Credits: REUTERS/Chris Wattie
OTTAWA - The government cracked down on bogus refugees Friday by designating 27 countries as unlikely places for legitimate claimants.
Asylum seekers from 25 European Union countries, the US and Croatia will see their cases fast-tracked.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says other countries that do not normally produce refugees will be added to the designated "safe" country of origins list later.
The new rules follow last month's announcement to strengthen the Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act which comes into force Saturday.
Individuals from the designated countries, including Spain, Ireland and Sweden, will receive an oral hearing on the merit of their claims.
Failed claimants can appeal to the Federal Court, but not the new appeal division at the Immigration Refugee Board, and could be deported while their court case is pending.
Kenney says this will ensure people in need of protection get it quickly, while those with unfounded claims are removed from Canada faster.
"Failed claimants are able to spend years in Canada at great expense to our taxpayers, receiving free health care, welfare, education and other social benefits," said Kenney.
He said the vast majority of claims are from individuals taking advantage of Canada's social welfare system and, in the process, are causing delays of up to two years for bona fide refugees to be processed.
Of all EU claims referred to the IRB, 91% were rejected last year. Hungary was the source for the majority of refugee claims in 2011.
The designations were denounced by refugee and settlement groups.