5 Immigration Mistakes To Avoid

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Canadian Bear

Immigrating to Canada can seem a daunting task for prospective immigrants. Looking for information, filling out the paperwork, waiting, dealing with unfamiliar requirements, sometimes in an unfamiliar language… I can totally understand that.

I’ve been writing about Canada immigration since I became a permanent resident, in 2005. While I’m by no mean a specialist, I learned a lot when I did my research and I enjoy sharing the knowledge.

And the more I participate in forums (such as Settlement.org) and answer various questions from readers, the more I’m convinced some people are just either very mistaken, either very innocent, either simply… stupid.

Here is a list of five immigration mistakes to avoid… and why.

Lying when filling-up the permanent residence application – People make mistakes, we can all understand that. The problem is that “mistakes” you make when filling out the permanent residence application can have huge consequences – it’s called misrepresentation and yes, you can lose your permanent resident status for that. Case in point, people who fail to disclose the birth of a child or a marriage. They usually hope to immigrate to Canada easily on their own and eventually sponsor their relatives, husband, wife, kids. Problem is, if you didn’t disclose your dependents on the immigration papers prior to landing, they don’t exist to Citizenship and Immigration. Not only you can be charged with misrepresentation, but you won’t be able to sponsor relatives that don’t exist.

Applying for citizenship before meeting the requirements – I can never understand that one. In order to be eligible to apply for citizenship, you must “have at least three years of residency in Canada within four years immediately preceding the date of application” and “be physically present in Canada for 1,095 days in a four year period”. Yet, there are always people who apply for citizenship before they meet these requirements, and then they complain they received a residency questionnaire or that their application is scrutinized. Well, duh. A Canadian passport is a great thing to have but why jeopardizing everything because you are not patient enough?

Being convinced that immigrating is a right – Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for mobility rights and I don’t support closed doors or gate-keepers policies. But overall, I think Canada is pretty fair when it comes to immigration: the country welcomes 250,000 newcomers every year, and has several immigration categories in which you may qualify. Immigrating to Canada is much easier than immigrating to the USA or most Western Europe countries. Yet, not everybody can immigrate to Canada, the same way not everybody can be a top model or a football player. Deal with it. Immigrating is not a right but a privilege. And since we are it, drop the attitude – it doesn’t help, really. I’m tired of people who want to sue the Canadian government because their application have been denied.

Failing to comply with the residency obligation – In order to maintain permanent residence status, landed immigrants must live in Canada for two years for every five-year period. Yet, some people just land in Canada and then go back home. Years later (usually when their permanent resident card is about to expire), they wonder if they lost their status. You bet they did. Because permanent status is intended for people who actually want to live in Canada! I find these kind of situation heart-breaking – why work so hard to obtain permanent residence to not use it? Once you lost your permanent resident status, you have to reapply again from the scratch.

Doing research based on one and only source – I interviewed immigrants from all around the world earlier this year, and they all recommended prospective immigrants to do research on their adoptive country beforehand. I would further recommend you to gather information from different sources. Official sources, such as government of Canada websites, will give you the most up-to-date straight-to-the-fact info and documents. However, don’t forget that most of these facts are statistic and don’t really tell the other half of the story. Guillermo recently wrote a very good article on the subject “Los blogs, la inmigración y ‘la última milla’” (in Spanish), in which he explains that new Canadians’ blogs and immigration websites are the “last mile” that connect prospective immigrants with the reality. Most immigrants won’t “sell” you Canada – they will provide real snapshots of their daily lives and experience, and will include you in their network.


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. I could not agree with you more Zhu. The question I always get from friends is, “what is the easiest way to go to Canada?”, as soon as I hear that I tell them that there is no easy way. You have to be very thorough on your research and diligent in getting all the requested documents together and filling out the forms.
    To the mistaken, innocent or stupid list, I would also add lazy.
    It is a great place to live, but it takes dedication and effort to build a life here. I would only “sell” Canada to people who are willing to work hard and do everything correctly.
    You are correct, immigrating to any country is a privilege.

  2. Ghosty Kips on

    I’ve had a secret desire to immigrate to Canada for years. Not that this is going to happen anytime soon … I’m currently taking applications for people to let me sleep on their couches, though.

  3. I always wanted to emigrate to New Zealand when I get old… 🙂
    It’s much closer to my home country and I’d like to own my own farm there. 🙂
    Canada is far too cold to keep my animals?! Ha ha…

  4. there’s a scene in the movie french kiss where meg ryan is denied canadian residency because she didn’t disclose being busted for marijuana. it’s a funny scene in the movie, but probably not so funny if it happens to you in real life.

  5. @Guillermo – De nada!

    @Jorge Mora – We are on the same wave length 😉 People have a lot to learn about immigration, there are so many myths and misconceptions… and yes, some people are just plain lazy.

    @Ghosty Kips – Eh, why not? You may like it up North!

    @London Caller – New Zealand is lovely, it’s a beautiful country. It’s so unique… but a bit too far from everything.

    @Seraphine – I haven’t seen the movie, I should! Yes, things like that can totally come and bite you in the butt. So many people have a small conviction and then years later realize it’s a major problem to immigrate or just to cross the border…!

  6. Great post and so true. Some people are a little thick about immigration. While no one has a right to move to Canada (and suing the govt, good luck with that, they’ll want you all the more then!) the status of American PRs and Canadians PRs is different.
    After immigration, living and working is considered a “privilege” in the USA while it’s a “right” in Canada.
    Technically, resident aliens in the USA are supposed to carry their PR cards (green cards) with them at all times. No such requirement exists for Canadian PRs. The only difference between them and citizens has to do with voting, running for office and the restrictions on certain federal employment.

    I was told by the customs and border people that they don’t care about drug offences, only DWI and Gun offences. They (the canadians) said you could have multiple drug charges and they don’t care- but one DWI and you might not even get in the country. They said the US only cares about Drugs and Guns.
    When my family and I landed for immigration there was a guy (american) who couldn’t get into canada since he had a DWI conviction from pennsylvania from 20 years ago. It didn’t matter that he was a teacher, former prison guard,loved cats etc.
    Great post.

  7. Hello, Zhu! Do you have posts for people wanting to immigrate to Canada via the “Canadian Experience Class” program? I’m planning to study and eventually immigrate. I’m having a hard time to get personal stories as regards studying there. Thanks in advance!

  8. Hi,

    I happen to see your website so I would like to take this opportunity regarding our situation. We have received our Confirmation of Permanent Residence and in number 15 it states full name, address and relationship willing to assist and it is also stated there Toronto and Dest 3812 however we plan to land in Vancouver, not Toronto. Is it fine? Will it create a problem?

    I will wait for your immediate reply.

    Thank you so much.


  9. Hello,

    Thanks for doing this.

    I am wondering about how many emails/how many photos to include to prove that our relationship is genuine?

    • There is no perfect answer, really. It’s better to send ten pictures taken over a long time span (years for instance) and 200 pictures taken last month! I think I sent about ten pictures taken over four years at the time, you could see the different seasons and how we changed (haircuts, etc.).

      Good luck!

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