Spelling problem in documentary evidence

Author: Parminder Singh J.D, Juris Doctor (Canada)

Often an applicant is confronted with a situation where her name is spelled differently in different documents. People go long way to correct that error in government records and many a time this is not possible due to time constraints and bureaucratic hurdles. In many cases, the Canada immigration case is rejected due to spelling problem. However, the following case is an authority to deal with this problem and applicants should quote the following case in support of their Canada immigration application.

We will use Kuldeep as an example to illustrate the issue. Kuldeep is spelled Kuldip in applicant’s some documents:

It is respectfully submitted that Kuldeep and Kuldip are the names of the same person. As shown in the passport and other documents, Kuldeep and Kuldip reside at the same address. It is also clear that the person named Kuldeep and Kuldip is wife of the same person in various documents.

The Federal court’s decision in Mohan v. Canada states at para 51 that the “use of a different spelling does not necessarily indicate a different person”. Just because a name is spelled differently due translation or transliteration problem does not indicate that they are two persons:
[51]           Third, the decision of Justice Judith Snider in Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) v Skomatchuk2006 FC 994 (CanLII) is useful in assessing identity documents that have been translated or transliterated from another language or script. In Skomatchuk, Justice Snider determined that an individual was a concentration camp guard notwithstanding variations in the spelling of his name in the record:

[102]   As a general observation, I would note that the record shows different spellings of the surname “Skomatchuk”. Even documents produced by the Defendant provide a variation on the spelling; for example, “Skomaczuk”. I am satisfied that these differences can be explained by the translation of the name from Cyrillic writing to either English or German. Phonetically, “Skomatchuk”, “Skomatschuk”, “Skomachuk” and “Skomaczuk” are identical; use of a different spelling does not necessarily indicate a different person.

[52]           The general corollary of Justice Snider’s comments in Skomatchuk is that translated or transliterated identity documents ought to be assessed in light of the fact that they have been translated or transliterated.

[53]           Applying these principles to this application for judicial review leads to the conclusion that the Officer was unreasonable in finding that Subhash Mehta was not, on a balance of probabilities, the paternal uncle of the Applicant.

[54]           Even though the Applicant’s marriage certificate identified his father as Madan Lal Mohan and his Bachelor of Commerce Degree identified his father as Madan Lal Mahita, several of his documents (including his police clearance record, the birth certificates of his son and daughter, his employment records, his school records, and his tax records) identified his father as Madan Lal Mehta. The name of Madan Lal Mahita on the Applicant’s Bachelor of Commerce Degree can be rationalized as a problem of transliteration since Mahita and Mehta are phonetically similar.

Mohan v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2012 FC 1426 (CanLII), <http://canlii.ca/t/fv3b1>

It is, therefore, respectfully submitted that the ruling in Mohan v. Canada applies to the applicant’s case because Kuldip and Kuldeep are phonetically identical names even though they are spelled differently due to translation or transliteration problems as was the case in the names “Skomachuk” and “Skomaczuk in Mohan v. Canada.