Why I disagree with CBSA’s approach actioning s.40 IRPA misrepresentation as s.29(2) IRPA failure to comply for not actively pursuing studies

I have seen a worrying trend of clients show up with the following fact scenario.

“X went to U.S. for a day trip. X is referred to secondary at the Port of Entry (“POE”) after attempting to enter on a study permit. There is a misrepresentation or misrepresented statements uncovered. Canada Border Services Agency (“CBSA”) decides rather than to defer examination or refer to inland for investigation that they will issue a removal order on the spot, seizes the study permit and passport, and asks for a plane ticket showing departure within X days.”

A foreign national (e.g. study permit holder) is required to show that they are not inadmissible in order to gain entry into Canada. The burden is on them as the entry-seeker to prove this. The benefit for CBSA of issuing a specified removal order (on their own volition and through their own determination processes) instead of pursuing misrepresentation (which requires a referral to Immigration Division and a hearing (on the facts) to make such an order). This distinction is found in R.228 and R. 229 of the Immigration and Refugee Protections Regulations (IRPR). I have highlighted in blue the relevant subsections.

DIVISION 2 Specified Removal Order

Subsection 44(2) of the Act — foreign nationals
  •  (1) For the purposes of subsection 44(2) of the Act, and subject to subsections (3) and (4), if a report in respect of a foreign national does not include any grounds of inadmissibility other than those set out in the following circumstances, the report shall not be referred to the Immigration Division and any removal order made shall be

    • (a) if the foreign national is inadmissible under paragraph 36(1)(a) or (2)(a) of the Act on grounds of serious criminality or criminality, a deportation order;

    • (b) if the foreign national is inadmissible under paragraph 40(1)(c) of the Act on grounds of misrepresentation, a deportation order;

    • (b.1) if the foreign national is inadmissible under subsection 40.1(1) of the Act on grounds of the cessation of refugee protection, a departure order;

    • (c) if the foreign national is inadmissible under section 41 of the Act on grounds of

      • (i) failing to appear for further examination or an admissibility hearing under Part 1 of the Act, an exclusion order,

      • (ii) failing to obtain the authorization of an officer required by subsection 52(1) of the Act, a deportation order,

      • (iii) failing to establish that they hold the visa or other document as required under section 20 of the Act, an exclusion order,

      • (iv) failing to leave Canada by the end of the period authorized for their stay as required by subsection 29(2) of the Act, an exclusion order,

      • (v) failing to comply with subsection 29(2) of the Act as a result of non-compliance with any condition set out in section 184 or subsection 220.1(1), an exclusion order, or

      • (vi) failing to comply with the requirement under subsection 20(1.1) of the Act to not seek to enter or remain in Canada as a temporary resident while being the subject of a declaration made under subsection 22.1(1) of the Act, an exclusion order;

    • (d) subject to paragraph (e), if the foreign national is inadmissible under section 42 of the Act on grounds of an inadmissible family member, the same removal order as was made in respect of the inadmissible family member; and

    • )e) if the foreign national is inadmissible on grounds of an inadmissible family member in accordance with paragraph 42(2)(a) of the Act, a deportation order.

  • Paragraph 45(d) of the Act — applicable removal order
    •  (1) For the purposes of paragraph 45(d) of the Act, the applicable removal order to be made by the Immigration Division against a person is

      • (a) a deportation order, if they are inadmissible under subsection 34(1) of the Act on security grounds;

      • (b) a deportation order, if they are inadmissible under subsection 35(1) of the Act on grounds of violating human or international rights;

      • (c) a deportation order, in the case of a permanent resident inadmissible under subsection 36(1) of the Act on grounds of serious criminality or a foreign national inadmissible under paragraph 36(1)(b) or (c) of the Act on grounds of serious criminality;

      • (d) a deportation order, if they are inadmissible under paragraph 36(2)(b), (c) or (d) of the Act on grounds of criminality;

      • (e) a deportation order, if they are inadmissible under subsection 37(1) of the Act on grounds of organized criminality;

      • (f) an exclusion order, if they are inadmissible under subsection 38(1) of the Act on health grounds, unless subsection (2) or (3) applies;

      • (g) an exclusion order, if they are inadmissible under section 39 of the Act for financial reasons, unless subsection (2) or (3) applies;

      • (h) an exclusion order, if they are inadmissible under paragraph 40(1)(a) or (b) of the Act for misrepresentation, unless subsection (3) applies;

      • (i) a deportation order, if they are inadmissible under paragraph 40(1)(d) of the Act for misrepresentation;

      • (j) an exclusion order, if they are inadmissible under paragraph 41(a) of the Act for failing to comply with the requirement to appear for examination, unless subsection (2) or (3) applies;

      • (k) a departure order, if they are inadmissible under paragraph 41(b) of the Act;

      • (l) an exclusion order, if they are inadmissible under paragraph 41(a) of the Act for failing to establish that they have come to Canada in order to establish permanent residence, unless subsection (3) applies;

      • (m) an exclusion order, if they are inadmissible under paragraph 41(a) of the Act for failing to establish that they will leave Canada by the end of the period authorized for their stay, unless subsection (2) applies; and

      • (n) an exclusion order, if they are inadmissible under paragraph 41(a) of the Act for any other failure to comply with the Act, unless subsection (2) or (3) applies.

There are also some cases where CBSA officers are pursuing a s.29(2) inadmissibility  in order to do a bit of a favour for the international student – where they may be victimized by the rampant fraud in the international student market right now or made an honest mistake. While this is commendable, I think the inconsistency under law does pose a risk where individuals with less egregious violations are seeing five-year bans on entry.

However, some of the duration and gaps that the actively-pursuing studies requirement (R.220.1 IRPR) has been applied to (such as one month or a winter break as I have seen in a couple cases now).

I have always said this, but I think the penalty for international students not studying (possibly throwing away their PGWP eligibility) should introduce at least a little leniency into the issue with study gaps (which invariably arise during the course of one’s studies – especially where the person may also be studying while awaiting processing on a PR application or with a boyfriend and girlfriend who is a Canadian citizen or PR).I have also seen in more than a few cases now that the exceptions under R.220.1(3) IRPR have not been adequately canvassed in the brief examinations that are leading to these decisions.

I somewhat hesitate to say this (as I know CBSA does allow some individuals to do this in order to avoid the more serious penalty), but they should be pursuing the misrepresentation as is rather than the not actively-pursuing studies violation. Should there be factors down the road that support it, there could also be the pursuing of the s.29(2) IRPA at a later time or the allowing of the individual to withdraw their entry/cancellation of their visa. However, misrepresentation – particular in the student context is too important of a matter that must be pursued.

Furthermore, having border officer’s remove international students without adequate time investigating their personal situations and even contacting the Designated-Learning Institution (“DLI”) or properly setting out the record makes for the possibility of decisions that are not grounded in fact nor law. There are many considerations, from the aforementioned exception clauses, to DLI’s own policies, to even whether the person was in Canada or overseas during the impugned period.

I ultimately think that the assessment processes for “not-actively pursuing studies” is more akin to an s.41(a) IRPA contravention such as work or study without authorization. I appreciate the legislative intention on allowing Officer’s to remove students not actively-pursuing studies but I think right now it has already gone too far and inconsistent with the original parliamentary intention.

The alternative is for the government to introduce a procedural fairness regime, such as the one it had initially contemplated, that requires CBSA to defer examination and/or refer the matter to IRCC for further action. Another possibility is for IRCC to amend (through interpretation and instruction), R. 222 so that this provisions applies to students who have left school (but stayed in Canada) in the middle of their program . Furthermore, individuals with Canadian spouses and common-law partners (not covered under the exceptions under R. 220.1 and R.222) should be covered for consistency.

I said it before and I will say it again – 2018 will be another year where international students will really have to take proactive (not such reactive) efforts to ensure they know the conditions of their study permit and are being smart about traveling outside of Canada during their studies and engaging in activities (such as work) while being a student.

I am hopeful IRCC will publish some clear program delivery instructions so that schools and students will be on the same page, without unscrupulous agents or incompetent and unlicensed advisors incorrectly coaching the student to their removal from Canada.


Why Staying in Canada During Your Immigration Appeal Is a Crucial Thing

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, [2009] 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), [1985] 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), [2002] 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.