What is a procedural fairness letter and how do I respond to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada?

What is a procedural fairness letter and how do I respond to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada?

Often times, when Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) find that there is an issue with your immigration application, they will issue what is known as a Procedural Fairness Letter (“PFL”). This correspondence from IRCC is an opportunity for you, the principal applicant, to clarify or respond to any concerns applicable to your file. PFLs are issued for a number of possible reasons, including but not limited to:

  • IRCC wants more information in support of the genuineness of your marriage;
  • There might be issues with regards to your admissibility to Canada on criminality grounds;
  • You or a family member may be facing significant medical inadmissibility concerns; or
  • IRCC is alleging that you misrepresented on your application.

Procedural fairness letters are an important opportunity to provide substantive submissions in support of your application. DO NOT TAKE THE CHANCE TO REPLY LIGHTLY. Often times, our office submits hundreds (yes, 100’s) of pages in reply. Sometimes, they are a chance to bring in a request for a humanitarian & compassionate exemption as well. Often times, you can make a request for an extension of time to provide a response, if your situation is complicated.

The Federal Court of Canada has provided significant guidance on the importance of someone being provided a chance to respond to any potential concerns an office might have with their immigration application. As outlined by Justice Norris in Kaur v. Canada (MCI), 2020 FC 809 at para 39: 

[39] …procedural fairness requires that an applicant for a visa have an opportunity to participate meaningfully in the application process. Consequently, the duty of procedural fairness can require that an applicant be given an opportunity to respond to a decision maker’s concerns when those concerns go beyond simply whether the legislation or related requirements are met on the face of the application (Hassani v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship & Immigration), 2006 FC 1283 (F.C.) at para 24). When, for example, the applicant may be unaware of the existence or the basis of the concern, procedural fairness may require prior notice of the concern before a decision is made so that the applicant has an opportunity to try to disabuse the officer of the concern. See Talpur v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship & Immigration), 2012 FC 25 (F.C.) at para 21; Mohammed v. Canada (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship), 2019 FC 326 (F.C.) at paras 25-26; and Bui v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2019 FC 440 (F.C.) at para 27. While these cases all concerned applications for permanent resident visas, in my view the principles they stand for are equally applicable to applications for temporary resident visas (cf. Kong v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2017 FC 1183 (F.C.) at paras 22-27). Where the concern relates to misrepresentation, the importance of having a meaningful opportunity to meet it is even more evident given the potential consequences of a finding of misrepresentation: see Toki v. Canada (Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship), 2017 FC 606 (F.C.) at para 17, and Ntaisi v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) [(July 19, 2018), Doc. IMM-5232-17 (F.C.)], 2018 CanLII 73079 at para 10.

If you have been provided a letter from IRCC requesting more details, further concerns, or a chance to clarify parts of your application, contact us today for professional guidance with these matters. 



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