Remedies for Visitor Visa Refusals

The Temporary Resident Visa application (a.k.a. Visitor Visa) system is broken. This is not a controversial statement. Currently, the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration is in the midst of reviewing the system and, in particular, section 179 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR). I gave testimony and they have heard from many experts. Officers often abuse their discretionary powers per R179 which may cause extreme hardship for applicants and their families. Over the past few years, Canada has developed a reputation of being extremely difficult for visitors, even for individuals who want to reunite with Canadian family members or fiancees. During this pandemic, many families have been separated and many efforts to be reunited have been thwarted by Visa Officers who quote R179 as the basis of their refusal.

In particular, the CIMM is looking at:

application backlogs and processing times for the different streams of family reunification and the barriers preventing the timely reunification of loved ones, such as denials of temporary resident visas because of section 179(b) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations and the ongoing closures of Visa Application Centers;

We are currently waiting for a draft report from the CIMM, including recommendations for IRCC and CBSA, based on their study of the impact of COVID-19 on the immigration system. The report may lead to significant changes.

The Extent of the Problem

There is little doubt that Canada has become a top destination for skilled immigrants. To an extent, Trump’s ascent to power and his racist and discriminatory policies have buoyed Canada’s stature in the world. In my own practice, I have been retained by many clients over the past 4 years who initially intended to settle in the USA; however, they changed their minds and they focused their energy on coming to Canada. I have published on this topic here and here. I was invited to the EB-5 Conference in Las Vegas largely based on the fact many wealthy immigrants have become interested in Canada.

For individuals from non-visa-exempt countries, the first step is the TRV application. In the hierarchy of applications to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the TRV application is at the bottom. It is simply an application to visit. It does not confer authority to work or to pursue a university degree. It is issued for a short period, only for the purpose of the visit.

Anecdotally, I regularly meet with individuals who are able to obtain Visitor Visas to the USA, the Schengen Visa for the EU, and/or visas to multiple Asian countries; however, they come to me with refusal letters from Canadian Visa Officers and frustration with our system. This has led to a situation where refugee claimants know they can easily obtain Visitor Visas from the USA and then travel by land to a Canadian Port of Entry (POE). Assuming they fall under an exception to the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA), they can make their claim at the POE. If not, they may traipse across remote farmland, put themselves and their families at risk to the elements, and make an irregular entry. Of course, COVID-19 restrictions have essentially closed the border to refugees from the USA and the STCA has been held to be in breach of the Charter.

In addition to the above, we have data from the Globe and Mail that TRV refusals had been on the rise. In 2012, refusal rates for non-student TRVs was 18%. In 2017, the number of refusals rose to 33%. For applicants from some countries in Africa or the Middle East, the rate of refusal has been reported to be 75%.

Remedy #1 – Reapply

For an individual who has been refused, there is no easy remedy. Shady agents will simply reapply and cross their fingers for a different result. I have seen immigration files where the agent has applied 3 or 4 times for the same client, leading to 3 or 4 refusals. Needless to say, each refusal puts the applicant in a worse situation.

Smart lawyers will only reapply if they can show a significant change in circumstances. At times, that includes a complaint to ICCRC based on bad advice from unscrupulous agents. Other times, that includes a significantly different application. For example, a couple came to me after 2 refusals and we submitted a new application for the wife only. It would certainly be nice for the couple to come to Canada together; however, this couple decided the husband would stay behind to help allay the Officer’s concerns. It was granted.

Remedy #2 – Appeal

By law, an applicant can file an Application for Leave and Judicial Review (ALJR) within 60 days of a decision made outside of Canada. This is a lengthy and expensive process. As my former colleague and friend Chantal Desloges testified to the CIMM, it is relatively easy for lawyers to appeal the decisions of Officers. The refusals are often void of a reasonable basis and the applicants receive a boilerplate letter without any details of the decision.

If an applicant opts to submit an ALJR, the Federal Court of Canada will provide reasons per Rule 9. At that point, the applicant will have 30 days to provide their Record, including their legal arguments, and the Department of Justice (DOJ) then has 30 days to serve and file the Respondent’s Record. In clear cases, will settle the case and they will agree the application warrants special relief. Incidentally, I received an Offer letter from the DOJ today on an ALJR which is very positive news for our clients.

If successful, the application is sent back to the Visa Office to be decided by a different Officer. Yes, you read that correctly. After many months of litigation, a “win” on appeal simply means the application returns to the same Visa Office, back into the queue.

In one egregious example, I assisted a lovely teacher who submitted an application to come from India to Canada and it was refused. Her first lawyer submitted the ALJR and “won”, sending the application back. The Visa Office refused a second time and her second lawyer submitted another ALJR and “won”. Then the Visa Office refused a third time (under different grounds) and I met the client for a third ALJR. At this point, she had been trying to seek entry to Canada for 3 years, plagued by a messy immigration history.

Not many clients have the financial means or patience to pursue an appeal to Federal Court. Making matters worse, Officers know this. I managed to speak with one Officer on a TRV application that had been in process for more than 1 year and I was preparing a Mandamus Application. The Officer simply stated that if I want a quick decision, it is easy for them to refuse.

Remedy #3 – Reconsideration

As I stated during my testimony to the CIMM, the Request for Reconsideration remedy is “broken”. Unless a representative can show a clear mistake made by the Officer, the chances of the request making any difference are slim to none.

The Request for Reconsideration may be useful in 2 specific circumstances: 1. When a shady immigration consultant has submitted bad work. It is then possible for the representative to submit a complaint and a request for reconsideration with good evidence. 2. When a client is past the deadline to file an appeal to Federal Court and that is the best path for the applicant. The Request for Reconsideration may be denied; however, that new decision may lead to the ALJR and all the background evidence may be included.

As far as I can tell, there is no black letter law foundation to a Request for Reconsideration. This is a remedy based in common law that does not put any binding requirement on the Visa Office. I have spoken with other immigration lawyers in Canada and the vast majority of these requests are denied.

In the context of a humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) decision, Federal Court Justice Southcott, citing Kurukkal, reiterated the problems with this remedy:

[T]he decision-maker failed to recognize the existence of any discretion. Therein lay the error. The immigration officer was not barred from reconsidering the decision on the basis of functus officio and was free to exercise discretion to reconsider, or refuse to reconsider, the respondent’s request.

Indeed, Officers have the discretion to reconsider, or not. In the context of a TRV refusal, there is no legal obligation on the part of the Officer. In fact, this remedy is not even mentioned in IRCC’s Functional Guidance on Temporary Residents.

Remedy #4 – Members of Parliament

In the past, MPs have had more power to overturn bad decisions by Officers. I have spoken with MPs from back in the day who have been able to reverse bad decisions with a simple phone call. Alas, for better or worse, those days are in the past. My conversations with workers at MP Offices in Ontario and Manitoba are highlighted with frustration. While they are able to access officials at IRCC and highlight egregious errors, they are also expending huge amounts of time and resources. Keep in mind that MPs have an obligation to represent all their constituents.

Conclusion

I applaud CIMM to take up this cause. As I mentioned above, TRV applicants are at the bottom of the ladder of applicants to IRCC and they are all citizens of countries who require visas to enter Canada. We are not talking about applicants under the skilled worker category or overseas refugee claimants. Generally speaking, TRV applications are for tourists from particular countries. To be frank, it can be very difficult to visit Canada.

I have outlined some of the many issues with the system. I have not broached inconsistent decision making or lack of predictability. My Queen’s Law professor would also mention the discrimination within the system as a whole. I remember when I assisted an Iranian couple who sought to invite 16 members of the family for their wedding – 8 family members from the bride’s side and 8 from the groom’s. We submitted nearly identical TRV applications to the Visa Office. 10 were approved and 6 were refused. The couple was actually very happy with this result; however, I will say that I was quite frustrated. For example, an aunt was approved while her husband was refused. The notes from GCMS were scant. The couple simply accepted the results and celebrated their wedding with those who could attend.

The point is the R179 procedures are broken and I urge CIMM to consider the ample expert testimony. They heard from witnesses who certainly have more expertise than my own.

Proposed Remedy #1: Amend R179

In my view, we need to amend R179 and lower the legal requirements for a TRV. The law could explicitly require Officers to outline their reasons for the refusal. Currently, the law requires “an examination”; however, it is not clear what this entails. In many cases, for example, it not clear whether the Officer even skimmed the documents submitted. I will leave the details of the proposal to the experts in statutory interpretation and legislative drafting.

One potential amendment may be to allow monetary bonds for TRV applicants. These “cash bonds” have recently been adopted by the USA for certain countries per their Visa Bond Pilot Program. I have mixed opinions on this suggestion and I fear that it would impose serious limitations for low income applicants.

Proposed Remedy #2: Detailed Refusal Letters

IRCC Officers provide only generic refusal letters for TRV applicants, often with boxes that are checked with their concerns. The decision letters rarely include any particulars and applicants cannot know the details for the refusal. To get the actual notes, which are often scant, the applicant must make an application for their GCMS notes. This is time consuming and onerous. In my view, if Officers are required to justify their reasons and submit those reasons to each applicant, they may put more effort into each decision and, as the Officer above noted, it would not be so “easy” to refuse.

Proposed Remedy #3: IRCC Ombudsperson/ Ombudsman

The term “ombudsman” comes from the Old Norse word, roughly meaning “representative”. Its etymology is gender neutral but it may be modernized to “ombudsperson”.

Typical duties of an ombudsman include investigating complaints and making efforts to resolve those complaints, often systemic recommendations.

In my view, an Immigration Ombudsperson’s Office, with clear roles and responsibilities is necessary and long overdue. The Canadian immigration system is simply too important and our economy is too dependent on maintaining a strong stream of immigrants. As far as I am aware, there is no reason not to implement this suggestion. This office has the potential to alleviate some of the work done by MPs, in a centralized office that can take a systemic approach.

This proposed remedy has been supported by many witnesses to the CIMM including here and here.

Proposed Remedy #4: Lift Visa Restrictions

As of today, Canadians can travel to 183 countries without a visa. By contrast, citizens from only 58 countries can enter Canada without a visa. In my view, this list should be greatly expanded. Off the top of my head, I would add Argentina, Kazakhstan, Thailand, Fiji, Seychelles and a few others. Currently, citizens from more than 148 countries require a TRV to enter Canada.

Mexico is a complex situation and is the obvious barrier to this proposal. In 2016, the Trudeau government lifted the visa requirements for Mexican citizens. Since then, Canada has received a surge of Mexican refugee claimants and the Mexican ambassador has urged Canada not to re-impose visa restrictions.

In 2012, Canada imposed visa restrictions on St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Namibia, Botswana and Swaziland. Then Minister Kenney justified his decision by citing “unreliable travel documents” and potential criminality issues. He stated, “criminals from these countries can legally change their names and acquire new passports.” To be clear, there is no factual basis for his statement, as far as I am aware. In my view, the visa restrictions imposed on these countries should be lifted.

Closing Remarks

During this pandemic, we have the opportunity to step back and look at the big picture. The current immigration laws under IRPA and IRPR have been in place since 2001 and the system needs to be modernized. I urge the CIMM to consider broad systemic remedies.

Please note: this article has been cross-posted at Slaw.ca.

Cash Bonds

The Canadian Parliamentary Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration (CIMM) has been hearing testimony from legal experts, partners and stakeholders. One of the problems is subsection 179(b) of IRPR and Visitor Visa applications (Temporary Resident Applications or “TRV”). This is a huge problem that has led to many families being separated, stress and anxiety. Members of Parliament (MPs) are considering “cash bonds” for TRV applications. The idea is that a Canadian or PR or Applicant can put up cash bonds of, for example, $5,000 CAD to show the Officer they will return to their home country. If they overstay in Canada, it may cost them $5,000 CAD.

MPs have asked many questions on cash bonds. You can hear about testimony here, here and here. Here is a copy of my testimony to the CIMM on this topic:

For my second point, I strongly support the possibility of applicant’s posting monetary bonds for TRV applications in the context of a Spousal Sponsorship applications. These applicants are sufficiently motivated to become Permanent Residents through the family class that there would be low risk in the possibility of them overstaying their visa.

I have reservations, however, if a monetary bond were to become a requirement of all TRV applications. I would not want the TRV application to become out of reach for low income applicants.

I gave the above testimony on 18 November 2020. Cash Bond

On 23 November 2020 (5 days later), the US government unveiled the “Visa Bond Pilot Program” that implemented this idea of the cash bond and my warnings above came true. Details have been reported by US media:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The outgoing administration of U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday issued a new temporary rule that could require tourist and business travelers from two dozen countries, most in Africa, to pay a bond of as much as $15,000 to visit the United States.

The US Government has enacted cash bonds idea that will affect many citizens.

The visa bond rule will allow U.S. consular officers to require tourist and business travelers from countries whose nationals had an “overstay rate” of 10% or higher in 2019 to pay a refundable bond of $5,000, $10,000 or $15,000.

Twenty-four countries meet that criteria, including 15 African countries. While those nations had higher rates of overstays, they sent relatively few travelers to the United States.

As described, this amendment is currently restricted to 15 African countries. In particular, folks from these countries will be affected:

Countries whose tourist and business travelers could be subject to the bond requirement include those from Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Sudan, Chad, Angola, Burundi, Djibouti and Eritrea. Other countries include Afghanistan, Bhutan, Iran, Syria, Laos and Yemen.

I want to be clear that this is a bad idea and the actions of the US Government may hurt many low-income applicants who are separated from their family members. Immigration should not be restricted to the rich and affluent.

Success: Request for Reconsideration

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

Request for Reconsideration

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

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

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

Click here for 12 tips for finding a good representative.

COVID19 – UPDATE 7/APR/2020

UPDATE: 7/APRIL/2020

Please note that we will not be providing additional updates to this page. There have been many changes to laws, regulations and policies due to COVID19. We have been in contact with lawyers from across Canada to stay up to date with changes and amendments.

If you have any specific questions on how the changes may impact your application or your situation, please book a consultation with a lawyer.

UPDATE: 24/MARCH/2020

OK – to mitigate the spread of COVID19, the Ontario government declared that all non-essential services must close starting tomorrow and we expect Manitoba will follow suit soon. The numbers of infected continue to rise and the governments are doing everything in their power.

LAWYERS ARE “ESSENTIAL” SERVICE

The list is out. Lawyers and law firms are considered an essential service. We will continue to monitor the situation. Again, most staff at Clarke Law are working remotely. We only have 2 staff in the office to keep things up and running; however, we are not holding in-person meetings in the office. Feel free to drop off documents and we have been getting daily packages.

NOTE: Immigration consultants are not on the list. As per usual, please contact an appropriate expert for assistance.

LEADING BY EXAMPLE

I have to commend our valiant leader PM Trudeau who is working from home in isolation. He is managing his busy household, with 3 young children, by himself while leading our country through very difficult times.

We watch his daily briefings and he remains poised. Lead by example. Well done Sir!

BORDERLINES PODCAST

My colleagues in Vancouver have published an episode on The Canadian Immigration Consequences of COVID19. This does not seem to appear on their website (yet) so I would encourage you to find it in your podcast app.

In particular, it is nice to hear some optimism from Deanna!

START IN-CANADA REFUGEE CLAIM BY EMAIL

As the IRCC Offices across Canada have closed due to COVID19, refugee claims in Canada are being submitted by email: IRCC.RefugeeClaim-Demandedasile.IRCC@cic.gc.ca

We have been in regular contact with the IRB-RPD (Western Region) and we have been advised that all hearings have been postponed until 1 MAY 2020.

UPDATE: 23/MARCH2020

We had a busy weekend. The land border with the USA closed at midnight on Friday due to COVID19, causing a lot of confusion. I am not sure how “Tutor” became part of the definition of “immediate family member”.

COVID19

COVID19

IN-PERSON MEETINGS CANCELLED

In our office, most of our staff are working from home. We will continue to work on files and submit applications to maintain high standards. At the same time, we must do our part to fight this COVID19 virus from spreading. We encourage all our clients to contact us by telephone – 2045996966 or by email info@apply2manitoba.ca

MANITOBA STATE OF EMERGENCY

The provincial government has declared a State of Emergency to manage the spread of COVID19. These are extreme measures for extreme times. We are all taking these measures very seriously and we fully support any and all measures to protect the health and safety of residents.

This means that groups over 50 people are banned. Gyms are closed. Most retail will close. See the government website for details. We are taking this day by day.

UPDATE: 20/MARCH/2020

ASYLUM SEEKERS FROM USA

The Canadian government has further restricted border entries. Asylum seekers (refugee claimants) who seek to enter Canada at Ports of Entry will be refused entry. Asylum seekers (refugee claimants) who attempt irregular crossings into Canada will be returned to the US as part of an “exceptional measure” to protect residents in Canada.

During a news briefing, Minister Blair has acknowledged exceptions, including unaccompanied minors, to filing a refugee claim at the border. Claims at the US-Canada border have decreased by half from ~40 daily to ~20 daily. They will be returned to the USA and the Minister has advised that they will not be detained.

QUARANTINE ACT LEGISLATION

Emergency legislation through the Quarantine Act limits entry to Canada, including “immediate family members” as defined by the new Order. This provides clarity on the previous announcements that will limit access to Canadian soil.

Individuals crossing from the US may be required to spend a period of 14 days in the US due to COVID19 before they will be allowed to enter Canada.

FASTER PROCESSING TIMES

Minister Freeland has indicated that IRCC may be processing applications faster than usual. She has indicated that we need to recognize the need for “speed over attention”. She has emphasized the importance of processing files quickly. We are waiting for confirmation and details from Minister Mendicino’s office.

—-

UPDATE 19/MARCH/2020

US VISA OFFICES – CUTTING SERVICES

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

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

CANADA/USA BORDER RESTRICTIONS

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

—-

UPDATE 18/MARCH/2020

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

IRB – HEARINGS POSTPONED

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

ENTERING CANADA

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

REMOVALS AND DEPORTATIONS

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

APPOINTMENTS WITH IRCC

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

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

BIOMETRICS

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

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

CITIZENSHIP APPLICATIONS

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

CROSSING THE BORDER & POEs

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

PR APPLICATIONS

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

FEDERAL COURT – APPLICATIONS FOR JUDICIAL REVIEW

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

MIGRANT WORKERS & FARMING

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

LEGAL AID MANITOBA

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

—-

13/MARCH/2020

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

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

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

Please take all measures to stay healthy.

CTV News: New Surge to Manitoba

Clarke Immigration Law was featured on CTV News yesterday in a story on the rescinding of Temporary Protected Status for citizens of El Salvador who are living in the United States. In our practice, we have assisted clients from many countries who have found their path to Manitoba. Many of these stories are horrendous. We are greatly concerned that the situation in the United States may force the +200,000 people from El Salvador to come north to Canada and for safety and security. Currently, the refugee determination system in Canada is suffering from long timeframes and inadequate resources for the refugee claimants in the system.

Here is an excerpt from Josh Crabb’s article on CTV News:

Salvadorans living with temporary protected status in the U.S. have until Sep., 2019 to leave the country or face

Temporary Protected Statusdeportation.

Winnipeg-based immigration lawyer Alastair Clarke said it’s reasonable to think some Salvadorans may look north when their temporary protection status in the U.S. ends.

“It’s reasonable to think many will come to Canada,” said Clarke. “We should expect a surge.”

The federal immigration minister said the department is monitoring the situation but downplayed concerns Tuesday in Ottawa that the move would result in an influx of asylum seekers coming to Canada.

“El Salvadorans have until September 2019 to either leave the United States or find a new way to obtain legal residency or regularize their status,” Ahmed Hussen told reporters in Ottawa. “It’s important to note until 2019 in September members of this community have the opportunity to regularize their status. They still have TPS (temporary protected status) until then.”

To watch the clip that was featured on CTV News, click on this link.

Clarke Immigration Law is currently assisting clients from various countries in Central and South America. Note that Alastair is fluent in Spanish and he can assist Spanish-speaking clients in their mother tongue. Each refugee claim is based on a case-by-case determination.

Temporary Protected Status

In the United States, more than 300,000 individuals from various countries have been protected by Temporary Protected Status. This status does not give them a “Green Card” or permanent status but it has meant that they can work and live in the United States without fear of being deported by ICE Officers.

The Trump administration has been repealing or withdrawing support from these communities. Haitians and Salvadoreans are not the only groups that will be affected. US Immigration attorneys Dawn M. Lurie and Alexander Madrak have outlined some of the legal consequences to TPS in this article.

Please contact our office for more information.

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.

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.

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.

Success rates: Why some refugee claimants may have better odds in Canada

FROM NEWS1130.com

WINNIPEG – Bundled against bone-chilling cold, asylum-seekers hoping to gain refugee status in Canada have been trudging through ditches and fields along the border with the United States.

Many have already had refugee or asylum claims turned down in the U.S. and feel they may have more success in Canada. That assumption, say some immigration lawyers, is correct.

“I think that there is a lack of access to justice (for claimants in the United States),” said Bashir Khan, an immigration lawyer in Winnipeg.

“In most of Canada, you do get … a legal-aid assigned lawyer. You’re not put in immigration detention, so you are able to make long-distance calls to gather evidence that your lawyer may tell you is needed.”

Alastair Clarke, another immigration lawyer in the city, said he has represented people who have been rejected in the United States but are accepted in Canada.

“It happens regularly,” he said.

“In the United States, there’s a much higher rate of detention … and when the individual is detained, it’s much more difficult for them to access counsel. They have limited rights to legal counsel for legal advice, and the counsel who do represent them are often lawyers who don’t specialize in (immigration).”

Read the full article…