Kafkian immigration bureaucracy prevents experienced lecturers from working in Canada

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      I am an instructor at BCIT and Capilano University, and I was told by Citizenship and Immigration Canada that I need to stop teaching next Friday (February 6), as my work permit expires, leaving over 100 students without an instructor in the middle of a term. Earlier this month, several publications reported that internal government reviews have identified a “high error rate” in immigration processing, and mine is a good example of how such processing mistakes can translate into a serious loss to Canada.

      I have lived in Canada for seven years, having moved from the U.K. after finishing my PhD there. My first application for permanent residence was rejected last year, despite the fact that I had well over the amount of experience required when I applied, and despite a shortage of workers in my area being expected by the government of Canada in the period 2013-2022.

      It is worth looking into the details of why this application was rejected, as it reveals the lunacy of the system as it is currently managed under the Conservative government. To qualify for permanent residence using the Canadian Experience Class, a lecturer (just like anyone else) needs to accumulate the equivalent of one year of full-time experience in Canada in the three years prior to the date of the application. This is precisely defined as at least 30 hours of paid work per week, and a minimum of 1,560 hours in total.

      Oddly, Immigration considered as experience only the number of hours I spent in the classroom teaching, as if teaching were the only thing that lecturers do. Obviously, we spend a lot of time preparing lectures and marking, but I was strangely asked to “prove” this. A letter from my head of department stating that I had more than one year of full-time experience and was working full-time was not considered “proof”, so I am not sure what would.

      How long would it take for a lecturer to accumulate the required 1,560 hours of actual in-class teaching? Consider someone who teaches eight courses per year, a full-time position, and the maximum allowed for a full-time instructor at Capilano University. Since they will take more than the maximum of three years to accumulate what Immigration calls one year of experience, this lecturer will never qualify for permanent residence.

      If Immigration demands are both fair and being correctly applied, one would think that it should be at the very least physically possible for a lecturer to earn one year of full-time experience as, defined by Immigration, in one year. In order to do this, a lecturer would need to teach a mere 36 courses per year. I estimate this would involve each week: 35 hours of teaching in class, an estimated 35 hours of marking, and an estimated 35 hours of preparation (although this would vary with experience).

      In order to get one year of experience in one year, a lecturer needs to work 105 hours per week as a minimum. No problem. You can still sleep three hours per night, although you will have to be fed intravenously, as there will be no time to eat. An inexperienced lecturer would need to work much harder than this, and so may have to forego both food and sleep for the first few years of their career. It seems excessive that getting Canadian residence requires death.

      The Immigration site clearly states that applicants “do not need to hire an immigration representative”. I would joke that it takes a PhD to get this system, but clearly a PhD is not enough. Immigration decisions seem to be arbitrary and unpredictable, and in this case result in unfair discrimination against lecturers, hurt students, and compromise the future of higher education in Canada.

      Vasco Castela holds a master’s in philosophy of cognitive science from the University of Sussex, and a PhD in ethics from the University of Manchester. He has been teaching full-time in Canada since 2012, and has applied for permanent residence for a second time in November 2014. His case has not started being processed, and an extension for his work permit was just denied. With the support and advice of his departments at Capilano University and BCIT, and his MP’s office (Vancouver Quadra), he will submit one last application to attempt to renew his work permit.



      Peter Bodifee

      Jan 30, 2015 at 6:16pm

      This definitely falls in the category: "you can't make this up". I tend to believe that the bureaucrats were instructed to reduce the approval of PR applications to a minimum and hence they try to bend every rule in this direction. In the mean time Asians loaded with money still buy them selves PR status (in a different class obviously). Keeping my fingers for your crossed Vasco!

      On the other hand

      Jan 30, 2015 at 9:40pm

      Canada really doesn't have enough PhDs in philosophy?

      Also, some math:

      105 hours/36 courses ~= 3 hours/course

      8 courses per year, that is what, 24 hours a week by his math?

      I just am glad we publicly subsidize the teaching of philosophy!

      Immanuel Kant

      Jan 30, 2015 at 10:18pm

      This is appalling. This man teaches ethics at university and someone like him is bound to be very valuable for the soul of this country. People who are in the humanities, sciences and university teaching often have non-standard hours - but they bring in so much more to this country than MUN-NEE. They're not motivated by money, they want to improve society. Yet they're paid almost nothing.

      In contrast, enormous numbers of people who have no concern about other people or Canadian society are brought into the country every year. All they care about is MUN-NEE. Many can't speak English, and don't engage in the community. Toxic, boring people with no soul. This is what Canada is becoming.

      Vasco Castela

      Jan 30, 2015 at 11:38pm

      On The Other Hand, I understand that you would prefer me to leave Canada, but perhaps you would change your mind if you understood the situation a bit better.

      According to the Government of Canada, Canada does need more professors/lecturers.

      Regarding philosophy, I can only tell you what department heads tell me, and they tell me that it is difficult to get people with the right qualifications for the job. It's not enough to have just any PhD.

      Regarding the math, you seem to be dividing 105 hours per week by 36 courses per year, assuming that the courses take 1 academic year to complete. That's why it looks odd. There are 3 terms in a year, and I teach one-term courses.

      Why does it shock you that Canadian universities make their students study ethics?


      Jan 31, 2015 at 2:41am

      Well, there's your problem right there...Ethics. That's the last thing this government wants. If you don't improve your skills into the energy industry (not green), and become a donor to the Conservative party, you'll never get your papers.
      Perhaps you could start spewing the beauty of LNG in your classes.

      Note: I'm very sorry to hear your story. So many indentured servants are going through the same thing. The whole plan was meant to reduce wages, kill pensions and destroy unions. You've served their purpose, I suppose.


      Jan 31, 2015 at 5:21am

      The Conservative Party is destroying this country on so many levels it is appalling. Canada was a nice country before they showed up. Keep fighting.

      400 ppm

      Jan 31, 2015 at 8:07am

      @Vasco Castela

      Canada doesn't want someone who thinks. Canada wants someone who votes and leaves the thinking to their betters.

      Canada wants cheap labour and debt-accumulators. Consider this a blessing and get away from this poor excuse for a country and its celebrity/sport/technology obsessed "citizens" as fast as you can.

      Michael Bury

      Jan 31, 2015 at 8:16am

      Border agents regularly scoff and tell me and my wife we shouldn't have hired a lawyer to handle the immigration process for me. After reading this I am glad we did.

      @Vasco Castela

      Jan 31, 2015 at 8:33am

      " it is difficult to get people with the right qualifications for the job. It's not enough to have just any PhD."

      Really, what else does one need? Sufficient publications? Sufficient evidence of being a "team player"? PhD means "teacher of philosophy", in English, I have no idea why a PhD would not be qualified to teach philosophy---sure, maybe you can be really pedantic about "oh, he did his thesis on 19th century german idealists, not on modern ethical theory", but that is really splitting hairs---any PhD can use a standard undergrad textbook, tell the students 'read chapters 4, 5', read them himself, see if the students get it.

      Sun Tzu

      Jan 31, 2015 at 9:03am

      I fully agree that the immigration system has kafkian bureaucrazy...

      The CIC ways often seem close to: “Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”

      But in your case:

      Pay stub
      Record of employment (ROE)
      Employment contract

      Are the standard way to go. Include a letter that connects the dots for the immigration officer...he'll like it because that's what is written in his manual.

      “If you know the enemy and know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt; if you know Heaven and know Earth, you may make your victory complete.”