2019 Legal Fees

Here at Clarke Immigration Law, we want to ensure that we provide the best quality of service for reasonable fees. This is extremely important to us, as we are service providers. It is also extremely important that our clients understand exactly what they are paying for. You work hard for your money and you should expect legal fees in line with those expectations. Based on our research, we are the ONLY immigration law firm in Manitoba that publishes most of our legal fees on our website. These fees are calculated based on knowledge of our knowledge of immigration firms’ fees from Manitoba and Ontario, minus 20%. We want to pass along the savings to our clients. At the same time, we also provide the best possible quality of service because we know how important your applications are. We treat our clients like family and, just as family, we do not want you to suffer under huge legal bills.

Canadian Lawyer Magazine released its 2019 results for legal fees across Canada. These results are based on national averages. Some firms charge more, while others charge less. Clarke Immigration Law is pleased to report that our fees are in line with national averages. Across the board, you can see that we have met and/or exceeded expectations. Thank you to CLM for confirming that our legal fees put our clients first!

Legal Fees

To be clear, CLM has only published the average amounts for four (4) different types of applications: 1. Work Permits; 2. Family Class sponsorship (includes Spousal Sponsorship, both regular stream and SCLPC Class, Dependent Children and sponsorship applications for Parents and Grandparents); 3. Express Entry application, which would include the initial application; 3. Refugee Protection claim, which would include representation at the RPD.

Here is the above information in a clear chart:

SERVICES – CLM FEES – NATIONAL AVERAGE
Work Permit $2,501 – $3,000
Family Class sponsorship $5,601 – $6,000
Express Entry less than $3,700
Refugee Protection Claim $4,901 – $5,500

For comparison, our fees are published below:

SERVICES – CLARKE IMMIGRATION LAW BLOCK FEES
Work Permit $1,800
Family Class sponsorship $5,500
Express Entry $1,800
Refugee Protection Claim starting at $3,500

Please note that the fees quoted above are current as of 8 APRIL 2019 and may change at any time. In addition, the fees quoted above are based on cases where there are no previous refusals. Contact us directly if you have any questions and/or you would like to retain our services.

The last point that I would like to mention is the fact that only 28% of immigration law firms accept Legal Aid Certificates. On a personal note, this is a sore point. I strongly believe that immigration services should be provided by the government. Lawyers in BC planned to take job action starting 1 APR 2019 as the tariffs for legal aid are not sufficient. Tariffs in Manitoba are even worse than in BC and when I started this firm in 2015, many lawyers advised that I should not take Legal Aid Certificates. I decided, however, that is not the right thing to do.

Approximately 30% of the files at Clarke Immigration Law are on Legal Aid Certificates. You should be aware, however, that when you retain Clarke Immigration Law on a private retainer with the fees above, you are also helping to support our clients who are on Legal Aid Certificates. The only way we can accept Legal Aid Certificates and pay our bills is through our work on private retainers. For any lawyers reading this, I would strongly urge you to adopt this model. We need to put our clients first. Keep up the good fight!

Canadian Citizenship

At Clarke Immigration Law, we are thrilled to report that Tetyana Vavriychuk became a Canadian Citizen today! The entire office took time off to attend the ceremony and share this once-in-a-lifetime experience. The ceremony was done by Franco-Manitoban with roots in the Metis community. She gave an emotional presentation that focuses on the diversity of the Canadian population.Citizenship

Along with all the other eighty-one (81) individuals who became Canadian citizens, Tetyana was presented with a pass from the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC). Full disclosure, Alastair used to be a volunteer with the ICC and he passed our Cultural Passes to new Canadians when he practiced in Toronto.

NOTE: The photo above includes staff of Clarke Immigration Law, family & friends of Tetyana as well as officials from the Citizenship Ceremony. Thank you!

Warning Chinese Nationals

Over the past 6 months, we have seen an increase in the numbers of Chinese citizens who have been victims of fraud and abuse. These are individuals who have submitted applications to the Canadian Embassy in Beijing and/or Hong Kong. In particular, there are a number of immigration consultants and shady firms that are taking advantage of Chinese citizens. We have seen many individuals and families pay fees +$10,000.00 and their applications have been mishandled.

NOTE: If you are aware of any individuals or families that are using Chinese consultants and/or firms and they are not receiving sounds legal advice, please contact our office immediately.

Currently, there are numerous ongoing investigations into large Chinese immigration firms, including criminal convictions. These unscrupulous individuals are taking advantage of the ignorance of their clients. They make false promises and, ultimately, we believe that many people are suffering.

As reported by CBC News, more than 1,200 clients have been negatively affected by NEW CAN CONSULTANTS and WELLONG INTERNATIONAL INVESTMENT CO. This has led to an RCMP investigation in what has become the biggest immigration fraud in Canadian history.

According to CBC NEWS:

Wang pleaded guilty to offences under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act in July 2015 after the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) raided his offices in Richmond and Vancouver and found fraudulent Chinese entry and exit passport stamps and dozens of passports.

He was caught holding a client’s passport with cut-and-paste alterations when he was arrested in October 2014, according to the civil action.

Wang was sentenced to almost seven years in prison but was released on parole after serving less than two years of his sentence.

In addition, the report includes details on how others may be affected:

Wang had 14 employees but some of them were part of a complex scheme that pretended clients were employees to meet immigration residency requirements in Canada while they lived in China.

“Mr. Wang did not report any of the income he earned from his fraudulent immigration consulting services to the Canada Revenue Agency.”

Based on our review of the situation and our meetings with Chinese clients in Winnipeg, we strongly urge all individuals to carefully choose their representatives.

Apologies and Action

Today the Prime Minister of Canada is scheduled to apologize on behalf of Canada for turning away the MS St. Louis and its 907 Jewish passengers in 1939. At the time, these Jews were fleeing persecution and the imminent threat of the Nazis and the anti-Semitic violence. At the time, our then Prime Minister MacKenzie King did not allow the 907 Jews to dock in Halifax and they were turned away.

As reported by Global News:

In the years leading up to and including the Second World War, the Canadian government heeded anti-Semitic sentiment by severely restricting Jewish immigration. From 1933 to 1945, only about 5,000 Jewish refugees were accepted due to what Trudeau called “our discriminatory ‘none is too many’ immigration policy” in place at the time.

The Jewish refugees on the ship were forced to return to Europe, where 254 of those aboard eventually died in the slaughter that became the Holocaust.

Now, about 79 years later, Trudeau will stand in the House of Commons and apologize to those refugees.

On behalf of all Canadians, PM Trudeau is apologizing to try to make things right. In an analysis by Prof Howard-Hassmann, she acknowledged that some apologies include compensation while others may be done for political reasons. For this apology, it does not appear that the Government of Canada will be offering any compensation.

Timing is Everything

On its face, Trudeau’s apology and acknowledging that what happened was wrong and it should never have happened is a step in the right direction. On the other hand, Trudeau is not making any policy changes, legal changes or any other concrete action.

In this case, however, timing is key. This apology is in the context of the shooting at the synagogue in Pittsburgh. It seems that Trudeau’s apology was scheduled before the attack but the recent circumstances highlight the importance of recognizing current anti-Semitic sentiment.

As noted by Global:

The latest figures on hate crimes from Statistics Canada show the Jewish population was the most frequent target of religiously motivated hate crimes in 2016.

Anti-Semitic incidents increased 24 per cent that year. B’nai Brith Canada said 2017 saw another increase.

The timing of this apology confirms that hate crimes against Jews was an issue in 1939 and it remains an issue in 2018.

 

TEDxWinnipeg – Borders and Immigration

As previously noted on this website, Alastair gave a presentation on immigration issues at TEDxWinnipeg this year. The topic of the presentation is Imagine No Countries. The video is currently in the TED feed on YouTube.com along with other videos from TEDxWinnipeg:


TEDxWinnipeg
Summary:

Borders are arbitrary lines drawn on paper that affect each and every one of us. What happens when lines are made more important than lives? What happens when we look beyond those lines? Alastair Clarke manages Clarke Immigration Law, a boutique law firm. He and his staff assist with all types of immigration and refugee cases; they currently have more than 250 open files. Based on over 30 years of combined experience, the staff guide each and every client, including individuals, families and businesses, through the complex immigration system, including complex humanitarian and compassionate applications. The firm is based on experience, value and results. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx

If you had the opportunity to attend the TEDxWinnipeg event, be sure to check out the photo stream.

From TEDxWinnipeg:

All the speakers are listed here. It was an amazing group, covering topics from spoons to bitcoins to identity. Here is Alastair’s bio on the TEDxWinnipeg site:

Alastair Clarke manages Clarke Immigration Law, a boutique law firm. He and his staff assist with all types of immigration and refugee cases; they currently have more than 250 open files. Based on over 30 years of combined experience, the staff guide each and every client, including individuals, families and businesses, through the complex immigration system, including complex humanitarian and compassionate applications. The firm is based on experience, value and results.

Alastair provides expert advice to the media on a regular basis in both English and French. He has been interviewed by Ian Hanomansing for CBC News as well as by journalists at Global News. He also contributes to radio and print media on justice issues. Alastair’s firm has represented many refugee claimants who have walked across the border from the United States since 2016, and he delivered a presentation on the Safe Third Country Agreement at the 2017 CBA conference for immigration lawyers.

In 1970, Alastair’s father sponsored his mother to stay in Canada, where Alistair was raised in Edmonton, Alberta. His mother focused on hosting exchange students and professionals from around the world to live and stay in their home. In school, he pursued an International Baccalaureate stream with classmates from Mauritius, Israel, Japan, Taiwan and many other countries. From a young age, he developed an international perspective and since then, has lived in many places around the world, including France, Ecuador, Japan, different parts of the USA, and many different cities in Canada. In many ways, Alastair is a nomad at heart who is constantly learning about the world and fighting injustice.

Fundamentally, Alastair is a perpetual student who takes every opportunity to learn from the clients who walk through the door. They share their culture and their experiences while he, in turn, teaches them how to navigate the Canadian immigration system. He is driven to ensure that each case is handled fairly and that every person has the chance to live in peace and security.

Federal Court Success re MPNP and Misrepresentation

Congratulations to our client Ievgen Agapi, a truck driver from Ukraine, and all the supporting people who assisted with this case. Justice Ahmed of the Federal Court of Canada agreed with our arguments that the Visa Officer in Kiev failed to consider whether the alleged misrepresentation was honestly and reasonably made. Click here to read the full decision.

This is a significant decision in the jurisprudence of misrepresentation, as well as the processing of MPNP applications.

In the words of Justice Ahmed:

14]  The Applicant points out that section 40 of the IRPA does not apply to misrepresentations made honestly by an applicant who reasonably believes they did not withhold material information (Medel v Canada (Minister of Employment and Immigration)[1990] 2 FC 345Baro v Canada (Citizenship and Immigration)2007 FC 1299 (CanLII) at para 15, and Goudarzi v Canada (Citizenship and Immigration)2012 FC 425 (CanLII) at para 33). The Applicant submits that his response to the procedural fairness letter provided evidence that this exception applies to his alleged misrepresentation; he explained that the knowledge of the potential fraud was beyond his control and in his view he reasonably and honestly believed that he was not misrepresenting any material facts. Despite his response to the procedural fairness letter, the Applicant submits the Manager failed to consider whether any alleged misrepresentation was honestly and reasonably made.

[15]  The Respondent submits that the Applicant is merely “blaming” a third party for his misrepresentation and argues that efforts to get the original results were not before the decision-maker. The Respondent acknowledges that there is a “narrow exception” for innocent misrepresentation, but reiterates that it only applies in exceptional and narrow circumstance. The Respondent cites a line of jurisprudence for the proposition that misrepresentation made by a non-party to an application, without the applicant’s knowledge, does not save an application from an inadmissibility finding under section 40 of the IRPA. The Respondent also takes the position that the Applicant’s response to the procedural fairness letter did not meet the high standard to warrant such an exception.

[16]  I agree with the Applicant that the Manager failed to consider whether the Applicant honestly and reasonably believed he was not withholding material information.

CONGRATULATIONS TO EVERYONE WHO CONTRIBUTED TO THIS POSITIVE DECISION!

Denied Entry to Canada: What Can You Do?

Crossing the border is rarely a simple act. In the post-9/11 world, security checks have increased and each foreign national faces additional scrutiny from Immigration Officers. In Canada, the border security is the responsibility of Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), under the Ministry of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. They work closely with other police agencies and they have access to international databases to screen everyone, and everything, that goes through a border. When CBSA is dealing with a Permanent Resident of Canada, a Canadian Citizen or an immigration application, they may refer the case to their counterparts at Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC, formerly known as CIC). If you are denied entry to Canada, it may be due to a negative determination by a CBSA Officer or an IRCC Officer. What can you do?

The first question to deal with is where you are trying to enter. Issues vary between entering at land borders, ports and airports. 

One of the common situations that we face is when Permanent Residents who are trying to fly back to Canada without a valid PR Card. The airline will not let them board their flight back to Canada without a valid travel document. There are a number of risks in these situations. One of my first concerns is that if the PR is anxious to return, they may insist on boarding the flight and then, when they enter Canada, they may request temporary status. This puts their Permanent Resident status at risk and we do not advise this option.

When a PR is flying back to Canada without a valid PR Card, they have two (2) main options – neither option is cheap or easy. The first option is to go to the nearest Canadian Consulate, Embassy or High Commission. Canada has hundreds of offices peppered around the world in every continent, except Antarctica. I have never had a client call who could not travel to a Canadian office within their jurisdiction.

Once the PR reaches the consulate, they may apply for a Permanent Resident Travel Document “PRTD”. The government fee for the document is $50 and processing times vary from 1 hour to 2 months. We had one case where the printer at the Canadian office was broken and they had to order a new printer before they could issue new travel documents. In general, the Officers who work in these offices are very supportive and they will help any Permanent Resident who is courteous and professional.

The second option, for some, is to fly to the United States and enter Canada at a land border. For those clients who are at the airport and they do not want to leave the airport, this may be an option. NOTE: this option is only available to individuals and/ or families who are able to enter the United States and they do not have other issues with American authorities. We also advise our clients that we do not practice US immigration law and, therefore, if there are any issues with US authorities, we would refer the matter to an American colleague.

Being denied entry can be a stressful experience. Airline staff are not government officials and their knowledge of Canadian immigration law is limited. If you or your family members are in a situation where you are denied entry, we recommend that you call a lawyer whom you trust to help you properly navigate the system.

 

News: Separating Children

As reported, US authorities have been separating children from their parents as they enter the United States. Separating children is unjust and deplorable. The situation and the photos that have been coming out about this situation show the inhumanity and lack of protection for refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants in the United States. This is an example, among many, that the United States is not a safe place for immigrants and the short-sighted policies from the President’s office to the state level to the local level.

Here at Clarke Immigration Law, we meet clients on a daily basis with stories of the injustice and discrimination that they face in the United States. Canada is not perfect but we do our best to help everyone who comes through our door.

Recently, we met with a father who is taking care of his young daughter by himself as the mother was deported by US authorities. This has been reported by the Winnipeg Free Press. This case is heart-breaking. The refugee claimant needs to be focusing on building his case for the Refugee Protection Division; instead, he has been figuring out how to care for his young daughter and worry about the mother who is currently in hiding.

For more details on this case and how separating children may have an impact, check out the WFP article. Here is an excerpt:

“If I go back, I’m in trouble,” he said in his Twi language. Ben and Blessing and her mother, Rose, flew from Ghana to Ecuador last year and made their way by land to Mexico. When the family crossed at Tijuana into the U.S. to make a refugee claim, the men were separated from the women and taken to separate detention facilities. Ben had been carrying Blessing, and the father and daughter were sent to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) lockup for men in California, he said. Rose, he discovered, was deported back to Ghana.

[…]

The danger he faced going back to Ghana, he said, was worse than their separation from Rose. He became Blessing’s main caregiver — a non-traditional role for men in Ghana, he said, and one that’s been a challenge. They headed for Canada, and on Jan. 20, they crossed the border into Quebec to ask for refugee protection. Ben said he heard good things about Winnipeg and he and Blessing boarded a bus heading west. He got social assistance and legal aid. His lawyer said no date has been set for their Immigration and Refugee Board hearing, but he hopes it’s soon.

“I have serious concerns about the father, the child and the mother,” immigration lawyer Alastair Clarke said.

“In my personal experience with the father and child, they have genuine fear of returning to their home country. He has limited support and extremely limited language skills. He is working hard to request the necessary documents for his case, but he clearly needs to focus on taking care of his daughter,” Clarke said. “I also have significant concerns about the health of the mother. Separating a mother from her young child is a tragedy.”

If you can assist Ben & Blessing or if you know of similar cases, please contact our office immediately. 

 

Tribunal Advocacy Training

For the 2nd time, Alastair will be providing a training session to lawyers, representatives and advocates on advocating on behalf of clients at the tribunal. In particular, we will cover best practices when dealing with cases at the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) – Western Region. This tribunal advocacy training session is being coordinated by the IRB and space is limited.

Details:

  • DATE: 12 June 2018
  • TIME: 11:30AM
  • ADDRESS: Legal Aid Manitoba Building, 4th floor

The deadline to RSVP is on 5 JUNE 2018 and space is limited. At the last training session, the room was completely packed and we had a good discussion. Since that time, there have been significant changes at the IRB, in particular how RPD hearings are scheduled and conducted. Two keys points that we will discuss:

  • Making an application to the RPD for Late Disclosure of Evidence
  • Making an application for submitting more than 100 pages of country condition evidence

The tribunal has been making changes to deal with the increasing numbers of refugee claimants in the Western Region. As advocates, we have a duty to best represent our clients and ensure they have the best chance of success with their applications. This tribunal advocacy training will include a section on Q & A with an experienced RPD Member.

Please note that this tribunal advocacy session is not a regular training session. This is the 2nd session in Winnipeg and the purpose is to increase the level of advocacy among representatives. The session is strictly confidential and all participants are encouraged to express any questions or concerns with the policies and procedures at the IRB.

CBC: Future of STCA

Alastair Clarke was recently interviewed on CBC The House podcast on the future of the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA). Currently, this Agreement has been at issue based on the numbers of refugee claimants who have been coming north from the United States. Many of these people have been crossing “irregularly” around the Ports of Entry into Canada to access the inland refugee determination process, thus getting around the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA).

As reported by the CBC:

Last year, more than 20,000 asylum seekers crossed illegally into Canada. The trend seems to be continuing this year, with about 5,000 crossing so far.

The government has been hard-pressed to find a working approach to this steady stream of migrants. Some of the ideas being floated include designating the entire Canada-U.S. border an official crossing, deploying more resources to popular spots for illegal crossings and addressing issues with the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA).

[…]

Part of the issue with the agreement in its current form is that it was drafted at a time when both countries shared a similar view on refugees, said Alastair Clarke, a Winnipeg-based immigration lawyer.

But now Canada is “very distinct from the United States,” he told The House.

The model needs to be revised to account for changes in the politics of both countries, he said.

To read the full article, please click here. You can also access the podcast from the CBC website.

Note that Alastair has been calling for the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) to be repealed or suspended since Jan 2017 and he has published on this topic. The Toronto Star reported on this issue in Feb 2017. He also presented on this topic (STCA) at the Canadian Bar Association national immigration law conference in Toronto.