Tag Archive: immigration

Lawyer versus consultant? Immigration data shows visa applicants have best shot with former

December 10, 2018

The following article appeared in the Sunday, December 9, 2018 edition of the Toronto Star newspaper. Its contents have been reproduced in their entirety. The article offers some interesting insights into the advantages of using the services of a Canadian Immigration lawyer over those of a Canadian Immigration consultant; however, we leave it up to our readers to draw their own conclusions.

By NICHOLAS KEUNG Immigration Reporter
Sun., Dec. 9, 2018

Foreign nationals who prepare their own Canadian visa applications are nearly as successful in being accepted as those who spend money on a consultant to do the job.

But chances of success are much higher if they hire an immigration lawyer to help get their study, work or visitor visas, according to immigration data obtained under an access to information request.

Canada received 342,154 temporary resident applications in 2017, the data shows. While 86 per cent of applicants declared themselves as self-represented, 6 per cent were represented by consultants and another 5 per cent by lawyers. The remaining 3 per cent hired Quebec notaries or used “non-remunerated” representatives.

Overall, 18.9 per cent of the applications were rejected. Those who prepared their own applications had a 19.3 per cent refusal rate, slightly higher than the 18 per cent among those who paid a consultant to do it.

In contrast, only 10.4 per cent of applications prepared by a lawyer were rejected. The refusal rates for applications prepared by Quebec notaries and unpaid representatives were 13.1 per cent and 10.1 per cent respectively.

Marina Sedai, chair of the immigration section of the Canadian Bar Association, said she wasn’t surprised lawyers had the highest success rate.

“Canadian lawyers’ rigorous education, legal analysis skills, and high ethical standards enforced by an effective regulator, have long been understood to result in better outcomes,” Sedai said.

“Lawyers’ culture of the law being a calling rather than a business means that although lawyers will often take the tough cases, they will also protect clients by advising them against hopeless cases.”

When it comes to the lower success rate for consultants, lawyers are quick to point out that group has lower educational requirements and a less robust regulatory regime than lawyers. For their part, consultants say the immigration data is too general and doesn’t give the full picture.

“It is based on the flawed assumption that all applications are equally complex. In reality, applications completed by unpaid representatives may be far simpler, thus having a much higher chance of success,” said the Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants in a statement to the Star.

Currently, licensed immigration consultants must meet a minimum language requirement and graduate from an accredited immigration practitioner program, which takes about a year to complete full time. While only about 1,000 lawyers practise immigration law, there are five times more licensed consultants in Canada.

“Immigration lawyers typically have completed a four-year bachelor’s degree before undergoing a very competitive process for admission to law school. Law school degrees take three years to complete and are also no cakewalk. Then there is the bar admissions course which must be passed, the articling process, etcetera,” said Toronto immigration lawyer Ravi Jain.

“Many immigration consultants have only completed online courses at a community college. The education and training is just not comparable.”

The immigration consultants’ association, which has more than 2,000 members, said it’s pleased more people are using consultants and believed that’s due to the generally higher fees charged by their lawyer counterparts.

Regulatory bodies for lawyers and consultants do not mandate how much their members can charge clients, but fees can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Jain, who is also vice chair of the bar association’s immigration division, said the success rate for lawyers would likely be even higher if not for the fact lawyers often take up very difficult and complex cases.

“A lot of my clients come to me after they have gone to a consultant or tried on their own,” Jain said, adding many are reluctant to lodge a complaint against their former consultant and prefer just to have him reapply.

“It’s much more difficult to obtain approvals when applications have already been refused,” he added.

Multi-Year Immigration Levels Plan Announced

November 2, 2017

On Wednesday, November 1, 2017, the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC), announced the Government of Canada’s multi-year Immigration levels plan that will grow the number of permanent residents Canada welcomes annually.

Beginning with 310,000 new permanent residents in 2018, the plan will grow to 330,000 in 2019 and 340,000 in 2020, trending towards one percent of the population by 2020.

Each Immigration class will see a steady increase over the three-year period. The majority of the increase will be in economic programs.

New Definition of Age of Dependants Now in Force

November 2, 2017

On Friday, October 27, 2017, the Government of Canada has changed the definition of the age of dependants from “under 19” to “under 22,” as it had promised to do.

This change applies to all new applications received by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on or after October 24, 2017.

IRCC also announced that it would allow for the addition or sponsorship of some children whose parents had existing applications in process on May 3, 2017, or who have applied since that time.

Permanent residence applicants who wish to add or sponsor a child who was 19, 20, or 21 years of age on May 3, 2017, or on the date IRCC received the parents’ application (if between May 3, and October 23, 2017) should notify IRCC as soon as possible, using a web form, as the notification period will end on January 31, 2018.

Once IRCC has been advised, they will contact applicants directly to tell them what they need to do to sponsor or add their child to their application.

Canada Has New Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

January 11, 2017

REPRODUCED FROM “THE GLOBE AND MAIL”

A former Somali refugee is now overseeing Canada’s federal immigration policies after a cabinet shuffle Tuesday.

Ahmed Hussen, who arrived in Canada as a refugee from Somalia at the age of 16, was sworn in as Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship at a Rideau Hall ceremony. He replaces John McCallum, who is leaving politics and heading to Beijing as Canada’s new envoy to China.

The rookie MP for the Toronto riding of York South-Weston is also the first Somali-Canadian to hold a seat in Parliament; his election made news across the world, including on BBC Africa and Al Jazeera.

Mr. Hussen arrived in Canada as a refugee in 1993 and settled in Toronto’s Regent Park community. While he is proud of his Somali heritage, he hopes to be more than the token Somali in the Liberal cabinet.

“As members of Parliament and members of the cabinet, each of us coming into public life are informed … by their different experiences that they bring to the table. And I’m no different in that sense. I’ll bring my experience as an immigrant to Canada, but also an immigration lawyer, someone who worked many, many years before running for office as a community activist, a community organizer and a community advocate,” Mr. Hussen told reporters on Parliament Hill Tuesday.

Mr. Hussen’s commitment to public service began after high school, when he began working for the Hamilton-Wentworth social-services department. He eventually returned to Toronto, where he completed an undergraduate degree in history at York University.

Returning to his roots, Mr. Hussen co-founded the Regent Park Community Council in 2002 and helped secure a $500-million revitalization project for the area.

His first foray into the political realm took place at the provincial level in Ontario, where he worked as an assistant to Dalton McGuinty, who was leader of the official opposition at the time. He followed Mr. McGuinty to the premier’s office after the Liberal win in 2003. Mr. McGuinty spoke highly of Mr. Hussen, describing him as a “natural leader.”

“He sees politics as public service and he is driven in large measure by a sense of indebtedness for the opportunity he found in Canada, his adoptive country. He’s just a great Canadian story. Canada welcomed him and now he will help us welcome others,” Mr. McGuinty said in an e-mail statement.

Mr. Hussen went on to attend the University of Ottawa’s law school and began practising in the areas of criminal defence, immigration, refugee and human-rights law. He continued to maintain links to his heritage as national president of the Canadian Somali Congress and, in that capacity, testified to the U.S. Homeland Security Committee on radicalization within the Canadian Somali community in 2011.

Mahamad Accord, who met Mr. Hussen eight years ago through their work with the Canadian Somali Congress, said Mr. Hussen was always bound for success.

“He’s a natural. He’s an advocate for human rights. He’s a warm-hearted person,” Mr. Accord told The Globe and Mail. “His personality is exceptional, but at the same time his experience, it shows.”

Mr. Hussen comes into his new role amidst growing anti-immigrant sentiments south of the border, as U.S. president-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office next week. Ruby Latif, a long-time friend of Mr. Hussen who worked with him at Queen’s Park, said Mr. Hussen is exactly who Canada needs as immigration minister at this time.

“The portfolio really needs somebody who understands what’s happening to vulnerable people in vulnerable communities, especially with what’s happening across the border,” Ms. Latif said. “Somebody like Ahmed understands the issues of immigrants, visible minorities.”

Mr. Hussen, a father of two boys, is fluent in English, Somali and Swahili.

Number of 2017 New Arrivals to Canada to Remain the Same; Greater Percentage Economic and Family Class Immigrants

November 1, 2016

On October 31, 2016, the Government of Canada announced in the Canadian House of Commons that it will bring in 300,000 new arrivals in 2017. That is the same number that was established in 2016 to accommodate an influx of Syrian refugees.

While Canada will not increase the number of new immigrants being welcomed to the country next year, the Government claims that it is laying the foundation for a bigger boost in levels in the coming years.

Within this plan, the number of permanent residents selected in economic programs (i.e. Express Entry/Business Class/Provincial Nominee Programs, etc.) will increase. The Government also intends to increase Family Class (i.e. family sponsorship) levels to reduce processing times and reunite more families.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports that Immigration Minister John McCallum to reveal ‘substantially’ higher newcomer targets

October 30, 2016

The article, below, appeared this morning on the website of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. If the announcement is true and, once more information becomes available, Abrams & Krochak will publish it on our website.

***

Canada is expected to “substantially” boost the number of immigrants it welcomes to the country each year, but experts warn that any increase must be matched with more robust resettlement assistance.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum is expected to reveal new targets Monday, one day before Finance Minister Bill Morneau presents his fall economic update.

The new levels will seek to offset projected demographic challenges in Canada, including an aging population and growing labour gaps. In 2016, the target was to permit 300,000 newcomers to the country.

The government’s economic growth advisory council has recommended ramping up immigration levels to 450,000 people a year over the next five years, with a focus on skilled, highly educated and business-oriented people. McCallum has suggested that target may be overly ambitious, but said the government will “substantially” raise the number.

There has also been debate among the Canadian public — and among Liberals — about hiking immigration at a time of high unemployment, especially among young Canadians. There are also questions about whether adequate levels of support are in place.

Immigrants worse off?

As the government welcomes more immigrants, it must take steps to ensure smooth integration into communities, said Emily Gilbert, director of the University of Toronto’s Canadian Studies Program. That includes employment that meets their skill levels, so families don’t face undue financial hardship, she said.

“I’m not at all against raising the level, I’m in full support of that. But we’ve had a tendency in the last decade or so for newcomers to Canada to be much worse off economically,” she said.

She’s concerned about the potential emphasis on bringing in business and professional class immigrants.

“I’m worried that the thrust of the levels seems to be to boost Canada’s economy and I’m worried it would be on the shoulders of those who arrive,” she said.

Gilbert said ramping up numbers too quickly without enough supports could lead to potential social and economic problems down the road. She also warned against gearing targets based on economic status.

Not only does that contribute to a “brain drain” in other countries, but it ignores the fact that it takes all kinds of people to build the country, she said.

Raise living standards

The advisory council’s report recommends tapping top business talent and international students to maximize economic benefits from immigration policy that, “if done right, can raise living standards for all Canadians.”

Noting that public opinion to date is largely favourable toward immigration, the report warns that policy makers must be aware of limits.

“Public support is likely to wane if integration of new immigrants is not managed effectively,” it reads. “The recommended increase of 150,000 permanent economic immigrants is not expected to strain public education, transportation, or healthcare systems over the course of the five-year ramp up period, though it should be expected that higher population growth will eventually require increased investments in public services and infrastructure by all levels of government.”

In addition to boosting immigration levels, the council recommends:

  • Reducing red tape to attract and expedite entry for foreign talent.
  • Easing rules to allow more international students to become permanent residents.
  • Improving accreditation processes to help skilled workers find work in their profession.

Dory Jade, CEO of the Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants, expects the government will significantly increase the annual target and numbers in various categories. He said it’s difficult to measure actual capacity for newcomers in communities because there are so many regional variations.

Big dilemma

But Jade said any increase in numbers must come with supports ranging from more staff to process applications to a “big injection” of aid to help integrate new arrivals, even though that capacity is hard to determine.

“That’s the big dilemma for the government,” he said.

NDP Immigration critic Jenny Kwan said Canada could reasonably have a policy to bring in a higher number of immigrants, up to 500,000 annually.

Along with setting new targets, she urged the government to bring in policy changes that would help fill regional labour gaps and give live-in caregivers and temporary foreign workers greater and faster opportunities to become new Canadians.

“I think we’re at the juncture in 2016 to look at our immigration policy and say, ‘If you’re good enough to work here, you’re good enough to stay,'” she said.

Kwan also said Canada’s policy should not be geared to favour those with business and professional credentials.

“There’s value to all the different classes,” she said. “All of us contribute to the rich fabric of who we are, and our immigration policy should reflect exactly that — broad-based, diverse groups of immigrants from around the globe.”

Conservative Immigration critic Michelle Rempel said setting immigration levels must not be “arbitrary” and that targets should be established after consultation with the provinces and territories. She hopes to to see an increase in economic immigration to the Atlantic provinces and consideration to Francophonie targets.

Rempel said she is proud that because of a Conservative motion, Yazidi victims of ISIS genocide will be among the priority groups brought in to Canada.

“Our previous Conservative government oversaw the highest sustained levels of economic immigration in Canada’s history, while working to ensure persecuted ethnic, religious and sexual minorities were able to resettle in Canada,” she said in an email.

“We protected the integrity of our fair and generous immigration system by cracking down on crooked consultants who exploit prospective immigrants. Along with introducing the Parent and Grandparent Super Visa, we also enhanced the Caregiver program to ensure faster processing, reunification and more protection against abuse.”