The Federal Court of Appeal has overturned a ruling in a controversial case that could open the gates to waiving immigration fees.
The case involved two applicants for immigration who claimed that they were financially unable to pay the $550 standard processing fee. Upon refusal of their application, they requested to remain in Canada under humanitarian and compassionate grounds. A federal court ruling denied this request but that ruling was overturned this month by the Court of Appeal.
“It [the appeal] is not meant to provide an alternate route for immigration into this country, by any means at all,” said Andrew Dekany, the attorney representing one of the applicants in the case. “It is for rare, exceptional cases that cry out for relief.”
Dekany went on to cite instances where applicants from countries ravaged by natural disaster, such as after the Pakistan earthquake in 2005, were able to come to Canada without having to pay the processing fee.
However, some critics are concerned because this ruling was in cases unaffected by extenuating circumstances. They are worried about the precedent that this ruling will set when it comes to more general instances of poverty-stricken applicants who do not qualify as refugees, but simply cannot afford to pay the processing fee. They also point out that a ruling such as this will likely lead to more appeals in the future for a broader range of cases.
“Anytime you ask bureaucrats to evaluate specific circumstances of a case you are going to have diverging results and people who will litigate the results,” said one immigration lawyer. “And if the claimants are indigent, usually that means replying on legal aid and increased costs to the taxpayer.”
A government spokesperson says that the Immigration Department will adhere to the ruling, but that long-term effects of the decision will likely be negligible.
Source: National Post