Yes, You Really Do Need a Lawyer to Help You

February 2020

On its website, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has the following statement written:



The department’s twitter account has posted a similar statement, which I blogged about last March. 

A recent Federal Court decision has once again caused me to become riled up about IRCC’s position that representatives are unneeded.

The Federal Court application was to review the denial of an application for permanent residence based on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. The court upheld the denial of the application, noting that ‘…the Applicants’ H&C submissions consisted of a mere seven pages’. Further, the court stated that ‘there are no references to the country documentation in the actual submissions.’ The court noted the absence of ‘submissions on the BIOC as relating to education’.

How would an unrepresented applicant even know what BIOC is?

I recently submitted an application for permanent residence based on humanitarian and compassionate ground.   The application was primarily based on the best interests of the client’s children who are Canadian citizens (best interests of the children = BIOC). I included nineteen documents in support of the client’s application, in addition to his Statutory Declaration. I provided eight academic articles to support the ramifications to the children should they be separated from their father. My legal submissions referenced two Supreme Court of Canada decisions along with numerous lower court decisions. I debated whether to include the tripartite test set out in Williams, as subsequent jurisprudence questioned its use. In the end, I omitted it.   Hours were spent researching, reviewing documentation, and then writing what ended up being a twenty-page document setting out why my client should be permitted to remain in Canada. How could someone without legal assistance possibly be able to put together a similar application? And yet, the Federal Court requires a level of legal analysis well beyond the capacity of the average applicant.

But don’t worry, the Canadian government will treat your application equally, whether you use a representative or not.

Or maybe not.