During the past couple months, our office has received several frantic phone calls from people (often real estate agents or bankers) telling us that a family who was immigrating to Canada under a Provincial Nominee Program was detained by the Canada Border Services Agency when they arrived in Canada, that they were informed that their permanent resident visas were being revoked, and that they had to leave Canada as soon as possible, if not immediately.
In almost every case, the issue that arose was that the family could not convince CBSA of their intention to reside in their nominating province. In some instances, the provincial nominees readily acknowledged that they had no intention to reside in their respective nominating provinces. Other times, they tried their best to convince CBSA of their intention to reside in a certain province, but were unable to convince CBSA of their sincerity. One particularly memorable case involved a family that had been nominated by Saskatchewan. The family arrived at Vancouver International Airport with no connecting flight to Saskatchewan. Furthermore, CBSA was aware of the fact that the father had purchased a house in Vancouver. Despite the family’s valiant efforts to convince CBSA that the house was for investment purposes, and that they planned to move to Saskatchewan after spending one month with friends in Vancouver, their permanent resident visas were revoked. Our office received a panicked phone call from the real estate agent shortly thereafter.
A common trend in all of the cases has been that the PNP participants had no idea that CBSA was going to examine whether or not they actually intended to reside in their nominating province. The goal of this post, using the guideline that CIC and CBSA use, is to provide an overview of the port of entry procedures for dealing with provincial nominees who indicate that they never intended or no longer intend to reside in the nominating province or territory.
It is important to understand that an individual does not obtain permanent resident status when they are issued a visa. They are simply in possession of a permanent resident visa. In order for a person to obtain permanent resident status, they have to land in Canada.
Landing is a legal, not a physical, concept. Indeed, we often provide consultations to people in our downtown office that have not landed in Canada, even though they are obviously physically in the country.
Landing will generally require an interview with CBSA. For provincial nominees, part of this interview will involve convincing the border officer of their intention to reside in their nominating province.
Individuals who convince CBSA that they intend to proceed to and reside in their province of nomination will be processed and provided permanent resident status, assuming that all other requirements of landing are met.
Individuals who indicate that they never intended, or no longer intend, to reside in their nominating province will be denied permanent resident status and may have an inadmissibility report written against them. Such people may also be barred from returning to Canada for two years for misrepresentation.
Individuals who indicate that while they intended to reside in their nominating province during the application process, but have since changed their mind and no longer intend to reside in the nominating province, may also be denied permanent resident status, and have an inadmissibility report written against them.
A Warning to Representatives
It behooves immigration consultants and lawyers to be honest with their clients about the requirements of participation in a provincial nomination program. If an applicant declares to CBSA that his/her representative advised him/her that residence in the province of nomination is not a requirement, then CBSA will record that representative’s name, and store the information. It is not difficult to imagine the consequences of being on such a list.