Every person who applies for a Canadian immigration matter has a good chance of receiving a request for additional information at some point in their interaction with Canadian authorities. A request for additional information, also known as a Procedural Fairness Letter (“PFL”), is generally very time sensitive and is a serious matter that needs to be carefully considered when received. Failure to adequately respond to a PFL may result in the loss of what may be the only opportunity to address a problem with an application prior to the refusal of that application. Even the most carefully prepared application may still be subject to a PFL.
PFLs are generally sent to applicants in letter or e-mail format and will include specific requests for additional information or documentation. The level of detail in a PFL will differ based on which government, department or even officer is making the request. In general, PFLs often do not provide many clues about what specifically prompted the PFL to be sent. A PFL can be sent to clarify a relatively minor discrepancy in the details of an application to being the precursor to an allegation of misrepresentation by the applicant which could have extremely serious long-term consequences for the applicant. As a result, it is often necessary to have as much time and information as possible to respond to a PFL.
Due to the time sensitive nature of PFLs, it is critical to respond as promptly as possible but to balance this with having as much information as possible to respond adequately. It is usually possible to request an extension of time to address the request made in the PFL. It can be helpful to include an explanation for why the extension is needed or even to include evidence of efforts to address the request which may need more time to be completed.
A helpful tool with obtaining more information for a PFL is to apply for an application’s background details through an Access to Information Act (“ATIA”) request. These can sometimes provide insight regarding the concerns that prompted issuance of the PFL. ATIA requests may take 30-days or more to be fulfilled however which can make a request an extension of time to respond to a PFL an important part of the actions to respond to a PFL.
Applicants who receive PFLs would do well to seek advice on how to respond to their PFL, especially considering that failing to adequately respond to a PFL could result in not only the only opportunity to avoid refusal of an application but also the loss of an opportunity to come to Canada altogether. We have assisted many people with successful responding to PFLs.
If you have received a PFL and would like advice on how to respond to it, then book a consultation today.