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.

MPNP Investors Conference

Thank you for all those who attended or participated in the EB5 Immigration Investors conference in Las Vegas. In particular, I want to thank those who attended my panel on Canada – MPNP Investors’ streams. The conference was a great opportunity for professionals from around the globe to connect on projects and to share ideas. Increasingly, clients are looking global for immigration solutions and our panel on international options was extremely well attended (standing room only!). Initially, they may be focused on New York or Miami and then, when they explore Canadian options, they need experienced counsel to guide through Canadian immigration law.

MPNP Investor

We were able to connect with lawyers, agents and other professionals from India, China, Vietnam, UK, Hong Kong, Cypress, Grenada and many other jurisdictions. Overall, the EB5 conference was a huge success and all the staff at Clarke Immigration Law is excited to work with business leaders and investors.

During our panel on MPNP, we received many good questions on the program. As noted by the Manitoba government, the Business Investor Stream reopened in Q1 of 2018 (Entrepreneur Pathway). The government has continued to focus on strong applications that includes evidence from investors who genuine interest in Canada and a sound track record of solid business acumen.

On a side note, I will add that Las Vegas was a lot of fun. At Clarke Immigration Law, we firmly believe in building relationships. Our personal connections with professionals from around the world help our clients and the benefits of networking go both ways. I look forward to making good referrals to our new connections and I hope if we receive referrals that we will handle the matters to fruition.

MPNP Investor

If you would like a copy of our MPNP Investors Powerpoint presentation from the conference, please contact Heavenly in our office. She may be able to assist with that request.

If you are interested in retaining our services for an MPNP Investor/ Entrepreneur application, please contact our office directly. We guarantee that a staff member will return your request in a timely fashion.

For more information on the EB5 conferences, please click here to navigate their website. They have recently put up a video from the conference. The next conference will be held in Vietnam next month and I wish the best to all the speakers and presenters.

 

Permanent Residence By Phone

Effective 1 DEC 2017, IRCC announced a pilot project that allows some applicants for Permanent Resident status to complete their application by phone. Thus far, the pilot project has only been available for Canada Experience Class applicants. That said, IRCC has been open to applicants who are in rural areas. As noted by IRCC:

The benefit of this pilot project is that clients who are already in Canada do not have to travel to an IRCC office or leave and re-enter Canada in order to be confirmed as a PR, potentially saving clients both time and money.

This program for Permanent Residence by phone may benefit many individuals who do not have easy access to Winnipeg or other urban centres.

Telephone Landing

permanent residence by phone

This program is suitable for PR applicants who do not have access to IRCC Offices. Normally, an Officer would confer the PR status face-to-face after the applicants have been approved. The “telephone landing” gives the applicants the ease and convenience of getting the last step done without having to fly or drive long distances to the nearest IRCC Office.

Permanent Residence By Phone

Currently, we are working to assist the Warkentin family who reside in Waterhen, Manitoba and they may be able to use the pilot program. Their home in Waterhen is +3 hours drive to the nearest IRCC Office.

The Winnipeg Free Press reported on this story last week. As noted by Carol Saunders in an excerpt below:

“Under normal procedures for landed permanent residents, they come to Winnipeg to meet with an officer,” said Clarke. “They will be asked questions to confirm there have been no significant changes in their situation, then permanent residence status will be conferred,” he said. “That’s the final step.”

The pilot project would allow some — who’ve already filled out reams of paperwork, met all the requirements and been approved to stay in Canada — to finalize the process by phone. Once a permanent residence application has been approved, the applicants will be sent an email from an address ending in “@cic.gc.ca” or a message through their IRCC online accounts inviting them to be confirmed as a permanent resident by telephone, the federal department said in an online notice.

After applicants complete their telephone interview, they will then have their confirmation of permanent resident status either mailed to them or uploaded in their IRCC online account, it said.

The immigration department says that applicants cannot request to be included in the pilot project but Clarke said his office plans to contact IRCC about the Warkentins “and suggest that they are ideal candidates.”

If you believe that you or your family should be conferred permanent residence by phone, please contact our office and we can arrange a consultation to determine whether you are also good candidates.

CBC News: Expedited Processing

CBC News Reporter Karen Pauls published a piece today on the expedited processing of claims at the tribunal. We have had success with these procedures and they are open to certain applications that are made to the tribunal. As noted in the article, the average processing time for these cases can take 14 to 18 months and there is currently a significant backlog of cases. Through the special processing, some clients are able to access these procedures so they do not have to wait.

An excerpt from the CBC News article on expedited processing is below. The full article is posted on their website.Expedited Processing

The Immigration and Refugee Board is clearing about 160 claims per month using an expedited process that eliminates the need for hearings in straightforward refugee claims for people from seven countries.

It’s a “win-win situation” – for the IRB, which is already facing a backlog of refugee claims as a result of the flood of asylum seekers walking over the border this year – and for the people filing those claims, says Winnipeg lawyer Alastair Clarke.

“For the claimant, they essentially get two kicks at the can and they potentially have an early positive decision. Secondly, for the tribunal, because they save resources. They don’t have to have a hearing, they don’t have to expend additional time to hear oral evidence, and they can review a case based only on the documents,” Clarke said.

“Our job is to do our best to make sure all the potential issues are dealt with in the supporting documents. And once it gets to an adjudicator, it’s up to him or her to decide whether or not what we’ve submitted is sufficient to meet the test.”

If you believe that your case is suitable for expedited processing, please contact our office and book a consultation. 

 

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

IRB Wait Times

Based on the backlog at the tribunal, our clients have experienced significant wait times for their hearings to be heard and decided. The IRB has been overwhelmed by new cases. This has been well reported in the news. Currently, most cases at the IRB are being postponed for “administrative reasons”. Please note that this does not put the case at risk and counsel do not have the power to set new hearing dates. Where an applicant or claimant has an urgent situation, counsel can make a request to the IRB for consideration.IRB Wait Times

Global News was in our office reporting on this issue. In case you missed it, here is a link to the story.

A reporter from Global, Timm Bruch visited our office to get more information about the wait times at the IRB. Here is an excerpt from his story:

The number of asylum seekers in Manitoba waiting to hear if they can stay in their new homes is going up.

According to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, 40,000 asylum seekers are currently backlogged to have their refugee claims heard.

The number has skyrocketed in recent years due to federal funding, staff limitations, and an intense influx of those coming to Canada through non-border crossings in recent years.

Based on our numbers, this is a very serious issue and we are working with staff at the IRB.

Clarke said Tuesday many of his clients are feeling anxious due to the uncertainty the delay brings.

“While he’s waiting and doesn’t know what’s going on, he’s worried about what might happen,” Clarke said. “He’s worried he might have to go back, he’s worried about his family in his home country.”

24,000 claims are processed each year — up from 20,000 previously — but the Immigration and Refugee Board said on Tuesday that it’s just not enough.

The winter months in 2016 brought an influx of asylum seekers to Manitoba’s borders, and the number in 2017 has already started increasing as the weather gets colder: 45 people have already crossed into the province this month, just ten days into October.

We work closely with the tribunal on all our files. For hearings and appeals, please let our office aware of your situation and we may be able to contact the tribunal. We treat every case as a unique situation and we advocate for our clients. We attend hearings at the IRB – all levels, including the RPD, the ID and the IAD – frequently and we assist clients with every type of immigration appeal.

If you or your contacts have upcoming hearings at the tribunal, please contact our office and we may be able to assist.

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.

Sierra Leone Mudslides

With sadness, we will be attending a fundraiser for the missing people in Freetown, Sierra Leone. We have clients who are residing in Sierra Leone and they have been directly affected by the catastrophe that is ongoing. If you wish to join, the Canada Sierra Leone Friendship Society has invited us to their event:

  • West End Commons
  • Friday, August 25th ,  2017
  • 6:00PM start

A silver donation will be collected at the door for those affected by the mudslides in Sierra Leone. The Friendship Society is asking for emergency humanitarian assistance to help in the wake of this tragic occurrence.

Canada 150 and the Meaning of Citizenship

Last week, I attended a ceremony for 80 new citizens as a guest of Friends of Filipino Immigrants in Manitoba. The room was packed with folks from 18 different countries all coming together to celebrate becoming Canadian. The atmosphere was festive, bordering on jubilant. A choir of children started the national anthem and we all joined in. Some sang in English and others in French. And the Citizenship Judge, Dwight MacAulay, reminded us of some of the key events over the past 150 years that have built this country before he bestowed the prize that each of them had been waiting to receive: Canadian citizenship.Canadian Citizenship

As an immigration lawyer, I toil away trying to fix all the problems that come across my desk but I realized during the ceremony that it is also important to step back sometimes and remember the prize: Canadian Citizenship. It is so easy to take it for granted.

In the wake of everything going on south of the border, or across the oceans, I truly believe that we should be celebrating more of what we have accomplished in Canada. We have our problems here, of course. We are not immune from hate speech, racism and ignorance. But I also believe that we have achieved significant milestones in terms of cultural awareness and celebrating our differences. It may be trite to say but our diversity is our strength.

With each family filing up to greet the Citizenship Judge, I could not help but wonder how they came to Canada and all the possible strife they may have had to overcome to get to that moment. How many of them arrived as refugees? How many had to fight for refugee status? How many were sponsored by a family member? How many came as international students and figured out how to stay? There are so many potential paths and yet they all lead to one potential prize.

My mum said to us growing up, “never miss an opportunity to celebrate.” Our day to day work is focused so much on resolving issues, mitigating risk and finding solutions to problems (some of them created by our clients while others are based on jaw-dropping miscarriages of justice), we can easily lose sight of the importance of celebration and reminding ourselves of everything we have to be thankful for.

As noted by Dwight MacAulay, who gave a speech from the heart, the 80 new Canadians immediately made Canada a better place to live. Each immigrant brings skills, knowledge, and life experience to share. I was reminded of the Syrian refugees out east who rebooted their chocolate business, my Burundi client who is starting his IT company and my American clients with their hunting lodge in rural Manitoba. Not to mention my client who came as a refugee and now works for Air Canada (and is one of their best employees, IMHO) or the Chinese clients who bought a dairy farm. So many success stories. Our diversity is truly amazing.

OK – back to work. I need to help some more folks get closer to their prize. In the meantime, if you, dear reader, are Canadian, I hope you have spent a moment to be thankful for the prize you have before you have to get back to trying to solve the wrongs in the world.

*Republished from Slaw.ca