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Immigration, Processing Times

Why closing Canadian visa offices in the U.S. may be a good thing

Today, the federal government formally announced what was leaked in the media last week – that it was closing down the visa section at the Canadian Consulate General in Buffalo, N.Y. As a result, processing of permanent residency applications that were destined to that office will now be processed in Canada.

For people applying for work permits or study permits to come to Canada, the U.S. operations will also be streamlined. Applicants in the U.S. who are east of the Mississippi River will now have to send applications to the Canadian Consulate in New York City while applicants on the west of the Mississippi will have to send their applications to L.A. The Detroit, Seattle and Washington D.C. Consulates will no longer process these applications.

The visa  offices in Detroit, Seattle and Washington, D.C. will still be around but their functions will be limited. These offices will be restricted to processing only temporary resident visas (for visitors) and applications for those who have issues entering Canada because of past problems – mainly criminal records or other issues. New York City and L.A. will also be able to process these types of applications.

Overall, this looks to be a good thing. On the job side, this should create or maintain jobs for Canadians in the immigration system as more work will be moved to Canada. While there will be layoffs at the Consulates, most of the layoffs will be locally engaged U.S. citizens. While nobody wants to see anyone laid off, this is consistent with spirit of the “Canada first” policy the government preaches to Canadian employers who want to hire foreign workers that they should hire Canadians and Canadian permanent residents first. This is not a bad thing.

Having Canadians process immigration applications to Canada will hopefully allow individuals with more knowledge of Canada to have an input in making these decisions. This may be especially important when discretion is involved.

Of course, all of these good things could come to a crashing halt should processing times slow down. For now, I think it is fair to wait and see how things evolve.

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About Reis Pagtakhan

Reis Pagtakhan is an immigration law partner with MLT Aikins LLP. His extensive experience includes assisting businesses obtain temporary entry to Canada and permanent residency for their executives, employees and contractors from all over the world. Reis has lectured on and written papers on immigration law for the Law Society of Manitoba, the Manitoba Bar Association, the Human Resources Management Association of Manitoba, the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association, and the Community Legal Education Association of Manitoba. He has presented position papers before the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Immigration Department officials and Manitoba Labour and Immigration. He has written articles on immigration for the CBC, the Winnipeg Free Press, trade, industry and ethnic publications.

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