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.

TEDxWinnipeg – Borders and Immigration

As previously noted on this website, Alastair gave a presentation on immigration issues at TEDxWinnipeg this year. The topic of the presentation is Imagine No Countries. The video is currently in the TED feed on YouTube.com along with other videos from TEDxWinnipeg:


TEDxWinnipeg
Summary:

Borders are arbitrary lines drawn on paper that affect each and every one of us. What happens when lines are made more important than lives? What happens when we look beyond those lines? Alastair Clarke manages Clarke Immigration Law, a boutique law firm. He and his staff assist with all types of immigration and refugee cases; they currently have more than 250 open files. Based on over 30 years of combined experience, the staff guide each and every client, including individuals, families and businesses, through the complex immigration system, including complex humanitarian and compassionate applications. The firm is based on experience, value and results. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx

If you had the opportunity to attend the TEDxWinnipeg event, be sure to check out the photo stream.

From TEDxWinnipeg:

All the speakers are listed here. It was an amazing group, covering topics from spoons to bitcoins to identity. Here is Alastair’s bio on the TEDxWinnipeg site:

Alastair Clarke manages Clarke Immigration Law, a boutique law firm. He and his staff assist with all types of immigration and refugee cases; they currently have more than 250 open files. Based on over 30 years of combined experience, the staff guide each and every client, including individuals, families and businesses, through the complex immigration system, including complex humanitarian and compassionate applications. The firm is based on experience, value and results.

Alastair provides expert advice to the media on a regular basis in both English and French. He has been interviewed by Ian Hanomansing for CBC News as well as by journalists at Global News. He also contributes to radio and print media on justice issues. Alastair’s firm has represented many refugee claimants who have walked across the border from the United States since 2016, and he delivered a presentation on the Safe Third Country Agreement at the 2017 CBA conference for immigration lawyers.

In 1970, Alastair’s father sponsored his mother to stay in Canada, where Alistair was raised in Edmonton, Alberta. His mother focused on hosting exchange students and professionals from around the world to live and stay in their home. In school, he pursued an International Baccalaureate stream with classmates from Mauritius, Israel, Japan, Taiwan and many other countries. From a young age, he developed an international perspective and since then, has lived in many places around the world, including France, Ecuador, Japan, different parts of the USA, and many different cities in Canada. In many ways, Alastair is a nomad at heart who is constantly learning about the world and fighting injustice.

Fundamentally, Alastair is a perpetual student who takes every opportunity to learn from the clients who walk through the door. They share their culture and their experiences while he, in turn, teaches them how to navigate the Canadian immigration system. He is driven to ensure that each case is handled fairly and that every person has the chance to live in peace and security.

Denied Entry to Canada: What Can You Do?

Crossing the border is rarely a simple act. In the post-9/11 world, security checks have increased and each foreign national faces additional scrutiny from Immigration Officers. In Canada, the border security is the responsibility of Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), under the Ministry of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. They work closely with other police agencies and they have access to international databases to screen everyone, and everything, that goes through a border. When CBSA is dealing with a Permanent Resident of Canada, a Canadian Citizen or an immigration application, they may refer the case to their counterparts at Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC, formerly known as CIC). If you are denied entry to Canada, it may be due to a negative determination by a CBSA Officer or an IRCC Officer. What can you do?

The first question to deal with is where you are trying to enter. Issues vary between entering at land borders, ports and airports. 

One of the common situations that we face is when Permanent Residents who are trying to fly back to Canada without a valid PR Card. The airline will not let them board their flight back to Canada without a valid travel document. There are a number of risks in these situations. One of my first concerns is that if the PR is anxious to return, they may insist on boarding the flight and then, when they enter Canada, they may request temporary status. This puts their Permanent Resident status at risk and we do not advise this option.

When a PR is flying back to Canada without a valid PR Card, they have two (2) main options – neither option is cheap or easy. The first option is to go to the nearest Canadian Consulate, Embassy or High Commission. Canada has hundreds of offices peppered around the world in every continent, except Antarctica. I have never had a client call who could not travel to a Canadian office within their jurisdiction.

Once the PR reaches the consulate, they may apply for a Permanent Resident Travel Document “PRTD”. The government fee for the document is $50 and processing times vary from 1 hour to 2 months. We had one case where the printer at the Canadian office was broken and they had to order a new printer before they could issue new travel documents. In general, the Officers who work in these offices are very supportive and they will help any Permanent Resident who is courteous and professional.

The second option, for some, is to fly to the United States and enter Canada at a land border. For those clients who are at the airport and they do not want to leave the airport, this may be an option. NOTE: this option is only available to individuals and/ or families who are able to enter the United States and they do not have other issues with American authorities. We also advise our clients that we do not practice US immigration law and, therefore, if there are any issues with US authorities, we would refer the matter to an American colleague.

Being denied entry can be a stressful experience. Airline staff are not government officials and their knowledge of Canadian immigration law is limited. If you or your family members are in a situation where you are denied entry, we recommend that you call a lawyer whom you trust to help you properly navigate the system.

 

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.

Major Changes to Medical Procedures

We recently had a conference call with IRCC regarding the major changes in policy to the treatment of cases with medical issues. These cases involve family members with health problems that may cause “excessive demand” on Canadian resources. Our office has been assisting many families with many cases of medical inadmissibility. The Warkentin case, filed with Federal Court, was key to having the policies changed.

It has been a pleasure to work with the Warkentin family and the community. We are thrilled and honored that our hard work has paid off. This has been a national effort and I applaud our colleagues in Toronto, in particular Adrienne Smith and all her hard work.

The changes have been reported on the IRCC website included a few details on the changes to how they process allegations of medical inadmissibility. The two (2) major changes listed are:

The new policy on medical inadmissibility strikes a balance between protecting publicly funded health and social services and updating the policy to bring it in line with current views on the inclusion of persons with disabilities. The changes include:

  • increasing the cost threshold for medical inadmissibility to 3 times the previous level, and

  • amending the definition of social services by removing references to special education, social and vocational rehabilitation services and personal support services.

This case has also been reported in the Winnipeg Free Press in an article by Carol Sanders. Here is an excerpt that that article:

On Monday, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Ahmed Hussen announced changes to the medical inadmissibility provision of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act so that Canada’s immigration policies “better align with Canadian values and reflect the importance that the government places on the inclusion of persons with disabilities.”

“This is really good news,” Winnipeg lawyer Alastair Clarke said after a conference call with Jon Warkentin and federal immigration officials Monday.

“We’re changing the law,” he said of those who spoke out against the 40-year-old immigration policy.

“If it did, then that’s great,” said Jon Warkentin by phone from the family’s home 320 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg in Waterhen. “That’s what we were hoping for, for some changes there. If our family was part of that, then that’s great.”

The Warkentin family have been pillars of the community in western Manitoba. Our goal is to help all families achieve their goals – for their benefit as well as the benefit to Canada. In our practice, we often see that the contributions of the families with medical inadmissibility issues are overlooked. We firmly believe that our clients are truly beneficial to Canadian society and they represent the future of our country.

Have you or any friends or family been accused of medical inadmissibility?

Currently, the law is in a state of flux. The IRCC policy changes have been announced; however, all the cases in the inventory within the government may be reassessed.

The relevant section of the law in IRPA sets out the section:

(1) A foreign national is inadmissible on health grounds if their health condition

  • (a) is likely to be a danger to public health;

  • (b) is likely to be a danger to public safety; or

  • (c) might reasonably be expected to cause excessive demand on health or social services.

Any applicants who may fall under the above section of Canadian immigration law may have their applications reconsidered under the new procedures. We highly recommend that any applications with medical issues be reexamined by a professional, certified immigration lawyer to make sure the cases are handled properly. Feel free to contact our office directly with any questions or concerns.

Myths About Canada

A friend of Clarke Law posted an article on myths about Canada. He immigrated from the United States in 2004 and he has been happily living with his Canadian spouse. His article can be found here: What is it about Canada that American liberals are not getting? Suppose I’m an American liberal, and I successfully and legally move to Canada, what would be my first unexpected, and biggest surprise? Why? What is the biggest distortion about Canada?

Enjoy!

$1000 Fee Waived for Nannies

In June 2014, the Labour Market Opinion (LMO) was replaced by the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) and employers and families have been very critical of the new system. One of the major criticisms was the fee for families who needed an LMIA in order to hire nannies or caregivers for their children or family members. This has been particularly hard for the Filipino community.

The Liberal government recently announced that families who require caregivers may now qualify for a waiver to the $1000.00 CAD LMIA fee. This means that they do not have to pay the government fee for the application and it will be easier for them to go through the process.

This announcement is beneficial for families and the caregivers themselves. The $1000 LMIA processing fee has been problematic on many fronts and it has caused corruption in the system. Nannies who need jobs were put in a position of offering or negotiating with potential employers on how to pay the $1000 fee or get around it. By law, the employers must pay the government fee and the nanny cannot be required compensate their employers afterward.

Qualifying Families

To qualify for the $1000 waiver, the family that requires the nanny must earn less than $150.000.00 in household income. These families may apply to have a caregiver come and take care of a family member who has physical or mental conditions that require assistance.

How Many Nannies?

Based on the government report, the $1000 waiver may apply to many families in Canada who require assistance.

Data published Wednesday suggested the government expects the changes to benefit 3,357 applicants per year who meet the income threshold, and a further 827 households who hire caregivers for those with physical or mental disabilities.

As noted by the Ottawa Citizen, this program could be very beneficial.

LMIA Applications for Nannies

If you require assistance for child care providers, live-in caregiver or nannies (NOC 4411), please contact our office for assistance. 

Permanent Residence By Phone

Effective 1 DEC 2017, IRCC announced a pilot project that allows some applicants for Permanent Resident status to complete their application by phone. Thus far, the pilot project has only been available for Canada Experience Class applicants. That said, IRCC has been open to applicants who are in rural areas. As noted by IRCC:

The benefit of this pilot project is that clients who are already in Canada do not have to travel to an IRCC office or leave and re-enter Canada in order to be confirmed as a PR, potentially saving clients both time and money.

This program for Permanent Residence by phone may benefit many individuals who do not have easy access to Winnipeg or other urban centres.

Telephone Landing

permanent residence by phone

This program is suitable for PR applicants who do not have access to IRCC Offices. Normally, an Officer would confer the PR status face-to-face after the applicants have been approved. The “telephone landing” gives the applicants the ease and convenience of getting the last step done without having to fly or drive long distances to the nearest IRCC Office.

Permanent Residence By Phone

Currently, we are working to assist the Warkentin family who reside in Waterhen, Manitoba and they may be able to use the pilot program. Their home in Waterhen is +3 hours drive to the nearest IRCC Office.

The Winnipeg Free Press reported on this story last week. As noted by Carol Saunders in an excerpt below:

“Under normal procedures for landed permanent residents, they come to Winnipeg to meet with an officer,” said Clarke. “They will be asked questions to confirm there have been no significant changes in their situation, then permanent residence status will be conferred,” he said. “That’s the final step.”

The pilot project would allow some — who’ve already filled out reams of paperwork, met all the requirements and been approved to stay in Canada — to finalize the process by phone. Once a permanent residence application has been approved, the applicants will be sent an email from an address ending in “@cic.gc.ca” or a message through their IRCC online accounts inviting them to be confirmed as a permanent resident by telephone, the federal department said in an online notice.

After applicants complete their telephone interview, they will then have their confirmation of permanent resident status either mailed to them or uploaded in their IRCC online account, it said.

The immigration department says that applicants cannot request to be included in the pilot project but Clarke said his office plans to contact IRCC about the Warkentins “and suggest that they are ideal candidates.”

If you believe that you or your family should be conferred permanent residence by phone, please contact our office and we can arrange a consultation to determine whether you are also good candidates.

SCC Decision: Conditional Sentences

Today, the Supreme Court rendered an important decision on the rights of permanent residents with criminality issues. The Tran decision from Federal Court of Appeal was overturned and the highest court in Canada has held that “conditional” sentences from criminal court are not considered “imprisonment”. This has a huge impact on minor convictions where the Sentencing Judge have a conditional sentence to the offender. Those Permanent Residents were subject to harsh treatment by CBSA and, in turn, the tribunal and they faced deportation.

Here is a key section from the decision by Justice Côté, paragraphs 32 to 34:

If s. 36(1)(a) is interpreted such that a conditional sentence is a “term of imprisonment”, absurd consequences will follow. As previously mentioned, conditional sentences are “for less serious and non-dangerous offenders” (Proulx, at para. 21). Thus, more serious crimes may be punished by jail sentences that are shorter than conditional sentences imposed for less serious crimes ― shorter because they are served in jail rather than in the community. It would be an absurd outcome if, for example, “less serious and non-dangerous offenders” sentenced to seven-month conditional sentences were deported, while more serious offenders receiving six-month jail terms were permitted to remain in Canada. Public safety, as an objective of the IRPA  (s. 3(1) (h)), is not enhanced by deporting less culpable offenders while allowing more culpable persons to remain in Canada.

   It would also be absurd for offenders to seek prison sentences instead of conditional sentences so that they can remain in Canada, as Mr. Tran has done in this case. Conditional sentences are designed as an alternative to incarceration in order to encourage rehabilitation, reduce the rate of incarceration, and improve the effectiveness of sentencing (Proulx, at para. 20). These objectives would be sabotaged if individuals who are subject to conditional sentences sought to replace them with prison terms, thinking the latter to be their only path for a future in the Canadian communities from which incarceration would remove them.

For these reasons, the phrase “term of imprisonment” in s. 36(1) (a) of the IRPA  cannot, by either standard of review, be understood to include conditional sentences.

As noted above, the Tran decision from the FCA has caused harsh, even “absurd” consequences for our clients. We strongly agree with Justice Côté’s decision and this has had an immediate impact on one of our clients.

12 Month Conditional Sentence

Our client was given a 12 Month Conditional Sentence in Feb 2017 and his matter was referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Immigration Division. Based on the SCC Tran decision, he now has a good chance of staying in Canada with his Canadian children. His conditional sentence will now not be counted as “imprisonment” and, therefore, the SCC decision will have a strong positive impact on his case.

Congratulations to Peter and all the lawyers who worked on the Tran decision!

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.