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Applying for Canadian immigration: Get it right the first time

Unfortunate stories in Canadian newspapers draw attention to how easy it is to mess up an application for Canadian immigration status, even when the applicant appears to be sophisticated – and how costly those mistakes can be.

These headlines illustrate what many of us see regularly.

Smart people, including international students and professionals, make innocent mistakes that are fatal to the success of their application.

At best this can create considerable delay, and at worst it can lead even to disqualification from ever trying again.

That this can happen to people who, many of them, actually qualify for permanent residence makes the situation even more difficult to see.

The hopes of whole families are often ruined by these mistakes.

Consider international students who enrolled at a private college in Ontario, believing that by studying at that school they would qualify for work permits and ultimately for permanent residence.

Many of them made a very simple, but serious, mistake. They enrolled in “distant learning programs” rather than obtaining the appropriate study permit and attending classes in Canada in person.

The distant learning programs did not require nor even enable them to attend classes in Canada in person.

There is a reason why Canada requires students in this situation to attend classes in person: Canada values international students who are already familiar with Canada and have had a chance to develop friendship and work contacts.

If the international student program is properly followed it can lead to Canadian employment, permanent resident status in Canada, and eventually Canadian citizenship.

This immigration stream is designed to expose those who intend to apply for permanent residence to Canadian experiences, at a Canadian school, in Canadian workplaces, and in Canadian society. That will make it easier for newcomers to find jobs and fit into Canadian society. These candidates become valuable to Canada.

Once you understand that concept it is very obvious that distance learning, where the student is outside of Canada, does not satisfy that simple objective.

I suspect that every one of the students who enrolled in these distance learning programs believed they were getting themselves into the express entry immigration stream.

They, and their families, have misspent their money, their time, and dashed their hopes and dreams.

I have no idea how many of them, if any, will be able to try again and do it properly the second time.

The basic point is this, do it right the first time.

Do your research, consider hiring experienced professional assistance so that you do not risk making your own mistakes, get a second opinion if your counsel recommends something that does not make sense to you, assess your educational background and your finances to be sure you can actually finish the program, and then dedicate yourself to doing a good, thorough job with the application.

I shudder to think about how much money and dreams have been wasted by these innocent but mistaken families.

– Gregory James

• Gregory James of Gregory James Immigration Law Firm is an immigration lawyer with over 29 years of experience, a former senior manager at the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, and a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada. He is based in Toronto and can be contacted at admin@gregoryjameslaw.com or 416-538-1301.

Posted: Jan 31, 2017

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