On 30 March 2012, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) echoed the announcements made during the presentation of the 2012 Federal Budget and decided to refund fees and return stale applications from nearly all those applicants who applied under the criteria in existence before February 27, 2008.

Under the proposed legislation, CIC will close the files of FSW applicants who applied before February 27, 2008, and for whom an immigration officer has not made a decision based on the current selection criteria by March 29, 2012. This is expected to affect around 280,000 applicants, including their dependants. CIC will begin the process of returning the full amount of fees paid to the Immigration Department by these affected FSW applicants. No refund though for those whose applications had been refused prior to March 29, 2012.  For applicants who have passed the selection criteria stage – approximately 20,000 people – CIC will continue processing their applications until they are approved for entry into Canada or not.

None of our clients will face such a misfortune, but one cannot remain unconcerned when Canada turns its back to people who invested their trust in our Government.  This radical step is being justified by CIC on the idea that it would be unfair for people who applied long ago to remain in limbo for another five years, but the tragic reality for hundreds of thousands of families is that they have been treated unfairly until now.  The 280,000 files affected are only there because the government chose not to process their applications and instead, chose   to process other applications faster (those filed after February 28, 2008).   If the immigration was a First In First Out system, there might still be 280,000 applications to be dropped, but they should be the last to be filed, not the first.

This step is clearly not fair.  If the backlog accumulated over the last 10 years had exceeded the CIC resources, the proper answer would have been to either stop intake until the backlog was eliminated, or process more files, faster until it was eliminated.  In making this decision, the Immigration Department repeates what they did when they tried to eliminate 50,000 file in 2003.  For those who think that nothing can be done, the courts not only reversed the decision, the judge ruled that the Department and the Minister had “lied to Parliament”.   You can tell what their spin is – CIC is trying to blame the backlog on the people in it, saying we will miss out on the “best and the brightest” if we don’t speed up the system, but, ironically, the people in the backlog din file their applications just because they were told they were the “best and the brightest”.  Also ironically, CIC has absolutely no statistics or studies to show that the people in the backlog are any worse or any better than the people being accepted now.


We’ll wait and see…