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Canadian Immigration Law Firm of Lorne Lichtenstein

Frequently Asked Questions

In the last years the number of new immigrants to Canada keeps steadily increasing. And it's not surprising, since the United Nations recognized Canada to be one of the best countries for living. The influx of new immigrants is constantly growing, and back in the old country all the new immigrants have friends and relatives left, and they miss them, and would like to see them in Canada as well. Consequently, Mr. Lorne Lichtenstein and his associates receive numerous questions connected with immigration to Canada. Below you can find the most frequently asked questions and the answers to them given by Mr. Lichtenstein.

Questions:

  1. Is it necessary to hire a lawyer or a consultant to immigrate to Canada?
  2. Is it necessary to hire a lawyer or could you stick to the services of a paralegal or a consultant?
  3. How a client can find out whether he is hiring a Canadian lawyer or not?
  4. How do lawyer's services differ from services of a paralegal or a consultant?
  5. What guarantees do you give to your clients and how many percent?
  6. How much are your fees?
  7. What is included in that cost?
  8. Do you have representatives in other countries?
  9. How to start the immigration process?
  10. What documents are necessary to begin the work on immigration process?
  11. How long does it usually take to process a file?
  12. Where is it better to pass an interview?
  13. What is Permanent Resident Visa?
  14. Which member of the family should apply as the principal applicant?
  15. Which family members can be included in the application for permanent residence?
  16. Can I extend my immigrant visa?
  17. How does an employment visa differ from an immigrant visa?
  18. Can one apply for both visas simultaneously?
  19. Can I get a visitor visa, if I'd already applied for a Permanent Resident Visa?
  20. After the family receive Permanent Resident Visas can only one family member come to Canada at first and the other afterwards?
  21. What minimal sum of money must I have before arriving to Canada?
  22. When will I be able to become a Canadian citizen?
  23. Can I have dual citizenship?
  24. How is the immigration process affected by acquiring property in Canada?
  25. How realistic is it to come to Canada as a refugee?
  26. Who is affected by the new Regulations?
  27. Is it possible to qualify as a Skilled Worker with less than 75 points?
  28. Does a Skilled Worker has any financial requirements?
  29. Are there any residency requirements?
  30. What is the new Permanent Resident Card?
  31. What are the Canadian Government fees?
  32. Can my relative in Canada apply on my behalf?
  33. Must I attend an interview?
  34. Must I visit Canada before applying for immigration?
  35. Who must the principal applicant – my spouse or myself?

 

Answers:

1. Is it necessary to hire a lawyer or a consultant to immi-grate to Canada?

It is possible to apply for permanent residence in Canada by oneself. It is also possible to hire the assistance of an intermediary, which can be a professionally licensed and trained Canadian lawyer, specializing in immigration law or any consultant or paralegal. But we often saw cases, when the applicants who had all the chances to pass as independent immigrants failed to do so, for example, due to the mistakes in filling in application forms or because of incorrect behavior at the interview. That's why a lawyer is needed, to proficiently introduce the client to all immigration authorities and to properly prepare him for an interview, thus ensuring the successful immigration to Canada.

2. Is it necessary to hire a lawyer or could you stick to the services of a paralegal or a consultant?

Lawyers are professionally trained and educated, and thus may provide the most professional and competent service, assuring the maximization of your family’s chances of successfully immigrating to Canada. Lawyers are regulated by the Law Society, and are accountable as to the quality of their work. Should the lawyer make mistakes, or act in a negligent manner, he or she may lose their license to practice law. Lawyers are insured against liability and should a lawyer cause damages to his client, due to the lawyer’s negligence or incompetence, the client can be reimbursed for his losses by the lawyer’s insurance. Therefore, lawyers are held accountable to their clients. In Canada, such a licensed lawyer is called Barrister & Solicitor.

3. How a client can find out whether he is hiring a Canadian lawyer or not?

It's easy. Each province of Canada has its own Bar Association. Each lawyer who practices in the given province is a member of one of them. Therefore, if you want to check if you're hiring a lawyer, you call to the Bar Association of the province and find out whether he is its member or not. When you reach the Association, give them his name, and you will receive the answer to the question that you're interested in. For example, since my firm is located in Toronto, for many years I have been a member of the Bar Association of Upper Canada, the phone number of which is (416) 947-3300.

4. How do lawyer's services differ from services of a paralegal or a consultant?

A lawyer has the right to represent the client's interests on any stage of immigration, legal and appealing processes. It is also assumed that the Canadian lawyer is held in the highest regard by the Canadian Embassies to whom the client’s application is submitted. Therefore, the Canadian immigration officials must treat the lawyer’s client in a most respectful manner and make à correct decision, according to the Canadian law.

5. What guarantees do you give to your clients and how many percent?

Lawyers never provide guarantees, since only an officer of the immigration service can make the final decision on a specific immigration matter. A lawyer can only guarantee that the application will be completed in a professional manner. Nonetheless, for example, in my firm we take on the job only after the client has filled in a preliminary questionnaire, and, in case of necessity, a careful preliminary assessment of the client's documents. Only after that I can tell the client how good his chances for success are or explain to the client that neither my associates nor me, unfortunately, can help him. I often explain to prospective clients to be leery of anyone who offers guarantees because this is a sure warning sign that the consultant is not honest. After all, how can a professional guarantee a result for which he doesn’t have the decision-making power?

6. How much are your fees?

We not only complete the application forms, but also represent the client on all the stages of the immigration process. Therefore, the price of our services depends on how much work the case involves the category through which the client is processed and, consequently, the price is determined in each specific case.

7. What is included in that cost?

This cost includes complete immigration service of the client up to the moment of his arrival to Canada, starting from the preparation of the necessary package of the documents to the embassy; translation and certification of the documents; all postal expenses (the usual cost of one letter by courier mail, such as UPS, FedEx, DHL is $75, but we use only such mail for correspondence with the embassy and the clients); phone calls and faxes; and also, if we are to speak about Russian-speaking part of my business, then also my personal preparation of the client for the interview in the embassy. A big part of my Russian-speaking clients live in Russia and Israel, countries, which I visit 4-5 times a year, which enables me not only to meet new clients, but also personally prepare the clients who already received an invitation for the interview. Also, when I'm in Russia, though I meet my clients in Moscow, it doesn't mean, that I don't deal with the clients from all the former USSR. When I am asked, why I can't fly to Kishinev, Minsk, Dushanbe, etc., then I reply that if I was able to fly over half the world to meet the client, then he too can put in some effort to meet me, if he is seriously thinking about immigration, especially since the first consultation with the associates of my firm and myself is always free. Also, if we flew to various cities to meet the clients, then we would have to - un-avoidably - raise the prices of our services.

8. Do you have representatives in other countries?

For today we have no such representatives. It is expensive to have local offices and we strive to keep our costs low and endevour to pass on the savings to our clients. We visit these countries fairly often, and thus can service our clientele personally. This allows us to offer personal service while holding down our prices. Moreover, in the past, we had our representatives in a number of countries, but found out, that it was expensive and problematic, because we had come across the situations, when not quite qualified representatives misinformed our clients or used the name of our firm for their own purposes, which caused problems for both our clients and the reputation of our firm. Therefore, after consulting with my associates, we came to a conclusion, that it would be more beneficial for both our clients and our firm if we, ourselves, will come to these countries more often, so that our clients could meet us in person, instead of spending the money on the local representatives, who sometimes were not quite competent.

9. How to start the immigration process?

First you must decide to immigrate. Then you must complete the preliminary questionnaire that you can find on our site, answering all of the questions, and not forgetting to put down your address, which, unfortunately, happens rather often. Within 1 - 2 days we will do a preliminary assessment of your chances to immigrate to Canada and will give you an answer.

10. What documents are necessary to begin the work on im-migration process?

Among the documents that are necessary to start work on immigration file there must be copies of birth certificates, educational certificates and diplomas, marriage and divorce certificates, passports, police certificates, employment reference letter and some other certificates. The applicant receives a more complete list of necessary documents after the preliminary assessment of his immigration application. Certification of the copies and their translations is not necessary because this is included in the lawyer's fees.

11. How long does it usually take to process a file?

The processing of the file usually takes from a year to two years.

12. Where is it better to pass an interview?

The interview can be passed in any embassy of Canada. We have an individual approach to each file, and always give reasons for our recommendations to the clients.

13. What is Permanent Resident Visa?

It's a document that allows its beneficiary to live and work anywhere in Canada, this document also confirms the status of the permanent resident of Canada. Permanent Resident Visa allows its beneficiary to have the same rights (except for voting) and responsibilities as Canadian citizens. Permanent Resident can lose the status of the permanent resident if he is absent from Canada for a longer period of time than allowed by the law or commits a crime.

14. Which member of the family should apply as the principal applicant?

The principal applicant should be that member of the family whose application can get the most points. This decision plays the decisive role, because whether the principal applicant is approved or refused, the result automatically affects the entire family. The family means a husband, a wife, and their under-aged or dependent children.

15. Which family members can be included in the application for permanent residence?

They are the spouse and children under 22. The family members whom you included in your application must pass medical examination and have no criminal record. Other family members, for example, such as parents, cannot be included in your application, but you can sponsor them after you come to Canada and have worked in the country for no less than a year.

16. Can I extend my immigrant visa?

No, this visa cannot be extended. If you couldn't arrive in Canada before the time shown on you Permanent Resident Visa, then you will have to start the whole immigration process from the very beginning.

17. How does an employment visa differ from an immigrant visa?

Employment authorization allows its possessor to live and work in Canada for a certain period of time; it also limits the possessor's ability to work in Canada. Employment visa doesn't give the right for the permanent immigrant visa. As for the Permanent Resident Visa, it gives its possessor the right to work and live in any place in Canada, have the privileges of a Canadian citizen, receive Canadian citizenship after three years, and sponsor close relatives to come Canada if you have an appropriate income.

18. Can one apply for both visas simultaneously?

Yes, you can do that. However your application for employment visa can suffer, since you have the intentions to remain in Canada after it is expired. Therefore it is better to first apply for employment visa, and only after that for the Permanent Resident Visa.

19. Can I get a visitor visa, if I'd already applied for a Permanent Resident Visa?

The decision of issuing you a visitor visa for temporary stay in Canada will be affected not by the application for permanent residence, but by the definite answer to the question, what is the possibility that you will stay in Canada after the expiry of your visitor visa.

20. After the family receive Permanent Resident Visas can only one family member come to Canada at first and the other afterwards?

In each Permanent Resident Visa there is a date of its validity, you must enter Canada before the expiry of this date. As a rule it is a year after the medical examination. The immigration law allows that first the principal applicant can enter Canada and the rest of the family can come later but certainly before the expiry date on the Permanent Resident Visa.

21. What minimal sum of money must I have before arriving to Canada?

The independent immigrant should have $10 000 Canadian for the principal applicant plus $2000 for each additional family member who will live in Canada. These expenses are necessary for living and adjustment of the family in Canada during the first 6 months of the family in the country.

22. When will I be able to become a Canadian citizen?

You will be able to become a Canadian citizen after you have lived in the country for 3 years.

23. Can I have dual citizenship?

Yes, you can, if the country from which you immigrate, recognizes it. Canada recognizes dual citizenship.

24. How is the immigration process affected by acquiring property in Canada?

Until you become a Permanent Resident, buying property in Canada gives you no advantages; it does not help your immigration process. Furthermore, if you decide to come to Canada on a visitor visa after you have bought the property, immigration officials will have more reason to refuse you. As for the entrepreneurs who already live in Canada, putting their money into real estate won't help them to remove the conditions, which exist for this class of immigrants, as the authorities don't consider this as an active business.

25. How realistic is it to come to Canada as a refugee?

The refugee category includes people who are persecuted be-cause of their race, religion, nationality, belonging to a certain social group, or political opinion. Also, their own country won't or can't assist them. The general rule is this: the greater the democracy, the fewer are the refugees. Nonetheless, my firm also helps people, who make refugee claims. We can proudly remark that the percentage of our winning cases on refugee status is much higher than average.

26. Who is affected by the new Regulations?

  • All individuals who apply for a Canadian permanent resident visa as a Skilled Worker after January 1, 2002, will be processed under the new selection criteria with a pass mark of 75.
  • Skilled Worker applicants who applied before December 31, 2001 and who have not had their application assessed by a Visa Officer by March 31, 2003, will be assessed under the new selection criteria with a pass mark of 70.
  • Skilled Worker applicants who applied before December 31, 2001 and who have had their application assessed but no final decision made by March 31, 2003 will be assessed under the previous selection criteria and the previous pass mark of 70.


27. Is it possible to qualify as a skilled Worker with less than 75 points?

Yes, the Canadian Government has empowered Visa Officers to use positive discretion to pass an applicant when the Visa Officer believes that the total points awarded do not properly reflect the applicant’s ability to establish in Canada from an economic perspective. Conversely, a Visa Officer has the discretion to refuse an applicant with more than 75 points.

28. Does a Skilled Worker have any financial requirements?

Skilled Worker applicants, as a general rule, must demonstrate that they have sufficient funds to support themselves, and any accompanying dependants, for six months after their arrival in Canada. The applicant’s funds will be measured against the most current "Low Income Cut-Off" figures published by Statistics Canada.

29. Are there any residency requirements?

A permanent resident must comply with a residency obligation with respect to every five-year period. The permanent resident complies with the residency obligation provisions if, for at least 730 days (2 years) in that 5 year period the permanent resident present in Canada or is:

  • Outside of Canada accompanying a Canadian citizen who is his or her spouse or common-law partner or a child accompanying a parent
  • Outside Canada employed on a full-time basis by a Canadian business
  • Is an accompanying spouse, common-law partner or child of a permanent resident who is outside Canada and is employed as a full-time basis by a Canadian business.


30. What is the new Permanent Resident Card?

The Canadian Government is providing all permanent residents with the opportunity to obtain secure proof of their status in Canada. A new permanent resident (PR) card will be given to all individuals who become permanent residents after June 28, 2002. Existing permanent residents may apply for the PR card beginning in September 2002. The PR card in most cases is valid for 5 years and renewable thereafter. In certain cases the PR card may be issued for only 1 year. While permanent residents are under no obligation to apply for a PR card, transportation companies (airlines) will not carry permanent residents to Canada without a valid card after December 31, 2003.

31. What are the Canadian government fees?

In the Skilled Worker category the principal applicant must pay a non-refundable processing fee of CDN$550. The accompanying spouse must also pay CDN$550. Accompanying children under 22 years of age each pay CDN$150 and those 22 years and older pay CDN$550. In addition, a refundable right of landing fee of CDN$975 is charged to each newly arriving immigrant 22 years of age or older.

32. Can my relative in Canada apply on my behalf?

The application to the embassy or a visa post located outside of Canada must be submitted under your name. Nevertheless, a close relative who lives in Canada can give extra points to your application.

33. Must I attend an interview?

It is at the discretion of an immigration officer who processes your application to decide whether you need an interview or not. You may need to attend an interview at which an immigration officer will access your education, knowledge of your profession, and work experience, your ability to speak, read, write and comprehend the English or / and the French language. Some skilled worker applications can be approved or refused without an interview. Business immigrants are usually required to attend an interview.

34. Must I visit Canada before applying for immigration?

It is not necessary for the applicants applying under skilled worker class to visit Canada prior to submitting the application to the embassy. Nevertheless, we always advise the potential business immigrants to visit Canada prior establishing or buying business there or making an investment to Canadian economy.

35. Who must the principal applicant – my spouse or myself?

Each of you can be the principal applicant – it depends on which of you gets more points.


Canadian Immigration Law Firm of Lorne Lichtenstein
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