Saturday, December 22, 2007


The US Congress has delayed a requirement that people entering the United States from Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean show a passport when arriving by land or sea.
If President Bush signs the bill, citizens of the United States, Canada, Mexico and Caribbean nations will not have to show a passport when entering the United States by land or sea until at least June 2009.
The Department of Homeland Security was poised to require passports for such travelers next June. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, delayed the requirement by one year by amending a budget bill Congress passed this week.
The Department of Homeland Security already requires citizens of those countries to show a passport when they fly into the United States. See full story:

Friday, December 21, 2007


Canadians who adopt children abroad will find it easier to have their newest family members become Canadian citizens. The new legislation allows children adopted abroad by Canadian citizens to obtain Canadian citizenship without first having to become permanent residents. As a result, the difference in treatment between children adopted abroad and children born abroad to a Canadian parent is minimized. See link:

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Caterina Naegeli
Buergi Naegeli Rechtsanwaelte

Last week, Switzerland’s controversial right-wing leader Christoph Blocher was ejected from the government despite his party’s success in this year’s elections. This might lead to a more liberal policy on foreigners, but the implications of this surprising result are far from clear.

The members of the Federal Council are elected for a term of four years by both chambers of the federal parliament sitting together as the Federal Assembly. Each Councillor is elected individually by secret ballot by an absolute majority of votes. Every adult Swiss citizen is eligible, but in practice, only Members of Parliament, or more rarely, members of Cantonal governments, are nominated by the political parties and receive a substantial amount of votes. Most usually members are re-elected or rather, confirmed, until they resign. Therefore it came as a big surprise, that the re-election of the seven members of the Swiss federal council on 12 December 2007 resulted in the ejection of justice minister Christoph Blocher, who was replaced by Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, another member of the Swiss People's Party (SVP). Following their earlier denouncements, the SVP has decided to leave the traditional system of concordance and form an opposition in parliament.

What seems quite common in other democratic systems, has unsettled the Swiss government, where all four major parties are represented in the federal council proportional to their magnitude in parliament. The re-election of Blocher, a billionaire and a controversial leading figure of his party, was set as a condition by the SVP for its continued support of this consensual system of government. Mr. Blocher, one of the most polarizing politicians ever, led the SVP's shift to the right. One of his most controversial acts in his first term was to criticise the country's anti-racism law, while his party tried to mobilise the masses with posters depicting white sheep kicking a black sheep off the Swiss flag. The poster drew criticism from the United Nations, which called it racist.

It is possible, that the Federal Council will now adopt a more liberal policy towards foreigners and immigration issues generally. Mrs. Widmer – Schlumpf is known to be a more tolerant and pragmatic politician, although she is a member of the SVP as well. However it is likely that the Swiss People’s Party, pushed into opposition, will try to block more liberal points of view by putting such decisions to a referendum.

Friday, December 14, 2007


Visalaw International Canadian lawyer Sergio R. Karas has been quoted in today's Globe and Mail national newspaper story about an important current immigration case. Here is the story and link:


Border agents seek refugee at wrong temple

ALLISON CROSSDecember 14, 2007

VANCOUVER -- Representatives of the Canadian Border Services Agency yesterday visited the Sikh temple in Abbotsford where a paraplegic refugee claimant took sanctuary in June, says one of his supporters, but were informed Laibar Singh was no longer staying there."They visited to find out how he was," said Harsha Walia, a refugee advocate from No One is Illegal. "But it wasn't really clear what they wanted."Ms. Walia said representatives were told Mr. Singh is at the Khalsa Diwan Society Gurdwara in New Westminster, a detail widely reported in the media since Monday.His supporters say he has not claimed formal sanctuary there.Derek Mellon, spokesman for the border services agency, said he could not confirm or deny whether representatives tried to visit Mr. Singh.Mr. Singh's deportation to India was delayed on Monday after thousands of Indo-Canadians surrounded his taxi at Vancouver International Airport and blocked the path to the terminal. Canadian Border Services Agency officials told protesters they wouldn't part the crowd to get Mr. Singh in case protesters got violent.Mr. Singh's lawyer, Zool Suleman, reached in Istanbul, said he would not comment on the status of the case.Sergio Karas, a citizenship and immigration lawyer in Toronto, said he is concerned that a mob of people managed to impede the execution of Canadian law."I'm not defending the system in any way, shape or form," he said. "They have many flaws. But the fact is, if this becomes an example, what kind of country are we going to develop into? Are we ruled by laws or by mobs?"Mr. Karas said taking sanctuary in a church or temple doesn't afford someone special rights, but it is highly unlikely the government will enter a place of worship by force.He said he is worried that those who commit serious crimes might seek similar sanctuary.Ms. Walia said Mr. Karas's concerns are not valid."I actually think it's problematic to say it's a precedent, because the only way laws are challenged are by people standing up to them," she said. "In this case, a group of people have stood up to a deportation [order]."Harpal Singh Nagra, one of Mr. Singh's most vocal supporters at Monday's protest, is receiving criticism for his ties to the International Sikh Youth Federation, a group he said he helped organize in 1985.But when a member of his group faced charges in an attack on Ujjal Dosanjh, now a Liberal MP, Mr. Nagra said he severed all ties with the organization."I left in 1986," he said yesterday. "After that, whatever they were doing was none of my business."Mr. Nagra, head of the South Asian Human Rights Group, denied allegations that an organization he joined in India, the All India Sikh Student Federation, was involved in criminal activities.Mr. Singh arrived in Canada in 2003 with a forged passport. He filed a refugee claim but was turned down. He later suffered an aneurysm and became a paraplegic. He was ordered deported in June, but sought sanctuary in a temple in Abbotsford, and was granted an extension to wait for a decision on his bid to stay in Canada on compassionate and humanitarian grounds.That claim was rejected because the government believed he did not have sufficient ties to Canada. His most recent deportation order was issued last week.Some supporters believe he should not have to make the 20-hour flight to India until he is in better health, while others believe he should stay for good.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Michael Thornton
Thornton Immigration Lawyers

The Australian Labor Party under Kevin Rudd had a resounding victory over John Howard’s conservative coalition government on November 24. What will this mean for Australia’s immigration policy?

The new Minister for Immigration and Citizenship sworn in on December 3 is Senator Chris Evans from Western Australia. Senator Evans was first elected to the Parliament in 1993 having previously served as an Industrial officer with the Federated Miscellaneous Workers' Union from 1982 to 1987 and as State Secretary of the Fire Brigade Union (WA) from 1987 to 1990. Most recently, Senator Evans was Shadow Minister for National Development, Resources and Energy from 2006 to December 2007.

AS Senator Evans was not the Labor Party’s Shadow Immigration Minister prior to the election, we have little knowledge of his personal views on immigration policy. However the Labor Party ran a number of these issues as part of its election platform.

Based on this policy I would expect to see a number of significant changes in the Employer Nomination and Temporary Business visa areas including:

Labour Market Testing of positions nominated by Australian businesses for filling by overseas workers. This might mean a return to compulsory advertising of positions and the accompanying delay and expense.
Formal testing or accreditation of the skills of overseas sourced workers. Once again, this would significantly add to the cost and delay associated with the employment of overseas workers.
Insistence on formalised training programs for the Australian staff of sponsoring companies. Labor’s policy seems to strongly favour local sourcing of workers over the use of temporary overseas workers.
Pay and conditions of overseas workers being matched to local industry rates. At present the remuneration is prescribed to be at least A$41,850 per annum rather than being related to ‘going rates’ in the industry.

The Labor Party has officially expressed a preference for permanent skilled migration over temporary skilled workers. This could see an increase in Australia’s annual quotas for skilled migration.

Michael Thornton, Principal of Thornton Immigration, is an Australian qualified lawyer who practises exclusively in immigration law. He is a Fellow of the Migration Institute of Australia and is accredited by the Law Institute of Victoria as an Immigration Law Specialist. Please direct any questions about these changes to Michael at

Friday, December 7, 2007


Visalaw International Canadian lawyer Sergio R. Karas met the new Attorney General of Ontario, the Honourable Christopher Bentley, at a private reception hosted by the Ontario Bar Association. Mr, Karas, who is Chair of the Ontario Bar Association Citizenship and Immigration Section, had a chance to have a cordial discussion with the Attorney General and to raise issues of concern to the Immigration Bar. A future meeting with the Attorney General is in the works.

Thursday, December 6, 2007


Graeme Kirk
Gross & Co.

2008 will see the biggest changes in the UK immigration law for over 30 years.

The most important change will be the way in which UK-based employers can employ foreign non-EEA citizens in future. With effect from the third quarter of 2008, UK employers will only be able to employ foreign non-EEA nationals if they have obtained a Licence to issue sponsorship certificates from the British Government. Applications for such Licences, which will be valid for a period of 4 years, can be made from early 2008. At this stage, no information has been provided as to the cost of the Licences.

A Licence will give a UK employer authority to issue sponsorship certificates to prospective foreign employees, up to a limit. The foreign national will then be able to apply to a British Embassy or Consulate for entry clearance on the basis of the issuing of the sponsorship certificate. Time will tell how simple or complex this procedure turns out to be.

Many UK immigration lawyers are extremely worried as to the potential effect of these changes upon UK employers, particularly those who only apply for Work Permits on a relatively rare basis. Concerns are also expressed as to the likely increase in timescales for arranging the transfer of staff as a result of the changes. The current Work Permit scheme has by and large worked extremely efficiently over the past few years.

Further information will be provided on the blog as it becomes available.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Canada urged to join pact against human trafficking

Peter O'Neil
CanWest News Service
Friday, November 09, 2007
STRASBOURG, France -- Canada is being urged to sign and ratify a controversial Council of Europe convention intended to battle the modern slave trade.
The council, a human rights body created in this city in 1949 on the advice of former British prime minister Winston Churchill, will enact the convention next year to battle the trafficking of people - mostly women and children - for the purposes of sexual slavery and forced labour.
A conference Thursday heard grim accounts of recent events that underscore the inability of authorities to publicize and crack down on one of organized crime's most lucrative industries.
John Austin, a member of the British House of Commons, noted that British media, the public and police have largely ignored the recent story of 48 trafficked children who went missing while in the protective custody of social service agencies in England.
The children, aged 10 to 17 and mostly girls from Africa and China, are believed to be back in the hands of organized crime figures who originally smuggled them into England to work as child prostitutes.
Meanwhile, the British media, the public and authorities obsess every day about the whereabouts of a pretty blond four-year-old, Madeleine McCann, who went missing over the summer in Portugal.
"I find the dramatic contrast between (public attention to) the worldwide search for Madeleine, and the plight of 48 missing children in Britain, extraordinary," Austin said.
In a later interview, Austin urged countries like Canada to adopt the convention.
That view was echoed officially by Matjaz Gruden, a special adviser to Council of Europe secretary-general Terry Davis.
"It's in the clear interest of Canada and the European countries that are members of the Council of Europe" to ratify the convention, Gruden said.
"We cannot do these things alone. We cannot even do it on a continental basis. I mean, Europe is a big place, but these are issues where you need global co-operation in order to be successful."
The council is made up of 47 European members. Five more - Canada, the Holy See, the United States, Japan and Mexico - have observer status. Canadian officials and parliamentarians have participated in the formulation of modern council conventions in areas such as counter-terrorism, cybercrime, the sexual exploitation of children, and trafficking, Gruden said.
Canadian officials were unable Thursday to explain Canada's position on the trafficking convention, although Justice Canada said on its website that it is following United Nations' resolutions denouncing people-trafficking.
"The government of Canada is working to combat trafficking in persons both domestically and internationally."
Gruden noted that many European countries have voiced concern over the strong provisions in the Council of Europe convention intended to protect victims.
The convention calls on authorities to treat trafficked people as victims, provide them with "physical and psychological assistance and support for their reintegration into society."
While all council members have signed the treaty, only 10 countries so far have ratified it. Some governments are dragging their feet because of concern that the victim-protection provisions could be used to prevent states from expelling illegal migrants.
"What they were afraid of is that it would create a loophole for illegal immigration," Gruden said.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Several Visalaw International member lawyers presented on immigration topics at the annual meeting of the International Bar Association which was held last month in Singapore. Gunther Maevers papers on German immigration law are posted here.

Friday, November 9, 2007


Greg Siskind of Visalaw International's US firm Siskind Susser Bland testified yesterday in front of the US House of Representative's Immigration Subcommittee on the need for a Board of Visa Appeals to review denials of green card petitions at US consulates around the world. The hearing was televised and we will link to the video and the written testimony when they are posted shortly on the Subcommittee's web site.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Minister Finley announces overseas expansion of Foreign Credentials Referral Services

New Delhi, India, November 6, 2007 — The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, today announced the expansion of services to help immigrants from India and China get their professional credentials assessed and recognized in Canada as quickly as possible with the assistance of the Foreign Credentials Referral Office (FCRO).
While in India, t he Minister announced the open ing of a new office of the Canadian Immigration Integration Pro ject in New Delhi. The new office, which is centrally located, is in response to increased demand in the region.
“The Government of Canada is committed to helping newcomers succeed, and one way to do that is to help them before they get to Canada,” said Minister Finley. “Too many newcomers have come to Canada only to learn after they’ve arrived what credentials are needed. By expanding our FCRO programs overseas, we’re helping prospective immigrants to get a head start by providing information on the foreign credential recognition process and the Canadian labour market.”
Today’s announcement adds service on a rotational basis in the states of Gujarat and Punjab, which are major sources of skilled immigrants from India. In China, rotational services have been added in Beijing and Shanghai so services are available to more potential immigrants.
Until now, the orientation sessions have been available in three cities in India, China and the Philippines. To date, more than 1,200 prospective immigrants have registered, and benefited. Overall, participants say they are more confident about being able to settle successfully when they arrive in Canada.
When the Foreign Credentials Referral Office was launched in May of 2007, the Government of Canada committed to expanding overseas services. Today’s expansion is another step towards meeting this commitment. The sessions are funded on a pilot basis by Human Resources and Social Development Canada’s Foreign Credential Recognition Program and delivered by the Association of Canadian Community Colleges’ Canadian Immigration Integration Project.
The Foreign Credentials Referral Office was established following consultations with provincial and territorial governments and other key stakeholders, including regulatory and assessment bodies, post secondary education institutions and their national organizations, employers, sector councils, immigrant serving organizations and newcomers themselves. While credential recognition in Canada is a provincial and territorial responsibility, the federal government plays a facilitative role, funding projects and providing a range of information, path-finding and referral services to help internationally trained persons navigate through the foreign credential assessment and recognition processes and obtain up-to-date information about the Canadian labour market.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


Under pressure from the EU, Canada has removed the visitor visa requirement (Temporary Resident Visa) for citizens of the Czech Republic and Latvia. The two visa requirements date back to very different sets of circumstances: The visa requirement on citizens of Latvia is a leftover from the breakup of the Soviet Union; Latvia (together with Estonia and Lithuania) was a former Soviet satellite, where citizens used their new found freedom to go abroad and never come back, but the situation changed dramatically when Latvia joined the EU and began experiencing strong economic growth, an incentive for its citizens to stay in Europe. The visa situation with the Czech Republic is more complex: in the 1990s, the Czech Republic enjoyed visa-free status, but a deluge of bogus Czech and Hungarian Roma "refugees", encouraged by unscrupulous lawyers and consultants, inundated Canada's asylum system. It is then surprising that the visa has been removed, and further monitoring to determine if the situation will repeat itself is warranted.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Delays plague passport office
It takes at least six weeks to get document by mail, two weeks longer than benchmark

The Canadian Press
October 29, 2007 at 5:42 AM EDT

OTTAWA — Passport Canada is reporting continued long delays in processing mailed-in passport applications, despite a streamlined renewal process and hundreds of new employees.
And there is concern those delays will only get longer as the busy winter travel season approaches.
Officials blame a glut of new applicants for the delays, as demand for the documents continues to soar.
It now takes a minimum of six weeks to get a passport through the mail; two weeks longer than the agency's benchmark of four weeks.
And that doesn't include the time it takes to get applications and documents through Canada Post.
Passport Canada spokesman Fabien Lengelle said many more people have applied for passports in the past six months than applied within the same period last year.
"The reason we have delays is that we have a very, very high demand," Mr. Lengelle said.
In October, 2006, Passport Canada was issuing about 13,000 passports a day. By late last spring, that number had reached 21,000.
Since the start of April, the beginning of the fiscal year, the agency has issued 2.2 million passports, a 42-per-cent increase from the same period in 2006-2007 when just 1.5 million were issued.
In June, then-foreign affairs minister Peter MacKay announced measures to speed up the processing of passport applications, including a simplified renewal process.
At the time, there was a backlog of roughly 170,000 applications.
Since then, Passport Canada has hired nearly 700 new employees, raising the number of passport officers and clerks to the equivalent of more than 2,600 full-time personnel.
Agency officials won't divulge the size of the current backlog, arguing that the number fluctuates from day to day.
"[Backlog] is not a very accurate measure," Mr. Lengelle said. "Demand is the true driver here."
The new renewal process, which came into effect Aug. 15, allows Canadians to renew their passports without getting guarantors, as long as their current passport is less than a year from expiry and has never been lost or stolen.
Traditionally, the busiest time of year for Passport Canada is the period from Nov. 1 through the end of March.
The agency is preparing for a further upswing in demand, but acknowledges delays could lengthen. "It all depends on demand," Mr. Lengelle said. "If demand goes above capacity, then we will have [further] delays," he added.
"Passport Canada is doing everything it can to raise its capacity to a level where we will be able to meet demand over the coming months."
The agency has been able to maintain a two-week timetable for processing applications delivered in person at passport offices.
As well, Canadians who can apply in person, are willing to pay more and who can prove they will be travelling sooner, can get a passport within 24 hours on an urgent basis, or through Passport Canada's "express" service.
But that doesn't help the thousands of Canadians who have no choice but to use the mail system to obtain travel documents.
Demand for passports has increased dramatically since the United States imposed rules requiring them for air travellers. Similar rules are expected to be in place as early as next summer for land travel across the U.S. border.
In the United States, demand also peaked earlier this year from Americans seeking passports, causing significant disruptions to some people's summer travel plans.
But the State Department announced last month it had worked through a massive backlog of passport applications and that its processing times were back to normal after months of major delays.
However, the normal waiting period for a standard passport application in the United States is six to eight weeks - three weeks for expedited service. U.S. officials deal with 17 million passport applications annually.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Visalaw International's US law firm lawyer Greg Siskind has just had the third edition of his marketing book published by the American Bar Association. He co-authors the book with Google executive Rick Klau and legal industry marketing consultant Deb McMurray.

The book has also had its first review at LexBlog.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Visalaw International lawyers met last week at the Fullerton Hotel in Singapore to discuss matters of mutual concern and visa policies in their respective countries, with a view to assist corporate clients to deal with their immigration needs. Another meeting is set to take place in London in mid-November.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


The Financial Times is reporting that EU Chief Justice Franco Frattini is set to propose Europe introduce a new "blue card" to compete with the US green card and that the EU should be prepared to bring in 20 million more workers by 2030.



In advance of the introduction of the first stages of the new UK Points-Based Immigration system in the early part of 2009, there have already been ominous signs that the British Government is tightening up its immigration policy, particularly in the area of skilled workers.

Although there have been no official changes to the Work Permit Guidelines, many Work Permit applications which would have been granted without difficulty 2 years ago are being refused, allegedly because the positions are not sufficiently skilled. The hospitality and healthcare industry are particularly affected by these changes, with the positions of chefs and careworkers under particular threat.

In addition, the Prime Minister in a recent speech announced that he intends to widen the requirement for applicants for residents in the UK to show English language skills before their applications can be approved. Currently, this requirement only applies to highly skilled applicants and applicants seeking to obtain permanent residence rights after 5 years of residence. It is proposed that the English language requirement will extend to the skilled worker category presently covered by the Work Permit Scheme. Of 95,000 applications granted last year, the British Government estimates that 35,000 would not have been granted if there had been an English language requirement. The Prime Minister’s intention is clearly to encourage the UK and EC labour force to take up these job opportunities. Once again, it is individuals in the hospitality industry who will suffer the most. For example, a Thai chef with no English language skills, who would previously have qualified and been able to work happily in a Thai speaking kitchen, will no longer qualify. It is not clear why the British Government has decided to attack the hospitality industry, and also the healthcare industry in the field of senior careworkers, as these are all sectors in which the local labour force is reluctant to work.

However, it is clear that there is an ongoing trend of tightening up and further information will be provided as matters develop.

Graeme Kirk

Gross & Co.

Friday, September 14, 2007


Visalaw International lawyer Sergio R. Karas will be a panelist on Monday, September 17, 2007, at the Ontario Bar Association International Law Section's luncheon "The Border Horror Show: top ten situation for international business lawyers and their clients", and will discuss Canada and US immigration issues that arise at the border.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Visalaw International Canadian lawyer Sergio R. Karas was quoted today on the front page story of the National Post newspaper, commenting as an expert on a very unusual and strange case. The article follows:

Wednesday » September 12 » 2007

Deportee can stay to change religion

Adrian Humphreys
National Post
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Declaring "everyone has the right to change religion," a federal court judge is allowing a failed refugee claimant who was ordered out of Canada after a criminal conviction to remain in the country to continue a religious conversion.
Federal Court of Canada Judge Sean Harrington stopped this Saturday's deportation of a Christian man from Brazil so he can complete his conversion to Judaism alongside his Jewish wife and his sponsoring rabbi.
The ruling, in favour of Diogo Cichaczewski, is believed to be the first of its kind.
"While Canada's focus is on removing an individual who has no legal status here, an unfortunate repercussion is that his conversion would be delayed; in other words, arguably impaired," Judge Harrington ruled.
"How can the harm arising from a roadblock in Mr. Cichaczewski's right to celebrate the religion of his choice be measured?"
Championing the freedom to change religion as a right to be protected by the courts strikes some as a misapplication of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
"The Charter guarantees freedom of religion and freedom to practise that religion and express that religion in a public way. But there is nothing in Canada's legislation or in the Charter that guarantees the completion of a private religious process or guarantees one can do that in a particular place," said Sergio Karas, a Toronto immigration lawyer.
"I would argue that a religious conversion is intrinsically a private act between an applicant and the clergy. Nothing would prevent him from completing his conversion in Brazil.
"This is an enormous stretch from what the Charter says," Mr. Karas said.
Mr. Cichaczewski, 24, came to Canada in 2002 and claimed refugee status, saying he feared revenge from a drug dealer who was convicted in Brazil because of information he supplied to police, according to the ruling.
His refugee claim was later declared abandoned.
In 2004, Toronto police charged Mr. Cichaczewski after an undercover officer spotted what he thought was a drug deal taking place on a street corner.
Instead, police say they found stolen credit cards and duplicate cards made from stolen personal information being sold.
He was convicted of several misdeeds, including posession of stolen property, possession of the proceeds of crime and credit card and computer fraud offences. He received a suspended sentence and one year's probation on each.
Last year Mr. Cichaczewski married a Toronto woman who is Jewish, and he began the process of converting to Judaism.
In the meantime, the government moved to send Mr. Cichaczewski back to Brazil and he made two appeals for reconsideration. Both of his appeals were refused and he was scheduled for removal on Saturday.
Mr. Cichaczewski filed two more legal actions; one is a request for a judicial review of his removal and the other asking the court to allow him to remain in Canada pending the outcome of that review. It was that second request that Judge Harrington has ruled on.
"I have decided to grant the stay on religious grounds," Judge Harrington writes in his ruling.
"Everyone has the right to believe, or not to believe. Everyone has the right to be a member of an organized religion, subject to the tenets of that faith, or not. Everyone has the right to give public witness to faith. Everyone has the right to change religion," he writes in his ruling.
Mr. Cichaczewski has completed the classes necessary to convert to Judaism, which typically lasts a full year. Usually a conversion would then require circumcision, if a male applicant was not already circumcised, a ceremonial bathing and an appearance before a council of rabbis to be complete.
"His sincerity has not been put into question. It is important to emphasize that this is not an opportunistic conversion," Judge Harrington writes.
"The [immigration hearing] officer was of the view that nothing prevented Mr. Cichaczewski from converting to Judaism while back in Brazil. That may be so, but at the very least his conversion would be interrupted and delayed."
Canada Border Services Agency now await the outcome of Mr. Cichaczewski's remaining judicial appeal, which is based on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
"We are obliged to abide by the court's decision," said Anna Pape, a CBSA spokeswoman. Mr. Cichaczewski's lawyer, Barbara Jackman, could not be reached yesterday.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Several Visalaw International lawyers will be speaking and moderating sessions at the International Bar Association (IBA) annual conference in Singapore taking place from October 14 to 19, 2007. Sergio R. Karas, co-Chair of the Immigration and Nationality Committee, will also moderate the session"Global Business Immigration Update" which will discuss many new developments on international business migration; Greg Siskind will moderate a session on enforcement policies around the world, and otter Visalaw speakers incluse Gunther Maevers ( Germany), Gary Eisenberg ( South Africa), Carolina Garutti ( Brazil) , Yoshio Shimoda (Japan). Ed Lehman ( China), Eric Bland ( USA-New York) and Henry Hatchez ( Belgium).

Thursday, September 6, 2007


The Canadian Construction Association (CCA) is arguing that the current point system to select skilled workers for permanent residency is causing a labour shortage in the ranks of construction workers. While this argument may have some merit, what is lost to the CCA is that construction is a cyclical industry, and while the going is good now, what do we do with unemployable construction workers when there is a downturn? (and there may be one coming soon, all we have to do is consider the possible spillover form the subprime crisis in the US and their housing collapse). A much better idea would be to have a broader temporary worker program for the industry, so taxpayers would not be saddled with unemployed workers collecting benefits if there is a downturn or recession. The problem? The unions oppose temporary worker programs, as the foreign workers do not become permanent union members. There is now an abundance of construction workers unemployed in the US, Mexico and otter countries....why not amend NAFTA so the arcane protectionist provisions excluding construction work can be lifted and those workers may come into Canada on a temporary basis? Message to the CCA: force the unions to accept the reality of a new marketplace and lobby for a change to NAFTA! See story:

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Sergio R. Karas on Conrad Black's immigration troubles

VISALAW International lawyer Sergio R. Karas (Canada) was recently interviewed on Business News Network to comment on Conrad Black's immigration problems after his fraud conviction in the US.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


SSB's New York office lawyers Eric Bland and Protima Daryanani and SSB's affiliate attorney in Toronto Sergio Karas will present on August 2nd the program IMMIGRATION LAW 101: FOR THE ENTERTAINMENT, SPORTS AND ARTS LAWYER. The teleseminar is sponsored by the American Bar Association's Forum of Entertainment and Sports Industry.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


IT Canada reports that US-based Microsoft Corporation announced that it will establish a research facility in Canada, employing between 300 to 400 people from around the world. The move is, undoubtedly, a reaction to the failure of US immigration reform plans, which would have increased the H-1B visa cap significantly. It may also be a move away from cost-cutting and outsourcing that has seen jobs exported to India and other low-labour cost destinations. However, given that Canadian labour costs are considerably higher than in developing nations, and productivity in Canada is sagging, it remains to be seen if this is the beginning of a trend to be followed by otter companies. Research and development has never been a strenght in the Canadian labour market, and save and except a few notable exceptions, it is not a hallmark of the Canadian economy. But having a research facility close to the US headquarters, in a country with similar work patterns, without language or cultural barriers, and even in the same timezone can be a definite advantage. Visalaw International lawyers Greg Siskind and Sergio Karas were interviewed for IT Canada on this issue.

Saturday, July 7, 2007


Canadian lawyer Sergio Karas has been appointed Vice-Chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) Canada Committee of the Section of International Law. The Canada Committee actively promotes awareness and education concerning Canadian legal developments at the ABA and other lawyer organizations, and includes some of the largest and most prestigious law firms in Canada in its membership.

Thursday, June 7, 2007


Visalaw International is pleased to announce that Canadian lawyer Sergio Karas has been elected Chair of the Ontario Bar Association Citizneship and Immigration Section for the upcoming 2007-2008 term. The Ontario Bar Association has over 30,000 members and is the largest lawyer professional group in Canada. Sergio Karas is the first to become Chair of the Section simultaneously with his current co-Chair functions at the International Bar Association Immgration and nationality Committee.

Monday, May 7, 2007


Visalaw International lawyers Sergio Karas ( Canada) and Saul Feilbogen ( Argentina) attended the recent American Bar Association International Section meeting in Washington, D.C. Sergio Karas was a speaker at the session "Trusted travelers or terrorists?". Seen in the photo are Sergio Karas ( left) and Saul Feilbogen ( right) at the US State Department.

Monday, April 23, 2007


Visalaw International lawyer Sergio Karas published an article entitled " Privacy at Risk: Can your laptop be searched at the border?" in the current issue of The national, the magazine of the Canadian Bar Association. The article disucsses recent cases from US courts which held that border security agents have wide latitude to search the data contained in laptop computers and electronic devices at a port of entry.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


The number of Canadians traveling on business to China has grown exponentially in recent years, fueled by China’s economic boom and an intense desire by Canadian companies to capitalize on that growing market. In an article entitled "Employees working in China? Avoid pitfalls", published in Canadian Employment Law Today, Visalaw International members Sergio Karas (Canada) and Gregory Sy (China) advise employers to make sure employees on business trips to China have the correct visas to suit their needs.

Friday, April 13, 2007


The German Government Representative for Migration, Refugees and Integration has published a “Manual for Germany” in several foreign languages. The Manual for Germany is intended for immigrants who are considering settling in Germany and who, before arriving or having just arrived, would like to find out about life in Germany. The manual provides current and general information on the country and people, politics and law, work and social security, as well as on everyday life. It is very helpful indeed.

The Manual for Germany is available in book form, on CD-ROM and as a PDF file –
Source: German Government Representative for Migration, Refugees and Integration

Thursday, April 5, 2007


Visalaw International lawyer Sergio Karas (Canada) will speak at the prestigious upcoming Amercian Bar Association (ABA) International Section Spring Meeting in Washington D.C. on May 2nd, 2007, on the topic "Trusted Travelers or Terrorists? A Comparative Perspective on Global Travel Security Programs". The session will take place at the State Department and will include the participation of distinguished speakers from the West Point Military Academy and the 9-11 Commission, and it is being co-sponsored by several ABA committees.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

GERMANY - Industry pro immigration

Hamburg – According to a report of the “Bild am Sonntag”, the German industry has increased its pressure on the federal government to ease the restrictions of immigration law in order to facilitate the establishment of a higher number of foreign skilled labour in Germany. By its own account, the newspaper allegedly was submitted with a letter written by the President of the German Association of Chambers of Industry and Commerce, Mr. Ludwig Georg Braun, and addressed to the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs, Mr. Michael Glos (CSU). Therein they say, he would be asking Mr. Glos to plead for an easement of the restrictions for the immigration of qualified foreigners. According to Mr. Braun, for foreign career starters providing qualified graduation an annual minimum salary of € 40,000 shall be sufficient in order to receive a permanent residence permit. Presently, this limit is fixed at € 85,500. From Mr. Brown’s point of view this hurdle is too high for smaller and medium-sized companies. According to him foreigners who want to establish an enterprise in Germany shall only invest € 500,000 and create 5 jobs. At the moment the requirements are twice as much.

The German Association of Chambers of Industry and Commerce expects an economic growth of 2.3 percent and - taking the annual average - 0.5 million less unemployed than in 2006. Indeed, in February the number of unemployed has dropped by 826,000 which is biggest decline since 1949. According to the “Bild am Sonntag”, what Brown writes in this letter is that the lack of labour will get remarkably worse already in the near future. Indeed, there already is a deficiency of approx. 20,000 specialists in the sector of information technology. Up to now, this deficiency in foreign labour cannot be remedied: In 2005, 900 top executives from non-European Union countries came to Germany; during the first three months of the past year there were 140.

Source: dpa, translated by MKRG

Friday, March 2, 2007

GERMANY - Germany benefits from transitional regulations for introducing freedom of movement for workers from Bulgaria and Romania

As to Germany’s recourse to transitional regulations on the free movement of workers, which will initially be in force during the time from 1 January 2007 till 31 December 2008, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs stated as follows:

In February, the Federal Cabinet decided – upon the suggestion of the Federal Minister for Labour and Social Affairs, Mr. Franz Müntefering - that the Federal Government will inform the EU Commission about its intention to make use of transitional arrangements on the freedom of movement for workers from Bulgaria and Romania, as a start for the period of two years, i.e. from 1 January 2007 till 31 December 2008. Moreover, sending workers abroad in order to perform cross-border services in the fields of construction, industrial cleaning and interior decoration at first will also be restricted by the end of 2008.

For Bulgaria’s and Romania’s accession to the European Union, the legislator has already taken the required domestic measures by means of the law on the adjustment of statutory provisions of the Federal Republic as from December 7, 2006. By now, it is secured by the Cabinet’s resolution that Germany’s decision will also be effective at the European level.

Indeed, in the current year, Germany has been very successful on the labour market. Nevertheless, the Federal Government wants to reduce the unemployment to a greater extent. The accession rate of employees from Romania and Bulgaria therefore must be controlled continuously. As a result of the decision of the Federal Government, Bulgarian and Romanian citizen are treated equally in comparison to the member states that joined the EU on Mai 1, 2004 (exempt from: Malta and Cyprus which already enjoy free movement of workers). For the citizen of all of these countries applies: The controlled and limited admission of employees to the German labour market remains possible. The domestic law, in particular the immigration law and bilateral agreements, accordingly provide for admission possibilities.

According to the Treaty of Accession as of April 25, 2005 which was concluded between the EU on the one hand and Bulgaria and Romania on the other hand the former member states may impose restrictions on the free movement of workers during a period of 7 years at most (so called 2+3+2 system). Germany and Austria, moreover, are entitled to impose restrictions on the dispatch of workers for cross-border services in certain economic sectors, as long as the free movement of workers is restricted.

For further information on the transitional regulations on the free movement of workers from the EU accession states please visit the website of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (, select the rubric “Arbeitsmarkt” and click on “Ausländerbeschäftigung”.

Source: Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, translated by MKRG

Friday, February 23, 2007


The Cape Town-based immigration law firm of Eisenberg & Associates announces today that its founder and proprietor Gary Eisenberg has been selected Vice-Chairman of the Immigration & Nationality Committee (Committee 14) of the International Bar Association. Committee 14 is the largest international association of immigration practitioners.

Eisenberg & Associates is one of the leading immigration boutique law firms in Southern Africa. Eisenberg is well known for having vigorously and successfully litigated against the previous Minister of Home Affairs for the full democratisation of immigration regulation-making. A staunch and expressive critic of the chaos and administrative malfeasance at the Department of Home Affairs, Eisenberg is rated as one of the leading immigration lawyers in the world. He is the only elected entrant to the global Who’s Who of Immigration Lawyers representing South Africa.

His style of representation is often described as “forcefully technical”. Eisenberg is relentless and creative in his representation of difficult cases, often exploring and testing the outer reaches of South Africa’s immigration system. Described by one senior immigration official as a “true legal gladiator”, Eisenberg acknowledges that he is a fighter by nature and not an easy contender.

But most of all Eisenberg’s election to his prestigious post as Vice-Chairman of Committee 14 means that South Africa’s immigration profile will receive greater international focus. Together with his Canadian, American, Swiss and English committee members, Eisenberg will play an integral part in the planning and organization of international symposia on immigration and nationality law and policy issues under the umbrella of the IBA.

Monday, February 19, 2007


Canadian Lawyer Magazine featured Visalaw International in its February 2007 30th anniversary issue. "Going Global" discussed the benefits of law associations to both clients and members.

Thursday, February 8, 2007


Visalaw International lawyer Sergio Karas discussed aspects of Canada-US cross-border mobility with US Ambassador to Canada, David H. Wilkins, at the annual meeting of AMCHAM (American Chamber of Commerce in Canada) in Toronto. Present at the meeting were also many representatives from the US Consulate. Shown in the photo, Ambassador Wilkins (right) and Sergio Karas.

Thursday, February 1, 2007


Siskind Susser Bland, P.C., Visalaw International's US firm, is pleased to announce the completion of the new Visalaw Fashion, Arts and Sports Immigration portal at This new section of our web site is the only one of its kind on the Internet and there are numerous free resources that many will find invaluable. Unique offerings are charts of peer organizations for O-1 and P-1 cases, spreadsheets with links to more than 100 AAO cases, links to dozens of articles on fashion, arts and sports visa matters and much more. We welcome your comments, especially suggestions of links to add.

Sunday, January 21, 2007


The Los Angeles Times reports on the migration of between 500,000 and 2,000,000 young Polish nationals to countries in Western Europe since the admission of Poland to the European Union. While the young Poles have gone west in search of good jobs, Poland has been left without enough workers and, like many other countries with rapidly growing economies, has been absorbing immigrants.

The westward movement of Poles and other East Europeans, including Latvians, Lithuanians and Czechs, has created a second wave. Workers from non-EU countries farther east, such as Ukraine and Belarus, view Warsaw as Poles view London.

Despite Poland's own unemployment problem, legal and illegal foreign workers have been arriving in large numbers since 2000. The country issues as many as 25,000 work permits to foreigners annually. Officials say, however, that hundreds of thousands of migrants are scattered across the nation, working for wages that may barely support a Pole but could make a huge difference in Kiev or Minsk.

One estimate suggests that 200,000 illegal Ukrainians work in Poland, many in agriculture. In some cases, they baby-sit for families in which the father or mother is working in London or Dublin. "We're seeing something we didn't expect to see so soon: the opening up to workers from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus," said Tomasz Mogilski, vice president of Koelner Co., a Wroclaw-based construction tool maker. "Poland is becoming multiethnic."


Greg Siskind of the US, Sergio Karas of Canada and Graeme Kirk of the United Kingdom were all speakers at the International Business Immigration Conference this past week in Kitzbuhel, Austria sponsored by the Center for International Legal Studies.

Greg, Sergio and Graeme all discussed the latest immigration developments in their countries.

Monday, January 8, 2007

SMALL FIRMS ALIGN IN CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE reports on how a number of smaller European firms are entering in to alliances similar to Visalaw International, the global immigration lawyers alliance.