Nixed applications show Canadian immigration policies are unjust, says skilled worker

800 people launch legal action to force Ottawa to process their  paperwork

By TARA CARMAN, Vancouver  Sun

Vancouver was at the top of Preet Deep Singh’s list when he and his wife were  looking for a new place to call home.

The couple, who were living in Mumbai, India, and applied to immigrate to  Canada in 2004, had friends and family in the Lower Mainland who offered them  accommodation and help getting set up. They even planned a whale-watching  trip.

Singh thought their chances of being accepted to Canada as skilled workers  were good. He had an MBA from Newport University in California and had  experience doing marketing for well-known liquor companies such as Bacardi and  Jack Daniel’s. His wife, Harpreet, had a master’s degree in commerce from Panjab  University. Both were in their 20s when they applied. The couple passed on  opportunities to emigrate to the U.S. and Australia, hoping the Canadian  application would come through.

Eight years later, Singh received word that his application was one of about  280,000 being cancelled by Canada’s immigration department in an effort to clear  a massive backlog under the country’s federal skilled worker program. Moreover,  his skills are no longer listed as a target priority under new, more stringent,  criteria.

“I had trust in Canadian policies and I have been proven wrong,” Singh wrote  in an email. “Now I will never recommend any of my professional friends to  choose Canada, as Canada’s policies are totally unpredictable and unjust.”

Despite repeated assurances from the Canadian government that his application  was in progress and would be processed in the order it was received, Singh and  his wife gave up on Canada and their dream of moving to Vancouver, and in 2009  accepted an offer of residence in the United Kingdom. Singh said that country  issued him a visa under its highly skilled migrant program within a month of his  application.

“I finally thought, okay, let’s not miss this opportunity,” he said by  telephone from Leeds, England, where he is regional manager for the European  division of the Kingfisher beer company.

Singh is part of a group called the Canadian Back Loggers Pre-2008  Association, a reference to the immigration department’s decision to return all  federal skilled worker applications made before Feb. 27, 2008. The group, which  Singh says has about 20,000 members — and counting — is calling on Immigration  Minister Jason Kenney to reverse the decision and to process the  applications.

He is also part of a legal action being spearheaded by Toronto immigration  lawyer Tim Leahy asking the Federal Court to force Citizenship and Immigration  Canada to process the applications of the approximately 800 litigants  involved.

Leahy noted that when the federal budget implementation bill passes, as it is  expected to next month, those applications will be abolished. He has filed a  motion on behalf of Singh and the other litigants asking the court not to allow  this while the matter is before the courts. The first hearing is scheduled for  June 5.

Kenney said it is necessary for the government to eliminate the backlog in  order to make the country’s immigration system more responsive to the country’s  rapidly changing labour market needs.

“Having to process applications that are as many as eight years out of date  reduces our ability to focus on new applicants with skills and talents that our  economy needs today,” Kenney said in a news release at the end of March, which  also noted that in the last four years, the federal government has reduced the  pre-2008 backlog by more than 50 per cent and overall applications under the  federal skilled worker program by more than 25 per cent. If the backlog was not  eliminated, current skilled worker applicants would have to wait until 2017 for  a decision, Kenney said in the release.

Fair enough, said Singh, but the Conservatives came to power in 2006. He  questions why it took that long to realize they could not cope with the backlog,  all the while assuring potential immigrants — who followed the rules and applied  in good faith — that their applications were being processed.

tcarman@vancouversun.comtwitter.com/tarajcarman

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/Nixed+applications+show+Canadian+immigration+policies+unjust+says+skilled+worker/6656106/story.html#ixzz1vaqEmXKy

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Posted on May 22, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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