Secret Evidence Used Against Me? (On Extrinsic Evidence) [Updated]

Where immigration officers have extrinsic evidence particular to an applicant, and that applicant is unaware that the immigration officer has that evidence, then procedural fairness requires that immigration officers disclose this evidence to the applicant.
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Ezokola and the Test For Complicity

In 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada in Ezokola v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration) created a new test for determining complicity in Article 1F(a) exclusion cases.

Article 1F(a) of the 1951 Refugee Convention provides that:

The provisions of this Convention shall not apply to any person with respect to whom there  are serious reasons for considering that:

(a)  He has committed a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity, as defined in the international instruments drawn up to make provision in respect of such crimes;

The issue that Ezokola addressed is how broad Article 1F(a) is.  It if it interpreted too narrowly, then Canada risks creating safe havens for perpetrators of international crimes.  If it is read too broadly, then the humanitarian aims of the 1951 Refugee Convention would be imperilled.

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Substituted Evaluations for Federal Skilled Worker Applicants [Updated]

There is a myth amongst potential Federal Skilled Worker Program applicants that their application is guaranteed if they can get 67 points. This is not true for several reasons, including the possible use of substituted evaluations.
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Canada’s Interpretation of Article 1F(b) of the 1951 Refugee Convention

On October 30, 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada (the “Supreme Court“) rendered its decision in Febles v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration Canada), 2014 SCC 68 (“Febles“).  This was the first time to my knowledge that the SCC has addressed Canada’s interpretation of Article 1F(b) of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, Can. T.S. 1969 No. 6 (the “1951 Refugee Convention“), incorporated into s. 98 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (“IRPA” or the “Act“) (other than in obiter).

Febles provides an opportune time to both summarize the principles articulated in it, as well as other significant Federal Court and Federal Court of Appeal cases involving Article 1F(b) of the 1951 Refugee Convention.

Image from the Aditus Foundation

Image from the Aditus Foundation

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Section 97 Refugees

Refugee practitioners colloquially refer to their clients as being either s. 96 or s. 97 Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (“IRPA”) refugees. Section 96 of IRPA provides that a person who is recognized by the Geneva Convention as being a convention refugee shall be conferred refugee protection. Section 97, meanwhile, provides that a person who is in need of protection shall also be afforded refugee protection in Canada.
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Determining Whether a Marriage Is Genuine

Arguably the most important part of any spousal or common-law sponsorship application is establishing that a relationship is not encompassed by s. 4(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, SOR/2002-227 (“IRPR”), which provides that:

4. (1) For the purposes of these Regulations, a foreign national shall not be considered a spouse, a common-law partner or a conjugal partner of a person if the marriage, common-law partnership or conjugal partnership

(a) was entered into primarily for the purpose of acquiring any status or privilege under the Act; or

(b) is not genuine.

Despite the importance of applicants demonstrating that their relationship is genuine and not entered into primarily for the purpose of acquiring any status or privilege under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (the “Act”), there are no set criteria which determine whether an application is bona-fide. As the Federal Court noted in Koffi v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2014 FC 7 (citations removed)

It is well established in the case law of this Court that there is no specific criterion, or even a set of criteria, to determine whether a marriage is genuine pursuant to section 4 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations. It is exclusively up to the visa officer to determine the relative weight to grant each of the factors, based on the facts, to ensure the inherent logic of the applicant’s story according to the particular clues, or references made by the applicant himself, meaning the encyclopedia of references, a dictionary of terms, a picture gallery of the applicant’s file in addition to an assessment to determine whether the facts on file taken together create harmony or discord.

Notwithstanding the fact that there is no set criteria for IRPR r. 4(1) analysis, numerous Immigration Appeal Division (“IAD”) decisions have noted that a non-exhausted list of factors includes:

  • the compatibility of the spouses;
  • the development of the relationship;
  • communication between the appellant and the applicant;
  • financial support;
  • the spouses’ knowledge of each other;
  • visits by the appellant to see the applicant;
  • the presence of the applicant’s family in Canada;
  • the applicant’s previous attempts to land in Canada;
  • previous marriages; and
  • the cultural context.

While the burden of proof is on an applicant to establish that a relationship is bona-fide, officers should not presume at the outset that a relationship is mala-fide. As well, while visa officers are entitled to consider and weigh numerous factors when assessing a sponsorship application, the jurisprudence is also clear that officers must be alert to an applicant’s unique circumstances, including cultural customs, dating habits, and financial circumstances.

For example, as the Federal Court noted in Lhundup v. Canada (Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship),  2017 FC 224, it would be unreasonable for an immigration officer to unduly focus on the difference in age between a married couple.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has produced training materials to officers on how to spot non-genuine relationships.  Thankfully, most officers show much more common sense in assessing these applications than what their training materials suggests should be how they assess applications.


Court Discusses Hybrid Offenses in the Refugee Context

The Federal Court recently released an interesting case discussing the effect of a criminal charge or conviction abroad on an individual’s ability to claim refugee status in Canada.

In the non-refugee context, a foreign national is inadmissible to Canada if he has been convicted abroad of, or if he has committed abroad, an offense whose equivalent in Canada would be an indictable offense under an Act of Parliament.

As anyone who is familiar with Canada’s Criminal Code is aware, many criminal offenses are hybrid offenses, and the Crown can elect to proceed by summary trial or by way of indictment.

For example, s. 271 of the Criminal Code states that:

(1) Every one who commits a sexual assault is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years; or

(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding eighteen months.

Section 36(3)(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act addresses hybrid offenses.  It provides that for the purpose of determining inadmissibility to Canada an offence that may be prosecuted either summarily or by way of indictment is deemed to be an indictable offense.  The result is that people who are convicted abroad of minor offenses in their countries of origin are inadmissible to Canada because their offense is deemed to be indictable for the purpose of determining inadmissibility, even if it virtually impossible that the same offense if committed in Canada would actually be prosecuted by way of indictment.

Until recently, there was uncertainty if the same held true for excluding people from refugee protection pursuant to Article 1Fb, which provides that:

F. The provisions of this Convention shall not apply to any person with respect to whom there are serious reasons for considering that:

( b ) He has committed a serious non-political crime outside the country of refuge prior to his admission to that country as a refugee;

Neither the 1951 Refugee Convention nor Canadian immigration legislation address how hybrid offenses are to be treated for the purpose of Article 1Fb analysis.

What do you think?  Should different standards for determining inadmissibility apply for refugee claimants and other foreign nationals?  Should hybrid offenses be deemed to be indictable for the purpose of determining inadmissibility?