The latest immigration intervention by the government is stirring controversy over a big move to purge backlogged applications.
The decision was announced as part of the annual budget released this week to the public. In it, the Conservative government has included over $130-million in refunded fees for those whose applications were in queue before 2008. The applications will no longer be processed.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney hinted at the move earlier this month when speaking to the Economic Club of Canada in Ottawa.
“I do think that we can’t continue to tell people that they’re going to wait for eight years for a decision on whether they can come to Canada,” said Kenney in his speech. “It’s not fair to them and it’s not fair to our economy.”
Kenney pointed to New Zealand as an example of a successful intervention by the government to eliminate an immigration backlog. In 2003, that country passed similar legislation which reduced waiting times drastically.
Approximately 284,000 applicants and their families will be affected. Those who still wish to apply for immigration will have to start the process from the beginning, which now takes only about one year to complete.
However, as many critics are pointing out, there is one major catch in that the immigration regulations changed in 2008. Previously all sorts of occupations qualified under the Skilled Worker Immigration category. Since 2008, only 19 occupations qualify.
Furthermore, the language requirements increased at that time. Many hopeful immigrants who had applied before these changes, therefore, would no longer be able to apply.
Those who have applied since 2008 will be unaffected. Approximately 160,000 applications are currently in that processing queue.
Source: Globe and Mail