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Raj Sharma
Vancouver and Calgary
Raj Sharma, of Stewart Sharma Harsanyi, Barristers & Solicitors (one of Western Canada's largest immigration law firms) reviews developments in Canadian immigration law.
Recent Activity
More good news from IRCC. There is a new pathway for international graduates for those that work in essential occupations. The foreign national must: Have accumulated at least one (1) year of full-time work experience, or the equivalent in part-time experience (1,560 hours), in Canada, in an eligible occupation listed in Annex A or Annex B in the three (3) years preceding the date when the application for permanent residence is received. The one year of work experience must be obtained in one or more of the eligible occupations as follows: Stream A: the one year of work experience must have been acquired in one or more occupations listed in Annex A. Experience cannot be combined with Annex B occupations. Stream B: the one year of work experience must have been acquired in one or more occupations listed in Annex B, or a combination of occupations in Annexes A and B. Be employed in Canada in any occupation at the time that the application for permanent residence is received; The employment described in both a) and b) must meet the definition of work under subsection 73(2) of the Regulations, must have been authorized pursuant to the Act and Regulations and... Continue reading
It was a pleasure appearing before Justice Mosley of the Federal Court this last Monday. We challenged a decision of the Refugee Appeal Division that excluded our client from Refugee protection because of his permanent residence status in Italy. Like all exclusion clauses Article 1E is a complicated analysis and one that lends itself to error. Reading Professor Hathaway it is clear that he is no fan of how the exclusion clause has been interpreted in Canada and other countries such as Australia and the United States. On its face the exclusion clause is meant to prevent forum or asylum shopping. The Article states that the (Refugee) Convention doesn't apply to those recognized as having the rights and obligations which are attached to the possession of the nationality of the putative country of exclusion. It is clear that Professor Hathaway is concerned about the expansion of exclusion over time; an assessment that elevates form over substance. H Hathaway's take: those rights and obligations mean essentially assimilation that the individual has been integrated in the putative country --it's for those that truly enjoy treatment genuinely equivalent to that afforded to nationals and the only ones that should be excluded are truly... Continue reading
Record Suspension A criminal record can have severe adverse consequences on parts of your life such as your employment prospects and your ability to volunteer with vulnerable groups such as children and the elderly. It can also limit your immigration opportunities, particularly when you wish to apply for Canadian citizenship. Your record may prevent you from many opportunities that would otherwise be available to you. At Stewart Sharma Harsanyi, we can assist you with the following: Determining whether you are eligible for a record suspension; Gathering the required information and supporting documentation necessary for your record suspension application; and Submitting your complete application for processing to the Parole Board of Canada (PBC).* *The PBC is the official and only federal agency responsible for making record suspension decisions under the Criminal Records Act (CRA). A record suspension remove’s an individual’s criminal record from the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database. This means that CPIC will not show that they have a criminal record or a record suspension. This in turn allows individuals to access employment and educational opportunities and reintegrate into society. Should you have any questions about the record suspension process, please contact our associate Qimat Zafar. Continue reading
Borderlines · #48 - Responding to Procedural Fairness Letters, with Raj Sharma I had a lot of fun joining Steven Meurrens and Deana Okun-Nachoff on their excellent podcast, Borderlines. We got a lot off our chest, and vented about a number of issues. We started with the Procedural Fairness Letter and went on to talk about Officer bias/tunnel vision among other interesting topics. Transcript follows: Steven Meurrens: Hello, and welcome to the Borderlines Podcast, a podcast for the discussion of Canadian immigration issues. I'm Steven Meurrens. We are joined today by Raj Sharma, a partner at the Calgary law firm, Stewart Sharma Harsanyi. Raj previously appeared on Borderlines Podcast, Episode Three, about marriage fraud. And I encourage you to listen to that episode if that's a topic that interests you. I think it was one of the most substantive discussions about marriage fraud and immigration that you will find on the internet. Today, what was initially supposed to be an episode about Procedural Fairness Letters, turned into a wide-ranging conversation that can perhaps best be described as getting things off our chest. Raj, Deanna, and I discuss issues of possible bias against people from Punjab, unreasonable documentation requests, responding to... Continue reading
If you go hunting for misrepresentation, surprise surprise you find it. Punjabis in particular should exercise caution submitting overseas work permits when spouse in Canada. It's clear that visa office is sending a message to this community & have no problem throwing baby out with bathwater. Delhi is far more likely to make a finding of misrepresentation than any other visa office. After such a finding, the only recourse is Federal Court. Federal Court deadlines are strict. If a visa office (likely Delhi) finds you/your spouse has committed misrepresentation you need to act within 60 days. Justice Bell refused to grant an extension of time and dismissed this application: Asking/waiting for the GCMS notes, going to your MP, asking for a reconsideration do *not* (necessarily) allow you to ask for an extension of time at the Federal Court. "Mr. Singh has provided no explanation for the delay other than the fact he was pursuing alternative remedies. That cannot be a valid explanation. If it were, the time limits set out in the legislative policy would be in constant chaos..." And... "Although his spouse spoke to a MP and he sought reconsideration of the decision, he did not move for... Continue reading
It was a pleasure joining Crime Reporter Nancy Hixt on her great podcast, "Crime Beat", discussing the deportation and immigration enforcement process for serious criminals. Continue reading
Danielle Smith: Get to that though, we have another topic that we want to deal with. I feel I'm going to be off side was you guys all day today because I was sort of talking this over with my producers and there's a story in the news about the Humboldt Broncos crash truck driver and whether he is going to be deported once his sentence is over with. And a part of me feels like maybe he should be allowed to stay as a permanent resident. He's married here and he did the honorable thing when he was found guilty. He didn't fight it. He didn't put the families through that, he owned up. People who own up when they do things wrong, I don't know that that goes to question again, character, right? And so I just feel like is not the punishment of being in jail for multiple years, to not come out in his mid thirties. I think he's got 6 more years left on the sentence. Is that not enough? This fourth or fifth, they throw the book at them. I can think a lot of other people who deserve to have the book thrown.... Continue reading
Ah January. The month of making resolutions and predictions. Perhaps neither exercise is of real value. If 20/20 has taught us anything is the futility of making predictions or assuming that the year will unfold as other years that have passed. Yet humans are creatures of habit and tradition. 2020 was like a storm that impacted every business line of immigration. 2021 is the first year for rebuilding. However, it's not just systems and backlogs that need to be addressed: the government has set aggressive settlement targets -and it remains to be seen how those targets can be met with a still-hobbled system. One can only assume that CRS will drop and that will benefit the Canadian Experience Class. One can only hope that a pathway to PR will be created for essential (but low skill/wage) workers in Canada that have been on the front lines during the pandemic. As employers recover, so will business immigration... Sponsors of spouses and common law partners have managed to get the attention of law makers. One can only hope that officers are facilitative towards visitor visas for long suffering partners awaiting reunification with their loved ones -of course if overall processing was short,... Continue reading
Mr. Marc Serré: Great. Thank you very much. … Mr. Sharma, you mentioned modernization, digitalization and biometrics. The department has, especially with COVID now, realized the importance of this, but it's been an issue over the last 20 years, and I want to ask you, because you touched upon this a bit, in a minute or less here, what more we can be doing by IRCC to further digitize and modernize the system. Mr. Raj Sharma: There have been great strides by IRCC to digitize, so APRs, applications for permanent residence, and express entries are already electronic. As Mr. Waldman said, there are many applications that are not. We've already moved the TRVs, the temporary resident visas, online as well. We've moved most APRs online as well. There are still paper applications for spousal sponsorship, and for humanitarian and compassionate applications. There is probably a good 20% to 25% more that can be done here, but we've made good progress, I think, on digitization. … Mr. Marc Serré: I want to thank the witnesses for their balanced approach and their continued offer to work with the federal government to improve this. This is not an issue involving party lines. We... Continue reading
It was an honour appearing before the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration on November 6, 2020. As was the case in my previous appearance before this Parliamentary Committee (in 2017) I spoke just before Lorne Waldman -the Dean of Canadian immigration lawyers. Here are some of the responses from the first round of questioning (my opening statement can be found in an earlier post). Mr. Jasraj Singh Hallan (Calgary Forest Lawn, CPC): Thank you, Madam Chair, and thank you to all of the witnesses for coming today and sharing your thoughts and experiences. I want to touch on some of the points that some speakers highlighted. We know this pandemic has brought many things to light. I was always taught that work is work. Work carries a lot of dignity and honour, and we should recognize people's work as such. Now, as to whether work is defined as “skilled” or not, we've seen throughout this pandemic that industries such as some of the ones that were listed—transport, caregiving, manufacturing and processing—carry so much importance. Before the pandemic, they sometimes weren't given the respect they deserved. We've learned that not only is this work important and considered front-line work, as... Continue reading
I appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration on the impact of COVID-19 on our immigration system. I made an opening statement and took questions regarding a pathway to permanent residency for so-called low skilled workers (revealed as front-line and essential workers by this pandemic). I am hoping that the existing Express Entry pathway is modified to recognize the significant contributions these individuals have made to Canada and allow them a clear pathway to permanent residency. Transcript follows the video. Madam Chair: Into consideration. So with this, I thank all the witnesses for their opening remarks and we will now move to the first round of questioning and which will be of six minutes each. I will move to Mr. Hallan, Mr. Hallan, you have six minutes. Mr. Hallan: Thank you, Madam chair- Madam Chair: You can start. Mr. Hallan: Thank you, Madam chair. And thank you to all the witnesses for coming today and sharing your thoughts and experiences. I wanted to touch on some points that some of the speakers had highlighted. We know that this pandemic has brought many things to light. I was always taught that work is work. Work carries... Continue reading
It was a pleasure appearing before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration today (Friday, November 6, 2020) regarding its study of the impact of COVID-19 on the immigration system. My opening statement follows the video embed: Thank you Madam Chair; committee members. It’s my pleasure to appear before this Committee again and speak to you today regarding the impact of COVID-19 on our immigration system. COVID-19 was an unprecedented disruption to our immigration system. This was something completely new, completely unexpected and it impacted almost every line of business at IRCC. IRCC was caught flat footed -as were we all. Hundreds if not thousands of immigration and visa officers had to stop working or start working remotely. Visitor visa applications, biometrics, medical examinations. All essentially eliminated for weeks and months. Visa application centres were shut down. Families have been separated -whether by borders or travel logistics or other conditions in other countries. Citizenship ceremonies and landing for PRs were put off. Language schools and other DLI’s are on tenterhooks. Thousands of International Students are still trying to navigate this new landscape. There are significant delays in processing submitted applications, including those submitted electronically for individuals within... Continue reading
It was a pleasure talking to CTV's veteran reporter Kevin Green yesterday on the impact of the US election on Canada's immigration system. Immigration benefits One group that would benefit from a Trump win are those helping people immigrate to Canada. . Raj Sharma, a Calgary Immigration lawyer, said a Trump win would drive immigrants away from the Unites States, and many would choose Canada instead, but Sharma doesn’t think he’ll see many of the Americans who have proclaimed they’d move to this country if Trump is re-elected. “I think it's a sort of something that people say, I think that there's very little serious intent behind it," he said. "Picking up and moving to another country is not as easy as going down to 7-11 to pick up a Slurpee.” "Americans sort of just assume that Canada is this consolation prize, which is somewhat offensive to a Canadian like myself and other Canadians. I mean, there's individuals that come here, they work very, very hard and eventually obtain status here. So I think Americans take us a bit for granted.” Sharma said some Americans who have tried to immigrate to Canada have been surprised at how difficult it actually... Continue reading
COVID-19 and the Impact on Canada's Immigration System -Interview on RedFM with Rishi Nagar November 3, 2020. 2020 11 03 interview redfm Continue reading
Foreign nationals can be denied admission into Canada pursuant to s.39 of the Act -if there are concerns that they will rely on social assistance. After all, the objectives of the IRPA include the pursuit of the maximum economic benefits of immigration as well as the support and development of “a strong and prosperous Canadian economy” According to the relevant Manual, the provision is “designed to exclude persons intending to live or who are living on social assistance and to prevent the abuse of Canada’s social services systems.” Financial reasons 39 A foreign national is inadmissible for financial reasons if they are or will be unable or unwilling to support themself or any other person who is dependent on them, and have not satisfied an officer that adequate arrangements for care and support, other than those that involve social assistance, have been made. Financial inadmissibility should not be conflated with financial eligibility. This provision usually doesn’t come up that often as there are other (regulatory) safeguards against foreign nationals posing a risk to Canadian services systems. All economic class applicants (other than those already working in Canada and applying under the Canadian Experience Class) need to provide evidence of settlement... Continue reading
Judy Aldous: The challenges of trying to help your family immigrate in the middle of a pandemic. This is Alberta at Noon, I'm Judy Aldous. The next two weeks will be stressful ones for Albertans who want to sponsor your parents, your grandparents to immigrate. The first step in this sponsorship system is a lottery and that's open now for another two weeks. It's all been delayed and restricted also because of the pandemic, so today if you are someone who's put your name in that lottery, get in touch. If you're someone in the middle of trying to bring family to Canada, what has that been like trying to navigate a complex system during the pandemic? We have an immigration lawyer to hear your stories and answer your questions. Judy Aldous: Seven minutes after 12, welcome to the show for a Monday. Hope you had a nice weekend. Last year ... I imagine you probably will remember this ... Ottawa tried out what was called a first come, first served process for people wanting to sponsor their parents or grandparents and it wasn't pretty. It was fraught with problems so they have returned back to this lottery, which opened... Continue reading
I discussed the new (but old) immigration lottery process for Parents and Grandparents with Danielle Smith on CHQR AM770. It's been a bit of a merry go round with this non-economic, family class program. Parents/grand-parents are still subject to medical assessment; the sponsor is still required to meet minimum necessary income levels. Transcript follows: Danielle Smith: I have talked to Raj Sharma many times about this immigration process to try to repatriate families, parents, and grandparents. It looks like they have made another mess of it. That's my interpretation of it. Maybe they've improved a few things from the time that we last spoke, but Raj Sharma is going to tell us what the deal is with this essentially immigration lottery that they have returned to. Raj Sharma is a Calgary immigration lawyer who joins me now. Raj, thanks so much for being with me today. Raj Sharma: My pleasure. Danielle Smith: I feel like this is something that you criticized in the past and they came up with something that was worse and now they're going back to this, but I don't know that it's improved. Do you see that this is a better system? Or are there going... Continue reading
A safe and reasonable Internal Flight Alternative -or IFA -is often used as justification to refuse a refugee claim from Pakistan and Nigeria. The IFA must be addressed by counsel and claimant -it allows the RPD to deny a claim even if there is credible evidence that there is risk upon return. The risk of course must extend to all parts of the country. Bjorn handled a case from Pakistan (Ali)-a consequential one with Justice Russell commenting on the IFA analysis. This was earlier this year. Justice Manson has followed up with a more recent decision expanding/expounding on Justice Russell's line of reasoning. Counsel/claimant alleging non-state agents of persecution should be aware and prepared to argue against a safe/reasonable IFA: [20] This Court has consistently held that a refugee claimant cannot be expected to live in hiding in order for a proposed IFA to be reasonable. Considering that the agents of persecution have made repeated visits to the PA’s mother and sisters to solicit the Applicants’ whereabouts, it follows that the Applicants cannot disclose their IFA location whereabouts to these family members in Nigeria. The Federal Court in Ali, above, has held that it is not reasonable to expect family... Continue reading
Ek machhar sala aadmi ko hijda bana deta hai Ek khatmal poori raat ko apahij kar deta hai It is vitally important to carefully review and accurately answer questions on any immigration application. Many individuals have found themselves banned from Canada for a half decade for a simple oversight or inadvertence -for example, failing to advise of previous refusals or applications. Applicants will be provided a procedural fairness opportunity, but in my experience, they again fail to provide a complete, fulsome, credible response. After a refusal, they then approach a Canadian lawyer for recourse to the Federal Court. Judicial review of such refusals are difficult given the available jurisprudence. Intent is not required for such a finding; the one "defence" is exceedingly narrow; the misrepresentation or withholding/omission need only be "material"; just because the Officer or IRCC had the relevant (correct) information does not help. A recent Federal Court case provides a good overview (2020 FC 872). Officers will be given a good deal of deference or margin with respect to their (sometimes disproportionate) decisions. My thoughts? Prevention is the best medicine. Carefully review the application -do not rely on any agent or ghost consultant and even if a registered... Continue reading
Another day, another hearing. Today it will be a refugee claim by a minority from Somalia. The situation for minorities in Somalia is difficult. They face systemic discrimination and have no protection and little redress or recourse. My client has suffered trauma -his son married a woman from a majority clan -an act that is still taboo. Reaction from her clan was swift and devastated the family. Common issues for this type of claim include identity (always an issue for Somalian claims -not just nationality but whether they can establish that they are members of the group) and of course, credibility. State protection and Internal Flight Alternative are usually not applicable. The available country condition evidence is corroborative of my client's claims. I found the following to be of assistance: "No redress: Somalia's forgotten minorities" Martin Hill (Minority Rights Group International); "Country Policy and Information Note. Somalia: Majority clans and minority groups in south and central Somalia" UK Home Office. There are also a number of helpful RIRs in the NDP. It's important to not rely exclusively on the NDP -claimant specific documents were also provided and additional corroborative country condition documents (not in the NDP) was disclosed. Barring any... Continue reading
I discussed the recent IRCC announcement that visitors can apply for work permits from within Canada with Rishi Nagar, News Director of RedFM Calgary. This announcement has created quite the buzz in a number of communities. To be clear: this announcement simply allows visitors to apply for work permits on-line and while they are in Canada (instead of requiring them to apply to a visa office or run the gauntlet at the border). The prospective applicant still needs a LMIA and provide evidence that they can do the job. Remember, many NOC B jobs require proof of language proficiency. Also remember -the visitor visa application would have asked questions regarding employment history. It would be dangerous and foolhardy for an applicant to come up with relevant employment experience that contradicts the information provided in the prior application. “To be eligible, an applicant looking to benefit from this temporary public policy must: • have valid status in Canada as a visitor on the day they apply • have been in Canada on August 24, 2020 and remained in Canada • have a job offer • submit an application for an employer-specific work permit that is supported by a Labour Market Impact... Continue reading
It was great sitting down with my good friend Rishi Nagar and talking about immigration. For the past few months these discussions have been taking place over the phone/remotely. It's always different when you are in the studio or in person -there are any number of cues (verbal and non verbal) that are simply lost when interaction is over the phone and even via video (no matter the quality of the connection). Immigration is susceptible and has been susceptible to "fake news" for decades. Everyone has advice to give -but disappear when that same advice results in nuksan -or prejudice/loss to the person that followed it. Continue reading