Program launched to allow immigrants to sponsor undeclared family members
A pilot program, launched two Mondays ago by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), has been greeeted with joy by many in the Caribbean community.
The two-year program will now allow sponsorship applications for certain family members who would normally be banned from obtaining permanent residence under Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.
If persons had previously attempted to sponsor undeclared family members, these potential sponsors would have been “written up” by the Canada Border Services Agency for misrepresentation and ordered deported. Only a very limited few of them in special circumstances were allowed to remain in Canada upon appeal.
(Under Canadian immigration law, a permanent resident or a foreign national is inadmissible for misrepresentation for directly or indirectly misrepresenting or withholding material facts relating to a relevant matter that induces or could induce an error in the administration of the Act.)
Let us look at one of the many cases of persons who faced a lifetime ban from sponsoring undeclared children.
Molly (not her real name), a 35 year old woman from Guyana, was prevented from sponsoring her three undeclared minor children when she obtained permanent residence status.
She came to Canada in 2007 as a landed immigrant, accompanied by her father and brother, who were also granted permanent residence at the same time as Molly.
Her father was sponsored by Molly’s step-mother, and she and her brother were included in the application.
Molly’s application forms were filled out by her father and at the time she had three minor children, ages five, three and one.
She claimed that her step-mother specifically instructed her father not to include her (Molly’s children) on the application form and suggested that when she established herself in Canada, she could then apply for them to join her.
These children were residing with Molly at the time her application forms were submitted. Molly’s father told her to sign the forms and she complied. The children are now 17, 15 and 13 respectively.
Molly claims that she was not aware of Canadian immigration laws at the time when she signed the forms and just followed the instructions given to her by her father.
She said she had a very difficult life in Guyana. Her family was poor. She had had little education, no job and was in an abusive relationship with her children’s father.
And so she was very excited to come to Canada “for a better life ” for both herself and children.
She said that about a year after she arrived in Canada, she became involved with “a Canadian citizen” and that they are in a” solid relationship.”
Molly also said that she visits her children in Guyana at least once a year. sends them monthly financial support and communicates with them regularly.
She pointed out that she had made several enquires with numerous lawyers about getting her children with her in Canada but was told that she may face deportation for non- declaration of the children, if she attempts to sponsor them, since she was a landed immigrant.
Molly obtained Canadian citizenship and earlier this year contacted my office to pursue a Family Class sponsorship, addressing humanitarian and compassionate factors and relying on the best interests of the children.
Our office was in the process of preparing all of the necessary documents until we learned the good news that the ban for sponsorship has been lifted.
We immediately contacted Molly and told her the news. This, of course, was a very happy moment for her and her spouse as she is now eligible to overcome the ban that was in place and can now file a Family Class Sponsorship for her children without the fear of it being rejected.
It should be noted that immigration law requires that all persons applying for permanent residence declare all of their dependent family members (spouse, common-law partner, dependent children, dependent child of a dependent child) and have them examined by an immigration official. whether or not they are coming to coming to Canada.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) explains that these regulations are in place “to encourage full disclosure by immigration applicants, to enhance the overall integrity of Family Class immigration, and to protect the health, safety and security of Canadians.”
However, noting concerns for the “disproportionate impact” of this lifetime ban on certain individuals, especially children, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Ahmed Hussen, announced the two-year pilot program earlier this year.
It should be noted that the said the pilot program does not apply if the sponsor was granted permanent residence under Canada’s Economic Class or any other immigration category that is not specified in the conditions.
The pilot program will remain in effect from September 9, 2019, to September 9, 2021.
Persons in a situation similar to that of Molly should seek professional advice to ensure that they do in fact meet the criteria set out in the pilot program.
We look forward to Molly being reunited with her children, after being separated from them for over twelve years.
SUKHRAM RAMKISSOON is a member of ICCRC and specializes in Immigration Matters at No. 3089 Bathurst Street, Suite 219A, Toronto, Ontario. Phone 416 789 5756.
Newcomers who failed to declare immediate family members as they first came to Canada were barred from sponsoring them. Today, we right that wrong.
Canada’s Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen