Vol. 149, No. 13 — July 1, 2015
SOR/2015-138 June 10, 2015
IMMIGRATION AND REFUGEE PROTECTION ACT
Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations
P.C. 2015-785 June 10, 2015
Whereas, pursuant to subsection 5(2) (see footnote a) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (see footnote b), the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has caused a copy of the proposed Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, substantially in the annexed form, to be laid before each House of Parliament,
Therefore, His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, pursuant to subsection 5(1) and paragraph 150.1(1)(a) (see footnote c) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (see footnote d), makes the annexed Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.
REGULATIONS AMENDING THE IMMIGRATION AND REFUGEE PROTECTION REGULATIONS
1. The Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (see footnote 1) are amended by adding the following after section 60:
COLLECTION AND DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION
Collection of social insurance number
60.1 (1) The Minister may collect the social insurance number of a permanent resident card applicant or a travel document applicant to verify that the applicant has complied with the obligation set out in section 28 of the Act.
Disclosure of social insurance number
(2) The Minister may disclose the social insurance number of the applicant to the Canada Revenue Agency for the purpose set out in subsection (1) if the Minister has entered into an arrangement with the Agency for the disclosure of that information.
2. The Regulations are amended by adding the following after section 137:
COLLECTION AND DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION
Collection of social insurance number
137.1 (1) The Minister may collect the social insurance numbers of a sponsor and a co-signer who have submitted an application to sponsor a person set out in clause 133(1)(j)(i)(B), in order to verify that they meet the requirements set out in clause 133(1)(j)(i)(B) and in paragraph 133(1)(k).
Disclosure of social insurance number
(2) The Minister may disclose the social insurance numbers of the sponsor and the co-signer to the Canada Revenue Agency for the purposes set out in subsection (1) if the Minister has entered into an arrangement with the Agency for the disclosure of that information.
COMING INTO FORCE
3. These Regulations come into force on the day on which they are registered.
REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT
(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)
Under the Permanent Resident program and Parent and Grandparent program, applicants for permanent resident cards and travel documents, as well as sponsors of parents and grandparents, are required to submit certain information to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to demonstrate their compliance with the requirements set out in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR). In the case of permanent resident cards and travel documents, applicants have to meet the residency obligation, and in the case of the sponsors of parents and grandparents, earn a sufficient income. Hard copies of notices of assessment or equivalent documents issued by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) are often submitted to CIC as evidence of compliance with these requirements.
Applicants have in the past attempted to falsify the CRA-issued documents to misrepresent their applications. For example, individuals have overinflated their income or have provided inaccurate information on their residency.
CIC has a limited capacity to verify the accuracy of the information contained in the applications and supporting CRA-issued documents, which poses a risk to the integrity of the Canadian immigration system.
The current process also leads to operational inefficiencies. CIC officers often request that applicants provide additional information to address concerns regarding the accuracy of the information contained in the documents submitted. This causes additional processing delays and adds to the burden on applicants and the Government of Canada.
The solution will enable CIC to obtain directly from the CRA accurate residency and income information for permanent resident and sponsorship applications. The CRA has the capacity to share taxpayer information through a system called the Income Verification Program, which requires the Social Insurance Number (SIN) of the individuals to whom the information relates to ensure that the information transmitted is about the right individual.
The Treasury Board Directive on Social Insurance Number outlines specific restrictions on the collection, use and disclosure of the SIN and requires that government institutions have authority to collect and disclose the SIN. However, CIC currently has no such regulatory authority in place.
As part of its Permanent Resident program, CIC issues permanent resident cards and travel documents to permanent residents. These documents constitute evidence that a foreign national has acquired permanent resident status. Travel documents may be issued to permanent residents overseas who are seeking to re-enter Canada, but who do not have a valid permanent resident card in their possession (e.g. lost, damaged, expired).
Under the Parent and Grandparent program, CIC facilitates family reunification by allowing citizens or permanent residents to sponsor their parents or grandparents and their accompanying family members (e.g. spouse/common-law partner and dependent children) to come to Canada as permanent residents.
These immigration programs are administered based on strict eligibility requirements established to protect Canadian interests, including ensuring the safety and security of the Canadian population. Consequently, applications for sponsorship, permanent resident cards and travel documents are carefully examined to ensure that applicants meet the requirements set out in the IRPA and the IRPR.
Permanent residents seeking to renew or replace their permanent resident card or to obtain a travel document must submit evidence, which can include notices of assessment, to demonstrate that they meet the residency obligation set out in the IRPA. Sponsors and co-signers who make an application to sponsor their parents or grandparents are required to submit notices of assessment or equivalent documents issued by the CRA for each of the three consecutive taxation years preceding the date of application, to demonstrate that they have a sufficient income.
While the CRA has the capacity to share the information contained in the notices of assessment or equivalent documents issued by the CRA directly with federal, provincial or territorial governments through the Income Verification Program, the CRA requires the SIN to ensure that the information disclosed is about the right individual.
Moreover, pursuant to the Income Tax Act, taxpayers’ confidential information cannot be disclosed to third parties unless the individual to whom the information relates has consented in writing to the disclosure.
The amendments will strengthen the integrity of Canada’s immigration programs and increase operational efficiencies by enabling direct electronic exchange of information between CIC and the CRA through CRA’s Income Verification Program. Given that CIC has placed a particular focus on client service improvement, leveraging the technology of the CRA will further expedite application processing for individuals who meet the requirements.
The regulatory amendments will enable CIC to collect the SIN of applicants who wish to renew or replace permanent resident cards, obtain permanent resident travel documents, or sponsor their parents or grandparents as members of the family class.
A field will be created on application forms to allow applicants to voluntarily provide their SIN and consent to the disclosure of their information by the CRA to CIC for the purpose of determining whether they meet the income and residency requirements.
The regulatory amendments will also enable CIC to disclose the SIN of applicants to the CRA. Once an information-sharing arrangement is established between CIC and the CRA, the Income Verification Program will allow for the electronic exchange of taxpayer information with CIC.
This regulatory package was prepublished in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on February 28, 2015, followed by a 30-day comment period. CIC has notified stakeholders of this prepublication.
During the consultation process, an association of immigration consultants in favour of this initiative inquired about the steps that would be taken in the cases of discrepancy between the information provided by the CRA and the information provided by an applicant. The comments will be reviewed and will inform the development of the policies and procedures for the implementation of these Regulations.
Engagement with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner and with the CRA is ongoing.
The “One-for-One” Rule does not apply to these regulatory amendments, since they will not result in any incremental costs to business.
Small business lens
The small business lens does not apply to these regulatory amendments, as no additional administrative burden or compliance costs are imposed on small businesses.
The implementation of these regulatory amendments will provide further support to protect the integrity and efficiency of the immigration system, and modernize and strengthen information-sharing capabilities between CIC and the CRA.
These new authorities will provide CIC with an additional tool to make informed decisions by obtaining accurate information directly from the CRA to verify that applicants meet the residency obligation set out in the IRPA, or earn a sufficient income, as specified in the IRPR. These amendments are also expected to reduce the need for CIC officers to request applicants to submit additional evidence of residency or income, thereby reducing the processing delays and the burden on both the applicants and CIC.
The regulatory amendments are expected to increase public confidence in the immigration process as they will support CIC in detecting fraudulent individuals who claim their permanent residence in Canada even if they do not meet the residency obligation set out in the IRPA. With a permanent resident card in hand, these individuals may be unlawfully receiving benefits and services (e.g. child tax benefits and health benefits) at the expense of Canadian taxpayers.
Furthermore, these regulatory amendments will strengthen program integrity and add rigour and accuracy to the assessment of parents and grand-parents sponsorship applications, as they allow CIC to verify that sponsors and co-signers have sufficient means to support those they sponsor. They would also support measures introduced as part of the redesigned Parents and Grand-parents program by guaranteeing that prospective sponsors are contributing to the public services their sponsored family members are likely to use (e.g. provincial health care, public transportation).
The provision of the SIN will not be mandatory and will be collected solely for the purpose of determining whether the applicants meet the income and residency requirements through the CRA’s Income Verification Program.
The applications of individuals who do not have a SIN, choose not to provide their SIN, or choose not to consent to the disclosure of their personal information to CIC by the CRA, will not be refused or returned solely on that basis. CIC officers will determine the eligibility of an applicant based on the entirety of the information provided in support of the application, in accordance with the current procedure.
There will be some transitional costs to the Government for updating the program delivery instructions and manuals, the application kits, the guidelines and the Web site; for providing training; and for building the capacity through CIC’s Global Case Management System (GCMS) — a single, integrated and worldwide system used internally to process applications for citizenship and immigration services — to interact electronically with the CRA’s Income Verification Program. However, the costs for this regulatory proposal are considered low, as these Regulations are expected to cost just over half a million dollars to implement over the next 10 years. These costs will be absorbed into existing operations.
Implementation, enforcement and service standards
A privacy impact assessment is currently being conducted to ensure that appropriate physical, technical, and administrative measures to safeguard protected information and the privacy interests of applicants are identified and applied. A summary of the privacy impact assessment will be available on the CIC Web site.
At the same time, an information-sharing arrangement is being negotiated with the CRA to govern the information sharing and establish the terms and conditions surrounding the collection, use, disclosure, retention and disposal of personal information between the parties. The measures and safeguards that are identified in the privacy impact assessment will be reflected in the terms and conditions of the arrangement. The information-sharing arrangement will be in place before implementing the Regulations.
It is expected that the implementation of the Regulations will take place during the 2015–2016 fiscal year, after the coming into force of the Regulations planned for June 2015.
Matt de Vlieger
International and Intergovernmental Relations
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
300 Slater Street