Canadian Lawyer

October 2020

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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36 www.canadianlawyermag.com FEATURE policy. He argued that to deliver a successful immigration program there must exist a pressing need to protect public health and the integrity of the Canadian health-care system, while striking a balance with the legitimate needs of migrants in a manner consistent with Canadian Charter values and interna- tional human rights standards. There is an inherent tension, Bellissimo says, between working in an immigration system that deals with an ever-growing number of cases and keeping the focus on the individuals who are being assessed for eligi- bility. "It's a challenge because the numbers are large, resources are all over the place and there are always political shifts," he says. He adds that, while governments might want to create a "plug and play" system for dealing with immigration matters online, "you acci- dentally tick off one wrong box that can ban you for five years on the grounds of misrepre- sentation — that's crazy." Corporate Immigration Law Firm Toronto cilf.ca While the COVID-19 pandemic has been a frustrating and challenging time for immi- gration lawyers and their clients, Corporate Immigration Law Firm founder Barbara Jo Caruso says it has also been an opportunity to "showcase what we do best — and that is personal, high-touch service." Caruso, who started the Toronto-based firm in 2006, says the pandemic has made it more difficult to "stay abreast of the changes and the current situation for travel restric- tions and processing times." But working with these challenges has "demonstrated to us that we have a really strong team and we've been able to pivot quickly and step up to those challenges — we've built a team that is strong enough to withstand a pandemic." She says the nine members of the legal team in Toronto and Ottawa pride themselves on providing unique solutions to difficult immigration situations — "something that has never been truer" than during the COVID pandemic. "It's been frustrating at times to spend a significantly longer time on applica- tions that previously were routine," Caruso says, noting that the situation has added to the emotions of clients who are looking for answers to immigration questions. Caruso says being a boutique firm has allowed for more intimate, one-on-one service to help support and reassure clients during the pandemic and show that CLIF is "not a process factory." The pandemic has also revealed that whether her clients are businesses or individ- uals, there are "real people" behind the appli- cations, be it for visas for spousal sponsorship, getting essential workers across the border to install or service equipment or seeing loved ones one last time. In one case, a Canadian woman in pallia- tive care wanted her siblings from Europe to visit her before she died. The siblings were denied boarding as they weren't covered under the travel restriction exemptions. Two requests were made by CLIF, which were refused, but a final plea to the immigration minister's office resulted in success. However, by that time, the family had decided to do a virtual good-by instead. "The case was still rewarding," Caruso says, because after the woman passed away, "the family reached out to us and thanked us for our efforts." Outside of COVID-19, Caruso says, one recent case she is particularly proud of is successfully having a Labour Market Impact Assessment set aside by the Federal Court for a long-standing client. The client, who operates two MacDonald's franchises in the Northwest Territories, had his Temporary Foreign Worker applications denied on the grounds that he didn't sufficiently canvas TOP 10 IMMIGRATION BOUTIQUES

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