Misrepresentation – You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em

You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em,

Know when to walk away and know when to run.

– Don Schlitz, The Gambler

A certain (but incalculable) percentage of immigrants have committed misrepresentation to come to Canada. Misrepresentation, as with many aspects of life, is a spectrum, but broadly defined by immigration law. Whether its “white” lies, omission, or bald-faced deception, I’ve seen the various manifestations of misrepresentation on a daily basis.

When a Permanent Resident is found out (or if the Officer is simply over-reaching), there is recourse; if in Canada, an Officer must decide whether or not to write a section 44 report (thus initiating the enforcement/removal process) and another Officer decides whether to refer the matter forward. If referred, the Immigration Division determines if the Minister has made out his case (that the report is “well-founded”). Certain allegations of misrepresentation are harder to establish than others (marriage fraud, for example, as it requires evidence as to state of mind or subjective intent at the time of landing in Canada). If the ID finds the PR has committed a misrepresentation, an exclusion order results. A Permanent Resident can appeal that exclusion order to the Immigration Appeal Division. The IAD has broad jurisdiction and can consider factors such as establishment in Canada, remorse/insight, the nature and degree of the misrepresentation, family in Canada, and dislocation and hardship to that family in the event of removal and, always, the best interests of children affected by the decision. Not all lies warrant enforcement action, not all lies result in removal.

Sometimes a Permanent Resident gets away with it. Some lies never see the light of day. Emboldened by their luck, some of these individuals are mayhap unfamiliar with the advice given by the narrator on the train “bound for nowhere”. Instead of holding, folding, walking away or running, these foolhardy souls decide to double-down on the livsløgn. One example of fools rushing in where angels fear to tread is the PR that came to Canada as a dependent child. In fact, he or she is already married and may have children. If they think of going to an immigration lawyer, they’ll get the sage advice to apply under humanitarian and compassionate grounds for the undeclared family members. Perhaps there were extenuating circumstances or an innocent explanation for the non-disclosure. This is the only way, in my opinion, to deal with this particular fact scenario. Come clean, explain yourself, set out the circumstances and request relief. The risk of course, is rejection of the non-disclosed family member(s) and/or the initiation of enforcement action against the sponsor here in Canada.

However, all too often, either going to a lawyer is rejected out of hand; or the advice itself is rejected (as too risky or doomed to failure).

These relationships are ties that bind, and the PR (and his family and friends) think feverishly of a scheme to bring the remaining family to Canada.

Maybe the PR will simply go back and get married to his or her spouse and submit a sponsorship application. The forms, relevant dates, and the narrative concerning the origin and development of the relationship will need to be “tweaked”. If it’s only about re-marrying your spouse, a freshly minted marriage certificate (in certain countries) can be obtained (other countries, like the Philippines, take the registration of marriages seriously).

Children, however, tend to complicate matters. For one, their blessed presence on this planet tends to date a relationship. Secondly, their absence from the sponsor’s own forms for permanent residence is (usually) enough to establish misrepresentation.

Ah, but the fevered brain storm of the sponsor and his companions, comes upon a solution: the sponsor returns to marry a “widow” (usually it’s a “widow” waiting back home). Perhaps the sponsor can “adopt” his own children, but adoption may not be necessary. A horrific accident has taken the life of the fictitious father; a death certificate is now needed. The collective brainstorm may have contemplated a simple divorce; but divorce certificates and court custody documents are an added complication, a little harder to come by.

Easier just to kill the baby daddy.

It is never, truly, the first rodeo for a visa Officer, even if it’s her first posting (she’ll be apprised of these schemes; the patterns of deception, by her co-workers or locally engaged staff). One response to such sponsorships is a request for a DNA for the children and sponsor. Sometimes there is a field investigation and an Officer and/or locally engaged staff are dispatched to the sponsor/applicant’s village (Villagers love talking to Canadian Officers!) Perhaps the request will be for the police report for the accident that claimed the life of the hapless father.

It is at this point that the sponsor decides to accept the inevitable and decides to fold-em.

A more complicated solution involves an exchange. The sponsor will marry someone else; their relative in Canada will marry the “widow” and sponsor her and the children. Each sponsor has the incentive of being able to bring their respective loved one(s) to Canada, the land of milk, honey, toil and sweat.

“Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead” – Benjamin Franklin

Here there are a lot of moving parts and four individuals, and their respective family and friends, have to keep a great secret, and convince a visa Officer that both marriages/relationships are genuine. Pins and needles, the Sword of Damocles, the whole nine yards, for months if not years.

Getting to Canada may have been the easy part. The hard part will be years of worry of being found out, years apart from a life partner, missing out on the lives of children, a life-in-between, and only engaging in self-deception or lebenslüge will alleviate the resultant guilt and grief.

Now Ev’ry gambler knows that the secret to survivin’

Is knowin’ what to throw away and knowing what to keep.

‘Cause ev’ry hand’s a winner and ev’ry hand’s a loser,

And the best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep.