Sunday, April 1, 2007

Refugee fee called 'a mean barrier'

Rallies protest processing charge
Mar 31, 2007 04:30 AM
Nicholas Keung

Refugee advocates will stage demonstrations across Canada today, calling on Ottawa to stop charging refugees a hefty fee to apply for landed
immigrant status – a hurdle that limits some from being reunited with their families.

The Conservative government reduced the landing fee paid by all immigrants to $490 from $975 – and exempted UN Convention refugees altogether. But
the Tories retained a $550-per-adult processing fee to become permanent residents.

Critics say some refugees, especially women and children, can't cover the fee.

"Some of my clients have not been able to get landed after they received their refugee status because they don't have the money to apply to be
permanent residents," said Geraldine Sadoway, a lawyer at Parkdale Community Legal Services.

"What it means is they cannot travel, reunite with the family they left behind or find meaningful employment. It's such a cheap, mean barrier."

Processing fees that accompany applications for permanent resident status are $550 for the principal applicant and adult dependants, and $150 for
those younger than 22. The fees were originally adopted in 1997.

The Toronto rally starts at 11 a.m. at Christie Pits and goes down Bloor and Huron Sts. to the University of Toronto. Rallies are also being held
in Montreal, Halifax and Vancouver.