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I was denied a visa on the basis of 'misrepresentation'

Wednesday, January 15, 2014    

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Dear Mr Brown:

I was denied a visitor's visa and one of the stated reasons was misrepresentation. Please advise me whether I can resubmit an application or whether I have to wait for a certain permit.

— GS

Dear GS:

I am not certain of the nature of the misrepresentation. However, I will give you a general overview of misrepresentation and how it can affect applications. Under Canadian Immigration law, an applicant for a visa may be deemed inadmissible for misrepresentation.

Misrepresentation entails directly or indirectly giving false information or withholding material (important or substantial) facts relating to a relevant matter that induces or could possibly induce an error in the administration of granting a visa.

Misrepresentation is deemed material if it effectively forecloses avenues of inquiry, regardless of whether one intends or does not intend to deceive. It will be material if it is important enough to affect the process. Therefore, applicants either know or ought to know relevant information for a visa officer to make a decision. Applicants are responsible for fraudulent (purposeful) and negligent (careless) false information or omissions.

Therefore, the false information must be significant to affect the decision, but the intent to deceive is irrelevant.

Even in the case of a misrepresentation that was caught before the final assessment of the application does not assist the applicant. If the misrepresentation is later corrected, it also does not necessarily save the applicant either.

A person can misrepresent themselves by being silent on a question. Presenting outdated information to be accepted as current or true information constitutes engaging in misrepresentation. Misrepresentation extends to those who may not be aware of it or if it is unintentional. Individuals must ensure that their applications are truthful and supporting documents are genuine. For example, if an applicant attends a school which claims that it is accredited when in fact it is not, then it can negatively impact a visa application, even if the applicant is unaware that the school is not accredited.

System integrity

Matters relating to misrepresentation are treated very seriously, as false information and withholding information jeopardises the integrity of the immigration process which relies on the self-disclosure of the applicant. It is essential that applicants provide complete and truthful information throughout the process, as information affects whether or not a visa would be granted as visa officers try to screen applicants.

The government of Canada needs to protect the health and safety of Canadians and to maintain the security of Canadian society. Another important principle is the need to maintain the integrity of the immigration system in the face of misrepresentations made by applicants.

Obligations of the applicant

Anyone seeking admission to Canada has a general duty of candour which requires disclosure of material facts. The onus is placed on the applicant regarding completeness and accuracy. There are certain obligations on applicants for visas, and this includes providing:

* Truthful answers to all questions;

* All relevant evidence and documents that a visa officer reasonably requires;

* Information regarding any material changes affecting the application while it is being processed.

There is a practical exception in which applicants can demonstrate that they honestly and reasonably believed they were not withholding material information. Applicants are not necessarily experts. They are not expected to anticipate all the different kinds of information that immigration officials might be interested in. Therefore, the surrounding circumstances in each case must be considered in order to determine whether or not misrepresentation is material.

Information that is material may relate to identity, immigration status, marital status, criminality, history, credentials, family members, financial and employment statuses.

Individuals found inadmissible based on misrepresentation while outside Canada may be banned from submitting an application for two years.

Exemptions

Misrepresentation does not apply to protected people and people who claim refugee protection if a disposition about their claim is pending. It also does not apply to those abroad who are family members of protected persons. Some degree of subterfuge is needed for refugees to be able to escape from countries they are fleeing, such as false identity.

For further information visit jamaica2canada.com.

Antonn Brown, BA, (Hons), LLB, MSc, RCIC, is an immigration counsel, education agent and managing director of JAMAICA2CANADA.COM — a Canadian immigration & education firm in Kingston. Send questions/comments to jamaica2canada@gmail.com

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