Preparing for your Canadian immigration interview

Asheesh Moosapeta
Published: April 28, 2024

A proportion of newcomers every year, who apply for permanent residence (PR) will need to attend an interview with an Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) officer in support of their application.

These interviews are often the final step in the application process and can be important in showing the immigration department that an applicant is eligible for PR status in Canada. The following will cover reasons why an interview might be needed, what to expect, and best practices to ensure success.

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Why does IRCC conduct interviews?

Requesting an interview from applicants is largely at the discretion of individual IRCC officers. The reasons for such a request are usually to help verify information supporting a PR or citizenship application.

Information in need of verification could be details surrounding work experience, personal history, language ability, intent to pursue immigration to Canada, and even simply to verify the identity of applicants. For family sponsorship applications, interviews are often conducted to verify a principal applicant's and dependents' relationship or to confirm whether spousal/conjugal/common-law relationships are sincere.

Additionally, interviews may focus on missing or incomplete information given as part of an application but do not satisfy the reviewing IRCC officer that such information meets eligibility criteria.

What are some best practices that I can implement when attending my IRCC interview?

Based on information given to IRCC officers on how to conduct interviews, the following are some best practices that CIC News has compiled for interviewees:

Review your application thoroughly

Just as the IRCC officer reads the file in advance, interviewees should also thoroughly prepare by reviewing their applications and relevant documents. Keeping in mind that one of the things that interviewers tend to focus on is incomplete or missing information in an application, newcomers may be well served to prepare for questions and queries around these elements of their file.

Newcomers may also bring further supporting documentation if it was not included in their initial application (though they should likely also be prepared to explain why such information was not initially provided).

Communicate clearly

Interviewees should strive for clear communication. They should speak slowly and clearly, using simple language and avoiding jargon to ensure their answers are easily understood. Officers are instructed to accommodate interviewees if they have any special needs or require assistance during the interview process. Thus, newcomers should communicate these needs during the interview or in advance to ensure a smooth experience.

Interviewees should try to remain calm and composed throughout the interview. Relaxed body language and a confident demeanor can help convey professionalism and competence.

Be honest

Though obvious, interviewees should ensure their responses are honest and consistent with the information provided in their application. IRCC officers will be vigilant for potentially fraudulent and exaggerated information. Providing truthful and consistent answers demonstrates integrity and reliability.

Crucially, misrepresentation (the deliberate presentation of fraudulent information as truthful to IRCC) can have disastrous implications for an immigration application—including being ineligible for Canadian immigration for at least 5 years, being charged with a crime by IRCC, and losing PR status (among other things). Newcomers will have the best chance for success if they simply present all relevant information truthfully.

Lastly, newcomers should be aware that they can still be found guilty of misrepresentation, even if they are unaware of it, and/or commit a legitimate mistake around presenting information in their immigration application. This again emphasizes the importance of being careful about what information is included in your immigration application.

Address concerns calmly

If the interviewer raises concerns or asks challenging questions, interviewees should address them diplomatically and constructively. They should avoid becoming defensive and instead focus on providing clarifications or explanations as needed.

Newcomers should keep in mind that their success or failure in their interview will ultimately come down to satisfying the interviewing immigration officer that they truthfully meet all necessary eligibility requirements. As such, it is generally good practice to address concerns they may have in a calm and considerate manner.

Ask questions and follow up if necessary

Interviewees should ask questions if they need clarification or additional information about the process or next steps. IRCC officers are instructed to address any queries or concerns that newcomers may have during an interview, so interviewees should feel free to request information if they need it.

Similarly, after the interview, newcomers should follow up appropriately (if needed), whether providing additional information or documentation or awaiting further communication from the interviewing authority.

How can I get an interview waiver?

The best way to get an interview waiver from IRCC is to ensure that all relevant information and supporting documentation is included in an immigration application at the time of submission. The more complete an application is the likelier it is to receive an application waiver (though this can vary depending on the stream and immigration class that one applies through).

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