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Evidence of meeting #26 for Citizenship and Immigration in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was applicants.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Sharon Chomyn  Director General, International Region, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
Sidney Frank  Immigration Program Manager, New Delhi, India, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
Gulzar Cheema  As an Individual
Dan Bohbot  President, Quebec Immigration Lawyers Association (AQAADI)

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Kellway NDP Beaches—East York, ON

I'm sure you do. You probably look at those with suspicion too.

Pulling that curtain back a bit, can you tell me what the visa officers are looking for? You didn't want to call it a profile but you talk about it being more art than science, so I've got a couple of questions, and I'll ask you if you can be as brief as possible in responding. What exactly are you looking for?

4:15 p.m.

Immigration Program Manager, New Delhi, India, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Sidney Frank

When an application comes in, we look at all the information that has been provided and then we compare that to our knowledge in terms of which applicants have remained in Canada previously. So you develop an expertise about a particular country, and you know that this type of applicant commonly makes a refugee claim.

I'll get back to parents visiting their children in Canada. Long prior to the super visa, we knew, historically, that when children in Canada don't have sufficient income to sponsor their parents legally through the family class program, the incidence of refugee claims for those people is very high.

Chances are pretty good that unless there are extenuating humanitarian and compassionate factors, if the kids don't have the income we're going to refuse.

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Kellway NDP Beaches—East York, ON

I get the income issues. Those are the objective, quantifiable things.

Very recently I had a woman in my office who was very angry because the last time she'd applied for her mother to come over was because she was getting married in this country. As it happens, relationships don't work. They fall apart. Her rejection was on the basis that she didn't get married and the last application said that she was going to get married. Those are the kinds of things that are frustrating people considerably.

It seems to me that there's either a liberal way of instructing visa officers to look at these things or a conservative way. I can only assume from what I see in my office that visa officers are looking at these things through a deep lens of suspicion, or there's something going on internally with respect to how they get evaluated for their assessment.

So what happens to a visa officer if they get something wrong and let somebody in, and it turns out for whatever reasons they shouldn't have?

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

You're way over, sir.

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Kellway NDP Beaches—East York, ON

I would like to get a brief answer.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

Yes, if you can get a brief answer.

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Kellway NDP Beaches—East York, ON

As an employer, is there some response to that visa officer, for making those kinds of mistakes?

4:15 p.m.

Director General, International Region, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Sharon Chomyn

If you're suggesting that perhaps the officer should be more motivated to refuse applications than to accept applications, that is not the case at all.

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Kellway NDP Beaches—East York, ON

I'm just wondering, not suggesting.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

Okay.

4:15 p.m.

Director General, International Region, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Sharon Chomyn

I'm sorry, I didn't mean to phrase it that way.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

Mr. Albas, welcome to the committee.

You have a whole five minutes.

March 8th, 2012 / 4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The whole five minutes? I'll use it wisely, I hope.

We often hear in the media, and I've heard stories as well, about people who obtain fraudulent documentation to gain entry into Canada. From my understanding, applicants are not just getting fake passports anymore. There are fake birth certificates, security checks, diplomas, and the list goes on.

Would you say that document fraud has become much more sophisticated? If so, can you give us some examples of that?

4:20 p.m.

Immigration Program Manager, New Delhi, India, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Sidney Frank

I guess it becomes more sophisticated as technology becomes more sophisticated.

My previous posting was in China, where technology is extremely important. In China, they will blend photos so that individuals can sit language tests for applicants who don't have a high level of English proficiency. This can be for permanent resident applications in the skilled-worker category, or it can be for student applications. It's highly sophisticated how they blend the photo so that when an individual comes to the testing site, and their identity is checked, the individual who is sitting the exam looks like the individual he or she is replacing.

There is a great deal of sophistication.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

It's fair to say that it's getting harder to notice whether a document is genuine or not.

4:20 p.m.

Immigration Program Manager, New Delhi, India, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Sidney Frank

Yes, but we're pretty good at it, I would like to say.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

What is the government doing to keep up with the level of fraud that is occurring then?

4:20 p.m.

Immigration Program Manager, New Delhi, India, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Sidney Frank

We have a constant training of officers. We have an anti-fraud unit. We're finding these things out. As soon as we find them, we tell the officers. We get the word out, and we tell them what to look for. It's a challenge, but it's in some ways an exciting challenge.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

When reviewing files, how culturally sensitive are you concerning information such as names? A good example would be when we translate into English the name of someone who comes from a culture that doesn't use our alphabet. How secure are we that we are doing it correctly?

From your experience, can you give us some examples of when a name has been mistranslated and resulted in a security risk or a criminal gaining entry into Canada?

4:20 p.m.

Director General, International Region, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Sharon Chomyn

Application forms are to be filled out in either English or French.

If there are difficulties with translations, the source of that might be the applicant himself or herself and whoever assisted them with the form. Are you still collecting the Chinese script in China?

4:20 p.m.

Immigration Program Manager, New Delhi, India, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Sidney Frank

No, but we look at the passport. All passports will have an English or Western transliteration. That's the name that we use.

We always look at the passports. If somebody puts something on the application form and it doesn't match the passport, then we would have to verify that.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

There are no examples you can give us of someone gaining entry?

4:20 p.m.

Immigration Program Manager, New Delhi, India, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Sidney Frank

Not that I'm aware of.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

When someone has multiple names, which is common in many countries, is it not the case that when we miss one of the names or put the names in the wrong order, that we would not pick up on that?

Is it standardized now to offset that issue?

4:20 p.m.

Immigration Program Manager, New Delhi, India, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Sidney Frank

One of the benefits of the new global case management system is that it has a very robust search engine. It will bring up similarities and rank them according to how close they are to what you have put in.

It's extremely good at bringing up similar names. Nothing is 100% reliable, but it's pretty close.