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No Canadian visa refusals because of travel history

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The purpose of this petition is to request the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) and its department to stop refusing visa applications based on travel history.

The issue

A recent report by the Parliament of Canada Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration (CIMM) shows officers continue to refuse visitor visa applications for spouses based on their travel history.

"In 2019, top refusal grounds for a temporary resident visa for spousal sponsorship applicants were due to the inability to establish that the person would leave at the end of their authorized stay (R179(b)) and related to either purpose of travel, family ties, assets, travel history, or current employment." Source: canada.ca

In addition, we have seen many cases where an officer has refused the applicants' visit visa, study permit, or work permit applications due to their travel history. A typical refusal letter could include a sentence similar to the following.

"I am not satisfied that you will leave Canada at the end of your stay, as stipulated in subsection 179 or 200(1) or 216(1) of the IRPR, based on your travel history."

The legal basis for this petition

In a landmark decision by Federal Court in 2009, Justice Harrington concluded that travel history is neutral at best:

[12] Lack of previous travel can only at most be a neutral factor. If one had travelled and always returned, the visa officer's concerns might be lessened... Dhanoa v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2009 FC 729 (CanLII), https://canlii.ca/t/24ttn, retrieved on 2022-07-01

The case law emphasizes a lack of travel history for temporary resident visas at most can be a neutral factor and must not turn into a reason for refusal.

Some recent decisions by the Federal Court corroborate this decision:

Issuing more temporary visas could contribute to our economy

Since 2020, the world has been fighting against an unprecedented pandemic. The pandemic not only put people's lives at risk but t it also had a significant impact on the economy because of the measures imposed to contain the spread of the virus.

The travel restrictions have likely had the most significant impact on the Canadian tourism industry. Statistics Canada states that the tourism industry includes transportation, accommodation and food services, travel arrangement and reservation services, and recreation and entertainment. Moreover, in 2019, tourism activities accounted for about 2% of Canada's GDP and generated about 750,000 jobs (Statistics Canada n.d.a and n.d.b).

Unfortunately, In 2021, overall tourism activity in Canada was 37.1% below the pre-pandemic level reached in September 2019, with domestic activity down 21.1% and inbound activity down 74.1%. Moreover, in February 2022, overall tourism activity in Canada was 37.2% below the level reached in February 2019 (before the pandemic).

Currently, the Tourism Industry in Canada is ready to re-welcome travellers from all over the world, according to Beth Potter, President and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC).

"We are open for business and ready to re-welcome travellers from all over the world, whether for pleasure or business," says Potter. "The recovery of Canada's visitor economy is key to Canada's overall economic growth – and we still have a long way to go. This once $105 billion industry in Canada must be recognized and celebrated for the important economic driver it is."

A reduction in temporary resident visa refusals could contribute to our tourism industry, labour market, schools, colleges, and universities.

The request

We, the undersigned, ask the Honourable Minister of IRCC to update the existing Program Delivery Instructions and prohibit immigration officers from refusing temporary resident applications because of travel history.

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