Responding to Procedural Fairness Letters

10th Feb 2011 Comments Off on Responding to Procedural Fairness Letters

Last updated on August 6th, 2020

Where an applicant submits a complete application, but an immigration officer nonetheless has concerns regarding the merits of it, the immigration officer will often provide a fairness letter to the applicant.  This requirement has arisen from Federal Court of Canada jurisprudence which provides that the duty of procedural fairness can require that an applicant be given an opportunity to respond to a decision maker’s concerns when those concerns go beyond simply whether the legislation or related requirements are met on the face of the application.  When, for example, the applicant may be unaware of the existence or the basis of the concern, procedural fairness may require prior notice of the concern before a decision is made so that the applicant has an opportunity to try to disabuse the officer of the concern.  As the Court noted in Kaur v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2020 FC 809, this is the case for both temporary and permanent residency applications.

The failure to adequately respond to a procedural fairness letter is generally the refusal of the application.

Unfortunately, many individuals do not take the time to properly respond to the procedural fairness letter.  Upon review, it is often apparent that the reason for the inadequate response is either because the applicant did not understand the fairness letter, or because they simply did not know how to respond appropriately.  As well, the fault may lie with the visa officer if the procedural fairness letter was insufficient.

Accordingly, there are several things that applicants should know about responding to procedural fairness letters.

The first thing is perhaps the most obvious, and that is that applicants should address the issues that are raised in the fairness letter. 

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