The Canada Immigration applicant in question provided a letter from a Toronto community centre attesting to his participation in a “Coming Out Being Out” meeting, as well as a letter from a man who confirmed that the two were in a relationship. However, a senior Canadian immigration officer still determined that the applicant—who is seeking a Canadian permanent resident visa on the grounds that he’ll be persecuted in his native Nigeria for his sexual orientation—failed to provide sufficient evidence that he is gay.
A federal judge has found that the officer erred by failing to consider the “complete picture before her,” and ordered that the applicant’s claim be revisited in a case that raises questions about the extent to which immigration officers should be probing the personal activities of claimants.
In 2010, the permanent resident Canada applicant applied to Citizenship and Immigration Canada for an assessment of the risks he faced if he returned to his home country. Those who are deemed to face the possibility of persecution, death or torture can apply for Canada permanent resident status. While the Immigration Canada officer acknowledged that conditions in Nigeria were not favourable for gay people, she said she was not convinced that he was gay.
Two Canadian immigration lawyers said that the court decision highlights a need for Canada’s immigration officials to develop better training and guidelines for assessing claims based on sexual orientation. Canada Immigration officers need to be sensitive to the fact that applicants have often lived much of their lives hiding their sexual orientation therefore convincing evidence may not always be that easy to produce.