Trinidadian woman to be reunited with Haitian husband
Sponsors are understandably upset when their applications for permanent residence on behalf of their spouses are refused on the grounds that their marriages are not genuine but were solely for immigration purposes.
Too often the blame for refusal does not rest with the visa officer but rather with the sponsor or the applicant in not being straightforward in providing information or answers to questions in the various forms or at an interview.
Of course, when an applications is refused, it can become very frustrating for both sponsor and applicant as they move on to the appeal process which can be costly with respect to retaining counsel, as well as time-consuming.
Let us look at a recent Immigration Appeal Division (IAD) decision.
A spousal sponsorship application made by a Trinidadian women on behalf of her Haitian husband was refused in September 2015.
The woman who I will refer to as Cathy, then appealed the decision with respect to her husband who I will refer to as Victor.
Both Cathy and Victor testified at the IAD hearing and the panel found that their testimonies were credible. The panel noted that the interviews of both the sponsor and the applicant were conducted in French but that Victor testified with the assistance of an interpreter.
Although the application forms, which were completed by Cathy, specifically mentioned the preferred language of the interview to be Creole, it also suggested, that an interpreter was not required.
The panel also noted that the answers to some of the questions given by Victor at the interview with the visa officer were vague and it ruled that considering Victor’s language abilities in French, he was unable to provide details even though he requested that the interviews be held in Creole.
The visa officer was of the opinion that because Victor often repeated the same answers, they could have seemed to be memorized as he was unable to provide any additional details. However, the panel ruled that it is because of Victor’s language abilities in French that he was unable to elaborate further in his answers.
The officer opined that Victor was unable to describe the development of his relationship except for their first trip, or the conversations that he had with Cathy, or their dates but that it is reasonable to believe that a man who has been in a relationship with a woman since 2010 would be able to describe at least a few moments of their relationship after their initial meeting.
The panel found that in light of the answers provided by Victor, the officer should have used a Creole interpreter for the interview and that Victor cannot be blamed for not providing details in his answers in a language in which he is not comfortable.
The panel also noted that more clarity in the forms would have probably helped, as there is clearly a contradiction in asking which language they want to have the interview in and then whether they need an interpreter. The question should have been “If the interview is conducted in English or French, is an interpreter required?” This question would have prevented this problem from happening, the panel ruled.
The panel also stated that Victor should also bear part of the blame for not asking for a Creole interpreter at the interview. Ultimately, the panel was of the opinion that the officer is in the best position, if his/her experience is taken into account in similar situations, to insist on having an interpreter in person or by telephone to finish the interview.
The panel granted much greater weight to the hearing than to the interview, given that an interpreter was present at the hearing.
Although Victor is eleven-and-a-half years younger than Cathy. the age difference was not raised in the visa officer’s decision, and the panel found that even if there is an age difference, it is not exceptional and that often in similar cases, the age difference can be about ten years. The panel found that this was not an important consideration in this case.
The panel determined that the marriage is genuine and that it was not entered into for the purpose of acquiring an advantage under the Act and allowed the appeal. The negative decision was set aside, and the officer must continue processing the application in accordance with the reasons provided.
Good luck to Victor and Cathy.
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.