Calgary Immigration Lawyer Raj Sharma, a former immigration hearings officer and now partner at Stewart Sharma Harsanyi, one of Western Canada's premier immigration law firms, reviews Canadian immigration developments.
The Spouse or Common-law Partner In Canada Class is a welcome relief to many, allowing them to remain in Canada while being sponsored. There are some drawbacks, such as the increased processing time and the fact that there is no appeal to the Immigration Appeal Division of a refusal.
In terms of anyone that may be removed from Canada, the application does allow a temporary administrative deferral of removal EXCEPT: when they are inadmissible for security, human or international rights violations, serious criminality and criminality, or organized criminality; are excluded under Article F by the RPD; have charges pending; have already benefitted from an administrative deferral of removal from a H&C spousal application; have a warrant outstanding for removal; have previously hindered or delayed removal; and, have been previously deported from Canada and have not obtained permission to return.
Generally speaking, I use the In Canada Class on many failed (or pending) refugee claimants, or visa overstays (such as visitor or student overstays).
I've just filed two complaints with the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants against one of their members. I've heard of issues surrounding CSIC governance, but look forward to seeing for myself whether they have adequate safeguards in place for the protection of the public. Both complaints allege that a CSIC Member took large sums of money ($20,000) for arranging employment in Canada (employment or recruitment agencies need to be licensed in Alberta under the Fair Trading Act) and completing the (simple and straightforward) work permit application forms. The two individuals were apparently counselled to misrepresent their education and experience to better fit the low skill employment that was sought. This misrepresentation may now make them inadmissible to Canada (a significant loss of opportunity). They were also told that they would be 'moved' or transferred to another, higher skilled position after arrival that would allow them to apply for permanent resident status in Canada.
So far, I must say, the CSIC intake officer has been responsive.
In addition, I've also filed Statements of Claim in the Court of Queen's Bench to address what the clients feel were negligent or fraudulent misrepresentations, breaches of fiduciary duty and of course breaches of contract.
I have a feeling that this may be the tip of the iceberg, and we'll hear many more stories of temporary foreign workers who will suffer serious prejudice to remaining in Canada.
We've just received leave from the Federal Court in respect of a Judicial Review application. The JR was for a refusal of an "overseas H&C". I'm looking forward to appearing before the Court and gleaning additional information regarding the nature and scope of the visa officer in reviewing such applications. An overseas H&C is generally used where no other avenue is available: individuals barred because of the operation of s.117(9)(d) or family members in precarious economic and social situations (and in a situation that doesn't give rise to a Group of 5 sponsorship).
I'm in Toronto for some classes for my LLM. The course 'The Law of Inquests' is taught by Tom Schneider. Having read the material provided, I find it an interesting inquisitorial process with clear connection to criminal law and procedure.
I'll be back in the office Monday morning.
I was at Harry Hays yesterday and couldn't help but feel sorrow over the Algerian national who had set himself on fire. Did the system fail the individual? Was his actions precipitated because of a genuine risk on return to that country that wasn't recognized by Canada? Or was he simply in a fragile condition as a result of his immigration status and other circumstances? I don't know, but hope that a spirit of compassion is imbued with all of the stakeholders towards the 'clients'.
A man, apparently upset over a deportation back to Algeria, set himself ablaze in front of Harry Hays today.
Deportation from Canada is naturally disconcerting - especially if you've been in the country for years, and you are convinced of danger upon return.
Unfortunately, while Canada's immigration and refugee system is among the most generous in the world people fall through the cracks.
I've had another positive experience with the ADR program here in Calgary.
The ADR seeks to divert certain cases that may be amenable to early resolution. Frequently its because the visa refusal is weak or there are only a couple of issues to be canvassed.
There are some limitations. Only the appellant provides oral information and the proceeding is limited to one hour.
This is a godsend to those who had resigned themselves to waiting for their marriage appeals to be heard by the IAD which is now taking well over a year.
The two essentials of a successful ADR are provision of good disclosure and preparation for the interview.
The officers here in Calgary are good at canvassing the relevant issues and generally begin with the refusal letter concerns.
Hopefully ADR is expanded to removal order appeals on criminality as well.
An IRB consultative meeting was scheduled for Monday, February 9, 2009 at the IRB office in Calgary. The meeting was chaired by Kim Workun, Assistant Deputy Chairperson for IAD, and Ross Pattee, Assistant Deputy Chairperson for RPD. The objective of the meeting was to discuss issues pertaining to IAD and RPD hearings in Calgary.
I attended along with other counsel. A number of positive changes have taken place in the region which includes the appointment of new RPD members.
The Calgary regional office will be relocating from the Fording Place building to a facility located on Manning Road in the northeast.
It was a good opportunity to meet the administration of the RPD and IAD, and while counsel did not appear that enthused over the location of the new facility, its a done deal and both counsel and clients will have to adjust to the new reality.
After a substantial amount of time where there was only one lonely Member of the Refugee Protection Division in Calgary, it appears that Ms. Adhopia, Ms. Kingma, Ms. Narula, Mr. Tkachuk and Ms. Walker will be determining refugee claims in Calgary.
Prior to her appointment to the Board, Ms. Adhopia was Portfolio Officer with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner. She had also held the positions of Public Complaints Director, Strategic Research Analyst and Tactical Crime Analyst with the Calgary Police Service. Ms. Adhopia received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from McGill University and her Master of Arts in Criminology from the University of Toronto.
Prior to her appointment to the Board, Ms. Kingma was Hearing Adjudicator, Correction Act, for the Solicitor General of Alberta. She also held the positions of Commissioner and Hearing Chair with the Appeals Commission for Workers’ Compensation of Alberta. Ms. Kingma received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of British Columbia, her Bachelor of Laws from the University of Victoria and her Master of Laws from Dalhousie University.
Prior to her appointment to the Board, Ms. Narula held several positions with the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society, the most recent being Coordinator of Special Projects. She also held the positions of Coordinator of Resettlement and Integration Services, Resettlement Assistant and Researcher. Ms. Narula received a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts in Anthropology from Concordia University.
Prior to his appointment to the Board, Mr. Tkachuk was Junior Achievement Program Director with the Yukon Entrepreneurship Centre Society and Sessional Instructor at Yukon College. He also held the position of General Counsel with Northwestel Inc. and was Associate Lawyer with Pitzel & Company, Coffin Laluk and Wheatley Sadownik. He received his Bachelor of Arts and his Bachelor of Laws from the University of Alberta, and his Master of Business Administration from the University of Western Ontario. Mr. Tkachuk was called to the Bar of Alberta in 1992.
Prior to her appointment to the Board, Ms. Walker was most recently a member of the Labour Standards Appeal Board of the Northwest Territories. She has also been Manager, Policy and Legislation, with the Department of Health and Social Services of the Government of Northwest Territories. She received a Bachelor of Arts (Science) from the University of Western Ontario and her law degree from the University of Windsor. Ms. Walker was called to the Bar of Ontario and the Northwest Territories in 1981.
Today was the retirement celebration of Mr. Paul Kyba, Member of the Immigration Division, and Ms. Marnie Armstrong, Member of the Refugee Protection Division.
Paul was with the Public Service for 35 years, 27 of which he was a Member (formerly known as an Adjudicator) with the Immigration Division.
I have appeared before Paul on a number of occasions, and have been struck at his professionalism. Paul always listened closely to both counsel and the Minister before reaching a well reasoned decision.
I appeared before Marnie Armstrong both as a Refugee Protection Officer (now called Tribunal Officers) and as counsel. In her 8 years as a Member of the Refugee Protection Division, Marnie enjoyed a strong reputation among counsel, and wrote well reasoned decisions. In her remarks today, she indicated the difficulty she had in excluding or vacating refugee claims. That comment underscored the compassion that she brought to her position, a quality that alleviated some of the hardship in the refugee determination process.
Both will be missed by IRB staff and counsel alike.