Canada’s Federal Court has upheld the government’s recent decision to return hundreds of thousands of unprocessed immigration applications along with their application fees.
Last spring the Conservative government announced their decision to return approximately 280,000 applications that had been sitting unprocessed – some for up to eight years. They argued that the move would eliminate the application backlog that has caused waiting times to balloon in recent years.
However, a group of approximately 1400 rejected applicants challenged the move in court, arguing that it violates their rights under both the Bill of Rights and the Charter.
“The applicants have waited in the queue for many years only to find the entrance door closed. They see the termination of their hope for a new life in Canada to be an unfair, arbitrary and unnecessary measure,” said Justice Donald Rennie regarding the ruling. “However, section 87.4 (of the budget bill) is valid legislation, compliant with the rule of law, the Bill of Rights and the Charter.”
Despite this decision, the court did leave room for appeal by raising three questions regarding the constitutionality of the law.
“[I]t’s not an easy task to try to convince a judge to strike down legislation,” said a lawyer for the would-be applicants. “What’s more difficult for me is to tell all these clients who retained me … because, you know, these are people who basically followed all the rules and acted perfectly legally and in compliance with what the government of Canada told them.”
The current processing times for skilled worker applications stands at about a year. By 2015 the government projects to have that down to six months.