Feature: Harvest Lodge

Harvest Lodge and the Warkentin family are always close to our hearts. This American family immigrated to Canada through the MPNP-BIS Warkentin familystream and they have built a strong business in Waterhen, Manitoba. Jon and his family take extremely good care of their guests and they have a solid 5 STAR rating on Google Business as well as a 5 STAR rating on TripAdvisor. I just spoke with Jon and they are open for bookings for Summer 2020. Please be mindful of travel restrictions from your neck of the woods. Currently, folks traveling from BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, the territories and northwestern Ontario are free to travel to Manitoba without any quarantine period. 

 

This is an opportunity for Manitobans to have a great vacation without leaving the province. Jon and his family are excellent hosts who can guide you on hunting and fishing adventures along Waterhen River or on any of the neighbouring lakes.

I was reading the reviews from guests and they are full of praise. Here is a review published on TripAdvisor from a Texan (MAJGabe) who stayed at Harvest Lodge with his 3 buddies:

We didn’t get in until around 11pm, but John and Karissa stayed up, welcomed us, had some snacks, and got us settled in. The accommodations were just perfect, and more than what I would have imagined. 4 grown men in a 3 bedroom cabin… […] and we each harvested a large chocolate black bear within 90 minutes of each other. Clayton (the guide) did an amazing job skinning, and we brought a portable vacuum sealer, so we immediately deboned it, sealed it, and put it in the freezer. Then we fished for the rest of the week. Maybe we drank too, I don’t remember. But we caught so much walleye that we limited out every day, put enough in the freezer to take home, and had a couple fish fry’s. Their entire operation is top notch, and their family felt like our family from the first day, and even more by the last. I would definitely recommend, and I want to come back for some waterfowl (hint hint). Thanks guys for an amazing time!

Please contact Harvest Lodge for their current programs and events. Depending on the season, they offer:Harvest Lodge

  • Six day Black Bear Hunt
  • Three day Waterfowl Package
  • Six day Whitetail Deer Hunt
  • Wolf/ Coyote Hunt

For the packages above, world class fishing may be included at no additional charge and the Warkentins take care of all the proper licensing regulations. Meals are provided by the lodge as part of the packages; however, if you prefer, there is a general store with groceries, gas and liquor for guests. Free parking is available, of course.

For the family, Harvest Lodge also offers bird-watching, tubing along the Waterhen River and a playground. During the winter months, the area offers snowmobiling adventures and, if you are lucky, amazing views of the northern lights.

As an immigration law firm, we have the pleasure of working with business owners to help them realize their goals. At the same time, business owners, like the Warkentin family, help to grow Manitoba and provide jobs to residents. If you and your family are thinking about a lodge in Manitoba, please send Jon an email and consider Harvest Lodge for your vacation!

 

Manitoba Phase 2 Reopening

Based on the sacrifice and hard work of Manitobans, the province is very safe. We are extremely grateful for the good governance in our province to manage services during this COVID-19 pandemic. We are in contract with first responders, health care professionals regularly to ensure we have updated information for our clients. On Friday, I participated in a high level call with Minister Marco Mendicino (IRCC), organized by the Canadian Bar Association. The federal government as well as the provincial government have been working hard to manage our immigration system. Today marks Manitoba’s Phase 2 reopening and we hope that residents will continue to be conscientious of physical distancing guidelines.

Phase 2

At Clarke Immigration Law, we made significant changes in JAN2020 and we continue to adapt to the circumstances. Our goal is to operate in a manageable capacity without sacrificing the safety of our clients or our staff. We regularly review all of the options and variables to ensure that we can provide the best quality of service.

To date, Manitoba has only had 295 confirmed COVID-19 cases for a population of more than 1,200,000 residents and ZERO patients are in hospital. For comparison, our neighbours in North Dakota have more than 2,365 confirmed COVID-19 cases in a population of only 762,000. As per the graph, courtesy of Manitoba Health, there have been very few cases for weeks. I am not going to guess the myriad reasons why there are so many more cases in the USA on a per capita basis. It could be poor leadership. It could be poor services. It could be poor health care. It could be poor physical distancing. Regardless, Manitobans should be proud how we have managed this pandemic thus far.

For Phase 2, many businesses will be reopening, at different levels. I spoke with a business owner yesterday who was very excited to open his business at 50% capacity. Public gatherings of up to 25 people inside are now allowed and up to 50 people outside. Businesses & activities to resume include:

  • Golf courses
  • Gyms (limited)
  • Restaurants (limited)
  • School services (limited)
  • Bars (limited)
  • Bowling Alleys
  • Nail Salons
  • Tattoo Parlors
  • Sports activities for children (group max 25)
  • Daycares (group max 25)
  • School playgrounds

For more information on the government’s plan to reopen, please consult the details of Phase 2.  The PDF with additional details is also available.

We are assisting many clients who are eager to come to Canada. Please contact our office to book a consultation. 

Success: Request for Reconsideration

We specialize in fixing messes. A businessman came to us with 2 previous TRV refusals. He hired an immigration consultant to help him and, as you can imagine, it was a poor decision. It should have been an easy TRV application. His son is an international student at the University of Manitoba. His wife has a valid TRV and she is able to come and go from Canada as much as she likes. The consultant, however, messed up his application and he was denied. Then the consultant offered to “fix” the application at no additional fees and, I suppose, the businessman thought this would be a good option as it did not cost him any more money. The second TRV was also refused. The Applicant’s decision did not cost money but it meant that he could not visit his son in Manitoba.

Request for Reconsideration

We took the case and we cleaned up the mess. We were able to put together a strong TRV application that addressed the issues for the previous refusals. The Visa Officer refused, as expected, due to the previous refusals. We then made a Request for Reconsideration and we were able to connect with a Manager who gave our application proper attention. Finally, after much work, the TRV was approved.

Fixing messes is not an easy task. In this case, we were able to build a good application and the immigration consultant was clearly incompetent. In fact, when Alastair was on vacation in Toronto, he stopped by the consultant’s address to check out the office. It was a fake address. This consultant specializes in signing clients from Dubai, UAE who cannot see that his office is fake. He is registered with ICCRC and we could not find any previous complaints. Our client opted not to file a complaint because he did not want to get further involved and he was worried that it may impact his family. Similar Toronto firms have been caught. My guess is the consultant continues to find wealthy clients in Dubai who pay $$$$ for poor services.

We cannot guarantee positive results. Our only guarantee is that we will work hard and do everything in our power for our clients. Submitting a Request for Reconsideration is not an easy process. The Applicant must first submit a strong application so that a Manager can clearly see the circumstances and potential that the Applicant is the victim. In this case, we were successful with our Request for Reconsideration and the businessman was able to come to Winnipeg to visit his son at the University of Manitoba. It is our pleasure to reunite families and see the smiles. This is why we love our work!

Click here for 12 tips for finding a good representative.

Legal Fees Increase (Not Ours)

Canadian Lawyer magazine has published its annual survey of legal fees for 2020. Please note these results may be prior to COVID19 and the pandemic. Here at Clarke Immigration Law, we have continued to provide flexible payment plans to our clients and we want to provide support to folks who are struggling financially. Legal Fees

The key finding from the 2020 survey is simply that legal fees across Canada are going up. The increase varies depending on the region and the area of law. We have published extensively on legal fees over the years and we have done our best to dispel many myths, including the false claim that Immigration Consultants are cheaper. We have reviewed many invoices from representatives and consultants charging clients very high fees. For example, we represented a family on a Spousal Sponsorship Appeal at the IRB-IAD and our fees, as published, were $6,500. This family had retained a consultant who initially told them she would charge $4,000; however, then she advised that due to the “complexity” of the issues, she needed an extra $4,000 so her total fees would be $8,000. So they fired her. Good decision. In the end, we won and I advised that they sue their former consultant in Small Claims Court.

I have published our review on the Legal Fees for 2019 on this site. I have also published some posts on reports of clients who have been grossly overcharged and they are the victims of abuse. I have also compared our fees with other Canadian law firms who publish their fees online. As noted by Canadian Lawyer Magazine:

Significantly more survey respondents reported they’d be raising their fees this year than last — 53 per cent, which is nearly 10-per-cent higher than said the same in 2019. For 45 per cent, fees will remain the same as 2019. Only 1.2 per cent indicated they were lowering fees in 2020, but that is an increase from 2019, when zero respondents reported dropping their fees.

Whether the slowdown in the economy caused by the pandemic will cause a shift in legal spending remains to be seen.

Higher overhead was the most common reason respondents gave for a decision to raise fees, followed by inflation and then increased complexity. For the small number who lowered fees, it was competition and the economy that motivated the decision.

If you read this space, you know that the fees at Clarke Immigration Law are based on our professional experience working at the largest immigration law firm on Bay Street in Toronto, Ontario, fees from Legal Aid Ontario and the private bar in Ontario, as well as fees from other private law firms in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Unfortunately, we have seen many cases of significant unethical billing practices from lawyers and consultants. Very poor billing practices. For these reasons, we are focused on providing the best services and being 100% transparent with our legal fees.

To be clear, our fees will not be increasing for 2020. We continue to believe that our fees are fair, based on the work done of the files. You can read our reviews on Google (4.9 stars out of 5). Our clients are incredibly supportive and they recognize the high quality of work.

Here is the above information in a clear chart for 2020, including fees for CLARKE IMMIGRATION LAW and the fees published by Canadian Lawyer Magazine for Western Canada:

SERVICES OUR FEES FEES – WESTERN AVERAGE
Work Permit $1,800 $2,061
Family Class sponsorship $5,500 $5,200
Skilled Worker Application $5,500 $6,388
Refugee Protection Claim starting at $3,500 $5,750

As you can see, our clients receive quality services at very competitive prices for Western Canada.

WARNING: I want to warn clients from a common practice. I have seen many immigration lawyers & consultants provide clients a low initial quote for services. For example, they will ask for $800 to open a file for a Work Permit at the beginning. Then, they will start to work on the application and they will demand an additional $2000 to continue work. Ultimately, clients are the victims.

 

Pandemic Passports & CIB

Unsurprisingly, clients who have the financial means are seeking “pandemic passports” to secure access to countries with strong health care systems and economies. Canada, of course, is at the top of the list. This is not a new idea. I was invited by EB5 to present at an international immigration conference in Las Vegas, USA (back when we were all flying around going to conferences) and I presented on a panel for Citizenship By Investment (CIB). For those interested, I would look at:Pandemic Passports

  • Malta
  • Cyprus
  • The Grenadines

As noted by the Robb Report:

Now the super-rich are buying the ultimate insurance policy to make sure they will be able to travel to whatever virus-free, sunny bolt-hole they choose, if a second spike in Covid-19 infections triggers another global lockdown. The world’s wealthiest are snapping up multiple citizenships in countries around the world.

We have contacts at law firms to assist high Net Worth clients and we provide referrals. Please note that Canada no longer offers CIB programs and I would caution any client who is promised a “quick & easy” path to Canadian citizenship. In my mind, that sounds like a scam. We have a torrid history of politicians taking advantage of such programs and they have gone the way of the Dodo bird. (Incidentally, the United Nations was gifted a gold Dodo bird while I was there in 2003. The symbolism was unmistakable!) As far as CIL is concerned, clients who are interested in CIB and/or Pandemic Passports are not beneficial for the long term growth of the country.

Our focus is on helping clients and their families for the long term benefit of our clients and our country. We have assisted many clients through the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program – Business Investment Stream (MPNP-BIS). This is a points-based system for entrepreneurs and investors who seek to either purchase a business in Winnipeg or outside the Manitoba Capital Region (MCR) or create a new qualifying business. MPNP has published the basic requirements for interested applicants. To qualify, please book a consultation to discuss. We recommend:

  • Net Worth: +$750,000.00 CAD (NOTE: the minimum is not recommended)
  • Strong Business Plan
  • Documented Source of Funds
  • Extended Exploratory Visit to Manitoba

Successful applicants will receive temporary status in Canada and a Work Permit. Once they have worked and satisfied the MPNP Officer (note: discretionary power) on the viability of their business, they may apply for Permanent Resident status. After they are granted PR status, they may make an application for Canadian citizenship.

Indeed, “pandemic passports” may be important in the future. For individuals who value Universal Health Care and who want to contribute to a country with good governance, a fair legal system and a society based on merit, Canada may be a good option; however, the applications are neither fast nor easy.

Manitoba Reopens: Phase 1

We have posted many updates on this site and the pandemic has progressed. Like you, we are following news from around the world to monitor the situation and to provide advice to our clients. We have given interviews with the Winnipeg Free Press. We are concerned, for example, for our clients in Ecuador and Nigeria. Each jurisdiction has been handling this crisis differently, to various levels of success. Here in Canada, I am Manitobaextremely proud of how our government has handled this extreme situation. By all accounts, Canada has been faring much better than the USA, even on a per capita basis.

In Canada, Manitoba has done very well. We have very few cases and testing is easy. One of my staff was tested at a drive-through centre (negative) and results are available quickly. There is a screening tool and the province announced today they have a new website where anyone who is tested can access their results online. Easy and quick.

In a 34 page report, Manitoba has outlined 5 factors to determine when to reopen the province:

  1. LAB POSITIVITY RATE
  2. ACTIVE COVID-19 CASES
  3. HOSPITAL BEDS IN USE
  4. COMMUNITY TRANSMISSION
  5. PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE)

I am no medical expert, of course; however, I fully support the Manitoba government and we can be extremely proud of their work.

We get calls every day from folks who want to come to Manitoba for a better life. With good governance, it is understandable that many people took to Canada as the best place on earth.

It is a given that the future is uncertain. My staff will tell you that I often say, “hope for the best, plan for the worst”. In this case, it is not clear we will have a vaccine in 2020. It is more likely the vaccine will not come until 2021 or possibly 2022. We need to plan for the worst.

We remain open and we continue to work on behalf of our clients. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

Feature: Bee’s Exotic Shop

As part of our goal to promote our clients’ businesses, I am thrilled to promote Bee’s Exotic Shop, based in Brandon, Manitoba. This is a shop where customers can find exotic pieces of clothing, art, accessories and jewelry from East India. The shop owners, Bansri and Devin, are long-established residents of Brampton and they have strong connections with the local economy. Bansri’s family in India is very well respected and she has a strong entrepreneurial spirit.

During this pandemic, it is important to support and promote local small businesses. Bee’s Exotic Shop adds culture and flair to Manitoba and we are proud to support this business.

For more information, please visit their website by clicking on this link.

As we have done research for Bee’s Exotic Shop, we pleasantly discovered that Bansri is offering Henna as well! Although I have never seen her Henna work personally, I have no doubt that she is amazing. It has been a pleasure to work with her in the past and I am thrilled that she is providing this service to Manitobans.

Bansri has been building this business and establishing an online presence. Personally, I follow the business on Instagram and it is always a pleasure to see the gorgeous pieces they are selling and where to find them. They travel all over Manitoba, selling their goods at community fairs including Minnedosa, Winnipeg, Morden and many other markets!

Feature: Lena’s Simple Crafts

We are thrilled to promote our client’s online store, Lena’s Simple Crafts. You can see from her online shop that Lena is a supremely talented artist who puts her creativity into her work. Lena has traveled the world and she is currently residing in Pinawa, Manitoba. If you are in that part of Manitoba, feel free to contact Lena directly through the Etsy website. Pinawa is a close community in western Manitoba with a strong immigrant population.

Lena's Simple Crafts

Lena’s Simple Crafts

This is the first feature in this space. We are hoping to promote the small businesses of our clients and to support them as much as possible during this pandemic. During this time of crisis, we cannot underscore the importance of supporting small business owners and entrepreneurs who are the engine of our economy.

We strongly support Lena and we would encourage you to purchase art, cards and any other crafts from her online store on Etsy. Keep up the hard work!

Please note: this is not a paid advertisement. We are promoting Lena’s work for the sole reason that we want to support her work. We do not accept paid advertisements on this website.

 

Success: MPNP BIS

We are thrilled to announce our business investor clients are now Permanent Residents of Canada. This family came to us in a desperate situation and they were interested in the MPNP BIS program. They are both highly accomplished professionals. He has a background in building and managing businesses in the financial section. She has a background in health management. They were seeking a better life for themselves and their five (5) children, including two (2) adopted children. One child has significant health issues.

MPNP BIS

This photo is being used with permission and it does not depict our clients.

With hard work and strong communication with the staff at the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP) – Business Investor Stream (BIS), we were able to help this family navigate the Entrepreneur Pathway to PR status.

In this case, the family purchased a hunting and fishing lodge in rural Manitoba. The MPNP program, as well as IRCC, has expressed significant support for applicants who are interested in building rural communities. We have helped clients through the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) and the government has announced the Municipal Nominee Program to further support the particular needs of diverse communities. We fully support this idea in principle as it recognizes the need for ground-level decision making. The one-size-fits-all approach does not work.

MPNP-BIS applicants have unique challenges and Clarke Immigration Law is known internationally for our work in this area. Alastair Clarke recently attended a meeting with senior staff at MPNP to discuss results from 2019 and plans for the future. This program is important for the development of the province and it provides mutual benefit.

We are thrilled with the MPNP BIS approval for this family and the IRCC decision to grant PR status. We wish them success with their business goals and a prosperous 2020. For more information on how we can help with your MPNP BIS application, please book a consultation. 

Lessons From 2019

We find ourselves at the end of another year. Indeed, the end of 2019 also marks the end of a decade. This is a time for contemplation and an opportunity to ponder lessons to learn for the future. I want to start but expressing my thanks and gratitude for my team. I am thankful every single day to work with an amazing group of professionals who put their hearts into their work. My main job is to provide guidance and support to ensure that we remain focused on providing the absolute best service for our clients.

I want to take time at the end of 2019 to think about lessons learned; hopefully, 2020 will bring positive change.

  1. Applicants Remain Vulnerable

Over and over and over and over, we have seen how applicants have paid thousands upon thousands of CAD dollars to shady representatives for poor service. I find it deeply frustrating and infuriating to see clients punished as a result of negligence. These applicants are the victims and they remain vulnerable. I recently attended an interview with a CBSA Officer and an Egyptian client shared her story. She paid an immigration consultant $15,000.00 for an application and she was not even eligible to apply. In my view, that is pure theft.

We are working with a Vietnamese family who paid a Chinese representative for a Study Permit. Completely wrong. Thankfully, CBSA started a criminal investigation against him and I hope his former clients are not punished.

In 2019, the Government of Canada took action “to help protect vulnerable people” against “fraudulent immigration consultants”. We will have to see if things get better in 2020 and the next decade.

  1. Canada is the New Hope2019

Clarke Immigration Law is based on Canada’s status around the world and I am constantly reminded how fortunate we are to live in one of the best (if not the best) countries. From our office, this past decade marks a strong collaboration with the news. We were called upon by CBC News, CTV News, Global News, Winnipeg Free Press and many other news sources to comment on different stories. Primarily, these stories stemmed from Canada as the New Hope in the world, replacing the United States as the “best” country for applicants from around the globe.

It was my pleasure as the only Canadian lawyer at the international EB-5 Conference in Las Vegas, USA. I was asked to present as a result of the interest by investors around the world in Canadian business opportunities, including the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program – Business Investor Stream. And, of course, I must mention the amazing people at TEDx Winnipeg who gave me the stage to talk about open borders and refugees which has been published on YouTube.

It is clear that 2020 will be a decade of growth for Canada and we will continue to work to build this country.

  1. Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst

Generally speaking, I stay out of politics. I have worked with Members of Parliament from all political parties and we will continue to advocate on behalf of our client regardless of the party in power. That said, I firmly support the current Liberal government and I am hopeful for this coming decade.

My hope for positive political change in 2020 is also balanced with a plan to consider the worst. Minister McCallum made significant changes to IRPA that rolled back many of the inhumane changes by the former Conservative government; however, this government needs to do more. I feel privileged that we were able to work with the Liberal government to make changes to section 38 of IRPA (Medical Inadmissibility) on behalf of the Warkentin family.

  1. Uncertainty on the Horizon

As my mum often says, the only constant is change. There is no doubt that 2020 and the new decade will bring change. Here are a few predictions for this coming decade:

  • The Government of Canada and the Government of Manitoba will continue to buttress immigration laws to attract STEM graduates and professionals;
  • The current Liberal government will focus on quicker processing times, including Family Class applications;
  • Regional migration and new programs that focus on smaller communities will thrive;
  • International students are the strongest stream for Permanent Resident status;
  • Refugees will be recognized for their economic contributions;
  • The changes to regulation of Immigration Consultants will fail and the government will be forced to revisit this issue.

We wish you all the best for 2020 and the coming decade. We have many reasons to celebrate 2019 and, at the same time, learn from past lessons.