Slide Welcome to Vancouver’s Immigration Blog Practicing exclusively in the field of Canadian Immigration Law, I started Vancouver Immigration Law Blog to provide community resources and community support to those navigating Canada’s complicated immigration system. I am the Principal/Owner of Heron Law Offices, a boutique immigration and refugee law firm based in Vancouver and Burnaby, British Columbia. LEARN MORE Slide Visit My Firm Website - Heron Law Offices LEARN MORE Slide Follow Our Advocacy, Research, and Education Activities at Arenous Foundation LEARN MORE

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Recent Blog Posts

“If You Build It, He Will Come” – Week 1

In “Field of Dreams,” the main character Kevin Costner is in the middle of the cornfields when he hears a voice that keeps saying: “If You Built It, He Will Come.”

In my first week as an associate, I feel the exact same way. I need to build a foundation. A solid foundation. It won’t always be a perfect foundation but it has to be one that people can rely on. It won’t happen today or tomorrow, but each incremental step – each successful client file, each hours spent on researching an area of the law, will go a long way.

My father told me a story. One that I also saw Ferran Adria (one of the greatest chef’s of our generation tell) also tell.

When he was doing acupuncture back in the day in Victoria, there were days when nobody would show up to the shop. They’d sit there. Worrying about how to get the next payment to pay the bills.

I have it a lot better and that I should be grateful for. I have a shelter, I have food, I have savings. I have great mentors and individuals who refer me files. But, I have to have patience above all else.

There’s two types of clients who generally consult counsel for immigration. Those who really need good work done for fear of damage to their businesses reputation or their families lives. They could be in a huge hole facing removal from Canada or separation from a loved one. These individuals will only trust and work with the best, most competent lawyers,  as they should.

The second group of clients want the quick solution. They demand expediency and they are cost-sensitive. They are the most likely to choose counsel based on price-point and often do select inexperienced counsel simply because they found an ad in a newspaper.

Note: There’s an important third group and a group I care very passionately about. Those who need counsel but can’t afford it. That will be a post for another day. I’ll try and walk you through one of my Access Pro Bono sessions.

As a young lawyer, you aren’t the senior lawyer. You aren’t even the cheap lawyer. My job simply, at this stage, is to be the reliable lawyer. The one client’s can connect with, can trust, and feel like every service fee payment is deserved. It is about not overselling nor underselling my abilities. Even as a lawyer, I am a student of the law and I always will be.

On that note, this week has been a learning experience, but a very good one. As a student, you have people feeding you work and watching your every step. Training wheels. You feel obligated to put in X hours a day to justify your job.

In my position now, I have the ability to control my own schedule, the freedom to take on my own files, but also an responsibility to my Firm, to myself, and most wholeheartedly, to my future clients.

Next week I go to China for a little zen time. I have a girlfriend there I haven’t seen in three months and have seen all of three weeks in the last year. Battle scars.

When I come back, I will need to hit a next gear. I’m in a city with a struggling economy, at a time when immigration laws are uncertain and clients need the advice desperately.

I will try and do a few updates to this particular blog in China, as I read and learn more about the key issues in Canadian immigration law. Until I get to Chongqing… thanks to those who make this story possible.

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Opinion: If Canadian Investor Immigrant’s Funds are Already Being Put “At-Risk”, We Might as Well Fund Social Projects

Without mincing work, it is clear from the opening, closing, reopening, and extension of Canada’s Investor Immigrant Venture Capital Program (IIVCP) that the program has been, currently is, and most likely will be a flop.

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I have assisted several colleagues in writing pieces on the IIVCP and as optimistic as we have tried to make it sound in each piece, the front end program requirements are simply unattainable for most and undesirable for almost all who want to immigrate by investment.

Perhaps even worse is the back-end design of the IIVCP. I have had conversations with several seasoned investors about this program.  The actual monetary value of the program does not bother them as much as the complete inability to direct any positive outcome from the program.

From what the instructions and legal requirements seem to set out, it is simply $2 million passed from the Investor Immigrant to CIC who passes it on to the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) who lets you know in 15 years whether you are entitled to any ROI.

The seasoned investors I have talked to want to be able to know whether their investments are being pooled or separately managed, whether they will be used to invest only in profitable companies or arbitrarily divided among all companies in the funds, hoping for one gold mine to pan out.

If we’re already going at risk, we might as well gain some social rewards

From a personal perspective, I have never been a fan of a purely passive investor immigration program. I completely agree with the Government’s shutdown of the old model,  one that saw a lot of individuals and institutions make a lot of money, none of which was really reinvested into the Canadian economy and arguably has created political and social divisions in cities such as Vancouver.

I also am wary of the flip-side of the debate. Investor immigration is not economic immigration, and is separate from most of the entrepreneurial programs run through various PNPs.  We cannot create a program that is so heavy on requirements for investors to meet, so much so that they feel so burdened and do not want to participate.

Unfortunately, rather than striking the fine balance between passive and active, we have the worst possible balance of active requirements on the front end and a passive process of the back end.

I think the right balance of passive and active is ultimately in the social beneficial outcomes an investor immigration program can produce. At a time when social funding for the arts, music, social housing, legal aid, adequate statistics, is at a low, here you have a group of investor immigrants who are willing to assist these groups and meanwhile gain some sort of tangible benefit.

This is not a novel concept – the United States EB-5 has element of socially-beneficial investment. Austria has the option of Citizenship through a $2million dollar charity donation [extreme], and Antigua offers a donation to one of the sugar-cane industry labour groups.

So What are You Proposing – Social Capital Immigrant Investor Program (SCIIP)

I don’t believe in tying investor immigrants up in the IIVCP. There’s a Start-Up Visa program picking up steam that adequately facilitates individuals who want to go that venture capital route.

I am proposing that we switch the IIVCP to the SCIIP. The Federal Government (working with its Provincial and Municipal counterparts) can set up a fund or projects designated for socially beneficial purposes.

The investment will be completely at risk (you can make it the same $2 million or go down to $1 million),  regardless you are donating money to a good cause to get a PR. You are doing this much like you donate money at the door of a charity event in order to be able to enter and mingle with the guests.

Aside from the feel good nature of having helped an important cause, the amount of the investment can also returned if certain tasks are accomplished within a, let’s say, five year window. For example, if the Applicant starts up a non-profit charity, the amount raised by that charity can be partially deducted from the total amount. Alternatively, it the Applicant starts up a for-profit business, the number of Canadian jobs created can factor in to some sort of a return on initial investment.

This type of passive/active mix would work. You have the option to stay passive – pay your money and help someone while getting PR, or you can be active, pay your money and bring more benefit in the process of trying to earn a return on your PR.

I think it’s very much time we investigate these alternative options. When I studied the Labour-Sponsored Venture Capital Corporation Tax Credit in law school last year, one of our key findings was that mixing private-equity and government-supported equity may in fact crowd out, rather than promote further private investment.

Just my two cents on this matter.

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Breaking down the Bridge – Open Bridging Work Permit

Two weeks ago, CIC introduced clarified instructions on when an Open Bridging Work Permit would be issued with respect to economic class applicants (see: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/tools/temp/work/prov/bridging.asp).

The parameters are as follows:

1) They are currently in Canada;

2) They have valid status on a work permit that is due to expire in four months or less;

3) They are the principal applicant on application for permanent residence under the Federal Skilled Worker Class, the Canadian Experience Class, the Federal Skilled Worker Class, and the Provincial Nominee Class;

4) They have received a positive eligibility assessment on their permanent residence application under one of the Economic Class programs above;

5) They have applied for an open work permit; and

6) They have paid the required fees for the work permit and Open Work Permit holder fee;

It is equally important to look at some of the individuals who are not qualified to apply for a brdiging open work permit

1) Foreign Nationals (FNs) who are Work Permit-exempt Business Visitors;

2) FNs whose status has expired and must apply for a Restoration of their Temporary Resident Status;

3)  FNs whose work Permits that expire in more than four months or if there  is a new LMIA that can be used as the basis of the work permit application;

4)  FNs who are applying for a bridging work permit at the Port of Entry;

5) Spouses and Dependants of PR Applicant -although they may be eligible for an open work permit but this on a separate basis, R205(c)ii) of IRPA, C41 (see: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/tools/temp/work/opinion/policy.asp)

6. Provincial Nominees who have not submitted a copy of their nomination letter in an briding work permit application or their nomination letter indicates employment restrictions.

Acknowledgement of Receipt from CIO

The eligibility trigger for FSWC, PNP, and CEC applications is the change of Eligibility status in GCMS or, and Applicants will likely find out this way, through the receipt of an Acknowledgment of Receipt from CIC – CIO.

Express Entry

Express Entry is more peculiar in that there are two Acknowledgement of Receipt letters. The first, when you submit your electronic Application for Permanent Residence does not qualify for the purposes of applying for the Bridging Work Permit. You must wait until your application is considered complete pursuant to s.10 and s.12.01 of IRPR. Atrt this time you will receive an official Acknowledgment of Receipt indicating that the letter may used to support a BOWP.

Employment Restrictions

For Provincial Nominees, it is crucial to review the Nomination Letter prior to submitting this application. There may be an Employer indicated, a NOC indicated,  but the key box to consider is whether there are employment restrictions, a separate box located on current nomination letters.

Term of Issuance

Based on the instructions,  it appears that these are being issued for 12 months, with further extensions to stay on an open work permit considered on a case-by-case basis.

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Express Entry Technical Amendment: You Can Get Scores for Non-Continuous Canadian Work Experience

Human Resources concept

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has made several technical amendments which came in force May 30, 2015. These amendments are a welcome clarification and should assist those applicants with several years of Canadian work experience. Ultimately, it may give several applicants a big Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) Score point boost!

Per CIC (http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/department/mi/express-entry.asp) [emphasis added]:

DEPARTMENT OF CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION

Notice: A technical amendment has been made to sections 15, 19 and 25 of the Ministerial Instructions for the Express Entry Application Management System.

Paragraphs 15(3)(b) and 19(4)(b) were modified to remove the requirement that Canadian work experience be continuous for determining points under the Comprehensive Ranking System for the candidate, spouse or common-law partner.

For consistency and clarity, the Ministerial Instructions were also modified as follows:

  • The term “with one or more employers” was added to paragraphs 15(3)(b), 19(4)(b) and 25(1)(b);
  • The term “full-time employment” in subsections 15(5), 19(6) and 25(3) was replaced by “full-time work;”
  • Subsection 19(3) was repealed; and,
  • The word “emploi” in subsections 15(6), 19(7) and 25(4) and paragraphs 15(7)(a) and 19(8)(a) of the French version of the Ministerial Instructions was replaced by “travail.”

These Instructions come into force on May 30, 2015.

Note: As of May 30, 2015, all valid Canadian work experience will be recognized under the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) of Express Entry as CIC is removing the requirement that Canadian work experience be continuous. As a result, foreign nationals with Canadian work experience could see an increase in their CRS points.

You can see a specific effort by CIC to address the challenges particularly faced by the increasing number of contractors (explaining the change in definition from employment to work) as several were negatively impacted by the continuous work experience.

If I am not mistaken, the challenge with continuous work got to the point where program officers at the latest CBA National Immigration Law Conference in Ottawa were recommending that Counsel fill in the gaps of employment (much in the way we do 10 year work history attachments) with explanations. Again, whether this is acceptable practice is not readily clear from the way the electronic form is formatted.

Do note:

Continuous, skilled (NOC O, A, B) work experience of:

  • at least 1 year (Canadian work experience) in the last 3 years for the Canadian Experience Class;
  • and 1 year (can be Canadian or Foreign work experience) in the last 10 years for the Federal Skilled Worker Program;

are still front end requirements to qualify for Express Entry and are not affected by these technical amendments.

 

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My Value Proposition

My Canadian immigration/refugee legal practice is based on trust, honesty, hard-work, and communication. I don’t work for you. I work with you.

You know your story best, I help frame it and deal with the deeper workings of the system that you may not understand. I hope to educate you as we work together and empower you.

I aim for that moment in every matter, big or small, when a client tells me that I have become like family to them. This is why I do what I do.

I am a social justice advocate and a BIPOC. I stand with brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ2+ and Indigenous communities. I don’t discriminate based on the income-level of my clients – and open my doors to all. I understand the positions of relative privilege I come from and wish to never impose them on you. At the same time, I also come from vulnerability and can relate to your vulnerable experiences.

I am a fierce proponent of diversity and equality. I want to challenge the racist/prejudiced institutions that still underlie our Canadian democracy and still simmer in deep-ceded mistrusts between cultural communities. I want to shatter those barriers for the next generation – our kids.

I come from humble roots, the product of immigrant parents with an immigrant spouse. I know that my birth in this country does not entitle me to anything here. I am a settler on First Nations land. Reconciliation is not something we can stick on our chests but something we need to open our hearts to. It involves acknowledging wrongdoing for the past but an optimistic hope for the future.

I love my job! I get to help people for a living through some of their most difficult and life-altering times. I am grateful for my work and for my every client.

Awards & Recognition

Canadian Bar Association Founders' Award 2020

Best Canadian Law Blog and Commentary 2019

Best New Canadian Law Blog 2015

Best Lawyers Listed 2019-2021