Communicating with CIC: Minimizing Misunderstandings

How many times in our daily lives have we been misunderstood? Sometimes, others interpret our words or actions differently than we intended. In the same way, immigration officials are just like the rest of us; in reviewing your application, they may see your case in a way that doesn’t match up with your intent—or your goals. Why leave things open to misinterpretation? The best approach is to provide all of the relevant and crucial information the first time, to avoid possible confusion.

A recent federal court decision (Rong v. The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration 2013 FC364, published on April 11, 2013) illustrates the importance of offering clear and complete information at the outset. The case arose because an immigration officer, after reading an initial application, needed additional information about the applicant’s employment. When the officer called the employer to ask some follow-up questions, she was connected to a newly-hired employee who gave her incorrect information. Noting the discrepancies between the application and the information she was given on the phone, the officer asked the applicant to provide more information to explain the inconsistency. However, when the applicant provided documents that contradicted the employee who had spoken to the officer by phone, the officer did not believe the applicant, despite the documentary evidence. A court ultimately determined that the immigration officer had a “closed mind” in evaluating the application. Thanks to the court’s decision, the applicant eventually won the right to have the case re-examined—but this applicant’s immigration goals have likely been delayed by this convoluted and time-consuming (and no doubt costly) fight.

Can you prevent such a situation from arising in the first place? While you cannot control what an immigration officer may do, it is possible to reduce the chance of misunderstanding or miscommunication by submitting strong documentary evidence with your initial application. By reducing the need for follow-up phone calls, supplementary documentation, or requests for clarification, you can increase the chances that your application process will proceed smoothly and without complications. Although it may be possible to correct mistakes or problems after they arise, it’s easier to do it right the first time.

If you are feeling overwhelmed with your application process, if you’re not sure where to begin, or if you’ve hit a roadblock and don’t know the best way to proceed, please contact our office for a consultation.