Guest Post: Should I move to Canada if I’m a disappointed U.S. citizen?

Repost with Permission from Matt Musselman, Originally Published on Quora:

I find that many of the answers here are helpful, but I’m not sure they address the issues that are really going to matter most to Americans moving here. I’ll do my best.

Some background: I moved from the US to Canada in late 2004. I chose to move mostly because I’d recently been laid off from my job, and my best job offer was in Vancouver, and anywhere on the coast looked like a nice change of scenery from Dallas. But the fact that I’d also become increasingly disillusioned with how post-9/11 America was shaping up, and that this job was in Canada and a chance to try out life on the other side — that certainly contributed and gave it an edge over another offer based in Chicago.

The pros about moving to Canada

Crossing the Border Into Canada

Crossing the Border Into Canada

For me individually, moving to Canada has been one of the best things I’ve ever done. There are a number of things I really love about Canada, some of which I didn’t even fully appreciate until after I was here. A sampling:

  • Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, and many other places in Canada are world-class cities in their own right, and great places to live regardless of what nation they’re in.
  • Diversity and multiculturalism. Particularly, women, LGBT, and non-white people are treated way more like equals in Canada than they are in the US. It’s not perfect, but definitely better. And when you have a population where multiculturalism and acceptance already the norm, racial tensions and sexism and homophobia have far less of a foothold.
  • MUCH less violence and violent crime than the US. I regularly walk on foot through objectively the “worst” neighbourhood in Canada, whereas there were plenty of places in in the US that I wouldn’t even drive through in a car, let alone walk around on foot.
  • Healthcare, parental leave, general health benefits, higher minimum wage – Just about everyone you meet is happier, healthier, and more productive. Doesn’t mean it’s perfect, but it’s better, and I also suspect this is a huge reason behind the lower crime rate. When people are healthy and have the right support structures to get and keep a good job, there’s less reason for them to rob you (among other things), and the economy in general is stronger.
  • Better community resources. The libraries, community centres, public programs, festivals, etc, are really terrific here. More than in the US, people’s lives happen outside, in public places, with each other.
  • More rational political climate. I think the 4+ party system helps with this, but maybe it’s cultural, too. Canadians as a rule are far less polarised, less angry, and less dogmatic than Americans tend to be. It’s refreshing.
  • Not a militaristic nation except for peacekeeping and defence. The world sees Canada as a country that swoops in and saves the day (WW1, WW2), promotes the peace otherwise, and is never a big bully that other nations need to fear, hate, or retaliate against. Canada is a respected nation almost everywhere in the world, and Canadians are proud of that.

Now the more tricky considerations:

  • Most importantly, you can’t just up and move to Canada. There’s a process. You may not even be approved at all. It’s easier than immigrating to the US, I think, but not negligible. It’s hard. For all the thousands of Americans who TALK of moving to Canada for political reasons from time to time, the reality is that in the past twelve years I’ve met 1) a couple dozen 1970s Vietnam-era draft dodgers (BC seems to be full of them), and 2) only one (ONE!) couple who moved specifically because of politics. And they’re the same couple who are also regularly interviewed by CBC, The Guardian, and so on about packing up and moving to Canada, which really reinforces the idea that they really are the only couple most other people have ever met, too. I do know rumours of a few others, friends of friends, but only a few. So that tells you something about the cost and difficulty of actually following through on this plan rather than just talking about it.
  • Most people in general immigrate to Canada because they already have a job here. Very few (other than refugees) move first for some other reason (politics, you say?) and then job-hunt later. And the ones that do it that way really struggle. There’s a reason for that….
  • Immigration is expensive. You know how some landlords expect a huge deposit + first two months rent? Imagine that, for basically every aspect of your life (housing, car, telephone deposit, electric company deposit, new driver’s license, fees for new government IDs, 90 day healthcare premium period, new job expenses, etc). It takes a tremendous amount of cash, which you also need to convert into the new currency, which incurs a penalty. Also, still paying for your car? Prepare to pay it off or sell it; you can’t take that US loan with you. That 2 or 3 year cell phone plan that seemed like such a great deal at the time? Using it in Canada now means $2/minute or more in roaming fees — set aside some money to pay off that device subsidy balance or early cancellation fees. And if that weren’t enough, like any other move, you may also need new clothes. And housewares. Especially if you’re moving in wintertime.
  • But I can just rack up some debt at first, right? Surprise, no. You have no credit rating here, and you may even be considered an international default risk when applying for new lines of credit. Mortgage lenders are usually willing to check international credit ratings, but literally no one else is (credit cards, auto loan lenders, banks, phone company, electric company). They literally have no idea who you are, as if you were born yesterday. So strengthening the point above, 1) be prepared to pay a cash deposit for EVERYTHING, 2) including locking some much needed cash behind a cash-secured credit card, because it’s the only kind you’re allowed to get and you’re going to need one for certain kinds of purchases, and 3) okay, you can keep your US credit cards for a while to carry some debt, but remember that every time you use them there’s one currency conversion to convert the CAD purchase into USD for your card, a second currency conversion the other direction to change your CAD earnings to USD to pay the card balance (unless you stashed even more cash away in a USD savings account), and then further international purchase fees on top of that — a $100CAD purchase can end up costing you $140CAD or more after all those fees and currency conversions.
  • Temporary worker status. Until you become a permanent resident (like a US “green card”), and eventually a citizen, each of which can take several years, you will likely be living in Canada on a temporary work visa. That means all that money you paid to move your stuff up here? Well, if you lose your job, commit the wrong legal infraction, etc, etc, etc, you could be paying that same money all over again to move right back to the US where you started. It’s like a Damocles Sword that hangs over your head every single day. “I hate this job, but if I quit, I could be deported. If I don’t do well enough and get fired, I could be deported.” Think about it. Also listen to the news in the US with this in mind: Every time you hear people talking about wanting to reduce the number of temporary foreign workers, about someone being deported for whatever reason, about immigrants stealing Americans’ jobs . . . imagine that’s now you, and imagine how you’ll feel hearing those kinds of stories from the opposite perspective. You need to be ready for that.
  • One more thing on worker status. There’s a significant chance your spouse won’t be approved to work at all. Say goodbye to that dual income for a while. Exactly when you need it most.
  • Travel. Another thing new immigrants to Canada fail to fully account for is that now any trip to the US is an international flight. At international flight costs. With international border-crossing restrictions. And related to work visas, permanent residence applications, and so on, there will even be large blocks of time (a month or two at a time) during these processes where you’re not allowed to leave the country, or if you do, you may not be let back in. Ageing parents back in the States? Other emergencies that could pop up and demand immediate travel? You’ll have to make some tough choices from time to time. Even a phone call is an expensive international call now, unless you can teach them how to use Skype or Facetime. You’re a lot farther away.
  • Professional considerations. The US has better standing than some other countries when it comes to professional certifications and experience, but it’s not perfect. Don’t expect all your “credits” to transfer. Add to this the context that the Canadian hiring culture puts a huge premium on specifically Canadian work experience, even for English-speaking white American male applicants who unknowingly take for granted the special edge they get back home. Now you’re just another of those immigrants “stealing people’s jobs” so to speak, and official government policy supports employers in legally discriminating against you in favour of Canadian citizens. Expect that you’ll likely have to take a lower-paying, lower-title job when you arrive, and that may last for a while. Or, if your chosen field already suffers high unemployment numbers, your immigration application may be rejected entirely.
  • General culture shock. Canada is a lot like the US, but just different enough that you’re guaranteed to feel homesick about SOMETHING: missing your favourite foods or your favourite places, already knowing the processes for renewing license plates and driver’s licenses rather than constantly having to figure out new bureacracy, missing your family as you work through US Thanksgiving and other mismatched holidays, not having to deal with the constant reminder of being an outsider when people joke about your accent and spelling and pronunciation (I personally focused on quickly assimilating in that regard, because otherwise people’s comments, even when well-meaning, were a constant painful reminder that I didn’t fit in here — you’ll feel it, too), general differences in social habits, and generally just a lot of little things that feel foreign or a little weird. It’s like those parallel universe sci-fi shows where the guy thinks he’s home but keeps having an odd feeling, and sooner or later goes outside and realises the sky is green instead of blue. For the first week, the little differences are fun, but then they really start to wear you down until you finally learn them and accept them. Navigating from day to day in even a marginally different environment takes far more work than you think.
  • And generally, you’re really starting from scratch: no friends, no family other than those you bring with you, not even a favourite place you like to go eat or hang out when you’re at the end of your rope. It sounds silly, but most people are totally unaware of how many safety nets they have in their current life until they lose them.

In conclusion, I’ll reiterate that in the long term, moving here turned out to be one of the best choices I ever made for my own life. But I can’t emphasise enough how hard it is, and that it may not be the right thing for many people. My company was hiring a bunch of people all at once for a major project, and of the Americans who moved for the job, roughly 70–80% couldn’t hack it and moved back within 3 years or so. What Americans forget is that moving to Canada makes you an immigrant, just like the immigrants coming to you. Look how hard their lives are. Ask yourself honestly if that’s the life you’re willing to sign up for in order to get the benefits you’re hoping to find in Canada. The benefits are here, but they don’t come to the weak of heart.

But I do guarantee: if you do it, you will totally rethink the way you see immigrants and refugees, foreigners and minorities, outsiders in general, all around the world. You’ll realise they’re not the villains in this story; they’re the lonely voyagers, the fearless adventurers, the faithful mothers and fathers, the loyal friends, the people who sacrificed everything for themselves for a better life for their families. That’s one of the things I value most about my move here. It’s a gift that can be earned few other ways than by becoming an outsider yourself. Decide well, and good luck. If you make it here, I’d love to meet you.

A Word About the Writer:

Matt Musselman is Texan-Canadian who writes about Canada, The United States of America, Air Travel, Resumes and CVs, Enterprise Architecture, and other topics.

Repost: “Silly rules” of Immigration law

Posted from Slaw.ca:

Our beloved Minister McCallum is on yet another tour, meeting with employers and stakeholders in the Atlantic provinces to boost a pilot project: Atlantic Growth Strategy. During the presentation, our Minister indicated, “We are committed to streamlining things, to getting rid of silly rules […]” I supposed I am still shell-shocked from the rhetoric of our previous government but I cannot overstate the change in perspective from our current Minister compared to past Ministers.

Minister McCallum did not elaborate on which of our current immigration rules are the “silly” rules. Based on conversations with clients, I regularly hear, “and why do we have to do that?” Then I do my best to explain the history of the rules & procedures and the lengthy development of why the forms ask what they ask. Married to a historian, I try to be aware of the history behind the (many, many) amendments to rules and forms over the years.

Notwithstanding the historical reasons, here are some situations clients have found to be “silly”:

  • Americans (and British, etc) with college degrees (including Masters and PhDs) must take an English exam for a PR application.
  • Workers have 90 days of implied status to apply for a Work Permit extension but processing times are 110 – 130 days. If the application is refused for any reason (sometimes trivial), the application is sent back and the worker is up a creek.
  • Applicants must provide new Police Clearance Certificates (PCCs) from countries where they have not returned (this is getting better).
  • Letters requesting additional information can give the clients 90 days to reply and then refuse the application after 60 days (this is rare but it happens).
  • Renewing a PR Card takes longer than applying for a new one.

Those of some of the silly situations off the top of my head. Some days it can be difficult to explain the reasons behind the situation; other times I am reminded of the historical reasons for the rules and it all makes sense. If you think of more “silly rules”, leave them in the comments on Slaw.ca.

MPNP: From Temporary Status to PR Status

Backgrounder: Temporary Status

On a basic level, there are 4 levels of status in Canada: citizenship, permanent resident (PR) status, temporary status and without status. Individuals come to us with all levels of status and we work to either keep their existing status, for them to gain status themselves or for them to help someone else with their status (for example: their spouse). Each level of status affords different levels of rights and privileges. For example, someone with temporary status does not have the right to work unless they have a work permit or other permission whereas a permanent resident can work anywhere in Canada.

One Route from Temporary Status to Permanent Status

When we are contacted by an individual overseas, one common scenario is that they often have a means to come to Canada for a visit or they are interested in studying but their goal is to move permanently. Canadian law allows to have a “duel intent” when entering the country; a foreigner can enter on a temporary visa with the intention to come for a visit and, at the same time, also have the long-term goal of staying permanently.

Caution: in these circumstances, we would recommend that you hire a representative to draft submissions to the Officer to avoid being detained or refused entry.

One route to PR status is through studying and working in Canada. The steps are these: 1. TRV + Study Permit; 2. Post Graduate Work Permit; 3. MPNP Skilled Worker Application; 4. PR application to IRCC.

Step 1: Study Permit

Study Permits are issued by Canadian Visa Offices abroad. International students contribute to Canadian universities both financially and culturally. In tuition, they pay considerably more than other students. According to Statistics Canada, students can pay more than $35,000 per year for an undergraduate program:

Tuition ON

In Manitoba, there are 2 many benefits for choosing to study in this province: 1. tuition may be less comparable to other urban centres; 2. positive tax benefits for money paid in tuition through the Tuition Fee Income Tax Rebate (up to $25,000 may be deducted).

Temporary Status

These rebates are only a benefit, however, if the individual files taxes in Canada and lives in Manitoba. It is not open to residents of other provinces.

Step 2. Post Graduate Work Permit

A work permit issued under the Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) program may be issued by IRCC to a foreign student for the length of the study program, up to a maximum of 3 years. This is beneficial for both the students, who wish to work in Canada and continue to establish themselves, the Canadian employers and the Canadian economy. As mentioned by Minister John MacCallum at the CBA Immigration Conference in April 2016 in Vancouver, he sees foreign graduates of Canadian universities as one of the top priorities of IRCC.

Be prepared. Please note that the timelines for applying for the PGWP program are strict. Failure to apply early and/or meet the requirements may lead to a refused application.

Step 3: MPNP Skilled Worker in Manitoba stream

When the foreign national completes 6 months of full-time, continuous work in Manitoba and the company provides an Offer Letter, then the individual may apply under the MPNP program (other factors notwithstanding). This application may lead to a Nomination Certificate from the Manitoba government and the support of the province.

For more information about MPNP applications and tips on how to succeed with a MPNP application, see our previous posts on this subject.

Step 4: PR application to IRCC

After the applicant receives the Certificate, they may apply for PR status to the federal government. For more information about applications and fees, please contact our office directly.

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.

 

Cultural Shift at IRCC: #sunnydays

Two weeks ago, more than 500 immigration professionals descended into Vancouver for the sold-out annual CBA Immigration Conference. Minister McCallum gave the keynote address and members of his department presented on many aspects of immigration and refugee law, from overseas sponsorship applications for refugees to inadmissibility issues to the interpretation of Kanthasamy and its impact on H&C applications. Overall, the quality of speakers was superb (for the record, I was not a speaker) and the dialogue was candid and respectful. I will not get into the substantive points of the conference here but one point has stuck with me: since the Liberals have regained power, there has been a dramatic shift in the tone and candour from IRCC staff. In short, we witnessed a significant cultural shift within the department, and in my view, a positive change.

IRCC Open to Criticism

From the Minister to each and every speaker, the IRCC representatives were open to feedback and criticism throughout the conference. In particular, it was refreshing to hear Officers readily acknowledge shortcomings of the system and the concrete steps they are taking to deal with issues. In many sessions, Officers emphasized, “please remember that we are your friends” and they took every concern raised seriously. Until I hear otherwise, I will give them the benefit of the doubt and believe that those notes will not simply gather dust.

After Minister McCallum’s speech, he was scheduled to sit with Chantal Desloges, a regular critic of Liberal policies in the media (and a personal friend of mine). Chantal was poised to ask some tough questions but instead deferred to her colleagues and let the Minister field questions from the audience. Near the end, he prompted her to ask a tough question to which she replied, “actually, I can’t disagree with anything you’ve said!”

Where Are The Defenders? 

I was reminded of this conference today while reading Lawrence Martin’s piece, The frustrations of being Governor-General. Referring to the recent Duffy decision, Martin writes:

“Mind-boggling and shocking” the judge wrote of the comportment of the office of then-prime minister Stephen Harper. “Unacceptable” in a “democratic society.”

The judge’s portrait – hello Harperland – was more affirmation of what many have been saying for years about the way these people operated. It was telling that hardly a Conservative could be found to come to the microphone to defend their former ruler against the charges.

In the same way that there are scant defenders of how Harper operated, there were also scant defenders of the Conservative policies and laws under the mandate of IRCC that are being systematically dismantled.

#Sunnydays

Clearly, we are still in a honeymoon phase with the current government. They are still open to our wish-lists of policies to amend. This phase will, of course, end at some point and we will miss these sunny days. In the meantime, it is refreshing to have open and candid conversations with IRCC Officers in public (previously, I found that the best way was to speak with them outside the office to get honest and uncensored feedback). As Chantal noted: “If I had to put it in a nutshell, I would say that what I walked away with is that people are feeling a great deal of positivity and hope with the new government when it comes to immigration.”

The question is: will this government continue to inspire positivity and hope through its actions, not just its promises?

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS POST HAS BEEN CROSS-PUBLISHED ON SLAW.CA.

Guest Speaker at University of Manitoba, Dept of Labour Studies

Please note that Alastair Clarke has been invited to be the Guest Speaker at the University of Manitoba in the Department of Labour Studies to give a presentation on Canadian Immigration law and how it relates to workers. This presentation will be geared towards the students in Labour Studies; however members of the public may participate by contacting Professor Simeone directly.

Topic covered include:

TFWP

  • Temporary Foreign Work Program
  • Labour Market Impact Assessment applications (LMIA)
  • Health care for workers
  • Regularizing status for temporary residents
  • Legal rights of temporary workers

The presentation will be held at the University of Manitoba on March 24th from 10:00AM to 11:30AM.

Contact our office by clicking here or contact Instructor Daniel Simeone directly for more details.

Elimination of Conditional Permanent Resident Status

I recently met with a young Norwegian professional who wanted to know how to become a Canadian citizen. After I explained some of paths from temporary status (which he had, as a visitor) to permanent resident status to citizenship, he was visibly frustrated and said, “this is too complicated. I just want the form to become Canadian.” I had to admit that he’s right: the system is complicated. (And wouldn’t it be nice to have such a form?) Our former government made things more complicated by adding even more levels to our robust hierarchy of statuses. The most significant additions were the creation of “conditional permanent resident status” in 2012 (for Applicants in a spousal sponsorship application) and, with the changes to our Citizenship Act, “second class” Canadian citizens in 2014. Those changes are now being reversed by the current government. There still isn’t any plan for a form for my new Norwegian friend but we seem to now be on a path to simplify the system.

conditional permanent residentConditional Permanent Resident Status

Within the immigration bar, there were advocates for and against the creation of the “conditional” PR status before the 2012 amendments. We had all had clients like Cindy Green who came to us after their application has been approved and their spouse had ditched them after getting status. We met them, heartbroken, and they asked us to have their spouse removed. There was not a lot we could do. Most did not carry a door on their backs to Parliament but kudos to Ms. Green for shining light on the issue. I wish I could say these cases are rare but they are not. The creation of the conditional status (for 2 years) was a sincere attempt to resolve these issues but, unwittingly, created new issues. TStar reporter, good ol’ Nick Keung (what would we do without him?), wrote a nice piece outlining some of the issues:

The proposed amendments are part of a Liberal election campaign commitment and come on the heels of a new study that found women, racial minorities and those from Muslim-majority countries are disproportionally slapped with so-called “conditional permanent resident visas,” prompting concerns that they are forced to stay in abusive relationships to avoid losing their status.

To be fair, the legislation included protections for spouses in abusive relationships. That was a key concern from the start. But there is a big difference in drafting legislation that attempts to mitigate negative consequences and then the realities of misinformation and the precarious situation of the new immigrants. Unfortunately, many of the individuals negatively affected are unsophisticated and they rely on friends and family to explain the law. “You better put up with me for me for at least 2 years or I will have you deported.” This report documented the real dangers faced by new immigrants with “conditional” status. In the end, the victims of domestic violence (generally women) found themselves in situations of compounded fear that they would be deported if they sought help.

Protect the Applicants … or the Sponsors?

Our current government announced that it will reverse the changes and eliminate conditional permanent resident status. Personally, I agree that the reversal will help to protect many victims of abuse. (I also appreciate the effort to simplify the system and shrink the hierarchy of statuses but I’ll leave this point for another post.) The question becomes: what are the Liberals going to do to help the Permanent Residents and Canadian citizens, sponsors like Cindy Green, who find themselves, heart in hand, abandoned at the airport?

I initially planned to also address the proposed changes to citizenship law and amendments to the TFWP (cover all the groups of statuses) but that is going to have to wait for another week. The Slaw-bot has reminded me that my copy is due.

Published concurrently at slaw.com

Syrian Refugees

When the Refugee Sponsorship Support Program was launched on 28 Sept 2015, Clarke Law was one of the first law firms in Canada to join. The goal of the program was to help the government reach its target of bringing in 25,000 Syrian refugees as part of its campaign promise. Immigration and refugee lawyers across Canada have been working and volunteering their time to make sure the applications are processed quickly, without issues.

In Winnipeg, Alastair Clarke agreed to assist the South Osborne Syrian Refugee Initiative pro bono (this means that legal services are provided at no cost). We are assisting a group of families who are currently in Lebanon. The Syrian refugees have each faced extreme hardship while in their home country and they have managed to make their way to relative safety in Lebanon. Unfortunately, they are still not safe. We are working to bring them to Winnipeg where they will be far from the violence and out of reach from the Syrian operatives who are still threatening their safety.

Paula Leslie and other organizers have been working hard to raise the funds to make sure the Syrian families have support once they reach Canada. News agencies, including the CBC, have been reporting their efforts:

Matthew Lawrence

Event Organizer Matthew Lawrence

Close to 350 people packed the Park Theatre on Tuesday night for a sold-out fundraising concert to help bring Syrian refugee families to Winnipeg.

The South Osborne Syrian Refugee Initiative teamed up with Churchill Park United Church for the benefit concert, which featured performances by The Bonaduces, Sweet Alibi and DJ Co-Op.

Event co-organizer Matthew Lawrence said the goal is to raise a total of $90,000 “so that we can hopefully sponsor three families” who have relatives already living in the city.

“We just felt really compelled to take some action,” Lawrence said.

Benefit concert co-organizer Matthew Lawrence says the goal is to raise a total of $90,000 to help sponsor three Syrian refugee families with relatives already living in Winnipeg. (CBC)

“We started by thinking maybe we could just get involved in something else, but we kind of kept waiting and waiting and nothing was happening, so we decided, ‘Let’s just start something ourselves.'”

A GoFundMe campaign launched by the South Osborne Syrian Refugee Initiative has already raised more than $60,000. Lawrence said he hopes the concert will raise another $10,000.

To show their appreciation, the group recently posted a testimonial on their Facebook page:Syrian Refugees

Accolades to immigration lawyer Alastair Clarke for assisting us with our applications. Alastair generously provided his services pro bono through the Refugee Sponsorship Support Program. Given that SOSRI was completing the dozens of forms as representatives for the five principal applicants we had a number of questions on how to address certain issues that a sponsoring group ordinarily wouldn’t have (most sponsoring groups apply and have UNHCR families/individuals assigned to them with papers/documents/histories complete). The IRRC toll free question line has extremely long wait times! We were very fortunate to be able to simply email and/or call Alastair with any questions throughout the application process.

They also write:

Along with Alastair’s professional integrity and his breadth of knowledge it is clear that he cares deeply for the issues and people that he works with. If you need an immigration lawyer – look no further. Thank you Alastair – your time and efforts are appreciated.

This work is not done. We will continue to support this group, and other groups, to make sure their transition to Canada is without any issues.

 

Immigration Questions from Presentations

These past few weeks have been very busy and we wanted to thank everyone for their support. At the PCCM event on Jan 30th, more than 100 people came to the event. The room was full and the audience was engaged. Last night, we have a presentation at Munroe Library in Winnipeg and, again, the room was packed and there was active participation. We met folks from Ukraine, Philippines, India, Pakistan, the USA, Nigeria, Egypt, Australia, El Salvador and many others. We answered many immigration questions. Here are some of the questions that Mr. Clarke answered during the 5 hours of presentations:

  • If my Super Visa is going to expire but my husband has submitted an In-Canada Spousal Sponsorship application, do I need to apply to extend my Visa?
  • Can I sponsor my brother in Punjab?Immigration Questions
  • If my MPNP application is refused, how do I appeal the decision?
  • I want my mother from the Philippines to come and take care of my children. How do I bring her to Canada?
  • MPNP is no longer accepting applications from Nurses and my sister is a Nurse. How I can I help her come to Manitoba?
  • My son married a woman from Wisconsin and she has children from a previous marriage. Do the children become Permanent Residents too?
  • What are the benefits of becoming a Canadian citizen?
  • If I become a citizen, do I lose my American citizenship?
  • My brother was refused entry to Canada but we don’t know why. How can we find out?
  • How long does it take for a MPNP application?
  • How many people can I support for MPNP applications?
  • My brother wants to come to Canada but he is not sure if he will come to Manitoba. He is interested in Toronto. If I help him with his MPNP application, can he move to Toronto? Can Manitoba come after me?
  • How long does it take to process a Parental Class application?
  • How many times can I extend my visa?
  • And many more!

If you have any of these questions or you have other immigration questions, please come to the next presentation or contact our office. Click here for information on how to schedule an appointment.

Winnipeg Readers: Feb 8th Free Presentation

Immigration Presentation