IRB Wait Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Free Presentation: Law in the Library

As part of the Law in the Library series, Alastair Clarke will be giving a free presentation to the public on October 19, 2017 at St. Boniface Library at 131 Provencher Boulevard. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Free Presentation


Please note that we cannot give individual legal advice during this free presentation. The purpose of the presentation is for information purposes and to inform the public on changes to Canadian Immigration Law. We constantly talk to clients who hear wrong information or information that is out of date. The laws in Canada for immigration and refugees are constantly in flux. Our goal is to make sure that Manitobans understand the laws so they can avoid mistakes and they have clear expectations when they submit applications to IRCC or CBSA of any of the Visa Offices around the world.

For more information, check out the CLEA Website for more details and to RSVP.

CLEA’s Mission Statement:

CLEA is a charitable organization that provides legal information to Manitobans. We believe that legal knowledge is necessary for full and equal participation in our society.

CLEA develops programs and resources especially to work with communities where there are understood needs. These services help individuals better understand our legal system and how to resolve their legal issues.


Program Strategy

To meet the diverse information needs of our community, we have adopted the following objectives to help us plan our programs:

  • Individuals Focus To provide information about the law, legal system and sources of legal assistance in response to requests.
  • Intermediaries Focus To provide service providers and representative groups with information about: the law, legal system, sources of legal assistance and law reform.

Access to Justice Focus

To identify barriers and promote possible solutions to support a more equitable and accessible justice system that is responsive to the needs of Manitoba’s diverse communities.

Free Signs at Clarke Law

To support the efforts of Esther deGroot and the folks at Welcome Your Neighors / Neighbours, we are giving away free signs at our office. We have limited supply so if you are interested in putting a sign on your property, please come and pick up a free sign at our office. The signs are printed in Ukrainian, Tagalog, English, Spanish, French, Arabic and many other languages. The goal of this program is to blanket Winnipeg with these photos to show our support for immigrants and multiculturalism in our city.


With every client we serve, we believe that we are making this city, and this country, a better place. The skills and experience of all the people who come through our office are truly inspiring and we work every day to make sure that we can do everything in our power to help them come to Canada or stay in Canada or bring their family & friends to Canada so we can be together. We strive every day to serve and help our clients.

We truly believe the line on this sign is correct. The language is simple, yet powerful. NO MATTER WHERE YOU ARE FROM, WE’RE GLAD YOU’RE OUR NEIGHBOR/NEIGHBOUR.

As stated by our new Governor General today, Julie Payette, we are all on the same spacecraft, planet earth. All humans on this planet share this extraordinary world and the borders are an invention of “man”.

I would also like to add that we are very proud to serve clients from all over the world. We did a review of our files and we have served clients from (in no particular order): India, Israel, Burundi, Vietnam, UAE, Ireland, United States, Japan, DRC, South Africa, Nigeria, UK, Germany, Russia, Philippines, Guatemala, Australia, Guyana, Cuba, Bangladesh, Venezuela, Rwanda, China, Lebanon, Mauritania, Djibouti, Ukraine, Ethiopia, Mali, Malaysia, Pakistan, Tanzania, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, North Korea, Mongolia, Nepal, St Lucia, Jamaica, Mexico, Egypt, Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan, Kenya, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Cameroon, Moldova, Portugal and other countries.

Please contact our office to arrange to pick up your sign.

WFP: American family gets another chance to stay in Canada

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to read the full story by Alexandra Paul.

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

Global News: Immigration Canada reopens application

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Permanent Resident in Winnipeg

One of our clients was conferred with Permanent Resident status this morning. After a short process, we were successful with a Spouse or Common Law Partner In Canada (SCLPC) class application with a Work Permit. From start to finish, the client became a PR (Permanent Resident) in 9 months.

It is always a pleasure to work with clients and make sure that their applications are done perfectly. Good work leads to positive results. We see so many applications that are not done well. In so many cases, the family members or the helpers have good intentions that go sideways. We only see, of course, the applications that we need to fix. If the application goes through the system without any issues, we may not even know about it.

Permanent Resident

Permanent Resident

The day a client becomes a Permanent Resident is a celebration for both the client and all of us in the office. Thank you to these clients who have given us the privilege to help them through the process.

Note: please be aware that applications that are submitted under the SCLPC class must be done well. If the application is refused, for any reason, the Applicant does not have the right to appeal to the Immigration Appeal Division. This point cannot be overstated. Losing the right of appeal should not be taken lightly.

The interview this morning went perfectly and the clients were well prepared. We make sure that all our clients go through a practice interview in our office to make sure there are no surprises when they meet with the Immigration Officer. The motto in our office is: Prepare, Prepare, Prepare. In our experience, when clients go into an interview or a hearing and they are prepared, that can be the biggest difference between failure and success. Thankfully, our track record at IRCC and CBSA and the IRB is clear and the Officers know that when Clarke Law is representing the Applicant, they will be well prepared for all the potential issues.

These clients will remember this day. The date that someone becomes a Permanent Resident of Canada is very important. It is up there with becoming a Canadian Citizen and, hopefully, we will help them going through that process when the time comes. It is always a pleasure to help clients meet their goals and achieve their dreams. We help families get together, stay together and reunify in Canada.

UNHCR EVENT: Representing at IRB (Tribunal)

Please be advised that Alastair Clarke will be presenting on a panel of experts in immigration and refugee law this week. See information below. This is an event sponsored by UNHCR and in conjunction with the IRB – RPD. The goal of the event is to provide counsel and other representatives with assistance and best practices on the procedures at the tribunal. This is not open to the public. If you are interested in attending, you must contact Azedeh in advance and submit a request. Space is limited.

We welcome member of the public for this event; however, keep in mind that it is designed for representatives and the assumption is that the audience will be dealing with refugee claimants from different countries and from various circumstances. We will not be addressing questions about specific or particular cases. All the information will be of a general nature only.

This event is based on the current situation in Winnipeg. There are too few competent lawyers who are taking on refugee claimants. Due to the influx of claimants into Manitoba, the tribunal is under a heavy caseload and there are concerns about inexperienced counsel who lack the experience to provide proper assistance to the people they want to help.

Canada 150 and the Meaning of Citizenship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Republished from

“Harsh school report dashed immigration hopes: lawyer”


An “exaggerated” school psychologist’s report on a girl’s special needs that was worded “as negatively as possible” in order to secure school division funding was used by federal immigration officials to reject her and her family’s bid to stay in Canada, says a memorandum filed in Federal Court on Monday.

Jon and Karissa Warkentin moved their family from Colorado after buying a tourist lodge in Waterhen, Man., and resettling to Canada in 2013 with plans to make it their permanent home. That dream was dashed after immigration officials denied the family’s application for permanent resident status, saying six-year-old Karalynn is medically inadmissible because of a 2015 school psychologist’s assessment. Her parents, whose work visas expire Nov. 24, hired an immigration lawyer who has already filed a motion for leave to have a Federal Court judge review their case.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES</p><p>Winnipeg immigration lawyer Alastair Clarke.</p>

Winnipeg immigration lawyer Alastair Clarke.

On Monday, Alastair Clarke said he filed a 27-page memo with the Federal Court arguing the immigration officials’ decision was based on a report by a school psychologist rather than a pediatric specialist, as directed by immigration guidelines.

It points to a Frontier School Division psychologist’s November 2015 report that said Karalynn — who started having seizures in 2014 — was showing signs of global developmental delay (GDD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The purpose of his assessment, he said, was “to determine Karalynn’s specific strengths and areas of challenges.” It was not an immigration medical examination or for diagnostic purposes or in any way conclusive, says the memo filed with the court. Federal immigration officials, however, based their conclusion that Karalynn is medically inadmissible on the report which said she had “signs of” GDD and ADHD, the memo said. […]


For the complete article, published by, please visit their website (requires payment).

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


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

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

Clarke provides some insight to Immigration Canada’s decision.

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

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