Where do immigration officers draw the line between verifying what is true in an immigration application, and violating the rights of the applicant? If officers believe that false or erroneous information has been included in an application, do they have the obligation to inform the applicant as to where they found their evidence used against the applicant?
In November of 2013, the Federal Court heard the case of Khoshnavaz v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration) .In this case, Mr. Khoshnavaz, a citizen of Iran, submitted a permanent residency application as a skilled worker. In reviewing Mr. Khoshnavaz’s application, the immigration officer was not satisfied that the information Mr. Khoshnavaz provided proved where he worked. To verify that he worked in the job that he claimed, the officer asked for further information regarding Mr. Khoshnavaz’s social security contributions.
In response to the request, Mr. Khoshnavaz’s representative indicated that since Mr. Khoshnavaz was a contractual employee, he did not have to pay for social security. However, Mr. Khoshnavaz did not include any evidence to back up his claim such as letters from the government, copies of the law regarding social security, or letters from tax lawyers and accounts. Still not satisfied, the officer contacted Mr. Khoshnavaz again and asked the same question. Again, Mr. Khoshnavaz indicated that he was not obligated to contribute to social security. Yet again, he did not include any evidence.
One of the big issues in this case was that the officer contacted the Social Security office without specifically telling Mr. Khoshnavaz he was doing so. In this case, the court found that all the officer had to do was provide a meaningful opportunity to Mr. Khoshnavaz to respond. By contacting Mr. Khoshnavaz with his concerns, the officer made his concerns clear. It was not necessary for the officer to specifically detail all of the steps he took to investigate Mr. Khoshnavaz’s claims. Once the officer made his concerns clear, it was the responsibility of Mr. Khoshnavaz to respond. Simply indicating that he did not have to pay social security without providing evidence was not enough.
What can be learned from Mr. Khoshnavaz’s case? Even if Mr. Khoshnavaz was correct, simply making a claim that something is factual without providing evidence is not enough. In this case, Mr. Khoshnavaz should have provided documents to back up his claim. He could have produced letter from a lawyer or accountant that indicated that making social security contributions was not necessary. In the alternative, he could have included portions of the local law that made him exempt from making such payment.
When submitting any kind of immigration application, it is always necessary to provide as much evidence as possible to support of your claims. If an officer is not satisfied with the evidence provided, they must give you an opportunity to explain yourself or provide further evidence. As can be seen with Khoshnavaz, an applicant’s word is not gospel; documented proof is the best option.
This Article is prepared for general information purposes only and is intended to provide comments for readers and friends of the Filipino Journal. The contents should not be viewed as legal advice or opinion. If you have specific questions regarding immigration law, you should discuss them with a legal advisor of your choice.
Reis is a partner with Aikins Law and practices in the areas of immigration law. His direct line is 204-957-4640. If you would like to know more about Reis or Aikins you can visit the firm’s web page at www.aikins.com or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Leanne is an immigration legal assistant at Aikins Law. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology and criminal justice from the University of Winnipeg.