Repost: Reactive Legislation from Denmark

The following was originally published on and written by Alastair Clarke:refugee law

Denmark has been receiving significant attention for its so-called “Jewelry Law” that passed 81 to 27 on January 26, 2016. This new law gives authorities the power to seize valuables from asylum seekers (refugee claimants) who enter the country. Legislators included exceptions for items of “special sentimental value” such as wedding rings and medals; however, items such as cell phones and computers may be seized.

Based on reports from UNHCR, CCR and other organizations, the refugees flowing into Europe have been using their cell phones to communicate and exchange information about where to find shelter and safety, which borders are accessible and to maintain contact with family and friends. When they take selfies, for example, they may be letting their family members know that they are safe. By seizing cell phones, Danish authorities are putting these people at risk and cutting them off from the diaspora. In essence, the Danish government passed a law to take away the lifelines of the desperate refugees entering their country. 

Since the law passed, Denmark has been getting significant negative press. The law has been described as a “quick fix” and “reactionary legislation” to a huge problem faced by governments around the world. UNHCR warns that the law could fuel xenophobia. The law is abhorrent on multiple levels. First, seizing the scant assets from people fleeing their homeland is simply deplorable. Second, Danish politicians have stated that the purpose of the law is to protect their “advanced welfare system”. The stated purpose of this law, unfortunately, fails to address the underlying systemic problem and contradicts a central objective of a welfare program: to improve the lives of vulnerable people. 

Digging down, this legislation is only one example of the erosion of the 30-year-old Schengen Agreement and the breakdown of European cooperation. The central tenet of the Schengen Agreement, the so-called “passport-free” zone, was designed to allow for only temporary suspension. According to European law, the European Commission can allow countries to reimpose controls for six months no more than three times until May 2018.  Now, they are revisiting this limitation on border controls to allow European countries to opt out of the passport-free condition for 2 years.

It is not a coincidence that much of the bad press is coming from this side of the Atlantic. There is no doubt that European countries have been reeling from the influx of Syrians refugees escaping northward. The Danish government rightly points out that it has accepted a huge number of refugees per capita. In 2013, the country of roughly 5.6M accepted more than 21,000 refugees. By comparison, if Canada accepted the same number per capita, we would be accepting more than 133,000 refugees. The Liberal government is certainly to be commended for its efforts to settle 25,000 Syrians in Canada but it is a very small number of those in need.

If Canada is truly committed to restoring our humanitarian reputation, we could spearhead an initiative for greater global cooperation through international law. After past major disasters, the global community has come together to draft agreements and build on the foundations of international law. In my own practice, I have quoted the Geneva Conventions, for example, too many times to count. 

At this point, we need the Big Thinkers to come together and organize long-term solutions. It is disappointing that Europe has not been able to come together and, instead, legislators across the continent have been focused on drafting NIMBY laws to make their particular jurisdictions less attractive. In my view, we need a systemic, organized approach to the situation; an approach that can be applied to this problem and to any potential future catastrophe that leads to large migrations of families. Canada could seize this role and regain its stature on the international stage.

Law in the Library: Feb 8th Registration

Winnipeg Public Library has opened the registration for the Feb 8th presentation. For more information, CLICK HERE.


Winnipeg Readers: Jan 30th Presentation


News: Alastair Clarke joins


Slaw Bloggers

After an invitation from Steve Matthews, the Publisher of, Alastair Clarke has joined the site to write regularly on immigration news, events and updates in the legislation. Canadian immigration and refugee law is constantly shifting and changing. With the Liberal government, we expect many changes in the near future. Alastair is honoured to be invited and to contribute to, one of Canada’s top legal websites.


Slaw is Canadian, co-operative, and about any and all things legal.

Slaw has been growing for almost 10 years:

Slaw dates back to June 2005, when Simon Fodden extended an invitation to a small group of early Canadian law bloggers. Our “founding four” (Simon Fodden, Simon Chester, Connie Crosby and me) all continue to write for Slaw in some capacity; Simon F’s vision of a grassroots web-publication for the legal industry thrives to this day.

The content on Slaw started with a narrow focus and it has expanded over the years.

Slaw’s early writing focused on legal information, research, and technology, and while those topics are still addressed regularly, our coverage has expanded to include most aspects of legal practice.

Our ranks have swelled over the years, too. As of summer 2014, we routinely operate with a crew of 22-25 weekly bloggers and 60-70 regular columnists. Together, we have published almost 12,000 entries, generated more than 15,000 approved comments, and draw nearly one million page views every month. While our core of writers remain Canadian, we have strategically recruited expert contributors from all around the globe.

Alastair plans to publish on regularly on Fridays. Check out the site for more information.



Tips for Spousal Sponsorship Appeal

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

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

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

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

Q: What are the most common reasons for refusal?

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

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

Q: What happens at the Tribunal?

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

Q: What is the craziest case you have handled?

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

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

Q: So why was that one refused?

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

Q: Did you win?

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

Q: What is the biggest challenge with Sponsorship Appeals?

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

Q: Which case are you most proud of?

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

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

Q: Thank you for your time! 

PCCM Presentation 30/Jan/2016 @ 2pm

Alastair Clarke will be presenting at the Philippine Canadian Community Centre on January 30th (Saturday) at 2pm. We hope you will join us! As a former instructor at Seneca College, Alastair could spend hours and hours talking about immigration and refugee law. To make sure that your questions are answered, however, we have put together a short survey to make sure Mr. Clarke covers the topics that are important to you!

Click here to pick the topics for the event!


12 Tips for Choosing an Immigration Lawyer

Finding the best immigration lawyer for your situation is one of your most important decisions. You need to make to make sure you start your application on the right foot. How can you ensure the representative that you choose will work to meet your goals? How can you avoid an expensive lawyer who treats you like a number? Follow these tips to make sure you find the best immigration lawyer for your situation. Here is a top 10 list (plus 2 bonus tips!) to help you find the best immigration attorney!

1. Use Your Consultation to Get Answers

The consultation is the time when you can ask the lawyer any and all questions about your application. Consultation Fees range from $150CAD to $600CAD, depending on the firm, and you should use this time well. Cheap consultations can last only 15 or 20 minutes. In the brief time, however, you need to make sure you can trust the lawyer to deal with your situation. Before you book the consultation, make sure the lawyer will give you enough time to answer your questions. Initial Consultation appointments should be an hour.

During the consultation, you should decide whether you trust the lawyer and s/he has the right experience for your case. Ask them about what happens if the application is refused. Ask them about their experience doing appeals to Federal Court or other types of appeals. Get the answers during the consultation.

2. Avoid the “Jack of All Trades” LawyerAvoid a Jack of All Trades

Canadian Immigration law is complex and the system can be difficult to navigate. Be cautious of lawyers who say they are experts in many areas of the law. It takes a dedicated professional to stay on top of all the changes in Canadian immigration law. If the lawyer practices Real Estate Law and Immigration Law, for example, there is the risk that they do not have sufficient expertise for your case.

In English, the expression: “Jack of All Trades and Master of None” is apt for the complex world of Canadian immigration law. Jack of All Trades lawyers may handle simple applications in various areas of the law but they sacrifice expertise; they are not a “master” in any of the areas they practice. Avoid the lawyer who claims they can do it all.

3. Don’t Bargain Hunt

For some things, bargain hunting is appropriate; however, the stakes for immigration applications is too high and too risky for bargain hunting. We have seen too many “factory firms” where there is a lawyer at the top and they simply delegate the work to consultants, assistants or paralegals who do the work in poor working conditions. A Factory Firm may not give you the personal attention that you need to win your case. Many consultants advertise low fees but they offer limited services and, if there are complications, they cannot represent individuals on appeals so the client is stuck. It is much better to find someone you can trust, who charges reasonable fees and can deal with every aspect of your application.

4. Discuss Fees Before Signing

A good lawyer is open and honest with fees. The lawyers should give you a Retainer Agreement (the contract that describes the fees and services) that is clear and s/he will answer any questions that you have about the contract. You should be comfortable talking to your lawyer about payment plan options and other ways they can be flexible. In Canada, the standard practice for immigration applications is to charge a “fixed fee for service”, a “block fee” or a “flat fee”. Most other areas of practice charge clients on a “hourly fee for service”. Find a lawyer who offers flexible pricing and gives you the choice of either “fixed fees” or “hourly fees”.

For a complex case, the “fixed fee” agreement may be best. If you believe the case is straight-forward and you only need the lawyer to guide you through it with limited help, the “hourly fee” agreement may save you money. Before you sign the agreement, ask the lawyer about the different options and pick the fee structure that fits your individual situation. Make sure you trust that you have found the best immigration lawyer for you before you commit and sign the agreement.

As a reference, click here for a guide for Immigration Fees for lawyers.

5. Avoid Empty Guarantees

A sign that a lawyer cannot be trusted is when they offer empty guarantees of success. The fact is that your lawyer does not make the decision and they should not be giving you a guarantee for a positive result. If you hear “we guarantee 100% success”, we advise that you run the other way. If they representative is not being honest to you about the possible outcomes, they cannot be trusted. The lawyer should be able to tell you your chance of success and share with you their personal experience with similar cases.

6. Be Wary of the Shady Consultants

Unfortunately, there are many unethical immigration consultants who have taken advantage of their clients with worthless promises and bad strategy. With immigration matters, the stakes are simply too high for the unnecessary risk of trusting a consultant who may just want your money.

In the US, the government restricts representation to licensed lawyers can represent clients in their applications so they have avoided the problem of incompetent consultants. In Canada, the government has allowed limited representation to “immigration consultants” who have passed an exam and are licensed with ICCRC. There are certainly many trustworthy consultants who help their clients and who put in the countless hours necessary. There are also many shady characters who offer cheap services and end up costing their clients more in the long term. Here are just a few cases of lives have been ruined by Immigration Consultants:

The above is just a sample of the biggest cases that make the news. Most cases of fraud and misrepresentation are not reported. Often the shady Immigration Consultant is a “friend” or a member of a church group who offers to help. Unfortunately, they lack the expertise to do the work.

So what can you do? First, if you decide to hire a consultant because you feel that you just cannot afford a lawyer, ask for references. You should be able to see some proof that they know what they are doing. Ask them for details about a case with similar facts. Second, ask whether they are being supervised by a lawyer. Legally, the supervising lawyer may be responsible for the work. Third, ask them where they obtained their credentials. Seneca College (program no longer offered) and Ashton College each had or have good programs to train Immigration Consultants. (Incidentally, Alastair Clarke taught at Seneca College in 2012.) Finally, check the ICCRC page to make sure they are properly accredited.

7. Check References and Free Online Databases

Look online for references or reviews. If a lawyer does not have a website, ask for the reason. We live in a connected world and it is important for lawyer to connect with their clients. If they do a good job, those clients will write reviews, testimonials, references or endorsements. Click here to read some reviews from past clients and colleagues of Clarke Law. 

CanLii is a free online database with cases from Canadian lawyers that is widely used by academics, judges and universities. Most Federal Court decisions and some decisions by the Immigration and Refugee Board are found on CanLii and it is growing every year. A good lawyer will have some recent cases listed on Of course, cases that are settled before a decision, cases that receive a “bench positive” decision, and minor cases may not be reported. For example, click here for some cases listed on CanLii that were handled by Alastair Clarke. In addition, click here for more cases by Clarke Law.

8. A “Free Assessment” is Not a Consultation

Some companies, often Immigration Consultants, offer a “free assessment” as a type of phishing for your personal information. This is often just a hook to get information from the potential client with the promise of something for “free”. Giving your personal information benefits the company.
What is a “consultation”? The simple answer is that it is the time for you to:Full service immigration law firm

  1. See if you trust the lawyer or consultant;
  2. Ask questions about the General Process of Your Application;
  3. Get An Estimated Timeline;
  4. Identify Potential Issues;
  5. Discuss Legal Fees, Government Fees (including Application Fees) and potential Disbursements;
  6. Get a General Strategy For Achieving Your Goal(s); and,
  7. Answer your questions.

For the initial consultation, the appointment with the lawyer should be at least 1 hour to make sure they understand the important points in your application and explain all the above so you leave the consultation confident that your application is in good hands. Before you book an appointment, ask the lawyer how much time they will spend with you during the consultation.

9. Stay Away From Dinosaurs

It’s 2016, not 1986. Lawyers who refuse to learn technology may also refuse to learn new immigration laws. Canadian Immigration Laws, like modern technology, is constantly changing. You need a lawyer who can stay on top and provide you with up-to-date advise.

Communication is also key. We wary of lawyers who only use the telephone. That may indicate that they have had previous complaints from the Law Society and they are cautious about putting their advice in writing. You need a lawyer with great communication skills and the ability to use all the modern tools.

10. Avoid Fear-Mongering Lawyers

Immigration applications are stressful and the system is complex. A good lawyer will clearly explain the process for you, identify the possible choices and advice the right choice. Avoid lawyers who use your stress and fear to push you into a decision. Some lawyers use fear-mongering to persuade clients to make a hasty decision. If you feel that the lawyer is using fear and taking advantage or your stress and uncertainty, we advise that you seek a different lawyer.

You can also check the news to see if the lawyer has handled any big cases. Journalists screen lawyers ahead of time. If the lawyer is quoted in the news for a big immigration case, likely the lawyer has good references.


11. Bring a Friend to the Consultation

Immigration applications are stressful and the Canadian immigration system is complex. Sometimes it can be very helpful to bring a friend to the consultation to make sure you keep a level head. The friend can ask questions about the lawyer’s background and give you an objective opinion to make sure you choose the best immigration lawyer for your case.

12. Be an Active Client

At the end of the day, the decision by Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the government will have a huge impact on you and your family. Not your representative. Be active through the application process and make sure you understand what’s going on. The Law Society requires that lawyers communicate with their clients on “a timely basis”. Some firms are notoriously bad at communicating with their clients. You should be aware of the steps involved with your application. Find a lawyer who listens!

In The News: “Winnipeg lawyer saddened, not suprised …”

Published by CBC News on 15 Oct 2015:

Winnipeg lawyer saddened, not surprised by family’s detention at U.S. border

‘These types of situations are increasingly common,’ says Alastair Clarke

A Winnipeg immigration lawyer says his heart goes out to a man who was questioned by customs officers in the United States for seven hours and denied entry into the country.

“He’s a Canadian and, based on the information I have, he had no reason to think anything untoward would happen trying to cross into the U.S.,” Alastair Clarke told CBC News.

Abdelkrim Boulhout said border officials in the U.S. treated him and his wife like terrorists this past weekend.

Boulhout said he, his wife and their four young children were on a family road trip to Grand Forks in North Dakota, but when they arrived at the U.S. border crossing in Pembina, N.D., their vehicle was searched, they were questioned for hours and were eventually asked to withdraw their request to enter the U.S.

Boulhout said he believes the incident was related to the fact that he and his family are Muslim.

Clarke, founder of Clarke Immigration Law in Winnipeg, said he was saddened to hear about the incident, but not surprised.

“Currently, immigration and law enforcement are working very closely to share information, so these types of situations are increasingly common,” he said.

Clarke doesn’t practise U.S. immigration law, but he had general advice for anyone who might find themselves being questioned by border authorities. Co-operation with officials is extremely important, he said.

“These officials have broad discretionary authority,” he said.

Clarke also said if you’re in a situation in which you don’t understand a document, you need to ask for clarification or assistance.

As well, he reminded people never to sign something if they don’t understand it.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection told CBC News it would not comment on specific cases, citing privacy laws and “law enforcement reasons.”

Clarke Law: Experienced Immigration Lawyer

Clarke Immigration Law assists clients come to Canada as Permanent Residents and as Temporary Residents. The applications for the various stream are completely different and require specific expertise. We help by providing an experienced immigration lawyer to guide you through the Canadian immigration system and give you the best chance of success.

Immigrate to Alberta

experienced immigration lawyerAlastair Clarke was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta – a vibrant city in the prairies. The city is the gateway to the north and provides services to many Temporary Workers (TFWP) on their way to Fort McMurray and the oil sands. Alberta has been booming for many years and there are many good jobs. Unemployment in Alberta is among the lowest in Canada. We provide assistance for those interested in Alberta because Mr. Clarke is an experienced immigration lawyer with the benefit of living and working in Alberta.

Immigrate to BC

Mr. Clarke moved from Alberta to British Columbia (BC) for university. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree (Philosophy; Spanish) at the University of Victoria in the capital city of BC. Canada’s western-most province is the gateway to the East. There are many flights to Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo and other metropolitan centers in Asia. While at the University of Victoria, Mr. Clarke was the Student Coordinator of the Peer Helping Program, worked with the Office of the Ombudsman on legal issues and helped International Students. These students successfully received Study Permits to study in BC. He helped these students from India, China, Nigeria, Poland and other countries in the world.

After Victoria, Mr. Clarke moved to VanWinnipeg Immigration Lawyercouver – the largest city in BC and one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Vancouver is called “Hollywood North” because it has a thriving movie industry and TV industry. Many shows, including iZombie, Once Upon a Time and Arrow, are filmed in Vancouver and it is quite common to just stumble upon a productions crew in action.

Immigrate to Ontario

Mr. Clarke moved to Ontario and graduated just a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Kingston is a historic city on the Canadian border with one of Canada’s oldest military base and a vibrant downtown core.

In Ontario, Mr. Clarke has lived in various locations in Toronto and Kingston. Toronto is a vibrant city with a rich multicultural mosaic. On any day, you can take the subway and listen to Urdu, Cantonese, Tamil, Spanish and French. The city expands in every direction and there are distinct neighbourhoods akin to New York. Manhattan has the Tribeca; Toronto has the Entertainment District. Manhattan has Chinatown; Toronto has Little Korea.

Mr. Clarke lived in Toronto for many years and practiced immigration and refugee law at one of Canada’s top boutique law firms on Bay Street. He assisted clients from Nepal, Iran, Iraq, India, Pakistan, Israel, Russia, South Africa, the USA, China, Vietnam, Ukraine, St. Lucia, Guyana, Mexico and many other countries. He is one of Manitoba’s most experienced immigration lawyers and he can help you and your family.

Immigrate to Manitoba

In addition to Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec, Mr. Clarke now lives in the capital city of Friendly Manitoba: Winnipeg. Winnipeg is the located at the heart of North America. It is a center for Aboriginal Culture with a vibrant arts community. Winnipeg has a spectacular historic downtown with Parisian architecture. The Exchange District is booming with chic restaurants and cafes.

Mr. Clarke’s law firm is located in Osborne Village in Winnipeg – the neighbourhood was ranked the “Greatest Neighbourhood” in Canada by CBC in 2012. Osborne Village is a community where everything is at your fingertips. Boutiques and cafes line the streets with trendy fashions and souvenirs. In the winter, Osborne Village has access to the Assiniboine River and you can skate along the river to downtown.experienced immigration lawyer

Manitoba is a stable, peaceful province that is perfect for professionals and families. The school system is welcoming to children from all over the world. Winnipeg’s neighbourhood of St. Boniface is French. The Louis Riel School Division is 100% in French and there is a strong community from Burundi and Congo.

Manitoba boasts 4 seasons and the ever-changing weather of the prairies. Summer is festival season and there are international activities, music and events from every culture. Folklorama is a must-see. In Fall/Autumn, the Elm Canopy – which is one of the only remaining in the world – turns from green to orange and yellow in the Fall. International Students arrive to the University of Winnipeg and the University of Manitoba on Study Permits. The international-acclaimed Museum of Human Rights is perfect for a winter day. Spring is a wonderful time in Manitoba with flowers and everything blooms.

Manitoba has a strong economy boosted by the Canadian Mint, the International Centre for Infectious Diseases, the Museum of Human Rights, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, the pork Industry and many other cutting-edge businesses.

Retain an Experienced Immigration Lawyer

Mr. Clarke has lived in 5 of Canada’s 10 provinces so there are still more places to explore. Eastern Canada, including the provinces on the Atlantic Ocean are also vibrant with their own unique culture. Sask has a booming economy with the Potash Industry and there are many jobs. Mr. Clarke has assisted many clients who live in Sask and assists as an experienced immigration lawyer.

Immigration to Canada can be one of the best changes in your life and the life of your family. But it can be a daunting task. Clarke Immigration Law assists individuals and businesses come to Canada – and stay in Canada. We provide an experienced Immigration Lawyer to help you through the process.

Contact us for more information.

News: Clarke Law Stops Deportation

Alastair Clarke stopped the deportation of a Burundi client. He had been represented by other counsel and his previous application was denied.

Published on CBC News, June 22 2015:

Man from Burundi granted deportation reprieve, options minimal

‘I am sure I will face violence and threats or they may even kill me. I don’t know,’ Bergise says

CBC News Posted: Jun 22, 2015 11:32 AM CT Last Updated: Jun 22, 2015 1:22 PM CT

Bergise has been living in Winnipeg since August 2014 with his sister and her family but fears his deportation after his application for refugee status was denied. He has been granted a stay of removal that expires Sept. 15.

Bergise has been living in Winnipeg since August 2014 with his sister and her family but fears his deportation after his application for refugee status was denied. He has been granted a stay of removal that expires Sept. 15. (CBC)

A man from Burundi seeking refugee status in Canada, has been granted a short reprieve from his deportation.

He was set to be deported Tuesday at 4 a.m., but he heard Monday that he was granted an extension until Sept. 15.

Bergise – who is only being identified by his first name for fear he will be identified if he is forced to return to Burundi –came to Canada in August 2014 to stay with his sister in her Manitoba home. Within a few months he filed a refugee claim to keep him from being sent back to the Central African country

At peace in Canada

Bergise left Burundi after being pursued by the political party that is currently in power. They tried to intimidate Bergise into joining their party, betraying his father who is an elected member of an opposition party. Bergise said he categorically refused.

Gloria Mpangaje

Gloria Mpangaje, Bergise’s sister, says she is sure her brother will face persecution if he returns to Burundi. (CBC)

After this encounter, his parents feared for his life and got him out of the country. Bergise said it wasn’t long after that police officers showed up at his parents’ home looking for him.

“When I left, I escaped the threats of Burundi. So when I’m sent back to Burundi, I am sure I will face violence and threats or they may even kill me. I don’t know,” Bergise told Radio-Canada in French.

“Here in Canada I’m at peace. I feel well, I’m with my sister, I feel safe.”

Canadian immigration laws

Alastair Clarke, a Winnipeg-based immigration lawyer, is doing all he can to prevent Bergise’s deportation. The Sept. 15 extension brings relief but no guarantee of safety.

Monday, Bergise was granted a motion to stay his removal but that doesn’t change the fact that Bergise’s application and appeal for refugee status has been denied and a person can only go through the process one time.

Clarke was not Bergise’s lawyer during the original refugee status application process but said it was denied due to a lack of preparedness and missing documentation.

“At this point because of the political situation in Burundi, he faces personal risk and we are trying, with the assistance of the federal court, to keep him in Canada until the country stabilizes and he’s no longer at risk,” Clarke said Monday.

Burundi has faced substantial political turmoil in recent months and Bergise is in particular danger as the son of an elected political official, Clarke told CBC.

The situation in the country is changing daily, which will change their outlook on the prospect of Bergise returning home.

Clarke said it is possible tensions will continue to build as the country’s next presidential election looms in mid-July and the current president is seeking a third term, contrary to the country’s constitution.

“Bergise’s mother, father and two siblings are currently in an a refugee camp in Uganda because the situation became so violent and so volatile and they felt that their lives were also at risk,” Clarke said.

There is a one-year ban on Bergise pursuing his next course of action, applying for permanent residence based on humanitarian and and compassionate grounds, after having his refugee claim denied. Clarke said they will have to work with Canada’s border services come September to have him stay in Canada for the required 12 months.

His only other course of action, Clarke said, would be to apply for pre-removal risk assessment if Burundi was added to the list of exempted countries. Currently there are no exempted countries on the list.

Facing possible violence or death

“I’ve been blessed by his presence here with us,” said Gloria Mpangaje, Bergise’s sister.

She has been especially thankful for Bergise being in her home to help since the birth of her third child in March. Now that Bergise is temporarily safe, they will look to find a way to work with the United Nations Refugee Agency to sponsor the rest of their family to come to Canada from Uganda.

“He’s the only family that I have here. My kids have been connecting with him very emotionally, they have been loving him and learning so many things through him. We’ve been very very thankful,” she told CBC’s Information Radio.

Mpangaje is also confident her brother will face either violence or death if he is sent back to Burundi but for now, Bergise is safe and will celebrate his 21st birthday in Canada with his family.