The Hazards of Relying on Regular Mail for Your Immigration Application - Canada

Those who are filling out their immigration applications on their own should be aware of an important decision recently released by the Federal Court.

Those who are filling out their immigration applications on their own should be aware of an important decision recently released by the Federal Court.

In December, 2007, Li Feng Mei applied for permanent residence in Canada on the basis of his work experience as a cook in a Chinese restaurant in Manitoba.

A few months after receiving the application, officials with Citizenship and Immigration Canada showed up at the restaurant to ask some questions of the applicant, as well as the head chef. The officers were suspicious of the claimed experience when they discovered some contradictions in the answers they were given.

On July 14, 2008 immigration officials wrote to Mei informing him of their concerns and asking him to provide verifiable proof of his employment, giving him 30 days to respond.

The applicant received the letter on Aug. 1, and sent a letter in reply on Aug. 10 via regular mail.

Three months passed. In January, the visa post sent Mei a letter to inform him it had not received a reply and, accordingly, was refusing his application. To make matters worse, CIC declared him to be inadmissible to Canada for two years for directly or indirectly misrepresenting or withholding material facts about his qualifications as an immigrant to Canada.

Mei cried foul, insisting he did send a response and that it would have answered the concerns raised. He then applied to the Federal Court for a judicial review of the decision.

The immigration department did not challenge Meiís assertion that he sent the letter. However, it denied receiving it and was thus entitled to make a decision after the expiry of the time given to the applicant to respond, arguing Mei never contacted the visa post to ensure it had received his response. Furthermore, the visa post didnít refuse his case immediately after the deadline passed. Accordingly, Mei had a full three months or so to ensure that the consulate had received his letter.

In October, Mr. Justice de Montigny ruled that, although Mei was entitled to send his response by regular mail, this did not detract from his obligation to satisfy immigration officials that he complied with all requirements of our immigration laws.

In other words, Mei bore the burden of providing proof of his qualifications. If the proof didnít reach the visa officer, that was his tough luck.

Meiís lawyer argued ďit is practically impossible for an applicant to verify if a letter sent has been received by the visa post or visa officer, and that forcing an applicant to follow up on communications sent would add a further step to an already complicated process.Ē

The judge didnít buy it, and even denied Mei the opportunity to appeal the decision.

My suggestion? If it's worth sending, it's worth sending by courier!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Guidy Mamann, Mamann, Sandaluk Immigration Lawyers
Guidy Mamann is the founding partner of Mamann, Sandaluk. Mr. Mamann was formerly employed as an immigration officer by the Department of Citizenship and Immigration at Torontoís Pearson international Airport.

He is one of only 33 lawyers in Ontario certified in Immigration Law and is one of only 13 lawyers in the province certified as a specialist in Refugee Protection Law. Only 12 lawyers in Ontario are certified in both fields.

Many of his high-profile and celebrated cases have attracted local, national, and international attention. He is frequently consulted as an expert by journalists, government, and non-governmental organizations (NGOís) on matters pertaining to immigration law and policy. He has also been rated as one of Canada's "frequently recommended" immigration lawyers by Lexpert, 'Canada's leading lawyer rating service.

Copyright Mamann, Sandaluk & Kingwell
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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