What are my options if a Canadian immigration officer refuses my application?
Those who wish to immigrate to Canada generally need to submit an application to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) department. This department deals with citizenship and other immigration issues. Although the country has a reputation for an “open and welcoming immigration policy,” particularly with concern to skilled immigrants and family reunification, there are instances when an officer will deny an application. When this occurs the applicant will receive a letter from the decision maker that explains the reason for the denial. Examples can include the presence of a criminal record, medical reasons that could put excessive demand on the health systems, failure to provide financial support, concerns for security, misrepresentation, a failure to comply with the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), or allegations of human rights violations.
Those who face a denial have options. In some cases, it is possible to fight back against a refusal. If your situation fits one of the three categories below, you could have a successful case to counter an immigration refusal.
Option #1: Wrong in fact
If the decision was based on a mistake in fact, the applicant can push back and provide information to clarify. This could apply to an error in the recorded time spent in the country prior to the application or inaccurate records of the naturalization test.
Option #2: Wrong in law
It is also possible the officer did not apply the law appropriately. For example, the law requires an applicant to be present in Canada for 1,095 days in the last three of five years prior to the application for citizenship. This is different than the law for permanent resident, which is 730 days. This is just one of many laws an officer could get wrong when making their decision.
Option #3: Unreasonable
Some decisions are simply unreasonable. In a recent example the Canadian government initially refused citizenship for a 99-year-old woman who had spent more than 80 years in the country. The refusal was based on the inability of the woman to produce a document that was almost a century old — her birth certificate. She was able to provide evidence of living in Toronto since the 1930s, voting in almost every election and regularly paying taxes. Upon initial review, this was not enough. However, after pushing back the government agreed to refusal was unreasonable and granted the citizenship request.
This line of defense can also work if the government denies the application due to misrepresentation if the misrepresentation within the application was an honest and innocent mistake. In these situations, the applicant may be able to provide evidence to support this claim for judicial review.
It is important to point out that the process to fight back after a rejected application is often subject to time limitations. An applicant generally has 30 days to file an application for judicial review.