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.