CBC National News: Loopholes

Alastair was recently interviewed by CBC The National news on the topic of loopholes in the immigration system. There have recently been reports of individuals who are crossing at the Ports of Entry into Canada using a loophole in the law that was not widely known. These individuals are helping family members enter Canada through the loophole.

For the full interview, click here to watch this clip from CBC News.

From an immigration perspective, this so-called loophole is not new. It has always been in the law; however, based on the chaos and anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States, the loophole was rarely used by immigrants and refugee claimants who were in Canada. Prior to the current situation in the United States where many people from around the world recognize the pro-immigrant culture of Canada, they realize how Canada is much different from the United States.

We expect that the numbers of individuals and families who are crossing the border into Canada to increase as long as the US Government continues its rhetoric that shows discrimination and anti-immigrant sentiment.

In the meantime, we will continue to fight for our clients and make sure that everyone has their rights protected.

We continue to implore the government to suspend or repeal the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA). We have been calling for change for almost 2 years when it became clear that the Agreement, and the loopholes within it, are causing unnecessary danger and risk to people simply seeking safety.

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.

Major Changes to Medical Procedures

We recently had a conference call with IRCC regarding the major changes in policy to the treatment of cases with medical issues. These cases involve family members with health problems that may cause “excessive demand” on Canadian resources. Our office has been assisting many families with many cases of medical inadmissibility. The Warkentin case, filed with Federal Court, was key to having the policies changed.

It has been a pleasure to work with the Warkentin family and the community. We are thrilled and honored that our hard work has paid off. This has been a national effort and I applaud our colleagues in Toronto, in particular Adrienne Smith and all her hard work.

The changes have been reported on the IRCC website included a few details on the changes to how they process allegations of medical inadmissibility. The two (2) major changes listed are:

The new policy on medical inadmissibility strikes a balance between protecting publicly funded health and social services and updating the policy to bring it in line with current views on the inclusion of persons with disabilities. The changes include:

  • increasing the cost threshold for medical inadmissibility to 3 times the previous level, and

  • amending the definition of social services by removing references to special education, social and vocational rehabilitation services and personal support services.

This case has also been reported in the Winnipeg Free Press in an article by Carol Sanders. Here is an excerpt that that article:

On Monday, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Ahmed Hussen announced changes to the medical inadmissibility provision of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act so that Canada’s immigration policies “better align with Canadian values and reflect the importance that the government places on the inclusion of persons with disabilities.”

“This is really good news,” Winnipeg lawyer Alastair Clarke said after a conference call with Jon Warkentin and federal immigration officials Monday.

“We’re changing the law,” he said of those who spoke out against the 40-year-old immigration policy.

“If it did, then that’s great,” said Jon Warkentin by phone from the family’s home 320 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg in Waterhen. “That’s what we were hoping for, for some changes there. If our family was part of that, then that’s great.”

The Warkentin family have been pillars of the community in western Manitoba. Our goal is to help all families achieve their goals – for their benefit as well as the benefit to Canada. In our practice, we often see that the contributions of the families with medical inadmissibility issues are overlooked. We firmly believe that our clients are truly beneficial to Canadian society and they represent the future of our country.

Have you or any friends or family been accused of medical inadmissibility?

Currently, the law is in a state of flux. The IRCC policy changes have been announced; however, all the cases in the inventory within the government may be reassessed.

The relevant section of the law in IRPA sets out the section:

(1) A foreign national is inadmissible on health grounds if their health condition

  • (a) is likely to be a danger to public health;

  • (b) is likely to be a danger to public safety; or

  • (c) might reasonably be expected to cause excessive demand on health or social services.

Any applicants who may fall under the above section of Canadian immigration law may have their applications reconsidered under the new procedures. We highly recommend that any applications with medical issues be reexamined by a professional, certified immigration lawyer to make sure the cases are handled properly. Feel free to contact our office directly with any questions or concerns.

Strangers in New Homelands Conference – 3 Nov 2017

Please note that Alastair Clarke will be on a panel at the Strangers in New Homelands Conference at CanadInns Polo Park in Winnipeg. He will be discussing Immigration Policies, Practices, and Canada’s Refugee Determination Process with his panelists, the Western Region Assistant Deputy Chairperson of the RPD (Vancouver) Karin Michnick and Dr. Shauna Labman, Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Law and the University of Manitoba.

Some of the issues the panel will cover include:

  • current procedures of claiming refugee status in Canada
  • the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA)
  • issues at the tribunal (IRB-RPD)
  • rights of appeal after a negative decision by an RPD Member
  • Overseas Protection
  • Private Sponsorships and refugees
  • Government Assisted Refugees
  • Secondary migration of resettled refugees

Questions are welcome and encouraged.

The program for the conference is 62 pages and we have included an excerpt below with details of the panel on Friday, November 3rd. If you would like a program (11MB), please contact that office. 

Here is a description of the Strangers in New Homelandsconference by the Conference Chair, Dr. Michael Baffoe:

We are delighted to welcome you all to the special tenth anniversary edition, of our annual conference, Strangers in New Homelands: Deconstructing and Reconstructing of ‘Home’ Among Immigrants and Refugees in the Diaspora.

This annual gathering of researchers, academics, and practitioners in the migration field, an idea mooted by Conference Chair Michael Baffoe (University of Manitoba), Dr. Lewis Asimeng-Boahene (Penn State University-Harrisburg) and Dr. Buster Ogbuagu (University of St. Francis, Joliet, IL) began modestly in 2008. The dream of growing that initial idea into a larger annual event bringing together critical stakeholders in the field of migration has really borne fruits and brought us to where we are today…ten years later. We are proud and satisfied for mooting this idea and, with the help of many of the people gathered here, especially members of the Conference Committee, for making this event a success.

This year’s conference is being held at a very critical time in world migration history. World migration is now a reality. The world has been witnessing unprecedented displacement and movements of people from their homes into other countries, especially to Europe seeking safety as well as better life conditions. The images of these mass movements are sometimes nerve-wrecking and difficult to watch. This is a new form of diasporic movement in which desperate people are challenging the existing national borders of nation states.

These challenges have brought out the best and worse in some of the nation states: some have received and welcomed these desperate people with open arms while others have shut their borders with barbed wires leaving the desperate people to their fate. Erecting barbed wires and pushing desperate people into the cold will not stop people from moving to seek new homelands. Driven by push-pull factors, the concept of geography of opportunity has taught us that erecting barbed wires or “beautiful walls” made of concrete or steel, would not solve the problem. It is therefore pertinent to find innovative ways for meeting these new challenges. As Karen Armstrong succinctly puts it, “our differences define us, but our common humanity can redeem us”. The societies into which the migrants seek to settle, and the migrants need each other for their mutual benefits. The diversity that migrants bring should therefore be seen as assets, which can enrich the host societies as well.

The exchanges of ideas and discussions that will take place at this conference will be essential for those who design and implement immigration and refugee policies and settlement, as well as those who provide services to, and work with, immigrant and refugee groups. These exchanges are more crucial than ever and we should continue to engage in these discussions as well as engage policy makers and governments to embrace the reality of world migration and the challenges and opportunities that the phenomenon offers.

For those of you who were here in previous years, we welcome you back to this tenth anniversary edition of this annual gathering. For those of you participating for the first time, we welcome you to this conference, and to the Province of Manitoba. We hope to see you all again at subsequent conferences until we solve, or at least attenuate, the lingering issues and challenges that confront migrants around the world every day.

Strangers in New Homelands Program (excerpt):
Strangers in New Homelands

SCC Decision: Conditional Sentences

Today, the Supreme Court rendered an important decision on the rights of permanent residents with criminality issues. The Tran decision from Federal Court of Appeal was overturned and the highest court in Canada has held that “conditional” sentences from criminal court are not considered “imprisonment”. This has a huge impact on minor convictions where the Sentencing Judge have a conditional sentence to the offender. Those Permanent Residents were subject to harsh treatment by CBSA and, in turn, the tribunal and they faced deportation.

Here is a key section from the decision by Justice Côté, paragraphs 32 to 34:

If s. 36(1)(a) is interpreted such that a conditional sentence is a “term of imprisonment”, absurd consequences will follow. As previously mentioned, conditional sentences are “for less serious and non-dangerous offenders” (Proulx, at para. 21). Thus, more serious crimes may be punished by jail sentences that are shorter than conditional sentences imposed for less serious crimes ― shorter because they are served in jail rather than in the community. It would be an absurd outcome if, for example, “less serious and non-dangerous offenders” sentenced to seven-month conditional sentences were deported, while more serious offenders receiving six-month jail terms were permitted to remain in Canada. Public safety, as an objective of the IRPA  (s. 3(1) (h)), is not enhanced by deporting less culpable offenders while allowing more culpable persons to remain in Canada.

   It would also be absurd for offenders to seek prison sentences instead of conditional sentences so that they can remain in Canada, as Mr. Tran has done in this case. Conditional sentences are designed as an alternative to incarceration in order to encourage rehabilitation, reduce the rate of incarceration, and improve the effectiveness of sentencing (Proulx, at para. 20). These objectives would be sabotaged if individuals who are subject to conditional sentences sought to replace them with prison terms, thinking the latter to be their only path for a future in the Canadian communities from which incarceration would remove them.

For these reasons, the phrase “term of imprisonment” in s. 36(1) (a) of the IRPA  cannot, by either standard of review, be understood to include conditional sentences.

As noted above, the Tran decision from the FCA has caused harsh, even “absurd” consequences for our clients. We strongly agree with Justice Côté’s decision and this has had an immediate impact on one of our clients.

12 Month Conditional Sentence

Our client was given a 12 Month Conditional Sentence in Feb 2017 and his matter was referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Immigration Division. Based on the SCC Tran decision, he now has a good chance of staying in Canada with his Canadian children. His conditional sentence will now not be counted as “imprisonment” and, therefore, the SCC decision will have a strong positive impact on his case.

Congratulations to Peter and all the lawyers who worked on the Tran decision!

WFP: American family gets another chance to stay in Canada

Clarke immigration law has been representing the American family with their application for Permanent Resident Status in Canada through the MPNP-Business program. The media has been extremely supportive and this American family has received significant support from their rural community in Manitoba and across Canada.

The Winnipeg Free Press published an article with an update yesterday. Here is an excerpt:

MPNP

MPNP

The Warkentin family, faced with a looming deportation deadline, learned this week Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is allowing them to renew their application for permanent residency.

“Canada is letting us reopen our file and we have 60 days to resubmit more information and show our worthiness,” Jon Warkentin said over the phone from the family-owned Harvest Lodge outfitting business on the Waterhen River.

The Warkentins came to Canada from Colorado in 2013 to operate the outfitting business. They applied for permanent residency, intending to put down roots in the village of Waterhen, about 320 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg.

A year after they arrived, the family was given a bleak diagnosis: the youngest of Jon and wife Karissa’s four children, then-three-year-old daughter Karalynn, had epilepsy and global-developmental delay.

The diagnosis threw a bureaucratic wrench into the family’s dreams of staying in Canada.

Ottawa denied their application this spring on the grounds Karalynn might cause “excessive demand” on health or social services in this country. As a result, the entire family faced being the imminent prospect of being forced out of the country when their current work permit expired Nov. 24.

This summer, they hired Winnipeg lawyer Alastair Clarke to explore their options.

Clarke worked through the bureaucracy, trying to convince federal officials to give the family a second shot. At the same time, he filed a motion in to have a federal judge look at the case.

It was the bureaucracy that came through first, Warkentin said, adding the family now has the choice of withdrawing the court action. The second chance offered this week gives the Warkentins what they wanted from a judge, without the need for time in court.

“The permanent residency is back in process, and they qualify for an extension to their work permit,” Clarke said.

Click here to read the full story by Alexandra Paul.

We will continue to support this American family with their goals of coming to Canada. This family came to invest in Manitoba as business leaders. They have invested more than $600,000.00 in Canada and, we believe, they will be contributing to Canada for decades in the future.

Global News: Immigration Canada reopens application

We want to thank Global News for highlighting our cases. The media attention and support from the community has been helpful to bring light to these important issues. We use all the tools available to us to make sure our clients get positive results.

Here is an excerpt from the article posted on Global News:

The decision to reopen the family’s case comes after more than a month of back and forth between the Department of Justice, which represents Immigration Canada in legal matters, and the family’s lawyer, Alastair Clarke.

Clarke said the decision by Immigration Canada to overturn its earlier ruling – which would have seen the Warkentins and their four children sent back to the United States once their temporary working visas expire in November – is a direct result of public pressure and attention placed upon the government following Global News’ in-depth look into the family’s situation.

“We received notification today from [Immigration Canada] that they have reversed their decision and reopened the Warkentin application,” said Clarke, who argued the government overlooked important information and relied on unfounded medical diagnoses when initially denying the family’s application. “We have been working on this file for a long time and thank you to Global News for all the coverage in addition to all the public support.”

For the full article, please visit the Global News website. For this case, we have also been working with the MP’s office as well as MPNP. We will continue to work on this file to make sure that Jon and Karissa’s status in Canada is secure. We believe that this result was achieved through our litigation strategy to make sure that we use all our resources to ensure that IRCC Officers fully consider all the circumstances of the case. In cases where the IRCC Officer has not fully considered all the information, we want to work with Officers and Managers to make sure they understand all the important aspects of the application.

We will be continuing to work on medical inadmissibility files and helping to assist families in Manitoba. If you or your loved ones need legal assistance, please contact our office.

“Warkentin family still battling to overturn a decision from Immigration Canada”

FROM 730CKDM.COM: 

The Warkentin family from Waterhen are still battling to overturn a decision from Immigration Canada which denied them Permanent Resident status because of their daughter’s disability.

The family has hired Alastair Clarke, an immigration lawyer from Winnipeg to handle their case.

Clarke provides some insight to Immigration Canada’s decision.

“Unfortunately medical inadmissibility are not uncommon. Generally the individuals who face this type of issue come to me before a refusal. In this case the Warkentin family responded to the fairness letter, submitted all the evidence and then after it was refused, that’s when they came.”

If the decision cannot be reversed, the Warkentins could face moving back to the U.S. by November of this year, when their visas run out.

“Seeking Asylum: How ‘very skilled’ asylum seekers are contributing to Manitoba’s economy”

FROM GLOBALNEWS.CA

WINNIPEG — It’s a dangerous trek asylum seekers are making by the hundreds as they flee a fear of deportation and look to call Canada home.

It’s a story that is very familiar to Yahya Samatar. The Somalian now lives and works in Winnipeg after illegally crossing into the country in August 2015.

“That decision was quite difficult,” Samatar said. “But it was the only option I had.”

Samatar was a human rights activist in his home country and helped young children get out of the militia. However, it was a tough job that put his life in danger daily.

[…]

How Things Have Changed

For many of the 350 refugees seeking asylum in Manitoba since January 2017, it will likely take much longer than the average 60 days for their claim to be approved or denied.

The tribunal schedules time for two claims to be heard each day, one seating in the morning and one in the afternoon.

However, depending on how complicated cases are they could take much longer.

Immigration lawyers handling many of the cases in Winnipeg are overwhelmed.

Alastair Clarke has more than 80 open cases waiting to be heard by the tribunal and said many that have dates are being cancelled.

“Right now, I have hearings once or twice per week,” Clarke said. “These cases are moving through the system so slowly and so many of these hearings are being postponed.”

Last week, Clarke said five of the seven hearings set to go before the tribunal were postponed and no new dates were given.

Read the full article…

Presentation: Refugee Crisis in Manitoba

Please note that Alastair Clarke accepted an invitation to present at Menno Simons College tomorrow on the Refugee Crisis in Manitoba. Regular readers of this blog will know that Clarke Immigration Law has provided legal services to many of the refugee claimants who are coming to Canada from the United States. Many of this people, including women and children, are crossing on foot.

The event itself is from 12:30-1:20. Each presenter has 10 minutes to share on some aspect of the current migrant refugee crisis affecting out city and surrounding areas.

Though our event is over lunchtime, we are only able to provide a snack.

Alastair will be talking about  areas of refugee law:

  1. How the Safe Third Country Agreement is putting the people at risk
  2. An overview of the relevant sections of IRPA

The main focus of the presentation is to answer questions from the public and to engage discussion on these important issues. There has been a huge increase in the numbers of people who have been entering Manitoba and this refugee crisis is only going to get worse as the weather gets warmer and it becomes easier to cross. In addition, there is no indication that the American government is taking any steps to help the refugee claimants on their side of their border.