exerts from the star.com, Nicholas Keung Immigration reporter, Published on Tue Jun 23 2015
The Ottawa couple filed 532 pages of emails, photos, cards, love letters and FaceTime logs as part of their spousal sponsorship application.
Then immigration asked them – twice – for more evidence that their union is legitimate.
Maria Canella and her husband, Kurtis Lee Boulianne, were convinced nothing was missing from their spousal sponsorship application for her immigration to Canada.
The 532-page “proof of relationship” they filed included: six pages of wedding receipts, 18 pages of congratulatory wedding cards, 30 pages of wedding photos, 21 pages of plane tickets, 39 pages of emails, 29 pages of cards and love letters, 57 pages of Facebook history, 36 pages of Skype and FaceTime records and 137 pages of iMessage chat logs.
So the couple was shocked when, via an email in May, immigration officials requested additional proof their marriage is legitimate.
“Honestly, I felt insulted (because of) the extensive documentation we’d already submitted. What more do they need?” said Canella, 29, a high school teacher from New York who met Ottawa resident Boulianne, 26, online in 2009 and married him in May 2014.
“There’s no other explanation. Either they lost the whole file of support documents or they just didn’t look at what we had in the application package,” added Boulianne, who just graduated with a degree in computer science from Carleton University.
And they weren’t asked just once for more evidence. Another request came in June, after they resubmitted their support documents.
“Failure to do so could result in the refusal and/or delay of your application,” warned a letter from the department’s centralized processing centre in Ottawa.
“We do not acknowledge receipt of mail or documents. If you send mail by courier to our office and you want to ensure that it has arrived, please check with the courier company. We will not respond to enquiries asking to confirm receipt of documents/emails/information.”
Immigration officials told the Star they had no record of receiving the “proof of relationship” documents associated with the case and advised the couple to check the tracking number for the package they would have sent.
“They didn’t receive my proof, which was with my application they received Sept. 10, 2014. It was all together in one box; it was all clipped by section, with clips. I mailed in a big box with seven envelopes in it. Each envelope was labelled,” said Canella, who contacted the Star after reading a story in the paper about the extent of errors made by immigration officials.
“If they received my application, they received my 532 pages of proof. I am irate. How convenient that they said they didn’t receive it.”
A meticulous organizer, Canella not only indexed and photocopied everything she and her husband filed, but also took photographs of all the materials, including a screenshot of the Canada Post delivery record that showed the package was delivered successfully on Sept. 10.
“The case is well within posted processing times,” said immigration spokesperson Sonia Lesage, referring to the current 16-month wait time for spousal sponsorship applications from the United States.
When forwarded the couple’s Canada Post mail record, Lesage said: “We are reviewing this situation and will ensure that the applicants will not be penalized, when it comes to processing times, if we indeed made an error.”
On Monday, the couple again checked the status of their spousal sponsorship application on the immigration department’s website. Suddenly, it said a decision was made last Friday, the day after the Star forwarded the Canada Post record.
Canella was thrilled that their spousal sponsorship applications has taken only eight months for a final decision — half the officially stated processing time.
While she and her husband have not received anything in writing via mail as yet, they hope the decision is positive and that they won’t be penalized for seeking help from the media.
WHAT THEY SENT
10 pages of wedding proof, including announcement, rehearsal reminder, guest list, save the date postcard, invitation, wedding ceremony program and cheques received as wedding gifts
6 pages of receipts from wedding, including receipts for tuxedo and wedding dress, and contracts with photographer and ceremony/reception venue.
18 pages of congratulation wedding cards from family and friends
30 pages of wedding photos including pictures from engagement, night before the wedding, wedding album, ceremony and reception, cruise around Manhattan after the wedding, receipt of cruise tickets
21 pages of plane tickets and passport stamps for the couple’s visits between Canada and the U.S.
90 pages of relationship photos from 2010 to 2014
11 pages detailing activities the couple did together: Niagara Falls trip, movie tickets, Cirque du Soleil tickets, pizza order receipt, World of Warcraft (online game) account history, where they met
5 pages of cards Canella received from her husband’s family
39 pages of the couple’s email inboxes from each other, with copies of some emails from 2011 to 2014
29 pages of communication between the couple and their families
21 pages of cards and letters between Canella and Boulianne
137 pages of iMessage chat logs between them
57 pages of Facebook history between the two from 2010 to 2014
6 pages of support letters from Boulianne’s family
36 pages of FaceTime video chat and Skype call records from 2012 to 2014
10 pages of cellphone and text records
6 pages of other supporting documents under the couple’s names: Geico insurance policy, TD Canada Trust joint bank account, receipts of gifts exchanged
Based on records provided by Maria Canella and Kurtis Lee Boulianne