90-day delay granted in immigration battle over Bill C-38

A 90-day delay has been granted for a group of immigration lawyers fighting to keep their client’s applications intact nearly a week after sweeping changes to Canada’s immigration system came into effect.

Quebec law firm Campbell Cohen and Toronto’s Bellissimo Law Group were granted the extension on behalf of their clients, allowing a 90-day delay in the return of their client’s federal skilled worker applications under Bill C-38.

The delay follows an action by the group, including Toronto lawyer Lorne Waldman, to stop the Canadian government from wiping out the applications of more than 280,000 people who have been waiting to immigrate to Canada since 2008.

“The changes seem to turn immigrants into economic commodities and don’t appear to take into consideration the family and societal values immigrants who may be excluded under the changes could bring to Canada,” says Mario Bellissimo. “What do we say to those people: ‘Sorry you did the right thing but we’re going to close the door on you anyway?’”

He added: “As lawyers and applicants what we’re looking at is, is there the legal authority to do this? People are looking for answers, not refunds, and going to court in some circumstances is one way to find those answers. “

Under the bill, the most sweeping changes were made to the federal skilled worker category. In that category, nearly 280,000 people who applied before Feb. 27, 2008 will have their federal skilled worker applications removed from the current applicant pool and will receive a refund of their fees. They have also been told to reapply under several new guidelines.

Those guidelines include having experience in one of 29 occupations listed by the federal government as in high demand, or having a job offer in Canada.

According Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, the new system aims to speed up the application process for applicants who are young, highly skilled, and have the ability to speak English or French. It also develops a separate category for in-demand tradespeople and business investors.

For those who don’t meet the new guidelines, a pilot program will enable provinces and territories to accept an additional 1,500 people a year from the current backlog of applicants.

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