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"I Received a Procedural Fairness Letter from IRCC; What Does This Mean?"



Once an application is submitted and reviewed by an immigration officer, issues may be detected which could result in a refusal. In such cases, officers are required to provide applicants with an opportunity to meaningfully participate in the decision-making process, owing to the duty of procedural fairness.[1] Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) sometimes issues a Procedural Fairness Letter (PFL), allowing the applicant to provide an explanation to address specific concerns that arise.

PFLs are issued for various reasons and once an officer requires clarification on certain issues. Case law suggest that the duty of procedural fairness prescribes minimum standards of procedural decency and that the content of the duty varies according to context.[2] The Courts have consistently held that the duty of procedural fairness owed by visa officers, in particular, is at the lower end of the spectrum. Despite this, and as opined by the Honorable Mr. Justice LeBlanc in Biu v Canada (C.I), the principle dictates that a visa officer must ensure that an applicant has the opportunity to meaningfully participate in the application process.[3]


Generally, when a PFL is issued, applicants are usually given a deadline to respond. This response must address the specific concerns outlined by the officer as failure to do so may result in the refusal of the application. Some of the common reasons for the issuance of a procedural fairness letter include concerns regarding: the genuineness of a relationship, suspicion of misrepresentation, potential inadmissibility, provision of insufficient evidence or lack thereof or where contradictory information is before the officer.


Applicants are encouraged to use this opportunity to provide sufficient evidence to alleviate the officer’s concerns. It is highly recommended that a proper response be provided citing relevant case law and including substantiating evidence. Providing a sufficiently detailed response may prevent a refusal and may also assist with potential arguments if the application is refused and the decision is later challenged.


Where a person fails to respond, the application will be assessed based on the information currently on file which may lead to a refusal. Concerns regarding a potential inadmissibility may prevent a person from being permitted entry into Canada, and if already in Canada, they may be required to leave. As such, responses should be cogent, compelling and sufficient.


If you have received a procedural fairness letter and need assistance, we are here to help! We prepare detailed and compelling responses to address current and potential concerns an officer has. For more information or assistance, you can send us an email at info@johnsonlawils.com or reach out to us by using our contact form.



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