Do you always need a lawyer to submit an immigration application?


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Mary Keyork
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Mary Keyork

BARRISTER & SOLICITOR - CERTIFIED SPECIALIST IN CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION LAW at Canada Immigration Alliance
Mary Keyork provides Immigration Law services for hundreds of immigration applications in all categories and has appeared before all three divisions of the Immigration and Refugee Board as well as at the Federal Court of Canada, successfully representing clients in complex immigration applications and hearings.
Mary Keyork
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In short, no you don’t. A lot of people decide to handle their immigration application process on their own. It really depends on the type of person you are and if you like doing paper work!

However, there are so many benefits to hiring an immigration lawyer. For example, the likelihood of your application being denied is significantly reduced simply because you’re hiring a professional who understands the entire legal process, from what words to use, how to write things, what supporting documents you need or should include (even if it’s not written on any website/document check list.)

The biggest benefit in having an immigration lawyer is less stress. You don’t have to worry that you forgot to send in one of the oh so many forms or documents required. You don’t have to worry that you filled in the wrong section of an application or that you filled out the wrong application altogether. That’s what your lawyer is for! Immigration application forms can be extremely confusing and are constantly changing!

Now, here’s where a lot of people get discouraged. Most law firms do charge a consultation fee. And it’s usually between $150-$300 for an hour depending on the firm and the level of expertise. But this fee is usually deducted from the over all legal fees if you decide to hire the firm – most immigration law firms have this policy. So it’s not a waste of money since you’re not only getting valuable information that can change your future, but you’re also putting a deposit on your lawyer.

In the grand scheme of things, although looking for and hiring the right lawyer might seem overwhelming and confusing at times, working with a qualified and experienced immigration lawyer can exponentially change the outcome of your immigration application.

Spousal sponsorship story: to permanent residency in Canada


Spousal sponsorship story
Mary Keyork
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Mary Keyork

BARRISTER & SOLICITOR - CERTIFIED SPECIALIST IN CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION LAW at Canada Immigration Alliance
Mary Keyork provides Immigration Law services for hundreds of immigration applications in all categories and has appeared before all three divisions of the Immigration and Refugee Board as well as at the Federal Court of Canada, successfully representing clients in complex immigration applications and hearings.
Mary Keyork
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My Canadian Story….

Or rather, how I became a permanent resident of Canada.

So, I guess a good place to start is at the beginning. When I met my husband. After all, in reality, all spousal sponsorship stories are love stories, right?

We first met in 2009. I was young, new to the city. We were at a party and knew there was an instant connection. The kind of electricity that just lights up the entire room. Even though, if I’m being completely honest, we were both dating different people at the time. And because of that fact, our relationship started off as a friendship. After a while, we both left our respective ex’s and eventually started dating. Our first year was intense! Both of us were unsure if we were right for each other, ups and downs. Highs and lows. But we always came back to each other. We moved in together and realized our life was great. We fit perfectly together.

After years of dating he finally asked me to marry him and on August 2nd, 2015 we tied the knot! We knew now was the time to decide where we wanted to live for the next few years. Canada or the US? My husband has always wanted to move down somewhere sunny like Florida or California, but there are all these other aspects to consider. The cost of moving, the uncertainty of finding jobs (I wasn’t working already, so if we moved to the States, he’d be the one not working until his papers went through and since I haven’t held a job in a LONG time anything I would get would barely be enough to support us.) All that on top of the cost of applying for immigration (in either country).

But once Trump was elected, or when it seemed like a very real possibility of him becoming the president, we decided to file for Canada. This was a very hard decision for us. For me, it’s like marrying a country. And in truth, it ultimately came down to my husband’s good job and salary. So we filed for Permanent Residence through Spousal Sponsorship.

Our entire case, from when we mailed in the documents (September 2016) to when I got my confirmation of PR (May 2017), took only about 8 months in total. We decided to apply from outside of Canada (aka Overseas). I guess it’s easier if I explain a little first about the 2 ways you can apply.

1st: Inland– Meaning that you’re living in Canada and you’re going to apply from physically being inside of Canada. This way usually takes 1-2 years, although sometimes it can take even longer!

PROS: Once you’ve sent your application for PR to immigration, you can then apply for a work permit. The work permit is usually issued within 6 months to 1 ½ years.You can live in Canada while you’re waiting for a decision to be made by immigration.

CONS: You can’t travel outside of Canada you’ll be paying extra fees (the work permit fee on top of the PR fees)

2nd: Overseas– Meaning that you’ll be physically living outside of Canada. This process usually takes about 6 months – 1 ½ years.

PROS: You can travel freely into and out of Canada as long as you maintain a valid legal status in Canada.You’re not paying extra, just the PR fees

CONS: You can’t work in Canada unless you get a work permit through a specific employer.

So, for us, if we applied Overseas, it could be approved in the same amount of time as the Work Permit, it didn’t make sense to spend the extra money on fees when we could just save that and use it for the cost of living on one salary. Something we were already used to doing.

The hardest part of the entire process for us was the waiting. With Immigration, it’s a wait and sees the thing. Usually, you don’t get any kind of updates or hear anything from them until they need or want something from you. Kind of like that friend we all have that we don’t really know why we’re still friends with!

For example, when I logged on to use the Online Tool to check the status of my application, for a MONTH it said “Decision Made” but didn’t say anything else. I spent an entire month freaking out.

Was it approved? Was it denied? Why would it have been denied? Etc. Finally, my confirmation of PR came in the mail and we were ecstatic! Finally. After all this waiting. I knew we had made it.

I had tried once before to file for Spousal Sponsorship on my own. A number of forms there were! The documents they require! (the ones listed and the ones, that aren’t. Cause I realized after that there’s a lot of supporting documents that you can submit which helps to strengthen your case, but on the Immigration Document Checklist, none of these things are listed!) It was all overwhelming.

If you don’t know how immigration works, you can easily make a mistake on a form that can cause your file to be denied or returned as ‘incomplete’. Hiring a lawyer was the best decision to make our immigration process as painless as possible. For me, the decision was one I compare to if I had broken a bone. I wouldn’t try to reset it myself. I’d go to a doctor. A professional. Someone who knows what they’re doing. Having my lawyer saved me so many sleepless nights. I knew that they had my best interest in mind and they helped me to know exactly what I needed to get for them.

Now as irony and fate would have it. I work at an immigration law firm, helping others who are in similar situations through the mess and stress of Canadian Immigration.

—Carolyn Tavares

Love conquers everything – one couple’s spousal sponsorship story


Spousal sponsorship story
Mary Keyork
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Mary Keyork

BARRISTER & SOLICITOR - CERTIFIED SPECIALIST IN CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION LAW at Canada Immigration Alliance
Mary Keyork provides Immigration Law services for hundreds of immigration applications in all categories and has appeared before all three divisions of the Immigration and Refugee Board as well as at the Federal Court of Canada, successfully representing clients in complex immigration applications and hearings.
Mary Keyork
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Love conquers everything – one couple’s spousal sponsorship story

Nina first contacted us by phone; she was reserved and wanted to make sure that her life story will not be judged. Once the initial trust was established, Nina asked to come in for a follow-up consultation as she didn’t feel too comfortable in discussing her story by phone.

Nina and Anna were engaged; the couple met at a mutual friend’s birthday party in Vietnam and slowly they became friends first, and then a couple. Their first date was memorable; both Nina and Anna loved picnics, so Nina organized a picnic outside of Anna’s town. They took a picnic basket full of amazing food, and wine and spent the whole day together, laughing and getting to know each other.

With each passing day they spent together they both realized that they found something meaningful and worth fighting for. Both Anna and Nina were in long-term serious relationships before and never really considered a long distance relationship. However, life rarely goes as we plan it to and since they both were certain that the relationship was worth it if they decided to give it a try and exchanged WhatsApp contact details and made tentative plans to meet again soon.

Both Nina and Anna were working professionals and had a busy life; however, they would always make time for each other. Nina was working at an international humanitarian organization as a policy advisor and grant manager. She worked hard to get there, but unfortunately, was never lucky in her personal relationship.

At some point, it would always come down to choosing between the work and the relationship, and while Nina hated to make that choice, it always ended up being another promotion or job opportunity. It was always a combination of having very demanding partners and an inner voice that would tell her the relationship was not the right one for her.

With Anna everything was different; they were able to understand each easily and communication was effortless. While they had different personalities, they complimented each other perfectly. Anna was working in the financial sector and had to travel a lot for business, nevertheless, they both managed to keep in touch often enough to keep the sparkle alive. After a couple of months, they took their first trip together to Italy.

The itinerary was exciting; Rome, Venice, and Florence. Anna and Nina spent days exploring the cities together; food, museums, shopping. The trip was packed with activities and emotions; they got along well and found out that their travel styles were similar to each other’s’ too.

Almost half way to their trip Nina noticed that Anna was concerned about something. She would be happy one minute, and then the shadow of concern would appear. At first, Nina ignored it; she thought that maybe Anna was too wrapped up in her work and it would take her more time to relax and enjoy the trip. However, one night Nina didn’t hold back and decided to ask Anna if something was bothering her. Anna looked relieved; she was going to tell Nina a secret and was hoping that it would not affect their relationship. Anna was born HIV positive and had to live with HIV her whole life. Her father did not know she was HIV-positive and her mother got it from him. When Anna was born she and her mother tested HIV positive, but the doctors were not sure whether it would be a permanent condition for Anna.

Unfortunately for her, frequent tests showed that it would be something that Anna would have to live with her whole life. Anna’s parents were sad; they knew that judgmental society would make it harder for Anna to live her life to the fullest. There was little they could do and they did their best; Anna was surrounded with love and care and had the best medical services available to her.

Nevertheless, given the bias society had about HIV her family decided to keep it a secret from Anna’s extended family. When Anna was younger, she was very self-conscious about her condition and had a fear that no one would want to date her or be friends with her if they learned about her condition. Apart from her fear of judgment, Anna had no issues with building relationships with people, but still stayed vulnerable when it came to opening up.

It was hard for her to understand that despite the information readily available to many, people were afraid of HIV and would react negatively. Anna always lived with the fear that if people found out they would tell her to stay away from them, as many still believe that HIV can be transmitted through touching. Society’s ignorance played a big role in forming Anna’s personality and her approach to relationships and life.

Fortunately for Anna, aside from her condition, she was very healthy and never had to go to the hospital because of her condition. She had been taking the same medicine for 8 years and had to switch her medicines only once.

It took courage to tell her secret to Nina, and Anna could only hope that Nina would not love her less. The relationship Anna and Nina had was too precious for Anna to hide something this serious from Nina, and she only hoped that Nina would be understanding and supportive.

Nina took the news well; she was worried that Anna was concerned about their relationship and was contemplating a breakup. While Nina was sad to learn about Anna’s experience and health condition, she was, nevertheless, relieved that the talk was not leading to a breakup.

Nina hugged Anna tight and told her how much she appreciated her honesty and that she would always be there for her. After the talk, they went out for a walk and some Italian ice cream. Three days later they had to go back to their respective countries.

Not so surprisingly, after having the talk, they grew closer and realized how much they meant for each other. During the next two years, they kept visiting each other and taking vacations. They both met each other’s families and friends and even spent the Christmas with Anna’s family.

During one of their visits, they started talking about the future and marriage, and at the end, they both proposed to each other and agreed that it was the right time to legalize the relationship. The wedding was in Canada since there are few countries where same-sex marriage was legal. The wedding was short, simple and intimate.

 Both Anna and Nina were wearing short wedding dresses and had matching bouquets. After the courthouse ceremony, the newlyweds and their families and close friends had a three-course dinner in one of the best restaurants in Montreal. After the dinner the party continued till 2 am; there was live music and a DJ to make sure that the wedding was fun and memorable.

After taking a week off to Cozumel in Mexico for a honeymoon, they had to say goodbyes. Anna left and Nina started her research into sponsoring Anna to Canada so they can be together.

After asking around and reading forums, Nina became concerned; it was mentioned that the application could be refused if there was a ground of medical inadmissibility. Nina wondered if Anna’s HIV status would deem her inadmissible.

Thankfully, after consulting with us Nina learned that permanent residency could be refused on medical grounds only if the health condition is either a danger to the health or safety of the public or if the person with the health condition would represent an excessive demand on health or social services in Canada. However, immigration does not consider HIV a danger to the health or safety of the public as long as it is a stable condition, well monitored and meeting certain medical requirements. In addition, an excessive demand criterion does not apply to refugees or those who are being sponsored as the spouse or a child.

Fortunately for Nina and Anna, this meant that being HIV positive would not be an obstacle for spousal sponsorship application.

After being assured that with the complete application including all necessary documents Nina’s application had all chances to be approved Nina decided to start the process and messaged Anna telling her that soon they will be together.

 On the other side of the world, Anna was waiting for Nina’s message that her HIV status would not be an obstacle to be together. Despite knowing that should it become an obstacle Nina would have moved to be with her, Anna wished that her health condition didn’t affect Nina’s life negatively. After all, Nina loved living in Canada and worked hard to get where she was.

“Love would have conquered everything”, Anna thought, “but having reasonable immigration policies in place did help the couple to have a life they both would be happy with”.

Spousal Sponsorship – Maria’s Story


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Mary Keyork
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Mary Keyork

BARRISTER & SOLICITOR - CERTIFIED SPECIALIST IN CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION LAW at Canada Immigration Alliance
Mary Keyork provides Immigration Law services for hundreds of immigration applications in all categories and has appeared before all three divisions of the Immigration and Refugee Board as well as at the Federal Court of Canada, successfully representing clients in complex immigration applications and hearings.
Mary Keyork
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A Complicated Spousal Sponsorship Situation with a Good Ending

Maria first contacted us online by submitting a form; later in the week, we had a Skype consultation. For the past 7 years, she had been living in Eritrea and working in an international human rights organization. Maria was extremely well traveled, educated and open minded, and thoroughly enjoyed her time in Africa.

Her travels and work experiences taught her valuable life lessons; she grew as a professional and made lifelong friendships. While in Eritrea she also had a beautiful daughter, named Valeria and was enjoying both the joys and struggles of motherhood. Unfortunately, her relationship with Valeria’s father and her common-law partner did not last, but she was very thankful for being able to raise a daughter like Valeria. Maria’s ex-partner and colleague, Dan, also Valeria’s father had signed off his rights and was absent since the day Valeria had turned two years old.

Despite the struggles, Maria had to face in a new country she loved her job and the privilege to raise her daughter. Maria was a hard worker, and her supervisor appreciated her dedication. Nevertheless, it was time for Maria to contemplate returning to her home country, Canada since she was pregnant with another child and in a committed relationship with Hani. Despite the age difference between Hani and Maria with Hani being five years her junior, they had a stable relationship and were committed to each other.

How did Maria meet Hani?

Hani had a construction business and came from a politically represented family, even though he was not involved in politics. Maria and Hani met at a mutual friend’s birthday party and instantly became attracted to each other. They spent the whole evening talking and laughing with each other and made plans to meet the next day again. Despite his age, Hani was very mature, and Maria admitted to herself that with him she was feeling safe and secure and taken care of. After dating for four months, Maria finally introduced Hani to her daughter.

Much to Maria’s surprise and delight, Hani and Valeria became best friends; Valeria loved spending time with her mother and Hani. All three traveled around the country, enjoyed cooking and watching movies, and spending time together. Hani also taught Valeria how to ride a bike and swim. Every time Maria looked at how fatherly Hani was towards Valeria, her heart became filled with love and warmth towards the man she was ready to spend her life with.

Nevertheless, Maria was against the idea of marriage, and after discussing her stance on marriage with Hani, they both agreed that legal aspects of marriage were not necessary and they were perfectly happy with establishing a common law relationship. Shortly after the talk, they moved in together. Not only Maria and Hani were overjoyed, but Valeria was also jubilant to have Hani in the house.

Life was good. However, life conditions were not the best given the poor economic situation in Eritrea and political tensions, but Maria was dedicated to her job and a huge believer in making a difference. At the same time, she missed Canada and was sure that at some point she would go back.
With her work experience and skills, she was confident to contribute to her home country’s policy development. What Maria was not satisfied with was the timing of when she would eventually make the decision about relocation. As it usually happens, life had a surprising answer in store; after experiencing morning sickness for about a week; Maria eventually got a pregnancy test and realized that she was pregnant! When Maria told Hani about her pregnancy, he hugged her as tight as he could and whispered that she made him the happiest man alive.

Unfortunately, given Maria’s age and the state of the health system in Eritrea, she traveled to Canada to get a medical assessment of her pregnancy. In Canada, she was advised that ideally, she should have the child in a Canadian hospital to escape any complications that might not be addressed adequately in Eritrea. After traveling back to Eritrea, Maria and Hani decided to apply for spousal sponsorship for Hani to become a Permanent Resident of Canada and live with Maria in Canada; it was time to go back home.

Despite the fact that Maria and Hani were not married, they had been living together for more than a year and would qualify as common law partners. After determining the fact that Maria would be able to sponsor Hani to Canada, the couple decided to get professional legal advice to navigate the confusing process efficiently since Maria wanted to have the child in Canada and ideally with Hani present at the moment of birth.

After retaining our office and gathering all necessary documents the waiting game begun. Maria was anxious about the timeline, but she also was realizing that the process would take time. At the same time, while waiting for the sponsorship to be approved, Hani started looking at alternative options to secure a safe birth for Maria and to make sure that their child’s health will not be compromised.

Being from an educated and well-off family, Hani was privileged enough to finish international school in Denmark and happened to have some friends still living there. Maria decided not to quit her job yet since her pregnancy was going well and work was keeping her busy while she was anxiously waiting for the process to move forward. In the meantime, Hani left for Denmark; he wanted to secure an apartment and find out about possible options if Maria had to have the baby outside Eritrea.

Unfortunately, as life would have it, local political tensions in Eritrea became an issue; while Hani was not involved in politics, he was still his father’s son, and just the fact of that made him a target to the point that his father advised him not to come back. Lately, he had been getting threats that were addressed not only to him but also to Hani.

When Hani called Maria to let her know that his life was in danger, Maria’s heart just sunk. Hani was trying to be as calm as he could be in the given circumstances, but Maria knew he was anxious and lost not knowing what to do. The sponsorship application was still pending, and Hani told Maria that she had to either leave for Denmark and give birth there or leave for Canada.

After thinking about the pros and cons, the couple decided that given their circumstances, it would be better for Maria and her baby to be in Canada. Unfortunately, that would have meant that he might not be present during the childbirth. However, given the fact that Maria’s family lived in Canada and they would be able to help her with Valeria and a newborn it made more sense.

Since Hani was not able to go back to Eritrea and lost his construction business, he was limited in choices. The best he could do was to try and find a job in Denmark before his visitor visa expires or even consider applying for a refugee status since it was no longer safe for him to go back to Eritrea.
Finally, Maria left for Canada, and Hani stayed in Denmark.

After couple of months Maria gave birth to a healthy boy they named Fraser. Unfortunately, Hani was not present during the birth. Both Maria and Hani felt blessed, but also sad that despite their dreams, Hani was not able to be there for Maria physically. However, their relationship was surviving the long distance and they were more certain than ever that they will be able to be a family again soon. Every night Maria and Valeria would Facetime Hani and at times it seemed that there was ocean between them.

Little did they know that at the Canadian embassy finally made a positive decision on their applications. Despite the special circumstances of their relationship, age difference and political uncertainty, positive news was around the corner.

From a refugee to a permanent resident of Canada


Canadian permanent residency

Mary Keyork
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Mary Keyork

BARRISTER & SOLICITOR - CERTIFIED SPECIALIST IN CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION LAW at Canada Immigration Alliance
Mary Keyork provides Immigration Law services for hundreds of immigration applications in all categories and has appeared before all three divisions of the Immigration and Refugee Board as well as at the Federal Court of Canada, successfully representing clients in complex immigration applications and hearings.
Mary Keyork
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Ahmad contacted our office first via phone and then booked an in-person consultation. He came to Canada as a visitor ten days ago; being a citizen of Syria, he was working in Croatia as a temporary worker. Ahmad was lucky enough to get his work visa in 2009 and has been working in Croatia since then. Although he loved Syria, he was happy to get the chance to gain international work experience and to be far from politics. Most of his friends were involved in politics in one way or another, and his mother was very worried that Ahmad would too at some point.

Ahmad contacted our office first via phone and then booked an in-person consultation. He came to Canada as a visitor ten days ago; being a citizen of Syria, he was working in Croatia as a temporary worker. Ahmad was lucky enough to get his work visa in 2009 and has been working in Croatia since then. Although he loved Syria, he was happy to get the chance to gain international work experience and to be far from politics. Most of his friends were involved in politics in one way or another, and his mother was very worried that Ahmad would too at some point.

His mother continued to live in Syria, and Ahmad used to visit her as frequently as his work allowed him to. Unfortunately, when the civil war erupted in Syria, the visits were less frequent, and at some point, his mother prohibited him from visiting. In 2014, she had to flee Syria for Lebanon since her life was in danger when the city she resided in was attacked. She had to leave behind everything she and her late husband worked so hard for.

Sadly, in 2015, Ahmad’s mother had a heart attack and passed away without seeing her son for the last time. She was sick, and her health was disorienting; the thought of never seeing her son took a toll on her. She knew he was not able to visit. She was mourning the loss of her home and all the dreams she had, hoping to see the day her son would return to Syria. None of her wishes were set to become for; Ahmad would never return home because there was no home.

When Ahmad heard of his mother’s death, it was one of the worst moments in his life. He lost his father when he was 16, and his mother was everything he had. Ahmad’s parents got married only after the had their son, Ahmad, whom they gave all their love and affection.

Ahmad was lost and confused; while he certainly appreciated the chance to work in Croatia and to gain a valuable experience in his field, he never really intended to stay there. He loved Syria, where his mother and friends lived and were planning to relocate once he saved enough money to open his tech company. Unfortunately, with the recent developments, it did not seem possible. Ahmad was lost as to what options he had now. His work visa in Croatia was about to expire and it was not possible to renew.

In fact, despite living in the country for almost seven years, he did not qualify for citizenship or permanent residence and was asked to leave once it expired. When he tried to negotiate with his employer, he was told that even though they liked him, there was nothing they could do. They already hired new staff as per the Croatian employment law regulations on foreign workers. All that his soon-to-be former employer could have provided him with was a recommendation letter and best wishes.

Apparently, these were not enough, especially given the fact that Ahmad lost his Syrian passport and home, he had nowhere to go and no one to turn to. Ahmad tried his best to keep in touch with his Syrian friends, and the news from his country was devastating. Everyone he knew was trying to survive; most left their cities and became refugees, without hope and home, just praying that they would survive long enough to see their home again.

Sitting on the floor of his small rental studio in Zagreb, Ahmad felt lonely and desperate. Where could he go? He could not justify going back to Syria, where the death and sufferings reigned. Millions of women and children were fleeing their homes, becoming refugees and welcomed in very few countries. The pain Ahmad felt was indescribable; he was hurting for everyone that were affected by the Syrian civil war. He was hurting because he was alone. The war in Syria might never end, and even if it did, the country would never be the same.

His dreams and plans for the future came crashing down on him. He remembered how he dreamt about travelling the world; places he would take his mother and Canada among the first countries he would want to travel to. After all, he still had memories of his childhood when a family friend who was studying in Canada visited them and brought them maple syrup candies. Those quickly became Ahmad’s favorite, and he was always looking forward to his visits.

The next day, Ahmad started gathering documents to apply to Canada for a visa. He did not know what life had in store for him since he did not have a home to go back to, but he knew for certain that he had to try at least and make one of his and his late mother’s dreams come true. He heard that Canada was accepting refugees from Syria, but he was not sure how the mechanism worked exactly. In fact, he just wanted to visit and see the country. Fortunately for Ahmad, his visa was approved and he boarded the plane to Canada.

After arriving, he realized that Canada was even more beautiful than he imagined, and for a second he thought about how would that feel to live here. It seemed that Ahmad found the long-lost hope. He decided to inquire about the refugee programs and eventually contacted our office. He did not know whether he would qualify. After all, he didn’t want to think of himself as a refugee.

It was breaking his heart to think that the home he once knew was long gone and now he was left to the mercy of an international community. Ahmad was advised that for his refugee claim to be approved, there were certain things to be proved. His life was certainly in danger, which was the case. As a Christian, he was victim of discrimination, but he never acted on it since Syria was the only home he knew. His mother was a non-practicing Muslim, his father was Christian, and Ahmad was raised as a Christian.

The Syrian government was not able to provide adequate protection to their citizens, especially Christians, and Ahmad would not be able to seek refuge anywhere in Syria. His family residence was destroyed. Ahmad is a man in his early thirties and had nothing to go back to; no family, no house, nothing. If he were to be sent back to Syria, he would have died or would have been kidnapped sooner or later. Was Ahmad afraid of death? Certainly, but he knew that he was left at the mercy of the Canadian Judicial System, and there was nothing he could do. He only explained his genuine fear to go back to Syria because the country he once knew was long gone. However, Ahmad was ready to accept his fate, should he be sent back to Syria. Croatia was not an option and, at the refugee hearing, Ahmad truthfully answered all the questions.

His refugee hearing was an emotional one; he reminisced about his life in Syria with his parents and their home. No one chooses to lose everything they love and believe in; no one chooses to never go back home. He never thought that he would become a refugee, seeking rescue from pain, death, and suffering.

Three weeks later, Ahmad received a phone call from his lawyer that his refugee claim was approved, and soon he would be able to apply for a Canadian permanent residency. There was hope to build a new life in a safe and respectful environment. Although he will never be able to relive the life he had in Syria, he has a chance to live a life he would be forever grateful for in Canada that has become a second home to him now.

Moving Back to Canada – Overcoming Criminal Inadmissibility


criminal inadmissibility

Mary Keyork
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Mary Keyork

BARRISTER & SOLICITOR - CERTIFIED SPECIALIST IN CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION LAW at Canada Immigration Alliance
Mary Keyork provides Immigration Law services for hundreds of immigration applications in all categories and has appeared before all three divisions of the Immigration and Refugee Board as well as at the Federal Court of Canada, successfully representing clients in complex immigration applications and hearings.
Mary Keyork
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May and Jack contacted our office just before Christmas. They were married for seven years and anxious about the steps to take to permanently move to Canada. May was born in Canada and moved to Spain when she was seventeen.

She studied contemporary art and was working as a private gallery manager and exhibition coordinator. Jack was born in the United States. After his parents divorced, he moved to Europe to live with his mother. May and Jack met at a student party; the attraction between the two was immediate. Both young and ready to love, they started dating.
Through thick and thin, they managed to keep the spark alive in their relationship. As students, they sometimes struggled with compromising with one another and the financial burden was at times too heavy to carry.

Nevertheless, they built a wonderful relationship and started a family. Jack proposed to May when he took her to a surprise helicopter ride on her birthday. He spent countless hours planning the surprise proposal. He wanted to make sure May not only loved the surprise but also was actually surprised by his proposal as they had already discussed engagement.
May believed that the engagement should not come as a surprise but the proposal should. Jack tried his best to hide the excitement and the fact that he was working night shifts to save for the ring and the helicopter ride. He finally picked a date. May would have never guessed that he would take her on a helicopter ride and propose on the same day.

Jack was also excited that he was able to save enough money to buy May her dream ring; six prong princess cut diamond ring with a halo. The day of the proposal was perfect; the weather was warm and sunny, and Jack managed to surprise May to the point that she cried tears of joy. Having gone through some struggles together, they both realized that from now on they would face life together and hopefully forever.

In the evening, May called her parents who still lived in Canada to share the news. Everyone was thrilled for the couple and the wedding planning began. The couple had a wedding in a small town in Spain. May’s family and close friend traveled all the way from Canada and Europe to participate in the celebration of love.

Jack’s immediate family and friends were also able to join. Jack’s parents were able to put aside their painful past to join their son’s celebration of finding the woman of his dreams despite their non-amicable divorce.

After the reception, the couple took a seven-day honeymoon to Portofino, Italy. After the honeymoon, they went back to Spain and settled in their routine. As time went on, May started missing her family more and more. When she learned that her mother’s health was deteriorating she started considering going back to Canada and settling there permanently.

She wanted to return to Canada not only because she greatly missed her family, but also because Jack was not entirely happy with their life in Spain. May started her research on possible ways to get them to Canada. As someone who had a mixed heritage and darker skin color, Jack did not feel as welcomed in Europe as he used to. He didn’t face any direct discrimination; however, he had a growing feeling that he wasn’t that welcomed in Europe. As a Canadian, May was free to go back to Canada and to live there permanently; however, with Jack it was not that simple.

Being a citizen of Spain and the United States, he was free to visit for six months in the normal circumstances. Unfortunately, Jack had a criminal record that was old, but, nevertheless, made him criminally inadmissible to Canada.

In order to sponsor her husband, May would not only need to go through the spousal sponsorship process, but would also need to address her husband’s criminal record so he becomes admissible.

When Jack was young, he was charged with DUI and never thought that his reckless actions at a young age would, later on, affect his life. As a student, he was very involved in extra-curricular activities and university clubs, but also enjoyed his free time of drinking and partying with his friends from a modeling agency.

He had an exotic look and was working part-time as a model. At one of the parties, he had too many fancy cocktails and decided to drive home instead of staying the night at his friend’s place. He was speeding and had the music on, so naturally, the police car patrolling the streets that night stopped him. He was not only charged with DUI but also with resisting the officer. Jack had to pay a fine and take a course on driving under the influence.

Since then, he has apologized to the officer and cut back on his drinking mainly because the incident made May very upset. It was also then that he realized how much she meant to him and that upsetting her over trivial things like his drinking did not seem like a good idea anymore.

Five years later, the past came to haunt him even though he is not dangerous or violent. Both May and Jack were confused on how they should address this incident in their spousal sponsorship application. Clearly, simply stating that he was young and reckless would not have been enough. What if Canadian immigration officials are not satisfied with the fact that he has changed since then? What if they refuse because he was not able to prove that he has changed and will be a law-abiding citizen in Canada? What if that DUI is going to cost them their dream to live in Canada?

Would May be forced to give up on her dreams of living in Canada? She could not bear the thought of being away from her husband, but she also knew how hard it would be for her to not be able to visit Canada freely or to never spend holidays being surrounded both with her family and her husband. In addition, they were already trying to conceive a child. They put it on hold because of travel and financial goals they set for themselves, but now that everything seemed to be more stable, both May and Jack wanted to have children.

Apart from DUI Jack had no other criminal record. However, it was enough to question his admissibility to Canada. There are too many accidents involving drunk drivers for the Canadian government to not take these DUI charges seriously. Too many people lose their health and life by the irresponsible behavior of young or not so young drivers. Both May and Jack were certain that his DUI was a serious incident and they both firmly believed that it should be addressed properly.

When they contacted our office, Jack was remorseful and made it very clear that he wanted to address his DUI in the application not only because it is a requirement but also because he felt that he has changed so much since then. During the consultation, the couple was advised to submit not only the supporting documents to attest to the genuine nature of their relationship but also supporting documents that would support Jack’s application for criminal rehabilitation. Depending on the nature of the criminal charge as well as the time that has passed since the charge, there is a possibility of either applying for an individual criminal rehabilitation to cure criminal inadmissibility or to have it deemed rehabilitated.

Being equipped with the necessary tools and knowledge, Jack and May felt at ease. Just like anyone who has made mistakes, they were happy to learn that this mistake would not have to cost them their dream of living in Canada.

May was thrilled that she would finally be able to go back home. She enjoyed her time in Spain, but never really thought that she would live in Spain for the rest of her life. After all, she missed the beautiful British Columbia mountains and her family. Having always been extremely close to her mother, she always made sure to spend important holidays with family, but because of Jack’s DUI they never visited Canada together.

There is always hope to fix the mistakes people make during the times they are young and reckless; it takes not only courage but also a true dedication and truthful remorse.
Thankfully for May and Jack, Jack’s attitude and the life he led after the incident are the best proof that will support the smooth processing of their spousal sponsorship.
Currently, the couple awaits the finalizing of the application and is looking for an apartment in the beautiful city of Vancouver.

Overseas Spousal sponsorship approved


Spousal sponsorship

Mary Keyork
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Mary Keyork

BARRISTER & SOLICITOR - CERTIFIED SPECIALIST IN CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION LAW at Canada Immigration Alliance
Mary Keyork provides Immigration Law services for hundreds of immigration applications in all categories and has appeared before all three divisions of the Immigration and Refugee Board as well as at the Federal Court of Canada, successfully representing clients in complex immigration applications and hearings.
Mary Keyork
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Dreams do come true on Christmas – Overseas Spousal sponsorship approved!

We first spoke to Alex on the phone at the beginning of 2015. He was gathering as much information as he possibly could about the spousal sponsorship process. Him and his wife, Elizabeth, had been together for 2 years and Alex was anxious about the appropriate process to get her to Canada. Elizabeth had been married before and had a child from her previous marriage; in addition, she was 7 years older than Alex.

While the couple was genuinely in love, they both were not sure on how to proceed with the spousal sponsorship application process. First, they asked a couple of friends, who had a long distance relationship that resulted in marriage and subsequent sponsorship and read forums about the process for different situations couples found themselves in. However, the more information they gathered the more confused they became.
Everyone’s love story was so different that at some point, both Alex and Elizabeth realized that without proper guidance they would just damage their relationship since the stress of the unknown had put a strain on their relationship already.

Alex and Elizabeth met online on a language tandem and exchange website. None of them was actually looking for a relationship; Alex was trying to improve his French before heading to Alsace to visit his extended family, and Elizabeth wanted to practice her English. She worked and lived in the small French town of Colmar as a hairdresser.
After spending hours of not only practicing French and English but also of getting to know each other they decided to meet up when Alex visited Strasbourg where his extended family lived.
Alex was very excited to arrive early in the morning in Strasbourg; his plane was on time and the security checks went effortless. After his cousin picked him up, on the way to the house Alex told him about Elizabeth and his plan to meet her in Colmar on the weekend.

The way his eyes lighted up when he talked about her was enough for the cousin to realize that Alex was madly in love, even though he hadn’t realized that yet.
Elizabeth and Alex met on a beautiful Saturday at one of the oldest French pastry shops in Colmar. The moment they saw each other both had a feeling that they knew each other for a very long time. It was like the meeting of old friends who were to realize that they had feelings for each other and were more than friends.

The coffee and éclairs were delicious as promised in the pastry shop touristic ad, and they ended up talking for three hours non-stop, sharing their most precious dreams and memories with each other. Later that day, they took a walk in the old part of Colmar, petit Venice, and ended the date with a kiss. It was passionate but also innocent; they both were longing for it, but were cautious to give in their emotions, as none of them planned to fall in love when there was a long distance involved.

Nevertheless, the next few days that Alex spent in France, they went out every day after Elizabeth’s shift was finished. She told him about her life story and how she ended up in living in Colmar. Elizabeth’s father was French, and mother was Guyanese; they met while on exchange in Germany and started dating shortly after.

However, they both were very young, and when Elizabeth’s mother realized that she was pregnant, their relationship eventually broke down. First, the couple tried to negotiate with their conscience; they both suggested abortion or adoption, however, after the initial shock wore off, Elizabeth’s mother decided that she would keep the baby.
Her father, even though wanted to be present in the kid’s life, was not able to keep his relationship with Elizabeth’s mother alive. Eventually, they decided to be co-parents and to move on with their personal lives. Elizabeth’s mother went back to Guyana, and the father stayed in France. They kept in touch and managed to successfully resolve their issues and be good parents to Elizabeth.

At the age of 16 she finally moved to France, where she took some hairdresser courses and started working. Her relationship with her father was not the best, unfortunately, since he married for the second time and had children, who were not very thrilled to make friends with Elizabeth.

At the age of 20 Elizabeth got pregnant; both her and her husband were happy together and welcomed the pregnancy, however, when the baby turned 4 the relationship broke down and they got a divorce. Alex’s life was very different from Elizabeth’s. He was born and raised in the small city of Guelph in Ontario, the family of a nurse and an engineer.

He had two siblings with whom he was very close and led a comfortable middle-class life, working in the banking industry. Unfortunately, he was never successful in personal relationships as he never found the connection that would make his heart skip a beat. With Elizabeth, everything seemed different, and upon returning from France, they both were determined to make their relationship work.

After a year of long distance and frequent visits, Alex finally proposed to Elizabeth; they were overjoyed and immediately shared the news with family and friends. It was a very special proposal, as Alex not only asked Elizabeth to marry him, but also asked her son whether he would have minded having Alex as his father.

The wedding ceremony was small and intimate, in the beautiful Chateau d’Isenbourg with family and close friends in attendance. Elizabeth’s son was the ring bearer, and Alex’s nieces were flower girls. Elizabeth wore a beautiful open back mermaid style dress and her bouquet had ranunculus, peonies, and olive branches.

After the wedding, the couple did some research and asked around on how to approach the sponsorship process. They knew they loved each other, but there was an age difference and so many questions that forum members were not able to answer:

  • Would they be able to prove that they truly loved each other?
  • Should they submit all the photos and proof of communication?
  • How would they go about their age difference?
  • Should they submit all the photos and proof of communication?
  • How would they go about their age difference?

The step by step guidance was much needed, and the couple opted for our immigration law firm. In a month the application was submitted and the waiting started. The couple was anxious to get the positive answer and be finally together in Canada.

Alex and Elizabeth planned to spend the Christmas together and would usually end their daily Skype wishing each other the best gift they both could have ever dreamed about – their spousal sponsorship approved.

On a Christmas day of 2016 Alex did not believe his eyes when he received an email from us. The title said “Congratulations – the application is approved! Merry Christmas and happy new year!”

Alex, as any adult, stopped believing in the miracles many years ago; wishful thinking, he would refer to his dreams about being reunited with Elizabeth and her son in the new year. Alex only believed in hard work and deadlines; after receiving the email he spent 10 minutes just staring at the screen, not being able to do anything. After the initial shock, he called Elizabeth without even noticing the time difference.

Christmas time is full of miracles; a wish that the desires of the heart will make the whole universe to conspire to make it true!

Love and betrayal


Permanent residence
Mary Keyork
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Mary Keyork

BARRISTER & SOLICITOR - CERTIFIED SPECIALIST IN CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION LAW at Canada Immigration Alliance
Mary Keyork provides Immigration Law services forhundreds of immigration applications in all categories and has appeared before all three divisions of the Immigration and Refugee Board as well as at the Federal Court of Canada, successfully representing clients in complex immigration applications and hearings.
Mary Keyork
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    Love and betrayal- CBSA investigation on the genuineness of a relationship

    We first met Maria later in the evening in December, when she stopped by our office; she was distraught and appeared very stressed. Her relationship with her husband had been crumbling, and Maria was not sure whether there was anything an immigration law firm could have done for her.

    She was ashamed that her love story did not turn out exactly as she would have dreamt when picking a wedding dress and coordinating the color scheme for the wedding theme. She was heartbroken that her husband, the man with whom she thought had built a loving and healthy relationship and with whom she was planning to start a family, would betray her and leave her shortly after he arrived in Canada.

    Maria first met her husband, Paul, when she was taking a vacation with friends in Bali three years ago, in early spring of 2013. He was charming and kind and happened to work as a diving instructor on the island. Maria was very excited to finally take some diving lessons, as she always wanted to.

    Maria learned how to swim at a very early age, and water was always her element. Getting a driving license was her dream for a very long time and finally, it was about to become real. Maria decided to take the full 10-day licensing course; coincidentally she also happened to like the instructor. However, she was never a big fan of long distance and did not plan to start a relationship with Paul.

    The lessons were intense, but Maria enjoyed them every single day. In the evenings, she would spend time with her friends and Paul would frequently join them. Shortly after, both realized that they liked each other and had so much in common that keeping in touch after Maria left for Canada only seemed natural.

    After going back to Canada, Maria and Paul quickly established a routine; in the mornings they would call each other on Whatsapp, and on the weekends they would chat on video calls. It was a challenging time for the couple, but also rewarding. All they had was communication tools, and the distance required the use of communication tools so they could get to know each other and build a relationship.

    About two months in their long distance relationship, Paul confessed his love to Maria, and they officially became a couple. Both realized that distance was going to be challenging and their relationship would not be anything like they had before. However, they decided to give it a try and did their best to keep in touch throughout the day and planned the next visits.

    Unfortunately for Maria, her family was not thrilled about their relationship; her sister especially was against it, since she heard many stories from her friends experience when Canadian citizen was tricked into a relationship and was used just to get a permanent residence in Canada.
    There is always a risk that long distance does not work out or that it is simply an attempt on the part of a foreigner to get permanent residence in Canada. However, Maria was confident that her relationship with Paul was different; after all, she was the one spending time with him, and she believed he was genuine about his feelings.

    Indeed, when Paul found out that Maria was from Canada, he told her during one of their diving lessons that he always wanted to move to Canada, but never actually looked into it, as it seemed like a long and complicated process.
    Maria did not consider this as a red flag, unlike her sister, who didn’t trust Paul and was very sceptical of their relationship. Maria did not become alarmed by this, as she sincerely believed that the fact that he did not hide that information from her was a good indicator of his honest character.

    In October of 2013, Maria left for Bali for a week to visit Paul; she was very excited and was looking forward to their reunion since she last saw him seven months ago. The week flew by, and when Maria went back to Canada, she was even more confident that her relationship with Paul was genuine. She visited him again in April of 2014 and then in October 2014, when Paul asked her to marry him. The proposal was very romantic; he set up a small candle and flowers table on the beach.

    While the engagement did not come off as a surprise, the proposal caught Maria off guard. She was excited to start a new chapter in her life with a man she believed she would grow old together. Before the proposal, Paul and Maria already discussed the prospects of their life together and decided that it would be more beneficial for the couple if Paul moves to Canada.

    While Maria would be able to move to Bali, since she was a yoga instructor and would not mind trying to establish herself in Bali, Paul convinced her that regarding financial security Canada seemed like the best option. Shortly after the proposal, the couple started planning the wedding for the May of 2015.

    With her day and yoga classes in the evening, Maria struggled to keep the same level of communication with Paul; however, she noticed he was also not very involved in the planning. Text messages would become less frequent, and the calls would only happen if Maria called Paul.

    Maria’s sister did not like that Paul was acting cold and slightly disinterested and tried to warn Maria. Maria, however, was convinced that Paul’s behaviour was just wedding jitters and everything would go back to normal once they are married and his sponsorship application is approved.

    On May 23, 2015, the couple got married in Bali with close friends and family present. They had a small but beautiful ceremony and spent a week together honeymooning on the island before Maria had to leave for Canada. Once she arrived in Canada, Maria started the process of spousal sponsorship, and in June 2016 the application was approved.

    Maria was excited to finally have her husband with her and was hoping that his behavior would change once they are together. The time apart was very hard, and Paul was not always as kind to her as he was at the beginning of their relationship.

    However, love is blind, and Maria would never believe that at the end he simply used her to get to Canada. After all, they have been through so much together already and survived the distance.

    The day Maria was supposed to go pick up Paul from the airport promised to be one of the best and most memorable days in her life. Unfortunately, it turned out to be the day Maria’s heart would be broken.

    Paul was cold; he was complaining during their entire ride back, but Maria thought it was because of the stress. Later in the evening, he sat with her and told her that he needed to take a break from their relationship because he was not sure how he felt about her. Maria was shocked; how could Paul do that to her? Suddenly, all her suppressed worries that he had been using her all along became a reality.

    She cried and cried, and did not even notice that he already left. After six days of not hearing from him, she finally gathered the courage and called her sister to tell her what happened. Surprisingly, her sister was very understanding and did not resort to usual “I told you so”.
    However, she was very adamant, that Maria should get in touch with an immigration law firm because after all Paul used her to get to Canada and faked his way to permanent residence. It is important to realize that family reunion programs in Canada are aimed for those who have genuine feelings towards each other and just happen to have different nationalities.

    As her sister explained to her, this was not only betrayal of Maria, but also family values that Canada’s immigration system embraces. Contacting an immigration law firm to figure out what can be done is the least Maria owed to herself; it was not a punishment for Paul, but the first step towards healing from this painful end of her relationship.

    While her sister was right, Maria still waited until December to contact the immigration law firm, because she was hurting ad hoping he would come back.

    Sadly, Paul did not get in touch with her after their first and last conversation, and she knew it was over. He simply used her; she had to accept the reality and finally gathered the courage to move towards the healing process from her failed marriage.

    Maria contacted our office to obtain some advice. We advised her that she can submit a package to Canada Border Services Agency detailing her entire story with ideally some paper evidence and request CBSA to open an investigation. Should the investigation go through, Paul will be interviewed by immigration, and it will be determined whether he is allowed to maintain his permanent resident status. We comforted her by advising her that immigration takes these matters very seriously.

    Maria decided to put in the investigation package.

    One girl’s long way home


    permanent residence in Canada

    Mary Keyork
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    Mary Keyork

    BARRISTER & SOLICITOR - CERTIFIED SPECIALIST IN CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION LAW at Canada Immigration Alliance
    Mary Keyork provides Immigration Law services forhundreds of immigration applications in all categories and has appeared before all three divisions of the Immigration and Refugee Board as well as at the Federal Court of Canada, successfully representing clients in complex immigration applications and hearings.
    Mary Keyork
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      One girl’s long way home – Permanent residence granted on humanitarian and compassionate grounds

      Miriam first contacted us on a sunny and crispy Montreal morning; she sounded anxious and was looking for answers that would essentially determine her personal and professional life.

      A young professional in her mid-twenties, Miriam lived most of her adult life in Canada; however, she had no real status in Canada and had a complicated life story.

      She was born in the family of foreign diplomats in Ottawa. She was born in Canada, but she was not a Canadian citizen!

      Her parents, people of Belarus, were stationed in Canada for five years. During those five years, they had Miriam, who was completely immersed in Canadian culture and thought of herself as a Canadian.

      Unfortunately, despite being born in Canada and having a Canadian birth certificate, Miriam was not a Canadian in the eyes of the law. As she was born in the family of foreign diplomats during posting, she, therefore, was exempted from claiming Canadian citizenship.

      Of course, at the time, her parents were not aware of this existing rule and only did not give enough thought to how Miriam would feel when they eventually would have to leave Canada.

      While her parents were grateful for the opportunity to get accustomed with Canada and made lifelong friends during that period of their career, they knew that Canada was not their home. Unlike her parents, Miriam didn’t know any other home than Canada.

      It was heartbreaking for her parents to watch their little girl cry during the whole flight back to Belarus, but there was little they could do.

      As a consolation, Miriam’s mother packed a small bag of “Smarties” candies, Miriam’s favorite Canadian snack, and hoped that it would help her daughter’s sadness caused by leaving Canada.

      After returning to Belarus, the family stayed there for a year and then eventually left on another diplomatic mission. Sadly for Miriam, she never quite assimilated in Belarus during that one year, and never felt home in any of the countries that her parents’ career took them to.

      Soon after turning 18, Miriam decided to move to Canada and get her education here. Her parents were back to Belarus and settled, and while they were sad to let their daughter go, they knew she should follow her dreams.

      Canada had always been on Miriam’s mind; she would always read about Canadian news, watch Canadian TV shows, and was always up to date with what was going on in Canada.
      On a beautiful summer day and with just two bags, Miriam arrived in the beautiful city of Montreal ready to build her life in Canada. She was excited to discover the French heritage of Canada and to study in the university of her choice.

      It is safe to say that Miriam thoroughly enjoyed her student experience in Montreal, made friends with locals and discovered how much she loved smoked meat. Four years of intense studies in the marketing field flew by, and Miriam was ready to jump-start her career.

      Just like millions of young Canadians, Miriam started the challenging but eventually rewarding process of a job hunt and finally landed a great entry level position in one of the most reputable marketing agencies in Montreal.

      In the meantime, she also met Andrew, a graphic designer whose studio was in the same building as her marketing agency. Miriam and Andrew made it a ritual to get lunch together every Tuesday and Thursday, and shortly after they both realized that they had romantic feelings for each other.

      Canada had become everything Miriam had ever wanted; she had a job she adored, a man with whom Miriam was falling in love more and more with every passing day, great friends and the never-ending feeling that she was home.

      During one of the conversations, Miriam was telling Andrew how she dreamt of the day she would acquire Canadian citizenship and would become a proud owner of a Canadian passport.

      Naturally curious, she Googled the process of applying for citizenship to get some idea as to what documents she would need for the application and quickly realized that despite being born in Canada and her Canadian birth certificate, it did not entitle her to Canadian citizenship because she was born in the family of foreign diplomats during posting.

      Miriam just froze, and the reality hit her; she was not Canadian, and she was out of status all these years.

      • What is going to happen to her?
      • Would she be asked to leave the country eventually?
      • What about her job?
      • What about her relationship with Andrew?

      They sat there, staring at each, both anxious and not knowing what the future held for them. Andrew cared about Miriam, but he was nowhere near ready to ask her to marry him. In fact, they both wanted to date for a while and get to know each other, travel the world and focus on their careers before committing to starting a family.

      Besides, that was not how Miriam would want her relationship to progress; being proposed out of fear that she would be asked to leave Canada eventually? Being proposed out of necessity?

      No, no, no; there should be some other way. After all, she was so established in Canada, with an extensive network of friends and coworkers, with her employer being euphoric with her performance, with Andrew.

      Right then and there, Miriam knew she had to contact an immigration lawyer and find out what her options would be. After all, all these years she lived in Canada should count for something. That was what Miriam hoped and prayed for when she was getting ready for the consultation with an immigration lawyer.

      Thankfully, there is a possibility to apply for permanent residence from within Canada based on an establishment in Canada as well as compelling humanitarian and compassionate grounds. It’s an exception that allows people who are out of status in Canada but who are so established that removing them out of the country would cause them.

      Miriam gathered all the documents she was asked to provide to prepare her application and waited impatiently for the answer.

      Weeks and months went by; Miriam kept working in the marketing agency and her relationship with Andrew was progressing. They celebrated Canada Day together, took trips to Quebec City, Mont Tremblant, and explored small towns in the province of Quebec.

      Some days she would catch herself thinking about how much she would miss Canada if eventually she would be asked to leave the country. What scared her even more – where would she go?

      Even the thought of that made her sick; she missed her parents and would want to visit them whenever possible, but Belarus was never her home. Leaving Canada would have meant leaving a vital part of herself; leaving Canada would only mean losing herself.

      In early November Miriam received an email from her lawyer; she was excited and ecstatic. The title of the email already revealed the content – “Wonderful news!” she read and quickly proceeded to open the email. Her application was approved!

      Miriam’s voice was shaking because of how excited she was when she finally managed to call Andrew to tell him that Canada officially became her home! It was a long way home, filled with uncertainty and anxiousness, but she finally reached her destination.

      Miriam knows that her story is unique. How many foreign diplomats based in Canada have children while being posted? How many of these kids make Canada their home? Miriam wonders.

      Are You Ready for The New Changes Coming to Express Entry?


      express entry to canada

      Nancy Elliott
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      Nancy Elliott

      Barrister and Solicitor at Canadian Immigration Alliance
      Nancy Myles Elliott is a business person and lawyer, focusing on solutions for individuals and companies seeking to invest or relocate in Canada. Ms. Elliott leads her own law firm, focusing on immigration and citizenship law, as well as advising on corporate legal matters relevant to new immigrants.
      Nancy Elliott
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      Express Entry – There are Changes Coming

      Changes are coming soon to Canada’s Express Entry system. Express Entry is the electronic management system designed to selected skilled workers for immigration to Canada, in force since January 2015.

      • Any person applying for the Federal Skilled Worker Program,
      • Federal Skilled Trades Program,
      • Canadian Experience Class must apply through Express Entry.

      Several Canadian provinces also participate in Express Entry and nominate qualified, skilled workers for it. Based on an online profile created by the user, the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) awards points for a variety of factors, including age, education, language ability, employment experience, Canadian employment experience, adaptability (including a job offer from a Canadian employer) and similar factors for an accompanying spouse.

      Applicants are ranked and placed in a pool, and the Canadian government issues Invitations to Apply (ITAs) on a regular basis, allowing applicants to submit a complete application for permanent residence then. To date, the lowest score of a person issued an ITA was 450.

      On November 19, 2016, the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) will award points differently for several factors.

      Most notably, applicants who have a job offer from a Canadian employer approved by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), known as a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), will no longer receive 600 points. Instead, they will receive 50 points for most occupations, and 200 points if they will work in an executive position. The Comprehensive Rankling System severely impact applicants who were relying heavily on points achieved due to a positive LMIA.

      On the positive side, applicants who have a work permit issued under international agreements or Canadian interests may now be eligible for points based on arranged employment without their employers needing to apply for an LMIA.

      If they have employer-specific work permits, are currently working for that employer and have accumulated at least one year of full-time work experience (or the equivalent in part-time employment) over a continuous period of work for that company, they are eligible for the 50 or 200 points referred to above.

      However, this can is extremely helpful for applicants in Canada under NAFTA or other free trade agreements, intra-company transferees, and other special work permits. Unfortunately, international students working under post-graduation work permits will not benefit from this change.

      As before, applicants who receive a nomination from a Province under a Provincial Nominee Program will continue to receive 600 points.

      Happily, for students, a new factor has been introduced to award additional points to Express Entry candidates who have Canadian education credentials. This factor will award 15 or 30 points, depending on the type of diploma or degree, to candidates who have eligible credentials from a post-secondary program.

      Finally, changes have also been made on Invitations to Apply (ITA). Candidates will now have up to 90 days to prepare their permanent residence applications, up from 60 days in the past. TInvitations to apply (ITA) allows applicants extra time to prepare the numerous documents to support their requests for permanent residence.

      Candidates who are already in the Express Entry pool are highly recommended to review and update their profiles, and they, along with prospective applicants, should urgently check how the changes on November 19th will affect their ranking, and therefore their chances for immigrating to Canada.

      I want to move to Canada. Is it possible?


      Moving to Canada

      Nancy Elliott
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      Nancy Elliott

      Barrister and Solicitor at Canadian Immigration Alliance
      Nancy Myles Elliott is a business person and lawyer, focusing on solutions for individuals and companies seeking to invest or relocate in Canada. Ms. Elliott leads her own law firm, focusing on immigration and citizenship law, as well as advising on corporate legal matters relevant to new immigrants.
      Nancy Elliott
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      I want to move to Canada. Is it possible?

      Very.

      As the dust settles after the hard-fought US presidential battle, many Americans are considering a move to Canada. Of course, threatening to go to Canada in exasperation is not the same thing as analyzing, planning and relocating, and many Americans do not know where to begin.

      Here’s what to do:

      1. Decide that you want to transfer
      Consider all of the advantages and disadvantages of moving to Canada. It’s tough to leave home, and relocating can be both intimidating and exciting. Canada is a beautiful, clean and diverse country with sophisticated political and legal systems, universal healthcare, advanced technology infrastructure and world-class education. Research employment, business and investment opportunities, taxation, housing and education, and consider where you would like to live. For example, the climate is warmer in Vancouver, but Toronto is Canada’s centre of commerce.

      2. Consider the time frame
      Maybe you are ready to move tomorrow, but your kids have just started a new school year. Obtaining permanent residence (a Canadian green card) can take many months and often over a year. Perhaps you are qualified for a work permit that could allow you to relocate within weeks or months. Which would work better for you?

      3. Get proper advice
      Canadian immigration law can seem daunting, as there are many different categories with specific requirements. We can assess your situation and provide you with the best solution to successfully immigrate or work in Canada.

      4. Apply
      Many work permit applications can be made right at the Canadian border. Others require prior approval and consideration at a Canadian Embassy or Consulate in the United States. We can guide you through the process.

      5. Move to Canada!
      Get ready to begin your new life in Canada. Explore places to live, schools and communities.

      So how can you successfully apply for residence in Canada?

      Get a Work Permit

      There are many different types of work permits available to US citizens. They include the following:

      • NAFTA professionals for a large variety of occupations, from scientists to management consultants – the catch is you need to find a job in your profession first.
      • Intra-company transferees – if your company has a parent, subsidiary or affiliate in Canada, you can be transferred provided you are a senior manager or possess specialized knowledge. Your business can even set up a new entity in Canada and send you up to get it started.
      • Owner/Operator – if you are self-employed or an entrepreneur, you can set up your own business in Canada provided you have a decent plan. This category requires careful consideration and planning.

      Spouses of these types of work permit holders can also qualify for open work permits and look for employment in Canada. Kids can obtain study permits to go to school.

      Often, work permit holders can qualify for permanent residence through one of the economic categories, which means that remaining in Canada permanently

      Apply for Permanent Residence

      You have probably heard that applications for permanent residence take quite a while to process. Applicants in the Express Entry system who are invited to apply can have their applications processed in six months, whereas self-employed applications can take years.

      Canada’s Express Entry system allows applicants to apply through an electronic platform that assesses candidates according to a comprehensive ranking system. Those with higher scores are invited to apply and will have their applications quickly processed. The system allows applicants in various categories to apply, the most common program being the Federal Skilled Worker program.

      • Federal Skilled Worker – The program is based on a points system that considers an applicant’s education, experience, language ability, adaptability and whether there is a valid job offer.
      • Federal Skilled Trades – This program targets people in a variety of skilled trades, but requires them to have a minimum of English skills and a valid job offer or a certification of qualification from a province to apply.
      • Self-Employed – This category addresses athletes, actors, musicians, and others engaged in cultural activities which are either highly skilled or have significant self-employment experience. It is also open to experienced farmers who wish to operate a farm in Canada.
      • Start-up Visas – The Start-up Visa Program allows entrepreneurs to be fast-tracked for permanent residence if they can obtain financial support from a Canadian venture capital or angel fund, or from a business incubator. This underutilized program is very suitable for new and existing innovators and entrepreneurs.

      Are you ready to get Started?

      We have over two decades of experience handling all types of immigration applications and have a broad understanding of Canada’s immigration and citizenship laws and procedures.

      We can expertly guide you through the process and assist you to plan your new life in Canada.

      How a permanent residence card renewal could change this man’s life


      Nancy Elliott
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      Nancy Elliott

      Barrister and Solicitor at Canadian Immigration Alliance
      Nancy Myles Elliott is a business person and lawyer, focusing on solutions for individuals and companies seeking to invest or relocate in Canada. Ms. Elliott leads her own law firm, focusing on immigration and citizenship law, as well as advising on corporate legal matters relevant to new immigrants.
      Nancy Elliott
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      Mohammed’s epic story of overcoming adversity leading to PR card renewal in Canada.

      He was a Permanent Resident of Canada but left many years ago. Now, his country was at war.

      We first spoke to Mohamed, a citizen of Syria, a couple of months ago. He had been working in Saudi Arabia for almost ten years on a work permit.

      His wife and his teenage daughter lived in Saudi Arabia with him. Mohamed had an excellent position, but he was soon going to retire.

      The problem was that once he retires, his work permit in Saudi Arabia would no longer be valid and he would have to leave. But where would he go?

      Mohamed could not travel back to Syria with his family, as his country was torn by war and almost entirely destroyed.

      Mohamed had become a permanent resident of Canada nearly ten years ago as a skilled worker and lived in Canada for a few years before he moved to Saudi Arabia.

      Even though Mohamed was an experienced professional with almost 15 years of experience in public health, he faced the same obstacles in entering the Canadian job market as many newcomers who arrive in Canada in the hopes of building a better life for themselves and their children.

      Mohamed arrived in Canada with his wife and three children; ready to embrace the new country they all were going to call home.

      Unfortunately, Mohamed was not able to find a job that would have allowed him to take proper care of his family’s needs.

      After struggling with the job search, Mohamed eventually moved to Saudi Arabia with his wife and his youngest daughter.

      It was a hard decision to make: the family was going to be separated from one another as Mohamed’s son and daughter stayed in Canada to continue their education and to become established in Canada in the hopes that one day, their sister and parents will join them.

      Life is Saudi Arabia was stable, and Mohamed could contribute to his children’s education and to help them achieve their best in Canada.

      His devotion to his family was the driving force behind every single decision he made in his life.

      However, life had some unpleasant surprises in store for Mohamed, when the civil war started in his home country.

      Syria made the headlines, but not for good reasons. Not only Mohamed lost all his assets he had in Syria, such as his house and business, he was also always worried about the safety of his parents and siblings.

      The Syrian government became unable to protect its citizens, and many had to seek refuge in neighboring countries.

      Kidnappings and killings were frequent, and the last time Mohamed could visit his aging parents in Syria, was in 2011.

      Given these recent developments, Mohamed realized that when his work permit expired and would not be renewed due to regulations in Saudi Arabia, he no longer could return to his home country.

      Syria was suffering devastating consequences of the war, millions of people were seeking safety in other parts of the world, and those not fortunate enough to leave Syria were trapped in constant fear and death.

      Mohamed once had a dream to build a life in Canada, a country that would have become his second home should he be able to secure a job.

      But the reality was different, and here he was, ten years later, with no prospects of going back to Syria or staying in Saudi Arabia.

      •  Was Mohamed still a permanent resident of Canada even if his card was expired?

      •  Could he possibly apply to renew his card given the fact that he had no other place to go but Canada?

      •  Would Canada accept and consider all compassionate factors that affected Mohamed’s decision to leave Canada?

      Even with a permanent resident card expired; Mohamed remained a permanent resident.

      Of course, being away from Canada for an extended period, he did not meet the requirement for minimum physical residency, which would have allowed him to renew the card without any complications.

      However, given the particular circumstances of his case, he applied for his status renewal and showed that things that kept him outside of Canada were not within his control.

      Canadian immigration law gives a generous interpretation to all possible humanitarian and compassionate grounds that kept the permanent resident from living in Canada.

      While the positive result is not guaranteed, a complete and robust application that encompasses all difficulties that made physical residency impossible to meet is a chance that Mohamed decided to take.

      Parallel to applying for a permanent resident card renewal, Mohamed was anxious to enter Canada and to stay there with his family while waiting for the response on his application.

      • Would he able to travel to Canada with his expired permanent resident card?

      Recently, Mohamed entered Canada by car with his family through the United States without any issues and was welcomed home by Canada Border Services Agency as a permanent resident of Canada.

      Mohamed explained to the border officer his entry story and was completely honest about his intentions to remain in Canada permanently.

      Unbeknownst to many, the Canadian immigration regulations provide that individuals who are permanent residents of Canada remain, permanent residents of Canada until an adverse determination is made.

      Mohamed reunited with his family in Canada and tried to enjoy as much as he can the time with his loved ones, with whom he had to separate many years ago.

      Mohamed currently waits for the processing of his PR card while living in Canada.

      Mohamed and his family are hopeful that they all will be able to build their life in Canada just how they dreamed back in 2006.

      A story to be continued…

      What Is A Judicial Review At The Federal Court Of Canada?


      Judicial Review at the Federal Court of Canada

      The Federal Court is Canada’s national court which hears and decides legal disputes arising in the federal domain. Immigration matters are dealt with as Applications for Judicial Review, which is narrower in scope that a full appeal. This means that the Court will only overturn in limited circumstances.

      There is a 2 step process to have your matter heard at the Federal Court:

      1. You must first file an Application for Leave and Judicial Review – this means that you are requesting permission to a Federal Court Judge to have your matter reviewed within a Judicial Review proceeding;
      2. Should this permission be given (called “leave granted”), the Federal Court will then schedule a date for the Judicial Review hearing.

      Just like the Immigration Appeal Division, a Federal Court Judge will not grant, issue or approve a Visa or application. The Federal Court will determine whether the decision of an immigration officer or a Board Member violated proper procedure or was reasonable or unreasonable. If the decision is determined to be unreasonable, the matter will be sent back for re-determination by a different officer or Board Member.

      Any decision by a federal decision-maker can be judicially reviewed unless there is a first right of appeal. The refusals below can be directly judicially reviewed at the Federal Court of Canada:

      • Federal Skilled Worker
      • Canadian Experience Class
      • Investor
      • Provincial Nominee Program
      • Live-in Caregiver
      • Work Permit
      • Study Permit
      • Temporary Resident Visa
      • Humanitarian and Compassionate
      • Pre-Removal Risk Assessment
      • Request for Deferral
      • Spousal Sponsorship Appeal
      • Family Class Sponsorship Appeal
      • Residency Obligation Appeal
      • Removal Order Appeal
      • Refugee Claim or Claim for Protection

      During a Federal Court Judicial Review hearing, the individual involved in the matter may not testify. The Federal Court will only rely on documentation available to the immigration officer or to the Board Member at the time the decision was made. Your immigration lawyer will submit argumentation and case law and the opposing party, the attorney representing Citizenship and Immigration Canada, will do the same. The lawyers will argue the case in person before a Federal Court Judge who will make the final decision.

      By having a licensed lawyer submit the application on your behalf, you:


      Why having a licensed lawyer submit your application is in your best interests

      1. Avoid and reduce long immigration delays caused by incomplete applications;
      2. Ensure that you meet the necessary requirements to qualify under the right category;
      3. Are asked the right questions to avoid any future complications or refusals (complicated immigration history, inadmissibility, criminality, misrepresentation issues);
      4. Transfer the time-consuming task of completing, preparing and submitting the application onto a licensed professional.

      The immigration lawyer:

      1. Relies on past experiences with Citizenship and Immigration Canada to develop a robust and strategic application;
      2. Ensures the required forms are complete and correct by reviewing in detail the accurate and pertinent information with you;
      3. Reviews and refers to the most updated legislation and court decisions to ensure that your application meets the requirements of the current rules, regulations, and policies;
      4. Collects additional supporting documentation relevant to your file and prepares a submission letter outlining the legal basis for your application, your background information, eligibility, admissibility and any exceptional circumstances.

      Immigration rules, regulations, and policies are always changing, and an immigration lawyer can provide you with pertinent, up to date information as well as guide and assist you throughout your entire immigration process.

      My Permanent Resident Card Expired, Can I Renew It?


      How to renew your expired permanent residence card in Canada

      To renew your Permanent Resident Card, you must meet the residency requirement of two years out of five (730 days) of “residence” in Canada. There are four ways to meet the residency requirement:

      i) be physically present in Canada
      ii) be accompanying a citizen who is a spouse, common-law partner or parent
      iii) be employed full-time by a “Canadian business” or public service, and required by it to travel
      iv) be accompanying a permanent resident who is employed by a “Canadian business” or public service, and required to travel

      If you do not meet the residency requirement, you may still submit your renewal application with a request for humanitarian and compassionate considerations. You will need to provide a detailed explanation as to why you were forced to remain outside of Canada. It is up to the discretion of Citizenship and Immigration Canada to determine whether the Permanent Resident Card will be renewed.

      I Have Mostly Lived Outside Of Canada, Can I Renew My Permanent Resident Card?


      How to renew your permanent residence card if you are outside of Canada

      I am a Permanent Resident of Canada, but I have mostly lived outside of Canada, can I renew my Permanent Resident Card?

      The renewal of your Permanent Resident Card will depend on the reasons why you were not present in Canada for at least 730 days in the five years preceding the application for renewal. If you were accompanying a Canadian spouse, common-law partner or parent outside Canada, if you were employed by a Canadian company overseas or if you were with a Permanent Resident of Canada employed by a Canadian company overseas, those days will be counted as spent in Canada. If you do not fit in any of these exceptions, you will need to ask the immigration officer to consider humanitarian and compassionate reasons as to why you were absent from Canada (i.e., medical condition of family member abroad. It is important that you clearly outline the reasons why you did not meet the residency requirement.

      What Is The Difference Between An Appeal And A Judicial Review?


      What is the difference between a Canadian Immigration Judicial Review & an Appeal?

      In immigration law, the term Appeal is often used to describe both the “Appeal” and the “Judicial Review” process. However, these are two separate legal proceedings.

      Appeal to the Immigration Appeal Division

      An Appeal is a particular procedure initiated by the Immigration Appeal Division following individual refusals which allow for a full review of the decision and the decision-making process. The Immigration Appeal Division is one of three divisions of the Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada’s largest independent administrative tribunal.

      Once you have filed an Appeal at the Immigration Appeal Division, you will wait to receive a hearing date.

      An Appeal to the Immigration Appeal Division is proceeded by a Board Member (or Panel Member) which will review the decision of the immigration officer, visa officer or CBSA officer along with the updated documentation submitted by the parties. As the Immigration Appeal Division considers new evidence, this type of Appeal is called de novo. A Board Member will not, for example, grant or issue a Visa in an overseas case. Should the Board Member “allow” the appeal in such a case, the matter will be sent back to the visa post abroad for continued processing in line with the reasons for the request.

      The following application/cases may be appealed to the Immigration Appeal Division:

      Spousal Sponsorship
      Family Class Sponsorship
      Residency Obligation
      Removal Order

      At an Appeal, individuals may testify in person, through sworn statements as well as by phone conference. Parties may also submit documentation (called disclosure) before the hearing in support of the case.
      If an Appeal is dismissed, you have 15 days from the date that you received the refusal to file an Application for Leave and for Judicial Review at the Federal Court of Canada to have the decision reviewed.

      Judicial Review at the Federal Court of Canada

      The Federal Court is Canada’s national court which hears and decides legal disputes arising in the federal domain. Immigration matters are dealt with as Applications for Judicial Review, which is narrower in scope that a full appeal. The Federal Court will only overturn in limited circumstances.

      There is a 2 step process to have your matter heard at the Federal Court.

      1. You must first file an Application for Leave and Judicial Review – this means that you are requesting permission to a Federal Court Judge to have your matter reviewed within a Judicial Review proceeding;

      2. Should this permission be given (called “leave granted”), the Federal Court will then schedule a date for the Judicial Review hearing.

      Just like the Immigration Appeal Division, a Federal Court Judge will not grant, issue or approve a Visa or application. The Federal Court will determine whether the decision of an immigration officer or a Board Member violated proper procedure or was reasonable or unreasonable. If the decision is determined to be unreasonable, the matter will be sent back for re-determination by a different officer or Board Member.

      Any decision by a federal decision-maker can be judicially reviewed unless there is a first right of appeal. The following refusals can be directly judicially reviewed at the Federal Court of Canada:

      Federal Skilled Worker
      Canadian Experience Class
      Investor
      Provincial Nominee Program
      Live-in Caregiver
      Work Permit
      Study Permit
      Temporary Resident Visa
      Humanitarian and Compassionate
      Pre-Removal Risk Assessment
      Request for Deferral
      Spousal Sponsorship Appeal
      Family Class Sponsorship Appeal
      Residency Obligation Appeal
      Removal Order Appeal
      Refugee Claim or Claim for Protection

      During a Federal Court Judicial Review hearing, the individual involved in the matter may not testify. The Federal Court will only rely on documentation available to the immigration officer or to the Board Member at the time the decision was made. Your immigration lawyer will submit argumentation and case law and the opposing party, the lawyer representing Citizenship and Immigration Canada, will do the same. The lawyers will argue the case in person before a Federal Court Judge who will make the final decision.

      Do you have a question about this topic? Send us your question, and we will respond to you shortly.

      Why Consult With An Immigration Lawyer?


      Why should I consult with a Canadian Immigration Lawyer?

      To determine the best solution and strategy for your immigration matter, we must conduct a consultation with you. During a meeting, an immigration lawyer will ask you specific questions on you immigration issue as well as review your documentation. The consultation process is entirely confidential.

      It is important to address all relevant issues during the meeting to allow the immigration lawyer to have a complete understanding and knowledge of your entire situation to avoid surprises down the road in your immigration file.

      Once the immigration lawyer has obtained all the information from you, you will be provided with legal advice. The immigration lawyer will also be able to give approximate time lines as well as possible outcomes based on your particular case.

      Should you chose to retain the services of the immigration lawyer, you will be provided with a Retainer Agreement which will outline the working relationship between you and the immigration attorney. Once you have retained the services, you will be provided with instructions and a detailed list of documents needed to begin work on your file.

      Once we have obtained the documentation, we will:

      • Review your documents and advise you if we require further information;
      • Review and complete all the required forms;
      • Ensure we have prepared a robust and qualifying application;
      • Make a submission letter (cover letter) which will outline the facts and legal background of your case;
      • Submit your completed application to the appropriate Immigration office;
      • Follow up on the processing of your application by regularly contacting immigration on your behalf as your representative;
      • Supervise and handle your application until finalization.

      Although immigration applications may at times seem simple to prepare, having a lawyer specializing in immigration on board will prevent potentials refusals, delays and complications. Immigration applications must be made meticulously and with care as not doing so will result in an application, being returned or refused. To deal with a refusal, re-applications, appeals or judicial reviews will be necessary, which can further delay the application for years.

      Specialized immigration lawyers have submitted hundreds of applications and have a good understanding of immigration processes, policies, rules, and regulations. An immigration lawyer will assist you in navigating through the complex immigration system and help you in obtaining positive results.

      Will I Have An Issue If I Did Not Mention My Common Law Relationship In My Permanent Residence Application?


      How can I revise my Canadian permanent residence application?

      I am a permanent resident of Canada, having applied through the Ontario PNP program. I would like to sponsor my common law partner now, but realize that I may have a problem. When I applied for PR, I did not mention that I had a common law partner because our relationship was inconsistent, and I did not understand whether I should include him or not. Now, I am worried that if I apply to sponsor him, Immigration will think I lied about our previous relationship. Will this be an issue?

      A common law partner is defined as a person with whom you were living in a conjugal relationship for at least twelve months. A conjugal relationship includes more than only a sexual relationship – it means a degree of intimacy and commitment that one would expect of married spouses. If you were in a common law relationship during your application for PR, or any time before landing in Canada, you had a duty to disclose the relationship to the visa office or immigration officer at the time of landing. Failing to disclose this could lead Immigration to determine that you engaged in a material misrepresentation and took action to remove you from Canada. As you have stated that your relationship was inconsistent, it would be best to obtain accurate legal advice regarding whether or not the facts and evidence demonstrate you were, in fact, in a common law relationship. If you were, you will need to prepare a strategy on how to proceed, and arrange your sponsorship very carefully.

      Why do I need to provide a residency questionnaire after applying?


      Why do I have to do a residency questionnaire after already applying for Canadian citizenship?

      There are some reasons why you would receive this residency questionnaire. Several citizenship offices are conducting due diligence to ensure that applicants have been truthful in their citizenship applications and meet the residence requirement. Citizenship asks application, to complete this questionnaire as well as provide documentation to demonstrate that you did reside in Canada for at least three years before applying for citizenship.

      Citizenship applications can take a long time to process and even longer if you are asked to complete the questionnaire. It is important that you consult with an immigration lawyer to go over your residency history and ensure that you do not have any gaps or errors in your application.

      Are We Still Entitled To A PRRA Since The June 29, 2012 Regulatory Changes?


      How will PRRA regulatory changes affect our family?

      We are a family from Guangdong, China, and we came to Canada to make refugee claims two years ago. In March 2012 our refugee claims were refused, and we have now been asked whether we would like to participate in the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration Program. We were advised that we could decide whether to participate by August 30, and we would receive a payment from the government of $1,500 each. If we choose not to take the cash and stay in Canada, will we be arrested? Will we get to apply for a PRRA? How else can we remain in Canada?

      Under the new regulations which came into force on June 29, 2012, refused refugee claimants can no longer make an application for a Pre-removal risk assessment, nor can they make an application on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, unless at least one year has passed since the refusal of the refugee claim. As your claim was only refused in March, you will have no other basis to apply to remain in Canada, and there is nothing to prevent your removal from Canada unless you do not have valid passports. If the immigration authorities can obtain passports for you and your family before March 2012, you will be removed from Canada without access to any further applications. If for some reason you are not removed by that date, you could initiate a humanitarian application, and you will also be entitled to a PRRA application before being removed. As there may be other issues you have not raised in your question, you should obtain specific legal advice from a lawyer.

      What is the average wait time for a Canadian immigration application?


      What is the average wait time for a Canadian immigration application?

      Quick answer: Probably longer than you think!

      While you are probably aware that most Canadian immigration applications require an applicant to complete one or more forms, many immigration applications also require additional, supporting documents.

      Sometimes these extra materials must be ordered from various government departments or agencies, and it can take several weeks or even months to receive those documents. Sometimes, the additional documents have to be obtained from friends, family, employers, health care professionals, educational institutions, or other organizations, and it may take time for these people and agencies to provide the documents to an applicant.

      As you can see, the collection of documents can take months in some cases!

      Applications submitted for processing that is ‘incomplete’ due to missing forms or documents might be returned without being processed, or even refused, and a re-application, if possible, will naturally add to the time it takes for an applicant to receive a final decision.

      We advise all of our clients to allow plenty of time in advance for the completion of forms and the collection of documents. Our lawyers have extensive experience putting together strong, well supported and complete immigration applications in every type of immigration matter and would be happy to assist you with yours.

      If you would like our assistance, kindly contact us to set up a consultation, and we would be glad to speak with you about the immigration process(es) that you might like to undertake.

      How do I proof English proficiency for Canadian Citizenship application?


      How do I proof English proficiency for Canadian Citizenship application?

      I will be eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship in December 2012. I have heard that I must now demonstrate adequate knowledge of English, but I do not know how to prove this. What proof must I provide?

      Citizenship and Immigration have published a detailed list of acceptable documents which you may provide to demonstrate sufficient knowledge of English or French. These materials include:

      IELTS – General – either current or previously submitted with your immigration application
      CELPIP – either General or General LS
      TEF or TEFAQ for French
      A transcript, diploma or certificate from a secondary school
      A transcript, diploma, certificate or degree from a post-secondary school
      Proof of achieving CLB/NCLC 4 in speaking and listening through a Language Instruction for Newcomers (LINC) or Cours de langue pour les immigrants au Canada (CLIC)course

      Further details regarding the scores required can be found on the CIC website at http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/citizenship/language.asp

      If you would like our assistance, kindly contact us to set up a consultation, and we would be happy to speak with you about the immigration process(es) that you might like to undertake.

      Why was I asked to complete a Canadian Residency Questionnaire?


      Why was I asked to complete a Canadian Residency Questionnaire?

      I have been a permanent resident for five years, and I applied for Canadian citizenship last year. I received a letter from the citizenship office requesting me to fill out a Residence Questionnaire and asking me to provide a lot of documents. I have been physically resident in Canada for almost four years when I applied, so I do not understand why I need to provide so many documents which are difficult to get. Is it possible they have made a mistake?

      As a part of the government’s efforts to combat fraud, citizenship applications are being reviewed much more carefully than previously. In the past, many applicants stated that they were physically resident in Canada when, in fact, they were not. In order to ensure that all applicants are truthful in their applications, the new procedure requires applicants to substantiate physical residence with documents including taxation, banking, employment, education, medical and other records. You have not been singled out for this request, as all applicants must now satisfy officers that they have been physically resident or face refusal of their applications. It is certainly true that the new requirements will make the application process far more onerous for applicants. In addition, this will no doubt cause further delays as officers spend time reviewing the questionnaires and supporting documentation submitted by applicants.

      Canadian Citizenship Application: Can I Leave Canada?


      Can I travel while my citizenship application is being processed?

      I came to Canada as the dependent of my parents over five years ago. I started my citizenship application last year, and I heard that it would take at least another year or more to complete my citizenship application. I have been offered admission to Harvard and plan to commence studies there in September. Will this affect my citizenship application or my permanent residence status?

      If you met the requirements for citizenship, including the residence requirement, at the time you submitted your application for citizenship, then your current departure from Canada will not affect your application. Under citizenship law, the relevant period is the four years immediately preceding your application. However, during the processing period, you are still a permanent resident, and you must ensure you continue to meet the residence requirement for permanent residence, which is two years in every five years. It is highly unlikely that your citizenship application would take so long as to cause a concern regarding your PR status. However, it would be wise always to keep track of your absences and seek advice if you become concerned.

      How Do I Return To Canada If My Permanent Resident Card Is Expired?


      My Permanent Resident Card expired and I am currently outside of Canada. How do I return to Canada?

      If you are a Permanent Resident of Canada and your Permanent Resident Card is expired or you are waiting for the renewal of your Card, you will need to apply for a Travel Document from outside of Canada in order to re-enter Canada as a Resident. A Travel Document will be issued only if you have spent at least 1 day in Canada in the last 365 days.

      If the Travel Document is refused, you may submit a Residency Obligation Appeal at the Immigration Appeal Division.

      Are Permanent Residence Application Refusals refundable?


      Are Permanent Residence Application Refusals refundable?

      Generally speaking, no, there will not be a refund. However, if you applied before the recent legislative changes, you may be entitled to a refund, depending on when you applied, and the reason for the refusal. If you applied before February 27, 2008, the date the major changes to the immigration law took effect, your application would be processed. You will not get a refund unless you choose to withdraw your application before it is processed. If you applied on or after February 27, 2008, and your application is not eligible for processing, you will get a full refund. If your application is available for processing, gets processed but is then refused, you will not get a refund.

      What Do I Do If My Humanitarian And Compassionate Application Has Been Refused?


      Humanitarian & Compassionate Application refusal: What can I do?

      I was refused applied for permanent residence in 2007 under the humanitarian and compassionate category in applied for permanent residence in 2007 under the humanitarian and compassionate category in Canada. I have been in Canada for 10 years, I have been working and paying taxes, and I have two Canadian-born children. Yesterday, I received a letter refusing my application for permanent residence which took more than five years for them to consider. I do not know what I should do now and I am very worried about returning to China. What are my options? Will I be deported?

      You will not be deported from Canada until you have completed the Pre-removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) and you have a valid travel document to return to China. Before that happens, you need to decide whether to challenge the decision that has just been made, or to re-apply on humanitarian grounds. As you have Canadian children and have been in Canada for a significant period of time, you may have a strong case. Lately, CIC has decided that it will not advise applicants when the officer is ready to make a decision, so it is very important for all applicants to constantly update their files. As you now have a refusal, you only have 15 days to apply to the Federal Court for Leave and for Judicial Review, so you need to decide whether this option is viable as soon as possible. You could also re-apply for consideration on humanitarian grounds, providing detailed submissions and a large number of documents as evidence to support your application. As new applications are being considered much faster now, there may be sufficient time. You must obtain proper advice from an immigration lawyer immediately to determine the best strategy for you.

      Can I Make A Second Refugee Claim?


      How can I make a second refugee claim?

      I came to Canada from Guangdong province with my wife and son, and we claimed refugee status in Canada. Since we arrived in Canada, we have had a second child, a daughter. Our refugee claim was refused, but we do not want to return to China because we have had a second child and we are worried that we will have trouble due to China’s one-child policy. Can we make a second refugee claim?

      You cannot make a second refugee claim. However, you may be able to make an application under the Pre-Removal Risk Assessment if you remain in Canada for at least 12 months from the date your refugee claim was refused. If CBSA removes you before that time, you will not be entitled to PRRA. If less than 12 months has passed since the refusal of your refugee claim, you can make an application on humanitarian grounds. Normally, these applications are also barred until at least 12 months has passed. However, you may make an application if the best interests of children are at stake. You would need to make your humanitarian application fairly quickly, as you may be removed from Canada before the application being considered by an officer. Also, having a second child would not necessarily result in approval, as the officer would consider all the humanitarian factors and the particular evidence provided. You should obtain proper detailed legal advice immediately.

      I Have A Pending Humanitarian And Compassionate Application But I Was Asked To Leave Canada In 2 Weeks, What Can I Do?


      How can I get an extension for a humanitarian and compassionate application?

      My husband has been asked to leave Canada within two weeks, after living and working in Canada for ten years. He came to Canada as a refugee claimant, was refused, and then stayed on to work. He applied for humanitarian consideration about three years ago, and recently received a refusal of this application. I had applied to sponsor him last year, but the application is still in process. We have two young children, but the immigration officer is still insisting that he leave Canada even though the sponsorship application has not been completed yet.

      What can we do?.

      Many families are currently experiencing the same situation right now. As your husband has no legal right to remain in Canada, they will continue to remove him from Canada unless you either

      1. Convince the removals officer to defer removal until the spousal sponsorship is complete or;

      2. You obtain a stay from the Federal Court of Canada allowing him to remain in Canada until the sponsorship is finalized.

      In my opinion, the fact that you filed your sponsorship a year ago, and you have a young child, are key elements to winning in the Federal Court. The best interests of the child must be considered by immigration and removals officers, and it is not clear that this has been done. You have very little time, and you should retain a lawyer immediately to start legal proceedings if your husband wishes to remain in Canada until the spousal sponsorship is completed. Alternatively, should your husband choose to leave Canada, you can sponsor him to return to Canada (you would need to start a new overseas sponsorship application). However, keep in mind that in addition to obtaining approval as a spouse, he will also need to apply for Authority to Return to Canada (ARC) which will require the visa officer to balance the factors leading to his removal from Canada and to decide whether to give him permission to return.

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