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Can I Apply to Canada with a US Visa Refusal?

refusals Mar 16, 2022

When it comes to assessing someone’s immigration history, this is a common question and an essential one. When we are conducting an initial consultation with an individual this is something that will always be asked and explored in depth. While you are applying for a different country and even if the refusal happened many years ago, this past refusal may have possible effects on your current file and/or any future applications.

In this blog post, we will explore the ways a US refusal could affect your Canadian immigration file and why it is so important to declare any refusals you’ve had before.

Previous Refusals

Let’s start with a common scenario that many people will encounter. You’re getting ready to apply for a visitor visa to Canada and you’re almost done filling out the forms. You reach the question “Have you ever been refused a visa or permit, denied entry, or ordered to leave Canada or any country or territory?” Yes or No.

You think back to the time you were applied for a US Visa and received a refusal letter.

When it comes to refusals and how to answer questions, many people can become confused about how to approach this. Not declaring a past refusal and omitting the details will affect your visa application, whether it was for the US or any other country. Many people become concerned that their application might get refused by being honest about it, but the situation can become more complicated than that.

When it comes to the assessment of an application, the visa officer is supposed to consider all the details and treat every application, as if it's the first. They will look at the documents you submitted as a standalone. Keep in mind, officers get thousands of applications, and they only have a few minutes to review and decide. Refusals are a big, red flag when it comes to immigration so when you don’t address it, it may affect the officer’s decision.  It is always best to get ahead of this and frame these reasons and extra info that might be relevant in your submission letters.

Having the ability to be transparent with your refusal and articulate what happened is an opportunity that you could turn into a strength. There have been many cases where our clients have had previous rejections, some for Canada and other countries. We have successfully had their refusal overturned and they have received approval for their application. I always recall and reiterate a situation where a client came to me with 4 refusals, and we were able to have this approved on the 5th application and they are now a Permanent Resident here in Canada.

Some clients applied on their own and as such, were unaware of how to navigate themselves properly in this immigration maze. This can sometimes be a benefit as they have left out key information and as such getting a professional to resubmit with proper information and addressing the previous refusal is always the best strategy.

While others may have hired an immigration consultant or lawyer, the representative did not have their best interests or did not give their file the justice it deserved. Fully explaining the reason for refusals, addressing how the new application is different than the past rejection, and how the situation may have changed, are the strategies we use.

So, don't fear the refusal, just articulate, and explain why it happened, and you should be able to minimize concern and mitigate this, in most instances.

Access to Information/Freedom of Information

Whenever you have a refusal for any type of application, the Canadian government has a multitude of ways to verify this, and most are very ignorant about how free flowing your information is between different nation-states

Different countries have information-sharing agreements with different databases, such as some countries in Western World with the Middle East. Another example would be Canada and the USA. On December 13, 2012, a Treaty was signed by Canada with the USA to enable systematic immigration information sharing on third-country nationals between each other. As the two countries share neighbouring borders, this basically means that border officers can access the information for anyone seeking to enter the USA or Canada. Officers on either side can choose to not allow entry, as well as seeing your previous travel history, immigration records, or biometrics information.

In other words: you can’t hide!

Officers will be able to check your immigration history and see whether you were refused before, which is why you must be careful with what you declare on your forms.

You can access your immigration records by applying for an Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) through the Access to Information Act. You can apply to IRCC to see the notes on a previous refusal, which is very useful as you can address the exact details for any new applications. You can even apply to the CBSA to get your Travel History Report, which is a full record of all your exits, entries, or both into Canada. There are also mechanisms in place to do this in the United States as well, through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). FOIA allows the public to request their records from any federal agency in the US, including the Citizenship and Immigration Services.


If the government can see all your records anyway, what is the big deal in not providing all the details of the refusal on the file?

Well, let’s go back to the Yes or No question on the form: “Have you ever been refused a visa or permit, denied entry, or ordered to leave Canada or any country or territory?”

Omitting crucial information on your application is considered misrepresentation.

This is a “Capital Crime” in the immigration world and carries with it some very strong penalties. Being tagged with misrepresentation, under section 40 (1) (a) which states: for directly or indirectly misrepresenting or withholding material facts relating to a relevant matter that induces or could induce an error in the administration of this Act.

Misrepresentation is a serious offence under IRPA (The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act) as you are lying and not being truthful on your documents. This can result in not only a refusal, but they can also remove you from Canada, ban you from entering Canada for 5 years or give you a permanent record of fraud.

Final Thoughts

Rejection is never easy and depending on your situation, there are ways to overcome a past refusal if you do want to immigrate to Canada. You cannot run from this, and you need to be forthright and transparent whenever this is your situation.

A refusal does not have to be the end and can just be the beginning, as I can tell you with certainty that when we are confronted with a client that comes in with a previous refusal it is our job to look at it, articulate it and then see how best we can use this to our advantage by contextualizing it.

If you have a refusal, it is all that much more important that you get the proper information, and you go into this application fully informed with all your facts in order while ensuring that you have an extra exceptional application and do not face a refusal in Canada.

Feel free to reach out to one of our professionals today to see how best we can help you. Click here and we can see about getting you pointed in the right direction.

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