Family sponsorship and exclusion from the Family Class - the "117(9)(d) problem"

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by Rekha McNutt

The topic of this post is something that I encounter much more frequently than I would hope. Having just spent the day working on this exact problem, I thought it would be useful to publish this post.

Here is the typical scenario:

A person comes to Canada to work or study, and then applies for permanent residence as most tend to do. When they first come, they are single and have no children. But things change. Usually, the change involves going back home on a holiday and coming back having married somebody. This all happens while they have an application for permanent residence in process. Not wanting to delay their own application, they decide (whether on their own or through well-meaning but misinformed family/friends) not to advise Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) about that very significant change. They get their own permanent residence, then try to sponsor their spouse, and are told they cannot.

In this type of scenario, not only is the sponsor prevented from bringing their family to Canada, they also face very serious risk of losing their own permanent residency on grounds of misrepresentation. The topic of misrepresentation deserves its own post, but take away from this article that the consequences can be grave to everyone involved.

Our law says that all “family members” of a person integrating to Canada must be “examined” before that person is granted permanent residence, whether they are accompanying or not. A family member includes the person’s:

  • spouse or common-law partner

  • dependent children

  • spouse or partner’s dependent children

  • children’s dependent children

The “examination” of family members typically involves an assessment of their admissibility, namely medical, criminal, and security reviews. By not declaring a family member, a person who is applying for permanent residence is denying IRCC the opportunity to examine that family member and determine whether they are admissible to Canada. This is critical because an inadmissible family member, whether they are accompanying or non-accompanying, can render the principal applicant inadmissible as well. As such, by not declaring their family member, the principal applicant may have gained permanent residency when they should not have.

In order to deal with this non-disclosure, our Regulations contain a very harsh provision which prevents such a person from ever being able to sponsor the family members that he or she failed to declare before getting permanent residence. We call this the “117(9)(d) problem” because that is a section of our Regulations which contains this harsh provision:

117 (9) A foreign national shall not be considered a member of the family class by virtue of their relationship to a sponsor if

(d) subject to subsection (10), the sponsor previously made an application for permanent residence and became a permanent resident and, at the time of that application, the foreign national was a non-accompanying family member of the sponsor and was not examined.

In essence, a family member who was not “examined” is not considered to be part of the sponsor’s “family class”, and therefore not somebody who can be sponsored.

The only way to overcome this lifetime ban on sponsoring that family member is to seek relief on humanitarian and compassionate (H & C) grounds. H & C applications consist of very complex legal submissions that are tailored for every client’s specific situation. Every situation is unique and requires diligence, care, and attention. These applications are difficult to succeed on because they are very discretionary. As such, it is imperative that a compelling case be presented from the outset.

There are number of factors which could be a play depending on the circumstances. Some typical factors include:

  • the reasons for nondisclosure

  • whether the sponsor actually gained an advantage by not declaring their family member

  • the sponsors establishment in Canada

  • the conditions in the country where the sponsored person lives, and the associated hardships

  • the hardships of separating family members

  • the best interests of any children who are affected by the situation

If a Visa Officer determines that sufficient H & C grounds exist, he can allow the sponsorship despite the application of 117(9)(d). In that case, the overseas family member is allowed to immigrate to Canada.

Usually when a sponsorship is refused, the sponsor can appeal that refusal to the Immigration Appeal Division (“IAD”). The IAD usually has H & C jurisdiction, but only in situations where the sponsor person is a member of the sponsor’s “family class”. In 117(9)(d) situations, where the person being sponsor was not examined at the time that the sponsor was granted permanent residence, there is no membership in the Family Class, and therefore no H & C jurisdiction before the IAD. Therefore, robust submissions must be made directly to the Visa office, and in the event of a refusal, the only possible way to challenge such a refusal as before the Federal Court.

If this is a problem you are facing, please contact me for help and support to achieve a positive outcome in your case.

Increased intake to Parents and Grandparents Sponsorships in 2019

by Rekha McNutt

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada announced today that they have increased the number of applications that will be accepted for processing under the Parent and Grandparent sponsorship program. Starting in 2019, the government will accept 20,000 applications! 

You can read the full release here.

As always, we are happy to assist you with any questions you may have with respect to this or other immigration matters! Feel free to reach out to us.

Permanent Residence for under 22 children - Temporary Public Policy

by Rekha McNutt

This post follows up on our last post announcing the coming into force the change to the age of dependent children. 

You might be wondering how to gain permanent residence for a child who wasn't eligible prior to October 24, 2017. CIC has a temporary public policy in place which provides guidance on how to get this done.

The government announced the change to the age of dependency on May 3, 2017, even though it only came into force a few days ago. As such, this public policy only applies to those applications made by the parents of these children between May 3, 2017, and October 23, 2017. 

The Policy provides the following guidance for eligibility:

Based on public policy considerations, delegated officers may grant an exemption from the provisions of the Regulations listed below to foreign nationals who meet the following eligibility criteria and conditions:

A permanent residence application for a child can be made if the:

  1. Child was 19, 20, or 21 as of May 3, 2017 (the date of final publication of the regulatory amendment) or as of date the parent’s permanent residence application was made, if received on or after May 3, 2017 and before October 24, 2017;
  2. Parent or child had a permanent residence application that was either pending on May 3, 2017 or was received on or after May 3, 2017 and before October 24, 2017 (the child must have been previously identified as “additional family” on their parent’s application);
  3. Child is not a spouse/common-law partner; and,
  4. Child is not otherwise inadmissible.

The child can be:

  1. Processed or added to an application (as a dependent child) if the permanent resident visa or Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) had not been issued at the time the Department was notified of the intention to add the child; OR
  2. Sponsored as a member of the Family Class once the parent is granted permanent residence.

 

Note: Refugees and protected persons may add a child who was 19, 20, or 21 on May 3, 2017 and (not a spouse/common-law partner) as an accompanying or non-accompanying dependant on a pending application; non-accompanying dependants would be able to apply for permanent residence within the one-year window.

An application to sponsor a child who is eligible under this public and is 22 or over at time of sponsorship, must be received by the Department within one year after their parent is granted permanent residence. Children who are under 22 at time of sponsorship will be processed under the regular sponsorship regulations.

Notification Period: Parents who wish to apply for their child to come to Canada must notify the Department of their intention to do so by January 31, 2018, in accordance with instructions provided by the department.

For those parents whose PR applications have been finalized already, and who may still have children under 22, a simple/regular sponsorship of a child application is still possible. 

 

Age of Dependent Child - now 'under 22'

by Rekha McNutt

Today is the day! The age of dependent children is to revert back to 'under 22'. You can read the original release here.

The previous changes had lowered the age of dependent children to under 19 and removed the exception for those enrolled in post-secondary education.

Going forward, a "dependent child" is any biological or adopted child of the parent, who is in one of the following situations of dependency:

  • Is under 22 and not a spouse or common-law partner;
  • is 22 or older but has depended substantially on the financial support of the parent since before the age of 22 and is unable to be financially self-supporting due to a physical or mental condition 

Those who have pending permanent residence applications can now add their under 22 children to their application, if they were formerly prevented from doing so when the age limit was under 19. Those whose permanent residence applications have been finalized may be in a position to sponsor their under 22 child.

 

Crisis at the Immigration Appeal Division

Wait times for Family Class appeals in Calgary have been horribly long for many years but a new crisis is affecting the Immigration Appeal Division - there's no one trained to hear the cases! Take a read through what Peter Wong had to say on the issue as he sat down with CBC - click here for full article.

 

Change to Age of Dependent Child to "under 22"

The Government just released Regulations amending the age of dependency from "under 19" to "under 22". However, the changes will not come into force until October 24, 2017. As such, any applications made until that date will continue to face the current definition of a child being "under 19". Nevertheless, this opens up opportunities for those who were unable to include children as dependants to sponsor those who might still be under the age of 22 when the Regulations take effect. 

The Full-Text of the Regulations can be found here.

Conditional Permanent Residence (PR) Repealed

Effective April 28, 2017, IRCC has repealed the Conditional Permanent Residence that affected sponsored spouses. This will affect the following individuals:

  • Permanent residents who have been issued a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) with a condition to cohabit with their sponsor for a period of two years and for whom the two-year period has not expired.
  • Permanent residents who are the subject of a report issued pursuant to subsection 44(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) for failing to comply with the requirement to cohabit with their sponsor for a period of two years, who have not yet been referred for an Admissibility Hearing at the Immigration Division (ID) of the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) pursuant to subsection A44(2) as well as those who have been referred but have not yet been issued a removal order.
  • Permanent residents who have been issued a removal order for failure to comply with the requirement to cohabit with their sponsor for a period of two years and have filed an appeal to the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD) of the IRB and for whom a decision has not been made on the appeal.

Although this provision has been repealed, be aware that IRCC still retains the ability to investigate possible fraudulent marriages under the misrepresentation provision of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act that have always existed. 

The full text of the Operational Bulletin on Conditional PR can be found here.

Changes to application intake process for 2017 Parent and Grandparent Program

IRCC just released the following announcement on the changes to the Parent and Granparent sponsorship program. It appears that intake levels remain the same (10,000 applications), however the selection of those 10,000 will be by lottery. Starting in January 2017, those interested in sponsoring family must complete an online form indicating their interest. If they are among the 10,000 selected, they will be notified and given 90 days to submit their application.

The problem with a true lottery system is that an applicant may never be chosen, having applied year after year. This introduces significant uncertainty into this already restricted process. It remains to be seen how this pans out in reality...

Full text of the release here: http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=1168899