Last month, lucky applicants who were selected to apply to sponsor their parents and grandparents had to submit their completed applications. Our firm submitted four applications.
I completed three of the applications. All were complex; one included applications for both the couple’s parents (incredibly, both of them managed to complete the online interest to sponsor form), one included a 61-year old dependent child, and the third had not met the required income level for 2016, short by just over $5,000. Legal representation was definitely needed for each application, due to their complexity and for the second two, the legal submissions required due to the specific issues raised in the applications. The law in this area is interesting and I enjoyed doing the legal research required for my submissions.
However, I have decided not to take on any parental sponsorship applications next year.
My blood pressure can’t handle it.
I am fortunate to have a very sharp-eyed assistant. When doing a final review of one of the applications, she realized that I had mistakenly printed two copies of the same page of the Use of a Representative form, rather than pages for two different people. It was a simple mistake made when printing multiple forms. But this would have been enough to have had the application returned as ‘incomplete’. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is merciless; any application missing the smallest item, a form not signed in the proper place, a date missing next to a signature, or a postal code missing from an address, any of this is enough to have the application summarily dispatched back to the sender. To complicate the process further, IRCC constantly updates forms making it difficult to figure out which form they will accept. There are no requests for the missing document or for a corrected form. The applicant is told to fix the error or include the missing document, and to submit the application again.
The Federal Court of Appeal has agreed with this approach. In Gennai v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration) the Court found that “an incomplete application is not an application within the meaning of IRPA and the Regulations.”
Other than causing a delay in processing time, having an application returned as incomplete it is not normally a problem. For parent-grandparent sponsorship applications, however, it is not possible to simply re-submit the application. The applicant must wait until the next year, when the program re-opens, because the quota for the year will have already been filled. This year, it filled in less than eleven minutes after the program opened to online applicants. Because the program is so popular, there is no guarantee that an applicant could re-apply the next year. This might mean the client could never sponsor their parents or grandparents.
When I was a guest on CBC’s Ontario Today, one teary caller said this happened to her.
The stress of working on these applications, knowing the stakes, simply isn’t worth the legal fees they bring in. So long as IRCC doesn’t allow for human mistakes, I don’t want to take these applications on anymore, nor do my associate lawyers.