Canada has an international reputation as a country that welcomes newcomers. However, access to justice issues within the immigration system has the potential to jeopardize that.
Immigration in Canada – Exploring Key Access to Justice Issues
When Kyle Hyndman was asked about access to justice issues, he explained that “there are a lot of burning issues“ but he noted that the exclusion of council is one of particular concern. He went on to share that “IRCC has been moving away from paper applications and into online electronic applications…a lot of those portals make it very difficult to be properly represented by lawyers.” Unlike other areas of law, the Government of Canada actively discourages legal representation through its messaging to the public.
When asked if people from different countries receive the same treatment, Kyle responded “not even close, in so many ways…things like the visa requirements, the medical requirements, processing times being wildly different, documentary requirements being different and then of course the approval rates are wildly different between different countries.” While some of these differences can be justified, many cannot be explained by anything other than bias.
Processing times are another access to justice issue because of the time-specific nature of immigration law. Kyle explains that “delays are really not about waiting, it is about the loss of rights.” Since you gain and lose eligibility depending on things such as your age and work experience, processing times, can impact your eligibility. Once eligibility is lost, there is almost nothing that can be done to regain that.
As a result of the ongoing access to justice issues, advocacy has a key role to play to ensure immigration law is fair and equitable. Kyle went on to explain that within the IRCC “there is a lack of transparency on a number of levels, certainly the day-to day decision making, the decisions you get from IRCC often lack meaningful reasons or explanations.” The reality is that “they do their best to not be accountable to anyone, certainly not to applicants, council or the public.” What the IRCC needs, as Kyle explains is to have “clear guidelines that are consistent and updated in real-time but in a way that everyone can access clearly and everyone can find the information, that’s really important for making the system fair and accessible.”
Kyle Hyndman is a partner at MKS Immigration Lawyers. He has decades of experience providing advice on immigration strategy. Kyle specializes in family sponsorship, including same-sex relationships, self-employed applications for cultural workers and athletes, citizenship and work permits and skilled permanent residence for high-skill workers. In addition to his busy practice, he engages in regular speaking engagements and is involved with the Canadian Bar Association.
Immigration in Canada is complex. MKS is here to support you and help you with all your immigration needs. To book a consultation with Kyle Hyndman or another lawyer at MKS Immigration Lawyers, click here.