From the Toronto Star.
'Phantom' residents to lose status
Cut-off looms for workers in Gulf states who have Canadian landed status but don't actually live here
Oct 14, 2007 04:30 AM
As the first of Canada's new Permanent Resident cards hit their expiry date, immigrants who haven't spent the required length of time in Canada – 730 days out of five years – face losing their landed status in the next few months.
The looming cut-off means hundreds, perhaps thousands, of "phantom" residents – some of whom settled their families here and then went back to well-paying jobs in China, India or the Middle East's Gulf states – will be out of luck.
A large number of them came through a single Canadian visa office: Abu Dhabi.
A government internal report estimates that a whopping 98 per cent of "permanent residents" processed in Abu Dhabi, which serves the Gulf region, had no intention of remaining in Canada after their initial landing.
"Unless something major happens in the region to make the Gulf less attractive for expat workers, there is not a pool of professionals who are serious about settling in Canada," notes the mission's annual overview, obtained under the access to information process.
"The high application rate is related to what Canada can do for them, not the other way around."
The PR card situation mirrors the phenomenon of Hong Kong parents who deposited their children in Canada during the anxious run-up to China's 1997 takeover.
"It irks me with their absence of contributions to our country," says Quebec immigration lawyer Richard Kurland, who obtained the Abu Dhabi report.
"They are basically using the PR status as an insurance passport without living in Canada, so their kids can be exempted from foreign-student tuition fees and their spouses (in Canada) can get the GST credits."
According to the government report, Canadian resident status is especially attractive to South Asian expatriates who don't want to return to the developing world after living in the Gulf countries, where they can get work permits but find it almost impossible to obtain citizenship. (Typically, residence of 30 years is required even to apply.)
However, many, already working in middle-management jobs, are turned off by poor job prospects in Canada, where employers demand Canadian experience and hard-to-get credentials. Plus, they pay no income tax in the Gulf states.
To make things worse, immigration consultants abroad lure clients with promises of settlement assistance and help obtaining drivers' licences, social insurance, health and bank cards – with only a minimal absence from their Gulf jobs. "Many immigrants took permanent residence as a means to obtain a subsidized university education for their children while the parents remained abroad, an opportunity for a better passport, a place to go if they cannot stay in the Gulf at retirement, or war breaks out," the annual report says. "All this may become a bigger issue for Canada if thousands of Canadians working in the Gulf, many of whom either stayed in Canada the minimum time possible, if at all, decide to return to Canada in their later years to utilize social programs."
Angry? I hope so because I sure am. It is because of this kind of behaviour from today's immigrants, this shameful opportunism, is why I want reform. Canada is not getting the quality immigrant this country deserves. We are getting planeloads of opportunists. We are getting immigrants who want to use Canada to compliment the “better life” they are already living. Canadian citizenship is just another acquisition and probably the best deal on the international citizenship markets. We demand less from our immigrants than any other western nation while we shower them with more benefits than anywhere else. They want to exploit Canada’s social system while contributing little to it. They dump the kids and aged parents here and then go pay taxes in another country. How’s that for loyalty? If this is the immigrants we are attracting today then we don’t need them here.
We need to change our citizenship laws. We need to make stricter citizenship requirements. We need to reduce Canada’s immigration intake. We need to pressure our politicians because we need reform.
Do you consider these people Canadians because I sure don't