If your sponsorship application has been refused by a Canadian Consulate or High Commission outside of Canada, you can file a sponsorship appeal at the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (Immigration Appeal Division) within 30 days of receiving the refusal letter.
Once you have filed your appeal, the sponsor, and the Immigration Appeal Division will receive in the coming months the appeal record from Canada Border Services Agency which will contain the entire sponsorship application, forms, supporting documents submitted as well as the complete refusal notes from the immigration officer.
Some cases are determined to be eligible for an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Should this be the case, the sponsor will attend an ADR conference at the Immigration Appeal Division with a Dispute Resolution Officer and the Minister’s Counsel to determine whether enough evidence is available to settle the case without the appeal hearing.
If an ADR is not scheduled or if the ADR conference fails, then, depending on the backlog of cases at the Immigration Appeal Division, the appeal hearing can be scheduled within a few months, or within a year or more.
Once the appeal hearing is scheduled, disclosure documentation with respect to the ongoing relationship must be submitted to the Immigration Appeal Division as well as to the Minister’s counsel at least 20 days prior to the hearing.
At the hearing, the sponsor will testify and answer questions from the board member, from the Minister’s counsel as well as from counsel. The applicant, who is usually outside of Canada, is able to also testify via telephone conference. Interpreters are available if sponsors and applicants do not speak English.
At the conclusion of the hearing, counsel for the appellant will submit closing arguments as to why the appeal should be allowed. The Minister’s counsel will also submit her/his final submissions. At the end of the hearing, the board member might provide with her/his decision verbally, but in most cases, the written decision will be sent a few months later via mail.
Not all refusals of sponsorship should be appealed – it is important to have a refusal decision reviewed by an immigration expert as re-applying is sometimes the better legal choice.