Success: Citizenship for Minors

Depending on the circumstance, Canadians whose children were born abroad may apply directly for their citizenship so that they can easily come home. Since the pandemic hit the global collective consciousness, we have helped many families, including minors, with their move back home. Notwithstanding universal health care and the CERB, Canada has become a global model for governance and leadership. After less than 2 months of processing time, we recently received two (2) Citizenship Certificates for the children of a Canadian living in the USA. Due to COVID-19 and other factors, she does not feel safe in the USA and she will be moving home asap.

Minors

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

Typically, Citizenship grants for minors take much longer than 2 months. In this case, our client demonstrated exceptional circumstances and the IRCC Officer agreed to urgent processing.

Our goal is to help our clients fulfill their immigration dreams. As far as I’m concerned, our country is built on immigration and, therefore, our work leads to a win-win situation. Our clients are happy they are able to come (or stay) in the best country in the world (we are bias, of course) and, at the same time, Canada benefits from the skills and experience.

Applications for minor children have their challenges. It can be difficult to obtain sufficient evidence and there may be objections by parents and/or guardians. The key is to prepare a strong application where the Officer clearly understands the best interests of the child (BIOC) or children who are directly affected by the application.

Congratulations to our clients! We wish them all the best on their relocation to Manitoba. As part of our plan to reopen the province and get the economy back on track, they will need to abide by their 14-day Quarantine Plan as we are trying to limit the number of infections from the USA.

Success: Study Permit

As the saying goes, third time is the charm. An international student at Brandon University entered our office, almost in tears. She had hired an immigration consultation (bad choice, of course) who submitted a Study Permit on her behalf. It had been refused and she was told to leave Canada. The situation in her home country has deteriorated and her family’s business was greatly affected. As we are dealing with the effects of COVID-19, these situations are not uncommon. We were able to help her get back on track and she was able to resume her studies. Another successful application. I wish her all the best.

Study Permit

The description above is a brief summary of the case. Once we were retained as her representatives, we submitted an ATIP to review her GCMS Notes. We discovered her previous immigration consultant submitted two Study Permits on her behalf. This incompetent representative only told her about the first application. She submitted the same documents to IRCC and, unsurprisingly, the applicant received a second refusal.

Our Study Permit application was this applicant’s 3rd attempt. We were able to show sufficient documentation related to her family’s dire situation and evidence that she is a genuine student, despite her hardship. The IRCC Officer accepted our submissions and she was able to go back to Brandon University.

I remember meeting former Minister of IRCC John McCallum when he came to Winnipeg. He is, in fact, a former professor at the University of Manitoba. He has asserted many times that international students are strong applicants and IRCC should support their dreams of Permanent Resident status. In my view, many IRCC Officers want to support students; however, if they hire incompetent immigration consultants, it is very difficult for IRCC to help.

Manitoba Phase 2 Reopening

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

Phase 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

PGWP Update

IRCC has announced increased flexibility with Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) for international students in Canada. This reflects the government’s recognition of the contribution of international students to the Canadian economy and to society in general. As stated by our former Minister of Immigration John McCallum, international students are the core of the Canadian immigration system and the government is committed to supporting these individuals who have proven their financial contributions to this country.PGWP

IRCC has explicitly stated the importance of international students to our immigration system. The Press Release states:

International education represents a significant economic benefit to Canada, with international students contributing $21.6 billion to Canada’s GDP and supporting nearly 170,000 jobs in 2018. International students are also often excellent candidates to apply to remain in Canada permanently, with nearly 54,000 former students becoming permanent residents in Canada in 2018.

Indeed, the numbers are clear. Many int’l students go on to work on a PGWP and they apply for PR status. This is a proven path. In Manitoba, it is even easier with the MPNP program.

IRCC has shown commitment to ensuring students have the support they need during COVID19:

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a considerable impact on international students. In response to the health and travel restrictions that are in place, many designated learning institutions (DLIs) are offering their courses online.

Post-secondary institutions and prospective students alike are considering their approach to the fall semester. Both have sought guidance from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada regarding eligibility for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP) for students starting at an eligible DLI this fall.

The government has announced increased flexibility with PGWP applications:

Under normal circumstances, criteria for the PGWPP limit an international student’s ability to pursue a program via distance learning, from inside or outside Canada, and time spent studying outside Canada is deducted from the length of the work permit for which they are eligible.

PGWPP eligibility will not be affected for international students whose fall 2020 courses will be online due to COVID-19. This is in line with guidance provided to students already studying in Canada or whose program had a spring or summer start date.

Students in this situation may begin their classes while outside Canada and complete up to 50% of their program via distance learning if they cannot travel to Canada sooner.

In addition, they will not have time deducted from the length of a future post-graduation work permit for studies completed outside of Canada, up to December 31, 2020.

This is very good news. We have many clients who can take advantage of these updates to the PGWP. On 29 MAY 2020, Clarke Immigration Law will participate in a meeting with the Minister of IRCC as well as the Minister of CBSA to discuss further changes to help our clients. Continue to watch this space for details.

UPDATE: We have been advised that PGWP application may be extended, in some circumstances. In this past, this was not possible. Please contact our office for more information.

Pandemic Passports & CIB

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

  • Malta
  • Cyprus
  • The Grenadines

As noted by the Robb Report:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Manitoba Reopens: Phase 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Donations for Mohammed

Thank you for the tremendous support for our client Mohammed. You can read about his story in the WFP article. Basically, he is in Canada on a Work Permit and he is not covered by Manitoba Health. He had COVID19 symptoms and he paid $359.00 CAD to be tested:

Mohammed called Health Links to find out how he should proceed. He told the Free Press after waiting on hold for two hours, the representative on the other end of the line advised he go for testing at the nearest emergency room — not one of the off-site coronavirus testing centres.

He went to the downtown Health Sciences Centre and was swabbed for COVID-19. He was handed a bill for $359. He has no idea where he’s going to come up with the cash to pay it.

“I already don’t save a penny for myself,” he said. “I could pay if it was a smaller amount. And I only took the test. I didn’t take any medicine or anything like that. It is a lot of money to me.”

We have been helping Mohammed with his immigration applications. We hope that we can help him become a Permanent Resident and he will not have to worry about paying cash for health care.

We have been contacted by many WFP readers who would like to help Mohammed. Manitobans are so generous!

If you would like to help Mohammed, please contact our office and we can accept donations.

Please note that Clarke Immigration Law is based on service and principles of fairness. We provide many services pro bono to clients and we are committed to helping clients through Legal Aid. Alastair worked as Staff Lawyer at various community legal aid clinics in Toronto and Kingston. Our firm is modeled after the legal clinic system and our focus is on helping our clients and providing the best quality service.

WFP: Pandemic & Immigration

During this pandemic, CLARKE IMMIGRATION LAW is open and we are working remotely while keeping staff at the office. Please refer to our post on COVID19 which has regular updates. This pandemic has caused significant frustration and anxiety among our clients, including businesses that are negatively affected, families, workers and refugee claimants. Alastair Clarke gave an interview to the Winnipeg Free Press to answer some questions related to this ongoing pandemic and its impact on Canadian immigration law.

We have included a limited selection from the interview below. Please click here to read the full article.

Free Press: Are you concerned about how coronavirus response and the economic impact of the pandemic will influence people’s ability to land in Canada and to process applications on the permanent residency and citizenship track?

Clarke: Absolutely… we’re dealing with emergencies on a daily basis. Clients are concerned about their work permits, international students are worried about their status if they’ve been granted study permits, but they’re now not able to come for whatever reason. We have clients who have requirements to get biometrics (fingerprints and photo), but they’re not able to get the biometrics because the offices are closed.

This pandemic has affected the entire system. Not to mention the (Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada) tribunal is virtually closed, 90 per cent of our hearings have been postponed.

We expect there are going to be delays in processing times. We expect this is going to impact many applications. Canada, as everyone knows, is dependent on immigration and our economy is tied very closely with immigration.Pandemic

FP: What if someone had been on track to apply for a permanent residency permit and just got laid off? Are they still going to be eligible to remain in Canada? Would they be eligible for the emergency employment benefit?

AC: Every case is different. So, we’re dealing with these questions on a case-by-case basis.

I had one trucker who called me and he has a permanent residency application in process and his employer has supported his application. But the routes he has are all to the United States, and this client doesn’t feel comfortable going to the United States anymore. He’s asked his employer for domestic routes, but they don’t have any. So now he’s asking whether or not he can quit — and that would be a huge risk; he puts his visa application at risk.

I will say, generally speaking, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, I’m on the phone with officers almost daily and they have been incredibly open about what they’re dealing with. The officers are incredibly sympathetic; they understand how these applicants are being affected.

Please go to the Winnipeg Free Press article to read the interview in full. This pandemic and the impact of COVID19 is causing unprecedented changes to the economy and to society on a global scale.

Finally, I want to applaud the Government of Manitoba for their hard work. Currently, there are ~250 infections in the entire province and only a few deaths. We have less than 1% of the cases in Canada and Manitoba is very safe. I feel extremely safe and secure in Manitoba and we have the benefit of an extremely reliable health care system.

We want to thank all the health care workers who work tirelessly to treat those affected by this pandemic. We each need to do our part to mitigate the risk and flatten the curve. We are very fortunate to live in Manitoba and we benefit from good governance and strong leadership.

COVID19 – UPDATE 7/APR/2020

UPDATE: 7/APRIL/2020

Please note that we will not be providing additional updates to this page. There have been many changes to laws, regulations and policies due to COVID19. We have been in contact with lawyers from across Canada to stay up to date with changes and amendments.

If you have any specific questions on how the changes may impact your application or your situation, please book a consultation with a lawyer.

UPDATE: 24/MARCH/2020

OK – to mitigate the spread of COVID19, the Ontario government declared that all non-essential services must close starting tomorrow and we expect Manitoba will follow suit soon. The numbers of infected continue to rise and the governments are doing everything in their power.

LAWYERS ARE “ESSENTIAL” SERVICE

The list is out. Lawyers and law firms are considered an essential service. We will continue to monitor the situation. Again, most staff at Clarke Law are working remotely. We only have 2 staff in the office to keep things up and running; however, we are not holding in-person meetings in the office. Feel free to drop off documents and we have been getting daily packages.

NOTE: Immigration consultants are not on the list. As per usual, please contact an appropriate expert for assistance.

LEADING BY EXAMPLE

I have to commend our valiant leader PM Trudeau who is working from home in isolation. He is managing his busy household, with 3 young children, by himself while leading our country through very difficult times.

We watch his daily briefings and he remains poised. Lead by example. Well done Sir!

BORDERLINES PODCAST

My colleagues in Vancouver have published an episode on The Canadian Immigration Consequences of COVID19. This does not seem to appear on their website (yet) so I would encourage you to find it in your podcast app.

In particular, it is nice to hear some optimism from Deanna!

START IN-CANADA REFUGEE CLAIM BY EMAIL

As the IRCC Offices across Canada have closed due to COVID19, refugee claims in Canada are being submitted by email: IRCC.RefugeeClaim-Demandedasile.IRCC@cic.gc.ca

We have been in regular contact with the IRB-RPD (Western Region) and we have been advised that all hearings have been postponed until 1 MAY 2020.

UPDATE: 23/MARCH2020

We had a busy weekend. The land border with the USA closed at midnight on Friday due to COVID19, causing a lot of confusion. I am not sure how “Tutor” became part of the definition of “immediate family member”.

COVID19

COVID19

IN-PERSON MEETINGS CANCELLED

In our office, most of our staff are working from home. We will continue to work on files and submit applications to maintain high standards. At the same time, we must do our part to fight this COVID19 virus from spreading. We encourage all our clients to contact us by telephone – 2045996966 or by email info@apply2manitoba.ca

MANITOBA STATE OF EMERGENCY

The provincial government has declared a State of Emergency to manage the spread of COVID19. These are extreme measures for extreme times. We are all taking these measures very seriously and we fully support any and all measures to protect the health and safety of residents.

This means that groups over 50 people are banned. Gyms are closed. Most retail will close. See the government website for details. We are taking this day by day.

UPDATE: 20/MARCH/2020

ASYLUM SEEKERS FROM USA

The Canadian government has further restricted border entries. Asylum seekers (refugee claimants) who seek to enter Canada at Ports of Entry will be refused entry. Asylum seekers (refugee claimants) who attempt irregular crossings into Canada will be returned to the US as part of an “exceptional measure” to protect residents in Canada.

During a news briefing, Minister Blair has acknowledged exceptions, including unaccompanied minors, to filing a refugee claim at the border. Claims at the US-Canada border have decreased by half from ~40 daily to ~20 daily. They will be returned to the USA and the Minister has advised that they will not be detained.

QUARANTINE ACT LEGISLATION

Emergency legislation through the Quarantine Act limits entry to Canada, including “immediate family members” as defined by the new Order. This provides clarity on the previous announcements that will limit access to Canadian soil.

Individuals crossing from the US may be required to spend a period of 14 days in the US due to COVID19 before they will be allowed to enter Canada.

FASTER PROCESSING TIMES

Minister Freeland has indicated that IRCC may be processing applications faster than usual. She has indicated that we need to recognize the need for “speed over attention”. She has emphasized the importance of processing files quickly. We are waiting for confirmation and details from Minister Mendicino’s office.

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UPDATE 19/MARCH/2020

US VISA OFFICES – CUTTING SERVICES

The US Government has announced that Visa Offices around the world will be cutting services and canceling appointments. This is an unprecedented decision that will impact thousands of applications.

We believe the Canadian government may issue a similar order to Canadian Visa Offices. If you are in process of submitting an application, we encourage you to submit ASAP while the Visa Offices are still open.

CANADA/USA BORDER RESTRICTIONS

Through a mutual agreement, the Canadian and US government have agreed to limit travel across the land border to essential travel only. This is an attempt to limit tourism and cross-border shopping. There are exemptions for trade and/or trucking. Governments are working hard due to the numbers of COVID19 infections.

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UPDATE 18/MARCH/2020

Please note that we have been dealing with the pandemic and monitoring the developments closely. We are trying to reply to all concerns in a systemic and orderly manner.

IRB – HEARINGS POSTPONED

Please note that most hearings at the tribunal have been postponed. This included refugee claims, admissibility hearings, and appeals. If you have a hearing that has been scheduled, we will provide updates from the IRB. Currently, the IRB front offce is closed to the public and they have released this message, published in 16/MARCH/2020. IRB Members are working on current cases and we received a positive decision today.

ENTERING CANADA

Please note that the Government of Canada has temporarily restricted entry to Canada. Previously, only Canadian citizens, PRs and a few exemptions have been permitted entry. Today, there may be additional restrictions. The situation has been changing daily, based on the risk assessment. If you or your loved ones are seeking entry to Canada, please review the changes that are published on news outlets, including CBC News.

REMOVALS AND DEPORTATIONS

CBSA has currently suspended all removals from Canada, including Departure Orders, Exclusion Orders and Deportation Orders; however, there are exceptions.

APPOINTMENTS WITH IRCC

IRCC has suspended in person meetings with Officers. Currently, they have announced that meetings may resume on 13/APRIL/2020; however, that may change depending on the pandemic.

Successful applications who are scheduled to land and become Permanent Residents, need to contact IRCC if they are unable to travel. This includes COPR and PRV cases.

BIOMETRICS

All biometrics appointments inside Canada have been cancelled until further notice. IRCC has granted an automatic extension of 90 days.

For biometrics appointments outside Canada, please contact the appropriate VAC or ASC.

CITIZENSHIP APPLICATIONS

Please note that CPC Sydney has temporarily closed and the office is not accepting packages. We will be submitting documentation as soon as they resume operations.

CROSSING THE BORDER & POEs

Please keep in mind that CBSA Officers at the border are on the front line. They have put in place measures to keep the Officers safe and, at the same time, follow instructions from Ottawa. We have been advised by other law firms in Canada that POEs may refuse to process applications that are not urgent.

PR APPLICATIONS

Applications for Permanent Residence and many other applications are being accepted. IRCC is encouraging all applicants to submit online, if possible.

FEDERAL COURT – APPLICATIONS FOR JUDICIAL REVIEW

The Court has issued a Notice regarding deadlines and ALJR. This information is effective 17/MARCH/2020

MIGRANT WORKERS & FARMING

We have been monitoring the situation. IRCC is acutely aware of the needs of the farming and agricultural sector. Current border restrictions may impact many workers who have travel plans. At this point, we encourage all temporary workers to monitor the situation closely.

LEGAL AID MANITOBA

LAM has announced that it will accept application online and their office is currently closed.

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13/MARCH/2020

We want to thank all our clients and partners for continued patience, cooperation and understanding during this COVID29 pandemic. We have taken unprecedented actions to keep our staff safe and healthy. These precautions have been put in place to ensure that we can continue to work and serve our clients. We will continue to do the work that we love; however, we also need to stay safe & healthy.

If you have come to the office recently, you have noticed the new signage. We announced the ban on shaking hands at the beginning of 2020 and we have put in place additional measures to limit personal contact and adhere to social distancing. In addition, starting on March 11th, we have put in place additional cleaning and other procedures to protect the office from viruses. We have added purification systems and many other measures for protection.

We have also put in place additional procedures so that staff can work remotely from home, if necessary. We are monitoring ourselves regularly to make sure we are safe and healthy. We are taking the COVID19 pandemic seriously and we want to make sure that we follow all precautions so that we are not infected and that we do not infect anyone who comes to our office.

Please take all measures to stay healthy.