Justice Department ‘caught out’ over visa documents

Mine is a dirty business! Foreigners have enough difficulty avoiding the incompetence and dishonesty of some of the self-styled immigration professionals who prey on them.


The situation is made even worse when these poor people have to deal with dishonest immigration officials.


Take the case of Jugraj Kaur Sandhu who, together with her three kids, was being sponsored to Canada by her Canadian daughter.


In April 2005, she was interviewed by an immigration officer at the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi who expressed doubts about the school certificates of two of her children. Following the interview, Ms. Sandhu responded in writing to the officer’s concerns. Nonetheless, the application was refused by the visa post stating that she “misrepresented or withheld … material facts purport[ing] to establish the age and relationship” of two of her children.

Having been branded a liar, Sandhu appealed the decision to the Federal Court.

The Department of Justice defended the decision stating that the applicant must have wrongly addressed her alleged letter since the High Commission never received it.

After the court agreed to hear the appeal the officer was cross-examined during which the respondent was “caught out” and was forced to admit that it had, in fact, received the documents at the very time alleged by the applicant.

Did our Department of Justice concede that the visa post had made an error or that the appeal should be allowed? No sir-ree! The Department of Justice, having previously pleaded that the visa post never received the documents, now turned its argument around and claimed that the documents were in fact received and “considered” but simply “given no weight” prior to the sponsored application being refused.

Pretty clever, huh? Not clever enough for Mr. Justice Michael Phelan!

On August 1, he allowed the application for judicial review, and dismissing the governments “blatantly misleading submission” as “disingenuous [and] devoid of any truth”.

He concluded that it “was designed to cast blame on the applicant where there was none.”

Although, the court does not normally award costs in such cases, Phelan awarded the applicant every last nickel she spent on her lawyer. As for the pursuit of responsibility, the judge left it to “senior officials in the relevant organizations.”

Given its reputation, I am not at all surprised by this inexcusable abuse of the public trust by the visa post in New Delhi.

However, our Department of Justice should have known better than to defend something other than the truth.

Guidy Mamann is the senior lawyer at Mamann & Associates and is certified by the Law Society as an immigration specialist. Reach him at 416-862-0000. Direct confidential questions to metro@migrationlaw.com.