Skilled Worker Applications and Fairness Letters

By Pace Law | March 21, 2011

Jim Metcalfe

by Jim Metcalfe – Pace Law Firm: Over the past few weeks, we have received several inquiries from people who have had their skilled worker applications refused. Most of these people reside in the Gulf, in such countries as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and UAE. Several of their applications were refused because the applicants failed to respond to requests from Canadian visa offices in a timely manner, or they responded but provided inadequate information regarding their employment duties and responsibilities.

You should be aware that once a visa office has a problem with an application (missing information, seeking clarification, so forth), they are required to send a “fairness” letter to the applicant. In some instances, the applicants have changed their e-mail or mailing addresses without notifying the office of the change. The fairness e-mails go off into the ether, and letters are never delivered. Since the visa office doesn’t know this, they may close your case for noncompliance.

Once a case is closed, it is very difficult to reopen a file. Therefore, be sure to notify the visa office if you change any of your contact details.

The other issue is with officers that doubt whether an applicant has experience in a given occupation. Occupations are classified in Canada according to the the National Occupational Classification (NOC), a publication of the department of Human Resources and Skills Development. The NOC lists duties and responsibilities of most occupational groups in Canada. In order to qualify under a particular occupational title, an individual has to demonstrate that they have performed a substantial number of the duties and responsibilities of that occupation.

The problem in all this is if an individual replies to a fairness letter by going word for word with the duties and responsibilities in the NOC. This raises doubts as to the credibility of the reference letter.

For example, if you punch in “Nurse” in the NOC database, and then select Head Nurses and Supervisors, you get the following: Head nurses and supervisors supervise and co-ordinate the activities of registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and other nursing personnel in the provision of patient care. Don’t be tempted to copy and paste these exact words into your fairness letter response. If you do, you’ll raise red flags with the visa office. Just describe your duties and responsibilities in your own words.

Another problem with fairness letters is that with the passage of time, it may not be possible to obtain letters of reference from companies which have disappeared or merged. Unfortunately, this can be a difficult situation for applicants. Unless you know the rules and are able to persuade these officer that you have actually performed the duties and responsibilities in question, your application will be refused.

Prior to 2002, when the current immigration act came into force, these officers would interview individuals and allow them to explain their duties and responsibilities verbally. However, immigration has become a paper process. The reliance on paper disadvantages many applicants who would probably be able to qualify, but do not have the paper to support their claims.

We recommend that if you are faced with a fairness letter asking for your occupational duties and responsibilities, you seek counsel with an immigration law firm.