The phone rings in the middle of the night……it’s a client…..you haven’t heard from them in a couple of years…..you assume everything is okay but the client is calling from the Immigration Detention Center. He has been detained and is being held for staying in Canada illegally! He’s desperate for your help.

How can this be? You remember having completed his work permit application. The story comes out slowly. Didn’t we get a positive LMO and do your work permit application 2 years ago? The client responds: “Yes we did but I never filed it”. What! Why?

This was definitely an “Oh My God” moment for me. I’m use to having successful cases with positive approvals. What can I do for this client? This is not a question of whether or not we can win this case. The client has been in Canada illegally for 2 years, working and to make matters worse, he was promoting his business on his Facebook page (easy documentation for the CBSA officer in their case against him). There is no winning to be had in this case. He will have to leave Canada because of his failure to file his work permit application. What can I possibly do for him?

It’s frustrating because I want to win this case but can’t. I have to do what I can. What I can do is get him out of detention and minimize the damage (make sure that he can eventually return to his life in Canada). This is a tough case because he knew he was in Canada illegally and he knew he needed a work permit. There was no excusing the clients performance.

I knew that if I accomplish these things it would be as close to a success as we could achieve.
If I got him out of detention, he could get his things in order before he was required to leave the country and if I could minimize the extent of the exclusion order he could return after 1 year.
The CBSA officer was asking for permanent deportation. It was going to be a tough fight.

Before the deportation hearing, I requested that my client bring $5000 as a security bond. I felt that this would indicate our desire to leave as requested and not require further detention.
I felt that with the bond I could get him released and now what I needed was a little luck in finding a sympathetic judge who was willing to listen to my arguments that my client wasn’t a bad person but just a decent person who made a decidedly poor decision but youthful decision to forego filing his Work Permit (after all he had received a positive LMO).

Luck was with us and I got the client released and even though he will need to leave Canada soon, the judge was listened and didn’t impose a permanent deportation order contrary to the CBSA officers request. We now have breathing room to contemplate a strategy for his return in a years. It wasn’t perfect but it was the best we could expect. I know it. My client knows it.

God, I hate those late night phone calls!