Tue | Dec 6, 2016

What can I learn from US visa process?

Published:Tuesday | December 2, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Deidre S. Powell - Canada

Dear Ms Powell,

I have a United States (US) visa and I would like to apply for a Canadian visitor's visa. Do I need to submit the same documents that I did to get the US visa? Are they going to ask me pretty much the same questions? What can I expect at the Canadian embassy?

- RM

Dear RM,

Most visa officers are looking for the same basic reassurance. Therefore, you will need to satisfy the visa officer that you have strong social and economic ties to your home country that would motivate you to return at the end of the time granted. Essentially, you need to establish that you will not remain in Canada illegally and that you can afford the expense of the trip.

To establish social and economic ties to Jamaica you will need to provide certain documents such as:

1. Birth certificates of your dependent children.

2. Marriage certificate/proof of common-law relationship such as a statutory declaration of common-law relationship, proof of joint ownership of property.

3. A letter from your employer that should show period of employment, your job title, your main duties, hours worked, your annual salary and benefits.

4. If you are self-employed, you will need copies of your business registration, copies of contracts, and a recommendation from a justice of the peace or a notable member of your community indicating the type of business that you operate and the length of time that you have been operating the business.

5. A bank statement from your bankers tht proves that you have sufficient funds to pay for your ticket and expenses associated with your trip without being bankrupt or not being able to provide for your family in your absence.

6. If your trip is being sponsored by another individual, then you will need to establish the relationship or show why the person would be motivated to sponsor your trip. The reason should not be because you will be working for them during your visit. That person will need to submit a letter stating that he or she is are financially responsible for your trip and enclose his or her bank statement, letter from his or her employer, and proof of funds to cover the expense of the trip, without he or she experiencing hardship.

7. Proof of ownership of property such as a registered land title with your name on the title, boat, industrial machinery, vehicle registration/title, if unregistered land, then proof of payment of taxes and a copy of the surveyor's report, if available.

The above list is not exhaustive. The key is to have a valid reason for desiring to visit Canada; demonstrate that you have strong family, social and economic ties to your community; you can afford the trip as well as proof that you have more connection and responsibilities in Jamaica than Canada that would motivate you to return at the end of the time granted.

If you have been able to convince the US Embassy to grant you a visitor's visa, then that is a good indication that you were able to satisfy the basic requirements at the time of your application. If your social and economic situation has changed since your application, for example, if you are now divorced, lost your job or properties, then you should consider waiting until you are able to demonstrate that you have a stable and successful life in Jamaica.

If you do not have a job, you may want to delay applying, particularly if you cannot positively explain the reason for your unemployment as this could be viewed as a strong indication that you may be a flight risk.

Another important factor is that you will now have to submit your fingerprints as part of the application process. If you have additional issues or concerns, consult with an immigration lawyer.

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 immigration, commercial, real estate, personal injury, family, and administration of estates. She is on the roster of mediators for Ottawa, Toronto and the Dispute Resolution Foundation of Jamaica. Email: info@deidrepowell.com. Subject line: Immigration Twitter: deidrespowell Facebook: jamaicanlawyer.