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Message from the Chair

Dear Members,

It is with great pleasure that I write to introduce myself as the incoming Chair of the National Immigration Law Section for the September 2014 - September 2015 term.

There can be no doubt that the past year has been a tumultuous one for those seeking to enter and remain in Canada, and for the immigration lawyers who represent them. A veritable flurry of change has created uncertainty in many areas of immigration law and policy and demanded the utmost diligence and innovation in our practices. Against this backdrop, the National Immigration Law Section has undertaken a number of important initiatives under the incredible leadership of our now Past Chair Mario Bellissimo.

Highlights from the year include written submissions on important law reform issues including changes to the TFW program, citizenship eligibility criteria, the refugee claims process, cessation orders and electronic travel authorizations. We held meetings with Minister Alexander and other representatives of CIC, ESDC, DOJ, the Federal Court and the IRB, as well as with opposition critics, during which we discussed issues of concern to our members and clients. Our Section promoted access to justice in the immigration field by establishing a pro bono initiative for those affected by Typhoon Haiyan. We also continued to promote professional development at our signature conference in Calgary -- a sold-out event that brought more than 400 delegates from across Canada and featured an impromptu Q&A session with ESDC Minister Jason Kenney, and the launch of our first ever conference app. This year also saw Erika Heinrich named as the first recipient of the Founder’s Award, a Section initiative geared at supporting future leaders in the immigration field.

Given the increasing demands we face as a Section, a decision was made this year to increase our ranks by adding three new Executive positions. We have also appointed eight Section coordinators to improve our capacity to engage our members and stakeholders. A full listing of our Executive, including our Branch Chairs, can be found here. Congratulations go to Barbara Jo Caruso, recently elected as Secretary, and to the eight Section coordinators (listed below) who have been named for the coming year:

Agenda Committee Co-Chairs: Nathan Po
Chantal Desloges
Communications Coordinator: Roxanne Israel
Past Chair Coordinators: Baerbel Langner
Gordon Maynard
Stakeholder Relations Liaison: Betsy Kane
Submissions Coordinator: Marina Sedai
Young Lawyer Coordinator: Jacqueline J. Bonisteel

Thanks go to Kevin Zemp, who has now completed his five year term as Table Officer, and to our tireless team at the CBA including Kerri Froc (our Law Reform Liaison), Jennifer Lalonde (our Section Liaison), and Tina Ethier (our PD Conference Coordinator). We extend a warm welcome to Augusta Acquah, who will be taking on the role of Section Liaison, and acknowledge both Leslie Huard and Lynn Gagnon, whose invaluable assistance enabled our Section to achieve its goals over the past year.

As your Executive, we will strive to keep you abreast of changes in our practice area over the coming year. We will also endeavor to raise and discuss issues of national importance with senior policy makers. To this end, we ask that you work with our Communications Coordinator, Roxanne Israel, who will be soliciting your input and reporting on our Section’s activities via our national Listserv (follow this link to join the Listserv and review our Code of Conduct). We encourage you to reach out to our Submissions Coordinator, Marina Sedai, to propose issues that we might raise with policy makers, and to get involved in our numerous drafting committees throughout the year. We also invite you to engage your Agenda Committee Co-Chairs, Nathan Po and Chantal Desloges, with feedback on our Section’s CPD activities, including your ideas for our National Immigration Law Conference, which will be held this year at the Westin Hotel in Ottawa from 7-9 May 2015 -- mark your calendars!

Members of the National Immigration Law Section have exclusive access to the practice tools that we publish for our members. These include the Immigration Law brochure and videos that we have developed for use in marketing one’s immigration practice, as well as government contact lists. These and other tools can be found on the Immigration Practice Resources page of our Section’s website.

I am thrilled to be working with such an incredible and diverse team of volunteers and staff during my term as Section Chair, and to be advocating on your behalf for accountability, transparency and respect for the rule of law, and for a high degree of procedural fairness and compassion in the immigration process.

I look forward to meeting many of you in what is certain to be an interesting year ahead.

Yours sincerely,

Deanna L. Okun-Nachoff
CBA National Immigration Law Section Chair


The Immigration Law Section is accepting nominations for its Founders' Award. The successful candidate will be recognized at our National Immigration Law Conference in the spring. If you, or someone you know, should be nominated for the Founders’ Award please apply before November 30th, 2014. The successful candidate must be willing to prepare a paper of 2,500-5,000 words for the Conference if selected. The paper should focus on a broad, timely topic related to immigration, citizenship or refugee law.

For more information on how to apply and for eligibility criteria, please consult our webpage.

National Immigration Law Section Videos

The National Immigration Law Section developed a series of short videos to illustrate the complexity and potential risks that applicants may encounter when they engage the Canadian immigration system. These videos highlight the benefits of obtaining legal advice in advance of making an application and throughout the immigration process, and provide information about where and how to find qualified legal counsel.

To view the videos click here.

Founders' Award Winner

Dear members,

It is with great pride that we announce the winner of our first Founders’ Award: Erika Heinrich. The Founders' Award Committee had a number of strong applicants to consider, but selected Erika Heinrich as the winner of this year's award. Ms. Heinrich will prepare a paper discussing Bill C-31 and comparing it to Australia's mandatory detention policy and temporary protection visa program for refugee claimants who make unauthorized arrivals. Her paper was included in this year’s conference materials and she will receive the award at the 2014 CBA National Immigration Law Conference.

Congratulations to Erika Heinrich!

Mario Bellissimo, Chair of the National Immigration Law Section

CBA immigration lawyers lead pro bono service for Typhoon Haiyan victims

Lawyers in the CBA Immigration Law Section spearheaded an initiative to provide initial legal consultations and to prepare immigration applications without charge for those who have been significantly affected by Typhoon Haiyan. The CBA initiative is offered to fast-track new and existing immigration applications.

For more information, please visit the Initiative for Typhoon Haiyan website.

A National Post article can be found here

Join the National Immigration Law Section Listserv

Preamble and Moderator

The primary objective of the National Immigration Law listserv is to facilitate the sharing of information and ideas to assist members in their practices. It is recognized that the practice of citizenship and immigration law can at times be political by nature. However, in order to encourage full participation by all members, participants share a responsibility to be respectful of the broad diversity of opinions, personal backgrounds and practice areas of our members. Where possible, postings should be concise and repetition avoided. Participants are expected to balance the relevance and importance of any posting with its potential impact on other members. The integrity and effectiveness of the listserv is dependent on the professionalism and collegiality of all members.

The moderator for the National Immigration Law Section listserv is the Section’s Immediate Past Chair. You can find contact information for the Past Chair on the Contacts page.

The moderator does not censor or pre-vet individual postings, but rather is a mediator for disputes, an advisor for members who have questions about the appropriate use of the listserv, and a conduit for complaints which require further action by the CBA Chief Executive Officer or Executive Officers.  The moderator has no formal role in the complaint or appeal process but is available as a resource person for members and for the CBA.

Join the listserv

Recent Submissions

More CBA Submissions


Professional Development

  • National 2015 Immigration Law Conference
    • May 2015 Ottawa, Ontario
    • Wondering what our conferences are like? Watch our video.

    • Missed a conference? See Citizenship and Immigration Section PD archive or purchase course materials through the CBA Store.



  • Meetings with ESDC, CBSA, Federal Court, November 20, 2014 (Ottawa, ON)
  • Meeting with CICIP, November 21, 2014 (Ottawa, ON)
  • Executive Committee Meeting, November 22, 2014 (Ottawa, ON)



This Section's primary objectives are to:

  • maintain a dialogue with the Immigration and Refugee Board and to conduct continuing liaison with its senior officials;
  • discuss existing legislation and proposed legislative changes;
  • ensure that abuses in the enforcement and administration aspects of immigration are publicly voiced;
  • conduct continuing legal education seminars; and
  • enhance the professionalism of lawyers dealing in the area of immigration law.

Around the CBA...

CBA Professional Development
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CBA Mid-Winter Meeting of Council
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