Errors On An Immigration Application Shouldn’t Doom People To Starting Over

By Al Pace | January 6, 2015

US and Canadian Immigration lawyer Andy Semotiuk: The below article about mistakes being made in the Canadian immigration process pinpoints one area where Canadian immigration processing falls short of what the Americans are doing:

Internal government reviews have identified a “high error rate” in immigration processing, from permanent resident applications to refugee work permits, prompting fears over the system’s integrity.

The human errors — staff failing to use correct form letters, address missing documents and provide accurate timelines, among other shortcomings — could not only cost individual applicants a chance to live and work in Canada but affect the “efficiency of the system” and create unnecessary backlogs.

“An important area of concerns resides with the letters. The number of request letters not sent, sent incomplete or unclear at initial stage and later on create a negative impact on both clients and the Case Processing Centre (in Vegreville, Alta.),” said an evaluation of operations at Vegreville. It was one of three internal reports obtained under an access to information request.

Though this is important stuff to report, it’s nothing new. Just ask my colleague Klaudios Mustakas about the delays in spousal sponsorship processing. Even without errors in an application, processing times of 3 years are not unheard of. When there is an error on the application, look out: you’re in for a rough ride.

In the United States, when there is a problem with an application, the applicant is notified of the problem in writing. They are then provided an opportunity to correct the deficiency before a final decision on the application is made. In Canada, however, any mistake – no matter how minor – can result in the return of the whole application to the applicant. They have to start over again.
The US has adopted a philosophy of helping qualified applicants obtain the immigration benefit for which they are applying. Canada, on the other hand, has adopted a harsh “zero tolerance” attitude towards application errors.
An overlying issue in both countries is processing delays, but at least in this respect the US approach is better. Canada should allow applicants to correct minor errors as the process takes place, rather than sending people to the back of the line after months of work.


Andy Semotiuk is a Canadian and US immigration lawyer with immigration law firm Pace Immigration. You can learn more about Andy at My Work Visa.