Foreign students fighting government rejection of language certificates
Published Tuesday, April 18, 2017 8:49PM EDT
Student associations are fighting the provincial government over language certificates that are being revoked.
Concordia University hosted a special legal clinic for international students who are trying to gain permanent resident status in Canada.
The school's student union held the clinic because hundreds of students have had their French language proficiency certificates rejected, and they are being accused of filing false declarations about their knowledge of French.
"There is an atmosphere of fear about what is going to happen to these international students," said Walter Chi-Yan Tom of the Concordia Student Union.
The students in question have passed French language programs approved by the provincial government, called the Quebec Experience Program, and administered by local school boards.
Normally this automatically leads to a Quebec Selection Certificate, but now the students are being interviewed, and their French tested again, which is leading to rejection by the Ministry of Immigration.
Immigration lawyer David Chalk said that should not be happening.
"There is no sort of end run that the ministry can do to re-evaluate French on its own at an interview that is absolutely outside of what the law permits," said Chalk.
The Ministry of Immigration confirmed that in November 2016 it started calling students to review their French but would not confirm the reason why.
However that was when Quebec's anti-corruption squad, UPAC, began an investigation into Quebec's two largest English school boards, and the provincial government appointed a special investigator to audit vocational programs at the school boards.
Human rights activist Fo Niemi of CRAAR said he believes Quebec is going too far.
"They have no recourse and they have no information," said Niemi.
Student groups and associations are now planning to file a complaint with Quebec's ombudsperson about the rejected certificates.