Sponsorship Applications and Alternative Dispute Resolution


You’ve filled out the forms the best you can. You’ve followed the checklist of documents and submitted what you think is strong evidence to show your relationship is genuine.

You wait for six months (or more), and you and your spouse are getting excited about starting your new life in Canada.

Then it comes – a rejection letter from Citizenship and Immigration Canada that states your sponsorship application has been rejected.

You are both devastated and you don’t know why this happened or what to do next.

With regard to what happened, in my experience, the CIC checklists and inadequate and if you just follow those, you may not have enough evidence for a successful application. Or there could have been any one of several details missing in your application that caused it to fail.

In any case, this post is not about avoiding a failed application. It is about what to do if it does fail.

If you believe that CIC made a mistake (and you can show how they made a mistake) in assessing your application, your best options is the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process.

What is ADR?

The alternative dispute resolution process is an informal – and fast – way to have your application reviewed and for you (or your lawyer) to make your case to a CIC official.

A conference is called between you, your representative (if you have one), a Dispute Resolution Officer (who oversees the process) and Minister’s Counsel (who represents CIC).

You will be given the oppotunity to state why mistakes were made, and to provide additional evidence to explain why there are special circumstanes in your case.

It is important to review your rejection letter to see exactly why your case was rejected, and address those reasons specifically. If you don’t address those reasons, you won’t be successful at the ADR conference.

The Dispute Resolution Officer may meet with you separately, and will likely give his or opinion of the case for the Minister’s Counsel (CIC) to consider.

Ultimately, CIC will decide if your case should be approved or denied after the ADR conference.

What happens if I’m not approved at the ADR conference?

If you are not successful at the ADR conference, you can continue to appeal your case and ask for a hearing at the Immigration Appeal Division. This is a much more formal process and an impartial decision-maker (not CIC) will make a decision on your case.

As with any appeal, you should hire a lawyer, as the issues and process can be complex, and you only have once chance to make your case.

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