Immigration and Citizenship Law

Course Number
LAW 3980
Course Description

This course examines Canada’s legal framework concerning immigration and citizenship.

Migration has been a feature of human societies for millennia. For settler countries such as Canada, immigration has been vital for economic growth and nation-building, among other things. Pursuant to national policy set by Parliament, Canadian law establishes who is admissible to enter and remain in Canada and on what bases. Historically, Canadian legislation and policies concerning immigration have not been unproblematic – including with respect to race or other exclusionary grounds. This course examines how the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and related regulations create legal norms and standards for various forms of immigration to Canada, including permanent residence.

The concept of citizenship and who qualifies, like immigration, has undergone numerous permutations over the years. The course shall examine the Citizenship Act and the ways in which it establishes who is eligible for citizenship and how one may lose this status.

The following are topics that are likely to be covered during the semester:

  • Sources of immigration and citizenship law – constitutional, statutory, regulatory and caselaw;
  • Political, administrative and judicial institutions that relate to immigration and citizenship law;
  • Legal requirements for acquiring permanent residency including family and economic classes;
  • The various forms of temporary residency, including with respect to workers and students;
  • Inadmissibility clauses in connection with immigration;
  • Legal requirements concerning the acquisition of citizenship, determining who is eligible, and how citizenship may be relinquished or revoked;
  • Administrative law issues related to the reasonable apprehension of bias, procedural fairness, as well as standards of review.

Please note: This course does not cover refugee law. The Refugee Law course addresses that subject.

Teaching Method

This is a seminar course. While the instructor will deliver brief lectures and lead discussions during each class session, students will be expected to be active participants throughout the semester.

Assuming that the course is delivered in person at Robson Hall, the use of laptops or other technological devices will not be permitted during class hours. Exceptions will be permitted as directed by the course instructor, for example, when students present their papers, serve as discussants or undertake particular class exercises. Students will be permitted to access their technological devices during class breaks.


Argumentative Research Paper (minimum of 7,500 words excluding footnotes): (60%)
This mode of evaluation will comprise the largest portion of each student’s grade in the course. Subject to approval by the course instructor (see below), each student is expected to submit an original argumentative research paper concerning some facet of immigration or citizenship law. Significant leeway will be given to students to explore various aspects of either. Students are expected to develop an original argument in connection with their topic of interest. Papers that are largely descriptive are not acceptable.

There are a wide variety of subjects to address in a research paper and methodologies one might employ. Students are encouraged to consult with the instructor early in the semester.

Argumentative Research Paper Proposal: (5%)
Students are required to submit a paper proposal at an early stage in the course that sets out the topic, the tentative argument, sources to be used, and methodology to be employed.

Written Legal Analysis Assignment: (15%):
Students will be required to complete a legal analysis assignment. Students may be permitted to work individually or in groups of up to three students (depending on the overall enrolment in the course). Through this assignment, students will be expected to engage in an interpretive legal analysis of a specific statutory or regulatory provision regarding immigration or citizenship law. Students will be provided all the material to be used and are not expected to engage in further research.

Class Participation: (20%)
Discussant (7.5%)
As part of the participation grade, each student will be expected to act as a discussant for at least one seminar class. The discussant role does not require a student to lead the seminar, that will be the instructor’s job. However, the discussant will be expected to have read all the material assigned and be prepared to take a more active role when undertaking this duty. Depending on the overall class enrolment, this will either be done individually or in collaboration with another student.

Participation throughout the course (7.5%)
Each student is expected to participate in class discussions throughout the semester. This particular mark is separate from a student’s role as a discussant (as indicated above) or in connection with their paper presentation.

Paper Presentation (5%)
Each student will present their paper to the class during a designated date in one of the final classes of the semester.

Course Materials

There is no assigned text for this course. All assigned materials (e.g. statutory provisions, cases, academic articles, etc.) will be available online via UM Learn or other online sources.