The importance of a credible plan

Cerebal PalsyPeriodically I read decisions as they come out of the Courts regarding medical inadmissibility.  This case (De Hoedt Daniel) was heard here in Vancouver – I wish I’d been there to hear the arguments.  While the finding of excessive demand medical inadmissibility was upheld, the judge had some unusual words to say.  For anyone dealing with issues of medical inadmissibility there are valuable lessons in this case: be prepared, present a credible plan.  The shape of a possible plan just isn’t enough.  Indeed, this is the same lesson as Companioni – your plan must be real enough to convince a CIC officer.

Of course, even so, such a plan is not a guarantee of success.  They turned down my plan – even though it was a real, in place plan.  The final rationale offered for rejecting my plan (“we weren’t convinced that the plan would work for medication available for free from the province”) was created after-the-fact and failed on even a cursory analysis – the plan included a non-discretionary plan.  I also verified that the insurance would cover the medications by actually filling prescriptions – although that was done after the rejection.  Had the visa office expressed that concern, it would have been easily addressed. They didn’t do so however – they just rejected.

Here is the interesting comment at the end of the decision (an obiter dictum):

It is recommended by the undersigned that the number of well-intentioned individuals, organizations and entities, having come forward to assist the Applicant with the care of the said child, begin the process again and that the Canadian authorities give priority to that process, recognizing the time and effort that has already been given to the voluminous documents accompanying the application for permanent residence by all involved, including the specific individuals and entities in Maple Ridge, British Columbia.
It would seem that a viable plan requires the preparation of a practical commitment on paper to ensure that it is acknowledged and understood as such by the authorities who would then make their decision thereon.

This is an essential point for anyone involved in a fairness response: your plan needs to be real, it needs to be concrete and it needs to be clear to the decision maker that it overcomes the initial concern of excessive demand.

I cannot stress this enough: you must have a credible plan.  It needs to be in-place, workable and it must address the cost concerns – remember, this is all about money. That’s the issue you must address.

Ideally, anyone in this situation (dealing with a fairness letter regarding medical inadmissibility) should keep this point in mind: have a clear plan.  Make it concrete and real.  If it is hypothetical or the visa officer has any doubts about the viability of the plan, it will likely be rejected.  Better to do the up-front work and overcome the objection before it makes it before the court.


Time to Renew the Work Permit


Canadian Work Permit
As much as I had hoped I wouldn’t need to do it, the time has come to renew my work permit – it expires in September.  When I looked at the CIC website a few months back I was impressed to see that their processing times were only a few weeks for a renewal.  Some time in the past few months they must have been hit with a surge in applications, however, because they now require 55 days for a renewal application (or a mere 54 days if you submit it online!)

Normally I wouldn’t be too concerned, but of course with a negative determination on my FSW application, it seems likely that it is more likely to be subject to questioning.  Of course, the fact I have to cross the border on a regular basis does make this a bit more complicated – if I’d known the time to process was two months, I’d have submitted back at the beginning of May – when the time to process was just a couple of weeks.  Hindsight, as always, is much better than foresight.

In addition, the application form that one uses at the border has changed substantially – it now explicitly asks about all previous applications.  The inland renewal application asks about “serious medical conditions”.   Thus, either way I try to process a renewal it is far more likely I’m going to be subject to additional scrutiny.

My attorney has recommended filing via the inland renewal process.  My concern with that is that as the processing time is now almost two months (and seems to have slowed down by two days in the past week) I’m going to end up being forced to leave for work prior to the actual renewal – particularly if it is referred to a local office (here in Vancouver, no doubt) for additional processing.  My attorney has argued that the information I provided before (insurance coverage) should be sufficient to obtain a renewal. I’d expect my Canadian spouse to carry as much weight, to be honest, and I have to include a spousal declaration on my application in any case.

If I do have to leave Canada while an inland renewal is in process, one of three things will happen:

  • My renewed work permit will be issued prior to my return to Canada (in that case, I can just have someone forward it to me);
  • I can submit an application at the POE (Port of Entry);
  • I can request a “visitor record” for the period of time while they are processing my renewal inland (but legally I cannot work in Canada during that time.)

As long as I remain in Canada, I can continue working (“implied status”).

I sent everything along to my attorney for his review and I’m now waiting to hear back from him.  I will send in the inland renewal (this week) and then if I do need to leave the country I will make sure I have everything that I need to submit the application at the POE – the “don’t work in Canada” doesn’t work so well for my situation (the idea of a vacation does sound nice, but it doesn’t really work for me.)

Of course, I really hope that this is the last time I’ll have to renew my work permit.


Nervousness and waiting


Something to pass the time while I'm waiting.

So it’s just after 1:30 pm PT, which means that my daily ritual of checking the registry website “makes sense” as they would be closed in Toronto.  I suppose it’s possible the decision will be made elsewhere (like here in Vancouver) in which case they could post it as late as 4:30 pm PT.

The interminable waiting is surprisingly stressful.  Fortunately, I’ve had my work to keep me busy, and this past weekend I volunteered to assist at a regional athletic competition, which involved very long days.  Plus, today is the deadline for filing taxes (they are done, I just have to walk them over to the tax service office and drop them off before 4:30 pm.)  I don’t owe any money, so even if late, there’s no penalty.  Then again, since I’m getting a refund, I’d rather get them in sooner.  Usually I get them in by the end of March, but this year I didn’t make it – and somehow April has evaporated.

Still, I keep the court docket up in my web browser and periodically check to see if there is any sort of update.  It will be two weeks tomorrow that the case has been sent to the Court for disposition and most decisions seem to come down at around the three week mark.  I know my attorney has asked me to withdraw the sponsored application and I will write up the documents to do so this week, but my thinking is to hold onto that until we get a decision on the review application – right now it looks like we’re about five weeks out on them even opening the application so I’d rather wait a bit longer – after all, if review is turned down I’ll at least be a couple months into the sponsored application process, which seems to be a net plus.

Ah well.  Time to try and ignore the elephant in the room and find other things to keep me occupied.  Fortunately, work has been VERY busy, which makes staying distracted easier.  Still, I wake up at night worrying about this.  Life feels uncertain at this point, and it’s distinctly an uncomfortable feeling.

Immigration: Anyone with a condition will be a drain

Down's SyndromeOne of the fundamental underpinnings of the concept of “inadmissibility due to excessive demand” is the idea that people who are different are also liabilities to Canadian society.  This is reflected in the very process – in which only costs are considered, not added value, for example – and represents a deep-seated bias.  Even more peculiar is the idea that in some cases this excessive demand can be waived – for example, in the sponsored spousal class.

Of course, I’m dealing with this in my own case, as it is at the heart of the medical inadmissibility decision process: let’s look at costs above all else.  I must admit, I do understand the need to try and balance contributions against expenditures, but the law in this area is crazy – CIC turns it into an adversarial process, in which they say “sorry, but you might cost us too much money” and then makes you go figure out HOW they reached that decision (they certainly don’t tell you) and come up with some argument they might find persuasive.  If you guess wrong, you lose and you are rejected.

For example, in my case I’ve struggled to find out how much they think the meds are going to cost.  Not even the clinic in Vancouver can tell me the actual cost of these meds (and I’ve asked.)  I know what I can pay to buy them in the open market.  I’ve even gone so far as to research patent expiration dates to find drugs that are NOT covered by Canadian patents any longer and thus should be about the same cost as the generics I can find priced on the internet.  There are treatment options at around $2,000 per year.  But because I cannot find out the costs the government pays, I can’t even argue that their assessment is wrong – all I can do is say “ok, I have enough insurance to pay 100% of the cost” to which they reply “we know you’re just saying that and as soon as you can you’re going to jump on the gravy train…”  Nothing quite as inspirational as a process that automatically assumes you are a liar.  Of course, I’m not and I signed an unconditional affidavit saying I would pay the costs of the medications should they be necessary.  So I consider that no matter what the outcome, I am bound by that oath.

At any rate, last night I read this interesting article on the refusal of a parental sponsored application because they have an adult daughter with Down’s Syndrome. It’s what triggered this thought process for me.  There is an inherent bias in the system against people who are different.

This is an important part of our argument that this is a Charter violation – and this case is an excellent example of exactly the kind of bias we’re suggesting is the issue.

Proving a marriage is legitimate


One of the interesting challenges in preparing a new application for spousal sponsorship has been to substantiate the legitimacy of our marriage.  I’m quite sure that, given my previous rejection by CIC, this will be an area of inquiry.  From what I’ve read in other forums (e.g. Canada Immigration and Visa Discussion Forum) an important aspect of speeding the spousal immigration process along quickly is to ensure that you document everything.  I’m not trying to be so exhaustive that I overwhelm them, but at the same time I’m trying to make sure that the immigration officer reading through the file has no doubts that ours is a legitimate marriage.

Complicating this a bit is that our marriage is hardly a traditional one.   We didn’t have a big wedding (my spouse had just returned from a family wedding and agreed with my assessment that big weddings are tremendously stressful.) We had actually discussed marriage before, but to be honest I had concerns – one of which was I never wanted my spouse to ever think that I’d used our relationship for immigration purposes (another is that there’s a bit of an age difference between us.)

Even though I expected to receive the fairness letter (I just went back and looked – I received it from my attorney on the 7th of April 2011) it was still a real shock to the psyche. Something that one cannot fully appreciate until in this position is the concern about losing your home and family because of the arbitrary and capricious nature of a bureaucratic process.  Of course, bureaucratic processes are, by their very nature, dehumanizing. They turn real people into files full of paper, with numbers attached and objective standards to which the decision maker must adhere.

At any rate, we agreed to marry on April 9, 2011.  After my spouse returned in May (recall there was a family wedding and my spouse is from Taiwan originally) we started discussing when and how to do it.  I had suggested low key (with a party afterwards, although we’ve procrastinated a bit on the party unfortunately.)  After going through a big wedding my spouse was in agreement and we agreed on the low key approach.  Indeed we treated the whole thing somewhat casually – we went to Dim Sum on Friday May 13, 2011 and I said “you know, we could just go get the licence” – and that’s exactly what we did.  We went over to the Jack Chow Insurance office in Chinatown that also happens to issue marriage licences.  After showing our identification and being advised that we had to use the licence within ninety days, we left – both of us were a bit giddy.

We went ring shopping the next day after my spouse got off work.  We’d done some online shopping up to that point, so we picked a shop that had a number of rings that we really liked.  After looking at a number of rings we narrowed it down to three different rings.  My spouse then wanted me to pick, but rather than do that I said, no you pick one and I’ll pick one and then we’ll see if we can accept one of those two choices.  We both picked the same ring, which as far as I was concerned was the best possible outcome.   It’s not particularly fancy, but it has a bit of “bling” to it (something my spouse likes) and really did represent a good blending of our own likes.

I contacted a marriage commissioner the next day (Saturday) and our first pick was available for the following Friday (May 20, 2011.)  So we drove over (along with two close friends) to Kitsilano (still part of Vancouver, but a specific neighbourhood and outside of downtown where I lived.)  The day was fantastic – beautiful weather (about 24 celcius), dry and sunny.  Indeed, it was the best weather day in the first half of the year!  The ceremony was poignant and we both cried at various points throughout it.  The whole thing took about 20 minutes.  We’d brought a bottle of champagne and I think I drank most of it.

It was an amazing day.  Simple, yet thoroughly memorable.  Even the lottery ticket I bought (for the 20 May 2011 lottery) won!  It was only $20 (exactly what I spent) but given that its the most I’ve ever won on the lottery here, I was pretty happy about that outcome.

At any rate, I wander.  I’m going to include pictures from that amazing day.  Plus I’ve asked the owner of our gym to take a picture of us and write a letter of support (and she’s agreed to do so – this is a Crossfit gym, which is definitely NOT your typical gym.)  I’ve also asked my doctor (who my spouse has seen twice as well) to write a letter supporting us.  My hope is that this will be sufficiently compelling (I mean, we work out together at the gym.  If that doesn’t say love, what does?)

Just for the record, my spouse has pushed for formal pictures and engraving the date in our rings.  I’ve agreed to both.  Plus we still have a party to throw – I’m thinking that May 20, 2012 would be a good date for it (it’s a Sunday.)  We shall see.