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OTTAWA: Amir Attaran argues that parental sponsorship program is “discriminatory”

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Amir Attaran argued that the parental sponsorship program discriminated against parents and grandparents by delaying the processing of their applications.

BLAIR GABLE / TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO

Amir Attaran argued that the parental sponsorship program discriminated against parents and grandparents by delaying the processing of their applications.

By:  Immigration reporter, Published on Fri Feb 06 2015

An appeal court has found that the federal government discriminates against parents and grandparents by delaying their immigration processing.

The Federal Court of Appeal ruling this week is a partial victory for Amir Attaran, a University of Ottawa law and medicine professor who applied in 2009 to sponsor his aging parents, both American citizens, to Canada under the family class immigration program.

The parental sponsorship program follows a two-step process: the Canadian sponsor has to be assessed for eligibility before the parents or grandparents can be screened for their permanent residency application.

In 2010, Attaran complained to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, claiming that the program discriminated against parents and grandparents by delaying the processing of their applications.

At the time of his complaint, it took immigration 42 days to screen the sponsors of spouses and children but the same screening took 37 months for those who wanted to bring their parents and grandparents to Canada.

The commission, however, dismissed his complaint, a decision later upheld by a federal judge.

In a ruling released Wednesday, the Federal Court of Appeal said the decision by the human rights commission to dismiss the complaint was unreasonable.

It overturned the lower court decision that there was a “bona fide” justification for the differential treatment. The court referred Attaran’s case back to human rights commission for reconsideration.

“The explanations provided by CIC (Citizenship and Immigration Canada) confirm that it was differentiating adversely based on family status by treating sponsorship applications for parents more slowly than sponsorship applications for spouses and children,” wrote Justice Wyman W. Webb on behalf of the three-member panel. “As a result, CIC was carrying on a discriminatory practice.”

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