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!

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.

MPNP and Misrepresentation

The Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP) is one of the best and easiest ways for Permanent Resident status. The Manitoba government helps thousands of Skilled Worker, Investors and Entrepreneurs every year to achieve their goals of settling in Canada. The steps to Permanent Resident (PR) status can be arduous for many applicants who are looking for a quick and easy way to move to Canada. One of the issues that applicants face is misrepresentation, per Section 40 of IRPA.

Under Canadian immigration law, the legal definition of “misrepresentation” is broad and covers both direct as well as indirect misrepresentation. This means that applicants may be subject to a 5-year ban from Canada even when their representative is at fault.

Fraudulent claims for provincial nominees is a problem across Canada. Recently, the program in PEI has been under (another) investigation due to applicants who are providing incorrect information to the government. As reported by the National Post:

A second federal probe is underway in Prince Edward Island alleging hundreds of people gained permanent residency in Canada by using local addresses where they didn’t live, under a provincial business immigration system that’s faced criticism for loose oversight.

This issue may be a problem for both applicants and representatives should they find that the representatives knowingly assisted these applicants to mislead the government.

The allegations, which have not been proven in court, come just two months after two Charlottetown hoteliers were charged with aiding in immigration fraud, with the CBSA alleging 566 immigrants used the addresses of the siblings’ hotel and home.

This case is similar to another case from British Colombia. In that case, representatives provided fake documents to Chinese citizens in order for them to qualify for the program. The agency in Vancouver is also under investigation by the police:

Last year, Chinese immigrants in Vancouver were sentenced to jail and fined for immigration fraud involving 1,600 immigrants for fraudulently helping them obtain permanent residency by measures that “included creating the fictitious appearance of Canadian residency.”

The CBSA says that to date it can confirm 81 deportations from that case, with orders to remove 160 other people, with some appeals pending.

Fraud and misrepresentation is not tolerated under Canadian law; however, applicants have the right to due process. In circumstances where the allegation is unfounded and/or there are mitigating circumstances, we advocate for applicants to have their cases reconsidered so that they are able to stay in Canada.

Former Immigration Officer: “Gave Bad Advice for Money”

As reported in the Windsor Star, former Immigration Officer Flavio Angelo Andreatta used a store as a “front” and provided bad immigration advice to clients. He was an unlicensed representative who should have known better and he has been sentenced in criminal court.

Here is an excerpt from the Windsor Star article:

Andreatta, a retired Canadian immigration officer grandfathered into the Canada Border Services Agency, would instruct clients to make cheques out to the cultural charity, headquartered at his Kingsville home. He would then make withdrawals from the society’s bank account, a fact that caused the group’s treasurer and former bookkeeper to resign in 2011.

Andreatta, who turns 68 next week, pleaded guilty in Superior Court Wednesday to contravening Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act by providing immigration advice for a fee. Only lawyers or people vetted by a sanctioned body can charge for that work.

As punishment, Andreatta will spend the next year on house arrest, followed by two years on probation.

Court heard Andreatta collected more than $25,000 for his services between June 2011 and December 2014.

Having the money flow through the Italian Genealogy and Heraldry Society was the “subterfuge” Andreatta used, federal prosecutor Paul Bailey told the court.

Having been an immigration officer in the past, Andreatta “certainly was in a position to know better,” Bailey said.

“He gave some bad advice for money.”

Authorities first learned of Andreatta’s activities in May 2012 when a woman who was an Italian national was denied a visitor’s visa. She had been working at the Caboto Club on a work permit that was about to expire. She was later deemed inadmissible to Canada because she had continued to work past the expiry date.

Clearly, this former Officer set up the charity with the purpose of deceiving the government and breaking the law. In my view, house arrest is too lenient on this gentlemen, no matter his health “ailments”, his background and his years of service. As stated in the article, “Only lawyers or people vetted by a sanctioned body can charge for that work.” Those described in the second part are sanctioned by ICCRC and they are subject to discipline by their professional organization. In my view, there are benefits to the system in the United States where they do not allow immigration consultants to represent clients.

Note that the decision by Superior Court Justice Kirk Munroe does not preclude the Law Society of Ontario from imposing additional punishment to the immigration officer and ordering separate fines for providing legal services in Ontario without a licence.

Law Society Act, R.S.O. 1990, Chapter L.8. Section 26.2 of the Law Society Act states as follows:

Non-licensee practising law or providing legal services

26.1 (1) Subject to subsection (5), no person, other than a licensee whose licence is not suspended, shall practise law in Ontario or provide legal services in Ontario.  2006, c. 21, Sched. C, s. 22.

26.2 (1) Every person who contravenes section 26.1 is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of,

(a) not more than $25,000 for a first offence; and

(b) not more than $50,000 for each subsequent offence.  2006, c. 21, Sched. C, s. 22.

 

Free Presentation: Law in the Library

As part of the Law in the Library series, Alastair Clarke will be giving a free presentation to the public on October 19, 2017 at St. Boniface Library at 131 Provencher Boulevard. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Free Presentation

Topics:

Please note that we cannot give individual legal advice during this free presentation. The purpose of the presentation is for information purposes and to inform the public on changes to Canadian Immigration Law. We constantly talk to clients who hear wrong information or information that is out of date. The laws in Canada for immigration and refugees are constantly in flux. Our goal is to make sure that Manitobans understand the laws so they can avoid mistakes and they have clear expectations when they submit applications to IRCC or CBSA of any of the Visa Offices around the world.

For more information, check out the CLEA Website for more details and to RSVP.

CLEA’s Mission Statement:

CLEA is a charitable organization that provides legal information to Manitobans. We believe that legal knowledge is necessary for full and equal participation in our society.

CLEA develops programs and resources especially to work with communities where there are understood needs. These services help individuals better understand our legal system and how to resolve their legal issues.

Goals

Program Strategy

To meet the diverse information needs of our community, we have adopted the following objectives to help us plan our programs:

  • Individuals Focus To provide information about the law, legal system and sources of legal assistance in response to requests.
  • Intermediaries Focus To provide service providers and representative groups with information about: the law, legal system, sources of legal assistance and law reform.

Access to Justice Focus

To identify barriers and promote possible solutions to support a more equitable and accessible justice system that is responsive to the needs of Manitoba’s diverse communities.

Free Presentation: Law in the Library – Transcona

Please note that Alastair Clarke will be giving a free presentation on citizenship law and other changes to immigration law at Transcona Library as part of the Law in the Library Series presented by the Community Legal Education Association.

Here is a description of the program:

Are you new to Canada? Are you looking for help in some legal aspects of immigration? Join us for a free program to help provide you with legal information that you may need. Our guest lawyer Alastair Clarke will cover issues like immigration options, sponsorship, citizenship applications, bringing family members to Manitoba, MPNP and other options. Please bring questions for the lawyer to answer!

For more information, contact the library directly at 204-986-3954.

PR Status for Client

I received this email from a client and I wanted to share it on this page. We will also post it in the Testimonials page. We have been working with clients for a long time (as you know, many immigration files take years) and it has been a pleasure. It is particularly nice when the client gets Permanent Resident status in the end after a failed refugee claim (we did not represent) and other issues.

I have not edited or amended the review in any way. I have divided the review into 2 parts. The first part describes his immigration history:Client

I was introduced to Alastair in the Fall of 2015 by a friend who knew that I was in big trouble with CIC and needed help with my Canadian immigration process . 

Prior to meeting Alastair , all my applications for Permanent Residency had failed : my refugee claim , the humanitarian and compassionate considerations grounds ( H&C) , the Pre Removal application and applications for a temporary resident permit. I was in process of being removed/deported from Canada.  

This second part describes the work that we did for this client:

After I met Alastair , he looked at my case , did lots of research and we started working on a new H&C and Express Entry applications .Whenever I needed to see/talk him, he was always available (even on the weekends ) and he kept me informed of any new developments or any aspects I needed to know about my case. We submitted the two applications to CIC in 2016.

His dedication , knowledge , research and impeccable work paid off : both applications ( Express  Entry and H&C ) were recently approved by CIC and I am now waiting to get my Permanent Residency card in my mailbox .

Thank you so much Alastair for your great work! 

I highly recommend Alastair to anyone who needs help with Canadian immigration.

Jean K.

This client is fluent in French and English. He also wrote his review in French:

Dans le Printemps 2015 , un ami qui était au courant de mes nombreuses mésaventures dans mon processus d’immigration au Canada m’a présenté à Alastair.

Avant de rencontrer Alastair, toutes mes demandes pour une résidence permanente au Canada avait échouées : demande de refuge, demande pour considerations d’ordre humanitaire , examen de risques avant renvoi et  permis de séjour temporaire. 

J’étais deja dans le processus d’être renvoyé du Canada.

Obviously, this case was very serious when we started work. Thankfully, it ended with a great result – for this client and for Canada!

Apres avoir rencontré Alastair , il a pris très au sérieux mon dossier , a fait de très nombreuses recherches  et on a commencé a travailler sur deux nouvelles demandes : une pour considerations d’ordre humanitaires et une autre pour entree express.

Il était toujours disponible quand j’avais besoin de lui parler ou le voir (meme durant les weekends) et il m’a gardé informé de l’état d’avancement de mon dossier . On a déposé les deux demandes en 2016. 

Sa determination , son savoir faire, les recherches et son travail impeccable ont payé : les deux demandes ont toutes été approuvées par Immigration Canada et maintenant j’attends de recevoir ma carte de residence permanente.

Merci beaucoup Alastair pour ton travail extraordinaire !

Je recommande très vivement Alastair à quiconque aurait des questions ou a besoin d’aide pour immigrer au Canada.  

Jean K.

Please note: our regular office hours are from 9AM to 5PM; however, we do meet clients on weekends and during the evening when necessary.

News: Americans Who Fear Trump Presidency

Winnipeg Free Press journalist published a piece on Americans coming to Canada who fear a Trump Presidency. The below is published on the WFP website here.

U.S.-Canada romance quite complex: lawyer

Could Manitoba become a north-of-the-border love nest for Americans escaping the prospect of a Trump presidency?

It could if you believe the hype surrounding the website MapleMatch.com and its promise to save Americans “from living through a Trump presidency by finding genuine ready-to-marry Canadians.”

‘My advice to Canadians who wish to help their American neighbours through a sponsorship application is to make sure they develop a relationship before they get married’

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Winnipeg Immigration lawyer Alastair Clarke says scrutiny is thorough when it comes to immigration and relationships.</p>

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Winnipeg Immigration lawyer Alastair Clarke says scrutiny is thorough when it comes to immigration and relationships.

Talk shows and cable news channels have joked about the website started by an Austin, Texas man who reportedly supports Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton. It says it is signing up people on both sides of the border but isn’t as yet a full-fledged matchmaking website.

But if it ever gets up and running, MapleMatch.com may not be as sweet of a deal as it sounds, says a Winnipeg immigration lawyer who is the product of a cross-border coupling.

Alastair Clarke said cross-border matches may be easier to make today thanks to the Internet, but immigrating is a lot harder than it was back when his Canadian mom and American dad met and fell in love at university in Chicago.

“Marriages between American and Canadian spouses face significant scrutiny by IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) officers,” he said. Under Canadian law, couples have to show their relationship is both “genuine” and not for the “primary purpose” of immigration, said Clarke. Immigration officers have broad discretionary powers to conduct interviews and investigate the marriage to ensure the application meets the legal tests, he said.

“My advice to Canadians who wish to help their American neighbours through a sponsorship application is to make sure they develop a relationship before they get married,” said Clarke. The Federal Court of Canada has confirmed the time leading up to the marriage date is significant during the “primary purpose” investigation, he said. “The relationship should have breadth and depth before the wedding.” Couples who choose not to get married can file an application as common-law partners or conjugal partners, but those applications have to meet additional requirements, he said.

Would Americans seriously consider abandoning their country for the Great White North if Trump becomes president? Maybe, says the spokesman for the Council on American Islamic Relations.

“In the past we’ve joked about this kind of thing whenever there is a new Islamaphobic policy or some issue targeting American Muslims,” said Ibrahim Hooper in Washington, D.C. “I think people aren’t laughing as much anymore,” he said Friday.

The non-profit council doesn’t take a political position, he said. “We merely react to anti-Muslim rhetoric,” and Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric has already hurt people even though the presumptive Republican nominee hasn’t won the presidency. One example he cited was a Muslim woman attacked in Washington by a Trump supporter, who said “When Trump gets in, you guys are gone.”

“He really has mainstreamed Islamaphobia in America,” Hooper said. “That is a really troubling phenomenon that will remain whether or not he is elected president.” Trump losing is nearly as worrisome as is his winning, he said. “It makes you wonder who will be blamed and targeted by his supporters.”

Talk of leaving the U.S. — so far — is just talk, said Hooper. “It’s mainly in comments online and in the discussion phase right now.” He hasn’t yet heard of any American Muslim feeling so threatened they’re planning to take refuge in Canada.

“Let’s hope it doesn’t go that far.”

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Read more by Carol Sanders.

 

Thank you to Friends of Filipino Immigrants!

Alastair Clarke received a Certificate of Appreciation from the Friends of Filipino Immigrants. Thank you to the organization and all the volunteers. It is a pleasure to work with the community and help to build the Filipino community in Manitoba! We had a very nice turnout from volunteers, friends and clients. We do this work to help bring people together and fix their immigration problems.

FilipinoFilipino community

 

 

 

 

 

Working with members of the Filipino community is very rewarding. Many immigrants come to Manitoba through the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP) and they become Permanent Residents of Canada.

Award from the Friends of Filipino Immigrants in Manitoba

We work with the FFIM to make sure that families are reunited in Winnipeg and other communities around Manitoba. They provide excellent services and, where appropriate, knowledgable referrals. We look forward to continued work with families and businesses to strengthen the economy and bring families together.
FilipinoIn a future post, we may scan the Certificate and post it on the blog. Right now, it is hanging in the office next to other gifts from clients.

Tips for Spousal Sponsorship Appeal

We sat down with Alastair Clarke, Barrister & Solicitor, to discuss ways to win a Spousal Sponsorship Appeal. Mr. Clarke has handled many of these over the years. Hopefully, these questions and answers will help you and your family reunite in Canada.

Spousal Sponsorship appealQ: What is the most important factor to win a Spousal Sponsorship Appeal?

A: Good question. As I learned from my mentor, Mendel Green, Q.C. (a.k.a. the Godfather of Canadian Immigration Law), the most important factor is PREPARATION. The Sponsor and the Applicant will both provide oral testimony at the tribunal. The representative of the government will be cross-examining both of them, as well as any other witnesses. The cross-examination may be thorough and they may ask questions about any aspect of the application. Credibility is frequently a big issue at the hearing. In addition to the cross-examination, the Member (ie. Judge) may also ask probing and direct questions of the Sponsor, Applicant and witnesses. In my experience, the best way to prepare for the hearing is to prepare, prepare and prepare!

The biggest difference between a successful case and a refusal is preparation.

Q: What are the most common reasons for refusal?

A: I won’t be able to discuss all the reasons that I seen applications refused but I can cover the most common reasons why Spousal Sponsorship applications are refused:

  1. Genuine Marriage – the CIC Officer determined, for a variety of reasons that the relationship was not real and the subsequent marriage is not genuine. This is surely the most common reason that applications are refused.
  2. Primary Purpose test – the CIC Officer determined that the marriage was entered into primarily for immigration purposes. This has become increasingly common and it is a common reason for refusal for Arranged Marriages.

Q: What happens at the Tribunal?

A: The hearing at the tribunal, the Immigration and Refugee Board, Immigration Appeal Division, is a hearing de novo. “Hearing de novo” is a legal term that means that the tribunal makes a new determination based on everything that has happened with the individuals right up to the time of the hearing. In other words, the tribunal is not limited to the documents that were sent to CIC the time of the application. In other cases, lawyers are restricted to rely only on evidence that has been previously submitted to the original decision-maker and we cannot submit new evidence. The fact that Spousal Sponsorship appeals are hearings de novo is a significant tool for us to win cases.

Q: What is the craziest case you have handled?

A: I have handled many “crazy” cases over the years. Back in 2007, when I was an articling student at Green & Spiegel LLP in Toronto, I helped a couple from Hungary whose Spousal Sponsorship was refused. The husband was 70 years old and his spouse was 19 years old at the time. The husband had been married many times before in Canada and he was getting back to his roots in Hungary. We called many witnesses at the IAD and the best witnesses were the parents of the spouse. They were much younger than the husband but they got along with him very well. They gave extensive testimony about how he treated her as his wife and they were fully supportive of the relationship. Despite the 51 year age difference, we won the appeal.

Sometimes the “crazy” cases seem very normal at first. Another case I handled involved a sweet couple from India. On paper, they were the perfect couple. They came from families who were very well connected and they had known of each other for many years prior to the marriage. Their wedding was a large, traditional ceremony with more than 1000 people who celebrated. They provided extensive evidence of their history and their relationship.

Q: So why was that one refused?

A: I did an investigation into the application and discovered that the bride’s sister was promised to a man from another family. At the last minute, she refused to get married and he was deeply affected. His family was very angry and they sought revenge. We discovered that his family called the Canadian Immigration Hotline and they reported that the marriage of my clients was a sham. The CIC Officer took notes and included a “poison pen letter” in the file with details.

Q: Did you win?

A: Yes, we were able to prepare our clients and they gave testimony on the situation. The IAD accepted that the “poison pen letter” was not credible and we won the appeal.Spousal Sponsorship Appeal

Q: What is the biggest challenge with Sponsorship Appeals?

A: One challenge is the long wait. From the time we file the Spousal Sponsorship appeal, it can take up to 18 months until we actually have our hearing at the tribunal. During these 18 months, we advise our clients to be with their spouse and/or their families. It is very important that they maintain a strong relationship right up to the date of the hearing. We work with the IAD to get a positive result as quickly as possible.

Q: Which case are you most proud of?

A: I love these appeals. Helping couples reunite in Canada is one of the best parts of my job. Over the course of the many months before a hearing, I get to know the families and the couple very well and it is a pleasure to be part of their lives.

One case that stands out is a case we won quite recently. The Sponsor is a refugee who has suffered medical issues and she is unable to birth a child. She met an old friend who had a son with a previous relationship. The Sponsor fell in love with her old friend and his son and they dreamed of having a life together in Canada. She filed the Sponsorship application but it was refused because the CIC Officer did not believe the marriage was genuine. This was a complex case and we called many witnesses. There were issues with interpretation and credibility. Part of the problems was that she had previously tried to sponsor a spouse and she admitted that it was only for immigration. In the end, we won the appeal and our client is with her son in Canada. Her husband (the Applicant) will be joining them soon.

Q: Thank you for your time!