Useful Tips on Immigration Procedure

DISCLAIMER: Information provided in this section (and the remainder of this website) is not legal advice. It is of a general nature that may not apply to your situation. If you require legal advice, please contact us directly.

More Than a Checklist:What Submissions Are and Why They’re Important

Submissions generally are statements or evidence that you will present to either a judge or some other official in support of your argument. In most immigration proceedings, submissions are made in writing and can be addressed to either an immigration officer, a member of an immigration tribunal, or a federal court judge. The formality and language used in the submissions can be somewhat plain in the case of an immigration officer or tribunal member, but tends to be quite strict when dealing with the court.


With any Visa or PR application written submissions can be added to make it clear to an immigration officer how an applicant meets the requirements for their Visa or PR, and most importantly can be used to address any weaknesses that might exist in the application. When we prepare applications for clients, we always include written submissions because these make it easier for an officer to understand the application and to explain the client’s story clearly and accurately.

A good example of this is where an application is missing a document that is specified in the government’s document checklist. If you worked at a company in Canada and wanted to use this experience toward PR application, normally a reference letter would be expected from your employer. However there are cases where it is impossible to obtain such a letter. Companies sometimes go bankrupt, businesses close, employers move, etc. Written submissions can explain the efforts that you went to to try and obtain a reference letter, and supporting documents can be added with this submission to help show to an officer that you were truly employed at the company.

Written some missions are of course extremely important in situations involving prior negative experience with CIC, criminal history, inadmissibility, and other factors that would be looked at negatively by an immigration officer. If you have any concerns regarding making written submissions for these kind of issues, please contact us for further advice.

Tips to Make Your Application Better

There are numerous ways that an application for a Visa or PR can be improved, and this depends largely upon the kind of application that is being submitted. However, below we provide a few tips that are generally applicable to all applications. As suggested above, if you have a specific issue that you wish to ask about feel free to contact us as we provide free consultations and may be able to give you some quick advice.


As discussed above, written submissions are very important for all types of applications to help immigration officers understand your story. If you simply submit the documents that are on the checklist, sometimes there are details that are missing that are not immediately understandable by way of the application forms and the officer will not have the opportunity to see the big picture. Although there are some statements on the CIC website suggesting that they do not want additional documents, you have the legal right to submit additional documents if the purpose is to strengthen your application. The overall idea is to tell the story to the officer that is easily understood and will readily show that you are qualified for the status you are requesting.


CIC is now using verifiable forms in many parts of their applications that allow them to be scanned once they are completed and verified. This allows the CIC computers to accurately record all of your essential information, such as your name, birth date, etc. Whenever possible these form should be used.

For other application forms, handwriting should be avoided as much as possible except where required in cases such as providing original script for applicant and family member names. CIC will return documents that are not legible, so when writing by hand be sure that it is clear and clean.


In many cases you will be asked to provide either a letter or other supporting document for your application. Is important to remember that these documents should be written as clearly and concisely as possible, but at the same time should not sacrifice any necessary information. For example a job reference letter must follow the guidelines specified by CIC, and although it may seem obvious, letters that fall beneath the standard will jeopardize application. Letters of support for a visa, such as an invitation letter, should be written in a straightforward manner and should be statement of fact rather than having unnecessary emotional content. For example, it is easy to understand that a husband may want to be reunited with his wife and is therefore requesting a visa. And immigration officer will not be interested to hear how much the husband is lonely, but will be more interested to know that the husband will be able to provide for his wife financially while she is in Canada.

Knowing what supporting documents to include can be difficult, and sometimes requires creative thinking. Any document that you think can support your position should be considered, and we have never heard any suggestion that was ridiculous. That being said, please feel free to contact us if you have any questions in this area.

What NOT to Pack: What Your Luggage Says About You

Whenever you enter Canada, make sure that the contents of your luggage matches your story.

We regularly receive clients who have either been detained or deported by Canada border officers based on investigations that started with questions regarding the contents of their luggage. Generally speaking, the questions that came up focused on how long it appeared the person entering was planning to stay in Canada and whether that matched the length of their visa.

Below are a few suggestions about how you should prepare to enter the country and what to keep in mind when packing:


While it should be fairly obvious that if you’re planning to only stay a short time you should not be bringing a huge amount of clothing with you, you should also consider the expected weather during your stay in the kind of activities you have planned. If you’re entering the country in the middle of the summer, it would be suspicious to pack a winter jacket. Likewise, if you’re arriving in middle of winter be prepared to answer some serious questions if you’re packing swimwear.

You must also be careful to ensure that your stated purpose matches the clothing that you’re packing. For example, if you’re entering Canada to attend a funeral it would be reasonable for you to bring one set of formal clothing (most likely black). If however you packed multiple sets of formal wear, it is quite possible that a border officer would guess that you are planning to attend job interviews. While this is not illegal, if you told the officer that you are only planning to attend a funeral your true intent would be questioned.


It is very important that you only bring documents with you that would appear absolutely necessary for your stay in Canada. Passports and regular identity documents certainly are necessary for travel, but going beyond this enters into dangerous territory regarding your intentions. For example, if your stated intention in Canada is to go sightseeing border officers would easily be suspicious of any documents relating to work or educational qualifications as it would appear that you are planning on job hunting during your stay. If you absolutely need to bring documents to Canada that would raise suspicion, consider using a secure courier service to transport the documents if it is possible to do so.
There are certainly very legitimate reasons for bringing in important documents to the country, but it is important to recognize that doing so has the appearance of either potential jobhunting or intention to stay in the country for a long period of time.



If you’re planning to stay temporarily in Canada, your intention becomes very questionable if you bring with you a considerable amount of valuable belongings. The basic reason for this is that your home would most likely be the safest place to keep these items, and if you are bringing them with you it looks like you intend to make your new home. There are no absolute rules for evaluating the circumstances, but if you are bringing large amounts of jewelry or other valuable items with you as you enter the country you should have a reasonable explanation as to why you need them.

The same goes for electronics. If you absolutely need to have a laptop with you for personal use it should be justified. Smaller electronic devices such as tablets, cell phones, and cameras suggest casual or recreational use whereas for many people a laptop represents their entire life. Accordingly, bringing a laptop or other expensive electronic equipment into Canada points towards a longer stay in mind.

Useful Tip on Security and Keeping Details Safe (fromĀ http://www.travellerspoint.com/packing-tips.cfm):

Scan your passport, passport photos and paper tickets (if not the e type) in. Store this (in an email for e.g.) in your web based email account. You can also store the details of your emergency ‘lost card’ telephone numbers in your web based email account so you know who to contact if your credit card or ATM card is lost or stolen. This way, even if you lose everything, you have immediate access your all important information. You can even email the details page of your passport to the embassy or consulate when applying for a new one.

Also consider writing your home and destination address (and mobile number if you have one) on a self-adhesive sticky label to stick INSIDE your luggage in a visible place. If your luggage is lost and the baggage label has come off, at least the airline can still figure out whose luggage it is.

MONEY: How much do I need to show?

The amount of money that applicants need to show CIC either in applications submitted to these offices, or at the border to immigration officers, depends on what you are trying to demonstrate immigration officials. Unfortunately this can be subjective and is not always that easy to clearly quantify. However, here are some things to bear in mind when dealing with these situations.


We start with this example because it is the most simple. For applications other than investor and business class which have their own strict guidelines, an applicant will be expected to have enough funds to provide for their living expenses until they find a job. If employment has not been arranged, or if the applicant is not currently employed, we generally recommend to our clients that they have at least $10,000 available to them. The idea here is that an applicant will not have to resort to social benefits (welfare) in order to survive if they did not have immediate employment. If employment is in place, there is no requirement to have funds per se available in savings, etc. but we nevertheless generally recommend to our clients to provide bank statements indicating a few thousand at their disposal. Again this is not a requirement, but it will provide reassurance to an immigration officer when reviewing an application.


These situations are by definition more complicated because they depend on what the intention of the stay in Canada is. Accordingly, applicant needs to think about how much money they will need for their stay with regards to living expenses and if they will require additional funds for either their education or any other components of their stay. Showing receipts for paid tuition can be particularly important in that it shows a commitment to attending the educational situation. Other receipts for prepaid expenses can also be shown to demonstrate seriousness of intent, such as prepaid tickets to special events that represent an important part of the stay in Canada.

The general rule that officers follow is that, living costs will amount to approximately $1000 per month. Accordingly, if an applicant is staying between one and 6 months they should have access to between $1000 and $6000. If the intended state is longer these officers are expected to show some flexibility with regards to having all of the funds available at the time of entry, because certainly applicants might receive additional financials support later during her stay. Accordingly, longer-term financial support should be mentioned at some point either in the application or during the conversation with the officer.

In addition to showing funds available for the stay in Canada itself, many visa offices abroad will ask to see financial documents showing assets that will remain in the home country. This demonstrates remaining ties to the home country, providing some reassurance that the applicant will indeed return home after their stay in Canada. This is arguably the most subjective area of a visa application from abroad, and we routinely see clients who have applied on their own and been rejected for either showing too little financial attachment to a home country, and in rare cases been rejected for showing excessive assets in countries that have concerns about their citizens leaving and subsequently transferring their assets electronically out of the country.

Our general recommendation with regards to showing assets for the purposes of demonstrating remaining ties to a home country is that the more assets shown the better. This includes any cash immediately available from bank accounts, any investments immediately convertible to cash, longer-term investments, and real estate holdings. In some cases, even providing a copy of a last will and testament will demonstrate the remaining financial connection to a home country that would not be easily abandoned. Again, this is a difficult area to provide general guidance in and we certainly recommended contacting us for further guidance.

Language: How to Make Things Smoother

Speaking with immigration officials upon entry to Canada can be very stressful. Below we provide a few recommendations regarding use of language when talking with them, and tips on what to (and not to) say:


Speak slowly and respectfully when talking with these officers at all times. This will ensure that they understand you, and also demonstrates that you have nothing to hide. When people speak quickly is understandable that they may do so because they are nervous, but unfortunately this can also give the impression that they are nervous for a specific reason.


Answer questions by the officer directly and truthfully. If you need them to repeat a question simply ask “Could you please repeat that?” Keep your answers reasonably short, and try not to provide information that they did not ask for. Generally, you should not ask the officer a question unless you need clarification on something. If an officer asks you a question that seems unbelievable, always assume that they are serious and answer the question directly. Even if you are extremely religious and have never used drugs or alcohol in your entire life, if an officer asks if you are carrying drugs simply reply “No I am not.”


Although we have already mentioned that it is important to be truthful, it cannot be overstated how important it is to remain honest at all times. Do not sacrifice honesty for embarrassment. If you’re coming to Canada to visit your boyfriend, say that your coming to Canada to visit your boyfriend.

At the same time, there are situations where excessive disclosure can be dangerous and may in fact be unnecessary. If you are unsure about what to say because you believe it may have legal consequences, please contact us in advance and we will be happy to give you advice.

DISCLAIMER: Information provided in this section (and the remainder of this website) is not legal advice. It is of a general nature that may not apply to your situation. If you require legal advice, please contact us directly.