Canada’s Immigration Program – Honesty is the best policy
Posted on - Jun 25, 2018
By Catherine Sas Q.C.
As a Vancouver immigration lawyer, I am often struck by the frequency with which clients come seeking help with an immigration matter that has arisen because of a lack of truthfulness in the application process. I am further surprised at the number of times that clients advise that they were told not be truthful by a former immigration professional.
There is simply no rationale for dishonesty in Canada’s immigration program.If you receive advice from an immigration professional to provide untruthful information, you should run in the other direction.
The consequences for providing false information in an immigration application are significant both for the individual applicant and anyone counselling misrepresentation in an immigration application. The Immigration Refugee and Protection Act (IRPA) at Section a0. (1)(a) provides as follows:
Section 40. (1) Misrepresentation – A permanent resident or a foreign national is inadmissible for misrepresentation
(a) for directly or indirectly misrepresenting or withholding material fact relating to a relevant matter that induces or could induce an error in the administration of this Act.
The penalty for misrepresentation – either direct or indirect – is a five-year ban from being able to make a future immigration application. This means that anything that anyone says on your behalf can lead to a finding of misrepresentation against you. You want to ensure that the information that you provide is completely accurate. It is no excuse to say that you were relying on your immigration professional.
Furthermore, immigration professionals who counsel their clients to commit misrepresentation are also subject to severe penalties. Section 126 of IRPA provides as follows:
Section 126. Counselling misrepresentation – Every person who knowingly counsels, induces, aids or abets or attempts to counsel, induce, aid or abet any person to directly or indirectly misrepresent or withhold material facts relating to a relevant matter that induces or could induce an error in the administration of this Act is guilty of an offence.
The penalties for counselling misrepresentation can garner a fine of up to $50,000 or imprisonment for up to two years, or both!
Immigration officers have considerable discretion in the decision-making process and often reward applicants for being candid and honest. A client of mine at my Vancouver immigration law practice recently returned to Canada after being incarcerated in the US for nearly four years. He is a permanent resident of Canada and he was returning to his wife and children, all Canadian citizens, and living in Canada. Given that he had been out of the country for so long, he had not met the residency requirement for maintaining permanent residence of being physically present in Canada for two out of five years. Upon entry the CBSA officer asked him where he had been. He told the officer that he had been serving a criminal sentence in the US for the past four years and was coming home to his family. The officer told him that he appreciated his honesty and allowed him into Canada marking in his passport that he was still a permanent resident.
In another case a common-law couple came to see me to obtain permanent resident status for both of them. Husband had a permanent resident application in process for many years and wanted to include his wife in the application. They had been together for nearly six years and his application had been pending prior to their becoming a couple. Their immigration professional had told them that including the wife in the husband’s application could prevent him obtaining permanent residence himself and advised them to wait until his application was finalized. They repeatedly asked him to include her and the immigration professional always refused. The husband was even asked to provide updated immigration forms and the immigration professional did not include the common-law wife in the application even though by this time they had lived together for many years. Clearly this was a direct misrepresentation that could have resulted in a refusal of the husband’s application and a five-year prohibition from making another application. When they came to see me, I advised that this needed to be remedied immediately. We provided very detailed statements explaining the advice that they had been given, year after year. The immigration officer accepted their explanations and added the wife to the application. They both became permanent residents in May of this year.
When I am meeting with clients regarding issues of misrepresentation or credibility in their immigration applications I often ask them a couple of questions, “Do you remember when you were about four or five years old and your Mother told you that honesty is the best policy?” They always nod their heads and say yes. Then I ask them “Did she ever change that advice”? They always shake their heads and say no. It makes the point. Honesty is always the best policy including in Canada’s immigration program.
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.
Related Topics: family, Immigration, worker