Person denied entry to Canada wins in Federal Court

If you are wrongly denied entry to Canada, consider fighting back. Smail Khaniche fought the government before the Federal Court, and won (Khaniche v Canada (Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness), 2020 FC 559).

Mr Khaniche, a gentleman from Algeria, had a valid temporary visa and had even visited Canada before without incident. Upon arrival, however, he was «intimidated and insulted by a Canadian immigration officer» (at para 3). The officer became abusive and «attempted to force [Mr Khaniche] to sign a voluntary departure form … without giving [him] an opportunity to read its contents» (at para 19). Mr Khaniche wisely refused to sign a false «voluntary» statement. The officer signed the form himself, forced Mr Khaniche back onto a flight bound for Algiers, told him to «get the hell back to your country» («fous le camp chez toi» at para 21), and wrote notes falsely stating that he had been «allowed to leave Canada» («[a]utorisé à quitter le Canada» at para 24).

Immigration officers may deny entry to Canada even to someone with a valid visa, but they must do so in accordance with the law. In this case, the court «completely reject[ed]» the government’s claim that Mr Kha­niche had not been declared inadmissible but had simply left voluntarily (at para 52). In the court’s view, the officer merely «disguised» as a voluntary departure the officer’s decision to find Mr Khaniche inadmissible and to remove him from Canada (at para 55). «The officer’s actions fall far below the standards of conduct applicable to Canadian government officials and constitute a clear breach of procedural fairness. No one deserves to be treated with such contempt at an immigration examination» (at para 84).

Thus Mr Khaniche won. The court set aside the officer’s decision and also annulled the false notes that the officer had written. Usually the Federal Court does not award costs, but exceptionally it underscored its disapproval of the officer’s «abusive conduct» (at para 91) by awarding Mr Khaniche costs in the amount of $500.

Congratulations to Mr Khaniche for his well-deserved victory. If you are similarly mistreated by the immigration authorities, you too may have legal recourse. Consider speaking with a lawyer about your rights. Also be careful about signing papers, especially those that you have not been allowed to read and review with a lawyer.

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