Thursday, July 26, 2007

Immigration Canada Backpeddles on the Sikh Name Change Policy

Citizenship and Immigration Canada is backing off what it told a Calgary woman after she revealed that her husband had been banned from entering Canada because he had the last name "Singh". In a news report yesterday, she also said that her husband did change his name so he could immigrate to be with his pregnant wife as soon as possible.

Here's part of the original letter that she got from CIC:

Jaspal Singh received a letter dated May 17, 2007 from the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi saying, "The name Kaur and Singh do not qualify for the purpose of immigration to Canada.''

At the time, an immigration department spokeswoman said the practice of asking Singhs and Kaurs to choose a less-common surname had been policy for 10 years.

And the backpeddling:

However, the government changed its position on Wednesday, saying it was never the official policy.

"Asking applicants to provide a surname in addition to Singh or Kaur has been an administrative practice used by our visa office in New Delhi as a way to improve client service and reduce incidents of mistaken identity. This was not a mandatory requirement,'' said an email from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) sent to the Winnipeg Free Press.

"There is no policy or practice whereby people with these surnames are asked to change their names.''

The email goes on to blame the misunderstanding on the "poorly worded" letter sent to Singh last May.

But it obviously wasn't just a matter of a "poorly worded" letter since a department spokesperson repeated the same thing when asked to comment on the issue.

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