Top 10 Mistakes That Will Sink Your Immigration Application

mistakeI’ve been practising law for over 13 years, and I’ve seen a lot of errors that lead to rejected applications, or long delays in processing.  Below I’ve compiled the top 10 errors to avoid in submitting your application for Canadian permanent or temporary residence.

1.  Not signing the forms

Sounds simple right?  But it happens all the time.  A form is not signed where the individual is required to sign.  For example, the Additional Family Information form can require 3 signatures on one page.  Often people will sign the bottom of this form, and miss the fact that 2 other signatures are also required depending on whether there is a spouse or children.  Failing to sign this (or any other form) properly means a returned file weeks (or even months!) after it has been filed.

Another example is the (Generic??) form that has a section that requires signatures only if a translator was used.  If there was no translator used and you mistakenly sign in this spot, your application will be sent back to you at some point in the future.

So triple-check your forms and sign where required (and only where required).

2.  Paying the fee incorrectly

Different streams require different methods of payment.  Typically, only a bank draft, certified cheque or money order will suffice.

However, a sponsorship application for permanent residence usually requires payment through the internet (or a bank paid receipt).  For example, if you pay the Right of Permanent Residence fee by bank draft to the foreign visa office, it will likely be returned to you, delaying the file, as typically it is paid in Canada online.

Also, many visa offices will accept the equivalent fee in local currency, but you must check the specific website for that office to determine the amount of the fee in local currency – do not simply use the current exchange rate – it won’t be the same.

As well, be sure to pay the correct amount.  For example,  permanent resident applicants currently pay $550 per adult, but only $150 per dependent child.  And the Right of Permanent Resident fee is currently zero for children.  An incorrectly paid fee will delay your application or have it returned to you.

Be very careful how you pay your fees, and the amount you have to pay.

3.  Correct size pictures

Application instructions require pictures with a very specific size (usually 35mm wide and 45mm tall, with the head image a maximum of 30mm tall, but check the CIC instructions for your specific application).  Pictures have to be a certain size in order to fit on forms that CIC may send to you (such as medical forms for permanent resident applications, and as part of your visa documents).

Not paying attention to the correct size of picture will have your application returned to you.

4.  Providing only those documents listed on the checklist

Sounds counter-intuitive right? Why not just provide what CIC asks for on their checklists? Because sometimes that documentation is not enough, and CIC will never help make your case for you.

For example, if you are a common law couple, I’ve found it is important to provide affidavits from friends and family attesting to the relationship and how it is exclusive, committed and marriage-like.  As well, letters of support can also be effective in certain circumstances.  For example, if a couple from overseas is planning to move to Canada under a sponsorship application, a letter (or affidavit) from a family member in Canada offering lodging while the couple establishes themselves in Canada can make an application go a lot smoother and a lot faster.

Additional evidence depends on the facts of each case, but phone records, bank records, lease records, correspondence, text messages, facebook messages, and so forth, can be very helpful in moving the application forward.

5.  Supplemental forms for certain countries  (afghanistan supervisa)

Residents or citizens of certain countries (depending upon where one is applying for immigration), are often required to provide additional forms or information which are not obvious from the initial forms.

One example is the Residency Questionnaire required by those in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  Another example is the Education and Work Experience Questionnaire required by those in Islamabad, Pakistan.

You must be sure to include any supplemental information forms or risk having your application sent back to you or having serious delays in the decision-making process.

6.  Providing mis-information or not explaining missing information – misrepresentation, returned file

Providing mis-information is an application is a serious offence is Canadian immigration law.  As CIC relies on information provided by the applicant to make a decision on the file, it expects that the information provided be truthful.

The consequences of providing mis-information is a rejected application, and possible for exclusion from Canada for at least 2 years.

The difficulty is that even errors that appear to be innocent can be considered a misrepresentation which will certainly sink your application immediately.

If you are missing information that was requested by CIC, it is important to explain why the information is missing and when it might be provided.  Otherwise, your application will be sent back to you.

7.  Handwriting information on forms (illegible, can’t verify form)

All application forms can be completed using a computer and Adobe Reader (which is a free program).

However, some individuals may choose to complete the forms by hand, which is not advisable.

Hand-written forms may not be legible by the visa officer reviewing the file.  As a result, the application will be returned if the visa officer is not absolutely certain about the answers provided to questions in the forms.

Equally important, hand-written forms can not be verified.  A verified form (using Adobe Reader) creates a series of bar codes that CIC can quickly enter into its computer systems.  A hand-written application form requires tedious transfer of information which may delay processing of the file in a timely manner.

The other general benefit of using a computer to complete the forms is that you can same them to your hard-drive and print the forms if needed in future, or update forms on the request of a visa officer.  Updating forms is much easier when they are on a computer versus being hand-written.

8.  Failing to provide a cover letter

Although never fatal to an application, failing to provide a cover letter may result in delays in processing.

A cover letter that sets out who is applying for what, and the main reasons why the applicant qualifies makes reviewing the application easier for the visa officer, which means faster processing in my experience.

I never submit an application without a detailed cover letter asserting the applicant’s right to immigrate under current law and policy.

9.  Waiting for criminal record checks to file the application

Often times, applicants will wait for criminal record checks before filing an application.

This is often not advisable.

Unless the application is for a temporary resident permit or criminal rehabilitation, a criminal record check is not required to process the application.  A criminal record check goes to admissibility, not to qualification for entry.  As such, you can submit your application immediately, then submit the criminal record check when it comes weeks or months later.

What is the risk of waiting until the criminal record checks arrive before submitting an application?

Anyone who has followed the Canadian immigration system lately has seen the multitude of changes that have happened in a short period of time.  If you wait too long to submit an application, the rules may (likely will) change and suddenly you may no longer qualify (this has happened a few times with regard to the Federal Skilled Worker category, where some years an occupation qualifies, then suddenly it does not).

10.  Mailing the application

CIC asks you to mail the application to the appropriate office for processing.  However, it is best to use registered mail, or even better, a courier.  This allows you to track the application to ensure it arrives at its destination.

Mail can get lost and you may spend weeks or months wondering why CIC has not acknowledged receipt of your application (and they are always very slow in doing so), only to discover that it never arrived.

I hope you have found these 10 common mistakes useful, and if so, feel free to link to this post, tweet it or share it with your friends or family.

Nothing in this post constitutes legal advice – be sure to consult a lawyer with regard to your application and required forms and supporting documents.

About the author

Gianpaolo Panusa Gianpaolo Panusa is a Canadian immigration lawyer, writer, and founder of the PanCanadian Immigration Law Group based in Vancouver, Canada. Google+ Profile