Misrepresentation – To Be or Not to Be
When applying for any type of Canadian visa, dishonesty, ignorance, or negligence can lead to inadmissibility.
Those who submit applications for either permanent or temporary residence in Canada rarely consider the methods employed by the Canadian government to check their background and the veracity of their application information. This article argues that they really should.
Some applicants may think they are smart enough to gamble with the government and misrepresent themselves on purpose, others neglect to put relevant information on their application simply because they don’t know it’s relevant, and still others make technical mistakes by marking a yes/no answer incorrectly.
All these and many more errors could fall under the category of misrepresentation, a determination that leads to a refusal and a five-year ban on applying for any type of visa to Canada, or a removal order if the subject is in Canada. The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the primary federal legislation regulating Canadian immigration, defines misrepresentation thusly:
40 (1) A permanent resident or a foreign national is inadmissible for misrepresentation
(a) for directly or indirectly misrepresenting or withholding material facts relating to a relevant matter that induces or could induce an error in the administration of this Act;
(b) for being or having been sponsored by a person who is determined to be inadmissible for misrepresentation;
One example of 40 (1) (a) is an applicant who forgets to indicate a previous refusal for a visa to another country or who purposefully withholds that fact; it is considered misrepresentation all the same. Paragraph 40 (1)(b) indicates that regardless of whether an applicant knows their sponsor in Canada was misrepresenting them or not, they will be banned if the sponsor is found to be inadmissible for that reason.
It is worth noting that a permanent resident or foreign national continues to be inadmissible for misrepresentation for a period of five years following a final determination of inadmissibility, if the determination is outside Canada, and the date the removal order is enforced if the determination is in Canada.
So how do applicants know what information is relevant and what isn’t? To avoid any confusion, they should turn to the relevant law for a definition. In short, any information and documents in their file that can potentially lead the processing officer to a wrong decision due to false information and/or the withholding of information — whether directly or indirectly, purposefully or not — is considered misrepresentation and will lead to a ban and refusal or removal.
A technical mistake such as the wrong date of birth attributed to an adult sibling in one of the application forms for permanent residence, or even a one or two-day discrepancy in the time the applicant lived at a particular address, could be considered minor errors, and the applicant would need a clarification request letter from the government granting them the right to explain the issue; such mistakes would not necessarily result in a refusal or ban.
That said, some honest mistakes are not crucial, relevant, or material as well. Though the careless non-disclosure of a U.S. visa refusal would typically be considered major, a real-life example shows otherwise. Here the applicant forgot to select “yes” under the question, “Have you ever been refused any type of visa to any country before?,” but was previously refused a U.S. visa; he was refused but not banned. He got a letter from the government stating that the existence of the U.S. refusal spoiled his credibility. His next move was to submit another application for the same type of visa, apologizing for the technical mistake and disclosing the prior U.S. visa refusal. The officer tolerated the previous mistake and the application was approved.
Then there’s the case of relevant and material misrepresentation. Again, let’s use a real-life provincial nominee candidate, Henry, as an example. Henry works hard as a construction worker; he spends 12 hours a day at work and is compensated for it under the table (non-taxed). It is quite common in many countries to work for cash, when neither employer nor employee reveals working relationships to the government to avoid paying taxes. In this instance, the work experience satisfies the requirement of being full-time and paid, but how to account for it?
Henry decides to file his application using a reference letter from his employer, who agrees to confirm Henry’s employment, salary, and duties and conditions. Henry is happy and submits his application, certain that he’s in the clear...
And then comes the request letter from the government of Canada to submit a taxation reference, an extract from the taxation inspection of accrued wages, and paid taxes. That’s when Henry’s heart sinks. When he gets the taxation document, it’s obvious that he earns nothing. Although he didn’t lie or conceal anything, the discrepancies between his work experience and the official documents lead to a misrepresentation determination.
What’s worse is that Henry’s work salary is the financial basis for his visit to Canada and subsequent expenses there. So, without a penny to his name according to the tax department, Henry will likely not be able to cover his expenses to visit Canada. This fact, if not revealed, would have brought the officer to the wrong decision on the application. It is therefore a misrepresentation, resulting in a five-year ban.
The most common misrepresentation issues typically involve: settlement funds; “adjusted” work experience to correspond to the in-demand list of occupations or employer expectations; the withholding of previous criminal troubles, refusals, and deportations in other countries; and fraudulent documents.
It is foolish to assume that the government simply Googles the applicant’s name and scours their social media profiles, then dials the phone numbers provided in the documentation. In reality, the First Secretary of the Consulate of Canada in the given country verifies the provided information by visiting the applicant’s workplace, searching for them, interviewing the employees and management, and submitting photographic evidence to the Canadian government for the final decision.
Overall, applicants should think twice when it comes to gambling on misrepresentation. Carefully survey the information on your application and put yourself in the government’s place. Would anyone want to be hung out to dry by someone they invited to stay in their home? No. And nor does Canada.
The message is simple: do not lie. There are more than 70 immigration pathways to Canada and if you want to come temporarily or permanently, you should find a legitimate and straightforward way to become part of Canadian society.