Spousal Sponsorship: Why Hire a Lawyer?
Clients often contact our office asking the same questions:
Can I submit an application on my own?
What are the advantages in hiring a Lawyer?
How to differentiate between all the Lawyers and choose the right one?
The processing time for a Spousal Sponsorship application is lengthy: between 9 and 13 months. With this being the case, it is extremely important to have it done correctly with a strong application being submitted to convince the government the relationship is in fact genuine. Your application must stand out and set itself apart from the numerous fraudulent applications CIC receives each day. It is also a very administrative process; the 120 to 150 page application must be thorough and complete or else it is returned 3 months later. Reasons for refusal and why applications are being returned can be found here.
Advantages of hiring a law firm
By hiring a law firm or lawyer to help you with this process, it will ensure your application is prepared properly and accepted by CPC-M for submission, instead of being returned. This alone will prevent a 3-month delay by not having it returned for being incomplete (and prevent a spouse from falling out of status in Canada). More importantly, a lawyer will address all potential issues ahead of time to prevent a visa officer from flagging the application for an interview, issuing a fairness letter claiming the relationship is not genuine or outright refuse the application. This happens often, even with couples who are in a real relationship. Being in a genuine relationship doesn't automatically give you the right for your spousal application to be approved. You must go over and beyond to prove the genuineness and prepare a strong, convincing application. Common-law partners and relationships newer than 2 years have to submit an even stronger application.
Not all Lawyers, Immigration Consultants, or Law firms are created the same
The mere fact that a person is a lawyer or a consultant or law firm doesn't mean they are competent in handling your file or working in immigration. Do your research! Some are better than others, and choosing the wrong firm will cause stress, heartache, and be a very frustrating process overall.
There are several important criteria when choosing a firm:
Does a lawyer or firm have experience arguing immigration cases at the IAD or Federal court? Firms with this experience argue refused spousal sponsorship cases. These are clients who previously applied on their own or hired poor representation. A firm that argues cases certainly knows how to identify issues before submitting an application. Our firm in fact does have such experience, and we address issues beforehand by drafting a 5 to 6 page submission letter which will accompany your application. This is the first item a visa officer reads and it is a very important part of your application.
Submission letter: the representative you retain must draft a submission letter to present your case and address all issues. Surprisingly, many firms do not draft such a letter as it is time consuming and needs to be customized to each client's circumstance and personal facts. If a firm does draft such a submission letter, it is imperative that they send you a copy for review before submitting the application. Our firm understands the importance of this, and has our clients review the submission letter for them to understand what is being submitted and check for factual correctness. Many firms do not have clients review submission letters before submission which we feel is irresponsible as incorrect facts can lead to misrepresentation. Misrepresentation is serious, and can result in a 5 year ban. We understand the severity of misrepresentation, as our firm also represents clients who find themselves in this unfortunate situation. Do not retain a firm that does not advertise the service of drafting a submission letter or sending it to you for review before submission.
Document Collection & Responsiveness of a firm: many documents are required to prepare a strong application. On average, the finalized application package is 150 pages. This amounts to 50 - 60 documents, forms, etc per application. A firm must be efficient in collecting documents and reviewing documents, otherwise it will be an extremely frustrating process and very time consuming for the client. Be wary of firms that collect documents via email. The result of this practice is that a firm's email account is being flooded by documents from clients. 60 documents per client x 100+ ongoing files, with clients sending one document per email, sent over the course of a month. From an organizational perspective, this is very inefficient. The effect on the client of a firm that collects via email is that they are not very responsive- they can't be. They will not respond to client emails for 4 to 5 business days, as they are sorting through emails and moving documents from email to individual client folders. The majority of time would be spent moving files around and organizing. Important emails from clients who have questions on the process are hidden and buried in between incoming document emails. We know this happens as we used to operate this way in the past before technological advancements. Our firm has adopted technologies to make the process more efficient and no longer collects documents by email. Our firm uses Business Dropbox and grants a client access to their shared folder on our server. Each client logs into Dropbox and drags and drops files into their shared folder via a web-browser, and it automatically arrives organized in their assigned client folder. At all times, a client can see what they have submitted to our firm, and we can too. The benefit of our firm adopting this technology is that we are very responsive- we reply to clients' email inquiries same day, which is not common for immigration law firms. Sadly, clients will understand the importance of this only after they have retained a firm and begin working with them.
Reviews, ratings, testimonials, client feedback: it is very important to do your research and read what other clients have said about their experience while working with a firm. Take your time and read reviews as it will provide some insight as to the process, quality of work and overall experience clients have had with a particular firm. Read our firms reviews to hear what our clients have said.
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