January 7, 2015
Confusion and Errors
On 29 December 2014 the Toronto Star revealed the results of their CIC Access to Information request. The Toronto Star had inquired as to processing errors made by CIC staff, and in particular CIC’s responses to inquiries and their own letters of requests sent to applicants. According to internal government reviews, there was a “high error rate” in immigration processing.
The information revealed that 996 permanent residence applications were handled by the Vegreville CIC office between November 1 and December 6, 2014. Of this number, there were 617 request letters sent: 13% did not request all necessary information, 23% had no timeline, an incomplete timeline, or did not mention the consequences for failing to meet the timeline, and 6% of the letters were “unprofessional” or did not use the proper template. Outside of the Toronto Star’s report, errors have also been seen on work and study permits issued by Canadian CIC offices. Our office recently received a study permit that was valid for a single day, rather than for one year.
These errors are of concern to applicants and to counsel. Unfortunately, there appears to be a double-standard in which applicants are expected to be perfect, while CIC staff are not held to that standard. Perfection is not reasonable; it is not reasonable to expect CIC or applicants to provide perfect information. Yet, balanced against the Toronto Star report is what seems to be an increasing number of applicants being found to have misrepresented themselves when making applications to CIC.
Applicants should do their best to accurately complete their application materials; review and review again, to ensure that nothing has been omitted. However, should an error be made it may now be possible to demonstrate that the error was innocent by pointing to CIC’s own standards. Although, considering that the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act requires applicants to answer truthfully, this is not a possibility that any should rely upon.