The pitfalls of submitting a temporary resident visa application
School is done in the Philippines and summer is just around the corner for those of us here in Winnipeg. That means it’s vacation time for most people. It’s also the perfect time to invite friends and family from the Philippines to come and visit us for the summer or to plan ahead for a Christmas visit. So, what do you need to ensure that your favourite niece, nephew, cousin, aunt or friend can come to Canada to visit you?
Philippine citizens require Temporary Resident Visas (TRV) – formerly called visitor’s visas – in order to enter Canada. Application forms can be obtained from the web at www.cic.gc.ca or by contacting the Canadian Embassy in Manila.
The key to a successful application is to show that the applicant has strong ties to the Philippines that will ensure their return. I have set out a dozen practical tips.
1. Forms – Read them carefully and be sure that all the questions are answered truthfully.
2. Authorized leave of absence letters – The applicant should submit a letter from their employer stating their title, salary, length of time with the company and the authorized length of leave (either with or without pay). Be sure that the dates on the letter correspond with length of time you’re asking to stay in Canada. This is one of the most common mistakes people make. Immigration will question an applicant if they only have 4 weeks off from work yet they want to stay in Canada for four months.
3. Previous applications – Disclose all previous attempts to immigrate or to visit Canada. It doesn’t matter if the application was made twenty years ago. It’s in the immigration computer system. If you don’t disclose it you automatically misrepresent yourself and will be denied entry.
4. Funds – There is no set amount of money that an applicant needs to have in their bank account before they will be approved. Many people make the mistake of borrowing money from friends and relatives so that they have “show money” in the bank. However, immigration will question why large amounts are suddenly deposited into your bank account when the regular deposits are not so large.
5. Affidavit of Support – Relatives and friends from Canada can provide an applicant with affidavits of support to show the embassy that all the financial needs of the visitor will be met.
6. Invitation – The letter of invitation does not need to be a legal document. It should be a regular letter you would write to invite your friend or relative to visit you and would contain all the normal items found in your other letters. The letter should be notarized so that the embassy can be confident in its authenticity.
7. Itinerary – It is helpful to provide the Embassy with a proposed itinerary of your activities while you are in Canada – i.e. visit Canada’s Wonderland or Parliament Hill, go camping at Riding Mountain National Park or Banff, shopping at West Edmonton Mall, etc.
8. Owner of small business – If the applicant is the owner of a small business, such as a sari-sari store or jeepney, it is helpful to give the Embassy the name of the person who will be looking after the business while you are away. The applicant should also submit any legal ownership documents as well as any income tax information for previous years.
9. Plan ahead – don’t leave it until the last minute to get all the documents ready. It also takes anywhere from 1 to 8 weeks to get an appointment with the embassy, depending on the time of year.
10. Be sure the payment is correct. A certified cheque or bank draft should be made out to “Canadian Embassy - Manila”.
11. The application is assessed on its merits and is not an assessment of the host. So the more evidence the applicant can provide the better his chances.
12. During the interview, the embassy will be testing the applicant to see if the intent is to visit or to immigrate. Very often the final decision to approve or reject an application is made based on how an applicant presents him or herself during the interview. A person who is nervous and doesn’t answer questions could cause the visa officer to believe that they are trying to hide something. So a word of advice to all applicants, try to relax during the interview. Answer the questions as truthfully as you can and as best as you can. If you have trouble expressing yourself in English, make sure that you have an interpreter available.
Always remember that visiting Canada is not a right; it’s a privilege. As a result, when someone abuses the system, it makes it that much harder for other applicants to be approved. Also, a successful applicant who obeys the rules and returns to the Philippines before the expiry of their visa will be given further opportunities to visit Canada in the future.
The content of this article is not intended as legal advice and is for information purposes only. Should you require legal advice on a specific issue relating to the content of this article, please seek the services of a legal professional.
Alona C. Mercado is a lawyer practicing in Winnipeg with the law firm of MONK GOODWIN LLP. She was called to the Manitoba Bar in 1999 and the Ontario Bar in 2003. Her preferred areas of practice include wills and estates, committees, real estate, business and commercial transactions, and immigration law. Alona can be reached at (204) 956-1060 ext. 233 or firstname.lastname@example.org.