In the days leading up to the government’s response there was correspondence from the attorney representing the government advising us that because there was a spousal sponsored application in the mix she would file a “Motion to Strike” and correspondingly ask for an award of costs.
This led to some interesting conversations with my attorney – I had not told him what I was doing with respect to a spousal sponsored application for a couple of reasons: I’ve engaged his services to represent me in the judicial review action, not in a spousal undertaking for example; I’ve been told that the two are not related.
It is a bit frustrating to have a professional (such as a lawyer) treat me as if I were someone who did not understand the subject matter. I’m not an expert but I’m also not stupid. I was very careful in my communications with him not to lie, although I certainly did not disclose everything to him either. Since that time he ask explicitly requested that I do so. Thus, I’ve sent him a copy of the sponsored spousal application for his records as well as the letter I submitted to the visa office in February when I discovered they had not shown submitted documents in the CAIPS notes (including those materials).
So, with the record now clear, we’re still proceeding on the presumption that my ability to challenge the original finding in my FSW application is not abrogated simply because I might be allowed in under a separate immigration category. According to the timing published this week Mississauga won’t even open the application until mid-May (75 days as of April 2, 2012). Maybe we missed something, in which case I have to fix and resubmit the application. Maybe they won’t allow my spouse to sponsor me (there ARE potential issues in our relationship that might lead to that conclusion). Most likely, they will approve my sponsor and then forward the entire file to Buffalo. Odds are it will then take a couple of months for Buffalo to even start processing my file.
However, the government did not file a Motion to Strike. Instead, they filed a response. The government’s response entirely ignored the substantive points raised in the application. They did not defend the medical officer’s decision, they did not challenge the separation of powers argument and they did not defend against the Charter challenge. The argument boiled down to: the applicant is filing under the sponsored spousal family class in which medical inadmissibility is not an issue and thus this court should not hear this case. They did ask for a “small award for costs”. They also challenged a couple of the items that were submitted because they were not available to the visa officer. Some of this did not make any sense (like the medical officer’s decision in the previous case) since its presence in front of the visa officer or not seems irrelevant. But that’s what they argued.
My attorney said that until I’m granted permanent residency in the new class, there is little if anything to support a claim that the issues I raised are moot. In my conversations with him I said, pointedly, that if I’m granted review I will withdraw my application as a sponsored spouse pending outcome.
Certainly, part of my mental process back in January was that the likelihood of obtaining review was fairly low (20-25%). At least by initiating the parallel application, if that were the actual outcome I’d be able to at least trim several months off the processing time required (although probably not in time to avoid renewing my work permit, the next challenge I have to face.) Perhaps it was a bit of panic thinking at the time – the idea of being kicked out, pushed away from my job, my spouse, my dog, my apartment and my home of choice certainly was not a pleasant one.
However, the argument against the government’s position is that simply because there is another possible avenue to explore, there is no guarantee that I would be successful. For example, I pointed out that if one followed this logic, the court could dismiss any medical inadmissibility case if the government argued they had not pursued an H&C application – even though such an application would most likely fail. Otherwise, this becomes an argument of relative probabilities. But my attorney did say that once granted permanent residency in the sponsored spousal class the court would dismiss my challenge in relation to my original federal skilled worker application.
I did point out (although he did not respond to my observation) that even if I’m granted permanent residency in a different class, I’m now bound by a sworn affidavit to eschew using the very provincial medical services in question and thus I could argue that I still have standing, even though I’ve been granted permanent residency because I’m still bound by my prior affidavit. Thus, the government want’s to “have it’s cake and eat it too” – I’m morally bound by an agreement not to use these services, but the government need not be bound to defending their very right to ask me for said guarantee.
Unless the court buys this argument (that the matter is moot), which does not seem to have support in law, it looks like we will get judicial review. While certainly not the goal, the spousal sponsored application may actually help us get a day in court – as I’ve said before, I’d still prefer to obtain permanent residency on my own.
One week from today my reply (drafted and filed by my attorney) to the government’s response is due. Then 6-8 weeks later the court should make its decision on whether or not to grant review. My attorney thinks it is likely now (and I’ve raised my own worthless estimate to 75%).