McCallum: Not every international student but those with more years will be considered for PR
By Shazia Malik
Brampton – No new law as a consequence of this trip, but a lot of conversation and suggestions to immigration officers that they should be reasonably accommodating except under serious circumstances and understand the Indian culture. In many cases they do but it was kind of reinforcing this point and I’m hopeful over the time the situation will improve.
These comments were made by John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. However, when asked about the tussle going on between international students and the community, the minister did not comment on that.
Giving details of his India trip, McCallum said it was a very productive visit. He toured Delhi, Chandigarh and Amritsar. He also paid his respects at the Golden Temple. He said: It was a moving experience to see that religion and witness the beauty and majesty of it.” McCallum also visited a university and the presidential palace, and met two governors but said the main objective of this visit was to meet the staff of the Canadian mission and see what challenges they face on daily basis.
While in Chandigarh the minister found out that the visa refusal rates are high and so he held conversations with “individuals and placed plans to improve the situation,” the minister said. “When I travel to China or Philippines and now to India, I found a lot of fraud goes on all over these places. My suggestion to all those desirous of visiting their relatives in Canada, is not to fall in the hands of dishonest people. So if they are coming for weddings or funerals or whatever the reason may be, there are legitimate ways of entering Canada. With dishonest people one loses a lot of money and does not even get through.”
He once again reiterated those entering Canada through illegitimate means, stand the chance of being turned down, so McCallum said he wished to convey this message in India and in Canada, that one should not be duped by fraudulent people – one of issues he said the government has to address. But that he said was on a serious note. “Overall we had a terrific time, meeting people. The main objective was also opening our doors to people from around the world and from India. We are making it easier for international students from India to become permanent residents. Just recently I announced additional points for students from India because they study here, they speak English and French, know about the country and so are the perfect candidates to become permanent residents. With these additional points more of them would be able to become permanent residents. We are also open for business for tourists, for students, for visitors.”
When asked about the main cause of high refusal rates at Chandigarh, the minister said it is because of “fraud and misrepresentation that has been going on for many years and is not new. You should apply on your own or through an agent but ensure that the one you choose is honest because if you use fraudulent means, you will lose money and you won’t even get in. Thus I had honest conversations with the staff there. The staff is getting familiar with cultural things like funeral and others and so are being more accommodating to cultural practices.” McCallum informed that “some files in Chandigarh will be considered in Delhi, and vice versa. In different cities the files will be considered to improve situation but the important part also is not to get duped. There is no magic bullet to solve this problem but there has been some improvement, and after my visit and putting some measures in place, things will improve further.”
McCallum said he has heard positive things from the international students. “I did consultations over the summer, toured various cities in various provinces, and not everyone agrees on everything but one thing everyone agreed with is that international students are valuable Canadians and citizens and we must do more to encourage them to become permanent residents. Everyone in the world is after them and so are we. We are persuading them that the cold benches of Canada are better than the sunny beaches of Australia, that might take some doings but Canada has many other thing to offer, such as a multicultural society and offering more point to students to court them here to Canada.”
McCallum added: “We have an aging society and the international students are the best group to become permanent Canadians. So I haven’t heard any complaints, just they only faced a hard ride because of the old system because when you get in the labour market impact assessment which says a company cannot get a Canadian to do the job and for certain jobs that is quite easy. But for the entry level jobs that are the typical jobs, which the students get are more difficult, so the additional points are an addition.”
The minister informed that the government gives more points to students who have studied for a longer period of time than those who have studied for the shorter period. He added: “Those who have studied in Canada for more than three to four years will get more points than those who are here for only one or two years. We also put a premium on the length of the study and its seriousness, so I’m not saying that every single international student will be accepted, I’m saying a higher proportion will be and in particular those who have spent a number of years to show they are serious.”
At the end McCallum said he felt welcomed in India. He was asked in India about Sikhs being cabinet ministers. To this he replied that those are very capable people and also happen to be Sikhs and so they have important positions. Though defence, infrastructure, house speaker and innovation portfolios are important but are held by able people not because they are Sikhs