Thursday, October 3, 2013


I was a panelist at the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) "Norhtern Border" conference in Albany, NY. Shown in the photo, from rigth to left: Robert Kolken, Mary Keefe, Sergio Karas, and Felipe Alexandre.
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Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Foreign students in Canada should always be cautious, as there are many people from their own community that are ready, willing and able to target them for fraud. Beware of those who seem too solicitous and helpful and ask for personal information!

U-Pass fraudsters deported to China - British Columbia - CBC News

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New Immigration Rules for Non-EU Students

The post below comes from the Visalaw International attorneys in the United Kingdom. Read the biographies of Sohan Sidhu and Graeme Kirk on the Visalaw International site.

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) has introduced new rules for students and their family members making applications under Tier 4 of the Points Based System. The new rules include the following:-
  1. The student will not be able to work more than 20 hours per week during term time when they are following a degree level course or a foundation degree course.

  2. The student will not be able to work more than 10 hours per week where they are following a course of study below degree level (excluding a foundation degree course).

  3. For family members the new immigration rules include the following:-
    1. The family member will not be able to work if the Tier 4 student has been granted permission to study in the UK for less than 12 months.
    2. The family member will not be able to work if the Tier 4 student is following a course of study below degree level.
If any further information is required regarding students or for any other aspect of the UK immigration system please contact Sohan Sidhu.

Friday, February 25, 2011


Interesting artice from The Economist.

To each his own

The push for deeper ties peters out

North American integration

Feb 24th 2011
from the print edition

WHEN Canada, Mexico and the United States implemented the North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994, it was hailed as a promising first step towards the deeper integration of the continent. Six years later Vicente Fox, then Mexico’s president, called for a customs union, a common external tariff and free labour flows. And in 2005 the leaders of the three countries began a series of annual summits to push an ambitious “security and prosperity” agenda.

Since then the drive for integration has ground to a halt. The “three amigos”, as their leaders were once dubbed, could not find time to meet last year, and the session scheduled for February 26th has been cancelled. When Barack Obama and Stephen Harper, Canada’s prime minister, announced on February 4th that they were exploring ways to harmonise regulations and co-ordinate security—plans that had previously been discussed trilaterally—they did not mention Mexico.
A North American version of the European Union was always a long shot. Having one giant dealing with two relative dwarves is unlikely to produce a deal acceptable to all parties. Moreover, North America lacked the historical impetus of the second world war, which gave European integration a sense of purpose.
Related topicsStephen HarperTrade policyPolitical policyInternational relationsGovernment and politics

Nonetheless, even the modest goals set in the years following NAFTA’s passage have been blocked. One big reason is the September 11th attacks, which led the United States to redouble its border enforcement. Whereas in the 1990s Americans discussed eliminating border controls with Canada, earlier this month the United States Government Accountability Office reported that less than 1% of the country’s northern border had an “acceptable level of security”. To the south, Mexico’s raging drug war and stream of migrants make the prospect of relaxing controls there politically unthinkable. Mr Obama has struggled to fight off new restrictions, like Arizona’s harsh state law on immigration.

America’s lengthy recession also diminished the appeal of further trade liberalisation. NAFTA has always had its doubters in the Democratic Party, including Mr Obama when he was competing for its nomination. As a candidate, Mr Obama vowed to renegotiate the deal. Although he has not honoured that pledge—much to the relief of Mexico and Canada—the United States did cancel a programme allowing Mexican lorry drivers to work in America in 2009, in violation of its NAFTA obligations. Mexico retaliated with a series of tariffs aimed at the states of legislators who opposed the programme.

America is not the only country to blame. Because Mr Harper runs a minority government that could fall at any time, he has chiefly focused on short-term, voter-pleasing issues like cracking down on illegal immigration. Canada imposed new visa restrictions on Mexican visitors in 2009, angering the Mexican government.

And whereas Canadian companies once strongly backed regional integration, their focus has now shifted to Asia, turning their North American agenda almost entirely towards the United States. Mr Harper has followed suit: although he has talked of a hemispheric foreign policy and signed free-trade deals with Colombia, Panama and Peru, he is now working on aligning Canadian and American security measures and regulations.

Felipe Calderón, Mexico’s president, has espoused a vision of North America as a union of complementary economies—with Canada providing the natural resources and Mexico the labour—that would compete with Asia. However, his efforts to liberalise Mexico’s economy, including a plan to allow private investment in energy, have been defeated or watered down in Congress. It is hard to see how he can achieve continent-wide reforms.

The main obstacle to trilateral co-operation is that Canada and Mexico are much more interested in their relations with the United States than they are in each other. Until that changes, the next North American summit will probably prove just as difficult to schedule.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


This is welcome news and log overdue. Hopefully, there will be a strong immigration component for temporary entry of business persons as in otter trade agreements such as NAFTA,  the Canada- Chile Free Trade Agreement, the Canada- Peru Free Trade Agreement and the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement.

Canada to engage in free-trade talks with Japan

By Darah Hansen, Vancouver Sun
February 23, 2011

VANCOUVER — Japan and Canada have agreed to jointly study the potential benefits of negotiating a “broad and ambitious” free-trade agreement, federal Trade Minister Peter Van Loan announced today.

“We’ve always thought that Canada should be at the top of a Japanese free-trade agenda,” Van Loan told reporters gathered at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Japan is the world’s third-largest economy behind the United States and China when measured by Gross Domestic Product. It’s also Canada’s largest source of job-creating investment from Asia as well as our fourth-largest merchandise export market, with exports totalling an estimated $9.2 billion in 2010.

Van Loan also noted the strong “people-to-people” ties between countries as a result of more than a century of Japanese immigration to Canada.

“Canada is proud of its partnership and friendship with the people and government of Japan,” he said.

Joining Van Loan for the announcement was Stockwell Day, Treasury Board president and Minister responsible for the Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative.

With a busy Burrard Inlet as a backdrop, Day said British Columbia’s ports, from Vancouver to Prince Rupert, represent a three-day advantage to Japan’s shipping companies over ports in California — a critical trade factor he hopes Japan will keep in mind.

“When those containers arrive here ... the dwell time is less than 24 hours because of the efficiency of the ports,” he said.

Existing road and rail infrastructure then allow products to move quickly across North America, reaching centres such as Chicago or Omaha in about 100 hours.

“These are huge and significant advantages that we offer through the Asia-Pacific gateway,” he said.

Day said B.C.’s forestry, manufacturing and agricultural industries also stand to gain from a trade deal with Japan.

“What it means at the end of the day, bottom line, is more jobs, more economic prosperity for Canada if we succeed,” said Van Loan.

Today’s announcement marks the first step in what could be a lengthy negotiation process with Japan, traditionally one of the more isolationist economies.

“These things don’t happen overnight,” Van Loan said.

But Yuen Pau Woo, head of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, said the significance of Japan’s willingness to talk shouldn’t be underestimated.

An agreement between the two countries would send a strong signal to the rest of Asia that Canada is willing to forge more deals, he said, adding, “This is the beginning of a trend for trade arrangements with Asia and a deeper commercial engagement between Canadian and Asia.”

Since 20006, the Harper government has signed free-trade deals with eight countries, including Colombia, Jordan, Panama, Peru and the European Free Trade Association states of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

The government is also pursuing negotiations with some 50 other countries.

Van Loan said an initial study between Canada and the European Union showed a potential $12-billion annual benefit to the Canadian economy, while a deal with India would bring in an estimated $6 to $15 billion a year.

“You’re talking very significant job benefits, very significant job growth,” he said.

Van Loan said any new trade deals are unlikely to change Canada’s relationship with the U.S., which remains our principal trading partner.

But Day said opening trade doors with other nations will give Canada an advantage should the U.S. market weaken.

“The fact that we have been able to expand opportunities into other markets gives us a greater sense of comfort and also capability,” he said.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Confidence: Canadian business has it; U.S. doesn't

Paul Vieira, Financial Post · Friday, Jul. 9, 2010

OTTAWA -- Somebody forgot to tell Canada that the global economy is slowing down and, worse still, at risk of falling into the throes of a double-dip recession.

Jobs data for June were simply “off the charts,” said Michael Gregory, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, in describing the 93,200 gain in employment for the month. The result caps a record three-month performance in terms of employment levels, with 227,000 new jobs added. This gives Canada the honour of being the first Group of Seven economy to nearly recoup the job losses sustained during the recession, and Canada did so at a faster pace than the downturns of the 1980s and 1990s.

The numbers are impressive on their own, and even more so when compared with the mighty U.S. economy, which last month recorded a net job loss of 125,000. Since July of last year, the Canadian economy has added 403,000 net new jobs. Meanwhile, the United States churned out 176,000 positions, and its payrolls remain 5.4% below peak levels.

This gigantic gap between Canada and the United States comes down to one thing.

“The root of it is confidence,” said Derek Burleton, deputy chief economist at Toronto-Dominion Bank. “In the U.S., employers are not very confident. They are worried. But in Canada, businesses are dealing with a domestic economy that has been far more resilient through the recession. They are feeling quite confident.”

For instance, Mr. Burleton said U.S. companies might be scared off by the size of the trillion-dollar budget shortfalls Congress is racking up on an annual basis, with no clear near-term plan to rein it in especially ahead of mid-term elections. “If you are a company and you are looking to invest, you have to factor in the cost of future tax changes. That’s not driving all the decisions but that is a factor.”

Canada’s deficit has ballooned, but in contrast Ottawa has outlined a strategy to get back to budget balance by mid-decade. In fact, the shortfall for the fiscal year just passed may turn out to be as much as 13% less than the $53-billion forecast, based on preliminary estimates.

Unlike Canada’s recessions of the 1980s and 1990s, this downturn emanated from abroad — the result of excessive risk-taking in real estate by U.S. and European lenders. Canada’s financial system didn’t suffer to the same degree, due to conservative lending practices and tighter regulation, and so it was able to keep credit channels open during the worst of the global downturn.

Canada’s GDP shrank 3.3% from peak to trough during the three-quarter downturn, but that was mostly due to a collapse in global demand. Alas, the manufacturing industry accounting for half the drop in GDP during the recession.

Meanwhile, the services sector hummed along, with employment growth taking off as it dealt with robust domestic demand (expanding at a roughly 5% annualized clip in each of the last three quarters). The service sector accounted for the bulk of new jobs in June, and economists at National Bank Financial noted employment in services is now 2.2% above the pre-recession peak, or the equivalent of 287,000 new jobs.

The strength of the domestic economy will likely push the Bank of Canada to raise its benchmark rate again at its coming July 20 meeting, analysts say. As it was the first G7 member to recoup lost jobs, Canada was also the first to raise interest rates from emergency levels of 0.25%, or the lowest possible level.

The emergency-level rates “helped restore domestic demand since the end of the recession. Now that the goal has been achieved, such a policy is no longer warranted,” said Yanick Desnoyers, assistant chief economist at National Bank Financial.

With analysts agreeing that record-low rates succeeded in spurring job creation, questions emerge as to whether it was necessary for federal and provincial governments to carry out $60-billion-plus in spending to boost what proved to a pretty resilient domestic economy.

“At the time, no one knew where we were headed. Maybe in retrospect the full amount of stimulus wasn’t required, but hindsight in 20/20,” said Mr. Burleton, adding the Conservative government was initially skeptical about stimulus based on the strength they saw in domestic fundamentals.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


This is quite disturbing: a new major study shows that immigrants, especially but not exclusively those from South Asia and the Caribbean, develop higher rates of Type 2 diabetes, and they do so much sooner than the rest of the population. The main culprits appear to be the usual suspects: inactivity, obesity, and poor food choices, but a genetic component is also a factor. This has serious implications for the health care system, considering that there are over 250,000 immigrants and refugees admitted each year, and that their higher likelihood of developing the disease can impact health care costs adversely. Perhaps immigrant communities should consider an outreach program to educate its members on how to lower the risk factors for the disease. This should be a worthwhile effort that will benefit not only the immigrants, bu the country at large. Also, schools should be much more aggressive in educating the children on food choices and nutrition, and increase the amount of exercise time in their curriculum, ratter than waste funds on programs of dubious value.

Diabetes soaring among South Asians in Canada Canada News Toronto Sun

Diabetes soaring among South Asians in Canada

Last Updated: April 19, 2010 12:16pm

OTTAWA - Diabetes among South Asian immigrants is soaring in comparison with rates for other immigrant groups, clocking in at three times higher than among newcomers from western Europe or North America.Ethnic minority immigrants have “significantly higher” rates of diabetes than long-term Ontario residents, says a study published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.With public health experts already concerned about the diabetes explosion among Canadians, the in-depth study of immigrants concludes policymakers should find ways to aggressively target these groups with specific information on healthy lifestyles and early detection.“South Asians really stood out, and they’re getting it so young,” said principal author Maria Isabella Creatore, an epidemiologist at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.“We found immigrants from South Asia already had higher risks than other immigrants by their 20s and 30s. That points to some serious targeting of young South Asians. If you’re going to have effective prevention programs, we have to target youth,” she said.School programs on exercise and healthy eating to prevent diabetes might be one example, Creatore added.Diabetes rates among people from Latin America, the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa were also high.The findings, which likely apply to immigrant groups throughout Canada, are the “tip of the iceberg” on the worldwide increase in diabetes, she said.The study complements new research published by the CMAJ at the same time showing the higher risks diverse ethnic groups face of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular illnesses.The diabetes study, however had rate access to immigration records through Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Personal identifiers were removed, but Creatore’s group was able to use detailed data for individuals.“Diabetes prevalence is increasing most rapidly in the developing world, which contributes to the majority of immigrants to Canada,” the study says.About 250,000 people a year immigrate to Canada, and the large numbers are from Asia, Africa and the Middle East.Ontario alone has more than one million immigrants, which made it a natural place to conduct the study. It already has an ethnically diverse province, so to see rates like these among immigrants was “particularly striking,” the authors wrote.Among the general population, diabetes rates are higher among men than women. But the study of immigrants showed the reverse: women were more likely to suffer the disease.“A higher risk of diabetes, combined with social isolation and barriers to accessing services that many recent immigrant women experience, may raise important health issues for immigrant women and should be of concern to health provides and planners,” the study speculates.An unexplained finding was that diabetes risk increases – rather than decreases - among immigrants the longer they stay. The authors theorize that this is because immigrants pick up unhealthy behaviour such as “a westernized diet” and suffer “acculturation stress” along with a decline in their social and economic status because they are newcomers.More than three-million Canadians suffer diabetes. If not properly treated, it can lead to serious problems such as heart and kidney disease, eye problems and nerve damage.Creatore said one of the main messages is that diabetes can be prevented.“Understanding who the high risk groups are, and when the risk factors appear, I think that’s very important,” she said.But she noted, it will be “a challenge to access immigrant communities, to be able to get into these communities and educate and design effective prevention programs.”