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Specialists in Immigration Litigation & Inadmissability
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Frequently Asked Questions

Appeals

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Can my family and I appeal from being removed from Canada?

Q. I came to Canada in 2001 and applied for refugee status. My case was refused. In March 2006 I made a Humanitarian and Compassionate Application. I did not receive yet a decision regarding my H&C application, but meanwhile, Immigration wants to remove me and my family from Canada. I do not know where to turn to or what should I do at this stage?

A. I receive many questions regarding this matter, and we handle hundreds of cases like this every year. When you applied for protected person / refugee status in 2001 you received a conditional departure order. At the time that your application for refugee status was refused, your departure order automatically became a deportation order without any further notice to you. Many people do not realize this happens – but you have a deportation order against you! At this stage, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) could seek a decision from Immigration Canada on your H&C application, before removing you from the country but do not do so often. Before deporting you, CBSA must first serve you with a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) form for which you have 15 days to file the form and 30 days to file submissions as to why your country of origin is a risk to your life for you and your family. If the PRRA is negative, CBSA will complete removal. At the time of the negative decision on PRRA, you have the option to challenge the decision in the Federal Court of Canada. If you are refused in the Federal Court, you will receive a date for removal. You may also receive a date for removal while you are fighting the decision in Federal Court so you can also make a written request (application) to stop your removal until your H&C application is decided (in case it has not), or other reasons, like children’s school year being interrupted, etc. If refused by CBSA again, you will also have to challenge the decision in Federal Court. The procedures are rather complicated and stopping removal is very difficult so you will need professional help. Good luck!

Of note is the fact that under the new regulations regarding protected persons/ refugee status, after a refusal of your application, you cannot make a Humanitarian and Compassionate application or/and do not qualify for a PRRA application for 12 months after the decision, unless certain conditions apply. The idea is that CIC wants to remove the refused refugee applicants, as soon as possible after the decision is issued.

What happens if I am refused or do not qualify as a sponsor?

If you do not qualify for sponsorship, you have the option to withdraw your application, by writing immediately to CPC Mississauga, before they transfer the file for overseas processing. You may then obtain a refund of the processing fees that you submitted with your application. In this case you do not have the right to appeal the refusal to the Immigration and Refugee Board, Appeal Division (IRB-IAD) but to the Federal Court of Canada. If you succeed in solving the problem regarding your ineligibility, you may then apply again.

How much should I wait for further communication?

Q: I sponsored my parents and dependent sister (mental retarded – unmarried – age 45) in December 2005 for permanent residence. My application was rejected in 2009 due to the dependent mental retarded sister. I have filed the appeal on humanitarian grounds and at the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) conference, the appeal was allowed for my dependent sister. In short, we won the case. Again documentation (medical/further medical) have been submitted and medical has been completed on 3rd April 2012. Passport has been sent on 5th August 2012 to New Delhi, India. I have not received / heard anything after that. There is no communication from immigration department. What should I do now? How long should I wait for further communication?  Do they have the power to reject an ADR decision? Can they reject my application again if appeal is already allowed?

A: There are no set timelines once an application is sent back to be reconsidered.  There have been some challenges with respect to overseas offices following agreements made during Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) conferences, but for the most part this is a problem of the past.  After a successful appeal either at ADR or at an IAD full hearing, the issue in dispute (in this case medical) that was resolved cannot be reexamined by an officer and used as groundS to refuse.  If a new medical condition is discovered or another ground of inadmissibility arises i.e. there was a medical issue that was overcome at appeal but when it was sent back to the visa office, another medical condition was discovered or a criminal conviction exists, then the application could be refused again.  I believe you should hear something in the next few months. Good luck!

Can they refuse my application even if I meet the requirements?

Q: I understand that the new changes mean the government could still refuse my immigration application even if I meet the requirements. This must offend some law, doesn’t it?

A: The proposed amendments would allow the Government considerable discretion in deciding skilled worker applications, and overseas humanitarian and compassionate grounds applications. This ministerial authority is what many groups, including the Canadian Bar Association, are concerned with, should these changes become law.

Can the government decide how many immigrants and what types of immigrants we need? Sure they can, but it must be applied in a fair and consistent manner and respect the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. If not, the Courts will be called upon to assist. But what is worrisome is if our system, one of the best in the world in my opinion, loses a degree of its predictability and certainty in favour of discretion – the system suffers and so does Canadians and potential applicants. If the backlog and resources are key problems, we may need to look at various creative solutions including doing more immigration processing of applications from within Canada by Canadians. It may save on the costs of overseas offices and cut down on the struggle of finding Canadian visa officers overseas. But one thought of many, we will hear over the next several months.

Could my sponsorship application be refused?

Q. I landed in Canada in March 2008, worked for 2.5 months, rented an apartment, opened a bank account, and left to my home country to get married. I got married in July 2008 and I lived in Egypt ever since. I signed a contract with a Canadian company in March 2009 as an independent contractor, and I am currently working on projects outside Canada.

I wanted to sponsor my wife and I applied for my wife and in the application I mentioned I live in Canada (since I work for a Canadian company). Immigration sent the application back requesting more documents (Option C printout, gas bills, phone bills, bank statements, rental lease, etc.). I did my taxes for 2008, I have a Canadian cell phone, bank account, credit card. Is there a problem to sponsor my wife?

A. Yes, there could be a problem with sponsorship. First, the fact that you filed taxes, have a Canadian cell phone, bank account and a credit card in Canada does not mean that you reside in Canada. From Immigration Canada’s point of view, you may be misrepresenting yourself and your application will likely be refused. The legislation has provisions for sponsoring spouses outside Canada but refers only to Canadian citizens living abroad who will return to Canada after the application is approved. You are not a Canadian citizen, but a permanent resident. So in your case, you will not be able to sponsor your wife until you reestablish yourself in Canada and recommence the application while you physically live here. Good luck!

Once I am approved as a sponsor, can my parents still be refused?

Yes, your parents can still be refused on different grounds, including:

  • one or both of your parents are inadmissible on health grounds – meaning their health will impose a high price on the Canadian health care system;
  • one or both of your parents have a criminal record that makes them inadmissible;
  • the relationship between you and the sponsored persons is not genuine;
  • you did not provide all the required documentation in time;
  • you do not meet the financial requirements when they are ready to be approved.
Applications for Canadian Citizenship

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Is my sister in danger of losing her citizenship?

Q. Nine years ago, one of my siblings came to Canada as a refugee and eventually became a Canadian Citizen. When she came here as a refugee, she did not disclose her immediate previous residency information to either Canadian or US immigration authorities. And she only lived there for a couple of years. To my knowledge, she did not have any criminal records. She married later to a Canadian, but they recently separated. Now her ex is blackmailing that he is going to inform the Canadian immigration about her past. Is she going to have problems from Immigration? I mean, is her Canadian citizenship or her employment opportunities or travelling overseas going to be affected by this?

A.  Interesting question.  The fact that she lived in another country and did not disclose could be significant depending on her reason for concealing this fact. Was she approved as a refugee claimant or by virtue of a spousal sponsorship?  This is important. Clearly Immigration Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency take misrepresentation very seriously but it must be a misrepresentation of a material fact to lead to removal proceedings.  Further, except for the most serious of misrepresentations (one’s identity, war crimes, terrorism, etc) rarely is revocation of Citizenship pursued by authorities.  Clearly what and perhaps why she withheld the information are the first two questions your sibling should explain when consulting with a professional.  Peace of mind may be a phone call away. Good luck!

Does probation time count towards a citizenship application?

Q. I have a question regarding the citizenship application. I am a permanent resident in Canada for the last 5 years.  I would like now to file an application for citizenship, but I want to know whether I am eligible to file at this point.  I was placed under probation for 18 months, which I completed successfully one year ago.  But, during my probation period I was again charged, but these charges were later on withdrawn.  So my question is can this period of 18 months probation be counted as residing physically in Canada and qualify towards the time required for a citizenship application.

A.  This is an excellent question and unfortunately at this time you are excluded from applying for Canadian citizenship.  Specifically, the following people are excluded from becoming a citizen for reasons other than failing to meet the residency requirement: (1) anyone who is in prison, on parole or probation; (2) anyone who has been in prison, on parole or probation for a year or more in the past four years; (3) anyone who has been “convicted of an indictable offence or crime, or an offence under the Citizenship Act in the three years preceding” their application; (4) anyone who, at the time of their application, is charged with any offence under the Citizenship Act, or an indictable offence or crime; (5) anyone who has been issued a removal order; (6) anyone who has been convicted of a crime against humanity or war crime, or anyone who is being investigated or has been charged with such crimes and (7) anyone whose Canadian citizenship has been revoked in the past five years.  You must also be concerned that your conviction (depending on the type) could trigger proceedings to revoke your permanent residency status.  So citizenship is not a possibility and your concern now should lie with maintaining your permanent residency.  Thank you for your question.

Can I apply for my passport?

Q. I have a problem and I do not know whether you can help me. I am ready to apply for Canadian citizenship as I am in Canada for more than 3 years. But, recently I discovered that I have a record after I did a police reference check required for a job. It is not really a criminal record, I guess it is something else. Now I do not know whether I am eligible to apply for the passport or not? Thank you.

A. Before applying for a passport, you must apply for Canadian citizenship first. Only if you are granted citizenship, may you apply for the Canadian passport. Certain criminal offences will prohibit you from qualifying for citizenship. To clear your record depending on the offence and when you completed any sentence you may be eligible and qualify for a pardon to clear your record. In order to apply for Canadian citizenship you must meet certain requirements including: be 18 years old or older (minors may also apply for and be granted citizenship); be a permanent resident of Canada; have lived in Canada for three of the four years immediately before applying for citizenship; have knowledge of English and/or French; have knowledge of Canada and of the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship; and  not be prohibited from being granted citizenship because of criminal prohibitions, not be  under a removal order, or pose security concern. I would suggest that you consult with Citizenship & Immigration Canada or legal counsel to make sure you are eligible and your record does not disqualify you at this time.

Is there a difference between a Senior Citizen Card and a PR card?

Q. First of all may I say we all at the office enjoy your column immensely. I hope that you may be able to answer my question. I am a landed immigrant from Scotland since 1965. I am still gainfully employed (although I am now 65 and collect Canada Pension). In the near future I may need to travel overseas to attend a wedding. I have my card saying I am a senior citizen. I have not as yet obtained my Canadian Citizenship, hope to in the very near future. My question is: do I still need to apply for a permanent residence card? I have called several departments of the government, but was unsuccessful in obtaining the proper answer. At one point I was told that, as long as I had my card saying that I was a senior citizen that would suffice when traveling overseas. I feel this is incorrect. Could you please help me on this?

A. Your “feeling” that a senior citizen card is not the same as having a permanent resident (PR) card is correct. A senior citizen card proves that you are of a certain age and entitles you to various benefits granted to people over 65. A senior citizen card does not confer immigration status even though it would be logical to think so because of the title in the card – “citizen”. You need to have a PR card to prove that you are a permanent resident of this country and be able to travel. If you apply immediately to CPC Sydney for your PR card and mark it “urgent” and also attach your travel ticket then they might process your request faster. Otherwise, being a citizen of Scotland you do not require a visitor visa to enter Canada and would travel on your passport as long as it is valid of course. Remember though it is not too late to apply for your Canadian citizenship and you should to avoid all this in the future. Good luck!

As a US green card holder, do I have the right to live and work in Canada?

An interesting question, as some perceive the USA and Canada because of its geographic proximity and strong relations that the two countries share one immigration system or there are shared privileges akin to the European Union. This is not the case and the right to live and work in the United States does not entitle a person to live and work in Canada. Both countries implement and administer their own immigration laws, regulations and policies. Having said this there are some benefits, U.S. citizens for example are visa exempt to visit Canada. The North American Free Trade Agreement as another example recognizes and processes certain classes of workers from the United States and Mexico differently than other parts of the world. On the whole though, Canadian immigration laws apply to persons equally, all over the world. Thus, in your case, by becoming a US citizen you might benefit by applying under certain Canadian immigration categories, you do not have the right to automatically live and work in Canada. As for your child, if born in Canada s/he is a Canadian citizen. Good luck!

How long can I stay in another country without loosing my citizenship and all my other benefits?

Thank you for your question.  In regards to keeping the citizenship status, this is not similar with maintaining your residency status, where you cannot be outside Canada more than roughly three years out of five to maintain status. Under the citizenship law, you are free to go and live wherever you want, for as long as you want, and then come back to Canada without losing the status. But, you will have to check with all the other organizations, OHIP included, that provide you with benefits – health and retirement benefits, to see whether they place any restrictions for Canadian citizens living abroad, non-residents in Canada for an indefinite period of time.  Good luck!

Applications for Permanent Residence

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What is the policy of the PNP certificate and how long should the certificate be valid for?

Q. My PNP certificate is about to expire and I was wondering if there is a policy regarding the requirement to obtain a new PNP certificate prior to its expiry? If so, what is the policy and how long should the PNP certificate be valid for? If not, why are we requested to provide such document?

A. The validity period and expiry date of a PNP certificate is the sole purview of the nominating province or territory.

Expiry dates are noted on the approval letter from the nominating province/territory that applicants submit with their permanent residence application to the visa office. The applicant is responsible for submitting their application for permanent residence under the PNP to the appropriate visa office within the timeframe specified by the nominating province/territory.

PNP certificates must be valid on the date of application submission. If the PNP certificate expired before the application submission date, the visa office will return the application to the applicant indicating that the reason for the return is the expiry of the nomination. In such cases, the applicant must re-apply to the province/territory, obtain an updated and valid PNP certificate, and submit a new application for permanent residence under the PNP to the appropriate visa office.

If the PNP certificate is valid on the date of application submission, and the applicant has submitted a complete application, the visa office will honour the certificate throughout processing of the permanent residence application under the PNP.

Why was my brother-in-law’s PR application refused?

Q. This is regarding my brother-in-law’s application for permanent residency. He applied by himself and he was refused recently. He married my sister last month and we decided to apply again, but would need some guidance as we do not want him to be refused again. Both my sister and her husband have post-graduate degrees with considerable experience in their area of finance & business administration. I was wondering why he was refused?

A. It is very difficult to say definitively without reviewing the refusal letter. There may be a number of reasons for the refusal: lack of proper documentation, the degree granting schools are not recognized by the local government as an institution that can issue diplomas/ degrees, insufficient work experience, lack of language ability, etc. One other question that I would have is whether your brother-in-law has advised Immigration Canada about his change of status, after marrying your sister. You might want to consult a specialist regarding the possibility of challenging the refusal at the Federal Court of Canada if warranted. As for a new application, applicants must be very careful as from January 2015 the economic class category rules have changed. So consult before applying to avoid another refusal. Also, a lawyer will review other immigration programs that might apply to your brother in law’s case. Good luck!

Do I qualify for CEC category?

Q. I am really impressed with your comments in the newspaper and TV appearances. I was wondering whether you could clarify for me if I qualify for the Canadian Experience Class (CEC). I came to Canada from Mexico as an exchange student for my last year before obtaining my bachelor degree. After that, I decided to continue my MBA under a 12-month program. After receiving my MBA degree, I obtained an open work permit, found a job and am working for the past year. As I studied 2 years in Canada, do I qualify for the permanent residency application under the CEC category? Your response would be much appreciated. Thank you.

A. From what you write, it would appear you are eligible for this program because you have one-year work experience in Canada. But, be aware that in January 2015 the CEC program is one of the categories of applications that will fall under the new Express Entry regulations. Yes, you must qualify for the program you apply under (CEC in your case), but, your application will go into a pool of applicants that will be rated one against the others. CIC will choose and pick from the pool the applicants that look the best in terms of rating and future probability of becoming economically successful in Canada. So, please inform yourself before applying or consult with a specialist. Good luck!

What problems will my mother have when she comes back to Toronto with her permanent card expired?

Q. My mother is 82 years old and she is a Canadian resident since 2009. Due to some family problems, she had to return to Mexico unexpectedly in November 2014. At the last minute we realized that her permanent resident card had expired in August 2014. We did not ask for a renewal, as she did not intend to travel abroad. My question is: what problems will my mother have when she comes back to Toronto with her permanent card expired? Moreover, she is waiting for the date for her citizenship oath so she needs to come back as soon possible. How can we go about this?

A. First of all, it is very good that your mother applied for Canadian citizenship, as this will give her the liberty to travel without needing to renew her PR Card every five years. To respond to your question in short, your mother will not be able to return to Canada on an expired PR Card. She will not be allowed to board the plane without a valid card. To overcome this, she should immediately approach the Canadian High Commission (visa office) in Mexico and ask for a travel document. She will have to provide all the background and fill out the necessary forms. If she lived in Canada since 2009 and meets the residency requirements, she should receive her travel document, valid just for the flight to Canada. She can then decide if she wants to renew then her PR card or if a grant of citizenship is close, this will not be necessary. Good luck!

Is it possible to extend my work permit?

Q: After reading your comments in today’s newspaper, I wanted to seize this opportunity to ask for your advice. I have already applied for my permanent residence under the Canadian experience class program in November 2013. Immigration has started processing my application in February of this year and the status is IN PROCESS. I am currently on my second year of post graduate work permit and it will expire in November 2015. I wanted to know whether it is possible to extend my work permit again.   I came to understand that it is never extended. What other recourse do I have?

A: The information you have is incorrect.  While it is true that post-graduate work permits cannot be renewed, there are other options available.  First of all, if you have already received the “eligibility” letter from CIO Sydney, then you may apply for a bridging work permit. The application must be done before the expiry date of your current PGWP. The bridging work permit will be valid for one year and hopefully, you will have a decision by that date.

Another option is for your employer to apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) and if he is successful, then you may apply for a work permit. Good luck!

Am I allowed to include my partner in my PR application under the Live-In Caregiver Program?

Q.  I’m working in Canada as a live-in caregiver and about to submit my application for permanent residency by July. I have a Filipino boyfriend working in Singapore where I met him. We are in a relationship for almost 8 years. We never married because he was married in the Philippines and the marriage was not annulled. We never lived together because as a domestic worker in Singapore I had to stay with my employer. Financially we help each other and both our families by sending them money, reciprocally (me to his family and vice-versa). It is almost like we are a married couple we just do not have the paper. I would like to include him on my permanent residence application, but I wonder whether it is all right and I am confused also about a conjugal partner and common law partner. Please, I am desperate for advice

A.  Your situation is quite complex because you have never lived together.  A common law relationship for immigration purposes requires one year of cohabitation and so you will not qualify under this category.  With respect to conjugal partners, you must demonstrate that you have been in a committed and mutually interdependent relationship for at least one year where there exists a clear obstacle to cohabitation or marriage.  Conjugal relationships are not easy to prove.  In addition, because your partner remains married you would require clear evidence that he is living separate and apart from his wife and their marriage is at an end.   Seek immediate assistance to explore your options. Good luck!

Could I get a new PR card?

Q. I am a permanent resident and my family’s PR cards expire in in five months. Since the date of issue of our PR cards, we have stayed only one month in Canada. Due to financial constraints, we would be coming back just one month before the expiry of our PR cards. If we enter Canada just before our PR cards expire, will we be able to renew them or we have to exit upon expiry?

A. This is not an uncommon question. Individuals remain in Canada long enough just to receive a PR card and then, for whatever reason, leave immediately to another country, often their home country, where they usually have a lucrative job. This is an issue of retaining residency. First of all, assuming you do not have difficulty re-entering Canada, you may remain in Canada as long as you wish and do not have to leave before the expiration date of your PR card. If you are stopped at the airport you will have to seek relief from the Immigration Appeal Division to attempt to maintain your residency. If you do enter as permanent residents and you need to travel before renewing you may not be allowed back in Canada without having either a PR card or a travel document. In your case, once you apply for renewal of your PR cards, CIC will confirm whether you retained your residency – two years of physical residency within the last five years. There are options but you definitely need professional help with your case. Good luck!

Where can I find the latest court decisions on Permanent Residency cases?

Please click here.

Applications for Temporary Residence

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Can my girlfriend come to study?

Q. I have to apply soon for a post- graduate work permit and I am wondering if I need a lawyer. I read the following on Citizenship Canada’s website: “You are not obliged to hire a representative for immigration matters. The Government of Canada treats everyone equally, whether they use the services of a representative or not. If you choose to hire a representative, your application will not be given special attention nor can you expect faster processing or a more favourable outcome.” I know you are a lawyer, but I read your comments in the newspapers and value your advice. Please do not publish my name.

A. After reading your question, I visited the website again and also noticed the warning. The tone and tenor of the entire message in my opinion, conveys an improper and misleading message about representatives. It is true that you are not obliged to hire a representative for immigration matters. It is also true that you cannot expect faster processing or a more favourable outcome. Again, this is true in other legal contexts as well, but otherwise the statement is inaccurate. Lawyers play a critical role in advancing applications and sometimes, selecting the appropriate immigrant category means a more favourable outcome. Catching missing information is another example that will avoid a lengthy delay, which means faster processing. Properly presenting and advocating on behalf of a client in an ever increasingly complex web of regulations, rules and policy often make the difference.

Do I need an immigration lawyer?

Q. I have to apply soon for a post- graduate work permit and I am wondering if I need a lawyer. I read the following on Citizenship Canada’s website: “You are not obliged to hire a representative for immigration matters. The Government of Canada treats everyone equally, whether they use the services of a representative or not. If you choose to hire a representative, your application will not be given special attention nor can you expect faster processing or a more favourable outcome.” I know you are a lawyer, but I read your comments in the newspapers and value your advice. Please do not publish my name.

A. After reading your question, I visited the website again and also noticed the warning. The tone and tenor of the entire message in my opinion, conveys an improper and misleading message about representatives. It is true that you are not obliged to hire a representative for immigration matters. It is also true that you cannot expect faster processing or a more favourable outcome. Again, this is true in other legal contexts as well, but otherwise the statement is inaccurate. Lawyers play a critical role in advancing applications and sometimes, selecting the appropriate immigrant category means a more favourable outcome. Catching missing information is another example that will avoid a lengthy delay, which means faster processing. Properly presenting and advocating on behalf of a client in an ever increasingly complex web of regulations, rules and policy often make the difference.

Is there a way to speed up an application’s pending decision?

Q. My daughter married a young man from Scotland in August 2008 on the advice of an immigration lawyer that a spousal visa was the quickest one to get. They were already engaged and planned to marry in 2010 when she finished upgrading her education. They had been back and forth each several times trying to get a work visa for him. As the lawyer requested, they gathered the paperwork required from Scotland and copies of other documents as soon as possible and provided them to the lawyer in December. They signed the final papers at the end of January 2009. They live with us, she works two jobs seven days a week to meet their expenses because he cannot work until he gets his visa. I do not understand why he cannot get a temporary work visa until this process is completed. How can we expect a man to sit around while his wife works and he cannot? It is very humiliating and I think our system should be changed. It may take longer for a refugee to get residency, but at least they can work immediately while they are being processed. I think this should be the same for someone who wishes to immigrate, especially in the case of marriages. After all, if he is denied and they have to move to Scotland the job is forfeit. Is there any way to speed up this process so he can be working before she returns to school in the fall? It’s very difficult for our family, especially my husband who cannot understand why he can’t work to support our daughter. Our families immigrated to Canada in the late 1700′s and my daughter has signed that she will support him for ten years. What more can we do?

A. You hit the nail on its head! We get so many questions regarding this topic, especially from frustrated spouses in Canada who have to work hard to support two people, when the sponsored spouse is not allowed to bring his/her own contribution to the table. Under the current law, you may apply for a work permit at the same time of the In-Canada application and the Immigration guide says that such a request should be assessed on a case by case basis. Once the sponsorship is approved in principle, the work permit would also be approved. But very few apply at the same time for both. It is also true that spousal sponsorship is given priority processing, however currently, approval in principle is taking months.

The good news is that effective December 22, 2014, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) commenced issuing open work permits to certain spouse or common-law partner in Canada class (SCLPC) applicants before the approval in principle decision is made. So, maybe your son-in-law will get his open work permit soon! Good luck!

If I left Canada temporarily, can I still apply for citizenship?

Q. I came to Canada from Colombia on a work permit for one year. After working in Canada for one year on a full time position as a cabinet maker, I decided to go home where I stayed for 8 months. After that period of time, I returned to Canada on another work permit and worked part-time for six months. After six months, I succeeded in being employed full time for the past 10 months. I do not know whether I qualify or not to apply under the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) or does my absence for 8 months and also working part-time for a period of time disqualifies me?

A. The Canadian Experience Class (CEC) is likely the most asked about category every week. I assume because there are so many foreign students and workers in Canada who want to know their options. The legislation for CEC class takes into consideration work experience in Canada for the past 3 years immediately preceding the application. You worked in Canada for a total of 25 months (12 months plus 6 months part time is equivalent to 3 months full time and another 10 months up to now), meaning that you seem to qualify for the CEC category. The fact that you were away for a period of 8 months does not affect your Canadian experience. The good news is that work experience can be part-time and non-continuous within that three year period as long as a person accumulates 12 months of full-time experience in Canada in a qualified occupation. Good luck!

Who requires a study permit?

Study Permits are required for foreign nationals who wish to study at a Canadian educational institution. For eligibility to study in Canada, you must have received an acceptance by an educational institution or school (including college or university) in Canada. You are responsible for your own expenses and educational fees. You must have proof that shows you are able to pay for your tuition, living, and transportation expenses.

Are there any regulatory changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program?

Click here.

Work permit access for spouses of post-graduate work permit holders to cease?

Click here.

Where can I find the latest court decisions on Study Permit cases?

Please click here.

Where can I find the latest court decisions on work permit cases?

Please click here.

Consultations

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What can I do about the increased processing times?

Q. I have been waiting several years for the processing of my immigration application. I have provided everything they have asked for and sometimes even twice because the first one expired. I am really worried as I have not heard anything from Immigration for over two years. I tried to contact CIC but all I could get is that my application is still in process. How can I speak to someone? It is really frustrating.

A. As a result of the increased processing times in all types of citizenship, refugee and immigration applications many people find themselves in a similar situation. The first step is to access the file and determine what if any reason there is for a delay. It is also important to ensure that you (the applicant) have not been the cause or part cause in the delay. Is there a remedy if the delay is unreasonable? The answer is yes. If the delay is unreasonable the applicant can request the application be processed within a certain time period failing which legal action will be taken. The legal action is an application for mandamus (to compel a government official to make a decision) at the Federal Court of Canada. Delay without reasonable cause and a valid explanation will not be acceptable to the Courts and they will order the file be processed within a set time. The remedy is a good one and often just filing a mandamus application will create movement on the file. So yes in some cases the squeaky wheel does get the oil. So explore your options and make sure your file does not sit there if it does not have to – good luck!

How long can I wait before getting a work permit?

Q. I have been told by a lawyer that I could get a work permit for my type of job. It is in high demand. I do not have any papers and cannot afford the process right now more in terms of time and also cost. I am working and doing okay so how long can I wait? If you publish this question please do not list my name or my job. Thank you.

A. Your question reminds me of people in the United States who for reasons of accessibility – cost, time – do not get the medical attention they need and conditions that are minor become very serious, if not fatal. The same holds true in your case. You are here without status but it appears you would qualify for a work permit and make a welcome addition to Canada. If you wait though, your chances of becoming inadmissible to Canada and subject to enforcement (removal) by the Canada Border Services Agency becomes very high. If being in Canada is important to you make the time to do things right. Most reputable lawyers have payment plans and will work with you to ensure your case receives the immediate attention it deserves. Do not become one of those bad immigration stories where people wonder how someone who can make an important contribution is being deported. I cannot tell you how many times in my career I have been saddened by good people in major trouble who I wished came in to see me a few months before. I would imagine that is also how doctors feel from time to time. Good luck!

Was I taken advantage of through my PR application?

Q. My cousin lives in Canada and heard about you. I was told by the person helping me with my case in Canada who charged me little that my immigration papers are ready to be finalized. It has only been four months. I am very excited to get my permanent residency. I must however deposit CAD 35,000.00 in an account operated by him to complete the process. When I come to Canada the money will be returned. Do you know how long it will be before the money is returned?

A. Unfortunately I believe you may be taken advantage of by this person. I do not know of any program that works in this way, unless your facts are wrong. I worry you may not receive your papers or your money back. Is this person a lawyer or certified immigration consultant? Have you signed a services agreement? Have you seen any letters from Immigration Canada? Think long and hard before you entrust your immigration case to just anyone. One of the hats I wear is immigration counsel for COSTI Immigration Services – one of the largest Immigration Settlement Services in all of Canada. I volunteer my time to see as many immigration and refugee applicants/claimants that time allows. I am to this day, after many years of hearing the same story, still surprised by how many people fall for the old marketing pitch: “This can be done cheap and easy – no worries!” In fairness to people though, they want to realize their dreams, money is not always available and we all want to hear that it will be easier rather than more difficult. That what we hear about how complicated, how long and how difficult it may be is not our case but someone else who is not lucky enough to meet the person sitting before me – the person who will make my immigration dreams come – cheap and easy! Buyer beware – cheap and easy IS NOT the way to go! What you describe sounds very suspicious.

Can I apply on my own?

Q. I am applying to immigrate to Canada permanently. I am schooled in part in Canada and currently on a work permit. I want to make Canada my home. I have read the forms and the website and it does not seem that complicated. Am I missing something?

A. I am always amazed when clients believe submitting an immigration, citizenship or refugee application is just about the forms. The forms themselves can be extremely complicated and based upon asking the same questions to locate inconsistencies in your answers. In fact, I have gone to court on many occasions where we spend hours arguing over what was meant when a form was filled out. To be clear, it’s not only what you include in the immigration forms but the key is ensuring you have the right forms in the first place!! Ensuring what you have written is what you meant, that you have the right supporting documentation, effective legal and factual argument and in short that you present your best and most persuasive case. You wait years for this chance at a new life in Canada and those that leave it to chance, worry more about cost than possibilities and believe they know the system by reading a few passages on the website more often than not receive a horrible result either in delays or in refusals. Although it is not impossible to apply on your own because of how complicated the immigration system has become I cannot recommend going it alone. In the end it is about your life not forms! Be wise and if you want to make Canada your home – show Canada you are serious about the immigration process. Good luck!

Do I need a representative?

Q. I had a previous immigration consultation with your firm, receive your newsletter regularly and actually you answered many of the questions that I had in mind. Thank you. Something bothers me though, when you go on the CIC website, there is a note saying that you do not need a representative to file your application. You may call the CIC hot line and you will get answers to your questions, if you need any clarifications with your application. I read also the series of articles “Lost in Migration” in the Toronto Star issues of last summer and I am really confused. Why would anybody need a representative, be it a lawyer or a certified consultant?

A. As a lawyer in private practice I am always concerned about how my answer will be viewed. This question is asked often and it is very important. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) have expended a lot of time and money on developing their website and Call in Centre. But I can say this without any hesitation that these sources should be seen as a starting point. I attend many meetings and am part of various committees with CIC staff. I recently attended a CIC committee meeting and we were given statistics on various issues including the length of training time (approximately three to four weeks) for call centre officers. In my view, this is not sufficient to learn the intricacies of immigration. To be able to fully advise, it takes years of training and experience to see the bigger picture and really guide your client through the process.

Recently, we had a client who called the CIC call centre and was given some instructions on how to proceed regarding a work permit. When we checked the details of the case, it proved that the advice was not correct, as some facts were not taken into consideration. If she proceeded without checking with me the results would have been disastrous. There is an old saying that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Without a doubt most of the immigration process is in and of itself complicated but when you factor in a person’s particular facts the most simple of cases can become a long and complicated journey. There is a reason that the immigration industry keeps thousands of people in private practice employed. They perform a vital service. So in short, I do not recommend going it alone.

As a retired Canadian who would like to travel to the United States, how long can I stay in that country before having to return to Canada?

Q. I read with interest your monthly newsletter related to immigration. My question is: as a retired Canadian who would like to travel to the United States, how long can I stay in that country before having to return to Canada?

A: Your question does not mention whether you are a Canadian citizen or a Canadian permanent resident.  This is key because there is a huge difference between the two categories. As a Canadian citizen, retired or not, there are no restrictions on your travel as it relates to your status.  You may be abroad for as long as you wish and will not lose your citizenship.  There are other non-immigration issues that you may want to consider re non-resident status for tax purposes etc.    If you are a Canadian permanent resident, you have to be mindful of complying with the residency obligations, meaning you cannot be outside of Canada for more than three years in any given five year period, lest you lose your resident status.  Exceptions such as working abroad for a Canadian company clearly do not apply to you as a retiree.  Or, in case you are married to a Canadian citizen who will travel with you, then you are safe. Anyway, there is great flexibility, but speak with a specialist about your particular case, giving more details.  Good luck and safe travels!

I am a full-time Psychology Professor in the US. Do I have a reasonable chance to successfully immigrate to Canada?

Q. I am 53 years old and a full time Psychology Professor in USA.  I am extremely interested in immigrating to Canada.  I intend to retire within the next 3 years with a good pension.  I wish to be semi-retired and not work full-time. I have no debts and no criminal record. I have a Masters and PhD in USA and I do not speak French. I have a few books published.  Do you think I have reasonable chance to successfully immigrate to Canada?

A.  Thank you for your question.  Aside from family class processing and the protection of legitimate refugee claimants, most of Canada’s immigration focus is upon attracting and settling applicants who will become economically established in Canada.  Put another way, those applicants who will make an economic contribution to the tax base are those the program is designed to process.     This is evidenced in many ways but perhaps best by the desirable age range of 20-29 years of age wherein an applicant scores 100 out of 100 points if within that age group (under the new Express Entry eligibility grid).  If older an applicant is penalized five points for each year outside the range.  So although you are entitled to apply, be aware that unlike some jurisdictions like Australia, for example, there is no retirement visa category. Good luck!

Why do ghost consultants continue to operate? Do you even need a representative?

Q. I read a lot about “unauthorized representatives / ghost consultants” in the media and I would like to know your opinion on this issue. Why do ghost consultants continue to operate?  Do you even need a representative?

A. Various announcements by CIC / Minister of Immigration and initiatives like National Immigration Protection Day aimed at stopping ghost agents from exploiting unknowing immigrant applicants are important steps.  But as I have been writing for a long time, more is needed.  How?  One, all paid services regarding the advice, counseling, preparation and presentation before a citizenship, refugee and/or immigration application is filed should be lawfully restricted to authorized representatives. The current legal position is that work prior to an application being filed does not require an authorized representative and it is not unlawful to charge a fee.  This in part is where ghost agents operate because they do everything without legal penalty expect placing their name on the final product. Two, the Immigration Department’s current position is that you cannot expect faster processing or a more favourable outcome with the use of a representative. Does counsel’s work to avoid improperly or incomplete filings not assist in faster processing or processing?  Does counsel’s work to effectively and comprehensively present certain legal and factual arguments not lead to a more favourable outcome?  Of course they do, each and every day and that reality should be reflected.  The public relation campaign focuses on ghost agents and offers no information of how authorized representatives can meaningfully assist.  This negative messaging goes a long way to suggesting “anyone” can prepare an immigration application and demeans the highly skilled individuals who help clients throughout the world each day.  Again, this opens the door for the unscrupulous to prey on the vulnerable.

Federal Court Applications

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What is judicial review?

Judicial Review is the name of the proceeding when an immigration or citizenship matter is challenged to the Federal Court of Court of Canada. An applicant is seeking that the Court review the decision of the officer or board member refusing the application.
It is important to keep in mind that a judicial review is not an appeal. If an applicant is successful on judicial review, the Court does not make a decision in place of the original decision, but rather overturns the old decision and returns the application for redetermination by a different decision maker.

How many days do I have to file a judicial review?

Q: How many days do I have to file a judicial review?

A: The Notice of Application has to be filed with the Federal Court of Canada within the following timelines:

  • 15 days for an immigration decision made in Canada
  • 60 days for an immigration decision made overseas
  • 30 days for a citizenship decision

Refer to the Federal Court Application page of our website for more details.

How many days do I have to file an application record?

You have to file an application record within 30 days of receiving the full Reasons for refusal. In some cases, the reasons are provided with the refusal itself; in others, reasons have to be requested within the Notice of Application.

If the Applicant had to request reasons and those reasons are provided by regular mail, then the Applicant has 40 days from the date of the letter enclosing the reasons to file the application record.

Refer to the Federal Court Application page of our website for more details.

What is mandamus?

A writ of mandamus or simply mandamus is an application meant to compel performance. If a government body/officer, like the CIC, is taking what seems to be too long to process an application, an applicant may apply to the Court for an Order compelling CIC to process the application within a specified timeframe.

Refer to the mandamus section of our website for more details.

What is a notice of application?

The filing of a Notice of Application commences judicial review proceedings. The Notice of Application, which is particular to the Federal Courts Immigration and Refugee Protection Rules (applicable, unless a citizenship matter),  must be served on the Respondent (applicable ministry, via the Department of Justice) and then re-filed with the Court Registry after service. The Notice of

Application must be filed within 15, 30 or 60 days of the “decision” being communicated to the Applicant.

Refer to the Federal Court Application page of our website for more details.

What is the application record?

Within 30 days of receiving the full reasons, the Applicant must perfect and file an application record. (If the reasons were provided by regular mail, then the Applicant has 40 days from the date of the letter enclosing the reasons to perfect and file the application record.) An application record consists of the following:

  1. a table of contents;
  2. a copy of the Notice of Application;
  3. the decision and reasons for refusal;
  4. copies of the affidavit or affidavits;
  5. a memorandum of fact and law, setting out the arguments to be relied upon by the Applicant; and
  6. a list of authorities relied upon.

Refer to the Federal Court Application page of our website for more details.

Why is my case not being processed?

If you think there are delays in the processing of your application, beyond what others are experiencing, then it may be worth seeking a writ of mandamus through the Federal Court of Canada.

Refer to the mandamus section of our website for more details.

Investor & Entrepreneur Immigration

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Can I invest in Canada?

Q. I have a friend who wants to immigrate to Canada from China. He is a Chinese citizen and wants to immigrate to Canada as an investor. He wants to know the conditions he has to fulfill and whether you can help him. Thank you.

A. The federal business program is reduced now, compared to the previous business programs.

He might qualify for a start-up business, but this should be thoroughly investigated and assessed.

Another option could be the investor pilot project introduced from late January 2015, which has a limited cap to see how the program performs and benefits Canada’s economy.

There are some provincial alternatives aside from the federal program. This category tends to be the least complicated of the three, although all are quite involved, but requires a large financial investment.

The self-employed category applies mainly to outstanding athletes, persons who can make a significant cultural contribution, or those who intend to buy a farm in Canada and can establish at least two years of relevant business experience. There are many other conditions and legal considerations your friend must be aware of, before making a final decision and determining which the most suitable category is. I would recommend hiring good counsel to represent him through this complex procedure. Good luck!

Can I apply for citizenship based on my entrepreneurial experience in Canada?

Q. I came to Canada under the business category, as an entrepreneur. Together with a friend of mine from Canada, I founded a company that deals in oil equipment. I used my contacts from my previous job in the Middle East and we were extremely successful with our company. I had to travel a lot to secure contracts for our business therefore I stayed away from Canada a lot during this time. I would like to apply for citizenship and I wonder whether I qualify for this or not. Your advice would be much appreciated.

A. As you probably are aware, CIC removed the conditions on all entrepreneurs who became permanent residents. So, if you worked for a Canadian company abroad, you still maintain your permanent resident status.

With respect to your citizenship – this may be problematic. There is a different physical residence test under the Citizenship Act (CA) and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). So although under IRPA a permanent resident is entitled to travel related to a Canadian business and may still receive credit for physical presence in Canada during that time, under the CA you must be physically in Canada with very few exceptions and as such extensive travel may disqualify you at present. Good luck!

What are the new regulations regarding Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIAs) applications?

Q. I have a small company and in the past, I have applied and obtained positive Labour Market Opinions (LMO) and then work permits for a few foreign workers. I heard that there are new regulations and I wonder what is this all about? Will this affect my future applications for LMOs?

A. Effective June 2014, Employment and Social Development Canada / Service Canada (ESDC / SC) announced and implement significant changes for employers to hire temporary foreign workers. The new regulations seek to improve the protection of workers and enhance program integrity.

As an employer, you may need to apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) (former LMO) before you can hire a foreign worker or get pre-approval to hire a large number of workers.

A positive LMIA will show that there is a need for the foreign worker to fill the job you offer and that there is no Canadian worker available to do the job.

ESDC/ SC will be checking with employers, their job offers, the genuineness of the job offer, the feasibility of the employer to pay the wages as per their job offer, positions and work conditions in general.  Once the foreign worker on place, ESDC will continue to monitor employers in terms of compliance with the job offer, position offered, whether the terms and conditions offered are fulfilled as per their contract with the foreign worker.  In case of new LMIA applications, ESDC will verify the employers’ past compliance towards the recruited foreign workers. Positions and wages are also an important component of the compliance check.

mportant Changes: Using Wage Instead of National Occupation Codes
  • Wage levels will replace National Occupational Classification (NOC) as the main criteria for administering the TFWP, as wages constitute a more accurate reflection of occupational skill level and local labour market conditions.
  • Jobs for which wages are below the provincial or territorial median wage will be considered “low-wage,” while those being paid at or above the provincial/territorial median will be considered “high-wage.”
Legal Fees

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How much does the process cost?

At Bellissimo Law Group, we take great care to honour the legal principle of access to justice. Although our fees reflect the superb quality of work, we do our best to make our rates affordable for our clients. Our fees will range based upon the nature and complexity of your case and the number of applications required to be made on your behalf.  Once your matter is carefully assessed during the case evaluation, specific fees will be available:

  • Block fees
  • Flexible payment plans
  • Discounts on lump sum payments
  • Acceptance of legal aid certificates
  • We discount the consultation fee from your legal fees, should you retain our services.

There is great mythology surrounding legal fees, specifically that consultants charge lower fees, or that larger firms charge higher fees than smaller firms.  The reality is that our fees are reflective of the complexity of your case. Our goal is for all those who are in need of legal assistance in their immigration, refugee or citizenship matters to be able to afford this assistance.

Does Bellissimo Law Group accept legal aid?

We are guided by the principle of access to justice and as such, work with legal aid, low income, low bono and pro bono cases. Our firm accepts legal aid certificates for certain cases. For those who are low-income and need to speak with an immigration lawyer, our team endeavours to assist people requiring representation as much as possible. Please contact our office and explain your immigration matter, and we will do our best to accommodate you. Initial Consultation & Legal Fees

Does Bellissimo Law Group offer free consultations?

We see many people each week who are delighted with our consultations. They often thank us for finally helping them identify their issues, as many have seen other representatives before. Given the in-depth case evaluations we provide, we do charge for our time. However if a client retains us to help with their immigration matter, the consultation fee will be applied to future legal fees if we are retained within 7 calendar days of the initial consultation and if a payment method other than credit card is used to pay the retainer fee. Our consultation fee is non refundable.

Should I hire a lawyer to assist with my immigration process?

This is a personal decision. We have a saying here at the firm: “stop worrying and start living”. What this really means is that you have to place trust in who you ask to represent you in this very important step in your life.

STOP WORRYING  | We have helped thousands over many years, and we are very good at what we do.

START LIVING  |  Leave the stress to us; we will be with you each step of the way. That is the kind of relationship we want to establish. Your role is to ensure we have the resources to meet the demands of your case. That will be an investment, but it will be money well spent.

What are my chances of success?

This is difficult to comment upon until your case is assessed. Our team deals only with immigration, citizenship and refugee cases and has done so for decades. You can be assured we have likely handled a case similar to yours. We must confirm the particulars of your case before we can give you the specifics. You will want a full assessment and not a quick answer, as this is a big step in your life. We encourage you to explore our website for recent work we have done.  |  Our Recent Success Stories

Why do I need to provide photo identification?

This is a mandatory requirement of the Law Society of Upper Canada – the body that regulates lawyers. We cannot meet with someone without knowing their identity. Acceptable forms of photo ID include:

  • Driver’s license
  • Passport
  • Citizenship card
  • Birth certificate
What is the cancellation consultation policy?

If you are unable to attend your consultation on the scheduled date and time, please provide us with at least 48 hours notice of cancellation. If we receive at least 48 hours notice of cancellation, you are able to reschedule your appointment within 7 days. If you do not reschedule your appointment in 7 days, or if you do not provide us with 48 hours notice of cancellation, we will be unable to guarantee that we can reschedule your consultation and you will not be issued a refund.  Kindly note that the consultation, unless otherwise consented to, is specific to only one matter and additional fees apply to discuss further matters. There is no defined length of time for the consultation, but it will not exceed one hour. In your initial consultation, you may expect a preliminary review of issues and documents. Should you desire written legal opinions, additional fees will apply. Once we have scheduled an appointment, an email confirmation will be sent to you.

What is the method of payment?

We accept most forms of payment, including:

  • Credit card (Visa, MasterCard)
  • Interac/Debit
  • Cash
  • Interac e-transfers
  • Direct deposit

We also offer payment plans to clients, to ensure everyone has access to justice. Additionally, we offer lump sum discounts to those who are able to pay in one installment.

Medical/Criminal Inadmissibility

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What is a bondsperson?

A bondsperson is often referred to as a guarantor and is a “trustworthy person” who can ensure that an individual who is currently in immigration detention can meet the conditions of his or her release. The bondsperson must be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident and must be able to prove that he or she can pay the required bonds and ensure that an individual complies with the conditions of his or her release.

What are my responsibilities as a bondsperson?

The bondsperson is required to take responsibility for the detained individual. He or she must be able to exercise enough control over the person to ensure their appearance at immigration proceedings and follow conditions. The bondsperson will be asked to pledge a “performance bond” and/or a “cash bond.” If a “performance bond” is ordered, the bondsperson is required to sign a form promising to pay a sum of money. The performance bond is also known as a guarantee. If a “cash bond” is required, the bondsperson is required to deposit a sum of money to the Canada Border Services Agency.

What are the risks of a bondsperson?

The bondsperson must acknowledge in writing that they have been informed of the conditions imposed on the detained individual and that should the individual not comply with any of the conditions, this can result in the forfeiture of the deposit or the enforcement of the guarantee to the Receiver General for Canada.

What is Bill C-43 and how does it affect immigrants? What are some of the issues relating to the proposed law?

Bill C-43, also known as the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Actfocuses on the inadmissibility provisions of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Currently, permanent residents who are sentenced to a period of incarceration of 2 years or more lose their appeal rights to the Immigration Appeal Division (“IAD”). With Bill C-43, permanent residents who are sentenced to 6 or more months of incarceration will lose their appeal rights to the IAD. Therefore, with the passage of Bill C-43, more permanent residents will be unable to appeal to the IAD and would be removable from Canada.

Does Bellissimo Law Group handle cases affected by this proposed new law?

Bellissimo Law Group is well equipped to handle cases affected by this proposed new law. We have represented numerous successful appellants on grounds of criminal inadmissibility to the Immigration Appeal Division.

How long does it take for re-determination and how can my son return to Canada?

Q. I applied for permanent residency from within Canada, and my teenager son was part of my application. We were found to be inadmissible, because my son had a conviction for “theft under $5000″. We were devastated, as we made Canada our home, all our relatives are here, we bought assets here, etc. We applied for and were granted leave at the Federal Court of Canada. At the judicial review in Court, our case was sent back to the visa office for re-determination. Meanwhile, our son was sent back home, to our country of origin, because of his conviction.

At the re-determination, our case was refused again. I applied again for leave and I was told that my file will be sent back for re-determination, on a priority basis. How long does it take for re-determination and how can my son return to Canada?

A. There is no set time period for a re-determination as it depends on the number of applications, staff at the respective visa office, priority of the case, etc. But, I would assume it will take a couple of months to have your case re-assessed, analyzed and re-determined. I assume that your son is still dependent on you (financially – in school), and therefore, you most likely will have to request a TRP (temporary resident permit), including your son in the application as well. After a certain period of time after his sentence is completed, he may apply for a pardon of his conviction in Canada. It is not an easy or fast procedure. Once the pardon is granted and his record is clean, you then have to apply for permanent residency. Until then, you will all be inadmissible and require TRPs to remain in Canada. As your case is not simple, I would suggest that you seek the advice of a counsel.

Who is inadmissible?
  • security reasons, including espionage, subversion, violence or terrorism, or membership in an organization involved in such activities;
  • human or international rights violations, including war crimes or crimes against humanity, or being a senior official in a government engaged in gross human rights violations or subject to international sanctions;
  • serious criminality involving an offence, or its equivalent, punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of at least 10 years;
  • criminality, including conviction for an offence or commission of a criminal act;
  • organized crime, including membership in an organization that takes part in organized criminal activity, people smuggling or money laundering;
  • health reasons, if their condition is likely to endanger public health or public safety, or might reasonably be expected to cause excessive demands on health or social services;
  • financial reasons, if they are unable or unwilling to support themselves and their family members;
  • misrepresentation, which includes providing false information or withholding information directly related to decisions made under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA);
  • failure to comply with any provision of IRPA; or
  • having an inadmissible family member.

Certain groups qualify for exemptions and/or may have compelling reasons for entry. Find out if you qualify today!

What is a fairness letter?

If the Medical Officer determines that a health condition will involve an excessive demand on social services, they will send an opinion stating as such to the Immigration Officer (accompanied by a narrative report, list of social services and overall expected costs). The Immigration Officer then sends a procedural fairness letter to the applicant explicitly informing the applicant of the required care and social services which are relevant to the individual’s inadmissibility assessment.

At this point the applicant can choose to challenge the medical condition, accept the opinion and not respond to the letter, OR accept the opinion and submit a plan detailing how the essential services will be secured, their cost and how they will be paid for. This is a crucial step in the process and Bellissimo Law Group would be pleased to help you obtain positive results.

I was refused because of health problems. Can I appeal?

The issue often is if the Applicant’s needs would cause an excessive demand, and specifically, that “the medical condition might reasonably require services the cost of which would likely exceed the amount spent on the average Canadian over a five year period.” The chances of successfully challenging the decision depends on if the officer properly considered the doctor’s prognosis, the current condition and what exactly is the average demand by a Canadian on healthcare funds in a similar circumstance.

Specifically, was the condition itself rather than the individual’s circumstances given priority in rendering a decision?

Refer to the Medical section of our website to better understand your chances.

What are grounds for detention?

The CBSA may choose to detain a foreign national or permanent resident for the following reasons:

  • is unlikely to appear for a hearing or removal,
  • is a danger to the public or has violated human or international rights, or
  • has not established his/her identity.

To learn about detention reviews, click here.

What is an immigration offense?

Sections 117 to 150.1 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act deal with offences under the Act, which include people smuggling (s.117-121), possessing false documents in order to contravene the Act (s.122), and general offences (s. 124-131), including direct or indirect misrepresentations that potentially induce an error in the administration of the Act.

To learn more click here.

Questions About Bellissimo Law Group PC

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What is Bellissimo Law Group?

Bellissimo Law Group Professional Corporation (BLG for short) is a recognized brand in the immigration industry.  Our firm has a well respected and lengthy history with immigration stakeholders, and is responsible for key decisions that have shaped immigration law.  We are one of few remaining law firms that focus exclusively on Canadian citizenship, immigration and refugee law.  Bellissimo Law Group has developed a unique expertise in the industry for complex appeals and inadmissibility cases for persons applying for temporary and permanent residence in Canada; many of our clients are other lawyers and consultants.  |  What our Clients Say

Who is the “Bellissimo” in Bellissimo Law Group?

Mario D. Bellissimo, the firm’s founder and principal lawyer, has achieved the highest possible designation as a Certified Specialist in Citizenship and Immigration Law and Refugee Protection and is consistently named one of the Best Lawyers in North America and internationally.  A published author, Mr. Bellissimo also teaches immigration law to members of the public and immigration professionals alike, and is a frequent commentator on television and radio.  |  Mr. Bellissimo’s Biography

What type of experience does the team at Bellissimo Law Group have?

Mr. Bellissimo has maintained a simple philosophy since he founded the firm – treat each case as if it was your own lifeOur results reflect that commitment and passion. The standards for practice at BLGPC are rigorous and only those persons with key core competencies and extensive knowledge in the industry form part of the team. BLG’s team has extensive experience dating back over forty years and has earned successful results at every level of the citizenship, immigration and refugee process – from application stage to the Supreme Court of Canada.  |  Our Recent Success Stories

What does an initial consultation involve?

We see and speak with hundreds of people each year and pride ourselves on the in-depth nature of our consultations. We employ a team approach to case evaluations to ensure we collect as much relevant information as possible in order to provide our clients with affordable, effective and lasting solutions. On the date and time of your consultation you will speak with a member of our team, and a preliminary intake may be conducted.  |  Initial Consultation & Legal Fees

Is the consultation confidential?

The Law Society of Upper Canada mandates the following in relation to client confidentiality:

Confidential Information
2.03 (1) A lawyer at all times shall hold in strict confidence all information concerning the business and affairs of the client acquired in the course of the professional relationship and shall not divulge any such information unless expressly or impliedly authorized by the client or required by law to do so.

All clients, including those attending consultations at Bellissimo Law Group, should feel assured that any information they divulge will remain strictly confidential.

What are your hours of operation?

Our office is open from Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM Eastern Time. Evening appointments are available upon request.

Does Bellissimo Law Group accept all cases?

BLG accepts only a certain number of cases to ensure it can deliver the highest service standards.  Clients are ensured confidentiality, ongoing consultation, file storage, and meaningful participation in the direction and presentation of their case.

Does Bellissimo Law Group work in other areas of law?

We are exclusively focused on citizenship, immigration and refugee law.  BLG works with Citizenship & Immigration Canada, Service Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency, Federal Court of Appeal, Federal Court of Canada, Department of Justice and the Immigration and Refugee Board not only on individual cases, but also through our volunteer work on behalf of the Canadian Bar Association (CBA). Mr. Bellissimo is a former National Chair of the CBA.

I would like to learn more about Canadian immigration news; any suggestions?

BLG is interactive and reaches out to fellow stakeholders and clients via our firm’s bloge-newsletterTwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn accounts.  We are also at the forefront of legal publications and are responsible for three national publications, the Immigration Law ReporterCanadian Citizenship and Immigration Inadmissibility, and ImmQuest – all published by Carswell, Canada’s leading legal publisher.

Refugee Protection

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What is a refugee hearing?

A refugee hearing is your chance to tell your story to a decision maker, a public servant known as a Refugee Protection Division Board Member. It is a hearing where you will be asked why you came to Canada to claim refugee protection and why you fear future persecution in your country on the basis of your race, nationality, religion, political opinion or particular social group (such as your gender, gender identity or sexuality). Whether you fear torture, a risk to your life or cruel and unusual punishment will also be decided. You will have written about these details in your Basis of Claim form where you told your story. Based on the documents you present at your hearing and your testimony, the Board Member will decide whether you are a refugee or a person in need of protection.

What can a refugee claimant expect the day of the hearing?

The confidential hearing will take place in a hearing room. The Member, a translator if you require one, your lawyer or representative as well as any support persons will be with you. A representative of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration may also be present. You will be asked to swear that you will tell the truth and then you will be asked questions about why you fear returning to your country of origin, first by the Board Member and next by your lawyer. Your lawyer will have a chance to talk about why your claim should be accepted. A decision on whether you are or are not a refugee could be given verbally at the end of the hearing or you may need to wait to receive a copy of the written decision in the mail.

Does Bellissimo Law Group handle these types of cases?

Bellissimo Law Group is always looking to ensure the protection of client rights in the refugee law system. We want to hear about cases where your legal rights may have been violated and we will work with you to determine whether challenging the constitutionality of these recent changes could be challenged. We are here to assist you and advocate for you as a refugee claimant.

What are some of the issues relating to human rights in the new refugee program?

Refugee rights advocates have identified a number of human rights issues with recent Government legislation. Specifically, recent changes have:

  • Imposed unreasonably short deadlines on asylum-­seekers, thereby preventing claims from being properly presented
  • Imposed one year of automatic detention on certain refugee claimants
  • Designated countries as safe when in fact they are not safe for certain groups of claimants, such as women survivors of violence or sexual minorities

We believe that the recent changes may violate the equality rights of some refugee claimants under section 15 of the Charter and the section 7 Charter rights to life, liberty and security of the person.

How does Bellissimo Law Group prepare for hearings?

We prepare an extensive collection of documents for our refugee claimant clients, including a great deal of evidence about how they are treated in their country of origin. Preparation and strong supporting evidence have been key strategies in our success. We meet with our clients to help them clearly answer practice hearing questions. We are also available to answer questions about the process. This is a nerve wracking and important moment and we are here to assist you and advocate for you as a refugee claimant. You can visit our website www.bellissimolawgroup.com for more information or to book a consultation.

When should I apply for refugee protection?

You should make your claim for refugee protection at the earliest opportunity. You can either make your claim at the place where you enter Canada, called a port of entry, or you can make your claim at a Citizenship and Immigration Canada Office inside Canada, called an in-land office, after you have arrived in Canada. No matter where you make your refugee claim, you must take all of your identity documents with you. You will be asked to fill out a number of forms about your background and your family and explain why you fear returning to your country of origin.

  • If you claim when you enter Canada an officer will decide if you are eligible to claim refugee protection. If you are eligible you will be given a date for your refugee hearing as well as a number of forms, including a Basis of Claim form, to complete. These forms must be submitted within 15 days.
  • If you make your claim at an office in Canada you must prepare all of your forms before you make your claim and bring these forms with you to the inland office.

At Bellissimo Law Group we can help you prepare these documents before you make your claim. You can visit our website www.bellissimolawgroup.com for more information or to book a consultation.

How long does it take to be assessed as a refugee?

Click here.

Do I need to appeal to IAD or waive my right of appeal?

Click here.

Why should I pursue refugee protection?

Click here.

What are the amendments to the ‘Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act’?

Click Here. 

Where can I find the latest court decisions on Refugee Protection Division cases?

Please click here.

Contact Us


What Our Clients Are Saying
Bellissimo Law has been the greatest help we could have asked for our journey. Our case needed an appeal which was very well organized, documented and presented to the authorities. We received a positive decision on the case all because of the expertise of Mr. Bellissimo and team. Keely and John are great at responding all smart and stupid questions and the team is very prompt to answer emails. They have the entire process streamlined, right from extension to evidences which makes our job easier. We got the quotes from some of the other law firms too who are all good and had lower charges. We chose Bellisimo because they are the best and in the long term a few extra bucks won't matter but the results will. Highly recommended.
Vaibhav Chaturvedi
Vaibhav Chaturvedi
16:51 06 May 19
Our immigration process was handled by Bellissimo Law Group. The first consultation with Mr Bellissimo was very insightful. Ms Keely Anderson was particularly very helpful. She guided us through the process. I will definitely recommend this law firm. They know what they are doing. Thanks once again for guiding us through the process.
Dare Sokoya
Dare Sokoya
19:27 28 Mar 19
I greatly recommend Bellissimo Law Group. After a long time waiting, I will finally be reunited with my son here in Canada. We are very grateful for all the great, very professional services that they have done for my case. My personal thanks to Kelly Anderson and her group. More power to all of you!
michele medalla
michele medalla
23:36 04 Mar 19
I wish I’d found Bellissimo Law 9 years ago before taking the advice of a so called Immigration Consultant who led our family to a very costly near disaster in our quest to immigrate to join our family in Canada. Years later, in desperation, at a Procedural Fairness Letter stage internet research seemed to suggest Bellissimo Law may be the company to deal with our problem. From the first consultation with Bellissimo Law their extremely thorough, very focused telephone interview personified professionalism and reassurance. All subsequent dealings with any member of the team were of the same high standard. It was clear to us that Mario Bellissimo leads from the front and that his staff not only respect him but that they are trained to match his standards and caring approach. I believe it is very important to mention that although they seem expensive, when our particular problem resolved more quickly and easily than anticipated they refunded the money which had not yet been used. Thanks particularly to Keely, our lead person, and to all at Bellissimo. I will always, highly recommend Bellissimo Law. Keep up the good work. In less than 6 months all our worries are over. We are now permanent residents.
Patricia Forsythe
Patricia Forsythe
23:33 22 Mar 19
Very professional and very informative on the phone. Good to see that it is not all about money and more about relationship building. Highly recommended. Thank you!
Atabak Amirabrahimi
Atabak Amirabrahimi
17:19 16 Apr 19
Great service and successfully guided us through the immigration and citizenship processes. Terrific attention to detail, and created a terrific case for our application, which was successfully approved. Attached is a picture with the judge. A wonderful day. So proud to be a Canadian!
Carlos Berber
Carlos Berber
15:45 26 May 19
Bellísimo law group made a dream a reality. They help me throughout the entire process of becoming a Canadian permanent resident. Great service. I will definitely use their services again in the future. Highly recommended
Jose Rendon
Jose Rendon
01:01 29 May 19
We had a fantastic experience with Bellissimo Law Group. From Mr. Bellissimo to the entire staff, in particular Viola Gniadek, were professional, diligent, knowledgeable and available at all times. We thank the entire group for a successful resolution for my friend Catherine. I would highly recommend the firm for any and all of your immigration needs. Thank you all for a job well done!
Liliana Pelech
Liliana Pelech
14:53 01 Jun 19
I sponsored my parents in 2007 and I was refused in 2013 based on medical inadmissibility of my mentally challenged brother. I found Late Mr. Rotenberg as my original lawyer who passed away during the process. I was very disappointed as I was counting on his expertise to help me with my situation. Mr. Bellissimo was God send for me to help me with my case. I am very thankful that he took on my case. His team member Ms. Tamara Thomas worked with me and advised me with regards to the documents that I needed to obtain, they did extensive research on eligibility criteria of various social and health systems. They worked with me on the interview preparation. The time spend working with them was very targeted and very specific to address the Minister's concerns. They ensured there was no further waste in time or any delays. The way they presented my case and helped me win it only a world class Law firm can do that as there were times I was going to lose my hopes. I would totally recommend this law firm to anyone who is going through similar situation as mine with both hands down. Mr. Bellissimo and the team (Ms. Tamara Thomas) you guys are amazing and thank you so much again for reuniting me with my family in my beautiful dream country Canada.
Irshad Khan
Irshad Khan
17:46 04 Jun 19
They’re very professional and the advice was given 100% accurate. The lawyer Justin Toh didn’t rush at all. He took the time to answer all our questions in details. I’m very happy with their service.
Shah Alam
Shah Alam
21:15 09 Jul 19
Great service! I had a lot of questions prepared and Viola answered each and every one of them articulately and concisely. I definitely recommend Bellissimo!
RYAN COWLEY
RYAN COWLEY
17:39 30 Jul 19
Hands down i would never done it by myself if it wasn't for Mr. Mario and Ms. Anderson hard work, I was facing deportation and they helped me step by step to get through it to be honest I am very forgetful person and Ms. Anderson always keep me on track and follow up with me making sure i get things done and send to her and they always keep me updated on everything, I am no longer facing such difficulties and i can stay in Canada. i would recommend Bellissiomo Law Group to all friends and Family. thank you again.
Omid Rezaee
Omid Rezaee
16:00 12 Aug 19
Bellissimo Law has been the greatest help we could have asked for our journey. Our case needed an appeal which was very well organized, documented and presented to the authorities. We received a positive decision on the case all because of the expertise of Mr. Bellissimo and team. Keely and John are great at responding all smart and stupid questions and the team is very prompt to answer emails. They have the entire process streamlined, right from extension to evidences which makes our job easier. We got the quotes from some of the other law firms too who are all good and had lower charges. We chose Bellisimo because they are the best and in the long term a few extra bucks won't matter but the results will. Highly recommended.
Vaibhav Chaturvedi
Vaibhav Chaturvedi
16:51 06 May 19
Bellissimo Law Group did a wonderful job. They helped me and my family obtain work permits in Canada. They were responsive, professional, and got the job done in a timely manner with no issues. I would absolutely work with them in the future.
Eric Blomster
Eric Blomster
11:58 30 Aug 19
Bellissimo Law Firm has great lawyers who have handled our immigration case. The staff was very professional. We are very happy with their service.We had to go through a tough ordeal because of misrepresentation earlier and our file was rejected. That is when we assigned this case to Mario Bellissimo. I would happily refer his law firm to any one whose in the same situation as ours or any immigration related matter.I would like to mention a special thanks to Tamara who was in touch with us and kept as posted. Mario had 100% confidence in our case that we will win which was very assuring for me and my family. And we finally got our permanent residency.God bless him and his firm.
mubina fatima
mubina fatima
18:35 15 Sep 19