I have often written about spousal sponsorship applications and the obstacles that sponsors and/or applicants face. In many such cases, questions often come up about who is to be blamed when a spousal application is refused? Is it the officer who is dealing with the application? Or the sponsor ? Or applicant ?
Let us look at a recent spousal application which was refused by a visa office. In this case the decision of the visa officer was overturned by the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD) and the file will now be sent back to the visa office to continue the processing of the documents so that the applicant can obtain her permanent resident visa and join her spouse in Canada.
The sponsor, who I will refer to as Thomas (not his real name), is a 62 years old ex- police officer from the Caribbean and a Canadian citizen. His spouse, the applicant, who I will refer to as Margaret (not her real name), is 38 years old, and currently a police sergeant in the Caribbean. The couple were married in July 2012 -the third marriage for Thomas and the first for Margaret. The sponsor has four adult children from his previous marriages and the applicant has one dependent child, a daughter, from a previous relationship.
In December 2013, Thomas filed an application so that Margaret can join him in Canada as a permanent resident. His application was turned down by a visa officer in September 2014 for several reasons.
The visa officer expressed concerns about the lack of emotion displayed by the sponsor and his spouse at the interview and the lack of knowledge of each other’s personal life. The officer also noted that Thomas and Margaret had little to say with respect to their future plans and pointed out that there was limited proof of communication between the parties , as well as seemingly-posed photographs. The visa officer was “not satisfied based on the interview and other supporting documentation that the couple has demonstrated a genuine relationship that meets the requirements of immigration law”.
Thomas appealed this decision and then went to a hearing scheduled by the IAD known as an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). He was unsuccessful in getting the decision of the visa officer overturned and then decided to go to a full hearing.
He retained my firm and I represented him before the IAD at the full hearing last month in Toronto. I filed numerous documents, establishing that there was a genuine relationship between the parties.
At the hearing the couple testified with respect to the genuineness of their relationship. Their testimony was detailed and presented in a straightforward manner
Thomas testified that he regularly sends money to Margaret and presented money transfers and receipts dating back to 2013. They both testified that they maintain regular telephone communication and send each other text messages. They also provided documentary evidence in support of their testimony.
Thomas said he first had contact with Margaret on January 2, 2010 by telephone and after they spoke with each other for several months, he visited her in August of the same year. Thomas testified that he subsequently visited his spouse in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, twice in 2015 and 2016.
He also testified that as recently as this year, 2017, he had already visited her twice. When he was asked why he visited Margaret so often, he replied, “I love her.” He also testified that prior to meeting his wife, he last visited his home country in 1978 and had no reason to return. The only reason he has been visiting that country so often was because of his wife, he said.
Margaret has a nine-year old daughter and the couple has already made a decision to change her surname to “Thomas”, as he is the only father figure she has known in her life.
One of the main concerns expressed by the visa officer was that Thomas and Margaret demonstrated little detailed knowledge of each other’s lives. To this, the sponsor acknowledged to the IAD that Margaret knew little of his daily life and his past at the time of the interview as he did not think it was important and did not share this information with her and that Margaret herself did not inquire into such matters.
The visa officer had also expressed concern over the lack of information provided by the parties at the interview about their future plans. Thomas testified that at the time they did not discuss future plans. However, at the hearing, they both spoke about their future plans, including employment prospects for his spouse, schooling for the child, adoption and plans to have a reception in Canada.
In a written judgement which was received last week by my office, the panel stated the appeal was allowed and the decision to refuse the permanent resident visa is set aside and the officer must continue to process the application.
The panel ruled that there was substantial evidence ” in favour of the genuineness of this marriage” and supports the view that ” this is a genuine marriage for the sponsor and his spouse and that was not entered primarily to acquire any status or privilege under IRPA.”
I have since spoken to Thomas who is at present visiting his spouse and step-daughter. Upon hearing the good news, he was elated. “This is the best news I have heard in many years,” he said.
Good luck to Thomas and Margaret.
I want to remind all my readers and friends about UNI TnT 1st Annual Boat Cruse on Saturday July 22, 2017 at 12.30 pm on Enterprise 2000. Limited Tickets. Contact Carlos Maharaj at 416 617 3625 or Duce 647 299 3823.
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.