Dennis McCrea was the founder of McCrea Immigration Law. He started practicing immigration law in 1974, and was one of the original members of Vancouver’s immigration bar. In this episode we discuss how to build an immigration practice, how the practice of immigration law has evolved, avoiding burnout and more.
3:00 – How lawyers use to interact with visa officers.
6:00 – The formation of the immigration bar.
11:30 – Thoughts on whether it is possible to have both a corporate immigration practice and a refugee or enforcement practice.
15:30– Did the practice of immigration law become more or less fun over time?
18:00 – What kept Dennis motivated when it came to practicing immigration law?
22:30 – What type of cases did Dennis enjoy the most?
26:00 – What are some tools that lawyers can use to prevent burnout?
41:00 – Did the practice of immigration law vary depending on which political party were in power?
42:00 – How to retire.
45:00 – How can junior lawyers who are trying to build a practice have time for hobbies?
48:00 – How Steven and Deanna got into immigration.
58:00 – Growing a firm.
1:03:00 – Should you article at an immigration law firm.
1:06:00 – Being too specialized.
1:13:00 – What percent of Dennis’s practice was immigration processing, firm management and enforcement?
1:16:30 – Thoughts on consultants.
1:19:00 – Are decisions getting better or worse? Are boilerplate refusals becoming more or less common?
Chieu v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), 2002 SCC 3 was a landmark Supreme Court of Canada which affirmed the use of the Ribic factors in the H&C assessment. We discuss these factors and how they are used in immigration appeals.
1:00 – How the assessment of Humanitarian & Compassionate considerations has become somewhat nebulus.
4:00 – A case study of Chieu v. Canada
10:00 – What is an example of a negative country condition in someone’s country of citizenship?
13:00 – The decision and principles in Chieu.
15:00 – The Federal Court of Canada in Zhang v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2020 FC 927, which seems to limit Chieu.
16:00 – The Ribic factors and the types of immigration appeals. 20:00 How much weight each factor should get.
25:00 – Stories about our appeals.
32:00 – The remorse factor and flexibility.
45:00 – The counter arguments to considering country of citizenship conditions.
50:00 – Consents on appeal.
A discussion about responding to procedural fairness letters with digressions on possible bias against people from Punjab, unreasonable documentation requests, tunnel vision amongst visa officers, how if an officer goes out looking for misrepresentation in an application they will probably find it, aggressively banning people from Canada as a deterrance policy, IRCC misleading Parliament about whether it bounces applications for incompleteness and more.
Raj Sharma is a Partner at Stewart Sharma Harsanyi in Calgary.
2:30 When does IRCC have to send a procedural fairness letter vs. being able to refuse an application without one?
15:00 Specific issues with the Canadian visa offices in New Delhi and Chandigarh.
21:00 Racialized assessments of visa applications.
23:00 Why hunting for misrep can lead to misrep findings.
25:00 Misrepresentation as a deterrence policy.
35:00 Is there a specific focus on Punjabs?
44:00 Can you tell if someone is lying as soon as you meet them at the start of an interview?
46:00 Preet Bharara on investigations
50:00 When IRCC believes that a job is fake because no employer would wait as long as IRCC’s processing times to fill a position.
1:00 Procedural fairness letters in the citizenship revocation process.
1:06 Litigation as a way to achieve policy reform.
1:15 Procedural fairness and the bouncing of applications.
Joshua Sohn practiced immigration law for over 25 years. He is a past president of the Canadian Bar Association’s Immigration section. He worked both as a sole practicioner, at a small firm and at a big 4 accounting firm. We discuss Joshua’s career, what made him go to law school, whether he took immigration courses in law school, how he started in refugee law, differences between working as a solo practicioner, small firm and eventually at a big 4 accounting firm, and then back to a small firm, differences working in a downtown core vs suburb, and managing the stress of practicing immigration law and running a business. There are a lot of nuggets in here for aspiring lawyers and current practicioners.
2:00 Quitting social media after retirement.
9:00 Law school
17:30 Are there any courses or law schools that are best to help someone start a career in immigration?
19:30 Starting a career in refugee law.
22:30 Is it possible to make a viable practice just doing refugee law?
29:00 The law firm as training ground.
32:00 Practicing as a sole practitioner vs at a large firm.
35:30 Does it make sense for someone to do just immigration law or should people getting into the field specialize in another area as well?
37:00 Practicing immigration law in Vancouver vs. Surrey
41:00 Compassion vs. running a business
42:00 How IRCC’s current processes create new pressures on immigration solicitors.
49:00 The Big 4 accounting firms and immigration.
53:00 Mentorship and volunteerism.
1:01 Tips to tell a co-worker who leaves half-drunk coffee cups around.
1:03 Self-care for lawyers.