Apr 19, 2018 – Quebec Skilled Worker candidates have launched a class action lawsuit against the provincial immigration ministry seeking repayment of processing fees after program changes, applied retroactively, meant their applications would fail.
The class action suit against the Quebec Ministry of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion concerns candidates who applied through the Quebec Skilled Worker Program between 2009 and March 2017.
The class action was authorized by Justice Pepita Capriolo of the Superior Court of Quebec on February 19, 2018.
The Quebec immigration candidates covered by the suit are those who had submitted applications prior to the rule change announcement, but had their cases denied because of the retrospective application of the changes.
Separate groups of candidates are covered in the lawsuit, for applications related to changes in the points system implemented on August 1, 2013 and on March 8, 2017.
Groups 1 and 2 relate to the 2013 changes, while Group 3 relates to the changes made in 2017. For Groups 1 and 2, applications need to have been submitted prior to July 8, 2013. All three groups concern applications under the Quebec Skilled Worker Program only.
To be a member of Group 1, candidates’ applications must have included forms containing the phrase “Your application for a selection certificate will be processed based on regulations in effect when it was submitted”or similar language. The application must have not reached the preliminary processing stage as of August 1, 2013, and failed because of the retroactive application of the points changes.
Members of Group 2 are candidates whose applications had not reached the preliminary processing stage as of August 1, 2013, and failed because of the retroactive application of the points changes. Their application did not include forms containing the phrase mentioned above.
Members of Group 3 are candidates whose applications had not reached the preliminary processing stage as of March 8, 2013 and failed because of the retroactive application of the points changes. Their application did not include forms containing the phrase mentioned above.
The lawsuit reads: “The Application for Authorization alleges that the Minister was unjustly enriched, acted in bad faith and abused her rights contrary to the provisions of the Civil Code of Quebec by failing to offer a reimbursement of application fees paid by those individuals whose CSQ applications became doomed to fail as a result of the application of August 1, 2013 and March 8, 2017 amendments to the regulation respecting the weighting applicable to the selection of foreign nationals.”
What Happens Next?
Following the authorization of the class action, a hearing date will now be set likely for later in 2018 or in 2019. Given the three groups included in the suit and the legal arguments being considered, it is quite likely the judicial process could extend a number of years.
Historically, the Quebec government has been aggressive in challenging similar judicial review applications brought by immigration candidates. If the Quebec government is unsuccessful in the initial hearing, an appeal to the Quebec Court of Appeal can be expected.
The class action includes all members of the three groups mention above, unless they expressly choose to opt out.
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