HOW IT WORKS
We are here to provide you with help regarding your immigration matters. Here are the key steps and principles of how it works.
To receive legal advice from one of our lawyers or consultants, you first need to book a consultation. Please note that the receptionist cannot provide you with legal advice, nor can the lawyers provide you with advice without an appointment.
We have three separate departments and different lawyers and consultants that specialise in different areas of immigration law. Depending on the nature of your situation, your request will be sent to the appropriate department that deals with cases most similar to yours.
The receptionist will then send you an email with instructions and available times for the consultation. You will need to pick a date and time that works for you, and provide any additional required information, such as further details about your case, a copy of your ID, etc.
If you are not in Toronto, your consultation can be arranged through phone or a video or audio internet service.
All consultations are paid. The receptionist will send you instructions on how to pay: you can either do it in advance or in person when you’ll come for the consultation.
When you come in for your scheduled consultation, the lawyer or the consultant will carefully listen to and discuss with you your case and your questions. Then, he or she will provide you with advice on which steps and options are available in your case. Sometimes there can be more than one possible way to solve your question, and the lawyer or consultant will explain to you the pros and the cons of each solution in the light of your particular circumstances.
It will be up to you to decide if you would like to proceed and which way you’d like to proceed. The lawyer will also advise you of the approximate fees associated with the types of services that will be available in your case.
If you agree to proceed, and will decide upon a specific type of service you’d like to receive from us, you and the lawyer will sign an Agreement for Legal Services. By signing this document, you are officially hiring us to work on your case, and are agreeing to pay the fees and follow the conditions outlined therein. It is your responsibility to read everything in the agreement carefully and to ask us any questions or ask for clarification about any of the points contained in the Agreement.
There are three types of fees, all of which will be outlined in your agreement.
A: Legal fees.
Legal fees is what you are paying to us for the work we do for you. These can be either in the form of a flat fee (i.e. you are paying a fixed amount for all our work on your specific file, regardless of how much time is spent on it) or on hourly basis (you are paying us per hour of work for the time we spent on your file). These options you can discuss with your lawyer at the consultation.
B: Government processing fees.
These are the official fees that the government collects to process your application. They are not for our work, but for the government to process your application. Without these, the government will not review you application. You can check the list of the fees on the official government website here.
There may be other fees associated with your application. For instance translation fees (if you need to translate any documents, you need to pay the translator), printing and photocopying fees (if we need to print a lot of pages for your application), courier fees (the fee for the courier or for Canada Post to mail you application to the government), etc.
The fees will be discussed in your Agreement for Legal Services, and you will be billed according to the plan outlined in your agreement.
Your file will be handled by a lawyer or a consultant and by his or her supporting staff. If you are paying on hourly basis, the hourly rates may be different for different lawyers and are different for the staff. This you can discuss at the consultation and select whom you would like to work on your file, depending on their expertise and their hourly rates.
A lot of the technical work, such as filling out forms, drafting affidavits, organising and printing your documents, etc. is done by the supporting staff, not by the lawyer. The hourly rate for the supporting staff is less than that of a lawyer, so this saves you money, as you will not be paying a lawyer to type up your forms or copy your documents.
However, the lawyer always supervises and reviews all the work done by the supporting staff. The lawyer is responsible for all of the legal aspects of the work on your file.
When communicating by email with us, please always CC both your lawyer and the supporting staff who is helping him or her to work on your file.
Please note that our firm is not the government and we don’t make decisions about your case.
Our duty is to represent you and prepare you application or case in the best possible way, so that the government will be likely to decide your case favourably or approve your application.
The responsible government entities that deal with your immigration files could be the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the Federal Court of Canada or Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, depending on your case.
The processing times for your application or the time it takes the government to schedule your hearings is something that we have no control over apart from submitting reminders or enquiries to the government about your file.
For different types of immigration applications, you can check the government processing times on the IRCC website.
After you sign the Agreement for Legal Services with us, we will email to you a personalised list of documents we will need from you in order to compile your application and present your case in the strongest possible way.
It is your responsibility to carefully follow our instructions and attentively read the documents that we are asking from you. We cannot submit your application or argue your case in court, if you are not providing us with the necessary evidence and documents. The success of your application or your case for a big part depends on your ability to provide strong evidence and follow our instructions.
Our instructions will also contain requirements on how to send us documents (which ones we need as originals, and which ones as photocopies, what file format to use, etc.). It is your responsibility to provide us with good high quality legible documents.
There are two main types of documents that we will ask from you.
A. Documents that are part of the government requirements.
For each type of application or case, there exists a strict list of documents that the government requires from you to provide. Failure to provide these will result in your application being returned without the officer even reviewing your details.
Our firm cannot submit an application to the government without these documents. For instance, a copy of your passport is required for an application for Temporary Resident Visa. If you are not providing us with that document, and are asking us to submit your application “as is”, without the required document, we will not and cannot submit it.
B. Documents that will increase the chances of your application being approved.
Although these documents may not be required by the government and the government will process your application without these, the chances of your application being approved without them will be significantly reduced.
If you ask us to submit your application without these documents, we will ask for your confirmation in writing that you understand the risks involved in doing so and you understand that by not providing these documents, your application has small chances of being approved.
Once we receive all the required documents from you, the lawyer with his or her supporting staff will work on the submission letter. For some simple applications, this may be only a few pages and be completed in less than an hour. In more complex applications, this can be up to several dozen pages, with extensive research and case law, which may make take several days to write.
It is important to understand that this is an essential part of your application, as in it we are convincing the government to approve your application. We are not simply putting your documents together and adding our seal on it, we are ensuring that your situation is presented in a detailed and convincing way.
Once we have all the documents from you, all the signed forms and the lawyer’s submission letter is complete, we will send the application to the corresponding government office. The courier or post fees will apply. Some applications can be submitted online through a government portal or by email. We always keep an electronic copy of the whole application package for our and your records.
After your application is submitted, we have to wait for the corresponding government office to communicate with us. Usually, before they make a decision, they send an acknowledgment of receipt and sometimes can request you so supply additional information or documentation. When they do that, they usually give a deadline of 30 or 60 days. We immediately inform you about such requests with a detailed explanation of what it is the government wants from you, and it is your responsibility to provide this documentation to us on time before the deadline.
If your application is approved, there are often additional steps the government will ask you to do in order to finalise it. We will provide you with detailed instructions and explanation about any such steps.
If we do not hear from the government in an unusually long period of time regarding your application, especially if it’s past the official government processing times, we will send a status update request to the government asking them about the status of your application and why it is delayed.