Why are Europeans rapidly renouncing their Canada immigrant status

June 28, 2017

By Douglas Todd, Vancouver Sun |

Europeans, Britons and Australians are renouncing their Canadian immigrant status at a rapid rate.

Tens of thousands of Europeans and anglophones are being forced at international airports to weigh their previous plan to become Canadian citizens, mostly because of problems they experience with the heightened electronic monitoring by the immigration department.

Vancouver and Toronto immigration lawyers say people from Germany, Britain, France and Australia who have permanent residence status in Canada are being hit by a new immigration department requirement instituted last year, called an electronic travel authorization or eTA.

Foreign nationals from visa-exempt countries who are permanent residents of Canada (who used to be called landed immigrants) are being confronted with the new step before they can get approval to board flights to this country, but also at port-of-entry airports such as Vancouver International.

The trouble arises for these travellers when they arrive at an airport without their plastic permanent resident card — or don’t realize their permanent residence status has expired for certain reasons, including not spending enough time in Canada.

They are thrust into a state of limbo.

When such travellers try to get an eTA — and airport officials then discover they are permanent residents of Canada, but their documentation is inadequate — they are not granted an eTA to board a plane to Canada or, if they somehow make it to Canada, they are not allowed through immigration checkpoints.

As a result, says Toronto immigration lawyer David Lesperance, customs and airline officials are advising such people the quickest way to be allowed to fly into Canada is to renounce their opportunity to immigrate.

As Lesperance puts it, airport officials are telling them: “Either you voluntarily relinquish your (permanent residence) status right here and right now, and we let you in as a visitor, or we deny you entry and fly you back home.”

Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland confirms European and anglophone clients who have had permanent resident status have been running into many difficulties at international airports because of the eTA.

The overall number of people from all countries who have renounced their Canadian immigrant status has gone up sharply since 2014, when Ottawa began making the process of renouncing easier.

The total volume of renunciations has jumped from just a handful a year to more than 30,000 in the past two-and-a-half years.

Of course, would-be immigrants from Europe, Asia or Africa renounce their attempt to gain citizenship for a variety of reasons. Some dislike Canada’s cold weather, some earn more money in their homeland and some are trying to avoid paying Canadian income taxes.

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