Feature: Harvest Lodge

Harvest Lodge and the Warkentin family are always close to our hearts. This American family immigrated to Canada through the MPNP-BIS Warkentin familystream and they have built a strong business in Waterhen, Manitoba. Jon and his family take extremely good care of their guests and they have a solid 5 STAR rating on Google Business as well as a 5 STAR rating on TripAdvisor. I just spoke with Jon and they are open for bookings for Summer 2020. Please be mindful of travel restrictions from your neck of the woods. Currently, folks traveling from BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, the territories and northwestern Ontario are free to travel to Manitoba without any quarantine period. 

 

This is an opportunity for Manitobans to have a great vacation without leaving the province. Jon and his family are excellent hosts who can guide you on hunting and fishing adventures along Waterhen River or on any of the neighbouring lakes.

I was reading the reviews from guests and they are full of praise. Here is a review published on TripAdvisor from a Texan (MAJGabe) who stayed at Harvest Lodge with his 3 buddies:

We didn’t get in until around 11pm, but John and Karissa stayed up, welcomed us, had some snacks, and got us settled in. The accommodations were just perfect, and more than what I would have imagined. 4 grown men in a 3 bedroom cabin… […] and we each harvested a large chocolate black bear within 90 minutes of each other. Clayton (the guide) did an amazing job skinning, and we brought a portable vacuum sealer, so we immediately deboned it, sealed it, and put it in the freezer. Then we fished for the rest of the week. Maybe we drank too, I don’t remember. But we caught so much walleye that we limited out every day, put enough in the freezer to take home, and had a couple fish fry’s. Their entire operation is top notch, and their family felt like our family from the first day, and even more by the last. I would definitely recommend, and I want to come back for some waterfowl (hint hint). Thanks guys for an amazing time!

Please contact Harvest Lodge for their current programs and events. Depending on the season, they offer:Harvest Lodge

  • Six day Black Bear Hunt
  • Three day Waterfowl Package
  • Six day Whitetail Deer Hunt
  • Wolf/ Coyote Hunt

For the packages above, world class fishing may be included at no additional charge and the Warkentins take care of all the proper licensing regulations. Meals are provided by the lodge as part of the packages; however, if you prefer, there is a general store with groceries, gas and liquor for guests. Free parking is available, of course.

For the family, Harvest Lodge also offers bird-watching, tubing along the Waterhen River and a playground. During the winter months, the area offers snowmobiling adventures and, if you are lucky, amazing views of the northern lights.

As an immigration law firm, we have the pleasure of working with business owners to help them realize their goals. At the same time, business owners, like the Warkentin family, help to grow Manitoba and provide jobs to residents. If you and your family are thinking about a lodge in Manitoba, please send Jon an email and consider Harvest Lodge for your vacation!

 

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.

Success: MPNP BIS

We are thrilled to announce our business investor clients are now Permanent Residents of Canada. This family came to us in a desperate situation and they were interested in the MPNP BIS program. They are both highly accomplished professionals. He has a background in building and managing businesses in the financial section. She has a background in health management. They were seeking a better life for themselves and their five (5) children, including two (2) adopted children. One child has significant health issues.

MPNP BIS

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

With hard work and strong communication with the staff at the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP) – Business Investor Stream (BIS), we were able to help this family navigate the Entrepreneur Pathway to PR status.

In this case, the family purchased a hunting and fishing lodge in rural Manitoba. The MPNP program, as well as IRCC, has expressed significant support for applicants who are interested in building rural communities. We have helped clients through the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) and the government has announced the Municipal Nominee Program to further support the particular needs of diverse communities. We fully support this idea in principle as it recognizes the need for ground-level decision making. The one-size-fits-all approach does not work.

MPNP-BIS applicants have unique challenges and Clarke Immigration Law is known internationally for our work in this area. Alastair Clarke recently attended a meeting with senior staff at MPNP to discuss results from 2019 and plans for the future. This program is important for the development of the province and it provides mutual benefit.

We are thrilled with the MPNP BIS approval for this family and the IRCC decision to grant PR status. We wish them success with their business goals and a prosperous 2020. For more information on how we can help with your MPNP BIS application, please book a consultation. 

Lessons From 2019

We find ourselves at the end of another year. Indeed, the end of 2019 also marks the end of a decade. This is a time for contemplation and an opportunity to ponder lessons to learn for the future. I want to start but expressing my thanks and gratitude for my team. I am thankful every single day to work with an amazing group of professionals who put their hearts into their work. My main job is to provide guidance and support to ensure that we remain focused on providing the absolute best service for our clients.

I want to take time at the end of 2019 to think about lessons learned; hopefully, 2020 will bring positive change.

  1. Applicants Remain Vulnerable

Over and over and over and over, we have seen how applicants have paid thousands upon thousands of CAD dollars to shady representatives for poor service. I find it deeply frustrating and infuriating to see clients punished as a result of negligence. These applicants are the victims and they remain vulnerable. I recently attended an interview with a CBSA Officer and an Egyptian client shared her story. She paid an immigration consultant $15,000.00 for an application and she was not even eligible to apply. In my view, that is pure theft.

We are working with a Vietnamese family who paid a Chinese representative for a Study Permit. Completely wrong. Thankfully, CBSA started a criminal investigation against him and I hope his former clients are not punished.

In 2019, the Government of Canada took action “to help protect vulnerable people” against “fraudulent immigration consultants”. We will have to see if things get better in 2020 and the next decade.

  1. Canada is the New Hope2019

Clarke Immigration Law is based on Canada’s status around the world and I am constantly reminded how fortunate we are to live in one of the best (if not the best) countries. From our office, this past decade marks a strong collaboration with the news. We were called upon by CBC News, CTV News, Global News, Winnipeg Free Press and many other news sources to comment on different stories. Primarily, these stories stemmed from Canada as the New Hope in the world, replacing the United States as the “best” country for applicants from around the globe.

It was my pleasure as the only Canadian lawyer at the international EB-5 Conference in Las Vegas, USA. I was asked to present as a result of the interest by investors around the world in Canadian business opportunities, including the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program – Business Investor Stream. And, of course, I must mention the amazing people at TEDx Winnipeg who gave me the stage to talk about open borders and refugees which has been published on YouTube.

It is clear that 2020 will be a decade of growth for Canada and we will continue to work to build this country.

  1. Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst

Generally speaking, I stay out of politics. I have worked with Members of Parliament from all political parties and we will continue to advocate on behalf of our client regardless of the party in power. That said, I firmly support the current Liberal government and I am hopeful for this coming decade.

My hope for positive political change in 2020 is also balanced with a plan to consider the worst. Minister McCallum made significant changes to IRPA that rolled back many of the inhumane changes by the former Conservative government; however, this government needs to do more. I feel privileged that we were able to work with the Liberal government to make changes to section 38 of IRPA (Medical Inadmissibility) on behalf of the Warkentin family.

  1. Uncertainty on the Horizon

As my mum often says, the only constant is change. There is no doubt that 2020 and the new decade will bring change. Here are a few predictions for this coming decade:

  • The Government of Canada and the Government of Manitoba will continue to buttress immigration laws to attract STEM graduates and professionals;
  • The current Liberal government will focus on quicker processing times, including Family Class applications;
  • Regional migration and new programs that focus on smaller communities will thrive;
  • International students are the strongest stream for Permanent Resident status;
  • Refugees will be recognized for their economic contributions;
  • The changes to regulation of Immigration Consultants will fail and the government will be forced to revisit this issue.

We wish you all the best for 2020 and the coming decade. We have many reasons to celebrate 2019 and, at the same time, learn from past lessons.

RNIP – Manitoba

The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) is an opportunity for applicants to obtain Permanent Resident status in Canada. RNIP officially launched for applicants in November 2019 after IRCC vetted communities across Canada. We are fortunate in Manitoba that two (2) communities in our province have been selected and one (1) community in Ontario that is very close to Winnipeg. This is the result of a proven track record through the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP) for helping families settle and become successful citizens.

We have been receiving many (many!) requests for more information on the RNIP program. This is an exciting program for applicants and the regions that have been selected by IRCC. We can provide general information here on our website; however, I would strongly encourage you to book a consultation for more information that is specific to your circumstances.

RNIP

Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash

There are three (3) communities close to Winnipeg who have been approved by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Each of these communities was selected by the Federal Government to encourage regional migration and to encourage applicants to consider rural communities for themselves and/or their families.

The RNIP is an opportunity for applicants who have genuine intentions of settling in these smaller communities. The purpose of the program is to provide power to these rural communities to connect and select applicants who meet their labour needs. This is done through collaboration with local businesses and statistics from the labour market.

This application has two (2) parts. First, applicants must meet the requirements by IRCC. These include minimum proficiency in English or French, at a minimum high school equivalency, and settlement funds. The minimum settlement funds for this program is the equivalent of $8,722.00 CAD. This must be shown through bank statements and/or other property/ financial documents to show IRCC the applicant(s) has the money to pay for the initial costs of moving to Canada. Please note that the minimum settlement fund requirement is not necessary for applicants working in Canada on a valid Work Permit.

BRANDON

We have been in contact regarding this program. Brandon is a city that is approximately 2 hours from Winnipeg by car. Brandon is a vibrant community with a growing middle class. It is the hub for many surrounding communities in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. We currently have clients a Brandon University (BU) and clients in the surrounding area. In general, this community supports newcomers who have a genuine interest in building the community. There are many opportunities for families who are interested in relocating to Brandon.

As noted on the Brandon RNIP website:

As the second largest city in Manitoba, Brandon provides services and amenities not only to its 50,000 residents but also to another 130,000 people that live outside the city. The full service city is home to two colleges, a university, a regional hospital, government offices and numerous businesses and services of all types and sizes. The community has a low crime rate, affordable housing, clean water, fresh air, free quality public education and health systems, and abundant recreational and cultural opportunities.

ALTONA, RHINELAND

This region includes the towns of Altona, Gretna and Plum Coulee. We have served many families in this area and these communities have a strong history of supporting new immigrants. Businesses in this region has a demonstrated support for the RNIP program. This community is organized and they are actively seeking applicants who have a genuine interest. There are currently employment opportunities that are published online.

We have been very impressed with the level of organization from this region. Businesses and the community are very keen to attract immigrants to build businesses. SEED (Supporting Entrepreneurs. Economic Development) has been established to vet applications and a committee is in place to help match potential applicants with businesses.

We are also impressed that SEED has been very clear that representatives cannot guarantee:

  • Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot approval

  • Permanent Residency Approval

  • Bringing your extended family members to Canada, expedite review of your application

  • A faster review of your application to the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot or for Permanent Residency

If you are interested, we would recommend that you watch this video and build personal connections with residents of this community.

CONSULTATION

For more information please book a consultation with Clarke Immigration Law. 

Brandon and Rural Immigration

The Government of Canada has regularly boosted rural immigration programs for communities outside the urban centres. These programs focus on communities in Manitoba that include Brandon, Altona, Morden and Portage la Prairie. We look forward to working with businesses and rural municipalities to bring skilled workers and entrepreneurs to these communities as part of the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP) and/or federal programs from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

In a recent speech, Minister Hussen recognized the importance of rural immigration to small communities in Canada:

So whether we find ourselves in Sault Ste. Marie or Brandon, Manitoba, or Vernon, British Columbia – I think all Canadians agree that our country would simply not be the same without the contributions and the presence of rural and northern Canada. Canada’s smaller cities and communities provide and contribute almost 30 percent of our GDP, yet most newcomers go to the big cities. Rural Canada and northern Canada are an important part of our history and key to not only our current economic growth, but our future prosperity as a country.

Indeed, here at Clarke Law, we work with entrepreneurs and skilled workers to boost the development of rural Manitoba and communities outside the Greater Capital Region (GCR).

Rural immigrationThe MPNP program recognizes the importance of these programs. As noted by Kelvin Goertzen, the MLA for Steinbach:

In 2018 we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP) and the important contribution that immigration has made to the growth and vitality of our communities and our economy. Over the last two decades, the MPNP brought in more than 130,000 economic immigrants to Manitoba of whom more than 20% established themselves in regional communities throughout the province.

These programs from MPNP and IRCC have had a positive economic impact on these communities that are vital for Canada’s economy. As noted by MLA Goertzen:

Our success in attracting newcomers has been sustained by strong regional economies where unemployment rates have been as low as 3.1%, and immigration has in turn contributed to the labour force growth and business expansion of rural manufacturing and other industries. This success is also reflected in our ability to retain these newcomer families at a rate that has remained consistently between 87 and 90%. But these statistical facts are brought much closer to home for all of those communities that have been able to keep their schools open and in many cases even add additional schools and classrooms to keep up with their growing youth population.

Applicants who are interested in these communities may have a high chance of success and they may be good candidates for Permanent Resident status:

We work with applicants and leaders in the regions above to bring skilled professionals to these regions and boost Manitoba’s economy. Granting Permanent Resident status to professionals and families in smaller cities and rural communities is a win-win situation and we support Minister Hussen and his department for recognizing the importance through the Rural Immigration Pilot Program.

For more information, please contact our office and book a consultation.

Nigerian Professionals in Manitoba Presentation

It was my pleasure to present to the Nigerian Professionals in Manitoba (NPIM) group. This is a group of ~600 Nigerians in the province who support each other and share ideas. I will say that the group was extremely engaged and attentive. Thank you so much for the invitation and I hope to see everyone again.

NPIM

Over the course of my presentation, here are some of the points covered:

  • Tips and tricks with MPNP applications
  • Supporting relatives and family members abroad through provincial programs
  • Inviting relatives and friends through federal programs, including visas
  • Pathways to Permanent Resident status
  • Compare US immigration law with Canadian immigration law
  • Residency requirements for PRs in Canada
  • PRs who work abroad for Canadian companies
  • Sponsoring spouses when the sponsor is currently married
  • Tips for bringing parents to Canada
  • Navigating the world of Designated Learning Institutions – private versus public
  • Working in Nigeria after PR status
  • Processing times for MPNP applicants – how to speed up the process
  • “Illegal aliens” in the US – what does that mean in Canada?
  • Bringing family members from the USA to Canada

The audience was very engaged and we had a great time. I would estimate that there were ~40 to 50 people in attendance and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting and getting to know these professionals who clearly seek to better themselves, their families and their community.

For more information about the Nigerian Professionals in Manitoba, please visit their website here. A description of the group:

Nigerians who call Manitoba home are excellent contributors to the growth of the region with their expertise. They are actors, accountants, analysts, artists, authors, dentists, educators, engineers, entertainers, entrepreneurs, designers, teachers, medical doctors, musicians, pastors, publishers, nurses. They are engaged in many other areas as skilled workers, in science and technology, and the transportation industry. They are also financial consultants, bankers, special-needs experts, trainers and care-givers. Nigerians in Manitoba are working a variety of professions, keeping Manitoba moving.

I look forward to presenting to the Nigerian Professionals in Manitoba in the future. We ran out of time! Too many questions!

Federal Court Success re MPNP and Misrepresentation

Congratulations to our client Ievgen Agapi, a truck driver from Ukraine, and all the supporting people who assisted with this case. Justice Ahmed of the Federal Court of Canada agreed with our arguments that the Visa Officer in Kiev failed to consider whether the alleged misrepresentation was honestly and reasonably made. Click here to read the full decision.

This is a significant decision in the jurisprudence of misrepresentation, as well as the processing of MPNP applications.

In the words of Justice Ahmed:

14]  The Applicant points out that section 40 of the IRPA does not apply to misrepresentations made honestly by an applicant who reasonably believes they did not withhold material information (Medel v Canada (Minister of Employment and Immigration)[1990] 2 FC 345Baro v Canada (Citizenship and Immigration)2007 FC 1299 (CanLII) at para 15, and Goudarzi v Canada (Citizenship and Immigration)2012 FC 425 (CanLII) at para 33). The Applicant submits that his response to the procedural fairness letter provided evidence that this exception applies to his alleged misrepresentation; he explained that the knowledge of the potential fraud was beyond his control and in his view he reasonably and honestly believed that he was not misrepresenting any material facts. Despite his response to the procedural fairness letter, the Applicant submits the Manager failed to consider whether any alleged misrepresentation was honestly and reasonably made.

[15]  The Respondent submits that the Applicant is merely “blaming” a third party for his misrepresentation and argues that efforts to get the original results were not before the decision-maker. The Respondent acknowledges that there is a “narrow exception” for innocent misrepresentation, but reiterates that it only applies in exceptional and narrow circumstance. The Respondent cites a line of jurisprudence for the proposition that misrepresentation made by a non-party to an application, without the applicant’s knowledge, does not save an application from an inadmissibility finding under section 40 of the IRPA. The Respondent also takes the position that the Applicant’s response to the procedural fairness letter did not meet the high standard to warrant such an exception.

[16]  I agree with the Applicant that the Manager failed to consider whether the Applicant honestly and reasonably believed he was not withholding material information.

CONGRATULATIONS TO EVERYONE WHO CONTRIBUTED TO THIS POSITIVE DECISION!

MPNP and Misrepresentation

The Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP) is one of the best and easiest ways for Permanent Resident status. The Manitoba government helps thousands of Skilled Worker, Investors and Entrepreneurs every year to achieve their goals of settling in Canada. The steps to Permanent Resident (PR) status can be arduous for many applicants who are looking for a quick and easy way to move to Canada. One of the issues that applicants face is misrepresentation, per Section 40 of IRPA.

Under Canadian immigration law, the legal definition of “misrepresentation” is broad and covers both direct as well as indirect misrepresentation. This means that applicants may be subject to a 5-year ban from Canada even when their representative is at fault.

Fraudulent claims for provincial nominees is a problem across Canada. Recently, the program in PEI has been under (another) investigation due to applicants who are providing incorrect information to the government. As reported by the National Post:

A second federal probe is underway in Prince Edward Island alleging hundreds of people gained permanent residency in Canada by using local addresses where they didn’t live, under a provincial business immigration system that’s faced criticism for loose oversight.

This issue may be a problem for both applicants and representatives should they find that the representatives knowingly assisted these applicants to mislead the government.

The allegations, which have not been proven in court, come just two months after two Charlottetown hoteliers were charged with aiding in immigration fraud, with the CBSA alleging 566 immigrants used the addresses of the siblings’ hotel and home.

This case is similar to another case from British Colombia. In that case, representatives provided fake documents to Chinese citizens in order for them to qualify for the program. The agency in Vancouver is also under investigation by the police:

Last year, Chinese immigrants in Vancouver were sentenced to jail and fined for immigration fraud involving 1,600 immigrants for fraudulently helping them obtain permanent residency by measures that “included creating the fictitious appearance of Canadian residency.”

The CBSA says that to date it can confirm 81 deportations from that case, with orders to remove 160 other people, with some appeals pending.

Fraud and misrepresentation is not tolerated under Canadian law; however, applicants have the right to due process. In circumstances where the allegation is unfounded and/or there are mitigating circumstances, we advocate for applicants to have their cases reconsidered so that they are able to stay in Canada.