“Sabi nila, kailangan ko raw ng ‘show money.’”
“Sabi nila, ang civil ceremony raw, eh, hindi talaga totoong wedding.”
“Sabi nila, hindi ko raw kailangan i-disclose ang anak ko dahil wala naman akong asawa.”
If I had a dime for every time I heard a story beginning with, “Sabi nila…” Well, let’s just say I could afford to take a nice long vacation.
One of the main problems I have come across is the amount of incorrect information that people have regarding immigration laws and policies.
Instead of relying on “sabi nila,” the better choice would be to consult a licensed professional. Just because your ninang’s friend’s brother-in-law’s kumare was successful doesn’t mean you will be. Everyone’s situation is unique and therefore should not be compared to others.
Relying on incorrect information can result in serious consequences ranging from your application being delayed or refused, to being charged with misrepresentation and facing deportation charges. It’s unfortunate but many of the problems that have come across my desk were easily preventable with the proper advice and information.
Do I need an immigration lawyer for my application?
The quick and honest answer is no, you don’t need a lawyer. However, I think that the better question to ask is should I consult a lawyer?
I have been working in the immigration field for over a decade. The majority of my experience is from working for a member of parliament. In my former life I used to give free advice about the immigration process and now I have to charge for my services.
Personally, I have found it difficult to charge for providing this service but my new reality is that I am in private practice and therefore must do so.
As a consequence, I find that people are hesitant to ask for help because they have to pay for the service. It’s a personal choice whether or not to hire a lawyer. But what frustrates me the most is when people choose not to seek professional advice and instead rely on information and advice from whomever offers it.
Does hiring a lawyer guarantee that my application will be approved?
No, hiring a lawyer (or a consultant) does not equal a guaranteed approval. It does, however, provide you with the peace of mind knowing that the application was correctly filled out and that you received the relevant information and advice specific to your own personal situation.
Be aware that no one can guarantee that an application will be approved. If someone does offer you a guaranteed approval for a certain fee, ask yourself, “Who is this person that they can make me that offer? Why does it seem too good to be true?” What are the possible legal consequences to me and to the applicant if I accept?”
We have all heard the stories before, whether on TV or from friends and family. Don’t become the next story.
Always remember that only the Manitoba Department of Immigration can approve applications for the Canada-Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP) and only Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) can approve applications for Family Class Sponsorships, Skilled Workers, Live-in-Caregivers, Temporary Resident Visas, Employment Visas, Student Visas and other federal programs.
Before you make a financial commitment and submit your application, along with your non-refundable application fees, make yourself knowledgeable about the immigration system.
You can do this by either consulting a lawyer, researching the information on the immigration website yourself (www.cic.gc.ca) or contacting Immigration directly either by phone or in person and asking an Immigration official your questions. Don’t rely on “sabi nila…”
Alona C. Mercado is a lawyer practicing in Winnipeg with the law firm of MONK GOODWIN LLP. She was called to the Manitoba Bar in 1999 and the Ontario Bar in 2003. Her preferred areas of practice include wills and estates, committees, real estate, business and commercial transactions, and immigration law. Alona can be reached at (204) 956-1060 ext. 233 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The content of this article are not intended as legal advice and is for information purposes only. Should you require legal advice on a specific issue relating to the contents of this article, please seek the services of a legal professional.