Readers are noticing that some of the visa offices abroad, are applying different versions of filing procedures.
Filing procedures which vary at visa offices abroad is an area of growing controversy in that it is a pure policy creation and it has no regulatory authority, (ie no basis in law) for its existence. In other words, the civil servants in Ottawa have devised an anticipated cost effective improvement to the process, and then proceeded to "test" its merits at posts abroad. Visa offices have been implementing post specific rules without having the legal basis for such within the regulations.
There were plans to draft suitable regulations and to "stream-line" the overall concept of "one-step". Original plans were to devise a uniform standardized processing procedure by 1 April 1997. This strategy has since been abandoned and been replaced by post specific filing procedures.
Until such time that a uniform plan is devised and legally implemented, this issue continues and will continue to remain one of the many examples to which we have alluded to in the past: immigration policy is often in direct conflict with the law in the Canadian immigration field.
What constitutes a valid application? Case law on the issue of when an application is legally submitted, is uniform: applications are legally submitted with a duly completed application for permanent residence along with the applicable cost recovery fee.
However, filing procedures are being applied to varying degrees with different interpretations as applicants/readers have observed, by Program Managers at missions abroad. Files are being returned by certain visa offices when so called "required" items are not produced. This "hot potatoe" approach to files which do not contain the "required" elements provides some relief to the administrative process at visa offices which have incurred a 30% decline in manpower personnel during the past 2 years.
Applicants are not under current Canadian law required to submit at the file submission stage such items as professional informal assessments, valid passports, police clearance certificates or proof of settlement funding.
What becomes a matter of mounting concern to perspective applicants, is to what level of inflexibility some Program Managers will exercise, in applying this "unregulated" policy.
We have found that Program Managers who are confronted with a request to abide by applicable case law and accept a file which contains all of the legal requirements but which may be lacking in some of the accessory elements, will agree to accept an application that may be defficient in this regard.
While it is advisable to submit up front, all of the elements to enable evaluation of an applicant's qualifications within the meaning of Schedule I of the Regulations, often it may not be practical to submit criminality documents, passport details and proof of settlement funding until the end of the visa application process.
In such instances applications may be filed without these accessory elements. This strategy will allow for the preservation of existing qualifications and will avoid loss of point age for such factors as a change in age, or worse, a modification to the General Occupations List which can take place without advance notification.
Applicants are advised in such instances to include a letter of explanation identifying the omissions and confirming that such accessory items will be produced at a later date.