Posted on - Sep 20, 2017

by Catherine Sas Q.C.

Catherine Sas Q.C.

In this age of information technology, Canada’s department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) provides considerable online information for prospective immigrants. A visit to IRCC’s website (still listed under the former CIC acronym) on their home page provides the following:

SERVICES AND INFORMATION – Get Answers to Your Questions –

“Find quick and direct answers to frequently asked questions in our Help Centre”. A few more clicks and you are also invited to CALL US – 1-800-242-2100 (in Canada only) where they advise that IRCC Client Support Centre agents “can help you with general and case specific enquiries”. Sounds terrific – right? There is just one problem, the information that IRCC provides isn’t always correct and if you rely on it, they take no responsibility for their advice and you can lose your status in Canada or have your application refused.

This reality is highlighted in a recent email shared by an immigration lawyer colleague:

“This is in response to your inquiry sent on July 31 regarding working off-campus while holding part-time status during the final academic session of a program. We apologize for the contradiction on our webpages and any confusion that it may have created. Currently, the webpage that you linked is in error. Students are not currently eligible to work off-campus during the final academic session of a program if they are studying part-time as they do not satisfy the eligibility requirements set out in the PDI on off-campus work. We appreciate you bringing the discrepancy on our website to our attention and are working to correct it.”

Having met with many students over the years, I am aware that it is commonly understood within the student community that they are permitted to work off-campus in their last term of study if they are completing their program and their course load is less than full time. This common perception has been fostered by the information on the IRCC website. However, as the IRCC email above confirms, this information is not correct. Students that rely on this misinformation may be found to have been in breach of Canada’s immigration laws.

The well known maxim ” To Err is Human” is fitting for this dilemma. The immigration officials and agents that write on line application packages, provide bulletins or answer phone inquiries do their best to provide accurate information but as humans, they sometimes err. Reliance upon their misinformation is not a justification for non-compliance with Canada’s immigration laws or regulations. Fortunately, where it can be demonstrated that a person has relied on IRCC published misinformation, it is possible to remedy situations but only where you have clear proof of such incorrect advice.


Catherine Sas, Q.C. is a Vancouver immigration lawyer at Sas & Ing Immigration Law Centre in Vancouver, BC Canada. Catherine has been practicing law for over 25 years, and has been voted Vancouver’s Best Immigration Lawyer by the Georgia Straight newspaper for 6 consecutive years.

To learn more about immigrating to Canada, becoming a permanent Canadian resident or bringing your family to Canada, email Catherine Sas or call her at 1-604-689-5444.

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