A poison pen letter is an anonymous letter with the intention of harming or damaging the subject. It can contain the truth but also false allegations, sensitive information, and malicious gossip, and often leads to action from immigration departments (IRCC, CBSA) in the immigration context. The term "poison pen letter" refers to the idea that the letter is like a poison that harms the recipient. Such letters can have serious consequences for the person targeted and can cause multi-year delay in processing or even the initiation of enforcement action. In the described case, the visa officer was persuaded by a poison pen letter despite a good response to the PFL made by a previous representative, causing a delay for the client and his family. While the IAD does not give much weight to spurious, anonymous letters but visa officers are often influenced by them.
A poison pen letter is an anonymous letter that is intended to harm or damage the reputation of the person or group to whom it is addressed. Poison pen letters are often used to spread rumors, lies, or malicious gossip, and they can be sent to a wide variety of recipients, including individuals, businesses, and organizations. In the immigration context, people send poison pen letters to IRCC or CBSA to spark investigation against the subject. They may also contain false allegations, sensitive or private information, such as medical records, financial information, or personal details, in an attempt to cause the Department(s) to take action. Many times the information is correct and IRCC and CBSA do in fact take action on credible and specific poison pen letters.
The term "poison pen letter" comes from the idea that the letter is like a poisoned pen that is used to harm the subject. These types of letters can have serious consequences for the person targeted.
Just wrapped up an appeal this morning (sadly, a 845 AM Toronto start time which meant a 645 start time here in Calgary). My client's sponsorship was refused because of a poison pen letter (details were redacted in the officer's notes). Suffice it to say the poison pen letter alleged that my client married and had a child before he landed in Canada; that the marriage certificate and birth certificate subsequent to his landing were fraudulent. The visa officer somehow was persuaded by the poison pen letter notwithstanding a good response to the PFL made by the previous representative (a well respected immigration law firm out of Toronto).
The country in question is Pakistan and luckily the procedures for registration of such documents are clear and the documents themselves can be verified.
It was not difficult to establish the bona fides of both documents. The successful outcome was due in no small part to Minister's Counsel -she reached out to the visa office to gather additional information and came quickly to the conclusion that there was no actual evidence that could impugn the document in question.
The IAD will not give such anonymous letters weight, but visa officers do.
Unfortunately the poison contained in that anonymous letter resulted in a multi-year delay for my client, his wife and their child.
Immigration is hard enough without the ill-intentioned interference of third parties.
A good article by CILA regarding judicial treatment of the poison pen letter.