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Sessional instructor David Newman denied permanent residence status

Newman and his son will have to leave for Vietnam this August after 11 years in Canada

David Newman (left) hopes his appeal to the immigration minister will work.
David Newman (left) hopes his appeal to the immigration minister will work.

David Newman has lived in Canada for 11 years and earned his PhD at SFU. Now he’s being told he will have to leave the country.

Newman has been denied permanent residence status as a result of Canada’s unique express entry system for immigration. The system works by allotting ‘points’ to immigrants based on several socio-economic factors. Those with the highest points gain priority in applying for permanent residence in Canada. Newman is 45 years old, which awards him zero points under the system. He also does not gain any points for his international work experience, as he has lived in Canada for over a decade.

However, the biggest obstacle he faces is his inability to earn the 600 points available to those who have a permanent full-time job. As a sessional instructor, Newman fails this criteria.

Newman explained to The Peak that given his seniority in his department, he has effective ongoing employment — however, technically, each contract lasts for only a semester. Now he can no longer in work in Canada.

How does Newman plan to proceed? Having left his home country of New Zealand in 1987, he remarked, “I’m like a foreigner in New Zealand.”

He plans to leave for Vietnam this August where he will rejoin his wife and mother-in-law, who is currently ill. Newman’s options for the future remain limited. Officials have encouraged him to wait until the policy can be changed; however, he is unable to work in Canada in the interim, and his son, who is 14, will also be unable to attend school here. Said Newman, “What am I going to live on? I don’t [have] any real choice but to leave at this point.”

He continued, “It’s very frustrating. I believe that common sense will ultimately prevail and there will be a way for us to continue and stay here.” What he hopes is that by appealing to the office of Immigration Minister John McCallum, he will be allowed to apply on the basis of a humanitarian or compassionate ground.

The problem is that since Newman originally applied for residence under economic grounds, he cannot switch. “I understand that [issue],” he said. “But for a 14-year-old, this isn’t about economics — this is where he grew up.”

The Newman family has received a groundswell of support from the Communications Student Union, as well as VP academic and provost Jon Driver, who will be writing a personal letter to the immigration minister. Newman is even working through the office of local MP Terry Beech for support.

Newman feels as though he has made a significant contribution to Canada, citing the “thousands” of students who have gone through his classes at SFU. “Many have felt that I have contributed to their growth and development in a positive way,” he said.

He expressed his disappointment at the bureaucratic technicalities that have caused so much disruption in his life. “I meet the spirit of what the immigration department requires,” he said, “[just] not the technical requirements of how it is met.”