No honest lawyer makes such claims

On more than a few occasions in my twenty years of practice, prospective clients have declined to use my services because I wouldn’t “guarantee” the outcome of their immigration application.

They claimed that for a few dollars more, they could be “guaranteed” the desired result by some unnamed immigration official or adviser.


In such circumstances, it’s hard to distinguish between bluster and a genuine criminal enterprise.

However, what is clear is that such corruption does exist.

In June, Yves Bourbonnais, a former member of the Immigration and Refugee Board, was sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty to 30 counts of conspiracy and obstructing justice.

He and his accomplices solicited bribes to ensure the success of immigration appeals — for cash payments of up to $15,000.

Last week, Michael O’- Keefe, a senior official at the U.S. consulate in Toronto was indicted for allegedly accepting bribes in connection with U.S. visa applications. The payoff is reported to have included exotic dancers, trips to Las Vegas, jewelry, etc. He and an alleged beneficiary of this scheme, face up to 15 years in jail.

While crooked immigration officials and advisors may offer socalled “guarantees,” honest immigration lawyers can’t.

The Rules of Professional Conduct of Ontario’s Law Society of Upper Canada state that “a lawyer should be wary of bold and confident assurances to the client, especially when the lawyer’s employment may depend upon advising in a particular way.”

A lawyer or consultant who purports to guarantee the successful outcome of an immigration application or hearing may be just as dishonest as an immigration official on the take. Even in a straightforward case, an application can be refused for a wide variety of reasons beyond the control of the attending lawyer or consultant.

For example, an applicant who is healthy and crime-free at the time that the guarantee is made can later take ill or be charged with a crime. A relationship that initially seems genuine can experience a breakdown. Documents intended to support an application can prove to be false or unverifiable. The most promising application can be doomed if the government, again, introduces retroactive legislation.

Furthermore, lawyers can’t control which visa officer will review an application or which judge will hear an appeal. Key witnesses who are expected to strengthen a case can become unavailable or end up providing damaging testimony.

Accordingly, it’s always best to be wary of those who offer “guarantees” over matters they can’t control.

Guidy Mamann is the senior lawyer at Mamann & Associates and is certified by the Law Society as an immigration specialist. Reach him at 416-862-0000.

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