More Information About the Process
Immigration investigations can be conducted by two immigration agencies Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) (formerly known as Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC)) or the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). They may be assisted by the RCMP, CSIS or other local and international law enforcement agencies.
The purpose of such investigations is to see if you have violated any immigration rules and regulations. Depending on the nature of the suspected violation, you may or may not be asked to participate in an interview or in questioning related to the investigation. If it is alleged that you are in violation of any provision of the immigration laws of Canada, a decision may be made to begin enforcement proceedings against you. At this time you will be notified of that decision. Usually this notification comes in the form of a report prepared pursuant to subsection 44(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protect Act (IRPA) – often called a “Section 44 Report”.
In some cases you may be given a time-limited opportunity to reply to a Section 44 Report. It is almost always in your interest to take advantage of this opportunity in order to avoid a hearing which could lead to a removal order being made against you. Sometimes, the report will include a questionnaire that must be filled out as well as a brief statement regarding the Minister of Immigration’s concerns regarding your perceived inadmissibility in Canada. The report may allege, for example, that you are criminally inadmissible, or that you entered into a marriage of convenience for the purpose of getting status in Canada, or that you have made a material misrepresentation to Canadian immigration authorities.
Whatever the reason for the allegations against you, if you receive a Section 44 Report, it is important to review it carefully, seek legal advice as soon as possible, and respond accordingly and on time. If you can alleviate the concerns raised in the report, then the investigation into you may be closed. However, if you fail to adequately address the allegations, it is possible that CBSA may start deportation proceedings to remove you from Canada.
Frequently asked questions about Immigration Investigations
The investigative stage is the very beginning of the immigration enforcement process. Anything that is provided or submitted at this early stage will be commented upon, reviewed, and referred to at subsequent proceedings. This means that it is absolutely imperative that a person put their best case before the officer who is reviewing the results of this investigation.
Even in cases where the Minister’s decision to seek a removal order is all but certain, it is still important to have assistance in responding to the Minister’s investigation in order to ensure that the circumstances of your case are presented in the most sympathetic light possible as this will also be referred back to in subsequent proceedings.
Typically, the people who investigate targets are only provided with the minimum amount of information possible, in order to allow them to respond to an investigation. This means that people are often confused about the Minister’s intentions in their case. One method of gaining additional information is by obtaining access to the target’s immigration file under the Access to Information Act, another is to simply contact the investigating officer themselves in order to discuss the allegations so that they may be better able to respond.
First, it is important to provide the Minister with all relevant documentary evidence that refutes any allegations of misconduct. For example, if a person has been alleged to have become a permanent resident by having entered into a marriage of convenience, any documentary evidence that establishes that that marriage was in fact a genuine relationship and not a marriage of convenience, like text messages, combined travel history or evidence of combined assets, etc., will be significant to the officer.
Even in the event that someone is not able to refute the allegations made against them, if there are compelling humanitarian and compassionate circumstances that would warrant a decision not to seek a removal order against them. For example, if they would be subjected to extreme hardship and persecution in their country of nationality if removed, or if the best interests of a child would be adversely affected by the execution of a removal order against them, this information is highly relevant to the officer and should be provided to them.
After the subject has responded to the Section 44 Report, the matter will be referred to a more senior immigration officer for a decision. In some circumstances, the decision may be to refer the matter to an admissibility hearing before the Immigration Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB). At this hearing, the Minister will determine whether the allegations made are in fact well-founded and if so, whether a removal order should be issued. Sometimes, the officer themselves may be authorized to issue a removal order after having reviewed the results of the investigation.
If the Minister declines to pursue enforcement action, the target of the investigation is sometimes notified by letter or telephone call that the Minister does not intend to seek their removal following the conclusion of the investigation. If notice of this decision is received in writing, such letters are often referred to as “stern warning letters”. These letters indicate that although the Minister has made a decision not to seek the issuance of a removal order against them at that point, their position may change anytime should any subsequent misconduct occur on the part of the person concerned.
How can Mamann, Sandaluk & Kingwell LLP to represent you?
We have several lawyers in our immigration litigation team who specialize in answering these calls for a response to a Section 44 Report and who also have experience in attending hearings before the Immigration and Refugee Board who will be deciding if the report is well-founded.