Visa Crunch

Ms. Starach: An exhibit of Canada’s exemplary immigration policy

Canadian immigration policies and Canada’s immigrant hospitality have been a success story for other countries to replicate. In its essence, Canadian law provides numerous provisions to uphold the integrity and rights of their immigrants.

One such ground for consideration under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) is the provision of Humanitarian and Compassion (H&C). A distinctive feature of Section 25(1) of the IRPA that sets out is that it allows persons who do not meet one or more of the application requirements outlined in the Act to request that the government consider waving the relevant requirements and consider them for citizenship.

The provision gives a much-needed leeway to ailing immigrants who might not have the required documents, but their citizenship could help in proliferating goodwill, trust, and humanity. In numerous extraordinary cases of medical, financial, admissibility, and child-care issues, the immigration officers can take into account the predicament of immigrants and offer them citizenship without the completion of all set requirements.
Such is the case of Ms. Elena Starach.

Ms. Starach, a patient of schizophrenia and unable to recall basic details of her biography, was on course to be bereft of social security, housing, and healthcare after the H&C department rejected her appeal for permanent residency. Aggravating the matters, neither Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) nor the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) had any immigration records relating to Ms. Starach. The counsel for Ms. Starach challenged H&C’s decision in the Federal Court of Canada.

The Court observed and sympathized with the situation of Ms. Starach in its entirety. The Court’s observations were stark and stood firm on humanitarian grounds. In its judgement, the Court held that the Officer “entirely failed to engage with [Ms. Starach’s H&C] request” and instead engaged in a “circular and unintelligible analysis” of her situation. The Federal Court, in line with the judgement, accepted the appeal and remanded another officer to reconsider the application.

Hence, it is not news when polling giants like Gallup poll reveal that Canada is the most welcoming country in the world – and far more tolerant than the United States – for immigrants. Canada holds space for consideration of individuals for permanent residency based on their individual situation. Ms. Starach’s story is just another example of the humanity that transcends borders, policies, and continues to inspire.

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