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  • Archimedes Mendoza

    Here’s a piece of news for Pinoys;

    PINOY APPLICANTS NIX CANADA’S UNILATERAL MOVE TO CANCEL THEIR MIGRATION APPLICATIONSFilipino applicants for migration in Canada are protesting against the unilateral move of the Canadian government to cancel and “return” without explanation their pending applications and accompanying processing fees.In a statement, lawyer Gerard Algarra, who represents a group of Manila-based Filipino applicants, described as “unconstitutional, illegal, and arbitrary” the unilateral move of the Canadian government, saying it constitutes a “retroactive legislation,” which could be a subject of a class action suit his group of lawyers was initiating before the Canadian court.Canada is among the favorite destinations for over two decades of cash-strapped Filipino migrants due to what could be described as its liberal immigration policies.But last June 29, the Canadian Parliament enacted the Growth and Prosperity Act of 2012, which authorizes the Canadian immigration minister to return all pending applications for migration under the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program, which were filed prior to February, 2008. Canadian authorities said the number of applicants for migration could reach over 300,000, of which 30,000 to 60,000, or 10 to 20 percent, are Filipinos, one of the three largest nationalities of applicants for FSW immigration there. Those who have applied after February, 2008 are not included.The sudden changes in Canadian immigration policies have been the result of the May, 2012 election of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the leader of the Conservative Party, which now leads a conservative government.Algarra, a specialist in immigration laws, said Manila-based Filipino applicants for migration under the FSW program have approached him, decrying the new Canadian law, which has “retroactive application.”“These applicants have waited for five or ten years for the Canadian government to act on their applications. Suddenly, they have been informed that a new law has been passed, returning their applications and processing fees without any explanation,” Algarra said, adding that his law office has been coordinating with a Canadian law office to file the class suit.“The Filipino applicants are naturally mad, saying the new law with retroactive application is a sham in Canadian history. This is something that has never happened before in its history,” Algarra said.“Over 300,000 applicants were initially promised that their papers would be evaluated and processed under the previous set of criteria, which was then enforced and in effect,” Algarra said.Now, their applications would be “returned’ to them, which is the official word the Canadian government is currently using in reference to its initiative, Algarra said.For its part, the Canadian government was insisting that it was not denying the applications, but was only returning them, as these applicants could re-apply under the new immigration rules to be introduced in early 2013. It did not elaborate.“But this appears to be more of an alibi than an official explanation,” Algarra said.Among Canada’s several immigration programs, the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program, is one of the most popular and successful program as indicated by the huge number of applicants, who have been accepted.The FSW program, which uses a point system to determine the qualifications and suitability of an individual seeking to migrate there, is in place since Canada has opened its doors for migration.Because of its popularity, the number of applicants has ballooned, leading to a huge backlog and mounting complaints. But Ottawa appeared to prefer the easy way out by enacting a law to cancel unilaterally their papers and return of the accompanying processing fees.Cecil Rotenberg, one of the noted Canada-based immigration lawyer, has assembled a team of the immigration lawyers there to challenge the legality and constitutionality of the new immigration law.He has tied up with Algarra’s law office in a bid to organize the affected Filipino applicants, who could be part of the class suit.The class action suit will seek to compel Ottawa to continue processing those over 300,000 applications. Rotenberg and his group has already filed an injunction with the Federal Court, which then ordered a 90-day stop on the implementation of the new law.Within the 90-day period, the court asked the lawyers to file within 60 days a class action suit, which, among others, would include who among the over 300,000 applicants would be part of the suit. If they would win, those applicants, who have joined the suit, would have their applications processed, but those applicants, who would not join, would have their papers returned. If they would lose, all applications would be returned.Canadian immigration lawyers, led by Rotenburg, were insistent in arguing that regardless of Ottawa’s term, the net effect of “returning” pending applications was a “wholesale denial” of their applications on the basis of a retroactive legislation.The Canadian court blocked a similar move in 2003, but with a smaller number of backlog of 100,000 cases. The Canadian federal government lost that case, when it was established that immigration officials misled the standing committees of Canadian Parliament to secure legislation granting the immigration minister the legal authority to eliminate what was then a smaller backlog.Offiicial data showed that Canada accepted over 2.5 million people as permanent residents over the past 10 years.In 2010, a total of 280,681 persons became permanent residents, of which 191,121 were Filipinos, accounting for 7.8 percent of immigrants there over the last 10 yearsNext to India and China, the Philippines has consistently ranked as one of the top three main source country for immigrants in Canada. The Philippines was the third largest source country from 2001 to 2008, the second largest source country in 2009, and the largest source country in 2010. #