And so it begins. Citizenship and Immigration Canada has begun sending letters to Federal Skilled Worker Applicants who applied prior to February 27, 2008, that their applications will not be processed, and that they will soon be contacted regarding a refund.
Regardless of what one thinks of the merits of cancelling the backlog (I am sympathetic to both sides’ arguments), the way in which the Government of Canada is executing its decision to cancel the applications is problematic. Indeed, I believe that the government is acting in a way that will lead to court intervention.
In brief, the government is cancelling these applications without having yet passed any legislative changes permitting them to do. The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and its Regulations still state that the affected applicants are eligible to immigrate to Canada.
From what I can tell, the Minister is currently governing through press release. Ironically, the press release notes that the cancellation and refund of the above applications will occur as a result of “proposed legislation”.
The proposed legislation has not yet been introduced either in the House of Commons or in the Canada Gazette. Despite that, Citizenship and Immigration Canada is already cancelling applications.
Press releases cannot trump statute, and I predict an upcoming wave of successful litigation.
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On March 7, 2012, Jason Kenney delivered a speech to the Economic Club of Canada which has generated considerable attention. He implied that the Government of Canada was considering legislating an end to Canada’s immigration backlog.
His statements were:
New Zealandlegislated an end to its backlog in 2003 and put in place a system where prospective applicants can be selected from a pool made up of all persons who have applied. Rather than wasting time and energy processing old applications, their resources can now be put towards actively matching the best qualified applicants to current jobs and economic needs.
Now, in recent months, Prime Minister Harper has spoken about doing more in the economy of the future than just passively accepting applications. He has talked about the need to actively recruit people to come to Canadato fill specific skill shortages.
There are exciting possibilities before us when it comes to the future of immigration toCanada. But of course, the first step is to eliminate this huge unfair backlog as soon as we can. Again, we’re open to creative suggestions and we will continue to consult with Canadians about the best way forward in immigration reform.
Canada’s immigration backlog is not small. According to a report by the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration titled Cutting the Queue: Reducing Canada’s Immigration Backlogs and Wait Times, as of July 1, 2011, the backlog was:
Number of People
Federal Skilled Workers
Federal Business (Investors and Entrepreneurs)
Canadian Experience Class
Spouses, Partners, and Children
Parents and Grandparents
This backlog translates into some very high processing times.Read more ›