The Government of Canada’s Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) cancels arrest warrants for overstaying foreigners, including Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) because they can’t find them. Arrest warrants for overstaying OFWs who have been in Canada for more than five years are cancelled by CBSA.
Every year, millions of foreign nationals arrive in Canada to visit, study and work.
Tens of thousands of them end up filing for asylum, not wanting to return to their home countries.
Others foreign nationals, including OFWs from the Philippines, end up overstaying their visas. Some come under time-limited Work Permits which indicate that they must leave by a specific date.
According to Global News, there are currently 48,000 arrest warrants active. CBSA are looking for foreign nationals who are wanted for different violations of Canada’s Immigration Act.
Representatives from the CBSA state that the vast majority of these arrest warrants involve foreign nationals wanted for deportation.
OVERSTAYING OFWS SUBJECT TO ARREST WARRANTS
Global News found that CBSA cancels arrest warrants when they can’t find the foreign nationals. Apparently, CBSA does not keep track of the number of arrest warrant cancelled because they couldn’t find the foreign nationals.
It was only recently that CBSA started keeping record of foreign nationals leaving Canada by land.
CBSA does not keep records of foreign nationals who leave by air.
Global News found that the Government of Canada cannot accurately say how many foreign nationals have overstayed their approved visas.
Global News spoke with several individuals in the course of their investigation, including former CBSA officers, who said that the agency has been cancelling arrest warrants for foreign nationals that were older than five years.
CBSA CANCELLING ARREST WARRANTS MORE THAN FIVE YEARS OLD
When looking for foreign nationals with active arrest warrants, CBSA makes phone calls to known associates, search for mentions of the individuals on social media as well as checking for criminal and immigration records of other countries such as the United States to see if they have an entry record.
If the subject of the arrest warrant does not have a criminal record or is not deemed a national security risk, CBSA officers would cancel the arrest record without having found the foreign national.
Global News also reached out to the Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Ministry, who reassured them that arrest warrants for foreign nationals involved in war or transnational crimes, as well as human rights violations would not be cancelled.
“CBSA officers must exercise due diligence in exhausting all leads to locate an individual before a warrant can be cancelled.” CBSA spokesperson Rebecca Purdy told Global News.
CBSA has cancelled more than 1,300 arrest warrants for immigration violations last year.
CANADA HAS NO WAY OF TELLING HOW MANY FOREIGN NATIONALS ARE IN THE COUNTRY ILLEGALLY
CBSA does not know how many of those foreign nationals who are subjects of these arrest warrants are still currently in Canada.
There’s currently no way for the Government of Canada to know just how many foreign nationals have overstayed their visas.
It wasn’t until Bill C-21 was passed in 2018 that the Government of Canada was able to legally track exit information and flight manifests for foreign nationals leaving the country.
CBSA new system will not be in place until 2020, so they won’t be able to track foreign nationals who are already in Canada.
Immigration advocates cite the example of overstaring foreign nationals in the United States, who some say are less likely to engage in criminal activity than American citizens or permanent residents.
There is a lack of credible research to back up any of the publicly available numbers, but some have indicated that there might be as many as 500,000 foreign nationals staying in Canada illegally.
OFWS AND OTHER FOREIGN NATIONALS OUTNUMBER PERMANENT RESIDENTS
Canada welcomes millions of foreign nationals as international students and temporary foreign workers, much more than the numberm of foreign nationals who enter the country as permanent residents.
International students must leave Canada before the expiration of their Study Permits, while foreign nationals must leave before the end of their Work Permits.
There are no accurate numbers of how many foreign nationals stay in Canada after their Study Permits and Work Permits expire.
Immigration advocates are pushing for the Government of Canada to find ways to grant status to law-abiding foreign nationals who have overstayed their visas.
GRANTING AMNESTY TO OFWS CHEAPER THAN CHASING AFTER THEM
A time-limited pilot program was undertaken last July to allow 500 overstaying foreign workers to apply for permanent residency in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
Immigration advocates contend that it would cost the Government of Canada much less to grant permanent residence to law-abiding foreign nationals whose only offence was to overstay their visas, than it would to chase after them.
A recent study by Yale and the Massachusettes Institute of Technology (MIT) state that there are more than 22 million undocumented foreign nationals in the United States.
By comparison, the number of Canada’s overstaying foreign nationals is very small.
Immigration advocates state that law-abiding foreign nationals who overstay their visas contribute to the Canadian economy, despite their lack of legal status.
ARE YOU AN OVERSTAYING OFW IN CANADA? GET HELP
If you are a Filipino national in Canada who needs help, contact the Philippine Embassy or Consulate General that has jurisdiction over your province or territory of employment.
The Philippine Embassy and Consulate Generals does not report overstaying Filipino nationals.
In case of emergencies, call 911 immediately.
EMBASSY OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES IN OTTAWA
30 Murray St.
Ottawa, ON K1N 5M4
Tel: (613) 233-1121
Fax: (613) 233-4165
In case of emergency: (613) 614-2846
Email: email@example.com | firstname.lastname@example.org
CONSULATE GENERAL OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES IN TORONTO
7/F 160 Eglinton Ave. E.
Toronto, ON M4P 3B5
Tel: (416) 922-7181
Fax: (416) 922-2638
PHILIPPINE OVERSEAS LABOUR OFFICE (POLO) TORONTO
2/F 160 Eglinton Ave. E.
Toronto, ON M4P 3B5
Tel: (416) 975-8252
Fax: (416) 975-8277
CONSULATE GENERAL OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES IN VANCOUVER
999 Canada Place, Suite 660
Vancouver, BC V6C 3E1
Tel: (604) 685-1619 | (604) 685-7645
Fax: (604) 685-9945
CONSULATE GENERAL OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES IN CALGARY
517 10th Ave. SW., Suite 920
Calgary, AB T2R 0A8
Tel: (403) 455-9343 | (403) 455-9343 | (403) 455-9346 | (403) 455-9457 | (403) 455-9483 | (587) 577-1524
Email: email@example.com | firstname.lastname@example.org
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