Liberals working to soften approach to temporary visas, Trudeau says
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s pushing Canada’s immigration system to soften its approach to processing visa applications and put less focus on the risk of visitors overstaying their short-term visas.
“We’re also trying to do a better job around temporary visas,” Trudeau said Friday.
“The system — I’ll be honest — is still based around, ‘Prove to me that you won’t stay if you come,’ right?” he said, arguing that it is easier for applicants to “convince” immigration officials to grant them visas if they have “a good job and a home and a house and a good status back home.”
On the other hand, people who are strongly motivated to be in Canada for family reasons could be seen by officials as more likely to overstay, he suggested: “If your mom talks about how much she loves you and just wants to be there (in Canada), and you’re there all alone, that’s scary.”
Trudeau made the remarks Friday during an hour-long meeting with about 25 Algonquin College nursing students in Ottawa. Many of them told him they are international students, and a handful mentioned visa issues.
During a question-and-answer session, one international student recounted being hospitalized for seven months and feeling isolated. She told the prime minister her mother had tried twice to get a visa to come visit her, but both applications were rejected.
Trudeau responded that it is vital for Canadians to have faith in the integrity of their immigration system. But he also suggested that he had asked Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to take a less defensive posture when issuing visas.
“We have to stop saying ‘Well, it would be a bad people, a bad thing, if these people were to choose to stay,”’ Trudeau said. “Our immigration minister, Sean Fraser, is working very, very hard on trying to shift the way we look at immigration and make sure that we’re bringing people in.”
The prime minister told the student that the Immigration Department made the wrong call in deciding not to admit her mother.
“It would seem unfair to Canadians and to all sorts of people if there was a back door. These are all the things we’re trying to balance,” Trudeau said. “But I absolutely hear you. Your mom should have been able to come and see you.”
Trudeau added that the federal immigration system is challenged by Canada’s need to fill labour gaps and by numerous crises abroad that are causing people to flee their homes.