Illegal immigration to Canada is not a game, although sometimes it may feel like one – a very tough game where you often lose. If you think you can beat the system, think again.
Customs Immigration by Privacy Canada / Used by permission of author
Updated for 2019
Illegal immigration to Canada is not a game, although sometimes it may feel like one – a very tough game where you often lose. If you think you can beat the system, think again. If you think again, and still feel like you can somehow stay in Canada as an illegal, good luck. The following information might give you pause for doubt. Consider 4 good reasons why illegal immigration to Canada is not such a great idea:
- Canada needs legal immigrants. Canada, hence, wants legal immigrants. Canada has a distinct demographic profile from the USA. That is perhaps surprising to outsiders given the similarities between the two most northern North American neighbours, but Canada, in fact, has a lower birth rate. Until a few decades ago, fertility rates in both countries were quite similar. Women surveyed in both countries intended to have the same number of children, 2.2 on average. In the last 30 years, this has changed. Canadian women have started to wait longer to have children and there are notably less teenage pregnancies in Canada. The hard numbers tell the story: as of 2002, American women aged 20 to 24 have a 75% higher fertility rate than their Canadian counterparts. Those aged 25 to 29 have a fertility rate that is 25% higher. While stronger religious beliefs are mentioned by some as a reason, it may be just as much a matter of economics. Youth unemployment in Canada is generally higher and acts as a disincentive for young mothers.That means a population growth of less than 9 per 1000 in Canada, while in the US the rate is over 12 per thousand. When you translate those numbers into total births in Canada, it means that if Canada had had the same birth rate as the US in 1999, then 123,000 more births would have occurred. And Canada is expected to reach that crucial inflection point where deaths outnumber births in about 20 years, while the US will not reach that point until about 50 years from now. All these numbers mean that Canada needs immigrants. Well qualified legal immigrants who do their best to comply with the rules.
- Illegal immigration in Canada is not as widespread as in the USA, though 2017 has been a massive exception to that. No, this history is not necessarily a benefit. While there are a large number of diverse immigrant communities across Canada, the large majority are doing it the upfront legal way, complying with Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s requirements. Exactly how large a problem illegal immigration is, was historically a matter of some guesswork as illegal immigrants don’t fill out census forms or line up to vote. According to Professor Showler of the Refugee Forum at the University of Ottawa, the estimates for the total number of illegals in Canada range prior to this past year between 30,000 and 120,000. Former Auditor General Sheila Fraser once admitted that the government has lost track of over 40,000 illegals whose paperwork had expired or was never in order. While that may seem like a lot, it is a far smaller percentage of the population than the estimated 13 million plus illegals in the USA. Canada would have to have over a million illegals for the proportions between the two countries to be the same. That means illegals do not have the same network of support among fellow “indocumentados” that exists in the USA. You will find it harder to be an anonymous illegal in Canada, as all the asylum seekers arriving at the border are finding as they head to detention centres.
- It does not matter to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (RCIC) or the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) if you have a steady job and are a good employee. If you are illegally living in Canada, they will deport you if they find you. Deportations have been on the rise since 2017. In Whitehorse a few years back, Latino illegals began arriving in response to companies desperate calls for labour – some of it unskilled to be fair. If there is a contradiction between your economic functionality and your legal status – you have a job and are a valued employee, but do not have a valid visa – guess which one wins out? In Whitehorse, several families were forced to move back to Argentina and Mexico despite being productive members of the community. It seems the CBSA, as well as RCIC itself, are under orders not to take your employment history into account if you are an illegal. Not only that, you are far more likely to be deported than violent criminals who tend to cover their tracks. The CBSA seems to go after the low-hanging fruit to meet their quotas. And every time an illegal who is also a hardened criminal commits a crime, several years after they should have been put on a plane, there is an outburst of very understandable anger and the illegal who is visible at their place of employment is at further risk of being deported as pressure mounts on Immigration Canada and the CBSA. It does not matter if you feel you are a law abiding, productive citizen. You are not, because you have broken immigration laws. That might not seem fair to you, but in Canada it is a fact of law, and it puts you at a permanent disadvantage. Whether you are a hard working employee or not.
- Ok, it didn’t work out. You had to board a flight back to your country of origin and you have seen the light. You are going to try again to get into Canada, but this time you will do it on the straight and narrow and play by the rules. While your change of heart is commendable, you now have quite a mountain to climb. Once you have been deported from Canada, it is very difficult to convince the authorities to let you try again. But it does depend on how you left the country. What you need to return is an Authorization to Return to Canada, (ARC), although you may be exempt from this requirement. It boils down to what type of Removal Order you were given and how you complied – or didn’t – with that Removal Order. There are 3 types of Removal Orders:
- A Departure Order requires you to leave Canada 30 days after the order becomes enforceable and if you leave by the 30 day deadline as well as notify immigration at your point of departure, then you may return to Canada without an ARC, “subject to normal examination at the point of entry.” If you do not leave within 30 days and/or do not notify immigration at your point of departure then the Departure Order automatically becomes a Deportation Order and you will have to apply for an Authorization to Return to Canada, or ARC. Your chances of successfully returning just went way down.
- An Exclusion Order means you cannot apply to return to Canada until 1 year has passed, unless you apply for an ARC. An exclusion order due to misrepresentation (lying basically) means you get to wait 2 years, unless you get that ARC. You also need a Certificate of Departure, obtained when you leave Canada.
- A Deportation Order means you have to apply for an ARC, no matter what. A Direction to leave Canada is not a removal order – i.e. it does not belong to any of the 3 categories listed – and does not require an ARC to return to Canada.
- When you apply for your ARC, you will have to explain in writing why you did not comply with immigration law while in Canada, and provide documentation if necessary, and sometimes attend an interview. You will have to convince the very people who deemed you should leave the country that you should be allowed to return. It is not an easy task and your chances of success are far from guaranteed.
Better to avoid having a deportation order on your passport in the first place. Is it really worth the risk?
Have you received and/or complied with a departure order, an exclusion order or a deportation order and need help getting an ARC?
This article was originally written in 2014
Riley Haas has been a leading expert since 2011 on immigration matters, with hundreds of publications online. Published author of three books about political philosophy, the Beatles and the Toronto Maple Leafs, respectively. BA from Bishop’s University, MA from McMaster University. You follow Riley on Substack https://rileyhaas.substack.com.