November 17, 2014
The Importance of Culture
As immigration professionals, we are tremendously fortunate to work with families from all over the world. One of the most fascinating and rewarding aspects of immigration law is learning about our clients’ diverse backgrounds, cultures, and unique life experiences. The nature of this work requires that we are mindful of how culture informs who we are and how we see the world. Specifically, it is of utmost importance to recognize that our own cultural frameworks can be out of place when attempting to evaluate how someone from a different culture may communicate. For example, in spousal sponsorship appeals at the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD), the relevant issue is often whether or not the marital relationship is genuine or entered into primarily for the purposes of obtaining status in Canada. In preparation for these types of appeals, we assist clients in gathering documents to corroborate the genuine nature of their relationship, and we also prepare them to give testimony at their hearing. While conducting these preparation sessions it is vital to understand how culture comes into play, as not all cultures have the same way of relating. For example, clients from certain cultural backgrounds may be less comfortable openly expressing romantic feelings, as this may feel inappropriate or immodest. In such cases, it is especially important to recognize this in evaluating a client’s testimony and in developing a strategy to best prepare for their hearing.
For each of us, culture is a big part of who we are. As immigration experts, we must ensure that our legal strategies take everyone’s culture into account so that we can support and prepare our clients most effectively.