Refusal of entry (Canada)

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refusal of entry canada

Misrepresentation: Canadian Immigration

This is a must read for anyone applying for a visa to Canada or planning to visit the country. Misrepresentation is considered fraud in Canada and is punishable by law. Understanding what falls under the category of misrepresentation or fraud can help you not fall into it. Remember, honesty is the best policy!

What is misrepresentation?

There are a few different types of fraud when it comes to applying for immigration. Misrepresentation involves lying or creating a false impression to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Any false information sent to them can be considered fraudulent in Canada. Document fraud, citizenship and visa fraud, marriage fraud, etc. are all considered misrepresentation. This can include anything that seems as small as exaggerating the amount of time that you worked for an employer, or giving an address that you do not really live in. All of it can be deemed misrepresentation if it could cause an error in the implementation of Canadian immigration law, and that comes with a punishment.

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) addresses misrepresentation in section 40 (1):

40 (1) A permanent resident or a foreign national is inadmissible for misrepresentation:

(a) for directly or indirectly misrepresenting or withholding material facts relating to a relevant matter that induces or could induce an error in the administration of this Act;

(b) for being or having been sponsored by a person who is determined to be inadmissible for misrepresentation.

Note: Yes, this means that even omitting or leaving out information can be considered misrepresentation! You could also be found inadmissible even if you didn’t make the misrepresentation yourself! For this reason, it is very important to ensure that you, your sponsor and your immigration consultant have all provided accurate, complete and truthful information. 

Misrepresentation must be about a material fact, not a simple mistake. This means that IRCC can only make a misrepresentation finding if the fact that was misrepresented might have caused an officer to make an improper decision or was important enough to affect the process.

Here is a real example of a material misrepresentation:

 

In the summer of 2020, when strict travel restrictions were in place to limit the spread of COVID-19, a Mr. Lyell Sullivan Buttermore sought entry at the Canada-U.S. border. At the time, foreign nationals could only enter Canada if they had an essential purpose. Mr. Buttermore claimed that he needed to enter Canada for essential work and he presented a letter of employment as proof. However, during his interview with Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) at the border, the officer discovered that Mr. Buttermore had misrepresented the reason he was requesting entry into Canada. The employment letter he presented was forged and the true purpose of his trip was to visit his girlfriend. Mr. Buttermore’s false claim and forged document about the purpose of his visit could have induced an error in the administration of Canadian immigration law and policy. He misrepresented a fact that was certainly important enough to affect the process, especially with the emergency policies in place at the time.

You can read more about Mr. Buttermore and the consequences of his actions in the news release issued by CBSA.

Well, what if a misrepresentation was done unintentionally? In a recent Federal Court case[1], the Honourable Mr. Justice Manson stated the following: “This Court does not distinguish between innocent misrepresentation and deliberate misrepresentation[.]” Therefore, a misrepresentation that was innocently made can still result in an inadmissibility finding if it was made by the applicant and involved a material issue. This applies even if the applicant was simply following someone else’s incorrect advice. However, decision-makers and visa officers are advised to “be aware that honest errors and misunderstandings sometimes occur in completing application forms and responding to questions.”[2]  For this reason, both the Federal Court and the IRCC’s Enforcement Manual direct officers to be fair and to consider the totality of the information provided in their assessment of each individual case. If the fact that was misrepresented is not important enough to affect the process, it should not result in an inadmissibility finding.

[1] Haghighat v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2021 FC 598 (CanLII), at para 25, https://canlii.ca/t/jgdc0#par25.

[2] Koo v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), 2008 FC 931 (CanLII), at para 19, https://canlii.ca/t/203fx#par19.

Here is a real case example of a mistake that did not constitute a misrepresentation:

 

Almost 20 years ago, a man named Chi-Sing Koo, a Taiwanese citizen, changed his legal name at the advice of a fortune teller to Dao-Min Koo.  A couple of years after changing his name, he was granted a work permit in Canada where he was employed as a cook in a gourmet restaurant. A few months later, he submitted a permanent residence application with the help of an immigration consultant under his new name. Mr. Koo’s consultant failed to disclose his former name in one of the forms. As a result of the omission of his birth name on the form (as well as some other reasons), the officer refused his application and deemed him inadmissible to Canada for misrepresentation. The officer reasoned that the omission of Mr. Koo’s former name could have led to an error in the immigration process because the necessary criminal and security checks might not have been conducted under Mr. Koo’s birth name as required. However, upon appeal, the Federal Court of Canada[1] found that the officer’s decision was not reasonable because, in addition to the form, several supporting documents were submitted by Mr. Koo indicating his former name. So, information about Mr. Koo’s previous name was available to the adjudicating officer in the original application file all along and was again confirmed by Mr. Koo at his interview. The Honourable Mr. Justice de Montigny concluded that this was clear evidence that Mr. Koo was not trying to deceive IRCC by hiding his name change and that the officer had failed to conduct a proper analysis of misrepresentation and materiality.[2]

This is a real case example of human error that, upon judicial review by the court, did not rise to the level of misrepresentation.

[1] Ibid at paras 35-38, https://canlii.ca/t/203fx#par35.

[2] Ibid at para 38, https://canlii.ca/t/203fx#par38.

Despite the outcome of Mr. Koo’s case, it bears repeating that it is extremely important to review your application forms and supporting documents before signing and submitting; including when the application is being submitted by your consultant, lawyer, or sponsor. Take great care when reviewing any information or documentation prepared for your case. A simple omission or mistake can lead to unpleasant results or delays and, even if an unreasonable decision is made, the process of applying for judicial review to the federal court, like Mr. Koo, can be very expensive.

Here is a list of sample situations in which a person may be found to have misrepresented:

  • Declaring false information with regards to your address history;
  • Discovery of a misrepresentation made in the past;
  • Failing to declare a U.S. visa cancellation, especially when it results in a bar to the U.S.;
  • Failing to declare a visa refusal from any country in an application for temporary residence (i.e., work, study, visit, etc.);
  • Failing to declare family members in your application;
  • Having a sponsor who has misrepresented information;
  • Hiring an unauthorized representative or ghost consultant that misrepresents information;
  • Marriage of convenience;
  • Omitting employment details in a visitor extension application;
  • Providing false or incomplete work experience;
  • Providing false or forged documentation;
  • Providing inaccurate travel history;
  • Providing inconsistent, inaccurate, or incomplete information to IRCC and/or CBSA;
  • Withholding relevant information from IRCC or CBSA;
  • Hiding criminal history, even if it has been pardoned or expunged from your record.

Note: This is not an exhaustive list!

Consequences of Misrepresentation

IRCC works with CBSA, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), foreign police and government offices to crack down on misrepresentation. Misrepresentation may cause any combination of the following:

  • refusal of your application;
  • refusal of all your family members’ applications;
  • denial of entry into Canada for at least 5 years;
  • loss of temporary resident status for visitors, workers, or students;
  • loss of permanent resident status,
  • revocation of citizenship;
  • a permanent entry in IRCC’s fraud record;
  • removal from Canada; and
  • criminal prosecution.

In Canada, misrepresentation is fraud and is a crime. This means that it can lead to sentencing, even a jail sentence. Foreign nationals and permanent residents who are found guilty of misrepresentation can be banned from entering Canada for a period of time, or indefinitely. A person can also be charged up to $100,000, be sentenced up to 5 years in prison, or even both for misrepresentation. It bears reemphasizing that you can lose your status in Canada because of misrepresentation – the rule against misrepresentation applies to permanent residents of Canada just as much as it does to foreign nationals.

Document Fraud

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Providing false or altered documents to IRCC is a form of misrepresentation. Any document submitted to IRCC that is not 100% truthful is fraudulent.

Altering or faking the following documents is fraud:

  • Passports;
  • Visas;
  • Diplomas, degrees or educational program papers;
  • Birth, marriage, divorce or death certificates;
  • Medical papers;
  • Police certificates;

Note: This is not an exhaustive list!

A person who is involved in forging or altering immigration documents; misrepresents or omits material information in an application form; or who lies in an interview with an IRCC or CBSA officer is committing the crime of fraud.

Here is a real case example:

In September 2019, Mr. Dangelo de Jesus Cardona-Orozco, a Columbian national, attempted to enter Canada assuming a false identity with a forged Mexican passport. He also carried a fraudulent Mexican driver’s license, fake employee ID and other false documentation under that false identity.  Before his flight to Canada, he had provided false information in his Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) application to gain approval for travel. During his inspection at the border, officers discovered that the passport he was using contained one of the passport laminates that had been reported stolen by Mexican authorities earlier that year. Upon further investigation and after running Mr. Orozco’s fingerprints the border officers discovered that he had done this before. He had entered Canada using forged Mexican documentation in 2017 and was deported for serious criminality. His attempt to re-enter Canada in 2019 by again committing immigration fraud led to his criminal conviction and sentence. In January 2020, the Provincial Court of Nova Scotia sentenced Mr. Orozco to prison for immigration fraud.[1] He will be deported from Canada after his release.

[1] R. v. Dangelo de Jesus (Garcia Cardona-Orozco), 2020 NSPC 5 (CanLII), https://canlii.ca/t/j54s0.

Note: a person who is deported from Canada is permanently barred from entering the country and can only re-enter with special authorization!

In the case of Mr. Orozco described above, the Honourable Judge Jean M. Whalen held, “A message must be sent to like-minded people that we will not allow individuals to compromise our border and immigration system because it poses a real risk to public safety.”[1] This goes to show that IRCC, CBSA, Canadian law enforcement and courts take document fraud very seriously and take measures to deter others from making the same mistake.

[1] Ibid at para 37, https://canlii.ca/t/j54s0#par37.

Citizenship and Visa Fraud

Any misrepresentation of your status in Canada will fall under this category. Falsified citizenship or visa documents are a crime. Also, providing false or exaggerated information in order to gain temporary status, permanent residence or citizenship in Canada is a crime. For example, lying about how long you have lived in Canada or giving a false address in Canada in order to gain citizenship or a visa. Foreign nationals living outside of Canada by providing an address in Canada that they do not live in, perhaps the address of someone they know, will be penalized and likely banned from entering Canada.

In order to simply maintain their status, permanent residents of Canada must be physically present in Canada for at least 730 days (or 2 years) in every 5-year period. Permanent residents who wish to become Canadian citizens must be physically present in Canada for at least 1,095 days (3 years) in the 5-year period preceding their application for Canadian citizenship. As mentioned above, one of the ways that people commit citizenship or immigration fraud is by falsifying the dates of their residence in Canada in order to maintain their permanent resident status and/or acquire Canadian citizenship. Permanent residents and consultants who are discovered to be involved in such fraudulent activities face serious consequences. That is what happened to Ms. Catherine Chen, also known as Cong Chen, when she lost her permanent resident status for falsifying her dates of residence in Canada.

We provide a summary of her case below:

In October 2019, the Immigration Appeal Division dismissed an appeal from Catherine Chen who was seeking to retain her permanent resident status in Canada based on humanitarian and compassionate considerations (H&C). Ms. Chen, a citizen of China and Malta and an immigrant investor of Hong Kong, was 20-years-old when she first became a permanent resident of Canada. She was accepted as the dependent child of her parents who immigrated to Canada in the investor class in 2008. Five years later, when it was time to renew her permanent resident card, Ms. Chen used the services of Wellong International Investments Ltd. (Wellong) to represent her. In her application to renew her permanent resident card, Wellong submitted a false paper trail indicating that Ms. Chen had only been absent from Canada for 330 days. Based on the falsified information and supporting documents they provided, Ms. Chen received a new PR card in 2013. In 2012, Wellong submitted a Canadian citizenship application on behalf of Ms. Chen with more falsified information, including misrepresented dates and fake passport stamps. She later withdrew her citizenship application after she was asked to verify and sign a summary of her travel.

Unbeknownst to Ms. Chen, Wellong was under investigation by CBSA for large-scale immigration fraud. In 2015, Wellong’s owner, Mr. Xun “Sunny” Wang, was convicted of dealing in passports, falsifying passports, defrauding the government, obtaining tax credits, income tax evasion, and for helping numerous clients become permanent residents and citizens of Canada through fraud. He was sentenced a total of 7 years and a fine of over $730,000. Through the investigation on Wellong, CBSA discovered that Ms. Chen had actually been absent from Canada for at least 1,163 days between 2008 and 2013. So, Ms. Chen was seized by CBSA and issued a removal order. When faced with her immigration file, she denied any knowledge of the misrepresentation in her applications and blamed her consultant, Wellong, and even her parents. She appealed the decision but the Immigration Appeal Division found that “One’s ignorance of the law does not excuse one from having to follow it and one’s willful blindness to wrongful activity does not excuse one from benefitting from it.[1] Ultimately, Ms. Chen’s appeal of the removal order based on H&C considerations including her remorsefulness, her establishment in Canada, her family ties in Canada, and the hardship she would face if she lost her permanent residence status were found to be insufficient to save her status as a permanent resident in Canada.

[1] Chen v Canada (Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness), 2019 CanLII 132374 (CA IRB), at para 52, https://canlii.ca/t/j63jn#par52.

Marriage Fraud

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When two people enter into a marriage or common-law situation in order for one to receive status in Canada, this is marriage fraud. You may also have heard it referred to as a marriage of convenience. This is illegal. IRCC has measures in place to detect these kinds of marriages. Some of these measures include visits to the applicants’ homes as well as multiple interviews and extensive document checks. A person can be charged with a crime for participating in marriage fraud. Being charged with a crime can lead to fines and imprisonment. The maximum punishments of misrepresentation can be applied to all forms of misrepresentation in Canada.

Many Canadian citizens and permanent residents marry people from other countries. Some of these Canadians are victims used by foreign nationals to acquire immigration status and then left abandoned; while others knowingly participate in fraudulent marriage, oftentimes in exchange for payment. In either case, the risks and repercussions are serious.

When a Canadian applies to sponsor a spouse, they are legally promising the Government of Canada that they will be financially responsible for their spouse for 3 years, even if they break up. So, if that sponsored person uses social assistance during those 3 years, their Canadian sponsor will have to repay the government. Sadly, there have been several cases where victims of marriage fraud were abandoned and left to repay substantial debts to the Canadian government by the spouse that they helped bring into Canada.

As noted above, sometimes both parties knowingly enter into marriages of convenience, often by exchanging immigration sponsorship for payment. These arrangements have been found to be made between foreign nationals and their Canadian sponsors alone but sometimes they are made by third party agents or consultants for a fee.

Here is a real case example where a foreign national paid an agency to arrange a fake marriage to a Canadian sponsor but when the fraud was discovered, she personally arranged a second marriage of convenience with another Canadian:

 

Ms. Yufen Cai, a citizen of China, first entered Canada with a study permit in 2002.  Foreign students have temporary status in Canada and are expected to return to their home countries at the end of their authorized period of stay. However, Ms. Cai did not wish to return to her home country. So, in 2004, she paid an agent to arrange a fake marriage to Mr. Christopher Kott. She paid over $30,000 and, in 2006, she obtained permanent resident status based on that marriage. Eventually, the marriage fraud was detected by CBSA and an investigation began. As a consequence of the misrepresentation, Ms. Cai received a removal order and lost her permanent resident status after an admissibility hearing with the Immigration Division in July 2012. Ms. Cai decided to appeal the decision to the Immigration Appeal Division. It was during this time that she remarried. Her new husband, Mr. Enes Yagiz, first entered Canada as a refugee claimant from Turkey. He became a protected person in Canada when his claim that he faced persecution in Turkey as a gay man was accepted in 2009. He became a permanent resident of Canada in 2010. Mr. Yagiz and Ms. Cai were married in Turkey in 2013, but they kept their relationship a secret from immigration authorities. In 2014, Ms. Cai’s appeal of the removal order based on humanitarian and compassionate grounds failed. That same year, Mr. Yagiz obtained his Canadian citizenship but his wife had to leave Canada and comply with the removal order. A few months after her departure, he filed to sponsor Ms. Cai as his spouse. This was the first time that they disclosed their marriage to immigration authorities. However, due to many discrepancies and holes in their application the visa officer who reviewed their application was not convinced that their marriage was genuine. Therefore, Mr. Yagiz’s application to sponsor her as his spouse was refused. He appealed the visa officer’s decision but he was not successful. The Immigration Appeal Division agreed with the visa officer and concluded the following[1]: the evidence did not establish that the marriage was genuine; that she likely married Mr. Yagiz just to regain her permanent resident status in Canada; and that her statements could not be trusted because she lied repeatedly.

[1] Yagiz v Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2018 CanLII 22391 (CA IRB), https://canlii.ca/t/hr65z.

The Member presiding over the hearing concluded by quoting the Honourable Mr. Justice Shore who stated the following: “An applicant who trifles with the truth in legal proceedings cannot expect to be successful; thus, a Court may discredit even true statements, not knowing where the truth begins and ends, and a climate of uncertainty then prevails.”[1]

This goes to show that once it is proven that an applicant has lied to immigration authorities, any information that he or she provides after the fact will be viewed with suspicion; making it extremely difficult to be successful in any subsequent application or appeal.

[1] Ibid at para 24, https://canlii.ca/t/hr65z#par24; See also Navaratnam v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2011 FC 856.

Counselling Misrepresentation and Unlicensed Consultants

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Not only can a person be penalized for misrepresenting a material fact in their own application but any person who advises someone to misrepresent (Counsel Misrepresentation) or who provides immigration advice without a license (Advise for Consideration without Authorization) can also be penalized. As in the cases of Ms. Chen and Ms. Cai, discussed above, applicants who fall prey to or collaborate with any such individuals may also face repercussions, such as refusal, rejection or even deportation or inadmissibility for misrepresentation. 

The following case of a consultant and his clients is a real example of counselling misrepresentation and it stresses the importance of rejecting any immigration advice that encourages suspicious or fraudulent activity, even if that advice comes from a lawyer or representative. Association or involvement with any such activity will have serious repercussions for all individuals involved:

 

In 2015, Mr. Mohammed Elhajabed of Nova Scotia was sentenced to 1 year and 6 months of house arrest for immigration fraud. He was also ordered to pay a fine of $25,000 CAD. Mr. Elhajabed was convicted of counselling misrepresentation in violation of section 126 of the IRPA. Under this section, any person who knowingly counsels, induces, aids or abets anyone in misrepresenting material facts to IRCC or CBSA is guilty of counselling misrepresentation. A person could even be charged for knowingly attempting to counsel misrepresentation under this provision of the IRPA.

After several months of investigating, CBSA uncovered a “large-scale residency fraud that was carried out over almost five years” by Mr. Elhajabed and his associates. Their immigration consulting firm, which had multiple offices in the Middle East in addition to their Canadian office, helped families with permanent resident status create fictitious Canadian residence histories. These fictitious residences were invented with falsified information and evidence to make it appear as though the families resided in Canada when, in fact, they did not. This allowed them to maintain their permanent resident status in Canada and would have eventually enabled them to apply for citizenship in Canada. Mr. Elhajabed and his associates were found guilty of counselling misrepresentation. The applicants who used their services to commit immigration fraud faced serious consequences, including imprisonment, being stripped of their permanent residency, and deportation. A news release issued by CBSA reports further on this particular case.

The Canadian government is cracking down hard on immigration fraud and all violations of the IRPA. So, we would urge you to be wary of any shady advice that can negatively affect your application process.

Anyone can represent you before IRCC if they do not charge you a fee. This can be a friend, family member, or anyone else who does not request payment from you. However, only certain people can charge you a fee or any form of payment to represent you or advice you on immigration or citizenship in Canada. They are called authorized representatives and include:

  • lawyers in good standing with a Canadian provincial or territorial law society;
  • paralegals in good standing with a Canadian provincial or territorial law society;
  • notaries in good standing with the Chambre des notaires du Quebec; or
  • consultants in good standing with the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants (or CICC formerly known as ICCRC)

Any person who is not a member in good standing of one of the above and still charges a fee to advise you, prepare your application, update your file, or represent you when dealing with IRCC is considered an unauthorized representative. You may sometimes hear them referred to as “ghost consultants”. Unauthorized representatives, including Canadian lawyers and consultants who are no longer in good standing, face serious repercussions for continuing to accept payment to represent applicants.

This was the case with Ms. Angela Codina:

 

In 2018, Ms. Angela Codina of Ontario was sentenced to 7 years in jail for immigration fraud. She served 2 years in jail before her trial even began. She was also ordered to pay $30,200 CAD. Ms. Codina is one of the first people to be charged under subsection 91 (1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). This particular section is designed to stop those who provide immigration consultation for a fee without being legally licensed or authorized to do so. More details on her conviction and sentence can be found in the press release issued by CBSA in June, 2018.

IRCC will not deal with unauthorized representatives and the consequence of using one may be a return or refusal of your application. To avoid this, we highly recommend that you check if your lawyer or consultant is licensed to represent you or give you advice. You can find the instructions for doing so on the Canadian government website – all you need is your representative’s name. You can also use these instructions to find a good authorized representative in your area.

Note: For honest, experienced immigration consultation by an authorized representative, contact Cohen Brosh Law Offices!

Conclusion

Some foreign nationals may think that misrepresenting themselves can help them have a better chance to get status in Canada, but this is not advised. Misrepresentation is a crime, and not worth the punishments inflicted when caught as illustrated in the real case examples provided above. We recommend working with an authorized RCIC or immigration lawyer in good standing to submit the best application you can when applying. Misrepresenting yourself is not the way to do this. And remember, if you are caught misrepresenting any information, even after you pay the penalties and years have passed, it will remain on record. This misrepresentation can ruin your and your family’s chances of consideration for visas or citizenship in the future.

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