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Quebec Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette responds to reporters' questions at the legislature in Quebec City on Oct. 9, 2018.Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

The Quebec government is being taken to court over its decision to cancel a backlog of more than 18,000 immigration applications as it overhauls its system for selecting newcomers.

An association representing Quebec immigration lawyers filed an injunction request on Wednesday seeking a halt to the policy. It wants the Immigration Department to be ordered to resume processing the applications.

The request, made in the name of a Korean woman living in Montreal, Seeun Park, states that potential immigrants whose applications have been scrapped feel “humiliated, betrayed and abandoned” by the provincial government.

Quebec Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette tabled Bill 9 on Feb. 7, setting out a framework that would permit the province to be more selective with immigrants. Mr. Jolin-Barrette said the new approach would better match applicants to the needs of the labour market and ensure immigrants speak French and respect Quebec values.

People whose applications were already being processed were informed they would have to start afresh under the new system. They are seeking a certificate from the Quebec government that would allow them to obtain permanent residency in Canada.

The injunction request, which is scheduled to be heard by a judge on Friday, calls the abrupt cancellation of existing requests “completely illegal” because it amounts to a premature application of legislation that has not yet been adopted by the national assembly.

It says the cancellations are likely to cause “serious and irremediable harm to hundreds, even thousands, of people.”

Ms. Park submitted a request for a Quebec immigration certificate in 2015, and in 2017, she and her husband and two children moved to Quebec from South Korea. She was studying French and making progress in her plan to work as a nurse in Quebec, the court documents say.

But on Feb. 7 she received notice that the processing of her application had been suspended, and she fears she will not be accepted under the replacement program. She says in an affidavit that “after spending so much time, effort and money, the idea of being forced to leave Quebec is unimaginable.”

Bill 9 has drawn wide criticism since it was tabled. Mr. Jolin-Barrette has subsequently said he would fast-track applications from people who are already in Quebec, who speak French and who have had a job for at least one year.

Liberal immigration critic Dominique Anglade said on Wednesday that instead of spending money to contest the injunction request, the Coalition Avenir Quebec government should get to work processing the 18,139 outstanding applications.

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