Visa-seekers sue Canada for foot-dragging

Nov. 24, 2011 at 11:23 AM
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OTTAWA, Nov. 24 (UPI) -- Hundreds of people around the world seeking visas from Canada are suing the government for processing delays, some of which are seven years old.

The Federal Court of Canada has received more than 300 legal complaints about delays by the Citizenship and Immigration Department, the Toronto Star's Ottawa bureau reported.

Tim Leahy, one of the lawyers representing people from Africa, Asia and the Middle East, told the Star apart from inconvenience, there was a financial factor.

"These people paid the application fees, but immigration has never even started processing their applications," he said.

Leahy was one of the lawyers instrumental in the government paying $2.9 million in settlements to more than 100,000 visa applicants who had been backlogged in 2002 and 2003.

Immigration spokeswoman Nancy Caron told the Star the visa backlog for skilled workers who applied before February 2008 has fallen to 314,000 from 641,000. She said the most recent wave of litigation wasn't affecting processing of applications.

"The Federal Court has not yet even determined whether it will hear any of these cases, and as such, there has been no decision on the merits of the cases," Caron said.

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