If you’ve checked out my blog before then you may know that I am struggling with Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to bring my husband to Canada. Noreddine and I have been married for over two years now and just before I went on a five week trip to be with him at the end of 2013, to celebrate our 2nd year wedding anniversary, I received yet another wonderfully indifferent letter from the Ministerial Enquiries Division of the CIC.
Now I think I should point out that I have never actually written a letter to the Ministerial Enquiries Division of CIC. I have, however, been writing letters to The Canadian Minister of Immigration, Chris Alexander and have yet to receive a response from him directly. Instead I keep receiving responses from bureaucrats who like to amuse themselves by inserting absurd statements in the middle of perfectly insensitive form letters.
The first response letter directed me to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and pointed out that due to functus officio Visa Officers could not revisit their decisions. Of course I had not asked the Visa Officer to revisit his decision, I had actually asked his boss to review his decision and explain to me why his employee could get away with refusing my husband entry into Canada without a single solitary piece of evidence that his ‘feeling’ that my husband just didn’t love me was valid and true. In fact I was wondering how this man could be considered reliable when he was unable to get the facts of our case straight when we provided those facts to him. My response to that letter, I posted here on October 1st 2013.
In the second response letter I was told that all decisions made by CIC are fair, equitable, objective and unbiased or in other words I was told that CIC employees are perfect and they NEVER make mistakes or let their personal bias enter into their decisions. I wonder how many Canadians currently facing the extremely long wait time for an appeal hearing to be scheduled would agree with this statement?
I have been back from my trip to see my husband for almost two months now and I miss him terribly. It was hard returning from Algeria without him and it is even harder today as it is my birthday and it will be his on March 1st so we are, yet again, missing out on an opportunity to celebrate together. We are being robbed of our years together by a system that holds no one accountable for their decisions and, according to the professor who’s researched it, allows racial biases to creep in the selection process (http://www.thespec.com/news-story/4346417-inside-immigration-s-black-box-on-marriages/).
Here is my response to the Immigration Minister and his representatives:
Dear Minister Chris Alexander,
I am extremely disappointed by the callous indifference I continue to receive from your office about the situation I currently find myself in due to the actions of one of your employees. Instead of addressing my concerns or answering any of my questions you continue to reiterate the fact that my husbands application was refused in October 2012. A fact which I provided to you in my very first letter and really don’t need you to continually remind me about in your responses. I don’t expect you to overturn the decision of your employee. I have already been informed by my ICCRC that you would not interfere in my case, however, you ARE the person in charge and you CAN review such a bad decision and hold the person who made it accountable. Your ongoing indifference and continued defence of a decision that it is clear no one in your office has thoroughly reviewed offers insight into the reason why the Visa Officer has no fear of being held accountable for such a groundless and unsubstantiated decision.
I was especially fascinated by the comment made by G. Holmes in the last response letter I received from your office, “Citizenship and Immigration Canada reviews all applications objectively and consistently to ensure fair and equitable treatment of all applicants. We assess each application on its own merit against the program requirements and all decisions are neither discriminatory nor arbitrary.”, which would imply that all the decisions made by CIC employees are based solely on the facts pertinent to the individual case and not on personal feelings, interpretations or regional statistics that may have been reviewed and/or collected by your office.
And yet, just today, I read the article INSIDE IMMIGRATION’S “BLACK BOX” ON MARRIAGES penned by Nicholas Keung, which was in both The Hamilton Spectator** and Toronto Star online. In this article McMaster University Professor Vic Satzewich identified, “…a number of “flags” and “indicators” that visa officers rely on in their assessments:”, including flagging couples who are “deemed not compatible in age, physical appearance and values” as well as ” Applicants who come from poor countries need a visa to visit Canada and are from cities or regions of countries where fraud is common.” How do these “flags” represent an assessment of an application that is based on ITS OWN MERITS? These “flags” have little basis in the facts or merits of an individual case, such as mine and my husband’s, but rather lean towards a basis of size discrimination, age discrimination and discrimination based on income.
In the case of my husband, Noreddine Otmane Cherif, the visa officer’s notes included the following statements that could be interpreted as reasons for his decision, (a) “ The sponsor sent several letters of support from her family, but I am surprised no one from her family wanted to attend her wedding.“, (b) “ I get the feeling from the way he talks about the sponsor it is not a loving relationship for him.” and (c) “ The app has been unemployed for over a year and it is clear he married a Canadian citizen to try to obtain a Canadian immigration visa.” All three of these statements offer subjective opinion rather than fact, making them entirely arbitrary and in direct contradiction with G. Holmes assertion that the decision was made objectively. Furthermore, the Visa Officer, in these and other statements made in his notes, completely ignored the facts provided to him in our application and further disclosures prior to my husbands interview, favouring his own feelings and opinions about how my husband, myself and our families should have behaved in accordance with his own personal bias.
I am confounded by the notion that your office actually considers this process to be fair and equitable to Canadians and their loved ones. It is rather convenient for YOU that the ONLY option that a Canadian Citizen such as myself has after one of your employees rejects our loved ones application, other than accepting the decision, is an appeal that allows you to completely ignore and disregard our concerns about this process under the guise of being the ‘respondent’ in the case. Not only have I been told by you that my decision to appeal means you won’t speak with me, but I have also been told by my Federal MPP’s office that my decision to appeal means they cannot help me or speak with me about it as I am in the process of fighting the government, which they are a part of, in essence making this a battle between me, a single individual Canadian, and the entire Canadian Government.
I am not interested in receiving another letter from S. Langlois, G. Holmes or any other person working in the Ministerial Enquiries Division of your office. If you, Mr. Chris Alexander, cannot bother answering me then do me the courtesy of not wasting my time with another patronizing form letter that thanks me for bringing my concerns to your attention, when it is clear that no one in your office is paying attention to the concerns I have conveyed.
Leslie Jennings, P.Eng.