Throughout my two months at Sas & Ing I was able to work closely with an Albanian client who is tried to sponsor his wife to come to Canada. Although they are married, and have been for nearly 5 years, they are rarely in the same country. While the wife lives in Albania and cares for their family farm, the husband works in construction as a permanent resident in Canada. Now, after many years of trying, they are appealing to be able to sponsor the wife to join her husband in Canada.

About 5 weeks into my internship, I began working with this couple. In preparation for their hearing, I helped our lawyer devise questions that would be able to paint the picture of their many attempts to reunite in Canada for the immigration officer. During the process of this sponsorship application, there is a hearing. The purpose of this hearing is to determine whether the relationship or marriage of the couple in question is genuine, or whether it was entered into for the purpose of an immigration advantage. This is because it is much easier to immigrate to Canada if you have a relative who is already a permanent resident or citizen of Canada. This is called “sponsorship” – when a Canadian relative (parent, grandparent, sibling, child, or spouse) helps a citizen of another country to immigrate to Canada. Because Canada is an attractive country to move to, some people enter into inauthentic relationships to help them come to Canada more easily. They sometimes go to the extent to pay for sham weddings to appear as if they are actually married. So the purpose of these hearings is to essentially question the applicant and sponsor in order to test the consistency of every detail of their relationship and determine whether they are truly in a genuine relationship.

Now, there are two types of questioning that the applicant and sponsor will have to undergo during this hearing. The first is direct examination, during which his legal counsel will be able to question him about his situation using open ended questions. The purpose of this questioning is to paint a picture of his circumstances for the immigration officer and board member. These questions cannot be pointed or obviously searching for a particular response, they will have cues in them in order to trigger the memory of the person testifying. This is because typically the legal counsel practices these questions with their client prior to the hearing, and these cues will remind the client what they already fleshed out beforehand.

The second type of examination is cross-examination. These are questions that the immigration officer or board member will pose to the applicant and sponsor, and they are permitted to be pointed, direct questions that are used to determine whether the clients are misrepresenting (lying) about their relationship. These questions can be difficult to answer and have no restrictions on their subject matter. That is why, for the past several weeks, I have been able to work through some of our own questions with our client and his wife in Albania through a translator. This has been fulfilling work – seeing both of them improve so drastically and become more confident in their ability to answer these questions. The hearing, which serves as the capstone to my internship, is on Tuesday. I will observe it and hopefully come out of 3 hours of questioning with a success story for this client and a fitting capstone to my internship at Sas & Ing Immigration Law Centre.