I have been seeing several clients recently who ask a question about whether they should be (whether in Canada or their home country) during the process of an Immigration Appeal. This is in the context of the fact appeals are taking in some cases several years to be heard. My advice is always the same: “if you want to maximize the chances of being successful – stay in Canada.”
I want to take a little look at discretionary factors and how simply leaving Canada or breaking off your establishment can lead to several negative inferences in the weighing process. In a majority of these cases (especially misrepresentation cases and most residency obligation cases) the fact that the removal order was legally valid will be difficult to challenge. Entire hopes are hinged on whether an Immigration Appeal Division member decides to exercise discretionary jurisdiction after hearing your submissions as the Applicant.
As best summarized in the Supreme Court of Canada Decision in Canada (Citizenship and Immigration) v. Khosa,  1 SCR 339, 2009 SCC 12 (CanLII), <http://canlii.ca/t/22mvz> at paragraph 7, the Immigration Appeal Division’s jurisdiction is based on the Ribic and Chieu factors.
“…discretionary jurisdiction to grant “special relief” on humanitarian and compassionate grounds under s. 67(1)(c) of the IRPA should be exercised in light of the factors adopted in Ribic v. Canada (Minister of Employment and Immigration),  I.A.B.D. No. 4 (QL), and endorsed by this Court in Chieu v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), 2002 SCC 3 (CanLII),  1 S.C.R. 84, at paras. 40, 41 and 90, namely:
(1) the seriousness of the offence leading to the removal order;
(2) the possibility of rehabilitation;
(3) the length of time spent, and the degree to which the individual facing removal is established, in Canada;
(4) the family and community support available to the individual facing removal;
(5) the family in Canada and the dislocation to the family that removal would cause; and
(6) the degree of hardship that would be caused to the individual facing removal to his country of nationality.
If we look at these factors carefully, there is one binding issue – Canada as a home base. It pains me to see so many individuals who are in appeal processes misinformed to the prospects of winning an appeal at the IAD while they are abroad.
I can see why some cases make staying outside Canada a requirement – minor children who are born abroad and who cannot obtain visas to come, sick relatives, and in some cases an economic reliance on another job in another country.
However, for those who are not in Canada significantly during the time of their appeal in addition to the time they were not in Canada during the course of the activity that rendered them inadmissible, the balance of the factors becomes challenged.
Factors (1) and (2) don’t necessary touch on Canada or establishment but given a violation occurred leading to the removal order and “rehabilitation” likely involves proving suitability to Canadian society or any active steps that may have been taken to remedy the wrong, it is difficult to see how staying outside Canada could help.
Factor (3) hits the establishment item straight on the head. Length of time spent will be considered a negative factor as well establishment in Canada if someone decides to book it abroad.
Factor (4) will make issues difficult when you ask those family and friends for support and they will ultimately have to indicate in their letters why you are not in Canada and how you have the other positive factors (such as establishment). Leaving Canada, you will also likely break a lot of the key relationships that make someone who themselves might be sensitive to making representations to the government and exposing their name (and possibly their own immigration status) to some outside scrutiny.
Factor (5) will be negative if you (and your spouse – regardless of their status may be outside Canada. True, if they are a citizen, you may be able to fall under one of the exemptions to the requirement to physically reside in Canada. However, in the context of discretionary jurisdiction this will not add any points and in fact hurt you.
Factory (6) if you move yourself and your family overseas, have an abode, start a job, and rely on another country to support you – it will be difficult to turn around at an Immigration Appeal Division hearing and suddenly say this is a source of hardship.
The reality of the situation is, if you leave Canada – and exercise that discretion, and IAD member will likely turn around and exercise discretion to do you in on possibly all 6 factors. One of the common things cited by IAD members is alternatives to allowing you to maintain your status. For someone who simply breaches the residency obligation this may be a visa in one year and for someone who misrepresents themselves but has a spouse maybe this is sponsorship back with an Authorization to Return to Canada (although the timing of this, especially overseas, is anybody’s guess).
Some advisors will tell you to keep living life and make no changes. I would suggest that it make their advice (later on) for you to abandon the appeal easier and creates less work for them. Facing a possible removal order and later appeal is a sign (regardless of whether a member deems them after the fact actions) to start taking positive actions to bind yourself and your family in Canada.
Do yourself a favour in the appeal process and (if possible) stay in Canada to create the best discretionary conditions for your success at hearing.