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Quick Updates: NCM Article + Ongoing Projects + Thoughts on Aylan

Syrian boy

Hi VIB Friends!

It has been a good minute since I last posted and not for a lack of topics to post about. Just today, we have arguably seen Canadian immigration law thrust back in the forefront of the political agenda through the tragic news of little three year-old Aylan Kurdi, his sibling, and his mother drowning while trying to leave Turkey.  I will share my brief thoughts on that later.

Vancouver-based #NoOneisIllegal (NOII) launched their very well-designed site/project, which has been accused by former Minister of Canadian Immigration and current Minister of Defence, Jason Kenney of being a “fringe anarchist group.”

Even with immigration legislation being paused by the pending October election, the week to week always brings new updates

But before that, here are some quick updates on my past week.

NCM Article

Marriage Fraud Article

As many of you know I wrote this piece in response to a Toronto Sun article that I felt quite unnecessarily and inappropriately threw foreign national spouses under the bus for marriage fraud perpetrated by Canadians. I also suggested other root causes. My piece can be found here.

Outside of the article itself, I felt that I was able to engage many foreign national spouses who felt that their narrative was not being adequately represented in this piece – trying to use a ‘bad apple’ example to paint the entire orchid rotten.

I understand that several foreign national spouses who currently are in the process of sponsorship may be working to write a response piece that highlight their true day-to-day struggles – uncertain processing times, inability to work and study, and obtain the respect and acceptance necessary to establish their lives in Canada.

Ongoing Projects

First on the work end, I have been working on new “fringe areas” of the law including vehicle importation and passport revocation. The passport revocation case that I have ongoing I am particularly proud of because it is the first in the office and an area of law I believe will continue to increase thanks to recent amendments and Bill C51. See Canadian Passport Order legislation.
On the freelance/writing side, I am working on a new piece regarding technology and immigration law for Kabuk Law. It should be quite an interesting read and I think it will really play off the current focus of the Canadian Bar Association with respect to increasing accessibility of law and justice through technology and adapting to pending change.

I also received a really kind email from a blog follower in the United States. I can’t talk about all the details yet, as I want to understand it first, but it sounds super exciting. Thank you to the individual who emailed me for making my day!

Finally, I am working on some exciting ideas to launch my business immigration practice. I have been quite busy with my litigation/refusals practice but I was recently inspired by a close law school friend to look more into the area. I hope to liaise with more of the experts in the field as I begin trying to build a base. Exciting, scary, but necessary to stay competitive in the immigration law business.

Outside of Work

Some of you may know that on a personal level I am going through quite an emotionally challenging time. My father is quite ill and this has forced me to rethink a lot about work, life, and family. I joke, sadistically, that I have now been employed as a part-time dishwasher. I have had to step back a little on some of my commitments with organizations that I care a lot about. I also have taken up meditating, although this week has been increasingly difficult. I really thank Jeena Cho, a lawyer based out of San Francisco, for inspiring me along that route. Check out her podcast here on Soundcloud. She also has links on Itunes and other apps.

On this front – and I apologize for sounding like a broken record in recent posts. Family always comes first. Health of family would be the first of first. Time is too precious to spend worrying about your own career success/failure and I think even on a work end – clients respect and appreciate when you approach business with a family-oriented perspective.

On a more positive note, my girlfriend/fiancee to be is making her first trip to Canada in mid-September. I am very excited to show her our future home and begin planning for my future extended family.

On Aylan

I am absolutely devasted by the news of Aylan. The images of his lifeless body washed up on the shore stirred up strong emotions. Apparently, he may not have been included in the initial refugee claim that was refused by Canada but the case has definitely began a much needed dialogue.

Again, as I have discussed in an earlier NCM post on the topic, there needs to be some caution in reporting news. Perhaps we all (myself included) unfairly placed blame before even verifying the facts. I’m going to give it a little more time before commenting further on his particular case.

Yet the fact still exists that we need to do more. Canada, as a bastion of global humanitarianism, of human rights, needs to do more. The numbers of refugees we have currently resettled from Iraq and Syria are not sufficient given our capacity. Politics aside, this is time for us to hold up the values that we stand on as Canadians. Yes, it is a recession. Yes, essential service for Canadians, have taken a cut in recent years. But to stand on the sidelines we will never be forgiven for, by whoever the higher power may be.

As we head into the long weekend (I am attending my law school big sister’s wedding, with law school little sister in tow), I wish everybody the best. Love and health. Always.



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Interview with Paul Sohn: Reflections from a Successful Korean-Canadian/American Immigrant


Earlier this year, I had the distinct privilege of interviewing my former undergraduate colleague and friend Paul Sohn.

Paul ( is an award-winning author, mentor, leadership expert, and devout Christian among many other titles. He comes from very hardworking and successful roots, one that began when he came to Canada from Korea, by himself, as a 14-year old student.

He has since left Canada to pursue a successful career in the United States, which began at Boeing and has now landed him with GIANT Worldwide. He has some excellent and inspirational advice for those starting out in Canada, particularly from the Korean diaspora.

  1. What is your name, age, and nationality? Where do you currently live and work?

My name is Paul Sohn. I’m a 28 year old Korean. I currently work as a Consulting Associate at GIANT Worldwide and am pursuing a Masters in Organization Development at Pepperdine University.

  1. When did you first immigrate to Canada? Can you tell us why your family chose to immigrate to Vancouver from South Korea?

At the age of 14, I left everything I had in Korea – including my family and friends – to start a new life in Canada all by myself. Frankly speaking, I honestly didn’t see any future for in Korea. The societal and cultural pressures to conform to a certain lifestyle was overbearing. In many ways, I was deemed a “loser” and my prospects for a successful life eluded me. In an attempt re-design my life, I mustered the courage and decided to leave everything behind and start a new life.

  1. What do you remember about your early days in Vancouver?

The first several years was about the transition from a young boy to young adult. I experienced many new things in life. New homestay family. New school. New friends. New language. New culture and so on. Everything was about new beginnings and I was doing my best to acclimate to the new culture.

  1. What types of things did you do to help integrate yourself into this city when you arrived?

I had the privilege of living with a Canadian homestay family during high school. They treated me as if I was their real child. They poured out their love. They invested in my growth. They cared about my future. I remember spending countless hours talking about all kinds of topics. Our relationship has continued to flourish since then. Now, I call them “mom” and “dad” and the homestay children as my “brothers” and “sisters.” This support network enabled me to stay focused and adjust to the new environment.

  1. Did you feel any challenges being a new immigrant and a Korean in Vancouver? Did that change over time?

As a Korean, the temptation to surround myself with same Koreans both at school and social life was real. After all, people find it a lot more comfortable being around with people who speaks the same language and understands your culture. However, I felt a strong need to go outside of my comfort zone and to stretch myself and challenge the status quo. Without focus and intentionality, it’s so easy to choose the easy road. Instead, I chose the narrow path. The journey wasn’t easy. I had to face my fears and overcome my weaknesses to become part of the mainstream.

  1. Why did you choose to leave Vancouver?

After graduating from high school and university, I moved to Portland, OR in the United States for my first and new full-time job. Not only was it difficult to find a career that aligned my vocational interests, my parents moved from Korea to the States a few years prior to my graduation. Thankfully, I was able to obtain a green card allowing me to work in the States which offered greater career mobility.

  1. Do you hope to return to live here permanently in the future?

I don’t have any immediate plans to return back to Canada at this point. At point, however, I’d like to come back and live for at least several years.

  1. What would you recommend to new immigrants who may be unable to secure employment or develop networks in Canada?

First and foremost, learn the language. Without being proficient in English, your choices for secure employment becomes virtually impossible. I also think connections and building relationships with various people will help you to find career opportunities in Canada. Studies show that most people get a job through personal networks instead of submitting your application online.

  1. What culturally specific challenges do you think exist for new immigrants from Korea to Vancouver?

Like I said earlier, there is a tendency for Koreans to limit their network with just Koreans. It’s vital to expand your network and build a culturally diverse portfolio of connections.

  1. What do you see for the potential of Korean business in North America, and specifically Vancouver?

I have seen a growing number of bright Koreans moving to North America. As they engage with culture and immerse themselves as part of the mainstream, I believe this will generate more opportunities for growth. In addition, the rise of Hallyu (Korean Wave) worldwide will create greater interest for Koreans to create a blue ocean market.

  1. As someone of the Korean Diaspora community who uses faith as a major motivation factor how do you believe faith can be a useful tool for new Korean immigrants to Canada? What local Vancouver faith-based organizations would you recommend?

Faith is a powerful source of hope for immigrants to Canada. In particular, Koreans are known for their religious fervor and belief in God. Many immigrants find churches to find a community where they can find “home.” Many rely on this religious community as a way to find new vocational opportunities as well. The practical benefits of joining a church cannot be ignored. 

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Opinion: Truth and Reconciliation Commission Has it Right on Canadian Citizenship

On June 2, 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released 94 recommendations after years of hearings and testimony from thousands of residential school survivors and several other key stakeholders.


Among those recommendations are a set related to citizenship and immigration (emphasis added):

Newcomers to Canada

93. We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with the national Aboriginal organizations, to revise the information kit for newcomers to Canada and its citizenship test to reflect a more inclusive history of the diverse Aboriginal peoples of Canada, including information about the Treaties and history of residential schools.

94. We call upon the Government of Canada to replace the Oath of Citizenship with the following:

I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada including Treaties with Indigenous Peoples, and fulfill my duties as a Canadian citizen.

These changes, to me, are important beyond just a symbolic gesture of apology for past wrongdoing. From the Canadian history textbooks I grew up reading to today’s oath and exam materials, none has truthfully and honestly reflected the complex, diverse, rich, important, and at times very tragic history of our Aboriginal peoples.

For myself personally, I could not care less if a new citizen does not know the full name of our Prime Minister. Prime Ministers come and go. However, for a new citizen not to know of the events surrounding Residential Schools or know of at least the names of two Aboriginal bands in Canada, is inexcusable. Its a critical omission that will affect their future human interactions with Aboriginal peoples and thus our own Canadian identity.

As we welcome in new Canadians, it only seems right we reflect on and pay homage to the first Canadians. Our Aboriginal Peoples. Our brothers and sisters. Our forefathers.

I hope Minister Alexander or whoever becomes Minister of Citizenship and Immigration post-election, makes implementing this uncontroversial change, an early priority.

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Will Tao is an Award-Winning Canadian Immigration and Refugee Lawyer, Writer, and Policy Advisor based in Vancouver. Vancouver Immigration Blog is a public legal resource and social commentary.

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