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CANADA IMMIGRATION FAQs
(Frequently Asked Questions)


This is general information and not legal advice. Every case is unique. Also, the law or policy may have changed since this web page was prepared. Thus some answers may not be accurate. So hire an experienced lawyer or CSIC member or a Quebec Notary Public for your case. Randal Montgomery will not be responsible for any adverse results resulting from blindly following the information presented here. For example, just after this page was updated new programs were anounced: There is now a program where you can come with a one year work visa (renewable!) instead of just part of a year. This is under NAFTA and is not for unskilled farm workers and fruit pickers. It is for professionals such as social workers, engineers, technicians, technologists etc. BUT you need a job offer (but it does not have to be approved by HRDC) There is also another new program like the seasonal agricultural program but it applies to many unskilled or low skilled occupation (NOC level C or D). You get a 12 month work visa, then return home for at least 4 months before you can apply again.
Abbreviation
Meaning
CIC
CBSA
CPC
CSIC
DOJ
FC
H&C
HRDC
IAD
IO
IRB
IRPA
JR
NAFTA
NOC
PR
PRRA
RCMP
RPD
VO
Citizenship & Immigration Canada
Canadian Border Services Agency
Case Processing Centre
Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants
Department of Justice
Federal Court
Humanitarian & Compassionate
Human Resources Development of Canada
Immigration Appeal Division
Immigration Officer
Immigration & Refugee Board
Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
Judicial Review
North American Free Trade Agreement
National Occupations Classification
Permanent Resident or Residency
Pre-Removal Risk Assessment
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Refugee Protection Division
Visa Officer or Visa Officer

1. I am a PR in Canada. Can I sponsor my 25 year old brother? He is married and works in a factory. No. He does not qualify as a member of the Family Class.
2.

I failed my refugee claim. My lawyer applied at Federal Court, but later told me "leave was denied".

(a) What does that mean?

After reading the written arguments and legal research submitted by both your lawyer and the DOJ's lawyer, the FC judge has refused permission to hear the case (hold a hearing). In other words your application for JR (judicial review) of the refugee decision has been denied.
  (b) Can I appeal this or try again with another lawyer or present new evidence? No.
3. I am here as a visitor and my status will expire in a few weeks. I have married a Canadian while here. Can we apply for me to get PR using the new Spouse-in-Canada Law? Yes, but CIC will rarely extend your visitor status for that reason, and by the time CIC receives your completed Spouse-in-Canada Application, your visitor status will have expired, and then CIC will only let your stay in Canada 60 more days even though it now takes at least 6 months to process the huge number of Spouse-in-Canada Applications (Scarboro CIC office is only now processing those from two years ago).
4. My representative has 25 years experience but he/she is not a lawyer and is not a member of CSIC. Can he/she still represent me (for a fee)? He or she can continue to represent you until April 13, 2008, but not for any new matters or applications. A new matter is anything that occurs on or after April 13, 2004.
  (a) But he is your father! It makes no difference. My father is neither a CSIC member nor a lawyer so had to stop being an immigration consultant despite his great experience, reputation, connections and success rate. He can still provide help for free but then he would be competing with me so I asked him to stop.
5. I tried to sponsor my parents but the VO denied it. My representative belongs to the CSIC. We want to file an appeal of the refusal. Can he/she represent me? Probably not. The IAD is not CIC so the IAD will consider the appeal a new matter and since your representative does not belong to CSIC and is not a Canadian Lawyer, nor a Quebec Notary Public, the IAD will not let him/her represent you. He/she can publicly continue to represent you in dealings with immigration officers in regard to the sponsorship application if the appeal succeeds. Best hire a lawyer with IAD experience to appeal (within 60 days of your being made aware of the VO decision.)
6. A VO refused to let me sponsor some relatives. My lawyer appealed to FC and has been granted "Leave". What does this mean? What happens next? The Federal Court has read the written arguments from both sides (DOJ opposes every application on behalf of the CIC) and has granted permission to hear the case. Actually it is a judicial review of the decision, not an appeal, so you can't present fresh/new evidence. According to the Federal Court Act your lawyer must be a Canadian Lawyer in order to attend at Federal Court and argue your case. You do not need to attend or participate in the vast majority of such hearings.
7. How long does it take the Canadian Consulate in Islamabad to process applications? 12-18 months on average.
8. I came under the Entrepreneur Class and my family and I are doing okay. We bought a house (down payment and $200,000 mortgage) and a new mini-van (paid $5000 down and are making monthly payments).One son works for a supermarker and the other is a varsity student. We have been here three years and by next year our annual gross business revenue will be over $250,000. We have a middle class lifestyle. Do we need to worry?

Absolutely yes. This fake question is from one of my actual cases. Unless you are making a substantial contribution to the Canadian economy you can lose your conditional PR status. Several entrepreneurs were deported because of this. You need to have met the conditions during at least one of your first three years in Canada. For details of the Business Classes visit:

http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/business/index.html

9. In the Investor Class, can I earn income from the $400,000 I have to loan to Canada? No. The money is locked in and you can't use it for any other investments either. However various parties are willing to lend you a majority of that money during the lock-in period, to do whatever you want with it, but you must pay them interest and sign over the $400,000 Promissary Note from the Government of Canada to them to secure the loan. For example the private lending company may lend you $300,000 and you might pay a total of $100,000 interest on it over the five years. You do not have to pay them the $300,000 loan principle. You keep it, because after five years they get "your" $400,000 from the Canadian government. Thus they get $500,000 for lending you $300,000 for five years. You would not enter this agreement unless you expected to earn more than $100,000 with the $300,000.
10. I want to emigrate to Canada as a Skilled Worker, but I don't want to write the CELPIP or IELTS tests. My English is very good. Can I succeed? If you can get 67 points on the other categories, then you can succeed. Without CELPIP or IELTS scores you will be given a zero for English. You could offer to write an essay for the visa officer but he/she would not accept this substitute in the vast majority of cases.
11. Where can I find information about the Self-Employed Class? Is this the same as Skilled Worker?

Self-Employed is one of the three Business Classes. Visit http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/pub/busimm.html for a summary of the Business Class requirements. Skilled Workers are a separate category. See:
http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/skilled/index.html

12. CIC is trying to deport me. If I marry a Canadian can I automatically remain in Canada legally? Possibly under the new (2005) Spouse -in-Canada policies. However this application takes 6 - 24 months and you could be deported before then, as early as 60 days after the application is filed! (There is one Federal Court case saying you can't and another saying you can!) Also, CIC may decide it was a marriage done only to prevent your deportation ("marriage of convenience") and deny the application. Marrying a Canadian is also helpful in an H & C application or an IAD appeal of your deportation where H & C factors are considered.
13. When I arrived in Canada I given a removal order (I had no visa for Canada) and I made a refugee claim. I failed my refugee claim. Can I appeal this to the IAD? No, as of mid 2005 your remedy would be to apply for judicial review at the FC, but the IRB may soon set up its own appeal division called RAD. (The IRB consists of various divisions including the Immigration Div., the Refugee Protection Div., the Immigration Appeal Div., and it may soon have the Refugee Appeal Div.)
14. I failed my refugee hearing but a month later got a document from home that would prove my case. What can I do with it? Nothing at the RPD, nor at the FC. It would be very useful and extremely important for your PRRA.
15. I failed my refugee claim 3 years ago. I did not apply for a Judicial Review at Federal Court because legal aid wouldn't cover me and I couldn't afford a lawyer. I did later pay him for an H & C Application but it was refused last year and then we applied for PRRA and it was refused. I have gone to a new counsel (not a lawyer) who says he will fix things for $10,000.00 should I hire him? There are only two possible remedies left so if your counsel won't explain them to you I would be very suspicious. Whether $10,000.00 is reasonable or very high depends on what your counsel has in mind. No one can really guarantee results so I would avoid anyone who promises to "fix things". If he or she says he or she is intending to bribe someone, contact the RCMP.
16.

I am a PR and on welfare and I want to sponsor my wife to come to Canada.

(a) Will there be any problem because I am receiving Social Assistance?

(a) Yes. The law says your income and financing are not relevant to sponsoring a spouse, but buried in the regulations is a provision that allows a visa officer to refuse an immigrant visa to someone who may not be able to support themself where the sponsor can't support them. Almost always the VO will use this to refuse spouses (because they fear that the immigrant spouse will also end up on welfare).
17. I am under a removal order, so I started an H & C application and filed it. I heard that it takes up to 2 years before it will be decided, so can I relax until then? No. Lately H&C's have been taking three years to be decided and regardless of the time involved, there is no "stay of removal" with an H&C, so you can be deported at any time. If the H&C is decided in your favor after you have been deported, CIC will send your PR card to the VO nearest you for you to pick up and then you can return to Canada as a Permanent Resident (at your expense).
18. I am a female PR. I have a good job in Toronto. I am only 18 years old but I went to my home country for a vacation of two weeks and met a man and got married. (a) Can I sponsor him? (a) Yes, but CIC will probably refuse it saying it is a marriage of convenience.
  (b) If it is refused what can I do? (b) You can appeal the decision to the IAD within 30 days of receiving it.
  (c) That sounds expensive and complicated. What if instead I contact my MP (Member of Parliament)? (c) The MP may write a standard letter in support but this will have little effect unless the MP is a Cabinet Minister and gets personally involved in the case (very rare). Legally, such a letter is irrelevant to the VO, even more so since the decision was already made. You could use the letter at the IAD but again it will probably have little effect on your appeal.
19. I failed my hearing at the IRB but a month later got a document from home that would prove my case. How do I get the IRB or CIC to consider this new evidence? As far as the IRB is concerned your case is over. You can apply to the appropriate division of the IRB to re-open the case (motion to re-open), but they will only agree if you can convince them that this evidence existed before your hearing and had made reasonable efforts to get it, and there were good reasons beyond your control which prevented you from getting it in time. You need an experienced immigration lawyer to make these legal and factual arguments, but chances of success are very small. (Even if the Board had finished the hearing but not yet made its decision you would have a hard time persuading them to receive the new evidence before making the decision, but your chance of success in that case would be high enough to make the effort worthwhile.) As far as CIC, they don't care. It has nothing to do with them except if you do a PRRA Application. Then it would be very, very useful and would increase your chances. Of course the PRRA Officer might consider the evidence phoney since it arrived afer your IRB hearing. As far as judicial reviews at Federal Court, you cannot show or even mention the existence of new evidence.
20. What are the success rates of PRRA applications? Across Canada between two and four percent. So far I have lost only one.
21. What are my chances of success with an H & C Application? It depends on about eight factors. Some cases have no chance, others are very strong. Success also depends on which Senior Immigration Officer (which local office) makes the final decision if there has been an approval in principle. The overall success rate is low, about 20% where it includes a well written and well documented fear of persecution. In my own practice I have not yet lost an H&C application.
22. One counsel quoted me $500 for an application, another $3,000. Is there any reason I should not go with cheaper counsel? Many reasons. How much time and effort will they put into your application? How many such applications has that counsel done? How many succeeded? How many years of immigration law experience do they have? How good is their written English? Is this person a consultant, a lawyer from your home country, a former Canadian I.O., or a Canadian lawyer in good standing?. The latter is worth the most, followed by the former I.O. A few lawyers (such as myself) are both, so we charge more.
23. I think I qualify to sponsor my parents and my 2 brothers and 3 sisters (all aged under 22). I work full time, and my wife works part time. My wife and I have one child and we are supporting her mother, who lives in our home in Mississauga. How much income do I need to satisfy CIC? Your family size would be the four of you in Mississauga, plus the sponsorees (2+2+3=7), for a total of 4+7=11. You would need to prove an income of $48,060 + (4 x $4271.00)= $48,060 + 17,084 = $65,144. After February 1, 2005 you would need more.
24. I got status as a refugee/ protected person and applied under sec. 176 for permanent residence for my spouse and dependent children, but the Visa Office in Egypt rejected my children aged 22 and 25 saying they were not really full-time students, and rejected my husband saying he belonged to a terrorist organization (sec. 34(1)(f) of IRPA). Can I appeal this to the IAD? No, because you applied under IRPA Regulation 176 and so this is not a Family Class sponsorship, so you have to try Judicial Review at the Federal Court. (At present I am legally challenging the refusal of the IAD to take jurisdiction over such refusals.)
25. In the Entrepreneur Class, can I hire a close relative (a Permanent Resident of Canada) to fulfil the requirements of hiring at least one person who is a PR of Canadian Citizen? No.The Assisted Relative program was cancelled some years ago.
26. Am I safe from being deported after filing a PRRA and before it is decided? If you filed the PRRA within two weeks of it being given to you by an officer at a pre-removal interview, yes. If you filed it late or after the date you were supposed to leave Canada, no.
27. I failed my PRRA and am due to be deported very soon, but my lawyer applied to the FC to judcially review the PRRA decision. Can I stay while the Court decides it? There is no statutory (law-written) stay for a judical review of a PRRA, but your lawyer can also apply (make a motion) for an emergency stay of removal. Even if the motion is successful (most aren't) it only allows you to remain for some set period, usually a few months e.g. until the PRRA Judical Review is decided or an H&C decision which was filed at least several months ago is decided.
28. I was deported last year. Can I come back to Canada as a visitor (one needs a visa to travel to Canada from my country)? You need to ask your nearest Canadian Consulate for an "Authorization to Return" and pay the $400 fee and hire a lawyer to write submissions to go with it. CIC (the VO) will likely refuse to issue it. They might issue it if you tried again in a few years, if the reason you were deported was not crime, terrorism or committing a serious immigration fraud.
29.

I have been in the US illegally for awhile and have no visitor visa for Canada.

(a) Can I cross over to Canada by foot or car and make a refugee claim?

(a) Not unless you fit under various exceptions to the Safe Third Country Agreement (came into effect Dec. 29, 2004). So far the USA is the only country designated as Safe Third. These exceptions are a bit complex. Basically if you are 18+ and unmarried you must have a relative in Canada, they must be a certain type of relative, and depending on their relation to you, they must have a certain status here. If you are under 18 and not married you usually do not need a relative in Canada, but if your parents are in the US then you cannot claim. A few countries are exempt from the Safe Third Agreement, notably Zimbabwe. (Zimbabwe citizens in the US can claim at the Canadian border.) Regardless of the Safe Third Country provisions, anyone in Canada (regardless of how they got into Canada) trying to make a refugee claim needs to be determined eligible by an Immigration Officer. If you already are a Convention Refugee elsewhere you are not eligible. If you failed a claim in Canada previously you cannot come back and try again, but if you failed a claim anywhere else you can try to get refugee status in Canada, subject to the Safe Third Country provisions.
  (b) What if I fly or take a ferry? (b) This is legally possible but practically impossible because almost certainly you won't be allowed on the plane or boat and will be arrested by US border protection officers.
30. I am a male Canadian citizen aged 46. I was originally from Bangladesh. Recently I went on vacation to Thailand and met a girl aged 17. We got married. Can I sponsor her to come to Canada to live with me as my wife? Yes, but CIC (via the VO) will surely refuse this as a marriage of convenience. You can appeal within 30 days to the IAD.
31. I got status as a refugee/ protected person and applied under Regulation 176 for PR status for my spouse and dependent children. Can I also get status for other relatives this way, e.g. non-dependent children, parents ? No. Sec. 176 is only for spouses, common-law spouses and dependent children.
32. What is a non-dependant child? There is a lot of caselaw from litigation about this but generally it means a child who is 22 or over and is married; or is 22 plus and is single, working (or not a continous full-time student at an approved school since before age 22) and healthy (i.e. not dependant on parents because of a mental or physical disability that began before age 22). Again, this is a simplification and the issue of child dependency is complex (e.g. what if the child turns 22 during the application process? gets divorced and becomes dependant on parents again? gets married before 22 but is still a student and still dependant on parents? takes a vacation from studies? is 22 + but dependant on parents due to mental retardation but declared inadmissible to Canada because his/her problems will require treatment in Canada? is a child from a previous marriage and partly relies on his/her other parent?). The issue of adopted children is also complicated and usually ends up at the IAD or FC.
33. I am in Canada on a student visa. Can I legally work off campus without a work permit? Only in the provinces of Quebec, New Brunswick and Manitoba.
34. Is there a difference between a temporary resident visa and a temporary residence permit? Yes, the visa (TRV) is like what used to be called a visitor visa, whereas the permit (TRP) is issued (if your application succeeds) by the Minister of Immigration to allow people who normally are legally prohibited from being in Canada to be here for the duration of the permit. (See "authorization to return" in Q. 28)