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Are your References Reliable?

With any application process which involves providing references – whether a job, rental and especially an immigration application – it is very important that you choose the most reliable people to vouch for you.  The last thing you want is for one of your carefully-chosen references to provide incorrect or inconsistent information.  Unfortunately, this can be a common occurrence when it comes to any application process, including immigration applications.

Take, for example, the recent care of Liu v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration).  In this case, Mr. Liu was an accounting student out of Toronto who began working as a bookkeeper and submitted an application for permanent residency.  During the time of the processing of his application, he had a change of heart and decided to pursue training as a welder with his same employer.  Several months into the processing of his application, an immigration officer contacted Mr. Liu’s employer in order to confirm his having worked as a welder due to the discrepancies.  The employer indicated to the officer that though Mr. Liu had started as a bookkeeper and then tried his hand as a welder, his skills were not good enough, so he then returned to his original bookkeeping position within the company.  On this basis of not believing that Mr. Liu had worked as a welder and thus the officer refused Mr. Liu’s application.

It’s easy to understand the officer’s confusion over this case.  With his original permanent residency application, Mr. Liu’s employer had submitted a letter of reference which indicated that Mr. Liu was employed as a bookkeeper.  Months later, Mr. Liu submitted a supplemental reference from his employer indicating that he was now working as a welder.  The problem lies with the supplemental letter, in which Mr. Liu’s employer indicated that they had mistaken Mr. Liu with another employee of the same name while speaking to an immigration officer over the phone, and that they had recorded his occupation incorrectly.  How was the officer to know who was telling the truth?

The issue here was that the employer was clearly confused when submitting the supplemental letter.  Mr. Liu should have taken steps to ensure the accuracy of the reference letter that was submitted with his application.  Had he done so, his application may have been accepted.

For more on this, check out my Aikins newsletter article here.



About Reis Pagtakhan

Reis Pagtakhan is an immigration law partner with MLT Aikins LLP. His extensive experience includes assisting businesses obtain temporary entry to Canada and permanent residency for their executives, employees and contractors from all over the world. Reis has lectured on and written papers on immigration law for the Law Society of Manitoba, the Manitoba Bar Association, the Human Resources Management Association of Manitoba, the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association, and the Community Legal Education Association of Manitoba. He has presented position papers before the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Immigration Department officials and Manitoba Labour and Immigration. He has written articles on immigration for the CBC, the Winnipeg Free Press, trade, industry and ethnic publications.


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