Immigration Officers Need To Use Their Discretion In Cases Before Forcing The Minister To Act

By James Metcalfe | January 25, 2016

James Metcalfe - Director of Immigration

James Metcalfe – Director of Immigration

Jim Metcalfe – Director of Immigration: Another day, another case of the Immigration Minister having to step in and cut some red tape.

A couple was reunited with their son a few days ago, but it took a long time to get him here:

It was a reunion three years in the making: Bajaj and her husband, Aman Sood, came to Canada from India in 2013 but were told the boy would not be granted permanent residency along with them.

The couple has said that a lawyer told them they could sponsor Daksh once they settled down in Canada.

Bajaj was pregnant when she first filed her claim for permanent residency in 2011, but forgot to declare that pregnancy in the paperwork — an omission she’s called an honest mistake.

The boy remained in India while his parents started petitions and held demonstrations to raise awareness about their case.

On Dec. 23, 2015, Immigration Minister John McCallum called Bajaj to tell her that her son had been granted a temporary resident permit as part of the first step in getting him permanent residency.

The Minister of Immigration must be getting tired of interceding in cases like this. Foreign service officers who assess such applications are marked on their decision-making abilities and the consequence of their errors. I wonder who made the decision to return the application in this case, and what the fallout might be?

Returning an application doesn’t mean there is malice on the part of visa officials. Likely the decision to return the application was made by local clerical staff. Without proper training, they cannot determine exceptions to the rule and where to use their own discretion and common sense.

I fear visa officers are still living in the shadow of the former conservative government and their senior bureaucrats who set policy in these matters. Temporary Resident Permits – which in my day were called Minister’s Permits – can be authorized directly by the Minister or by a recommendation of visa officers in the field. I hope this latest case will send a message that visa officers should use their own discretion, rather than have the Minster pressed into action through embarrassing news stories.

The media love stories like this and print them regularly in all of the major Canadian newspapers. The Minister needs to ensure that immigration officials are prepared to deal with these situations before they become headline news.