A news article clogged WeChat feed says that in approving for visa applications from China, IRCC practices geographical discrimination, targeting applicants from Liaoning, Guangdong, Hebei, Fujian, Henan. The article also embedded a tweet from immigration lawyer Steven Meurrens, which says that IRCC training manual identified several provinces in China as high-risk areas for visa refusal.
Such a tweet from an immigration lawyer referring to insider information such as IRCC guidelines seemed intimidated many applicants. Online reactions to the news were spontaneous. Some showed the guilty pleasure: “Those from Fujian province has no choice but to suck it up! “ Others revealed anger, making comments that directly lashing out at Trudeau and IRCC. “Canada should not tolerate geographical or race discrimination! We can file a lawsuit against Trudeau government for violating Constitutions!”
But the news story and Meurrens’ tweets raise skepticism from his peers. According to Richard Kurland, a well-known immigration lawyer, the IRCC training material is used to identify “document fraud”, rather than a guideline for refusal. Some parts of the world– including countries in Eastern Europe and Africa are known sources of fraudulent documents, and cases from the region require closer verification. However, it is very different than a guideline to ‘refuse’, Kurland explained through an email to Chinese News. ”Some parts of the world are known to have higher fraud rates, and there is no surprise to see higher refusal rates from those areas where document fraud is well-known. ”
Applying a Canadian visa could be a nightmare for many Chinese nationals, rumours widely circulating on the Chinese language websites or social media WeChat would only make it worse. The digital world has become a hotbed for misinformation and a burgeoning collection of misconceptions, rumours and fake news. If you google “Canadian visa application”, what will pop up from the search engine seems quite frightening: “Visa refusal rate for Chinese applicants reached new high! “More PR applicants were rejected after Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver”. More shockingly, “Applicants with generic last names -- Wang, Huang, LI, Chen-- face higher rate of refusal!”
“IRCC decision reflects the difficulty of ensuring identity of the person,” says Kurland. But common names or names that can be spelled differently in English need review, but not rejection, according to Kurland. His comments were echoed by IRCC. To debunk rumours that IRCC arbitrarily reject Chinese applications based on their last names, the immigration authorities indicate that all applications from around the world are assessed equally against the same criteria.
“The visa decisions are made by highly-trained public servants according to Canadian law. When a visa officer refuses an application, it is because the applicant does not meet the requirements of the program they have applied to or of Canada’s immigration law”, says Fenelon Beatrice, Communications Advisor for IRCC, through an email to Chinese News.
IRCC has provided stats to show that Canada does not discriminate against Chinese applicants. China has remained a major immigration source country for Canada for decades and visa approval rate for applicants from China has been on the rise in recent years. According to IRCC, the approval rate for Chinese nationals for temporary resident visa has been high, averaging 88.4% since 2015. In 2018, IRCC saw more applications from China than 2017 and issued 592,007 visa to Chinese nationals, an increase of 8.3% over the previous year. Meanwhile, refusal rate for family class applications was 20% lower than the year prior.
Kurland whose motto is keeping Ottawa honest has confirmed the information from IRCC.
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