Think Twice Before You Rely on an Immigration (Even Canadian Immigration’s) Website!

Through teaching my wonderful students at Ashton, I’ve had a few practice epiphanies recently, one of which I would like to share.

Don’t Trust Everything You Read On Immigration

This starts from websites. From well-know eTA scams to even more subtle “outdated” information – you have to be careful. Forums, more often than not, are individuals with complicated/negative experiences panicking over their cases. The complexity of some of their fact scenarios and the added discretion added by various overseas processing visa offices makes these cases by no means precedents to follow. There are a lot of unauthorized representatives or even individuals who are authorized but are writing on the basis of “one or two” experiences that purport to be experts. Indeed, one of the reasons I am also being more careful about posting technical/legal blogs until I do my due diligence (and cross reference multiple sources) is I know very well what occurs on paper and in practice can often be very different.

Be Careful About Reading Immigration’s Own Website

Even Immigration’s own website is not always accurate or up to date. They are doing a much better job of client service and updates but you should be diligent. One of the issues is with updated forms. The website will often indicate the form is from March 2017 for example, but you click a few links and realize the latest version is October 2017.

Another issue is with websites providing generally “ideal” processing advice (purely policy) that is treated by Applicant’s as law. For example, the idea that an extension application needs to be extended 30 days before expiry is ideal for IRCC’s processing but can be a very poor decision if you are awaiting something (like the basis for your very extension or documents) to come through.

30 days

The other one I have a really hard time with is the issue of putting information before the officer in a follow-up after application submission.

no more information

There are many times (for example when you notice an uploading or submission mistake) or have an important update/follow-up where you will need to send a new document and hope that it gets to the Officer before they process.

I think Immigration should frankly remove/amend the above two pieces of advice because they do not align with the Act and Regs.

Immigration was quick on updating one issue after realizing a mistake it had made on it’s website. Previously, the website has suggested a post-graduate work permit holder lost the ability to work upon return from a trip outside Canada. They made a quick fix after realizing they had the wrong info.

Sometimes the information from immigration is not “wrong” per se but rather can be too broadly interpreted too broadly to the detriment of the Applicant. This is what happened in Zhang v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2016 FC 964 (CanLII), where the Applicant took a broad interpretation of the ability to study for six months upon authorized entry to cover the period of time that extended beyond the initial six month entry period. By the wording of the website, again without reference to the Act and Regs, this all sounded good and kosher. However, once those definitions were explored, it not only grounded the reasonableness of the Officer’s decision but arguably (in my opinion) made it the only reasonable decision.

Where a provision of law or a procedural fairness letter or an obscurely written website instruction causes you some doubt, my recommendation is always to go see someone.  I know it’s my overused moniker, but it is much easier to prevent a problem than to clean one up.




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