Timely evidence could have helped
It was obvious that Mr. Justice O’Keefe sympathized greatly with the plight of Ilda Latifi.
Recently, he found that “her situation cries for help.” However, in the end, he could not overturn the decision of the immigration officer who refused her humanitarian application for permanent residence.
Latifi came to Canada in 2001 with her three daughters. Her husband later joined her here and physically abused her. She often had to call the police for help. When she threatened to leave him, he threatened her with death. After a violent confrontation in March 2004, she obtained a restraining order against him, separated from him, and began divorce proceedings.
In April 2005 she filed a humanitarian application citing her abuse at the hands of her husband, the lack of effective help that was available to abused women back home, and her and her daughters’ successful integration here.
In May 2007, the application was rejected.
She sought a judicial review of the decision in Federal Court and cited new facts. She provided reports from the Toronto Police outlining her husbands’ actions against her and told the court of her new job. Most importantly, she advised the court that she had learned that her estranged husband was now also to be deported to Albania where he might carry out his threats against her and her children with impunity.
Justice O’Keefe found that there was insufficient evidence presented to the officer to justify the approval of the application. However, the judge was clearly moved by the new evidence and held that “the applicant has provided new facts … which could probably change the outcome of a new (humanitarian) application.”
However, the judge correctly stated the law when he ruled: “I must make my decision based on the evidence that was before the immigration officer. I cannot, except in exceptional circumstances, use new evidence that was presented after the decision was made.”
How can such a result be avoided?
Realize that every immigration application is yours to prove. Assume that the most skeptical person will review your application and will doubt absolutely everything that you say. Accordingly, every itty bitty fact that you rely upon should be documented in the best form possible. If you need to prove that the sky was blue on a particular day, don’t just say it … prove it. Figure out how an officer might try to refuse your case, and then provide objective documentation to reasonably address those potential concerns.
Applications can be refused at any time without notice. So as new events develop, document them as soon as possible so as to ensure that they are considered before the application can be refused.
Although these tips are too late for Latifi, hopefully others can avoid losing cases that are clearly winnable.
Guidy Mamann practises law in Toronto at Mamann & Associates and is certified by the Ontario Law Society as an immigration specialist. Reach him confidentially at 416-862-0000 or at firstname.lastname@example.org