Cash Bonds

The Canadian Parliamentary Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration (CIMM) has been hearing testimony from legal experts, partners and stakeholders. One of the problems is subsection 179(b) of IRPR and Visitor Visa applications (Temporary Resident Applications or “TRV”). This is a huge problem that has led to many families being separated, stress and anxiety. Members of Parliament (MPs) are considering “cash bonds” for TRV applications. The idea is that a Canadian or PR or Applicant can put up cash bonds of, for example, $5,000 CAD to show the Officer they will return to their home country. If they overstay in Canada, it may cost them $5,000 CAD.

MPs have asked many questions on cash bonds. You can hear about testimony here, here and here. Here is a copy of my testimony to the CIMM on this topic:

For my second point, I strongly support the possibility of applicant’s posting monetary bonds for TRV applications in the context of a Spousal Sponsorship applications. These applicants are sufficiently motivated to become Permanent Residents through the family class that there would be low risk in the possibility of them overstaying their visa.

I have reservations, however, if a monetary bond were to become a requirement of all TRV applications. I would not want the TRV application to become out of reach for low income applicants.

I gave the above testimony on 18 November 2020. Cash Bond

On 23 November 2020 (5 days later), the US government unveiled the “Visa Bond Pilot Program” that implemented this idea of the cash bond and my warnings above came true. Details have been reported by US media:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The outgoing administration of U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday issued a new temporary rule that could require tourist and business travelers from two dozen countries, most in Africa, to pay a bond of as much as $15,000 to visit the United States.

The US Government has enacted cash bonds idea that will affect many citizens.

The visa bond rule will allow U.S. consular officers to require tourist and business travelers from countries whose nationals had an “overstay rate” of 10% or higher in 2019 to pay a refundable bond of $5,000, $10,000 or $15,000.

Twenty-four countries meet that criteria, including 15 African countries. While those nations had higher rates of overstays, they sent relatively few travelers to the United States.

As described, this amendment is currently restricted to 15 African countries. In particular, folks from these countries will be affected:

Countries whose tourist and business travelers could be subject to the bond requirement include those from Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Sudan, Chad, Angola, Burundi, Djibouti and Eritrea. Other countries include Afghanistan, Bhutan, Iran, Syria, Laos and Yemen.

I want to be clear that this is a bad idea and the actions of the US Government may hurt many low-income applicants who are separated from their family members. Immigration should not be restricted to the rich and affluent.