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I am a citizen from a South American country. I previously lived with student visas in Canada and a country in the Schengen area. I overstayed in the latter for over a year, due to some bureocratic and legal misunderstandings. I ended up receiving an 'Order to Leave the Territory' letter.

I am filling the visa application to return to Canada (via my home country) to finish my studies. The application ask me 'Have you ever been refused a visa or permit, denied entry, or ordered to leave Canada or any other country or territory?', to which the answer is 'yes'. Do you think I should be truthful? Is there a way for the Canadian authorities to know, automatically and not through me, whether I received an Order to Leave letter in the Schengen?

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    Your overstay will likely be glaringly obvious to Canadian Immigration authorities from the visa and relevant entry/exit stamps in your passport, unless you have renewed it since you left Schengen. Rule #1 is always tell the truth, lying could have serious consequences if you are found out. You cannot be sure what checks the Canadian authorities will undertake.
    – Traveller
    Jul 2 at 20:58
  • What I'm curious about is, do they even ask? And if they don't ask, do you still volunteer the information?
    – Stewart
    Jul 4 at 19:07
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    The obvious and well-shouted answer is correct. I see people who come from countries where "lying to government officials" is just normal life in their state for whatever reasons. They get a life-long habit of lying to authorities, and then they show up at the immigration desk of an affluent western democracy where there are good controls and fairness, and citizens have no reason to lie... and that immigration desk does not understand the impulse to lie. And their controls are good, so the liar gets caught. Jul 4 at 19:23

2 Answers 2

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Do you think I should be truthful?

Yes. Here are the rules:

  1. NEVER LIE TO IMMIGRATION.
  2. In case of doubt, see #1.

Is there a way for the Canadian authorities to know, automatically and not through me, whether I received an Order to Leave letter in the Schengen?

No. That would be an astonishing breach of privacy laws which the EU takes extremely seriously. There is very limited immigration data sharing agreement between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America but that's for asylum purposes and 3000 cases a year only -- and the EU is not on it.

So why, then? Because if you ever get interviewed by IRCC then you will be caught in the lie. These people have interviewed thousands and thousands of people and will catch you lying without a problem. To use a metaphor: you go boxing, a million dollars if you win, you never boxed before, your opponent is an Olympic boxer: you are going to lose.

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    “These people have interviewed thousands and thousands of people and will catch you lying without a problem.” I vaguely recall reading a study according to which experienced officers have about 24% detection rate in terms of truthfulness. Regardless, I think most lies are caught because of mismatch in data rather than skill set akin to that in Lie to Me. Jul 3 at 6:56
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    No, there is a way for them to know, by inspecting the passport and verifying the Schengen entry/exit stamps against the rules for the type of visa that was overstayed on. This is not ‘automatic’, but provided they actually inspect the passport, they just have to correlate with publicly known data (anyone with internet access can look up the rules for any standard type of Schengen visa). Jul 3 at 21:25
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    I'm not sure "it is astonishing breach of privacy laws". For one, governments are not citizens/companies. 2- Overstaying is illegal, so there should be a judicial decision. 3- it is not fishing, but country C will ask country E "we have a signed paper of X with passport Y which tell us that he never had a visa problems. Could you confirm? ; etc. Exchanges between authorities about already sentenced cases are common. Jul 4 at 12:05
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    @MrVocabulary I guess it's a matter of personal taste, but to me a 24% risk of getting banned for life for deception sounds freaking scary.
    – TooTea
    Jul 4 at 13:37
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    @TooTea You missed my point. I am against lying to them, but if they catch you, it probably won't be due to their interrogation skills, but other methods. What is scary is having your life in hands f people who are worse at detecting that than a coin toss. Jul 5 at 14:04
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Do you think I should be truthful?

YES

Don't lie. If and when it's found out it will be much worse for you.

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    It's as simple as this. Also, OP should print out/have on their person evidence, letters documentation of the "bureaucratic and legal misunderstandings" with the relevant Schengen country if they're able to meet with Immigration. It may not help much, but best to come over prepared to state your case and show it was a sincere hiccup, and not an explicit attempt to skirt Schengen immigration laws.
    – BruceWayne
    Jul 5 at 14:43

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