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Immigration Corner | Application refusal putting strain on marriage

Published:Monday | June 13, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Dear Ms Powell,

I applied to sponsor my Jamaican husband to come to Canada and the application was refused. How do I appeal? I've been spending too much money going back and forth and this is causing a strain on our marriage. Please help us.

- F.Y.

Dear F.Y.,

I understand the strain that the Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) refusals of your application would cause on your marriage. However, the IRCC usually outlines the specific reasons for the denial of the application. What was the reason for the denial? Before you can appeal, you need to ensure that you are able to address, with supporting documents, the issues outlined in the refusal letter.

Your access to the appeal process will not be allowed if your spouse is deemed inadmissible to Canada by reason of his criminal record. If he has a history of committing a serious criminal offence anywhere in the world and that crime is punishable in Canada by a term of imprisonment of two years or more, your appeal will not be allowed. Further, if your spouse is considered to be a general threat to the safety of other Canadians; or found to be involved in organised crime or violated human or international rights, then your appeal will be automatically sent back without a hearing being permitted.

Although misrepresentation to IRCC is a serious issue, you still have a right to appeal and you may have a chance of succeeding, provided that you are able to adequately address the concerns of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB).

You have up to 30 days after the decision to submit an appeal to the Immigration Appeal Division of the IRB. This is a very strict timeline and can be very complex. I strongly recommend that you consult with an immigration lawyer to assist you with your appeal. The outcome of your appeal can influence whether you are able to reapply to sponsor your spouse or anyone else in the future.

You will first need to complete a notice of appeal, enclose supporting documents and a copy of the refusal letter and send it to the appropriate registry.

If you live in Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, or the city of Ottawa, your appeal should be submitted to the IAD Registry Office in Montreal. If you live in Ontario and not the city of Ottawa, your appeal should be submitted to the IRB registry in Toronto. For all other provinces, the application should be submitted at the IAD registry in Vancouver.

You may also submit an oral appeal and this is usually done when you have the support of counsel.

Once your appeal is received and deemed acceptable, the IAD will decide whether to submit your appeal to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). This is a private, fairly informal process and spousal applications are often sent here. This is not a right, but allowed based on the circumstances of the case. If your case is not selected for ADR, it could be sent to be heard by an official of the IAD. This is a formal hearing similar to a court process.

In some instances, you may only need to wait a while then reapply for your spouse, as the appeal process can be lengthy and costly. The decision to do so will ultimately be based on the reason for the denial. Your previous application will be on the record, therefore you must ensure that you have new supporting documents to overcome the concerns of IRCC.

- Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator and notary public. Submit your questions and comments to or call 613.695.8777/ 876.922.4092. You can also find her on