Puzzled Owl, Ottawa

Just browse a few immigration forums and you will notice how angry, frustrated or confused some applicants are.

Indeed, applying for a visa or permanent residence is stressful and the whole process can seem obscure. The idea that an immigration officer, in a Canadian embassy somewhere in the world is dissecting your professional and personal life can be quite unsettling.

But on the other side, some immigrants are really not helping their case. Are you one of these offenders?

You don’t think before you dash off your application

Visa or permanent resident applications all come with an instruction guide and some directives. Do read them. If you are unable to fill out the PDF directly online, please print it.

Likewise, make sure you answer all the questions. And follow CIC’s advice: “Attach a separate sheet of paper if you need more space and indicate the letter and/or number of the question you are answering.”

Basically, make sure the application is easy to read and understand and provide as much detail as you can.

You did not prepare your interview

When applying for a visa (i.e. work or tourist visa) or for permanent residence, you may be required to meet with an immigration officer. It is a chance for you to explain your decision (for instance, the reason why you want to immigrate to Canada), to clear out any inconsistencies (for example, that you simply want to visit Canada, or that your relationship with a Canadian citizen is genuine).

I heard some messed-up interview stories, like applicants arguing with the visa officer or with a family member in the middle of the interview. Or even applicants unable to answer basic questions about Canada, such as the names of the major cities or the two official languages.

Do yourself a favour and prepare for the meeting. Applicants in the skilled worker category should be able to demonstrate basic knowledge of Canada and have some plans for the future. Those applying for a tourist visa will need to show that they do not plan to overstay and that they have strong ties to their native country. Take the interview seriously and do your homework!

You provided incomplete information or misrepresented your situation

Incomplete information will slow down the process or even make you ineligible. Misrepresentation is considered immigration fraud and is taken very seriously—you can lose your permanent resident status for that.

Give immigration officers some credit—they are trained to spot inconsistencies and they’ve seen it all.

You inquire about your case every week or so

It’s not easy to wait for a decision to be made about your application. Weeks, months, and even years go by and people get impatient. No one can really tell how long the immigration process will take but you can always check out the average processing times. But keep in mind these processing times are a picture of history and not a guarantee. In other words, you can’t hold your visa office accountable for averages. In most cases, after you apply, you will receive a letter from CIC stating that if a decision hasn’t been made within whatever time period, you should contact your visa office. You are welcome to enquire about your case but don’t start raising hell without a valid reason. And for God’s sake, don’t call or email your visa office every week or so. Do you want visa agent to be working on your case or answering your phone calls?

You threaten to make a formal complaint whenever things don’t go your way

If your application is denied, you will understandably be shocked and angry. Before you do anything, let go of the steam. Spare the vitriol: claiming that visa officers are “racist”, “lazy”, “ignorant” etc. won’t help much. Immigration is not a right and the reason why you were denied is usually stated. It is often possible to correct the problem and to re-apply or fill out for appeal. And know the rules before you apply. For example, if you have a DUI conviction on your record, you can be turned down at the border. Yes, even if you are American.

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Visited 4 times, 1 visit(s) today


  1. Cynthia November 27, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    When I applied for my French Visa I was very surprised that I had to have an interview, I only learned it was an interview when I sat down in the consulate! My answers were kind of lame but the employee was quite nice with me 🙂

  2. Mr. G November 27, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    Well… It looks like your visa office will hate you simply because you are a freaking a#$*&le!


    Good post as usual my good friend!

  3. Nigel November 28, 2010 at 2:39 am

    Heh, I’ll add “They think everyone wants to be an illegal immigrant” if it were for a visiting visa to the US of A. I went through it recently and go denied.

  4. shionge November 28, 2010 at 7:54 am

    I remembered the hassle to get a visa to visit Russia, all the way through a travel agent to go to Malaysia because that’s the only way to get one.

  5. Linguist-in-Waiting November 28, 2010 at 9:53 am

    I like this post: I have similar experiences with people applying for visas here and there. In my experience, many people have some sort of folk myths and tall tales about visa applications and such, especially when they know someone who got denied. Instead of finding out why they got denied, stories morph into weird tales of bizarre experiences, and people just believe them. I have heard stories of how hard it is to get a US visa, a Canadian visa, a Schengen visa, and so forth. But I never had problems getting any of those. I think that as long as one’s story is straight, and every piece of paperwork is in order, then one won’t have a problem at all.

  6. Zhu November 29, 2010 at 11:15 am

    @Cynthia – I guess it can be a surprise! I wouldn’t have known either for France that there are interview, but in Canada, the interviews are never a surprise, you will get a letter for these months ahead. So no excuse to not be prepared!

    @Mr. G – Ah yeah, that could be it too 😆

    @Nigel – Well, that’s true, some officers (and really, some countries train them to be very suspicious) are tough. I sometimes disagree with the decision made and I would be frustrated if I were in your shoes.

    @shionge – Oh, I’ve heard Russian visa were a bit complicated to get. It’s much easier for China!

    @Linguist-in-Waiting – I agree with you. I know some situations are not fair, some decision are made and are not the best. But a lot of people don’t understand what the immigration officer expect them to do, which is basically sending the right message: “I’m simply a tourist and will not overstay”.

  7. London Caller December 2, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    Is it difficult to enter Canada for Malaysians?
    I don’t know… Maybe?

  8. Zhu December 3, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    @London Caller – I don’t think it has anything to do with being Malaysians, Greek or Chinese, it all depends how good your application is 😉

  9. Nigel December 4, 2010 at 12:05 am

    Indeed I was frustrated, but thankfully I had the presence of mind of thank her for her time and walk out. Well, all works out for the good I suppose 😉

  10. Cornflakegirl December 5, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    Hi Zhu,

    They sent back my application form three times so far, I will send it back on February and it’s very frustrating but it’s the way it is… You can either take it or leave it. It’s always up to you.

    Anyway, I keep on trying…

  11. Mo January 4, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Hi Juliette,
    I have enjoyed reading this blog & by the way we have things in common:
    I have lived in France and was born in Beijing but unfortunately still cant say much besides ni-hao! anyway, I have a personal question to you Zhu: how often do you travel on an annual basis, and have you been to any arab countries? I am Algerian but family reasons have taken me to different places.

    I also want to mention this to the readers: I have previously applied through Quebec (skilled worker), at their office in Damascus, I m from Algeria and reside in Bahrain and I was called for the interview which I had to sit in another country (UAE’s capital AbuDhabi) and incur additional travel, accomodation costs and entry visa as well, I was asked a few simple questions and every thing seemed normal, later I mentioned that I was doing a distance Master degree (UK university) in economics and pointed that it was one of my plans to further that with a higher degree in Canada which I considered a positive point for labor market integration, however to my surprise and disappointment the visa agent said that skilled worker category does not qualify you to study and therefore I should apply for a student visa when I ve complete my distance degree.I replied that I wasnt against working but doing a higher university degree was an ambition among others but the man behind the glass still insisted that it wasnt possible to proceed anymore and I was handed a piece of paper that said unfortunately..blah blah…etc you have enough points, scored highly for my language or facteurs d’integration(advanced in both Fr & Eng) , age=below 30 but there was a problem with my intention to study in the future and I could send (recours or appeal)which I did but to no avail despite the presentation of my skills and plans to work in both financial and IT sectors in Canada.
    I received another letter form Quebec that said the same thing the visa agent told me that it”wasnt my intention to work”.
    how logical is it to consider an application for skilled worker based on whatever factors and then on the interview day, say that you have enough points but it is not your intention to work???? I just find that childish. I thought permanent immigration qualifies you to do whatever you want be it business, study….etc
    I dont see what the visa authorities mean when they say well you qualify but you actually dont !! most skilled professionals go through studies once in Canada to validate their foreign credentials anyway so why was it a mistake to mention the desire to study?? couldnt they have explained what missing factor I lacked?? whas it really worth the refusal?? I just dont think so.
    of couse I can apply anew and I was told so but I ve become confused & worried I ll get another silly response.
    I hope all potential immigrants pay attention and prepare their interview with extra care as the silliest detail may ruin all their chances.
    regardless of whose fault it was I believe this selection system is not totally flawless and immigration objectives are not always what they may seem.
    this is to tell the readers the kind of stuff that may happen and it is too late to blame anyone..
    thank you for reading
    best regards,


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