Sponsorship and Medical Inadmissibility of a Family Member


Too often an immigration sponsorship application is rejected because a family member (whether accompanying the applicant or not) is deemed medically inadmissible. The test is whether the individual will or might reasonably cause excessive demands on the health care or social service system when that person arrives in Canada.

A recent case at the Immigation Appeal Division (Leonoff, March 31, 2009) dealt with an applicant’s brother who suffered from a mental disability (the case uses the unpleasant term of “retardation”).

The IAD overturned the visa officer’s rejection of the application and found the brother was not medically inadmissible. The IAD stated in part:

The sponsored application for permanent residence of the appellant’s parents and brother was refused on the basis that the brother was medically inadmissible in that he suffered from severe mental retardation. The appeal was allowed in law. In response to a fairness letter, the appellant submitted further medical information to counter the position taken by the medical officer that the brother’s condition might reasonably be expected to cause excessive demands on health or social services. That information included letters from a psychiatrist and psychologist indicating that the brother suffered from moderate mental retardation and could be cared for at home with minimal help. It behooved the medical officer to at least indicate why he rejected their conclusions, which were different from his. There was no indication that the visa officer considered the new evidence in rejecting the applications and he failed to consider whether the medical officer’s decision had ignored evidence and was unreasonable. If that had been done, the results of the present appeal may very well have been different, as there was no reliable evidence as to what kind of services the appellant really needed and there were insufficient humanitarian and compassionate grounds to grant special relief. The refusal was invalid in law.

In other words, there was an assumption that a mental disability would prove to be burdensome on our health care system without actually investigating the facts in this case where the brother could be cared for at home with little medical intervention required.

Immigration applicants who have medical issues, or who have family members with medical issues, should be vigilent about assumptions around the amount of care required. They should voice their opinion that their medical condition can be managed without excessive demands on the health care system if possible.

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