Canada Should Reduce Visa Application Fees
In Canada, we enjoy first-class social services such as healthcare and education. To pay for these services, the government has a number of sources of revenue… from income taxes to goods and services taxes (VAT). While most government services are free to the user, some – including visa services – charge fees to cover administrative costs.
When one applies for a Canadian visa, whether it is for a visit or for Permanent Residency, there is a fee charged for the processing of the application. These fees paid to the government range between $75 and $1050, depending on the type of application. While this is expensive, it is acceptable so long as it represents the actual costs of the service provided. A lawsuit before the Federal Court of Canada, however, is accusing Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) of charging fees way out of line with the actual costs.
The government should not be profiting from the fees it charges for its services. The court case launched by a British Columbia couple alleges-based on CIC’s own calculations – that CIC had been overcharging by at least 100% over the past 10 years. With CIC collecting over $200 million each year in application fees, they are profiting to the tune of over $100 million. This is unfair treatment of immigrants-CIC should not be making profits on application fees, and certainly not by such a large margin.
Permanent Resident applicants should not be used as cash machines for the Canadian government. The government will already benefit from their tax dollars as they contribute to the economy. It is not right to ask immigrants to carry more than their share of the burden of paying for the general operation of government.
When the government earns profits from application fees, this amounts to a form of extra taxation. Yet while other taxes in Canada have to be approved by parliament, visa application fees do not, making them a form of taxation without representation, and this goes against the basic principles of Canadian democracy.
Asking individuals to cover the cost of their visa applications is fair. Using these applications to earn profits to pay for other government services is not. Immigrants are important contributors to the success of the Canadian economy. They should be treated with respect, and not taken advantage of.