Whenever applying for residency or any kind of visa to Canada, you always have an obligation to be honest. Providing false or inaccurate information that is relevant to your application is considered misrepresentation and can result in a finding of inadmissibility, having dire consequences for you and your family’s future return to Canada.
What is misrepresentation?
A permanent resident or foreign national can be found inadmissible to Canada due to misrepresentation when they provide information to the immigration authorities that is inconsistent, inaccurate, or incomplete. Any material facts which are either misstated or withheld that are relevant to your application into Canada is considered misrepresentation. Even if the information is provided or omitted by someone else, such as a family member or representative, it will be the visa applicant who will be responsible, even if they are unaware of the misrepresentation having occurred. Additionally, if the applicant is a dependent on the application of someone else who was found inadmissible for misrepresentation, they will also be considered inadmissible for misrepresentation.
Some examples of what can be misrepresentation:
- Failure to declare that you have been refused a visa for another country
- Failure to mention a family member
- Lying about your work history in attempt to secure a job in Canada
- Providing documents that have been forged or altered to contain inaccurate information
- Failure to declare criminal charges or convictions, even if they happened many years ago
What happens if you have been found to have misrepresented?
If there are concerns that you have misrepresented yourself on your immigration application, you will typically be notified of this through a Procedural Fairness Letter (PFL). However, this does not mean your entry into Canada has been refused, you still have a chance to argue your case and clarify why there have been errors or omissions with your application. In your PFL, you will be given a specific amount of time to respond in writing, or in some circumstances, an interview will be scheduled to help an immigration officer understand what occurred. If requested, you will have to provide a detailed response with any accompanying documents within your designated deadline. If you receive a PFL, this is your only chance to respond before you will be found guilty of misrepresentation and it is vital that you respond effectively.
After reviewing your response, the immigration authorities will determine whether there has been misrepresentation. If you are found to have misrepresented yourself, you will be inadmissible to Canada and remain inadmissible to enter Canada or apply for any visas for five years. If your application was made within Canada, the five-year bar will commence once you are removed from Canada. The inadmissibility bar subsequently affects your family members too. All dependent family members such as your spouse or children will be considered inadmissible for the 5 years and will be barred from obtaining any temporary visas or permanent resident visas.
Undeclared US visa refusals can be a ground for misrepresentation
A common ground for a finding of misrepresentation is where the applicant did not record US visa refusals in their Canadian visa application forms. The visa application forms will generally ask a question as to whether the applicant has previously been refused a visa to Canada or any other country.
Often applicants will omit to mention US visa refusals when answering this question, either because they misunderstand the question, don’t think the US visa refusals are relevant, or don’t think the Canadian immigration authorities will be aware of the US visa refusals. However, Canada and the United States share their immigration computer systems with each other, and as a result, the Canadian immigration authorities can easily check to see if an applicant has any previous US immigration history, including US visa refusals. If they find refusals not mentioned in the application forms, they will typically send a fairness letter to the applicant alleging misrepresentation and providing 30 days to respond.
It is difficult to defend against these allegations if there were in fact US visa refusals that were omitted. Any admission that there was in fact omitted information in the visa application will likely lead to a finding of misrepresentation. Likewise a denial is unlikely to be sufficient in itself unless the applicant has some proof that the allegations are unfounded.
What can you do if you are found guilty of misrepresentation?
Foreign nationals who have been found to have misrepresented, such as those who applied for a temporary resident visa, study permit, work permit, or for permanent residence, may seek judicial review through the Federal Court.
However, the standard for overturning a finding of misrepresentation is quite high. Courts will rarely accept the argument that you as the applicant misunderstood a question in the application process or was unaware of misrepresented information in your application. It is always best practice to be proactive to ensure you are completing your application honestly.
If a permanent resident is found guilty of misrepresentation, they will lose their permanent resident status in Canada. Permanent residents can appeal a finding of misrepresentation through the Immigration Appeal Division.
How Can We Help
The Law Office of Matthew Jeffery, has over 20 years of experience in guiding individuals through the visa application process. If you have received a PFL or are found to have misrepresented, contact us to see if we can assist with your misrepresentation case.