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Immigration Strategy

“Thinking of practicing immigration law? Resilience is required

I have been practicing immigration law – in one capacity or another – for over a decade.

If I have learned one this in that ten years, it’s this:

If you are going to practice in this area of law, you have to be resilient.

You must be able to bounce back from setbacks, and carry on with the work of the day – and then do it again, and again.

Why does immigration law require resilience?

In my view there are a number of unique factors that make immigration law a tough area of practice. Here is an incomplete list.

First, you have to deal with significant DELAYS all the time. Decisions on what should be relatively routine applications are often delayed months or even years due to the volume of applications and government priorities.

There are lengthy processing delays for many Permanent Residence applications, and certain types of work permits and Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) – while we try to guide clients toward the fastest routes, some have no option but to wait many months and even years for a decision.

Posted processing times often change as well, forcing you to go back to a client and explain that it will now take an extra month for a decision.

These delays can erode trust in the lawyer (“it can’t really take this long can it?”), and even clients who are ultimately approved are often exhausted and disappointed by the process.

Second, the system can be faceless and unresponsive. As more and more applications have moved on-line, there is limited interaction with real human beings working inside the system – as a result, it can be difficult to gauge if your advocacy is getting through to anyone until a decision comes down.

It can be very frustrating.

On my worst days, I lament the disconnect between the Trudeau government’s grand language – that Canada is welcoming and open to the world – and the reality of the often faceless, unresponsive immigration system.

A third reason why practicing immigration law requires resilience is that it gets personal – and you can’t help getting invested in your client’s success.

When you are helping an individual or a family migrate to Canada, you often get to know them well and learn about their dreams and aspirations. You often work with clients as they move through the process, transitioning from a temporary foreign worker to a permanent resident. Your work on their immigration application is crucial – doing it well could mean the difference between a family staying in Canada or having to return to their home country to live. You have to take the work seriously, and give your best advice in every case.

It is difficult not to get personally invested, and share the client’s stress as an application grinds its way through the system. On the other hand, you can’t take much time to celebrate your wins – you’ve got to move on to the next challenge.

At the end of the day, practicing immigration law can be very rewarding – I’ll cover that in a later post – but you definitely need to build and maintain resilience to do this challenging work.

…. In later posts I’ll talk a little about how I try to build resilience, and about the more rewarding aspects of the work — thanks all …. “

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