Below is an open letter that was published in Mill Woods Mosaic (March 15, 2016):
Since long before I was elected as the Member of Parliament for Edmonton Mill-Woods, I have heard from many residents that our immigration system is in dire need of reform. Now that I am an MP, the frequency of these calls is increasing and as I have always been, I am in agreement that things need to change.
There are too many families in our community who want to be reunited with their loved ones who continue to wait as a slow and cumbersome process drags along. We want to change that. That is why our government is committed to reducing application processing times for immigration streams and to bringing families together. To this end, we doubled the application intake in the parent and grandparent program (PGP), from 5,000 to 10,000.
Under the leadership of Prime Minister Trudeau and Immigration Minister McCallum, we are actively seeking strategies to make our system better. Having a well-functioning and streamlined immigration system is not only good for families, but also for our economy. We believe that immigration is essential for long-term economic growth and it is important that our system is reflective of that belief.
Those who commit to our country for the long-term should have a path to citizenship that is reasonable and clearly understood. Under the previous government, this path was made difficult and in some cases blocked by provisions in Bill C-24. This bill was not in keeping with Canadian values which is why Minister McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada, has been leading our government’s efforts to repeal and amend certain aspects. Some of the proposed amendments would:
- repeal the requirement to be physically present in Canada for 183 days in four of six years immediately before applying for citizenship;
- amend the physical presence requirement to the equivalent of three years within the five years preceding the application;
- repeal the new grounds for citizenship revocation based on actions against the national interest;
- allow for non-permanent resident time to count towards meeting physical presence requirements;
- amend the age range required to demonstrate language and knowledge ability;
- undertake some amendments to further enhance program integrity
I understand that many people have been unable to obtain temporary resident visas for their loved ones to be able to visit Canada in times of celebration and sorrow, and I want to be a part of changing that. A temporary resident visa should be attainable by our family and friends who meet the stated requirements; I am working diligently with IRCC (formerly CIC) so our family members have the opportunity to visit Canada. This is a very important issue to me personally and I am committed to working towards a fair and equitable system for all so that family and friends living abroad are able to visit Canada to attend a wedding, celebrate a birth, or mourn a loss together.
Change takes time and there is much work to be done to make the necessary reforms to our immigration system. I am confident that we are heading in the right direction. We are making pragmatic changes that will see families reunited sooner, citizenship attainable for more of our residents, and our friends and family more easily able to visit Canada.
The staff in my Edmonton office are hired to facilitate the needs of my constituents. If you would like get in touch with me, please email my office at Amarjeet.Sohi@parl.gc.ca or call at 780-497-3524.