Babar Haq

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Canadian visa for us-Pakistanis

Summers in Saudi Arabia are blistering with temperature constantly exceeding 50c. Even the evenings are unbearable. The schools in the kingdom remain closed for the three months of summers i.e. July-August-September. I scheduled my annual leave for Pakistan (my home country) in September as summers is not a good time to visit Pakistan which also has soaring temperatures coupled with power outages. So I was wondering how to keep my hyper active kids busy for these two months. Even the thought of keeping my two kids confined in an air conditioned house 24/7 was not pleasant at all.

In such a scenario, an invitation from my wife's sister settled in Canada came as a blessing. My sister-in-law naturalized to be a Canadian a couple of years ago and always missed her family while being happily settled there with her husband and daughter. My wife always wanted to visit her. The whole plan seemed to ideally fit into our situation.

Getting visas from Saudi Arabia have always been a breeze. There is a visa agent with in Saudi Aramco core office (Dhahran) which collects all the needed documents, dispatches and collects the passports from embassies in Riyadh. I got a list of all the required documents from their office and started accumulating them. My brother in law, a PHD professor in a reputable Canadian University sent me all the required documents accredited by a trusted lawyer. Me myself got my employment/salary certificate attested from chamber of commerce in Saudi Arabia. I have been working for a multi national company in Saudi Arabia for the past two and half years. I submitted the visa application well in advance. Soon I received a SMS from Canadian embassy informing me that the visa application have been received and it will be returned with in three to four weeks.

I was very hopeful that my family will get the visa. Firstly, my brother in law is very well settled in Canada. He is a university professor, also a proud owner of a home and has guaranteed this trip. Secondly, I was not accompanying my family. Thirdly, my family has international medical insurance. Last but not least, my sound financial standings also made my case stronger. Both my kids and wife were very excited for this long awaited trip. To my despair, three weeks later I received an appalling visa rejection letter via the agent. It was a standard rejection letter with the most ambiguous reason highlighted on it.

It states "You have not satisfied me, on the balance of probability, that you meet all the requirements of entry to Canada and that you would comply with the laws of Canada if you were authorized to enter [as per Regulation 179]".

Interpreting this statement seems beyond my intelligence.

I understand that Canada is a welfare state and they are afraid of people entering and not leaving upon their visa expiry. Still I expected the visa officer to be intelligent enough to distinguish between genuine and fraud cases. Why would a family of a well settled professional in Saudi Arabia stay in Canada illegally?

All the documentation provided were attested/verified from the highest possible authorities, so there was no question of doubt. The visa officer could not even trust a guarantee letter from its own national university professor. If they are so afraid of people over staying they could always ask for a cash deposit which could be returned once they are back. There must be some other way - a better way then blatantly refusing visas. The most annoying part is that the refusal letter clear states in capital, bold and underlined: "This application is closed and WILL NOT BE RECONSIDERED".

Discussing with other resources it appears that Canadian embassies refuse visit visas to Pakistani nationals frequently. Probably most of them receive such ambiguous refusal letters. If they naturalize Pakistanis then definitely their families would want to visit them. Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs should take this up with the Candadian government. If Canada does not want Pakistani nationals visiting it then it should stop accepting visa applications and probably end all diplomatic ties with us and stop naturalizing Pakistani nationals. What a shame for a country who claims to be champion of fairness.

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8 Comments:

  • I counldn't agree with you more.

    I applied my application for Canadian Visa on May 13, 2010 alongwith all relevant documents and letter from my relative in Canada. On July 07, 2010 I received a refusal letter from the Canadian Embassy stating "You have not satisfied me, on the balance of probability, that you meet all the requirements of entry to Canada and that you would comply with the laws of Canada if you were authorized to enter [as per Regulation 179]". Apart from this they have raised objections about "Your travel history" and "Your Family ties in Canada and in your country of residence"

    I have a permanent job in Pakistan. My parents and all my siblings are here in Pakistan. I just wanted to visit my cousin by availing annual leaves from my current organisation.

    I fail to understand the reasons that they have given for refusal of my visit visa application.

    The Government of Pakistan should take up this matter with the Canadian Embassy as genuine visa applicants are refused visas on baseless allegations.

    By Anonymous Sameen, At 1:31 PM  

  • @Sameen,Thank you for your comments.

    I think we should raise this with our government. Which is not easy being a common Pakistani. Similar issue did hit the news http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/Politics/10-Jun-2010/Europe-Canada-tighten-visa-rules-for-Pak-mly-personnel/
    but that was because our military was involved.

    I would suggest you write/email to Counsel General of Pakistan to Canada at pareptoronto@rogers.com. You can also contact our additional Secretary General (Americas) at Ministry Of Foreign Affairs Miss Attiya Mahmood. You can call her at 051-9201542 or fax at 051-9222782

    By Blogger Babar Haq, At 12:45 PM  

  • Thank you Babar for your useful suggestions.

    I intend emailing to Counsel General of Pakistan in Canada as well as writing about this to our local newspapers. Maybe if media is involved they would think twice about refusing genuine visa applicants.

    By Anonymous Sameen, At 7:57 PM  

  • Got it published somewhere :D
    http://www.daily.pk/pakistani-passport-19012/

    By Blogger Babar Haq, At 12:25 PM  

  • salaam Mr. babar
    you r right.i applied a visit visa in abu dhabi on 7th of july and got the passport back with the same refusal 179. i work for a ruler in dubai and i have some very good facilities from the company.you can consider that we even get eggs and mutton also from the farm.school fees,medical insuracne for all. house rent, petrol,airtickets every year and so many things. my all family is settled in dubai but still got rejected. then i applied once more on 14th of july with a full explained letter and requested them to verify all the details even my office mentioned in the new letter that"we request you to him a neccessary visit visa and his leave is from this date to this date but again rejected. i cannot understand why they are doing this with us. i mailed them today that if i am not a geniune visitor then there is no other. we shall take some steps for this. i am in for what else it takes. just let us know what we have to do. thanks

    By Blogger sheraz, At 3:20 AM  

  • @Sheraz and all others who got rejected for Canadian visa or any other visa :)

    I tried writing in to different organizations. I wrote to all our major newspapers and none of them printed my letter :) so I used this space to make myself heard.
    No body from our government representative responded back. :) That includes our MOFA and counsel general of Pakistan, Toronto.
    The only organization which responded and took it up with the concerned authorities is Pakistan Canada Association. Cause to be honest this is some thing the Canadian Pakistanis need to protest about.

    By Blogger Babar Haq, At 12:20 PM  

  • Danish

    My wife and daughter were supposed to travel to Canada to attend my wife's brothers wedding in Toronto. After 50 days of keeping the application they sent back all the documents without giving any reason for rejection. Since iam not travelling with my wife and daughter and as my wife's blood relative is getting married in Canada so iam not sure how or why they decided to reject the visa and on what base. My wife and daughter are both frequent travellers to USA, Europe, Middle east etc. It wont be there first time out of Pakistan as we travel almost frequently every year. I did not submit my application because i wanted to make there application more convincing with husband in Pakistan, the family is bound to return.

    By Blogger Danish, At 11:55 AM  

  • Dear Danish,

    This is extremely sad. I think we need to make more noise on this issue. Write to all the concerned authorities. Let me know if you need help with that. Canadians have gone too far.

    By Blogger Babar Haq, At 3:31 PM  

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