Five Common Immigration Mistakes You May Be Making
Canada has over 60 immigration programs, each with its own unique set of criteria. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) makes every effort to create programs with requirements that are clear. Nevertheless, every year applications are returned or rejected due to mistakes made by applicants.
These mistakes are often made accidentally by the applicant. Sometimes, mistakes can be corrected and an application resubmitted. Other times, a mistake can result in serious repercussions and possibly mean the end of an individual’s chances for Canadian immigration.
Below are five mistakes that applicants for permanent residency, temporary work, and even visitor visas should look out for.
1) Inconsistencies in Personal and Educational History – Applications for permanent residency, as well as some applications for temporary residency, require individuals to list in detail their travel history, personal history, and/or educational history. There should be absolutely no gaps in this history. Unexplained periods of time, even as short as a week, must be accounted for.
How to avoid: Even short vacations should be noted on a travel history. For personal history, periods of time when you were unemployed should still be accounted for. You should double- and triple-check this part of your application to make sure that dates align properly. These dates should also correspond with supporting documents such as letters of reference.
2) Language Test Scores are Insufficient – Most Canadian permanent residency programs require proof of proficiency in either English or French. Proficiency is defined according to the Canadian Level Benchmark (CLB) system.
Different standardized tests may be accepted for proof of language ability depending on the immigration program one is applying under. However, applicants must meet minimum CLB levels in all language abilities being evaluated for a program. These abilities include reading, writing, speaking, listening, or a combination of the four.
For instance, the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is one of the tests accepted as proof of English proficiency for the Federal Skilled Worker Program. Applicants submitting IELTS scores must meet at least CLB level 7 in all four language abilities. This amounts to a score of 6.0 in each language ability. If even one ability is scored less than a 6.0, the applicant will be deemed ineligible for immigration through this program.
How to avoid: Double-check the language requirements for your specific program. Make sure that you meet or exceed the minimum levels in each language ability.
3) Listing Ineligible Dependents – For Canadian permanent residency applications, only spouses, common-law partners, and/or eligible biological or legally adopted children may be listed as dependents by the principal applicant. However, some applicants misunderstand this limitation and list other family members such as parents or siblings as dependents. These individuals may not be included on an application, and doing so may slow down and application’s processing time.
How to avoid: Make sure that only your eligible dependents are listed as dependents.
4) Employment Letters Do Not Comply with Requirements – Most programs require that work experience be proven by providing an employment letter. These letters, by current and/or previous employers, explain the kind of work an individual has performed on a day-to-day basis.
The following must be included in reference letters:
- Position held
- Salary and working conditions
- Description of job duties
- Employer’s signature
- Printed on company letterhead
- Company information such as address and contact information
If the above requirements are not met, ane mployment letter may not be recognized as proof of the applicant’s work experience.
How to avoid: Check your employment letters after receiving them. Providing an employer with a basic template outlining these requirements can also help.
5) Using an Unauthorized Representative – In order to minimize mistakes like those above, many individuals choose to hire a representative to assist them with their application. Representatives may be paid or unpaid, but if paid they must be a lawyer or immigration consultant authorized by the government to assist Canadian immigration applicants.
Unfortunately for applicants, there are many fraudsters claiming to be immigration representatives, when in fact they are not authorized to represent individuals. These phony representatives are not accountable to the government or a professional order, and will often request large sums of money for a ‘guaranteed’ visa.
Avoid this mistake: If looking for a representative, do not hesitate to ask for their professional credentials. An immigration lawyer must be registered with the law society in their province of residence and an immigration consultant by the ICCRC (Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulation Council) .
"With so many immigration programs currently subject to intake caps, it is of the utmost importance that applicants get it right the first time," said Attorney David Cohen. "It would be a shame to see an application returned because of an avoidable mistake, only to then have the applicant become ineglible for immigration because their program cap has filled."
The process of coming to Canada, whether as a visitor, worker, student, or permanent resident, can result in a life-changing opportunity for applicants and their families. Because of this, it is of the utmost importance that individuals complete their applications with care. With a little work and careful planning, they can make sure that their goals are not dashed by an easily avoidable mistake.