Immigration Corner: I lied about being gay
Dear Miss Powell,
I'm in a same sex relationship with my Canadian boyfriend.
He wanted me to visit him so in his invitation letter he stated that I was his cousin by marriage and I also placed that information on the application form. That was done to keep my sexuality private and to protect me. Unfortunately the visa was denied.
We plan to get married soon and then he wants to sponsor me as his spouse. I read that I could be banned for misrepresentation. Is this true? What should we do?
You should not lie or give misleading information to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) as there are serious consequences. A person is deemed inadmissible under the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Protection Act for, "directly or indirectly misrepresenting or withholding material facts relating to a relevant matter that induces or could induce an error in the enforcement of the Act."
It is not a criminal offence but goes to the heart of the integrity of the Canadian immigration system and CIC's goal of ensuring that all applicants are treated equally and fairly.
So, even though most people can understand the desire to keep your homosexual relationship private, you did not just conceal that the individual is a friend or partner, which is material fact, but went further to say that your partner is a cousin. This deepens the misrepresentation.
The penalty for misrepresentation (for cases outside of Canada), is that you could be barred from submitting an application for five years following the determination that there was a misrepresentation.
The best way to handle this situation is to deal with it in an honest, upfront manner. Do not make the situation worse. You need to voluntarily come forward and present the details of your misrepresentation; present your apology and an explanation when you submit your application for spousal sponsorship. Do not wait for the immigration authority to discover it on their own, as you will only compound the situation.
The reality is that there is a strong possibility that your spousal application could be denied, even if you provide an explanation with your spousal application. Nevertheless, all hope is not lost, as you could appeal the decision to the Immigration and Refugee Board or wait the five years to reapply. The officer is obliged to follow the Act and cannot extend the inadmissibility period, unless there are additional issues to consider at that time.
If your application is denied and you choose to appeal the decision, you should note that the board will examine all the circumstances of your case and weigh whether they should grant your requests.
Some of the key factors that the board would look at are: the seriousness of the misrepresentation; the circumstances surrounding it; the remorsefulness of the individuals involved; the impact that this could have on your family and your relationship with your spouse; joint investments; property and family obligations; whether you have a child together or other dependent family member who is directly affected; the impact that this could have on them and the degree of hardship that could be caused if your application is denied.
This list is not exhaustive, therefore I suggest that you get legal counsel to assist you with your application. You will need to present credible and convincing facts to show that the circumstances of your case are unique and warrant the considerations of the officer or the board. You should present sufficient evidence that the officer/ board should grant you relief even on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
The key thing to remember is that your marriage will be highly scrutinised by the authorities to ensure that it is genuine and not one entered into so that you can have the benefit of coming to Canada. So, you should be prepared to be honest about how you met, the development of your relationship, details of the ceremony, your financial status and details about your marital commitments.
Best of luck to you and your spouse.
- Deidre S. Powell, is a lawyer, mediator and notary public. Submit your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or via fax to 613.695.8778.