Changes to the Canadian Experience Class scheme have caused the lives of thousands of immigrants to be plunged into uncertainty, with some experts saying the Canadian government is guilty of making misleading statements and false promises, but with little to no chance of them being held to account.
Starting this year, all prospective immigrants have been pooled together under the Express Entry system, with immigration officials selecting candidates on the basis of what many say is an unbalanced points system. A person who would have previously qualified under the Canadian Experience Class, and consequently gained permanent residency in Canada, is now at the mercy of what is seen as a lottery system.
The Canadian Experience Class was introduced in order to give foreigners who had graduated or were working in Canada an opportunity to become permanent residents after gaining skilled work experience in Canada.
Over the years, the government laid out this path through which prospective immigrants were virtually guaranteed permanent residency. The criteria was clearly defined and promoted, and it covered education, work experience and language abilities. Having been enticed by the promise of the scheme, thousands of immigrants uprooted themselves from their homelands to come to Canada. They left their homes, jobs, and families behind, altered the course of their work and academic lives and planned their entire futures around the scheme – only to now be told that the rules of the game have changed, and the desired outcome is now not only not guaranteed, but also very unlikely.
With their permanent residency no longer assured as a consequence of these changes, thousands of immigrants have seen their lives derailed and are unexpectedly facing an uncertain future.
Experts argue that the changes to the CEC system can be seen as retroactive in their repercussions, which in any other sphere would result in a flood of lawsuits. However the immigration system doesn’t seem to be held to such standards, and as some recent court decisions have indicated, there is little hope for the CIC to be held legally accountable for the damage their decisions cause.
One case in point is the Austria vs. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration) ruling, where 1,400 immigrants lost their case against Citizenship and Immigration Canada for terminating their permanent residence applications due to resource and staffing issues. The residency applications were filed before 2008 and had not been assessed by March 2012, with legislation passed in June 2012 declaring that CIC was henceforth not obliged to process those applications. Effectively, what Parliament had done was retroactively removed obligations CIC was duty bound to carry out. With such an inefficient, bureaucratic and legally dubious system in place, it is no wonder that so many people are getting increasingly disenchanted with the Canadian immigration system.