Federal ruling: the importance of avoiding misrepresentation in Canadian immigration applications

Julia Hornstein
Published: March 2, 2023

Ting Li was a citizen of China, but her two children were studying in Canada. She had previously obtained a temporary resident visa (TRV) so that she could be in Canada and spend time with her children.

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In 2021, Ting received a job offer as a purchasing manager at Fullsun Trading Inc., as she had prior work experience in a similar position in China. Accordingly, she applied for a work permit.

Ting received a procedural fairness letter from the immigration officer raising concerns about the discrepancies and authenticity of her employment history. Ting responded to the letter by explaining the differences in her work history set forth in her TRV application versus the work history in her work permit application.

Ting stated that the differences were due to mistakes that she did not realize when submitting the TRV application. When she applied for the work permit, she took the process more seriously and filled out the work history information more accurately and truthfully.

Ting also included a letter from the General Manager from her job in China confirming the details of her work history, along with social insurance and personal income tax records to further corroborate the proof of employment.

Following the receipt of the letter and documents explaining the discrepancies, the immigration officer still rejected her work visa application. The officer cited paragraph 40(1)(a) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, stating that Ting had misrepresented a material fact and accused her of submitting fraudulent document and information.

Ting brought an action before the Federal Court. She did not deny that there was a mistake in her TRV application, but she claimed that her explanations for the discrepancies were credible.

The court found that the officer failed to properly grapple with the evidence explaining why the two applications were different and failed to consider the evidence confirming her work history. The officer did not explain how the new evidence she provided did not adequately address the concerns, and ultimately held that the decision was unreasonable.

Implications for immigration applicants

The case of Li v Canada has important implications for foreign nationals applying for Canadian immigration. Misrepresentation is difficult to overcome. Immigration officials are strict about misrepresentation, and it could result in an application being refused or status being revoked. Misrepresentation could also result in an applicant being deemed inadmissible to Canada.

Furthermore, misrepresentation on immigration applications can have severe consequences, beyond your application being refused. According to Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), in response to false documents or information, IRCC may:

  • Forbid you from entering Canada for at least 5 years;
  • Give you a permanent record of fraud;
  • Take away your status as permanent resident or Canadian citizen;
  • Have you charged with a crime; or
  • Remove you from Canada.

Ting’s case illustrates the importance of ensuring your application is accurate, current, and complete.

Immigration forms and applications can be complex. Even though applicants can be extremely careful and attempt to be truthful, they can still easily make innocent misrepresentations. Applicants may submit information that to the best of their knowledge is accurate and complete but turns out to be incorrect or incomplete. Unfortunately, as revealed by Ting’s case, innocence is not generally a defence to misrepresentation.

In order to avoid misrepresentation on your immigration applications, it can be helpful to contact an experienced Canadian immigration lawyer who will work with you to make sure the provided information and documentation is accurate and complete.

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