-12-13 16:03
Okay.
In terms of access to information, oftentimes people would phone into the call centre and they would get very generalized information. The automated information is often frustrating for individuals, and often they're actually put on long wait times to talk to a live agent. I've done it myself, and it's an exercise in frustration.
It was interesting, Mr. Jade, that you suggested an approach whereby people can access the information, and you suggested that consultants could access further detailed information or even get into the notes in getting that information. I'm wondering, both of you, whether or not it would be advisable to go to a system almost like the bank or like your income taxes. You file your income tax. In order for you to sign on to get your information, you actually have to have a pass code, and it's only for you, obviously, for security purposes. Would that make sense? Then people could actually get the detailed information, and maybe they'd stop phoning people.
I just want to get your opinion about that. I'll start with Mr. Jade, and I'll come back to you, Ms. Rico.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2016-12-13 16:08
Thank you very much.
That's helpful. I would anticipate, though, with the question around potential security issues, that surely there's a way to figure that out. If they can do it with the income tax, I'm sure they can apply the same level of security to this kind of modernization with respect to access to information.
Mr. Jade, would you like to comment?
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2016-12-13 17:02
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you also to our witnesses.
This follows in that vein, because I was asking the previous panel that question in terms of access with a security code or a password of some type for people to get the updated information. I gather from both of you that this would be a very useful tool. I certainly think it would be.
One of the witnesses prior to this raised the point about non-Canadians accessing this information. I am not a tech expert and I'm not sure whether this is a real issue because, obviously, there are people who are permanent residents who are not Canadian who would need to access this information. If we're going to go down this road, this would be refugee claimants who are neither permanent residents nor Canadians accessing this information.
Can you briefly comment on this for me?
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