Canada’s Official Immigration Website: You (Maybe) Don’t Need to Hire a Lawyer or Consultant

By Author: Admin | April 10, 2011

Recently, I blogged about the change in the visitor visa application forms which captured more information from visa seekers.  The new forms, with their more far-reaching queries, constitute a way to trap those with an unclear history of applying for a visa in the past.   The result can lead to a finding of misrepresentation by an officer.

There are other consequences to incorrectly completed forms besides misrepresentation.  These consequences can affect people who have never had any history of a visa application with Canada’s immigration department.   One example is when one files an application to be sponsored as a spouse for the first time and gets refused.

A composite client, who I’ll call Mr Chang,  wanted to sponsor his foreign-national  wife for a permanent resident visa to Canada.  He was not conversant in the English language so he hired a licensed representative to assist in the completion of application process.  Specifically, his representative provided assistance with the forms, and prepared his wife for her interview at the Hong Kong visa office.

The Hong Kong visa office refused his wife’s application, on the basis that she gave different answers to the officer that did not match those that were in the application forms she filled out with her representative.  She was also told about this concern during the interview.  Despite the inconsistent answers, the visa office did not make a finding of misrepresentation, but rather, issued a standard refusal letter (statingy, that she did not prove that she entered into a genuine marriage under Regulation four of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee protection Regulations).

Mr. Chang had a right of appeal at the Immigration Refugee Board in Canada.  As is the custom at the Immigration Refugee Board  (Appeal Division), he was examined in chief by his own lawyer, and cross examined by the government lawyer who is employed by the Canada Border Service Agency.  At the IAD, the incorrectly filled out forms came back to haunt him.

Under cross examination, he was asked about the process of completing the forms.  He was also asked about who introduced him to the representative.  He was asked why the answers in the forms did not match those of his wife’s at her interview with the visa officer in Hong Kong.  These are all relevant questions  Mr. Chang did not have any answer, but blamed the representative for inaccurate form completion.

The Federal Court has held that there was a duty of a visa officer to confront contradictions between supporting documents submitted by the visa applicant and oral responses of an applicant.  This case however, does not help a client who signed forms with incorrect information, and was, in fact given an opportunity by a visa officer to address the contradiction between application forms and oral answers.

Help – something Canada’s Official Immigration Website presumes you already obtained, or did not need

One last point.  Although most immigration forms are available on Canada’s official government website, and the Canadian government prominently on the CIC FAQs, discourages you from hiring an immigration lawyer or consultant, (almost like an immigration lawyer  to a visa application is akin to ordering unnecessary options on  a new car), the declaration that is in most of the visa application forms (and is in very, very fine print)  requiring a signature is as follows:

“I understand all the foregoing statements, having asked for and obtained an explanation on every point that was not clear to me.”

The presumption in the above waiver is that you have either understood everything in an  immigration/visa application form (which is unlikely), or you have consulted someone like an immigration lawyer during the course of completing your immigration forms.  In other words, you can fill out the forms on your own, at your own risk, but Canada’s immigration department will have already presumed you have asked someone for clarification (even if CIC has  discouraged you from hiring someone like a Canadian immigration lawyer).   This will allow either a visa officer and/or a CBSA lawyer to figuratively jump all over you upon discovering an error in the forms and impugn your credibility, thus jeopardizing the success of your visa application.


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I was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario Canada. I am an accomplished author and lecturer and am consulted by the media and other immigration lawyers and consultants on immigration matters and challenging immigration cases, appeals, and federal court matters.

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MY spouse [xxxxxx] has received her passport back with the immigrant Visa and landing papers and other related doxs. All of the dox are attatched for your references. congratulations and Thanks Thanks Thanks


Hello again Max

I just wanted to thank you again for your exertions yesterday and for all your preparation leading up to the hearing. I felt that I was well represented and that you articulated the issues and the argument for my case very clearly. Look forward to hearing from the judge next. Hope you are feeling better today,

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