Making the case against misrepresentation
Posted on - Sep 15, 2021
By Victor Ing
For years, my colleague Catherine Sas, Q.C. and I have written blogs to warn the public about the serious consequences of committing a misrepresentation in immigration matters, which carries a five-year ban from making any future immigration applications. Unfortunately, misrepresentation continues to be a serious problem in the realm of immigration practice. That is why I’d like to explore the reasons why people choose to commit misrepresentations and explain why you should not fall into this trap. Read on if you want to learn more about two of the most common reasons that lead people to commit misrepresentations.
What I have learned as an immigration lawyer after many years of practice is that the reasons people are tempted to misrepresent are complicated. Yes, there are a small group of people who will misrepresent because they want to take shortcuts and have no problem with doing things like preparing fraudulent supporting documents. On the other end of the spectrum, there are also a small group of people who truly do not know that they are misrepresenting their case. However, there are considerably more people who fall somewhere in between and will intentionally mispresent, or at least consider it, because they have been misled to believe that there really is no other choice.
The first common reason that people misrepresent is because they have previously committed an immigration infraction or they have a criminal record and they are afraid of the consequences. These might include the following scenarios:
- Applicant has a previous criminal record.
- Applicant has engaged in periods of illegal work or study.
- Applicant has remained in Canada without status.
In such circumstances, applicants may be tempted to withhold such information, thereby committing a misrepresentation, because they feel that they will not be able to come to Canada or remain in Canada if they disclose it.
What is not commonly understood is that not all immigration infractions are considered equally serious. Ironically, the most serious immigration infraction of all is committing a misrepresentation but many people will misrepresent to avoid the consequences of a lesser infraction. Do NOT fall into this trap!
In fact, many immigration infractions and even criminal records can be overcome through different legal mechanisms, and this can sometimes occur simply by the passage of time.
For example, the consequences of engaging in illegal work or study can usually be mitigated if you have stopped these activities for at least six months. Illegal study or work is also considered much less serious when a person has a study or work permit but fails to comply with the conditions specified on them. For instance, this would occur in cases where a person is authorized to work for Employer A but worked for Employer B instead (or at the same time).
The same applies to criminal records. Having a criminal record does not automatically prevent someone from being approved for a visa or permit. In some cases, a criminal record will not
disqualify a person from applying for Canadian immigration status if their record has been expunged back home or if they were convicted of an offence that is not a crime in Canada.
More commonly, a criminal record can be overcome through other legal mechanisms such as the issuance of a Temporary Resident Permit, which allows a person to come to Canada or remain in Canada despite having a criminal record.
The second common reason that people misrepresent is because they are often told that visa refusal rates are very high in their home country and the only way to overcome this is to go to Canada by any means possible and then their chances of staying will be improved.
I have seen this scenario take many forms, including:
- Applicant applies to visit a ‘friend’ and then later declares that this friend is their boyfriend or girlfriend or spouse.
- Applicant applies to visit Canada and then soon after arriving they apply for a work permit, which raises doubts about their initial purpose of travel to Canada.
- Applicant applies to work in one occupation (usually a low skilled occupation because they believe it will be easier to be approved for a working visa) and later applies to work in another occupation, claiming work experience and credentials they did not previously disclose.
Each of these cases can be, and often is, treated as a misrepresentation.
It never benefits you to be inconsistent in your immigration applications. A person who says one thing but does another is not trustworthy in the eyes of an immigration official who can and often does refer back to previous applications to see what was declared regarding their intentions in Canada.
Furthermore, your eligibility for a temporary visa or for permanent residency doesn’t change depending on whether you are inside or outside of Canada.
The truth is that there are plenty of reasons as to why people think they need to misrepresent. In their minds, the benefits outweigh the risks. The problem is that once a misrepresentation occurs it will last forever and, more often than not, a misrepresentation needs to be repeated in one or more subsequent applications, compounding the problem, and your stress levels, even further.
What is the issue you are concerned with? Are you sure the issue cannot be overcome in some other way? How does your plan of action help you reach your long-term immigration goals such as obtaining permanent residency in the future?
Experienced immigration representatives can help you navigate these questions and find long-term, sustainable solutions to your issues. There are no shortcuts but, in my experience, there is usually a way forward if you have a good immigration plan and the patience to make it work. You can always choose not to misrepresent, and I urge you to avoid the trap of believing otherwise.
Victor Ing is a Vancouver immigration lawyer at Sas & Ing Immigration Law Centre in Vancouver, BC Canada, and provides a full range of immigration services.
To learn more about immigrating to Canada, becoming a permanent Canadian resident or bringing your family to Canada, email Victor Ing or call him at 1-604-689-5444.
Related Topics: family, Immigration, worker