Sat | Nov 17, 2018

Immigration Corner | Illegal and scared in Canada

Published:Tuesday | October 10, 2017 | 12:01 AM


Dear Miss Powell,

I came to Canada with my mother on a visitor’s visa in 2008 to help my aunt who was sick and needed a helper. The summer after I finished high school in Jamaica my mother took me to Canada. I was 16 at the time.  My mother and I now live with my aunt.  I passed seven subjects in Jamaica and wanted to go to college/university here, but my aunt and mother are worried that the immigration authorities would send me home if they found me. I have been helping my aunt and some of her friends with housework just to get some pocket money and to have something to do.  I would really love to get my documents so that I can go to school and stop hiding. I’m scared go anywhere and to talk to anyone apart from family friends as I don’t want to be sent back to Jamaica. My aunt says if I’m not careful anyone can call the police who can lock me up and then deport me. I don’t have anyone in Jamaica to help me so I wouldn’t know what to do there. I want to go back to school and become a nurse but don’t know how to do this if I don’t have papers. I’m also worried about my mother as all she does is help my aunt and go to church. She is also scared. Can you please help us? Remember not to publish my name as I’m really scared. 

- Anonymous



Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for reaching out to me.  Every year, thousands of individuals visit Canada on a temporary resident/ visitor’s visa, then they opt not to return to their home country for various reasons. The result is that they end up in the same predicament as you and your mom are in. Although there are ways to deal with this issue, you should note that staying in Canada without the proper authorisation, means that you are acting contrary to the Canadian, Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).

This act deals with the laws, regulations and procedures relating to immigrants.  Under this Act, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has the authority to detain foreign nationals, if they are acting in violation of the law and especially if they pose a threat to Canadian nationals. The CBSA has the authority to deport individuals who break the laws under the IRPA. If you break these laws, you will be deemed inadmissible to Canada.   

However, all is not lost, as there are many options available to you and your aunt to apply to get a valid temporary resident visa or to apply to become permanent residents to remain in Canada.  Any of those options will give you the right to attend school to become a nurse.  Keep that goal in mind as you go through the necessary process.  The fact that you passed seven subjects before you came to Canada tells me that you have great potential.

Compassionate grounds 

You should note that your case is not unique, as in some cases individuals have fled their country, because of oppression and fear for their safety.  There are others, like yourself, who were brought to Canada by their parents as a minor and had no say in whether or not to remain or leave.  Individuals like you, who would not normally be eligible to become permanent residents of Canada, may be able to apply on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

An application will need to be made to IRCC under humanitarian and compassionate grounds based on the exceptional/ special circumstances of your case.  IRCC will evaluate your case based on issues such as how you came in the first place, your family ties to Canada and what would happen if you were forced to return to your home country.  There are also other factors that they take into account based on the finer details of your case.  The visa officers will analyse your case to see if you and your aunt qualify for a waiver of your inadmissibility and to get permanent residence.

I recommend that you contact an immigration lawyer to discuss the options available to you and your aunt. You do not need to fear the lawyer, as the information you provide will be kept confidential. 

There are several options available to you  under family sponsorship depending on whether your aunt has any other relative legally residing in Canada.

I hope this information helps you and other readers.  I would like to hear more from other readers on this issue. You are also welcome to share your immigration experiences and concerns with me. I am always pleased to hear from you.

- Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator and notary public who is a member of the Jamaican and Ontario, Canada bars, with office located in Ottawa, Ontario. Her areas of practice are in immigration, commercial, real estate, family and administration of estates. She is on the roster of mediators for Ottawa, Toronto and the Dispute Resolution Foundation of Jamaica.  Email: Subject line: Immigration Facebook: jamaicanlawyer