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Alona    The art of sponsorship applications

 

Ever wonder what it takes to submit a “perfect” immigration application? I find it quite ironic that in a society that prides itself on moving towards a “paperless” society, we still require a ton of paperwork in order to submit a proper and complete application. In fact, after my many years practicing immigration law and talking to colleagues over the years, I am of the view that the more paper you give to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) the better your chances at success.

For those of you who have ever attempted to fill out an immigration application – whether it is for a temporary resident visa (visitor’s visa), spousal sponsorship, or the provincial nominee program, you can well appreciate that a lot of questions are asked. Some questions are very straightforward while others, depending on the type of application you are dealing with, can be quite complicated and very personal. Some may find these types of questions harder to answer while others refuse to answer them on the basis that the government has no business knowing that kind of information. Unfortunately, regardless of whether or not you believe the government has the right to know that kind of information about you, if you want to submit a successful application, every single question must be answered.

My clients have often asked me why the Canadian government needs to know, for example, how a couple met and whether or not their friends and family are aware of their relationship. Or why does the government need to know all the names and contact information for all the applicant’s brothers and sisters, including half and step-siblings? Or, why does the government need to know where the applicant has lived or what they have been doing since the age of 18? Although some may find these questions intrusive and unnecessary, we must always keep in mind that visiting and/or immigrating to Canada is not a right, it is a privilege. Only those who meet the qualifications will be given the privilege to visit and/or live in Canada. The government of Canada has every right to ensure that anyone who comes to live or visit this country is of good character and will not pose a danger to its citizens – for the government to do anything less would be a breach of their fundamental duty to the country and its citizens.

The only way the government will be able to determine who is eligible to come to Canada is by asking all applicants a series of questions. It is very important that applicants answer the questions as truthfully as possible. I have heard some people comment, “They’ll never know anyway,” and then proceed to lie on their applications. Trust me when I say that this is the worst possible attitude you can take when filling out an application. By signing the application forms, you are essentially telling the government of Canada that everything contained on those forms is true and correct. The smallest inconsistency, or the “white lie” that everyone tells, is more than likely the one that will cause your application to be refused, or worse, will be the cause of your misrepresentation charge.

My advice to all potential applicants is to be honest and up-front about everything. If you were sponsored over ten years ago and were refused, then answer “yes” to the question, “were you ever refused entry into Canada?” Even if you don’t remember the exact date or the application number, answer yes because if you don’t it will turn up on CIC’s computer system when they process your application and you will be refused. Are you single but your girlfriend has just given birth to your child? Disclose the child as a dependent – regardless of whether you live with your girlfriend or if the child will be accompanying you to Canada. Failure to disclose your child could result in a misrepresentation charge against you and your inability to sponsor your child at a later date. Did you attend college but never graduated? List only the dates that you attended and do not under any circumstances “buy” a diploma to prove that you graduated. Canadian Embassies around the world are very strict when it comes to false documents and know exactly where these documents are produced.

Submitting a “perfect” application is not easy. Little things can be missed. Documents are hard to produce. Getting originals or notarized copies of everything can be expensive and time consuming. I know all these problems very well. Unfortunately, until Immigration receives a complete application in that all the required documents are provided and all the questions are answered, they will not begin to process the application. You may get lucky and they’ll give you a file number and 90 days to produce the rest of the documents. Or, you may be unlucky and have your entire application package returned to you. Regardless of your luck, keep this in mind: Immigration considers the lock-in date for the application as the date upon when they receive a “perfected” (i.e. complete) application. So, in the interim, the principal applicant could turn 50 and thereby lose a couple of points, or your daughter could graduate from university and begin working full time thereby ceasing to be your dependent, or the government could change the immigration rules or the income requirements. A lot of different things can happen during the time it takes you to perfect your application. And each one will result in a different consequence.

What is the remedy to this problem? There is no easy answer. All I can suggest is before you decide to apply for any kind of immigration application make sure you are aware of all the requirements. Be realistic about the time frames. Don’t expect immigration to give you special treatment, because they won’t. Be as careful as you can when you fill in the forms and, above all else, be honest.

The art of sponsorship applications is not for everyone. It is time consuming and sometimes frustrating and confusing. If you are unsure of how to proceed or you just don’t want to have to deal with all the paper work yourself, seek the assistance of a qualified professional. You might save yourself some money by just asking a friend or relative to do the application forms for you. But if a mistake is made and/or delays result, what was the real cost? In this situation, the old adage “you get what you paid for” comes to mind.

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 contents 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 amercado@monkgoodwin.com.

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