Interviews with IRCC and CBSA
It is important to note that every interview experience is different and depends largely on the circumstances of the interview, the individual attending and the CBSA/IRCC officer. Nonetheless, what follows is a general summary of what you can expect.
Interviews at Port of Entries
A CBSA officer (or two officers) will conduct an interview at borders and airports in two parts. The first is to review your official documents. They will ask to see your passport, visas and travel documents as well as those of any family members travelling with you to ensure that you are authorized to enter Canada. They will also ask questions about your health as well as other generic questions regarding criminal history, the duration of your stay, if you have come to Canada before and the circumstances of your departure. The second portion of the interview is a review of any items you are bringing into Canada. The CBSA officer will ask if you are bringing anything with you into Canada. If you are, then they will ensure that none of them are prohibited such as live animals or plants, firearms, ammunitions, fireworks, meat, dairy, fruits, vegetables or items from endangered species. If you are truthful, authorized to enter Canada and do not carry any prohibited items, these interviews are over relatively quickly. However, if an issue arises, a secondary investigation may be launched by the officer and you may be denied entry into the country.
Interviews Conducted by CBSA in-land
There are several reasons why CBSA may request your presence for an interview. The below is not an exhaustive list of all possible circumstances in which CBSA may ask you to attend an interview
Some reasons include to provide you with a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment application or a decision on that application. They may also request your presence to fill out a section 44 report (also known as a inadmissibility report). If you lose status in Canada (or if you never had status), you may be asked to report to an interview with CBSA. They may also ask you to bring documents with you such as valid and/or expired passports for you and all of your dependants, birth certificate identity card, OHIP card, Social Insurance Card, proof of any matters before the Immigration and Refugee Board or Federal Court, any other documents issued by the Government of Canada, any documents regarding criminal matters. At the interview, you will be asked various questions, confirming your identity, immigration history, current activities, status in Canada and the status of any appeal you have. They will ask you about any family you have in the country.
If you have already been issued a removal order (by the Immigration Refugee Board, for example), an interview will be requested, generally, to facilitate your removal. At the interview, they may ask you to come for another interview and purchase tickets and bring them to the next interview. The tickets must be on or before a date on the removal order. Click here for more information on removal orders.
If the CBSA officer believes that you will not show up to the interview, they may detain you and facilitate your removal. Alternatively, if a removal order has not been issued, CBSA may call you for an interview and issue you a removal order at the interview. For these interviews, you are allowed to bring counsel to the interview, but it is up to the CBSA officer to allow the counsel to remain in the interview room.
The content and experience at an interview with the CBSA officer depend largely on your circumstances. They are not all positive or negative. However, a consistent theme in all interviews is to provide truthful answers and bring any documentation that is requested of you if possible.
Interviews Conducted by IRCC
When you make an application to enter Canada, you may be required to appear at an IRCC office before a visa officer who will ask you questions and asses your application. Although interviews are most commonly convoked for spousal sponsorship applications, IRCC may request an interview for any application. Interviews can take place in Canada or overseas. When you receive a letter requesting your presence for an interview, you are required to attend. If you are unable to attend, you must inform IRCC and provide an explanation before the date of the interview at which point, they will reschedule your interview for a different day. You can do this by sending a letter to the IRCC office that scheduled your appointment or by filling out a Web form online. If you miss the interview, you must contact IRCC with an explanation within a certain amount of time.
The time that you have to contact IRCC is indicated in the letter IRCC sent you with the interview information. You can inform IRCC why you missed the appointment by letter or by using the online Web form. If you fail to inform IRCC why you missed the interview in the prescribed time limit, your application may be closed and you must apply again. IRCC may also request that you bring certain documents with you to the interview such as passports, identity documents and any other evidence they believe is relevant to your application.
At the interview, the officer may ask generic questions such as why you want to move to Canada, religious views, hobbies, employment and education. The visa officer will also ask questions tailored to your application. For example, if you have applied for spousal sponsorship, they will ask questions to ensure that your marriage is genuine. These questions can cover when you and your spouse met, details about each other lives and families as well as if you have consummated the relationship. It is important to note that the officer will most likely make notes during the interview and anything you say can be used to make a decision in your application. It is therefore important that you answer truthfully. If the officer believes you are not being truthful, your application may be refused and you may have been found to misrepresented which carries a ban from Canada for 5 years. Preparation makes a big difference.
What to do next?
If you are scheduled for an interview with IRCC or CBSA and would like assistance, we encourage you to contact Bellissimo Law Group PC.