The Canadian government has unfairly changed the standards for immigration cases, rules for judges

A lawyer who represented 108 applicants said there were hundreds more in a similar situation and she expects many will now be able to seek a review of their rejection.

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OTTAWA — A federal judge has ruled that more than 100 potential immigrants from Iran had their cases unfairly dismissed and ordered a second review of their cases in a measure that could set a precedent for hundreds of other cases.

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The government has a small immigration category for independent artists and athletes. The program aims to provide a pathway to citizenship for people with world-class talent. But in an internal memo revealed during court proceedings, bureaucrats admitted the information available on the program was confusing and there was no clear standard.

The case before the court involved just over 100 applicants from Iran who applied to come to Canada and were rejected. Cases from Iran were previously handled by the government office in Ankara, Turkey, but the government transferred them to Warsaw, Poland to deal with a backlog and immigration consultants said the number of refusal had increased considerably.

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In his ruling last month, Judge Henry Brown said it was clear the change in office was setting a whole new normal.

“Visa officers in Warsaw have deviated markedly from Ankara’s practice and have started relying on a number of new and detailed grounds on which applications for self-employed people could be refused,” he said. writing.

Even successful applicants can take up to eight years from the time their application is submitted to the time it is approved. Before the cases were transferred to Warsaw, applicants were often asked to provide updated information, but this has ceased.

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Brown said it was an unfair change

“It is obvious that for many, if not most applicants, a lot may have changed in their cultural or sporting career between the time they applied for self-employment and the time when their application was finally considered by the visa officers,” he said. “National and international awards could have been received; the films may have been created; successful sets could have been designed; successful screen makeup work may have been presented; television works may have been created or broadcast; successful contracts could have been signed.

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Many applicants have been rejected because their business plans lacked detail, but Brown said in her decision that had not been a standard before and that it was unfair to impose it without notice.

“This legitimate expectation was not conveyed to the Warsaw visa office, which rejected a large number of Iranian SE applications based in whole or in part on perceived deficiencies in the business plans filed in support of the application. ability and intention.”

Brown ordered the government to review the 108 cases using the same standards used by the Ankara office.

Immigration lawyer Pantea Jafari represented the 108 applicants. She said she thought the decision was a complete rebuke of the government’s approach.

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“It indicates that it was very unfair in my opinion, bordering on bad faith,” she said. “What we tried to prove with this case is that there was a systemic problem with the appraisals outside the Warsaw office and that’s exactly what was proven.”

Jafari said there are hundreds of other applicants in a similar situation and she expects many of them will now be able to request a review of their rejection.

“Anyone who is in the same situation as our clients has the opportunity to prove that the decision-making process was unfair and, therefore, to have their applications reopened as well.”

Jafari said she is currently working with the government to have her clients reassessed and expects that work to begin soon.

Julie Lafortune, spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) said she intended to comply with the judge’s decision.

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“IRCC will apply the judge’s decision on these cases and process them accordingly. IRCC will continue to process independent applicants in accordance with all applicable laws, case law and internal policies and procedures,” she said in an email. “The court provided timelines in its decision that IRCC intends to adhere to.”

Lafortune said the government takes its responsibility to consider all applicants equally seriously.

“Canada is committed to the fair and non-discriminatory application of immigration procedures. IRCC takes this responsibility seriously and, to uphold this commitment, officers are trained to assess all applications in the same way against the same criteria. she says. “The decision is specific to the individual cases that were before the judge.”

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