Success: Request for Reconsideration

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

Request for Reconsideration

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

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

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

Click here for 12 tips for finding a good representative.

Legal Fees Increase (Not Ours)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.

Success: Sponsorship Appeal

In late 2018, we were contacted by a Pakistani family regarding a Spousal Sponsorship application that was refused. We had 6 months to prepare the Spousal Sponsorship appeal at the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD) of the tribunal. Challenges we had to overcome: two (2) previous sponsorship refusals, one (1) previous IAD sponsorship appeal refusal, divorce, family issues, mental health issues, mistakes made by the Pakistani official and mistakes on the original application. Positives: our clients are a loving couple who found each other despite significant hardship and obstacles. On many levels, this couple is a good match and they have the support of their family in Canada as well as family members in Pakistan.

Sponsorship appeal

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

This was not an easy win. We prepared multiple disclosure packages that included hundreds of pages of evidence. We practiced testimony with family members in Canada and in Asia. In our conference room, we had many meetings to review questions and answers. For these cases, it is so important to prepare, prepare, prepare!!

As an aside, it is important to point out that these clients had previously retained another law firm for a previous IAD sponsorship appeal and they lost. When they came to us, they had already spent more than $20,000.00 CAD on legal fees. They would have saved a lot of $$$$ if they had come to us first. I will not say that the previous immigration lawyer lacks competence. I respect her work and I believe that she tried her best. For whatever reason, it simply wasn’t good enough. I will also refrain from naming the previous law firm but I can let you know they have a Google rating of only 3.0 and a poor reputation in the legal community.

In 2016, we published tips for winning a Spousal Sponsorship appeal. Alastair handled his first Spousal Sponsorship appeal back in 2007 (with the support of his Toronto law firm, he won) and he has won every IAD appeal over the past 12 years. Many victories. Many happy families reunited.

In this case, the Pakistani applicant has arrived and she is now a Permanent Resident of Canada. She is settling into her life in Winnipeg, with the unwavering support of her husband and their family. We wish their marriage all the best!

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.

—-

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.

—-

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.

—-

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.

Success: Refugee Appeal

refugee appeal

This photo is used with permission.

In early 2018, a Somali man came to us in distress and he asked us to help with a refugee appeal. His claim for refugee status was refused by the Refugee Protection Division (RPD). He was represented by a lawyer who was going through mental health issues and, unfortunately, that lawyer did not prepare a strong case. We agreed to assist with this individual with a refugee appeal to the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD) based on the fact that significant evidence had not been considered and his particular circumstances.

We worked with the Somali community in Manitoba and our client’s network of supporters. We were able to prepare significant new evidence. For some reason, the previous lawyer did not prepare a strong case even though the documents were available. Based on the evidence, we put together a strong package on behalf of our client.

After ten (10) months, the RAD granted our appeal and overturned the RPD refusal. The RAD Member agreed with our significant legal arguments and agreed with our submissions that the new evidence may have had a significant impact on the refugee claim. To ensure full disclosure, we were fortunate to have a sympathetic RAD Member decide this refugee appeal. In this case, the client opted not to file a complaint against his former lawyer.

A refugee appeal is challenging and most appeals are dismissed. In 2019, only 12% of RAD appeals in the IRB Western Region were allowed. Building on our success with other appeals, we are thrilled with this decision and we strongly agree with the RAD. Our client’s previous lawyer did a terrible job and, thankfully, we have been able to fix this mess.

NOTE: Clarke Immigration Law accepts Legal Aid Certificates for RPD hearings only. Based on the amount of work involved with refugee appeals and the low rate of approval, we only accept refugee appeals on private retainer agreements and our fees are published online. Typically, our clients pay $500 monthly based on our flexible payment plans.

 

Sponsor Parents – 2020

UPDATE (12 DEC 2019): I have spoken with my colleagues and IRCC will be opening this program at the end of JAN 2020; however, they are planning a different system to select applications. For more information, please contact our office directly.

IRCC has announced in December 2019 that Parents and Grandparents may be eligible to sponsor in 2020. This comes after the Liberal Government was reelected and they are continuing with their previous election promise to reunite parents and grandparents in Canada. The previous Conservative government suspended this sponsorship application and replaced this program with the Super Visa.

Based on current information, the program to sponsor parents or grandparents will reopen at the beginning of 2020. Sponsors must an “interest to sponsor” form immediately after the program reopens. We expect this application to sponsor parents will be as popular as previous years. Previously, the IRCC website shut down after approximately 10 minutes only.Sponsor Parents

If you plan to sponsor parents or grandparents, please retain our office to help with the interest to sponsor form. Our fees for this service are only $500.00 CAD and we will have staff prepared to submit these forms as quickly as possible. All our fees are published on our website and we would encourage you to review the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

Only sponsors and applicants who submit the interest to sponsor form in time will have the opportunity to submit a full application in 2020. At that point, we can assist to prepare the full application. There is a 60 day deadline to submit the full application. Based on previous experience with these applications, if a family is not eligible and/or the applicant is inadmissible for any reason, IRCC will contact the next potential applicants.

We can only assist a limited number of families in this process. We would strongly encourage you to have your file opened and set up in DEC 2019 to ensure the best chance of being selected in early 2020 when the program reopens. Please contact us immediately if you would like assistance to sponsor parents or grandparents.

Lawyer Fees Online

Clarke Immigration Law is founded on principles of being open and honest with our clients. Our reviews on Google, by verified clients, and our testimonials from our past clients reflect the quality of work that we do. When we first founded this firm, we wanted to create a relationship based on trust with our clients and part of that relationship means that we charge “fair” lawyer fees for our service.

From the beginning, we have published our pricing & fees on our website. I can see from the online traffic that our pricing page is very popular. Feel free to use our page to negotiate with other lawyers. Feel free to use this page to compare our services and lawyer fees for family and friends. We understand that lawyer’s fees are expensive; however, the work that we do is so important that it takes long hours and great care to ensure each and every application is handled properly and professionally.

Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash - Lawyer fees

When we first published our fees, there was only one other law firm in Canada who are publishing their fees online: North Star Immigration based out of Halifax, NS. Since then, many more firms have, perhaps, followed our lead and I want to encourage my colleagues to do the same. I want to give strong support to these firms:

The purpose of this page is to help you have a page with quick access to the fees published above so you can make an informed decision for yourself and your family. We recognize that you work hard and that every $dollar (or yen or dinar or euro, etc) matters. We fully understand you need to find the best representative and you need to consider many factors. Legal fees is only one of those factors.

For quick access, I will note that two of the most common applications done by immigration lawyers is a Spousal Sponsorship and a TRV. For comparison, here are the fees, respectively (all funds in Canadian dollars) and these are the fees that are published today:

  • Clarke Immigration Law:
    • SCLPC Class: $5,500
    • TRV: $1,800
  • North Star:
    • SCLPC Class: $6,000,
    • TRV: $2,500
  • Matkowsky:
    • SCLPC Class: $5,500
    • TRV: $3,000
  • Kahane:
    • SCLPC Class: $4,500
    • TRV: $2,000
  • ACM:
    • SCLPC Class: $6,000
    • TRV: $2,500
  • Kazembe:
    • SCLPC Class: $5,500
    • TRV: $2,000

I have published other posts on excessive fees charged by immigration lawyers including a Toronto law firm that charged $170,000.00 in lawyer fees. I have also published warnings by the Government of Canada on agents in India. I support the work done by Noel Semple, a faculty member at the University of Windsor, Faculty of Law on the ethics of lawyer’s fees. This is important work. In 2019, we considered increasing our fees as we have not raised our prices since 2015; however, based on a review done in April 2019, we opted to keep our pricing & fees at the same rate.

 

 

Toronto firm charges $170k in fees

Another investigation has uncovered unfair and abusive fees charged by a Canadian immigration firm. The Toronto firm WonHonTa Consulting offered immigration solutions for their clients without disclosing any fees. CBC News uncovered a scheme where clients were charged $170,000 CAD for Permanent Resident status.

At this point, we cannot comment on whether WonHonTa Consulting is criminal; however, it is clearly in violation of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and these clients are potentially subject to misrepresentation per section 40 of IRPA. These clients may be banned from Canada for 5 years.

Misrepresentation

  • 40(1) A permanent resident or a foreign national is inadmissible for misrepresentation
    • (a)for directly or indirectly misrepresenting or withholding material facts relating to a relevant matter that induces or could induce an error in the administration of this Act;

The keyword above is “indirectly”. This means that clients and/or applicants are caught by any mistakes made by their representatives, even in cases where they may not be aware of the information submitted on their behalf.

Buyer Beware

So the first mistake these clients of this Toronto firm made was to hire this shady firm. The CBC investigations revealed many red flags:

A Toronto immigration company offered a job to an undercover CBC journalist posing as a Chinese national seeking permanent residence in Canada for $170,000.

For that fee, WonHonTa Consulting Inc. said, the would-be immigrant would be buying the job and paying their own wage. Toronto firm

And the company said the applicant was to pay the fee to the personal bank account of WonHonTa’s sole director in order to avoid taxes.

Jiacheng Song, a manager with a China-based affiliate of WonHonTa, Nanjing Youtai Investment Consulting Co. Ltd., explained how the business works to the undercover journalist using WeChat, a Chinese social media app.

During the month-long investigation conducted through a translator, the journalist posed as a Chinese citizen wanting to become a permanent resident of Canada by obtaining skilled employment.

“To be frank, we have employers who work with us,” Song wrote. “We pay them money, they are willing to sponsor our clients for immigration.”

Clearly, this job is fake. The scheme is fake. The applicants who hire the Toronto firm are the victims.

Clear and Transparent Fees

When we started Clarke Immigration Law, we sought to run our firm differently from other law firms. Unlike other firms, we publish our legal fees online. We provide excellent services and we work to get the best results. We do not charge excessive fees. These are the values of our firm.

I have spoken with many other lawyers about publishing fees. I have heard these excuses:

  • A lawyer who serves Chinese clients quotes them much more than other clients. If he charges too little, they do not believe that he provides quality services.
  • For example, he will charge $8,000.00 for a Spousal Sponsorship (he is in Vancouver and his fees are higher than Winnipeg) for a non-Chinese couple. He will charge $12,000.00 for the same application for Chinese clients.
  • His justification is that high fees equal good service. This is simply not true.

I strongly advise clients to retain legal firms who publish their fees online. Lawyers are taught in law school the importance of transparency and predictability of the law. Canada is a common law country (save Quebec) with a history of upholding precedence; however, these principles do not seem to apply to the relationship between clients and their representatives. Lawyers do not practice what they preach. They want courts and decision-makers to provide clear reasons; however, legal fees are often completely arbitrary.

I have seen arbitrary fees charged at other law firms. The lawyer will demand a certain retainer, for example $2,000, and open a file. Then, as the file progresses, the “new” issues will arise in the same legal matter and the lawyer will charge additional fees.

Expensive Consultants

The CBC report clearly shows that immigration consultants may not be cheaper than lawyers. This Toronto firm was clearly over-charging their clients:

Song recommended the undercover journalist consider either Saskatchewan or Atlantic Canada because the qualification requirements are low and the wait times are short. He said it’s $180,000 for a job in Saskatchewan or $170,000 for the Atlantic provinces.

Song told the undercover reporter that over the past year his company had placed more than a dozen Chinese nationals in Atlantic Canada and just under ten in Saskatchewan.

I am not aware of any of these cases in Manitoba.

 

Warning: Agents in India

The Government of Canada has published a warning against using agents and immigration consultants in India. This information campaign is based on rampant fraud, fake documents and abuse by agents in India.

As noted by esteemed and veteran reporter Nicholas Keung of the Toronto Star, the information campaign in India is designed to “educate applicants who choose to pay for advice or representation on the importance of using an authorized representative and to discourage applicants from using unauthorized, fraudulent consultants.”

This campaign highlights the fact that applicants are the victims. These Indian applicants are seeking help from agents and immigration consultants; in turn, they are paying money to criminals who are operating outside Canada.

From our experience at Clark Law, we have seen many applicants in India and other countries suffer after their previous representative failed to submit quality work. In many cases, agents or consultants charged high fees based on the applicants trusting them with their important applications. They were scammed.

These cases are common both outside of Canada, in countries like India, as well as inside Canada. A recent immigration consultant in Alberta, Ms Tamara Judge has admitted to unethical behaviour and she has been sanctioned. She lied to her clients. She lied about having the support of a Member of Parliament (MP).

WARNINGS:

  • Many agents and/or immigration consultants are not authorized to charge money for immigration services;
  • Agents and/or immigration consultants often charge excessive fees;
  • No agent and/or immigration consultant can guarantee a visa to Canada; and,
  • Be aware of fraudulent consultants and scams.

For Citizens of India, our advice is to follow the warning from the Government of Canada. This warning is based on many, MANY cases of abuse and fraud. They have seen too many cases of unscrupulous consultants who submit Study Permits, Work Permits, Permanent Resident application and/or other applications to IRCC. The Canadian Officers have long recognized this is a problem in India. This warning will hopefully help applicants find better representatives.

If you or any of your friends or relatives have been victims of immigration fraud, please contact our office immediately.