by James Metcalfe – Pace Law Firm: On a daily basis, I receive telephone calls from people asking me questions about immigration. I often have to dispel myths and misinformation that they may have heard from others, including their friends and family.

A recent example of the type of questions we deal with came from a young lady – we’ll call her “Susan” – who wanted to bring her fiancé to Canada. Susan had talked to a few people who had firsthand knowledge of immigration procedures, and then she called us. It quickly became apparent that none of Susan’s advisers were qualified in the field of immigration law.

Susan’s fiancé was a citizen of a North African country that was going through a revolution. Susan was under the impression that her fiancé could make a refugee claim and be accepted into Canada relatively quickly. Incorrect. We had to tell her that a person in her fiancé’s country could not make a refugee claim and seek resettlement in Canada; he could only make a refugee claim outside his country of nationality. This would have required him to go to a third country, where he could make an application through the United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees.

Susan then brought up fiancé sponsorship. Apparently she had heard that fiancés could be sponsored to come to Canada. Incorrect again. I had to inform her that there are no provisions for fiancé sponsorship under the Canadian Immigration Act, as these provisions were done away with in 2002.

This was followed by a final question from Susan, which related to how long it would take to process an application for him if they were married. She had been advised by a friend that as the spouse of a Canadian citizen, he could come to Canada immediately. The answer was an unequivocal no. While she may have had the right to sponsor him if they married, he would still have had to go through a process to determine whether he met the criteria as a spouse before coming to Canada. Depending on the specifics of the case, this could take months or even years.

Unfortunately, there are many people providing information and advice on immigration procedures, and basing it on their own personal experiences. While their intentions may be good, it’s important to remember that their own case may have been unique in some way, and that the rules might have changed since they went through the process.

My advice to anyone interested in immigration is to look at the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website. It contains a wealth of general information about Canadian immigration procedures.

If you have any doubts about the specifics of your situation, and if a friend’s advice sounds a little too good to be true, be sure to seek the opinion of an immigration law firm.

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