The ICCRC Disciplinary Process [Updated 13/09/14]

Two days ago I met with an individual who claimed to have received horrible treatment from two separate immigration consultants in Metro Vancouver.  The specific alleged deplorable actions included that:

  • Consultant A refused to give the individual her Visitor Record until she paid him $2,000.00.
  • Consultant A refused to provide her with a BC PNP refusal letter, and to this day has not provided a copy of the refusal letter.
  • Consultant B refused to submit a response to a BC PNP fairness letter without receiving a large payment that was not mentioned in the retainer agreement.
  • Consultant B refused to meet with her once the application was refused.

Both of these consultants are licensed consultants and members of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (“ICCRC“).  I recommended that the individual file complaints against both consultants.  Unfortunately, my recommendation came with the caveat that to my knowledge the ICCRC has not once yet disciplined a single consultant against whom a complaint was filed.

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The Right to Counsel at the Port of Entry

Section 10 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides that:

10. Everyone has the right on arrest or detention
(a) to be informed promptly of the reasons therefore;
(b) to retain and instruct counsel without delay and to be informed of that right; and
(c) to have the validity of the detention determined by way of habeas corpus and to be released if the detention is not lawful.

In the immigration context, the right to counsel does not arise at most secondary examinations.  CBSA’s policy is not to permit counsel at examination if detention has not occurred, although officers will often waive this policy if they are satisfied that legal representatives will not interfere with the examination process.  The right to counsel does, however, arise when a routine search or examination becomes a detention.

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Addressing Newfoundland Nurses

On December 15, 2011 the Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) issues its decision in Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses’ Union v. Newfoundland and Labrador (Treasury Board), 2011 SCC 62, [2011] 3 SCR 708 (“Newfounland Nurses”).  As far as I can tell, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) has since relied on this decision in almost every immigration judicial review since.

In Newfoundland Nurses, the Supreme Court essentially abolished “adequacy of reasons” as a stand-alone ground for judicial review.  Rather, the SCC stated that an officer’s reasons must be read together with the outcome and serve the purpose of showing whether the result falls within a range of possible outcomes.  The SCC further stated that:

Reasons may not include all the arguments, statutory provisions, jurisprudence or other details the reviewing judge would have preferred, but that does not impugn the validity of either the reasons or the result under a reasonableness analysis. A decision-maker is not required to make an explicit finding on each constituent element, however subordinate, leading to its final conclusion (Service Employees’ International Union, Local No. 333 v. Nipawin District Staff Nurses Assn., 1973 CanLII 191 (SCC), [1975] 1 S.C.R. 382, at p. 391). In other words, if the reasons allow the reviewing court to understand why the tribunal made its decision and permit it to determine whether the conclusion is within the range of acceptable outcomes, the Dunsmuir criteria are met.

The fact that there may be an alternative interpretation of the agreement to that provided by the arbitrator does not inevitably lead to the conclusion that the arbitrator’s decision should be set aside if the decision itself is in the realm of reasonable outcomes. Reviewing judges should pay “respectful attention” to the decision-maker’s reasons, and be cautious about substituting their own view of the proper outcome by designating certain omissions in the reasons to be fateful.

As one immigration lawyer put it, the DOJ has since argued that under the Newfoundland Nurses reasonableness standard the Federal Court must uphold a tribunal’s decision as long as it falls within the most extremely close to unreasonable range of possibilities that the most extreme officer dictates.  In one case of mine, the DOJ even argued that there could basically be no reasons so long as the Federal Court thought that the decision was a possibly correct one that the tribunal could reach.  But is this really the case?

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Standard of Review in Refugee Appeal Division Hearings

On December 15, 2012, the Refugee Appeal Division (“RAD”) began considering appeals against decisions from the Refugee Projection Division (“RPD”) to allow or reject refugee claims.  According to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada’s website, the steps to a RAD appeal are:

  • Once you receive the written reasons for the decision from the Refugee Protection Division, you have 15 days to file a Notice of Appeal.
  • You have 30 days from the day you received your written reasons for the RPD decision to perfect your appeal by filing an Appellants Record.
  • The Minister may choose to intervene at any point in the appeal.
  • The RAD Member makes a decision on your appeal. In most cases, this decision will be provided to you no later than 90 days after you have perfected your appeal, unless an oral hearing is held.

Almost immediately there was uncertainty over what the role of the RAD was.  The RAD began operating under the assumption that it would review RPD decisions using the reasonableness standard, and its members began stating that the following principles governed its appeals:

  • that deference is owed to RPD findings of fact and questions of mixed law and fact;
  • that deference is owed to the RPD where the issue in a claim is factual;
  • that the role of the RAD was to ensure a fair and efficient adjudication and that refugee protection be granted where appropriate. As such, the RAD can substitute the RPD’s determination with its own;
  • that in some cases the RAD, in order to bring finality to the refugee process, may be entitled to show less deference to the RPD;
  • that while both the RPD and the RAD are specialized tribunals, the RPD had advantages in fact finding (particularly on credibility) which suggests deference; and
  • that the failure to show deference to the RPD would undermine the RPD’s process.

In Huruglica v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration Canada), the Federal Court determined that this was an incorrect approach.

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Labour Market Impact Assessments – Recruitment Requirements

Employers wishing to apply for Labour Market Impact Assessments are required to conduct recruitment efforts to hire Canadian citizens and permanent residents.  The Ministry of Economic and Social Development (“ESDC” or “Service Canada“) is very stringent in its recruitment requirements, many of which are not publicly available.  In this blog post I seek to provide a comprehensive overview of Service Canada’s recruitment requirements, including providing a summary of the publicly available information on the Service Canada website, as well as summarizing and reproducing internal ESDC directives.

I would like to thank Jacobus Kriek, an immigration consultant with Matrixvisa Inc., for providing me copies of the internal Service Canada directives and e-mails that he has obtained.

Please note that what I have reproduced below should not be viewed as legal advice by ESDC or Service Canada.  The reproduction of the material below has not occurred with the affiliation of the Government of Canada, nor with the endorsement of the Government of Canada. As well, given the nature of relying on internal documents, some of the information may be out of date.

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Court Certifies Question on Judicial Review of 117(9)(d) Refusals – [Updated August 6]

The Federal Court (the “Court“) in Habtenkiel v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), has certified a question that if answered in the affirmative would seem to pretty much shut the door on humanitarian & compassionate (“H&C“) appeals of s. 117(9)(d) refusals.  The certified question is:

In light of sections 72(2)(a), 63(1) and 65 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, S.C. 2001, c. 27, and the case of Somodi v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)2009 FCA 288 (CanLII), [2010] 4 F.C.R. 26 (F.C.A.), where the applicant has made a family class sponsorship application and requested humanitarian and compassionate considerations within the application, is the applicant precluded from seeking judicial review by the Federal Court before exhausting their right of appeal to the Immigration Appeal Division where the right of appeal is limited pursuant to paragraph 117(9)(d) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, SOR/2002-227?

That question is long and confusing, but lets break it down.

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Grounds for Judicial Review – Findings of Fact in a Perverse or Capricious Manner

Section 18.1(4) of the Federal Court Act, RSC 1985, c F-7, states that the grounds for judicial review are:

The Federal Court may grant relief under subsection (3) if it is satisfied that the federal board, commission or other tribunal

(a) acted without jurisdiction, acted beyond its jurisdiction or refused to exercise its jurisdiction;

(b) failed to observe a principle of natural justice, procedural fairness or other procedure that it was required by law to observe;

(c) erred in law in making a decision or an order, whether or not the error appears on the face of the record;

(d) based its decision or order on an erroneous finding of fact that it made in a perverse or capricious manner or without regard for the material before it;

(e) acted, or failed to act, by reason of fraud or perjured evidence; or

(f) acted in any other way that was contrary to law.

Based its Decision or Order on an Erroneous Finding of Fact in a Perverse or Capricious Manner

In Rahal v Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), 2012 FC 319, Justice Gleason provided the following guidance on interpreting s. 18.1(4): 

In the seminal case interpreting section 18(1)(d) of the FCA, Rohm & Haas, Chief Justice Jacket defined “perversity” as “willfully going contrary to the evidence” (at para 6). Thus defined, there will be relatively few decisions that may be characterized as perverse.

The notion of “capriciousness” is somewhat less exacting. In Khakh v Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), (1996), 116 FTR 310, [1996] FCJ No 980 at para 6, Justice Campbell defined capricious, with reference to a dictionary definition, as meaning “marked or guided by caprice; given to changes of interest or attitude according to whim or fancies; not guided by steady judgment, intent or purpose”. To somewhat similar effect, Justice Harrington in Matondo v Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), 2005 FC 416 at para 1, [2005] FCJ No 509, defined “capricious” as being “so irregular as to appear to be ungoverned by law”. Many decisions hold that inferences based on conjecture are capricious. In Canada (Minister of Employment and Immigration) v Satiacum (1989), 99 NR 171, [1989] FCJ No 505 (FCA) at para 33, Justice MacGuigan, writing for the Court, stated as follows regarding conjecture:

The common law has long recognized the difference between reasonable inference and pure conjecture. Lord Macmillan put the distinction this way in Jones v. Great Western Railway Co. [citation omitted]:

The dividing line between conjecture and inference is often a very difficult one to draw. A conjecture may be plausible but it is of no legal value, for its essence is that it is a mere guess. An inference in the legal sense, on the other hand, is a deduction from the evidence, and if it is a reasonable deduction it may have the validity of legal proof. …

Turning, finally, to the third aspect of section 18.1(4)(d), the case law recognizes that a finding for which there is no evidence before the tribunal will be set aside on review because such a finding is made without regard to the material before the tribunal (see e.g. Canadian Union of Postal Workers v Healy, 2003 FCA 380 at para 25, [2003] FCJ No 1517). Beyond that, it is difficult to discern a bright-line. The oft-cited Cepeda-Gutierrez v Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) (1998), 157 FTR 35, [1998] FCJ No 1425) [Cepeda-Gutierez] provides a useful review of the sorts of errors that might meet the standard of a decision made “without regard to the material” before the tribunal which fall short of findings for which there is no evidence. There, Justice Evans (as he then was) wrote at paragraphs 14 – 17:

… in order to attract judicial intervention under section 18.1(4)(d), the applicant must satisfy the Court, not only that the Board made a palpably erroneous finding of material fact, but also that the finding was made “without regard to the evidence” …

The Court may infer that the administrative agency under review made the erroneous finding of fact “without regard to the evidence” from the agency’s failure to mention in its reasons some evidence before it that was relevant to the finding, and pointed to a different conclusion from that reached by the agency. Just as a court will only defer to an agency’s interpretation of its constituent statute if it provides reasons for its conclusion, so a court will be reluctant to defer to an agency’s factual determinations in the absence of express findings, and an analysis of the evidence that shows how the agency reached its result.

On the other hand, the reasons given by administrative agencies are not to be read hypercritically by a court [citations omitted]… nor are agencies required to refer to every piece of evidence that they received that is contrary to their finding, and to explain how they dealt with it … That would be far too onerous a burden to impose upon administrative decision-makers who may be struggling with a heavy case-load and inadequate resources. A statement by the agency in its reasons for decision that, in making its findings, it considered all the evidence before it, will often suffice to assure the parties, and a reviewing court, that the agency directed itself to the totality of the evidence when making its findings of fact.

However, the more important the evidence that is not mentioned specifically and analyzed in the agency’s reasons, the more willing a court may be to infer from the silence that the agency made an erroneous finding of fact “without regard to the evidence”: … In other words, the agency’s burden of explanation increases with the relevance of the evidence in question to the disputed facts. Thus, a blanket statement that the agency has considered all the evidence will not suffice when the evidence omitted from any discussion in the reasons appears squarely to contradict the agency’s finding of fact. Moreover, when the agency refers in some detail to evidence supporting its finding, but is silent on evidence pointing to the opposite conclusion, it may be easier to infer that the agency overlooked the contradictory evidence when making its finding of fact.

Humanitarian & Compassionate Applications – The Establishment Factor

Subsection 25(1) of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act provides immigration officers with the flexibility to grant on humanitarian and compassionate (“H&C”) exemptions to overcome the requirement of obtaining a permanent residence visa from abroad and/or to overcome class eligibility requirements and/or inadmissibilities.

H&C applications may be based on a number factors, including:

  • establishment in Canada;
  • ties to Canada;
  • the best interests of any children affected by their application;
  • factors in their country of origin (this includes but is not limited to: Medical  inadequacies, discrimination that does not amount to persecution, harassment or  other hardships that are not related to a fear of return based on refugee determination factors;
  • health considerations;
  • family violence considerations;
  • consequences of the separation of relatives;
  • inability to leave Canada has led to establishment; and/or
  • any other relevant factor they wish to have considered not related to a fear of return based on refugee determination factors.

Establishment in Canada

Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s Inland Processing Manual (the “Manual“) provides that the degree of an applicant’s establihsment may be measured with questions such as the following:

  • Does the applicant have a history of stable employment?
  • Is there a pattern of sound financial management?
  • Has the applicant remained in one community or moved around?
  • Has the applicant integrated into the community through involvement in community organizations, voluntary services or other activities?
  • Has the applicant undertaken any professional, linguistic or other studies that show integration into Canadian society?
  • Do the applicant and their family members have a good civil record in Canada? (e.g. no criminal charges or interventions by law enforcement officers or other authorities for domestic violence or child abuse).

Establishment and Legal Status in Canada

Being in Canada without status does not automatically lead to the non-application of H&C factors.  For example, remaining in Canada pending the outcome of legal procedures, including after a failed refugee claim, would not necessarily be a negative factor.  However, “flouting the law and ignoring lawful orders to leave the country” will likely result in the establishment factor being negative.

As the Federal Court of Appeal stated in Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) v. Legault, 2002 FCA 125:

In short, the Immigration Act and the Canadian immigration policy are founded on the idea that whoever comes to Canada with the intention of settling must be of good faith and comply to the letter with the requirements both in form and substance of the Act. Whoever enters Canada illegally contributes to falsifying the immigration plan and policy and gives himself priority over those who do respect the requirements of the Act. The Minister, who is responsible for the application of the policy and the Act, is definitely authorised to refuse the exception requested by a person who has established the existence of humanitarian and compassionate grounds, if he believes, for example, that the circumstances surrounding his entry and stay in Canada discredit him or create a precedent susceptible of encouraging illegal entry in Canada. In this sense, the Minister is at liberty to take into consideration the fact that the humanitarian and compassionate grounds that a person claims are the result of his own actions. (emphasis added)

In Molina v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2014 FC 530, the Federal Court added that:

When establishment is a function of having deliberately chosen to evade removal, it should not provide an applicant with an advantage over those who have complied with the law.

Circumstances Beyond the Applicant’s Control

The Manual provides guidance to officers in determining whether positive consideration may be warranted where the period of inability to leave Canada were beyond the applicant’s control, and where there is evidence of a significant degree of establishment in Canada such that it would cause the applicant unusual or disproportionate hardship to apply from outside Canada.  It states:

Circumstances beyond the applicant’s control 

If general country conditions are considered unsafe due to war, civil unrest, environmental disaster, etc., the Minister of Public Safety may impose a temporary suspension of removals (TSR) on that country.

If general country conditions are considered unsafe due to war, civil unrest, environmental disaster, etc., the Minister of Public Safety may impose a temporary suspension of removals (TSR) on that country.

Circumstances Not Beyond the Applicant’s Control

An applicant, in Canada for a number of years, is unwilling to sign a passport application or provide particulars for a passport application.

An applicant wilfully loses or destroys their travel document(s).

Applicant goes “underground” and remains in Canada illegally.