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Sponsoring My Foreign Love – Preliminary Considerations (Part 1)

Recently, likely due to the summer wedding season being in full effect, I have been approached by several individuals considering the spousal sponsorship process.

immigrant-wedding

The increased interest in sponsoring a spouse may also be tied to the increasing difficulty of obtaining permanent residence through other economic streams. Particularly for young international couples  whose study permits, post graduate permits, and International Experience Class work permits are running out, the need to tie the knot in order to stay together becomes a date-ruining dinner time conversation.

As part one of a multi-part series, I will try and cover some of the challenges associated with spousal sponsorship applications.

So what are some considerations to consider prior to embarking on an application to sponsor?

1. Where are the potential Applicant and Sponsor currently residing and what is their legal status there? What is the Applicant’s immigration status in Canada?

This question is important for several reasons. To file an Inside Canada spousal sponsorship application, there is a requirement for the Applicant to actually be in Canada.

For Outside Canada spousal sponsorships, there is also the potential option of selecting the Visa Office that processes the second part of your Application. You can apply to a Visa Office that is not your country of citizenship if you currently hold legal status in that country and have done so for more than one consecutive year. This may be particularly useful for applicants who are citizens in a country such as Pakistan (currently 40 month processing time) but have legal status by virtue of study or work in London, England (currently 28 month processing time).

It is also important to consider their status (if they are in Canada). Do they have temporary resident status in Canada now? When does that status expire?  Are they out of status?

These questions will affect what procedure you ultimately choose in sponsoring.

2. What is the status of your relationship? 

Closely related to the above question of immigration status is the question of relationship status. Under Canadian Immigration Law you can sponsor a spouse or common law partner if:

(1) they are your legal spouse (i.e. you married);

(2) they are your common-law partner (at least 1 year of cohabitation and currently cohabiting in conjugal relationship);

(3) they have been in a conjugal relationship with you for one year (unable to cohabit due to persecution or penal control);

In addition to determining whether you have met the above categories, it is also important to ask yourself whether you have the evidence to show that you have met the above categories. For example for you and your common-law partner: Do you have proof that you have co-rented or co-leased a place to live for over a year? Do you have a joint bank account showing a conjugal (not just roommate) relationship?

These are all very relevant questions in determining common-law status as well as relationship genuineness at a later stage.

3. What are current application processing times?

Currently for Inside Canada spousal sponsorship applications the processing time is 26 months. This time is encapsulated in 17 months to obtain a first-stage approval that the relationship is bona-fide. In an Inside Canada sponsorship all of the processing takes place in Canada at Case Processing Centre Mississauga (CPC-M). Interviews, if necessary, are generally arranged at the local CIC office in the city which you reside and will require attendance by both Applicant and Sponsor.

Currently for an Outside Canada spousal sponsorship application, the processing time varies from 5 to 40 months depending on Visa Office. Note that this in addition to the assessment of the sponsor which currently takes 55 days. In an Outside Canada process, the sponsor assessment occurs at CPC-M before the application is sent to a visa post abroad for assessment of the bona fides. Interviews, if necessary, are arranged outside Canada and will require attendance by both Applicant and Sponsor.

Why is it important whether you have an immigration officer in Pakistan or London assesses your application? Asides from the level of scrutiny that may possibly differ (statistics don’t show too much of a correlation between visa posts), it will definitely affect the time it takes to make a decision.

Here are the processing times accessed from CIC as of 02/06/2015.

Processing times for sponsorship of spouses, common-law or conjugal partners and dependent children applications

The tables below indicate application processing times at Canadian visa offices once Step 1 has been completed. The times are based on how long it took to process 80 percent of all cases between April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015. Processing times are subject to change.

Last quarterly update: May 20, 2015

Africa and Middle East
Visa Office Processing Times IN MONTHS
(based on a complete application package)
Abu Dhabi – United Arab Emirates 13
Accra – Ghana 16
Amman – Jordan 24
Ankara – Turkey 11
Beirut – Lebanon 16
Cairo – Egypt 18
Dakar – Senegal 21
Nairobi – Kenya 22
Pretoria – South Africa 15
Rabat – Morocco 8
Tel Aviv – Israel 9
Asia and Pacific
Visa Office Processing Times IN MONTHS
(based on a complete application package)
Beijing – China 10
Colombo – Sri Lanka 10
Hong Kong – China 10
Islamabad – Pakistan 40
Manila – Philippines 17
New Delhi – India 16
Singapore – Singapore 28
Sydney – Australia 11
Europe
Visa Office Processing Times IN MONTHS
(based on a complete application package)
Bucharest – Romania 17
Kyiv – Ukraine 12
London – United Kingdom 28
Moscow – Russia 24
Paris – France 8
Rome – Italy 12
Vienna – Austria 16
Warsaw – Poland 12
Americas
Visa Office Processing Times IN MONTHS
(based on a complete application package)
Bogota – Colombia 12
Buenos Aires – Argentina 14
Guatemala City – Guatemala –
Havana – Cuba 10
Kingston – Jamaica 23
Lima – Peru 10
Los Angeles – United States 29
Mexico City – Mexico 17
New York – United States 35
Ottawa (Case Processing Centre) – Canada 16
Port-au-Prince – Haiti 23
Port of Spain – Trinidad and Tobago 17
Santiago – Chile 22
Santo Domingo – Dominican Republic 14
Sao Paulo – Brazil 5

Notes

  • You can view your application status online.
  • If it has been longer than the time shown above since you applied and your visa office has not contacted you, you may wish to contact the visa office that is processing your application. The Call Centre does not have information about applications processed outside Canada.
  • (–) indicates that not enough data are available. Processing times are shown only where an office has finalized 10 or more cases in the past 12 months.

SOURCE: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/times/perm/fc-spouses.asp

Returning to our Pakistan and London example, the same application processed in Pakistan will take a calendar year longer.  You can readily see the huge discrepancies between visa posts,

4. Should I choose the Inside Canada or Outside Canada process?

As alluded to earlier, Applicants currently residing in Canada have a choice of applying for an Inside Canada spousal sponsorship (http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/applications/spouse.asp)  or, if they have temporary resident status and reside in Canada, an Outside Canada spousal sponsorship (http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/applications/fc.asp). Applicants applying from outside Canada can only utilize the Outside of Canada process.

Note with an Outside Canada application you will also need to show that there will be an effort to bring the spouse to Canada to reside permanently upon being granted permanent resident status.

An Inside Canada spousal sponsorship application certainly has its advantages, among which include:

  1. If the Applicant has valid temporary resident status after 4 month processing, there is currently a pilot project for a spousal open work permit which will allow the Applicant to work in Canada for any employer in Canada;
  2. The Applicant can still have their application processed without holding temporary resident status and has the benefit of an administrative deferral of 60 days in most circumstances (in which time the application will be processed) if removal proceedings are issued against the Applicant;
  3. For those who currently have temporary status and apply to extend their temporary status in Canada along with their in-Canada spousal permanent residence application, they can have implied status for the duration of the processing or until they leave Canada;
  4. The entire process occurs in Canada, there is no need to travel abroad for an interview at a foreign visa post;

However, there are also several disadvantages:

  1. The spouse/common-law partner needs to reside and live together in Canada for the duration of processing. Any separation (particularly outside of Canada travel by one party) may effect severance of the common-law relationship;
  2. Any denial of re-entry for the Applicant to return into Canada will lead to refusal of the in-Canada application and will trigger the requirement to reapply (likely using the Outside Canada process);
  3. You have no rights to appeal to the Immigration Appeal Division in the case of your application being refused. Your only recourse is the Federal Court where the visa officer’s decision is reviewed on the difficult to challenge standards of reasonableness and correctness;
  4. There is currently a 26 month processing time for these applications in which time the Applicant will not be a permanent resident of Canada; and
  5. The open spousal work permit is a pilot project and subject to change. Previous to the new pilot program, spousal work permits were only issued after 17 months of processing, meaning many couples had to rely solely on the Sponsor’s income for 17 months;

An Outside Canada spousal sponsorship application also has its advantages:

  1. The Applicant and Sponsor do not need to reside together in Canada and can pursue options either abroad or in Canada;
  2. There is a general right to the Immigration Appeal Division in the event your Spousal Sponsorship application is refused (except in serious criminality, misrepresentation, terrorism,  etc.). At the IAD you will have a second chance in a de novo (new) hearing to prove the genuineness and purpose of your marriage (should that be the ground for refusal).

However, there are also several disadvantages:

  1. There is no right to an open spousal work permit and you will likely have to obtain the ability to work in Canada through under means;
  2. Couples may have some challenges spending immediate time together in Canada where the Applicant is from […]
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Judicial Review and Immigration Appeals: Why I Love This Area of the Law

As Canadian Immigration laws in Canada get tighter and tighter, it appears that judicial review (JRs) and immigration appeals work gets more and more important in the overall process of assisting an individual is coming to or staying in Canada.

4879998_orig

I’d like to provide my own quick summary of the processes and my own experiences in this piece. I will not delve very deep into the legal or procedural requirements in this post, it is more to summarize the process and highlight aspects I find interesting. As always, none of the below should be construed as legal advice.  

Who can do JRs and Immigration Appeals?

Right off the bat, there are a few things you should know about Judicial Review. Aside from the individual themselves, only a lawyer called to a provincial bar in Canada can represent an applicant in this process.

Immigration Appeals  can be done by both lawyers and consultants.

What are JRs and Immigration Appeals?

Judicial Review

Judicial Review is an administrative law process where Applicants can ask the Federal Court of Canada (and in some jurisdictions  other Courts) to review the decision of a tribunal or government-authorized decision maker’s decision (i.e visa officer, minster’s delegate, etc) on the grounds that it was either (1) unreasonable or (2) was incorrect and breached the Applicant’s procedural fairness.

Where reasonableness is the standard of review, the Federal Court is expected to show deference to the Administrative Tribunal or decision-maker. Where correctness is the standard of review, there is no deference and Federal Court can replace the decision of the Administrative Tribunal or decision-maker.

The process of filing a JR is key. I will differ to the Federal Court of Canada to explain this process step-by-step (including important statutory timeline issues): http://cas-ncr-nter03.cas-satj.gc.ca/portal/page/portal/fc_cf_en/ApplicationIMM 

From my experience a lot of practitioners who aren’t as successful at obtaining leave for judicial review fail to put in the early effort into putting together a strong Applicant’s Record, including effective affidavits laying out the facts and a detailed memorandum of argument laying out the standard of review and legal arguments for why that the decision failed to meet that standard (be it reasonableness or correctness). One of the common flaws, as a Federal Court judge once expressed in a speech she gave, is a lack of facts to establish the factual basis and too much irrelevant case law to try and argue a point. When you start throwing in a dozen cases (without citing specific factual differences), you have a bunch of authority with no factual or casual link to your own case at bar.

Judicial review is not, and I repeat is NOT, an opportunity to argue that the decision maker’s decision was wrong and that the decision maker should have done X or Y instead. As long the decisionmaker’s decision was within the ‘range of possible outcomes’ the Federal Court will not interfere with the decisionmaker’s decision. Even insufficient reasons in a decision is no longer automatic grounds for a decision to be unreasonable.

Also remember that affidavits that are filed cannot include information that was not before the tribunal or panel making the decision, subject to some carved out exceptions. For a good case on exceptions check out:  Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and the University of Manitoba and the Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency 2012 FCA 22 at para 20  (http://canlii.ca/t/fpszj)

After filing your Applicant’s Record containing your affidavits and memorandums, Minister’s Counsel (represented by the Department of Justice) will assign a counsel to your case. Minister’s Counsel can do one of three things after receiving instructions from their client : (1)They may choose to consent if the decision is prima facie in error or procedurally unfair; (2)They may also choose to file a memorandum in response opposing your application for leave and stating that there is no arguable case at leave; or (3) they make take no position.

Taking no position does not necessarily mean you have won the case. It can be a positive thing – meaning they think you have an arguable case, but it is just as likely that they may wish to respond further after leave or that they require memorandums or further client instructions in order to adequately respond. Ps. I am purposely not going into the Stay process (a blog post in itself)

If Minister’s counsel does respond, you will likely need to make a further reply, in which you clarify your grounds and emphasize why you still have an arguable case at leave.

The decision then goes to a Federal Court judge who decides whether or not to grant leave. Even though the threshold is quite low, Leave is granted in only approximately 30%-38% of all cases by latest estimate.

If leave is granted, there is another round of affidavits and memorandums, with the Applicant being asked to file first. There is no final reply if Minister’s Counsel does file a Final Memorandum as at the oral hearing (statutorily scheduled no later than 90 days after the Minister’s) you will both have the opportunity to respond.

The Oral Hearing involves Counsel for the Applicant presenting their case first, discussing the unreasonable and procedurally unfair elements of a decision. Minister’s Counsel then makes submissions, followed by a brief opportunity for Applicant’s counsel to reply. In the case of a Federal Court Judge who is more passive, this may all go very much according to script. However, I’ve seen other Federal Court judges who very much want to engage on the issues and ask both Counsel questions to challenge their respective positions.

Most decisions, that are not among the rare decided by oral order from the bench, are released by the Federal Court judge. This process can take several weeks to months.

Immigration Appeals Division

Usually, Applicants hear about their right to appeal in the refusal letter triggering the 30-day appeal window. Once an appeal is applied for a hearing date is usually set.  One of the ongoing challenges right now is that it takes quite a bit of time to schedule a hearing, a problem that appears particularly bad in Toronto.

For a client this delay may not be so bad. More time, in the case of a residency appeal, criminality, and even spousals is more time arguably to show that requirements are now being met and conduct has now improved.

The most important part of an Immigration Appeals Division (“IAD”) case is that it is a hearing de novo. The member or panel that decides your case can take into account new evidence. However, there is a caveat in that this new evidence still has to go to the reasonableness of the correctness of the decisionmaker’s decision at the time it was made.  From what I have seen, recent circumstances and improvements in situation DO play a big factor into decisions, often times in the equitable jurisdiction (Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds) that the Member can consider.

During the Immigration Appeals process, there are several opportunities for the Appellant (Applicant or Sponsor, in spousal appeals) to make disclosure to Minister’s counsel (and vice vers). These disclosures can contain letters of support, photographs, and other evidence that supports the case.  I have also seen counsel use the opportunity to provide written submissions as to the merits of the case.

Rule 20 of the IAD Rules also provides for the potential of seeking Alternative Dispute Resolution. The IAD may seek ADR in specific cases, while in other cases it may be negotiated with CBSA during the period leading up to the appeal. At an ADR, a Hearings Officer may question the Appellant and may offer to consent to the appeal. If consent is not reached, a full hearing will follow.

Immigration Appeals involve the direct examination and cross examination of key witnesses to the situation being challenged on appeal, followed by legal submissions (if necessary). The opposing counsel will likely be a Hearings Officer representing either CIC or the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. Hearings Officers vary from the very understanding to the very critical, and the position they take (and possible willingness to consent) is very crucial to the final outcome of the case.

If Judicial Reviews are all about Standard of Review, Immigration Appeals are all about the facts. Counsel will need to work with Applicants to ensure all the relevant facts are brought to the table, particularly those that contradict what the decisionmaker found. It is also key that all witnesses are credible and on the same page factually. Assessing an individual’s credibility is ultimately a guessing game, but many of the factual inconsistencies that go to a negative credibility finding are more readily apparent. Needless to say Immigration Appeals take a lot of preparation and require a good, honest client-counsel rapport.

Distinction between JR and Immigration Appeals

There is a distinction between Judicial Review and Immigration Appeals. There are cases where you have the right to appeal to the Immigration Appeals Division (where in almost all circumstances you must exhaust the appeal before exercising your right to judicial review), cases where you do not have the right to appeal to the Immigration Appeals Division and therefore can only try to judicial review the decision.

5.2. Distinction between an appeal and judicial review

The IRPA [Immigration and Refugee Protection Act] provides two levels of review of decisions made under the Act: review by way of statutory appeal to the IAD and review by the Federal Court.

Pursuant to section A63 (as limited by section A64) sponsors, visa holders, permanent residents and protected persons have a right to appeal adverse decisions to the IAD.

……

In all other cases, where no statutory right of appeal exists or those rights have been exhausted, there is a right to seek judicial review of any decision made pursuant to the IRPA by filing an application for leave and judicial review to the Federal Court pursuant to A72(1).

Section 64 of IRPA sets out there is no appeal for inadmissibility in security, serious criminality (more than 6 months imprisonment), and misrepresentation cases.

What happens if you win?

There is also a difference in both forums if you win. Generally speaking, when you win at the Immigration Appeal Division the Member will make some sort of order: “the Applicant has not lost their permanent resident status” or […]

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Medical Inadmissibility Appeals and the Application of De Novo Evidence 

26-05-2015 medical_coverage

I am working on an Immigration Appeal Division (“IAD”) case involving the sponsorship of a family member who was found medically inadmissible. An interesting legal issue came up, which I found has not been widely discussed in immigration law texts, but may be very useful for practitioners and applicants alike: what happens if the Applicant’s condition or drug prices have changed since the initial negative decision and you are now at the IAD?

Facts

The loose factual situation is that since the negative medical inadmissibility report was issued several years ago, there have been several developments which (arguably) may not leave the individual medically inadmissible today. For example, as of June 2014, the minimum cost threshold (beyond which medical inadmissibility for excessive demand on health and social services would kick in) increased from $4,057 to $6,387 per month. This is a very substantial amount.

In our situation and in my estimate, the Applicant, according to today’s figures and our estimates of today’s prescription drug prices, may indeed fit under the new threshold and possibly the threshold from two years ago too.

Issue

Asides from the issue of challenging the reasonableness or correctness of the Visa Officer’s decision, can we introduce this new De Novo evidence as evidence of non-inadmissibility? In other words, can the IAD consider this evidence as a legal argument that the Applicant is no longer medically inadmissible?

Analysis provided by Vazirizadeh

The short answer appears to be no. The relevant case law authority for this is Vazirizadeh v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) 2009 FC 807. In Varzirizadeh, the Applicant had knee surgery following a medical inadmissibility finding based on osteoperosis. It was determined following the inadmissibility finding that one of her knees no longer required surgery. The IAD refused the Applicant’s appeal based on humanitarian and compassionate considerations, and the Applicant brought an Application for Leave and Judicial Review to the Federal Court now also challenging the legal validity of the decision.

The Applicant argued that as the IAD hearing was de novo, it should have considered the appellant’s changed medical status, whereas the Respondent Minister argued that the IAD considered both pre-surgery and post-surgery circumstances, and determined the medical inadmissibility had not changed (para 18). The Respondent also argued that de novo evidence could only reverse a medical inadmissibility finding if the evidence demonstrated that either the visa officer’s decision was incorrect at the time or breached the Applicant’s procedural fairness (at para 19).

Justice Frenette, citing the still oft-cited decision of the Federal Court of Appeal in Mohamed v. Canada (Minister of Employment and Immigration),  68 N.R. [1986] 3 FC 90, adopted the Respondent’s position concluding that “subsequent improvement in the medical condition was only relevant to whether special relief should be granted on appeal” (at para 20).

Therefore, it appears that arguments relating to change in medical condition or drug costs will not assist in challenging the legal validity of the Officer’s decision.

But, it is still useful in an appeal?

Application in a Recent IAD Case based on Special Relief – Boukrab

Boukrab v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) [2015] IADD No. 25 is an interesting case of a self-represented litigant who was found medically inadmissible by a visa officer as a result of rheumatoid polyarthritis (para 4).

The visa officer’s medical report itself [it was in French, so pardon my limited French translational abilities] found that the Applicant’s condition would likely continue to deteriorate and listed several drugs that he would require under Ontario’s medical insurance program.

In an effort to likely bolster the medical report, the Minister’s Delegate in hearing disclosure provided a Globe and Mail article which showed that injections or infusions for treating the condition would cost upwards of $20,000.

The Applicant’s arguments regarding the ability to “pay for his mother’s drugs,” were not accepted by the IAD which argued that as the government was statutorily obligated to pay, any undertaking to the contrary by the Applicant would be irrelevant.

However, the Applicant won the appeal on the basis of an updated letter from a rheumatologist dated August 29, 2014 indicating the condition was now stable and that the over-the-counter medication she took cost only $47.25 a month, an amount well below the threshold.

The Member upheld the medical inadmissibility finding but granted special relief (Humanitarian and Compassionate considerations). The Member was similarly impressed by the family’s attention to detail in establishing housing and transfer payments that were to be made.

Practical Tip: Estimating Drug Costs

Drug costs and equivalent treatment can sometimes be difficult to establish, particularly when the Applicant is located overseas and being treated by an overseas doctor. Many medications cost different amounts in different jurisdictions, sold under different labels and may have generic equivalents.

A good tip for Applicants or Counsel is to contact local support/non-profit groups relating to the condition that renders the Applicant inadmissible. These organizations, particularly local chapters, may have updated reports and studies which provide more accurate estimates of medical and social service costs.

It is important to recognize, particularly for negative decisions rendered abroad at foreign visa offices by foreign doctors/officers, is that the cost estimates are often done abroad and based on reports and surveys which possibly are less reliable (and possibly less individualized, local) than the ones you may have at your fingertips.

I also have this handy tool, provided to me by the kind folks at one of the organizations mentioned above, which may assist you in assessing the pre-subsidy prescription medication costs.

As stated on the website by the Pacific Blue Cross: “The Pharmacy Compass is an online tool developed by Pacific Blue Cross that may help you save money by comparing the average price for prescription drugs at different pharmacy locations across British Columbia based on claims submitted to Pacific Blue Cross over the past three months.” http://www.pharmacycompass.ca/FAQ

Once you have a cost estimated for the medication, it will be useful to do two steps. First, compare this amount to the cost threshold. In an ideal world, the cost is under $6,387 a month you may be in good shape. If the amount is slightly over, it may be worth investigating into the province’s subsidy scheme and determining the percentage paid by the government annually (reimbursed to the beneficiary). Here, your individual who is wealthy, but can’t use that wealth to demonstrate that they can pay for the costs out of their own pocket may be able to demonstrate that it affects the subsidized amount. Again, this analysis will have to be done on a province-specific basis and may not ultimately yield positive results. However, as summarized very well by one of my favourite Canadian immigration lawyers, Mario D. Bellissimo in  Chapter 11 – page 31 of Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Inadmissibility Law (2014) “The end result: excessive demands in one province may not be excessive demands in another province.”

Conclusion

Medical inadmissibility is a fascinating area of immigration law, one that is constantly changing based on changes to our health system and our knowledge of scientific treatments.

From what I have seen of it so far, it is often one of the most controversial. Medical inadmissibility cases often make it to the front page of the media, for the devastating affect it has in separating families.

I think it is an area where more case law will emerge, as applicants and counsel are better prepared to challenge the legal validity and put forth strong humanitarian and compassionate grounds for how they are not excessive burdens on the Canadian health system.

Let’s see what happens. Excited to see what happens to our case!

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Why CIC’s Tougher “Requirements” Might Actually Result in More Officer Discretion

Introduction

From a logical perspective, the more requirements there are for something you wish to obtain, for example job requirements or minimum scholarship requirements, the less room there is for any discretion.

Using a Canadian immigration example, part of the reason Labour Market Impact Assessments (“LMIA”) Applications are able to facilitate employment when the Employer clearly has a Foreign National candidate in mind is due to Employer’s ability to set the requirements for the job to meet the Foreign National’s unique profile. This allows them to prove to Service Canada that the decision to hire was not discretionary and therefore that the genuine efforts were made to hire Canadians.

However, contrary to the examples above, I believe there is a growing trend that will see requirements being used as a way to create discretion and will affect the consistency of Officer decision-making.

How Discretion Might Work

With both the new Express Entry application process and the Government’s proposed SIN-sharing regulations on both Permanent Residents (http://gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p1/2015/2015-02-28/html/reg2-eng.php) and Citizens (http://gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p1/2015/2015-02-28/html/reg1-eng.php), information will be requested from applicants that will exist beyond available memory and likely, even, available records.

In order to submit an Electronic Application for Permanent Residence under Express Entry, applicants are asked to provide a reference letter for every employment they have ever held, setting out terms of employment (duration, wage, benefits, etc.). Under the proposed SIN/data sharing legislation, Applicants are provided the “option” of providing SIN numbers. These SIN numbers will then be shared with CRA to access the Income Verification  Program. While not providing a SIN number cannot be a stand-alone reason for application refusal (according to the Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement), the groundwork is there for it being a reason to severely delay the application. [Editor’s note: Will be doing more indepth paper on this topic coming May 2015]

The ability of any human, let alone even tax/accounting software, to ensure all this information is accurate is in my opinion impossible. The requirements are high. I remember back in 2013 when I applied for Government of Canada Security Clearance (for an internship I never did), I only had to provide a 10-year work/employment history.

Now applicants will need to know the date of every trip ever taken, every dollar ever earned and possibly even spent. Past failures to keep accurate records of flights or the use of a less than capable tax accountant can now come back to bite an applicant in the behind.

Every application will contain errors. It is inevitable under this new “compliance heavy” regime. Yet, every application cannot be refused. Doing so would be a waste of everybody’s resources and make Canada an unattractive immigration destination. Needless to say, I believe immigration practitioners can no longer rely on the self-declarations/draft responses of an applicant when filling out forms and will ultimately need a piece of hard evidence (tax form, employment letter, or visa stamp) to verify each date and dollar provided.

Conclusion

I think that the new requirements give a discretion to immigration officers to refuse any application and to ensure that the application is not susceptible to appeal or review.

It will be interesting down the road, to compare reasons for refusal and uncover how said discretion is being applied. I wouldn’t be surprised if net worth and country and origin play a huge factor.

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Will Tao is an Award-Winning Canadian Immigration and Refugee Lawyer, Writer, and Policy Advisor based in Vancouver. Vancouver Immigration Blog is a public legal resource and social commentary.

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