Last Updated on April 1, 2011 by Steven Meurrens
When visa officers have concerns regarding a completed application, they often convoke interviews. The interview provides the applicants to address these concerns. Interviews are not the norm. If you have been requested to appear at an embassy for an interview it typically means that a visa officer has a concern with your application.
1) Visa officers do not have an obligation to provide you with a running score at each step of the interview. They are not going tell you how you’re doing, nor are they are going to tell you how they will be deciding.
2) Visa officers do, however, have a legal duty to put forward any concerns that they have. They cannot withhold concerns during an interview, and then include them in a refusal letter. In Sharma v. Canada (2011 FC 337), for example, the court found that it was a breach of procedural fairness to note inform a Federal Skilled Worker applicant that a negative substituted evaluation was going to be issued against him. This was especially the case given that the officer had not provided the applicant with an opportunity to address the concerns giving rise to the substituted evaluation during the interview.
3) In a spousal-sponsorship context, it is not uncommon for the couple to be interviewed separately. If there are inconsistencies, it is unclear whether officers are required to provide applicants with the opportunity to explain any inconsistencies. In Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) v Dasent (1996), 193 NR 303, 39, the Federal Court of Appeal found that inconsistent statements by a spouse in a separate interview are not extrinsic evidence which officers are required to disclose. However, in Huang v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), Justice Boswell found that maintaining an arcane exception for spousal interviews is unwarranted in cases where an applicant’s credibility is an issue, and that once the spouses have been interviewed separately, there is no longer any danger of collusion. If an applicant or his or her spouse should try to retract any of their statements when confronted with inconsistencies, this could simply affect their credibility.
4) Indeed, there is typically a higher standard of procedural fairness where a visa officer’s concerns pertain to the genuineness or primary purpose of a marriage. In Johnson v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2017 FC 550, the Federal Court determined that it was a breach of procedural fairness for an officer to advise someone that an interview was being scheduled to address someone’s identity and then to question them about the genuineness of their marriage during the interview. The Federal Court found that had the individual and his spouse received adequate notice explaining that they would be questioned about the genuine nature of their marriage, they may have prepared differently and they may have been better prepared to reconcile their individual memories of the time frames that were of interest to the Officer and make focused submissions about their marriage including the potential of further supporting documentation. This is especially the case because one of the reasons for notice is to allow an individual to reflect upon and recall the timelines of past events.