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 sets out to be prove 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 fall under the category of misrepresentation, a determination that leads to automatic refusal and a five-year ban on applying for any type of visa to 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;
In other words, whether you forgot to indicate a previous refusal for a visa to another country or you purposefully withheld that fact, it is considered misrepresentation all the same. The second clause indicates that regardless of whether you knew your sponsor in Canada was misrepresenting you or not, you 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 you know what information is relevant and what isn’t? To avoid any confusion, you should turn to the relevant law for a definition. In short, any letter in your file that can potentially lead the processing officer to a wrong decision due to the withholding of information — whether directly or indirectly, purposefully or not — is considered misrepresentation and will lead to a ban and refusal.
That said, some minor mistakes are not crucial, relevant, or material. To use a real-life example, if the applicant forgets to select “yes” under the question, “Have you ever been refused any type of visa to any country before?,” but was previously refused a US visa, they will be refused but not banned. They may even get a letter from the government stating that the existence of the US refusal spoiled the candidate’s credibility. The applicant’s next move would be to submit another application for the same type of visa, apologizing for the technical mistake and disclosing the prior US visa refusal. The officer may tolerate the previous mistake, in which case the application would likely be approved.
A technical mistake such as the wrong date of birth attributed to a parent or 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, may only 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.
Then there’s the case of relevant and material misrepresentation. Again, let’s use a real-life 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 as long as it remains unofficial, such experience is not counted for.
Henry decides to file his application using a reference letter from his employer, who agrees to confirm, over the phone, 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. In terms of factual experience, it may be considered as misrepresentation, but not always.
What’s worse is that Henry applied for a visitor visa and showed his work salary as 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 all the employees and management, and submitting photographic evidence to the Canadian government for the final decision.
Overall, you 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 you want to be hung out to dry by someone you invited to stay in your 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 will find a legitimate and straightforward way to become a part of Canadian society.