Case now under consideration

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As of this morning the case has been sent to the Court for determination.  The docket has an entry that says: “Communication to the Court from the Registry dated 17-APR-2012 re: sent to Court for disposition – A’s reply filed”.

So this means that the filings have been sent to the Court for a decision on the application.  Generally it seems to take 3-4 weeks for the Court to decide.  Thus, we should have a decision on the application by mid-May.  Actually a bit earlier than I had thought might happen.

 

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An unusual entry in the Docket

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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!)

Application Filed

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Just a quick note that the application for judicial review was in fact filed with the Federal Court today.

At this point the government has 30 days to respond (so March 29, 2012).  We will then have one final opportunity to file within 10 days.

The clock is ticking.

Note that I do not yet have a copy of what was actually filed with the Court, but I have already asked my attorney to forward one to me (that should be easy, given that they submit electronically these days.)

Fear and Loathing at the Border

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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.

FBI Clearance Letter received

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FBI image

Federal Bureau of Investigations

Today I received my FBI clearance letter.  As expected, it indicates that I do not have an arrest record in the United States.

With that I’m just waiting on two documents at this point: two support letters from family members (basically saying they know about us, all in support of our relationship being genuine.)

I’ve also been digging around on my computers and found some very useful material – including chat logs dating back to 2008 – nearly nine months before I even filed for permanent residency the first time around.

Of course, marriage fraud is a serious issue in Canada. I try to look at this objectively, however: most of this fraud is economically driven.  In my case, my work isn’t tied to my location.  So, from an objective perspective, the typical reasons that one enters into an immigration marriage don’t really make much sense here.  Regardless, there are a couple of red flag issues: age difference, income difference and my prior rejection all being the big issues.

I’ve tried to address these issues.  The first two are facts: the question is whether or not they undermine the legitimacy of my relationship with my spouse.  I maintain that they don’t.  First, it’s not as if we jumped into this instantly.  We started talking back in the fall of 2008, and while we bumped into each other on the street in November 2008, it wasn’t anything more than a fleeting encounter.   We didn’t actually meet until early June 2009.

So, finding chat logs and e-mails that substantiate this help demonstrate that there are some “legs” on our relationship.  Then we throw in joint bank statements, our apartment lease, car papers (joint ownership, loan in both our names) and my take is that we have a reasonable argument for a legitimate case.

I’ve read some cases online where people are worried about this as well (one couple had been married for six years and had two children together – to be honest, I cannot fathom how an immigration officer could look at that and think it wasn’t authentic!)  So I recognize that it’s easy to over-analyze these things.

Thus, my approach: step back from it and say “given all the evidence, does this look like a reasonable evolution of a relationship?”

We will find out soon enough.  My hope is to submit this package in early March, when I return from my next trip.

 

New forms!

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immigration forms

Immigration Forms

So I was going over the forms (again) and found that the CIC website now has a new IMM1344E form (the “E” by the way means it is in English.  The “F” version is in French.)

What’s amazing is that this form changed in December 2011 (replacing the previous two form combination.)  I’m glad I caught this – I suspect sending the wrong form to CIC would lead to at least a slower processing time and more likely a return of the entire application back to us.

The big advantage to the new form seems to be that it generates a barcode cover page.  By using 2D barcode technology, it means that when it arrives at CIC they can simply scan it and all the data is entered.  Less chance for errors (the barcodes have error correction data within them) and faster processing.  While not new technology, I assume it’s part of trying to streamline the CIC application processing system.  The downside is it means we’ll be one of the first people to try it out.

I was also excited to see that my credit card was charged by the FBI, which means someone in West Virginia has opened the envelope.  This usually seems to mean that the application will be processed in the next couple of days.  So – assuming there are no issues with the fingerprint card – I should get back my “no record found” response soon as I provided them with my FedEx account number.

With my FBI letter in hand, I’ll have everything I need to submit the new application.  I’ll pay the “Right of Permanent Residence” fee (printing out the oh so critical receipt), go through the application one more time, get it externally reviewed and then pop it in the Federal Express Envelope (or more likely box at this point) and ship it off to Mississauga.  Then we wait; at the moment it is taking around 2 months for them to open the application package.  If they are happy with the sponsorship they will send it along to Buffalo.  If they are not happy with something the process will slip off the tracks and we’ll have to wait and see how long it ultimately takes.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed, but my prior experience suggests that this could be a long road.

Maybe I should start a betting pool as to which will happen sooner: spousal sponsorship will be accepted or judicial review will be granted (or denied).

Filing for a Temporary Resident Permit

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Justice image

Awaiting a decision

So I’ve taken the plunge – my application is in the mail today. It includes all of the documents (hand-written – the Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) application has not been converted to an online fillable form AND it is region specific.) I have sent it to the nearest Consulate (Seattle). It includes the completed application, a (three page) cover letter and supplementary materials (which included the rejection letter from New York and the draft application for spousal sponsorship.)

I’ve not been able to determine what happens if the TRP is rejected, but I suspect it will make my life even more difficult.  On the other hand, I’ve put myself into a category in which the TRP is normally granted.  The one thing I have not done (yet) is actually file the spousal sponsorship application, as I’m waiting for my medical examination (February 6), my FBI clearance (when that happens remains an open question but this time around I used a credit card to pay the fee, so I should see when they charge it), and CRA income verification paperwork (for my spouse – even though income isn’t actually an issue in spousal cases.)  I also have a couple of supporting letters for which I have agreement from the people involved to write, they just have to be completed and signed off (and my sense is we have time to complete them.)

The entire package I sent to Seattle was around a half kilo (perhaps a bit more) of paper in support of the application.  It’s all pertinent material, and I hope that this is sufficient.

If I am successful in obtaining a TRP, my expectation is that it will be valid through September 2012 (when my work permit expires.)  Then I can file for an extension of both the work permit and TRP simultaneously.  By that time, my sponsored family class application should be well under-way and I would expect that both the work permit and the TRP will be renewed.

If I am NOT successful then I’m not exactly sure what my position will be.  At best it will be the same as I have now – the perennial threat of being refused entry into Canada at the border.  In the interim, I will keep a copy of my application materials with me whenever I have to travel out of the country (sadly, that’s a reality of the process at this point.)  I’ll be in a stronger position once the file has actually been submitted for processing.