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The Consequences of Incomplete Canadian Immigration Applications

Having your Canadian visa application returned due to incompleteness is a frustrating experience and can have severe implications. Because of processing delays, it often takes Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC“) months to return an incomplete Canadian visa applications, and applicants have to then start over (assuming that they still qualify for a visa).

It is worth noting that 40% of all Canadian visa applications are returned due to incompleteness. Over 95% of these are submitted by applicants who chose to prepare their applications themselves without the assistance of a regulated Canadian immigration consultant.

Valid Applications

Section 12 of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (the “Regulations“) states that “if the requirements of sections 10 and 11 of the Regulations are not met, then an officer shall return a visa application and all documents submitted in support of it.”

Section 10 of the Regulations provides that a Canadian visa application shall:

Form and content of application

10. (1) Subject to paragraphs 28(b) to (d) and 139(1)(b), an application under these Regulations shall

(a) be made in writing using the form provided by the Department, if any;

(b) be signed by the applicant;

(c) include all information and documents required by these Regulations, as well as any other evidence required by the Act;

(d) be accompanied by evidence of payment of the applicable fee, if any, set out in these Regulations; and

(e) if there is an accompanying spouse or common-law partner, identify who is the principal applicant and who is the accompanying spouse or common-law partner.

Required information

(2) The application shall, unless otherwise provided by these Regulations,

(a) contain the name, birth date, address, nationality and immigration status of the applicant and of all family members of the applicant, whether accompanying or not, and a statement whether the applicant or any of the family members is the spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner of another person;

(b) indicate whether they are applying for a visa, permit or authorization;

(c) indicate the class prescribed by these Regulations for which the application is made;

(c.1) if the applicant is represented in connection with the application, include the name, postal address (register it here and telephone number, and fax number and electronic mail address, if any, of any person or entity — or a person acting on its behalf — representing the applicant; For convenience, we have integrated Gmail with fax, & candidates can now get a complete guide on how to get started.

(c.2) if the applicant is represented, for consideration in connection with the application, by a person referred to in any of paragraphs 91(2)(a) to (c) of the Act, include the name of the body of which the person is a member and their membership identification number;

(c.3) if the applicant has been advised, for consideration in connection with the application, by a person referred to in any of paragraphs 91(2)(a) to (c) of the Act, include the information referred to in paragraphs (c.1) and (c.2) with respect to that person;

(c.4) if the applicant has been advised, for consideration in connection with the application, by an entity — or a person acting on its behalf — referred to in subsection 91(4) of the Act, include the information referred to in paragraph (c.1) with respect to that entity or person; and

(d) include a declaration that the information provided is complete and accurate.

If these requirements are not met, then an officer has no choice but to return the Canadian visa application for being incomplete.

Immigration Checklists

Canadian immigration officers use specific checklists to determine whether to return an application for being incomplete.  These checklists are distinct from the ones found with all application packages in that not every omitted item from the document checklist will result in an application being returned. However, it is always best practice to follow the checklist.  At the same time, the internal checklists also show that CIC will deem applications as incomplete for reasons not always specified on the CIC website or in application forms.

Common reasons for returned Canadian immigration applications include:

  1. Following the wrong application checklist,
  2. Failing to answer a question,
  3. Failing to sign an application or check confirmation boxes,
  4. Minor inconsistencies in applications,
  5. Using expired application forms,
  6. When applying online – failure to upload mandatory supporting evidence in the correct sections,
  7. Incorrect fee payments including over-payments,
  8. Submitting the application to the wrong department/location,
  9. Failure to provide mandatory supporting evidence, and
  10. Failure to provide mandatory evidence in the correct format.

Having a Canadian visa application returned for minor mistakes or omissions can prove costly. Not only will you have wasted several months but you will also forfeit expensive Canadian immigration processing fees. You will be left in a situation where you have to re-submit your application to the back of the queue.

If an application does not comply with the required formalities, even down to incorrectly sized photographs, there may be very serious consequences.

Avoid the uncertainty of having your Canadian visa application returned or refused for minor errors. Always use the services of a regulated Canadian immigration law firm such as Sterling Immigration and our Application Review Service. 

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