By Sukhram Ramkissoon
Some applicants experience frustration and unfairness by some visa officers who continually refuse visitor’s visas to some very deserving applicants but unfortunately these applicants lack the resources to go further. However, as you will see from this case, determination pays off.
A 78-year-old woman from Baku, Azerbaijan, was recently granted judicial review of a negative decision by a visa officer at the Canadian Embassy in Ankara on an application for a Temporary Resident Visa (visitor’s).
I will refer to the applicant as May. She retired from her profession as a Russian language teacher in 2010 but continues to work as a private Russian language tutor. Her only son died in 1994 and her husband died in 2000. Her only granddaughter lives in Russia and has two sisters, one who resides in Germany and the other in Canada.
Between 2010 and 2013, May applied five times for a visa to visit Canada. Each time, her application was refused.
Her fifth application, the subject of this decision, was submitted in December 2013 and refused three days later because the officer was not satisfied she would leave Canada at the end of her stay.
In the present application, she explained she intended to visit her sister and her niece; that she intended to stay for three months and that she has US$5,000 available for her stay.
Her niece submitted an employment letter indicating she earns $88,000 annually. She also submitted an invitation letter explaining her aunt has a very close connection to her home in Baku, where she owns her apartment debt free and where the graves of her husband and son are located.
She noted May lives a comfortable life in Baku where she receives her deceased husband’s pension and her own and that she is very close to her granddaughter whom she visits regularly in Russia.
She also explained the close relationship that exists between them and that she will cover all her expenses, return airfare, meds and accommodation.
The officer did not express concern about credibility but nevertheless was not satisfied May would leave Canada for other reasons.
The material passages of the officer’s reasons are: “76-year-old woman to visit nieces and sister in Canada. Previous refusals disclosed. Sisters are in Canada and Germany since 1999 and 1997, respectively. PA never travelled to visit either.
“PA has a grand-daughter in Russia which warrants (according to host) that PA will return to Azerbaijan. Limited funds and assets are evidenced in the file and PA plans on spending three months in Canada. Bank account shows US$5,000 available.”
The judge in granting judicial review stated the decision was unreasonable.
“The officer appears to have failed to appreciate import of some of the evidence. For example, the applicant disclosed the earlier refusals of her applications for temporary resident visas. This shows that she is honest and yet she apparently is not believed when she says she will return home after her visit to Canada.
“As well, the officer did not recognize the importance of the applicant’s visits to her granddaughter in Russia. They show an established pattern of regular returns to Azerbaijan; and show that she has close family near her home.
“The officer treated the applicant’s failure to visit her sister in Canada as a negative factor. This was unreasonable because, at least in recent years, Canada has repeatedly denied her a visa which would permit such a visit and was also dismissive of her assets, which include a family home which she owns. The officer was dismissive of her resources for her visit. No reference was made to the substantial support that the Canadian niece is prepared to provide.
“The officer was also dismissive of the applicant’s ties to Azerbaijan. She has professional ties which include ongoing work as a tutor; she has social and family ties, which include her friends and granddaughter; she has emotional ties to the graves of her son and husband; and she has economic ties, which were not mentioned, that include her own pension and that of her husband.”
The judge set aside the decision and ordered the application be reconsidered by a different officer.
Sukhram Ramkissoon is a member of ICCRC and specializes in immigration matters at 3089 Bathurst St., Suite 219A, Toronto. Phone 416-789-5756.