By Sukhram Ramkissoon
The Immigration Appeal Division recently dismissed a sponsorship appeal for a woman from Vietnam with one reason being the sponsor’s failure to provide evidence of the couple’s plans.
He then sought judicial review, alleging the board’s finding was unfair as the board never asked any questions about this issue and the conclusion with respect to the genuineness of the marriage was unreasonable.
The court concluded the sponsor was not treated unfairly, that the board’s decision was reasonable and dismissed his application.
The facts are as follows:
The marriage was the sponsor’s third and his third attempt to sponsor a woman for permanent residence in Canada. After his first common-law marriage ended, he applied to sponsor a fiancée in 1995. It appears he subsequently withdrew his sponsorship when that relationship broke down.
He married his second wife in 2004 and sponsored her soon thereafter. She came to Canada in 2005; however the couple divorced shortly after her arrival.
The sponsor again married in 2007 and applied to sponsor her soon thereafter. Following an interview with a visa officer, the officer refused the application to sponsor his wife. The officer was not satisfied the marriage was genuine.
Among other things, the visa officer concluded the wife’s description of her husband’s personal qualities, as well as her explanation as to what the couple had in common and what their plans were, all constituted “generic” responses. The visa officer also found the wife “shared nothing to demonstrate a marriage of almost four years.” The sponsorship was refused.
The sponsor appealed this decision to the board.
The board concluded that a number of the concerns identified by the visa officer (such as the sponsor’s failure to disclose the sponsorship of his fiancée in 1995 and a possible ongoing relationship between himself and his common-law wife).
The board noted, however, that the couple had presented no evidence regarding any plans for their life together in Canada. This concern, when taken into account with other concerns, such as the paucity of information as to how the relationship between the parties had developed and the limited amount of time they had spent together over the course of their marriage, led the board to conclude that the sponsor had not met his evidentiary or persuasive burden.
The onus was on the sponsor to establish the genuineness of his marriage. It was not for the board or the respondent’s counsel to make his case through questions or cross-examination, ruled the judge.
In the course of the appeal, the sponsor was provided with the visa officer’s “CAIPS” notes of the interview with his wife, with the officer’s concerns clearly spelled out. One concern was the lack of information that had been provided with respect to the couple’s plans for their life together in Canada.
As a consequence, the sponsor was made fully aware of the nature of Canadian immigration authorities’ concerns with respect to the genuineness of his marriage, and the reasons for those concerns. He was, moreover, afforded a fair opportunity to address those concerns at his appeal hearing before the Immigration Appeal Division.
In this case, the board accepted that some of the evidence before it, including that relating to money transfers and phone calls, suggested the marriage was genuine.
Other evidence, such as the circumstances of the couple’s courtship, the speed of the proposal, the wife’s limited knowledge of the details of her husband’s life in Canada, his history of failed sponsorships and the lack of information with respect to the couple’s plans for their life in Canada suggested the marriage had been entered into for immigration purposes.
Sukhram Ramkissoon is a member of ICCRC and specializes in immigration matters at 3089 Bathurst St., Suite 219A, Toronto. Phone 416-789-5756.