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.