Couple accuses Immigration Canada of overcharging

Citizenship and Immigration Canada has been served a $702-million class-action lawsuit for overcharging on immigration application fees to cover the federal government’s general coffer.



The case, initiated by a B.C. couple on behalf of thousands of identifiable immigration applicants, has been referred to a case manager after federal Justice Sean Harrington certified the suit earlier this month.


The lawsuit will cover those who, at any time during the period April 1, 1994, to March 31, 2004, paid a fee or charge to Canada Immigration on any of the 43 application types from visitor status extension to permanent resident applications and student and employment authorizations.

To join the action, the individual applicants must have received their decisions — regardless of the outcome — on or after Sept. 12, 2000. Some restrictions may apply to those in the skilled worker, self-employed, entrepreneur and investor categories under the old immigration regulations before 2002.

Court documents said 2 million to 3 million people paid application fees for some 9 million to 10 million visas, authorizations or permits in the period to Canada. The fees range from $75 for a temporary resident visa to $1,050 for a permanent resident visa.

The claim was brought forward by representative plaintiffs Alan Hinton and Irene Popapova of Coquitlam, under the federal Financial Administration Act, which stipulates government user fees may not exceed the cost of providing the public service or the use of the facility.

According to the statement of claim obtained by the Toronto Star, the immigration department received a total of $2,148 million from the plaintiff class from 1994 to 2004. During the same period, the department reported a total estimated cost of $1,446.2 million, implying a net profit of $701.8 million.

profit for Ottawa

  • Court documents show Hinton paid $75 to sponsor his wife in 2003. Based on calculations from Immigration’s internal documents, the couple alleges the actual unit cost for processing a spousal application was only $36.69, resulting in a profit to Ottawa of $38.31.