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Former ambassador deemed not good enough for Canada
But Federal Court overrules visa officer

By Paul Waldie
National Post (Canada)
October 11, 2000

The Federal Court has chastised a visa officer who rejected the immigration application of an Iranian who is a qualified engineer, director of a major construction business and his country's former ambassador to the Netherlands.

"If this man lacks personal suitability, what hope is there for those of more modest accomplishments to satisfy our visa requirements?" the court asked in overturning the officer's decision.

The officer had found that Hossein Tajgardoon "lacked the personal characteristics" to establish himself economically in Canada despite his job history, which also includes a post as a senior foreign affairs officer and manager of Iran's largest car company. And he speaks fluent English.

Referring to the visa officer's assessment that Mr. Tajgardoon lacked adaptability to settle in Canada, the court said: "It seems somewhat ironic that a man who has been the ambassador of a major Middle Eastern nation to a European capital, managing director of a significant industrial concern and deputy managing director of a large construction and engineering firm is reproached for lack of adaptability."

Mr. Tajgardoon made the application at the Canadian embassy in Syria. The visa officer interviewed him in English and reported no problems with Mr. Tajgardoon's language skills.

However, when the officer asked him to read a paragraph, he believed Mr. Tajgardoon's reading was not fluent.

This, too, was challenged by the court: "His linguistic failings, such as they are, seem trivial compared to the breadth of the applicant's experience in a number of diverse environments."

The visa officer also questioned whether Mr. Tajgardoon could land a job in Canada.

"Overall, the visa officer did not find the applicant to be 'a very congenial character,' which he believed would negatively impact on his ability to sell himself in the labour market."

The court noted the officer ignored Mr. Tajgardoon's broad work experience. After serving as Iran's ambassador to the Netherlands from 1984 to 1987, he was appointed chief of protocol in the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 1991, he became managing director of Iran Khodro, the country's largest car maker, which is also a partner of Peugeot in France.

Since 1994, he has been deputy managing director of Iranian Offshore Engineering and Construction Co.

Stephen Green, a Toronto lawyer who represented Mr. Tajgardoon, said the application will be reviewed by another visa officer.

He said he was not sure where Mr. Tajgardoon is living, but it is not Canada. "If he can't be successful in Canada, who can?" Mr. Green asked.


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