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How to Prevent Misrepresentation in Your Canadian Immigration Application

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One of the gravest errors an immigration applicant can commit is misrepresentation, a term denoting the submission of false information or documents to Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) as part of the immigration application process. It is crucial to bear in mind two key aspects regarding misrepresentation:

  • Innocent Mistakes: Misrepresentation can occur even if applicants unintentionally make errors in their application details or submit inaccurate documents to IRCC. Despite the innocence of the mistake, it is still considered a form of fraud, making it a serious offense liable to prosecution.
  • Fraudulent Nature: Misrepresentation is categorized as a form of fraud, elevating it to the status of a serious crime with potential legal consequences.

How Does Misrepresentation Occur in my Immigration Application?

Misrepresentation commonly arises from mistakes in application details or the submission of documents with incorrect, unauthorized, or forged information in support of the application. Failing to disclose pertinent information to IRCC during the immigration application process is also regarded as misrepresentation.

Therefore, any errors, omissions of relevant information, or inaccuracies found in the following documents could potentially constitute misrepresentation to IRCC:

  • Your application document (typically a form with the identification code “IMM”).
  • Passport(s) and other identification documents.
  • Visas or electronic travel authorizations (eTA).
  • Diplomas, degrees, education credential assessments (ECA), proof of acceptance or graduation documents, or equivalent papers.
  • Proof of employment documents, such as job offer letters, apprenticeship or trade papers, or related documents.
  • Certificates of birth, marriage, final divorce, annulment, separation, or death.
  • Police certificates and/or clearances.
  • Any other documents supporting your permanent or temporary residence applications (including work, study, or visit visas).

Furthermore, any misrepresentation that occurred in obtaining supporting documents, such as providing false information about employment history to secure a job offer in Canada, may also be deemed misrepresentation.

How to Prevent Misrepresentation in Your Immigration Application

To steer clear of misrepresentation in your immigration application, a crucial step is to meticulously review all details and documents supporting your submission. Given that anything submitted to Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) as part of your application can have legal implications, thorough checks on all information are highly advisable.

Due to the complexity of immigration applications and the varied array of documents and information required, many applicants opt to enlist the services of an immigration lawyer. This decision not only enhances their protection but also increases the likelihood of a successful application.

What are the potential repercussions of being found guilty of misrepresentation?

As previously mentioned, misrepresentation is regarded as a form of fraud. Consequently, if you are determined to be guilty of misrepresentation, your immigration application will be denied.

Furthermore, depending on the severity of the misrepresentation and the unique circumstances of each case, potential consequences may include:

  • A ban on entering Canada for a minimum of 5 years.
  • Acquisition of a permanent record of fraud with IRCC.
  • Revocation of your status as a permanent resident or Canadian citizen.
  • Implication of any sponsors on your immigration application in the misrepresentation finding.
  • Facing criminal charges by IRCC.
  • Deportation from Canada.

What to Do If Facing the Risk or Accusation of Misrepresentation

In situations where applicants are at risk of or have been accused of misrepresentation, there are potential avenues for prevention and remedy that they can explore.

Procedural Fairness Letter

In some instances, prior to a final decision on whether an applicant is guilty of misrepresentation, immigration officers may issue a Procedural Fairness Letter (PFL). These letters, delivered via email or electronic means, provide applicants with an opportunity to address concerns raised by officers regarding documents or details in their immigration application.

While this can be a challenging situation, it serves as a chance to rectify any mistakes or miscommunications on the applicant’s part. Responding with a clear and comprehensive letter is essential, aiming to clarify inaccuracies, mistakes, or omissions in the application. Many applicants opt to engage an immigration lawyer at this stage to help craft an effective response and avoid misrepresentation accusations.

Judicial Review

If an individual has already been found guilty of misrepresentation and deems the claim unreasonable, they have the option to appeal through a Judicial Review at the Federal Court. Although applicants can represent themselves, hiring an immigration lawyer is a common choice at this stage. 

It’s important to note that the Federal Court cannot substitute its own decision for the immigration decision, nor can it reevaluate the facts of the case. The court’s role is to determine the reasonableness of the accusation of misrepresentation. If found unreasonable, the Federal Court can overturn the decision, reinstating eligibility for Canadian immigration.

While the consequences of misrepresentation can be severe, IRCC’s policies, particularly section ENF02 s. 9.3 of IRCC’s Enforcement Manual, recognize that “honest errors and misunderstandings sometimes occur.” Therefore, a popular defense in the Judicial Review process is the “innocent mistake” defense, where applicants explain inaccuracies as genuine errors. 

While this defense can be successful, it requires applicants to reasonably prove that any misrepresentation was an innocent mistake and provide a satisfactory explanation to the Federal Court.
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