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!

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.

Health Care for Int’l Students

The Manitoba government recently announced that they are planning to repeal Health Care benefits for international students. Here at Clarke Immigration Law, we fundamentally disagree with this decision and urge Premier Pallister and his cabinet to reconsider this decision.

International Students Benefit Everyone

Our former Minister of Immigration and former profession at the University of Manitoba, John McCallum gave the keynote speech at the national CBA conference for immigration lawyers across Canada in 2016. During that speech, he highlighted the importance of supporting international students. These are highly skilled individuals who have been vetted by our learning institutions and they pay more in tuition for the privilege of studying in Canadian schools. These students, some of the brightest minds in the world, then seek to establish themselves and, possibly, their families in Canada.

Health Care

The Canadian health care system is arguably the best in the world. Doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, health care aides and many other professionals ensure that we receive the best services available. US media just had a field day when Canadian doctors protested that they are being paid too much. Presumably, this would be very unlikely south of the border.

International students are savvy. They look at schools in Manitoba and compare them with schools elsewhere. One of the benefits of coming to our province is the health care benefits. To attract these students, we need to ensure that they know they will be taken care of during their studies.

Long Term Policies

I fundamentally believe that maintaining health care benefits for international students is in the long-term interest of Manitoba. These students spend their summers working and their winters studying. They become settled in the province and they become connected to their communities. With the time that they spend developing their relationships, both personal and professional, they deepen their ties to this province. Keeping talent is in the best interest for the future.

Small Savings for Big Sacrifice

Let’s be honest. Cutting health care for international students is going to save very little on the bottom line. For the most part, these are young individuals with minor health issues. They have already been vetted before coming to Canada. This type of cost-cutting shows a short term perspective. The sacrifice to the province will be significant if international students decide to go elsewhere with their tuition dollars.

We urge the Manitoba government to reconsider this decision. This change in policy is not in the best interests of Manitoba.

 

MPNP Investors Conference

Thank you for all those who attended or participated in the EB5 Immigration Investors conference in Las Vegas. In particular, I want to thank those who attended my panel on Canada – MPNP Investors’ streams. The conference was a great opportunity for professionals from around the globe to connect on projects and to share ideas. Increasingly, clients are looking global for immigration solutions and our panel on international options was extremely well attended (standing room only!). Initially, they may be focused on New York or Miami and then, when they explore Canadian options, they need experienced counsel to guide through Canadian immigration law.

MPNP Investor

We were able to connect with lawyers, agents and other professionals from India, China, Vietnam, UK, Hong Kong, Cypress, Grenada and many other jurisdictions. Overall, the EB5 conference was a huge success and all the staff at Clarke Immigration Law is excited to work with business leaders and investors.

During our panel on MPNP, we received many good questions on the program. As noted by the Manitoba government, the Business Investor Stream reopened in Q1 of 2018 (Entrepreneur Pathway). The government has continued to focus on strong applications that includes evidence from investors who genuine interest in Canada and a sound track record of solid business acumen.

On a side note, I will add that Las Vegas was a lot of fun. At Clarke Immigration Law, we firmly believe in building relationships. Our personal connections with professionals from around the world help our clients and the benefits of networking go both ways. I look forward to making good referrals to our new connections and I hope if we receive referrals that we will handle the matters to fruition.

MPNP Investor

If you would like a copy of our MPNP Investors Powerpoint presentation from the conference, please contact Heavenly in our office. She may be able to assist with that request.

If you are interested in retaining our services for an MPNP Investor/ Entrepreneur application, please contact our office directly. We guarantee that a staff member will return your request in a timely fashion.

For more information on the EB5 conferences, please click here to navigate their website. They have recently put up a video from the conference. The next conference will be held in Vietnam next month and I wish the best to all the speakers and presenters.

 

MPNP Labour Market Update

The province of Manitoba has reviewed the gaps in the local economy and provided a labour market update. As previously notes, there are professions that are not being considered for Nomination Certificates. The province was granted 5,500 certificates from the federal government in 2017 and those certificates are being currently distributed based on the MPNP applications.

One of the questions that we regularly get from our clients is about “average processing times”. Please note, however, that MPNP does not operate on a first-in, first-out system. Therefore, unlike other immigration applications to Canada, we cannot predict the processing time for MPNP applications. We have seen applications selected after being in the system for a few days (less than 1 week) but we have also seen weak applications stay in the system for more than 12 months. If you have questions regarding your application, please contact us directly.

Currently, the MPNP program is seeking individuals from these professions:

  • Long Haul Transport Drivers (HGV Drivers)
  • Heavy Equipment Service Technicians
  • Furniture Sample Maker
  • Upholsterer

The National Occupation Classification (NOC) codes must match and individuals who are interested in applying under the above categories must demonstrate experience and/or education in the labour market to qualify.

Applicants in UK may benefit from meeting directly with MPNP staff. They will be in London, England from November 6 to 10, 2017. If you would like an appointment with MPNP staff, please contact our office and we can make arrangements.

For more information regarding labour market update and the selected professions please review:

Heavy Equipment Service Technician Automotive service technicians diagnose, repair and service mechanical, electrical and electronic systems and components of cars, buses, and light and commercial transport trucks. Primary duties of are adjust, repair or replace parts and components of commercial transport trucks, trailers and agricultural equipment. Review work orders and discuss work with supervisor,  Inspect motor in operation, road test motor vehicle, and test automotive systems and components using computerized diagnostic and other testing devices to diagnose and isolate faults.  Adjust, repair or replace parts and components of automotive systems including fuel system, brakes, steering and suspension, engine and drive train, emission control and exhaust, cooling and climate control, and electrical and electronic systems using hand tools and other specialized automotive repair equipment.  Test and adjust repaired systems to manufacturer’s performance specifications.  Perform scheduled maintenance service, such as oil changes, lubrications and tune ups.  Advise customers on work performed, general vehicle condition and future repair requirements.

Furniture Sample Maker  A Furniture Sample Maker performs some or all of the following duties which include production of first build upholstered samples including all upholstery patterns and pattern labeling. Ensure new product can be manufactured effectively and efficiently. Generation of support documentation which includes Upholstery specs and Bill of Material, Prototype sewing book, Photos if required.  They focus on quality of product and maintenance of upholstery standards while working with team members to ensure target costs are met in the build process.   Is responsible to generate innovative ideas to reduce costs and improve quality. Interaction with frame technicians to ensure consistency and correct design to meet upholstery requirements and standards as well as with sewers to ensure consistent sewing standards are met.  Re-engineering of existing product for the implementation of changes to improve manufacturing efficiencies or cost reductions.  Assist manufacturing, when requested to do by management.  Assist in the development of a sample makers. Help improve pattern making standards when necessary.  Identify process improvements and provide suggestions on how to decrease development times and how to improve the quality of our designs and data.

Upholsterer An Upholsterer performs some or all of the following duties which include Discuss upholstery fabric, colour, and style with customers and provide cost estimate for upholstering furniture or other items, they Lay out, measure and cut upholstery materials according to sketches or design specifications. Replace worn-out webbing, springs and other furniture parts using hand and power tools, operate sewing machines or sew upholstery materials by hand to seam cushions and join sections of covering materials.  Install padding and underlays and fasten covering materials to furniture frames. Tack, glue or sew ornamental trim, braids or buttons on upholstered items, repair furniture frames and refinish wood surfaces, make upholstery patterns from sketches, customer descriptions or blueprints and install, fabricate, maintain and repair interior components of aircraft, such as seats, coverings, drapes, cargo nets, flooring, closets, bins and panels.

MPNP’s Labour Market update is based on conversations with Manitoba businesses to ensure that the economy has workers to meet the needs of the local business. We work with those businesses to secure LMIAs so that they can hire the best workers and ensure that businesses have the necessary skills and talent for success.

Free Presentation: Law in the Library

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

Free Presentation

Topics:

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

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

CLEA’s Mission Statement:

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

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

Goals

Program Strategy

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

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

Access to Justice Focus

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

WFP: American family gets another chance to stay in Canada

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

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

MPNP

MPNP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to read the full story by Alexandra Paul.

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