On August 13, 2015, a class action lawsuit was issued against Niagara College of Applied Arts and Technology. The class action claims $50 million in damages on behalf of recent graduates of the General Arts and Science Diploma Transfer Program (“GAS” Program) who have been denied work permits. The claim also seeks an additional $5 million for punitive, aggravated and exemplary damages.
The claim specifically alleges that Niagara College of Applied Arts and Technology improperly marketed and promoted its two-year “GAS” Program to international students with the promise that completion of this program would qualify them for a three-year work permit. However, because Niagara College’s GAS Program consisted of primarily online courses, recent graduating students have, to their surprise and dismay, been denied work permits.
According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada students who participate in “distance learning” cannot qualify for a Post-Graduation Work Permit. It is alleged that Niagara College of Applied Arts and Technology designed and implemented its GAS Program without having adequate regard to the “distance learning” prohibition and accordingly mislead students about the ability of the program to qualify students for the three-year work permits.
This class action was launched by Anish Goyal and Chintan Zankat, both former students of the “GAS” program, who successfully completed the program but who have been unable to obtain the three-year Post-Graduation Work Permit.
UPDATE (December 4, 2017): Our efforts to come to an acceptable resolution of this claim through meetings with representatives of Niagara College have proven unsuccessful. Accordingly, the litigation continues with the Government’s motion asking the Court to dismiss the College’s claim against them. This motion will proceed on March 18, 2018. Once a final decision has been reached with regards to that issue, we will press forward with this lawsuit. Further updates will follow. If you have registered for this class action and have not received our update letter, please contact our office to confirm your current mailing address so we can continue to keep in touch with you regarding this lawsuit.
UPDATE (January 20, 2017): The mediation with The Honourable Mr. Justice Warren Winkler on January 11, 2017 between the parties proved unsuccessful at reaching a resolution. The litigation will proceed and we are aiming towards having a Motion for Certification rescheduled for later this year. Further updates will follow. A more detailed letter will follow to those who have registered for the class action.
UPDATE (December 2, 2016): We are pleased to advise that the parties to this lawsuit will be participating in a Private Mediation on January 11, 2017. A Mediation is an opportunity for the parties to discuss the possibility of resolution with the assistance of a very experienced Mediator. There is absolutely no guarantee that the Mediation will lead to any resolution; however, as a result of his attempt to resolve the case by way of Mediation, we will be postponing the Motion for Certification for a few months. Those that have registered for the class action will receive an additional letter with more information. A further update will be posted after the Mediation of January 11, 2017.
UPDATE (October 17, 2016): IMPORTANT NEW POLICY FROM IMMIGRATION REFUGEE CITIZENSHIP CANADA
On October 17, 2016, the Government issued Operational Bulletin 631, which relates specifically to former students of Niagara College who have applied for 3-year work permits. A copy of the bulletin is copied below. Please review it very carefully.
The bulletin introduces a new public policy that may serve to allow those Niagara College graduates who were denied Work Permits between September 1, 2014, and March 15, 2016, to revisit their entitlement to a three-year open work permit.
If you have an immigration lawyer or representative assisting you with your work-permit application, please draw this development to his or her attention immediately.
The deadline to apply under this new public policy is March 17, 2017, but you should act on this right away and without any delay.
A more detailed update will follow to those that have registered their addresses with our firm for the class action.
Please note that our class action remains ongoing regardless of whether work-permits are ultimately obtained. The representative plaintiffs will continue to claim damages for class members arising from the alleged conduct of Niagara College described in the class action claim.
UPDATE (April 13, 2016): The Certification Motion hearing has now been scheduled to begin on January 25, 2017, at 10:00 a.m. at Osgoode Hall, which is located at 130 Queen Street West, Toronto. The motion could take up to three days to be heard by the Court.
We invite Class Members who wish to attend the hearing to do so but please check our website before the hearing to confirm that it is proceeding as scheduled.
A more detailed update will follow by mail/email in the coming weeks.
UPDATE (January 18, 2016): The parties attended before The Honourable Mr. Justice Perrell of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on January 15, 2016. At that time, a preliminary timetable for the litigation was provided. The timetable includes the plaintiffs filing their Motion for Certification materials by the end of March of 2016. A further case conference has been scheduled with the Court for April 13, 2016. We continue to push forward with the litigation and hope and expect to be given a certification motion date in the fall of 2016.
UPDATE (November 10, 2015): A case conference has been coordinated with the supervising Judge on January 15, 2016. The purpose of the Case Conference is to discuss a timetable for this class action proceeding and to explore the possibility of resolving or narrowing some of the issues in dispute. A further update will be posted after that case conference. At the same time, we hope to continue to dialogue with defence counsel regarding the possibility of resolving or efficiently addressing the issues in dispute.
UPDATE (October 14, 2015): We have recently had discussions with lawyers for the College. We will continue to dialogue with the College about the progress of the lawsuit and about potential ways to collaboratively assist in mitigating the damages of the class. In other words, we will work towards a solution that allows class members to remain in Canada, if at all possible, and it will take some time to fully explore those possibilities. An additional update will be posted in and around November of 2015. Please be patient until then.
Lawyers Stephen Birman (Thomson, Rogers) and Ravi Jain (Green and Spiegel) discuss the class proceeding against Niagara College in a television interview with Chakde TV on August 19, 2015.