Many of my foreign clients don’t know how things “work” in Canada.
They have no right to live here. If they want to join their spouse here, or be reunited with their parents or children here, or if they simply want to bring their skills and start a new life here, there is only one place where they can go.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada has a monopoly on the issuance of visas and the grants of permanent residence. Sure, applicants can spend thousands of dollars and over a year to appeal CIC decisions to the Federal Court or perhaps the IRB but neither can grant applicants what they want… permanent residence. Ultimately it is only the department who can affix that much sought after foil in their passport.
So it is easy to understand why so many clients remain silent at the hands of obvious mistreatment by the department.
I doubt that many Canadians would ever tolerate a Canadian official asking them to change their names just so that they can apply for a passport or a driver’s license or some other vital document. We wouldn’t tolerate it for a minute because, in Canada, a request to do so is inherently offensive.
So I say “good” for Tarvinder Kaur, a Calgary woman who was sponsoring her husband Jaspaul Singh. She received a letter from the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi stating that “the names Kaur and Singh do not qualify for the purpose of immigration to Canada”. The letter stated that if her husband didn’t come up with a new name his application could be refused.
Apparently, New Delhi has so many Kaurs and Singhs that it can’t distinguish between applicants.
In my office, we distinguish our clients by simply ascribing a unique file number to each. So even if we have clients with identical names we can tell them apart. New Delhi also does the same and also has access to the fingerprints of their applicants as an additional means of identification. So it is unclear how a “Mr. Singh” can possibly help speed up processing or enhance Canadian security by adopting another name. It is unclear how this can help match the applicant in question with a previous applicant. In fact, won’t it make things worse?
This incredible policy has apparently been in effect for 10 years without it making the headlines. It seems applicants were too scared to speak out.
Thanks to a brave Ms. Kaur, who stood up for what she believed in, this issue has now grabbed public attention.
On the other hand, rather than acknowledging a twisted 10-year old policy, our Immigration Minister Diane Finley chose to only acknowledge learning of a single “letter” that didn’t reflect the policy of “Canada’s New Government.”
In any event, this immigration policy has now been changed as a result of the actions of a brave woman.
Unfortunately, it was not through the bravery of our minister of immigration.
Guidy Mamann is the senior lawyer at Mamann & Associates and is certified by the Law Society as an immigration specialist. Direct confidential questions to firstname.lastname@example.org