A truck driver with more than a decade of experience on the roads in the Middle East will get another shot at a Canadian work permit after a judge found it was "unreasonable" to dismiss his years of experience just because hasn't driven in B.C. weather.
The Federal Court judge also found that a visa officer distorted 35-year-old Satnam Singh's ties to Canada in denying him a permit under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
Justice Shirzad Ahmed wrote in a judgment last week that the visa officer's rejection of Singh's application "exhibits a lack of justification in light of the evidence."
Singh is a citizen of India whose wife, child, parents and sister all live in that country, according to the judgment. He has worked as a truck driver in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) since March 2010.
When Singh applied for a permit to come to Canada, he had a job offer from Super Bee Transport in Abbotsford, the judgment says.
His permit application was rejected on Jan. 1, 2022. The visa officer explained that the terrain and weather in the UAE "are significantly different" from those in Canada.
"I am not satisfied that [Singh] has demonstrated that he is able to perform the work sought in a way that does not put the safety of Canadians at risk," the officer's notes read, according to the judgment.
But Ahmed said that the officer's decision seems to be grounded in "irrelevant" criteria, and did not take into account other evidence, like the glowing reference letters submitted by all of Singh's previous employers.
"This evidence points directly to the applicant's ability to perform the work of a truck driver in Canada, for which he has several years of positively regarded experience. It is unreasonable for the officer to weigh the differences in weather conditions between the UAE and Canada to be determinative of his abilities, in light of this evidence," Ahmed said.
'Obvious gap' in visa officer's logic
The visa officer also wrote in a denial letter to Singh that even though his wife and child planned to remain in India, he was a risk to stay in Canada illegally after his permit expires "based on [his] family ties in Canada and in your country of residence."
Ahmed described that as "an obvious gap in the officer's line of reasoning on this point."
The Ministry Of Citizenship And Immigration, which defended the decision to reject Singh's permit application, argued that his long stay in the UAE suggested he was fine with being far away from his family.
But in Ahmed's assessment, that logic is completely unfair.
"It is common for people, particularly those from lower-income backgrounds, to make personal sacrifices to better their financial situations. It is unreasonable to penalize the applicant for making this sacrifice and assume that this sacrifice is not difficult for him," the judge wrote.
Singh's application will now be sent back for redetermination with another visa officer.