Standard of proof in immigration to Canada

Immigration officers review thousands of applications every day. They refuse some and approve the others. Nonetheless, how do they review those applications? In this article, I explore the standard of proof in immigration to Canada. Of course, I’ll do my best to simplify the subject as much as possible.  Therefore, this is not a legal commentary.

What is the standard of proof?

The standard of proof or threshold of proof means how a person or entity decides on a matter. Here are four specific standards of proof:

  • Beyond a reasonable doubt: Criminal courts use this standard. The judge or jury convicts a person only if they believe they have committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Of course, we could expand this strict standard to other aspects of decision-making.
  • Balance of probabilities: Civil courts use this standard. As you can imagine, this standard is less rigid than “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Upon analyzing the evidence, you pick a more probable side.
  • Reasonable grounds (to believe): This standard is less strict than the “balance of probabilities.” However, it is more stringent than “mere suspicion.”
  • Mere suspicion: Public opinion on social media is primarily mere suspicion. People read a headline and conclude the story. Of course, some people investigate the issues before casting their opinion. However, deciding on mere suspicion is generally a common practice on social media.

I sorted the standards of proof from the strictest to the loosest. Of course, the more stringent the threshold of proof, the more robust evidence we need.

The standard of proof in immigration to Canada

The most common standard of proof in immigration cases is the “balance of probabilities.” Here are some examples:

Despite this list, there are exceptions in which officers use the standard of reasonableness. Here are some examples:

  • Most inadmissibility cases
  • Some aspects of H&C applications

What is the burden of proof?

The burden of proof means who must present the evidence. Usually, the applicant has the onus to provide convincing evidence. However, if the Minister files against a person, the burden of proof is on the government. The standard of proof is how an officer or an adjudicator reviews the evidence. The burden of proof says who is responsible for presenting the evidence. Therefore, these two are different from each other.

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    Al Parsai, MA, DTM, RCIC
    Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
    Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting
    Author – 88 Tips on Immigration to Canada

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    This article provides information of a general nature only. Considering the fluid nature of the immigration world, it may no longer be current. Of course, the item does not give legal advice. Therefore, do not rely on it as legal advice or immigration advice. Consequently, no one could hold us accountable for the content of these articles. Of course, if you have specific legal questions, you must consult a lawyer. Alternatively, if you are looking for immigration advice, book an appointment.

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    Al Parsai

    Al Parsai is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (class L3 RCIC-IRB – Unrestricted Practice) in Toronto, Canada. He is an adjunct professor at Queen's University Law School and Ashton College. Al, who holds a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University, is a member of CICC and CAPIC organizations. Al, the CEO of Parsai Immigration Services, has represented thousands of applicants from more than 50 countries to the immigration authorities since January 2011.