Question: My lawyer fiance and I are having problems regarding his plans to study a four-month English language program in Canada where I am presently residing. He is currently in the Middle East and his application for a student permit has been recently denied. I have sent him a notarized letter stating that I am taking full responsibility for his living expenses while he’s here, but even then, he was not given the permit. The office cited two reasons – she did not find enough reason for him to return to his country, and the study program he intended to enrol in was posing a few issues regarding establishing his intent to stay temporarily in the country. I realize that the best way for him to come to Canada is for us to get married, but I am still in the process of divorcing my husband from whom I’ve been separated for a long time. What can we do?
Answer: First off, I would like to note that your fiance would not have even needed a study permit for a course that runs for only four months. That’s because under the rules, only studies that take longer than six months will require an international student to obtain such a permit. What he should have applied for is a Canadian temporary resident visa, otherwise known as visitor visa to Canada, which is the general requirement for all foreign nationals who want to stay in Canada on a temporary basis. There are certain nationalities who don’t need a visitor visa, but as your fiance is from the Middle East, he most definitely does.
Anyhow, since you said he proceeded to apply for the student permit, the officer who received his application was duty-bound to process his application and make a decision to approve it or not. As you said, this officer did not approve the application, and from my own assessment, there could have been four reasons for this.
One, she might have suspected that you had other intentions for having your fiance come to Canada. She was probably thinking that you were trying to trick the system by having him apply for a student permit first, since this is simpler than getting a permanent resident status at this point. Two, the fact that an ESL program is always available and more economically so in a place nearer the Middle East than Canada also probably raised some concerns. Three, it may have sounded unbelievable that a lawyer such as your fiancee would travel a great distance and put his legal career on hold just to learn English. Fourth and last, the officer might have actually believed your fiance had intentions to stay permanently in Canada because, after all, the rules do allow you to sponsor him while he’s within the country once the two of you get married.
It does happen that a person comes to Canada with an intention to live in the country temporarily and eventually on a permanent basis. However, the officer might have taken each circumstance surrounding your fiance’s case as leading to the conclusion that he had every plan to stay in Canada for good, hence the rejection of his student permit application. In a scenario like this, even a letter of financial support from a friend or relative in Canada, an acceptance letter from a Canadian school and payment of fees will not really matter. That’s because the one crucial requirement for the issuance of this permit is the probability that the applicant will leave Canada after completing his studies.
You may not want to hear this, but your fiance’s chances of getting an approval when he applies for a temporary resident visa in the future may be slim. This is in light of the possibility that the same grounds for refusal may be used when officers decide on subsequent applications coming from the same person. However, don’t think that disclosing the true nature of your relationship had been unwise. If you hadn’t done that, and even if your fiance had actually been issued a student permit, you will still be facing a problem and a bigger one at that. Once you apply to sponsor him after you get married, officers will detect that you had not been completely honest with them, and this can seriously undermine your credibility, kill your partner’s chances of getting a permanent resident visa, and put your own Canadian status in question.
In summary, the best way to handle your situation is for you to finalize your divorce so that all legal impediments to your marriage to your fiance can be cleared. And then, you can apply to sponsor him without having to hide any personal information or take other steps that can turn out to be counterproductive in the end.