Happy Anniversary!

Today marks the 3rd anniversary of my refusal letter.  It’s amazing to me that it has been that long: I really had to think about it this morning to confirm the length of time, as I’d originally thought it had only been two years.

I continue to learn more about medical inadmissibility in Canada – it continues to impact real people, often in surprising cases.  I have been able to help several people through the gauntlet.  By far the most successful path through is to demonstrate that the actual medical treatment required falls below the excessive demand threshold – it’s surprising how often CIC medical officer’s just say “it’s expensive” and foist the burden of computing costs back onto the applicant.

As for me, well I’ve turned my eyes towards the citizenship process.  With the impending changes to the process I either must apply now (and face a 3 year wait to chat with a Citizenship Judge) or wait until sometime in 2018 to apply (and face a 2 year wait…)  Life continues to be interesting.

For those of you dealing with Canadian excessive demand medical inadmissibility I wish you the very best.  While I’m not nearly so active these days, I do continue to answer questions and leave this blog as a (hopefully useful) resource for those facing it.

I do hope to read one of these days that the Federal Court has struck down A38(c)(3).  Maybe because it violates the separation of powers between Federal and Provincial governments, maybe because it violates the various UN agreements to which Canada is signatory, or because it violates the Charter rights.

Whatever the reason, it will be nice to see the morally repugnant scheme struck down.  And maybe – once I have citizenship – I’ll be more public and vocal in the political process for reform in the system.  As a permanent resident I have to worry about the criminalization of protest in Canada – after all, it only requires one brush with the law and permanent residency can be revoked.  And since permanent residents remain so by the grace of her majesty’s government it’s generally best to remain “below the radar”.

Best wishes for all in 2015!


An unusual entry in the Docket


Sparks St. Headquarters

Image via Wikipedia

I haven’t checked the docket system in a while – after all, I don’t expect anything else to change until the government has responded to the application.  For whatever reason, I looked at it today and was rather surprised to find there was a new entry:  The government has assigned an attorney to this case apparently, because she filed a letter with the Court indicating she was assuming “carriage” of this case.

I found this about two hours ago (as I write this) and I’m still oddly rattled.  Indeed, initially I was floored – I’ve never seen an entry like this one in the dozens of other immigration cases I’ve reviewed on the docketing system.  Of course, I wasn’t specifically looking for this entry either, so I just figured I had not really noted it previously.  So I spent about an hour going back over old cases and none of them indicated an attorney by name taking the case.  Usually the next notation after the application being filed is the response being filed.

I’ve decided to include it as an image; while it can be recognized via OCR, this will prevent the name from being normally indexed (or so I hope – web stuff is getting rather sophisticated these days!)

Docket entry

Docket Entry

This was enough information for me to do some web searching.  This is an attorney with quite an extensive history of handling high profile cases.  She sat on a panel discussion last year discussing medical inadmissibility in the Canadian federal court system.

I’m at a loss as to how to interpret this.  I suspect I may be over thinking it.  So at least for the time being I’ve decided to interpret it as a positive sign – that Justice Canada is taking my application seriously.  Ironically, this may make it more likely that I’m granted leave – since it suggests there are substantive issues to decide.

It does seem likely that the response in this case is going to be a strong one.  There is little doubt that my attorney is going to earn his fee on this case (or perhaps just this added level of attention means he’s already earned it!)

What is the cost of success?

I’ve previously mentioned the seminal Companioni case.  From that case, I was able to locate my current attorney.  I’ve also been doing quite a bit of work lately in New York City (recall that my client is physically located in the same building as the consulate that considered and rejected my application.)  Since Companioni lived in NEw York, I spent some time trying to track them down.

While I think I have, the process was far more challenging than I had initially expected – after all, these days it’s generally quite easy to track someone down.  Even when I found a matching profile on a professional website, I was surprised to find out that the person I identified did not allow direct contact (and this is a business networking website!)  That surprised me.  The same thing for social websites (e.g., Facebook).  As I dug deeper it began to sink in that there might be a high price for success: the rights of privacy disappear once the legal system is involved.  The details of who I am, what I do for a living, where I live, and my medical condition are all spelled out in a legal decision.  If it is unsuccessful, almost no one will take notice – and from my review of judicial review decisions most are unsuccessful.  Then again, most are refugee cases.

Companioni was succesful.  When I pushed my attorney a bit more on Monday about “where they were in the process” he demurred and said that I was pushing into an area of attorney/client privilege.  I’ve since offered up permission for my attorney to pass along contact information, but I’ve not heard anything.  A shame, but I suspect they may prefer their privacy.

I’m not always the sharpest knife in the drawer, but in this case it occurred to me that the reason for these things might very likely be that after the decision was made some people took it upon themselves to make the lives of Companioni and his partner difficult.  I cannot be surprised at such actions, given the extremist views of some people (e.g., Westboro Baptist Church and their actions.)

So now I’m wondering: will the cost of success (however unlikely) be so high that I ultimately decide it was not worth it?  If so, it really challenges me as to the basic nature of justice and the manner in which we execute it these days.  But then again, perhaps that is the goal: to provide us with an outlet that is so expensive regardless of success or failure that we will remain complacent and simply accept the fact that we are excluded.

That leaves me with a rhetorical question to ponder: Does Canada merely present the illusion of equality and tolerance while actively discouraging it?

Spousal Sponsorship: A story of “how it really works”

When dealing with Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) one is often presented with what seems like a Kafka-esque set of requirements.

In all fairness, for the vast majority of applicants, there are few problems because their case is straight-forward and can be quickly and easily evaluated.

Of course, those of us who find complications can experience what often seems like an impenetrable maze of highly subjective rules, regulations, etc. That certainly applies in the case of medical inadmissibility.

I had a great time meeting with an old friend yesterday.  Over drinks we caught up with each other’s lives.  He has just recently applied for Canadian citizenship.  An American originally, he went through the sponsored spousal category.  I was surprised when he told me that it required 24 months to complete everything.  I recall how nervous he was towards the end (he had a work permit, but his employer had laid him off.)

It turns out he ran into pretty much the same issue that I’m facing.  He found out about his condition shortly before he submitted his application for permanent residency (so at least not as part of the immigration physical.)  What surprised me is how many “hoops” he had to jump through in order to be successful.  This included a requirement that he be on medication and that he sign affidavits guaranteeing that he and his spouse were monogamous and that they would practice safe sex.  To be blunt, I was aghast at such requirements.  It seems highly invasive for any government to impose such requirements on a rather personal and intimate relationship.

Of course, I find this ironic – in the case of a skilled worker, a personal guarantee to pay for a public service is discounted.  So why would a personal guarantee as to sexual conduct between spouses be considered valid?

I have not delved substantially into describing my own research and opinions on the efficacy of the life saving drugs for HIV, but I am more skeptical than the press, doctors and ASOs are about their efficacy and the current treatment paradigms. I am not saying that I have the answers, I’m merely disturbed by the fact that there are so many doubts and questions to which I have not been able to obtain satisfactory answers.  It is an essential component of informed consent to understand treatment decisions. But I’ll save that conversation for another day.

Doctors, while certainly very learned, have been known in the past to collectively accept scientific conclusions that were later proven false.  For an example (but hardly the only one), do a search on Onanism for an interesting history on a common cause for a number of human conditions. We scoff now, but at the time this was all taken seriously. So I have proceeded with caution.

Bottom line: I find the idea that one can be forced to take medications to fly in the face of “informed consent” and I am amazed that any doctor would find it ethical to allow a patient to proceed in the face of such coercion.  I guess I’ll just have to wait and see what actually happens.


Fear and Loathing at the Border


So today I crossed the border.  I did it in a rather peculiar location – I took the tunnel bus from Detroit to Windsor.  It’s a very short ride.  And if things had gone sour, I could have turned back around and returned to my hotel room.

In this case, I was the only person on the bus.  As a favour to the bus driver, the CBSA officer inspected me at the entry booth rather than sending me to the secondary inspection station (there was a Greyhound bus parked at the secondary inspection post.)  I presented my Nexus card and he asked more questions than I usually get: “where do you live?” and when I told him, he asked “what is your status in Canada?’  I told him that I worked here, and he wanted to see my work permit, which I showed him.

He never looked at the computer systems though, which I know means he’d be happy.  My documents are all in order.  What I’m afraid is that some notation will show up in my online files/records.  Of course, I haven’t exactly helped that, either.

Speaking of which, the other knife in the guts was when I texted home to see if my T4 had shown up (it would be useful for the forthcoming application we’re filing in Federal Court this week).  I was told that it had not, but that a letter from CIC had.  With a bit of trepedation I asked “which office” and after a bit received an answer “Seattle”.  My stomach was in knots.  Recall that I submitted a TRP application to them?  I was seriously thinking “if they answered that quickly it is a denial.”

About 30 minutes later I was able to obtain what I wanted to know: it was an acknowledgment of receipt.  I haven’t seen the exact letter, but my recollection of the gist was: “this will take 3-6 months to process and is unlikely to succeed.”  But it means they have the file.

I’ll order my first round of CAIPS/GSSM notes on it when I get back.  I don’t expect it will say much, but at least I’ll be able to see where they are and what they are thinking (perhaps).  I’ll keep doing that every little while (since it takes 4-6 weeks to get the notes back.)  I’m also going to send in a copy of my completed spousal sponsorship application (since that is part of the basis of my application.)  And anything else that I think might support my request.

What drives this?  That nagging fear that I’m going to be heading home and stopped at the border with the “sorry, you are inadmissible to Canada”.  I know it is low probability, but I cross the border so often that it even low probability makes me incredibly nervous.  The thought of being told I cannot go home to my family, my home, and my employees is a truly dreadful feeling.

I hope that this never happens.

Taking the plunge: another medical exam


Doctor Patient Picture

Booking a meeting with the doctor

The process of obtaining a physical examination is a bit different for spousal sponsorship than it is for federal skilled worker immigration – in the latter, you wait until they send a form saying “go get your physical” while in the family sponsorship category they have you go get it up front:

If you are applying under the family class and being sponsored as a spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner, or dependent child, then you should complete your medical examination before submitting your application.

That’s actually encouraging since a medical examination is technically only “good” for a period of 12 months – suggesting that they expect the entire process to be done in a year. Let’s hope.  From what I’ve read, if one sends a complete file the processing can actually go quite rapidly.

I’ve spent the past couple of days filling out all the paperwork.  I’m now down to just a handful of things remaining to be done:

  • pay the right of permanent residence fee (not required but I’ve read that this will speed things up – assuming the application is successful.)
  • medical examination
  • FBI clearance (I sent that in already, just waiting for it to come back, which could be in February or March.  I COULD submit without it and then send it along when I have a file number, but there is a certain advantage to having it all done and complete in one package
  • Supplementary materials in support of the legitimacy of our marriage.  Maybe other people are good at remembering exact dates and places: “when did you first meet?” – I know roughly when and even where we met, but exactly?  Of course, one thing that I’ve enjoyed about this is thinking back to those heady initial days.  Not that a visa officer will care about that sort of thing, of course.  So the fact that the landlord still hasn’t returned an executed copy of our apartment lease (hey, it’s only been 7 months, why rush things?) is now a bit more than a minor annoyance.  We do own a car together and have bank accounts together, have traveled together and I’m off looking through telephone records (ugh!  we mostly text!) and pictures (call me a die hard romantic, but there are some that just make me tear up.)

It’s quite a pile.  Since I can’t seem to get a straight answer to almost anything I now have to mull over whether or not to send in this whole pile and request a temporary resident permit.  As I previously noted, a simple reading of the CIC website pretty clearly says that I’m not eligible for a spousal sponsorship, even though other people say that I am.  The only way to really tell is to submit the application and see what happens. Ugh!

I’ll keep going over the application to make sure I haven’t missed anything, but having my previously filed application has been immensely helpful in preparing the new one (try remembering everywhere you’ve ever lived since you turned 18!)