Immigration Health Work

Scholarly Definition

As a sprawling and opaque bureaucratic system, the Canadian immigration application process is a text-mediated system that is shaped by legal concepts that originate in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and its regulations. These concepts shape the immigration practices of applicants with chronic illness and developmental and genetic otherness, immigration doctors contracted by the Canadian state, and behind-the-scenes medical and visa and immigration officers contracted to or employed by the immigration department inside and outside of Canada. © Laura Bisaillon

Artist Statement

Applying to immigrate is a lot of work for an applicant. I created this fantastical map inspired by maps I have seen in fantasy novels, showing character’s movement from place to place through the narrative. In this conception, a person wishing to immigrate to Canada advances through bureaucratic obstacles. The person advances through the “Promise Board”, which is composed of a dense amount of activities arranged in a hard to understand configuration. The “Paperwork Forest” is large and dense; trees turned into pulp, turned into paper. Applicants make their way through the obstacle course, only to be dissected as they pass through the “Medical Valley”, on their way to the medical examination. On receiving “abnormal” results (using the state’s official term), their are labelled and trek through “Surveillance Mountains”. A suspect or ineligible assessment leads to being plucked out of the application, and then being returned to earlier parts of the trail or denied altogether. Applicants then must pass through the “Unconstitutional Fog.” How long will people have to wait for results of their immigration application? If vetted out because of medical status, they will not have the chance to apply for permanent residency status, which means that “Citizenship” will be foreclosed.

Medium: Digital art © Amy Zhang and Ujwal Mantha