« Share changes in circumstances and as quickly as possible. »
Cesar and Sofronia Maruquin filed for permanent residence to Canada in April 2003 and included their daughter Cheryl as an accompanying dependent. While waiting for their application to be processed, Cheryl became pregnant and gave birth to a son in July 2004.
Three years passed and they were still waiting for their applications to be finalized. In March 2006, their sponsor informed the visa post that Cheryl had given birth and she would be leaving the baby in the Philippines until she petitions for him at a later date.
Did our immigration officials congratulate Cheryl on the birth of her child? Did they thank her sponsor for the update? Did they offer her information on how to bring the child later?
No. Instead, they convoked her and her parents for an interview in July 2006 so Cheryl could explain why she waited almost two years to inform them she was now a new mom.
Perhaps the application was being handled by her parents or by her Canadian sponsor. Perhaps becoming a single mom was not something she was quite comfortable with yet.
In any event, Cheryl said she didn’t know she had to declare the child, but nonetheless did so when she underwent her immigration medicals. She seemed confused by all the fuss given the fact the visa post had already been advised the child would not be accompanying her.
About a week later, not one, but two, immigration officers wrote to her father saying that his sponsored application, and that of his wife and daughter, was being refused “for directly or indirectly misrepresenting or withholding material facts relating to a relevant matter that induces or could induce an error in the administration” of Canada’s immigration laws.
On judicial review to the federal court, our department of justice defended the decision by arguing that Cheryl’s application, which she signed in April 2003, contained an undertaking to “immediately inform the Canadian visa office where I submitted my application if any of the information or the answers provided in my application forms change.” Interestingly, this form did not request her to advise whether she had dependents or children.
Although the court struck down the decision on the grounds that it was unreasonable to expect Cheryl to remember an undertaking she made 15 months earlier, it is still a good idea to share changes in circumstances and as quickly as possible.
Guidy Mamann practises law in Toronto at Mamann & Associates and is certified by the Law Society of Upper Canada as an immigration specialist. Reach him confidentially at 416-862-0000 or at