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.

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UPDATE 19/MARCH/2020

US VISA OFFICES – CUTTING SERVICES

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

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

CANADA/USA BORDER RESTRICTIONS

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

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UPDATE 18/MARCH/2020

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

IRB – HEARINGS POSTPONED

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

ENTERING CANADA

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

REMOVALS AND DEPORTATIONS

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

APPOINTMENTS WITH IRCC

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

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

BIOMETRICS

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

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

CITIZENSHIP APPLICATIONS

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

CROSSING THE BORDER & POEs

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

PR APPLICATIONS

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

FEDERAL COURT – APPLICATIONS FOR JUDICIAL REVIEW

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

MIGRANT WORKERS & FARMING

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

LEGAL AID MANITOBA

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

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13/MARCH/2020

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

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

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

Please take all measures to stay healthy.

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.

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.

 

 

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!

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.

Presentation: Refugee Crisis in Manitoba

Please note that Alastair Clarke accepted an invitation to present at Menno Simons College tomorrow on the Refugee Crisis in Manitoba. Regular readers of this blog will know that Clarke Immigration Law has provided legal services to many of the refugee claimants who are coming to Canada from the United States. Many of this people, including women and children, are crossing on foot.

The event itself is from 12:30-1:20. Each presenter has 10 minutes to share on some aspect of the current migrant refugee crisis affecting out city and surrounding areas.

Though our event is over lunchtime, we are only able to provide a snack.

Alastair will be talking about  areas of refugee law:

  1. How the Safe Third Country Agreement is putting the people at risk
  2. An overview of the relevant sections of IRPA

The main focus of the presentation is to answer questions from the public and to engage discussion on these important issues. There has been a huge increase in the numbers of people who have been entering Manitoba and this refugee crisis is only going to get worse as the weather gets warmer and it becomes easier to cross. In addition, there is no indication that the American government is taking any steps to help the refugee claimants on their side of their border.

Free Presentation: Law in the Library – Transcona

Please note that Alastair Clarke will be giving a free presentation on citizenship law and other changes to immigration law at Transcona Library as part of the Law in the Library Series presented by the Community Legal Education Association.

Here is a description of the program:

Are you new to Canada? Are you looking for help in some legal aspects of immigration? Join us for a free program to help provide you with legal information that you may need. Our guest lawyer Alastair Clarke will cover issues like immigration options, sponsorship, citizenship applications, bringing family members to Manitoba, MPNP and other options. Please bring questions for the lawyer to answer!

For more information, contact the library directly at 204-986-3954.

Spousal Open Work Permit – Extended to Dec 2017

As expected, the hugely successful Open Work Permit program for applicants under the In-Canada Spousal Sponsorship application has been extended for another year. Part of the announcement:

Ottawa, December 7, 2016 — Family reunification is a core immigration priority for the Government of Canada. In addition to the changes made today to process spousal sponsorship applications faster, we are also extending the open work permit pilot program until December 21, 2017, to give spouses a chance to work while their application is being finalized.

To be eligible for an open work permit, you must be a spouse or common-law partner living in Canada who is being sponsored under the spouse or common-law partner in Canada (SCLPC) class. You must have valid temporary resident status (as a visitor, student or worker) and live at the same address as your sponsor.

News: Americans Who Fear Trump Presidency

Winnipeg Free Press journalist published a piece on Americans coming to Canada who fear a Trump Presidency. The below is published on the WFP website here.

U.S.-Canada romance quite complex: lawyer

Could Manitoba become a north-of-the-border love nest for Americans escaping the prospect of a Trump presidency?

It could if you believe the hype surrounding the website MapleMatch.com and its promise to save Americans “from living through a Trump presidency by finding genuine ready-to-marry Canadians.”

‘My advice to Canadians who wish to help their American neighbours through a sponsorship application is to make sure they develop a relationship before they get married’

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Winnipeg Immigration lawyer Alastair Clarke says scrutiny is thorough when it comes to immigration and relationships.</p>

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Winnipeg Immigration lawyer Alastair Clarke says scrutiny is thorough when it comes to immigration and relationships.

Talk shows and cable news channels have joked about the website started by an Austin, Texas man who reportedly supports Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton. It says it is signing up people on both sides of the border but isn’t as yet a full-fledged matchmaking website.

But if it ever gets up and running, MapleMatch.com may not be as sweet of a deal as it sounds, says a Winnipeg immigration lawyer who is the product of a cross-border coupling.

Alastair Clarke said cross-border matches may be easier to make today thanks to the Internet, but immigrating is a lot harder than it was back when his Canadian mom and American dad met and fell in love at university in Chicago.

“Marriages between American and Canadian spouses face significant scrutiny by IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) officers,” he said. Under Canadian law, couples have to show their relationship is both “genuine” and not for the “primary purpose” of immigration, said Clarke. Immigration officers have broad discretionary powers to conduct interviews and investigate the marriage to ensure the application meets the legal tests, he said.

“My advice to Canadians who wish to help their American neighbours through a sponsorship application is to make sure they develop a relationship before they get married,” said Clarke. The Federal Court of Canada has confirmed the time leading up to the marriage date is significant during the “primary purpose” investigation, he said. “The relationship should have breadth and depth before the wedding.” Couples who choose not to get married can file an application as common-law partners or conjugal partners, but those applications have to meet additional requirements, he said.

Would Americans seriously consider abandoning their country for the Great White North if Trump becomes president? Maybe, says the spokesman for the Council on American Islamic Relations.

“In the past we’ve joked about this kind of thing whenever there is a new Islamaphobic policy or some issue targeting American Muslims,” said Ibrahim Hooper in Washington, D.C. “I think people aren’t laughing as much anymore,” he said Friday.

The non-profit council doesn’t take a political position, he said. “We merely react to anti-Muslim rhetoric,” and Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric has already hurt people even though the presumptive Republican nominee hasn’t won the presidency. One example he cited was a Muslim woman attacked in Washington by a Trump supporter, who said “When Trump gets in, you guys are gone.”

“He really has mainstreamed Islamaphobia in America,” Hooper said. “That is a really troubling phenomenon that will remain whether or not he is elected president.” Trump losing is nearly as worrisome as is his winning, he said. “It makes you wonder who will be blamed and targeted by his supporters.”

Talk of leaving the U.S. — so far — is just talk, said Hooper. “It’s mainly in comments online and in the discussion phase right now.” He hasn’t yet heard of any American Muslim feeling so threatened they’re planning to take refuge in Canada.

“Let’s hope it doesn’t go that far.”

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Read more by Carol Sanders.