Canada’s federal court witnesses unprecedented number of immigration cases

TORONTO – Canada’s Federal Court heard more new immigration proceedings in 2022 as compared to any of its past 30 years, moving lawyers to wonder whether the system is overburdened or the immigrants are being welcomed in large numbers now. 

The statistics on court’s website suggest that over 70 per cent of its cases relate to immigration and refugees as of late 2022. According to the office of Chief Justice Paul Crampton, the court saw 13,487 new immigration proceedings in 2022; the number was 9,761 in 2021 and 6,424 in 2020 in total.

Lawyers are of the opinion that the cases at Federal Court suggest that delays and refusals are increasing at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and courts are the only remedy available.

The extended processing times for any kind of immigration application leaves the applicants in trouble as they wait and finally move the courts for any progress whatsoever.

Some lawyers opine that Covid is also a reason as cases are now being processed all at once that had been pending for so long. They say more cases mean more refusals which end up at the Federal Court, cbc reported. 

Ottawa immigration lawyer Jacqueline Bonisteel highlights that an increase in mandamus applications, used to compel IRCC to issue decisions timely after considerable delays, is also a factor contributing to the spike in new immigration proceedings. Mandamus applications are submitted when an applicant is unable to get response from the IRCC and merely submitting the case to the federal court prompts IRCC to proceed on the matter. 

The IRCC has nearly two million applications in its inventory, including the backlog. The department says it made more than 5.2 million final decisions for permanent residents, temporary residents and citizenship in 2022, nearly twice what it was able to accomplish the preceding year. 

But the response is not welcomed by many including a Canadian citizen who was separated from her husband in Cuba and had to wait for nearly four years until she moved the Federal Court. 

“I know for us, we missed funerals. We missed celebrations. We missed all of our birthdays. We missed all of our wedding anniversaries, just waiting for that paperwork to happen,” she said. 

According to the Federal Court, the increased number of immigration proceedings has been difficult to manage. Since 1993, the court has seen an average of 7,388 new proceedings a year, according to data provided by the office of the chief justice.

There has been a sharp increase in number of new immigration proceedings as it was down to merely 5,313 in 2016 and 5,572 in 2017. Meanwhile, the Federal Court has 34 full-time judges and has five vacancies at the moment. 

“Chief Justice Crampton observed that the number of applications filed in 2022 is the highest ever, surpassing the previous record of almost 13,000 in 2012, following significant amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act,” a statement from his office reads. 

The social safety and economic prosperity provided by Canada attracts young talent from across the globe to reside in the country despite harsh weather and same is the reason why immigration cases are dealt with by the courts because the government is continuously revising the redesigning the immigration system.