Jacqueline is the managing partner of BARTLAW LLP and is a Law Society-certified immigration specialist, with over 25 years of experience in Canadian immigration law. She is the author, co-author and/or editor-in-chief of over 20 immigration law books, including the 3,000-plus-page quarterly updated Canada/US Relocation Manual, in addition to over 150 other immigration law publications. Jacqueline has held numerous prestigious executive positions at national and international bar associations and has moderated, chaired or presented at over 100 law conferences worldwide. She has served as an expert witness on immigration matters arising in litigation.
We understand that in addition to practising corporate immigration, you are involved in various other immigration law activities. Please update us on your projects this year.
In addition to our regular quarterly and yearly law book and publication updates, I was appointed as co-chair of the Immigration Committee of the American Bar Association (ABA) international law section and vice-chair of the Canada committee of the ABA SIL. I was also appointed as an officer of the Senior Lawyer’s Committee of the IBA. These roles involve substantial committee management, preparation of continuing legal education programs and related publications and the opportunity to reach out to my colleagues in meaningful collaborative ways. My previous experience as past president of the Immigration and Nationality Commission of the International Association of Lawyers (UIA) and my service as president of the UIA Annual Congress, Toronto (2017) have provided me with the necessary experience for these new appointments.
How has covid-19 affected clients? What do you predict to be the long-term effects of the pandemic on your practice?
During the first stages of the pandemic, in April and most of May 2020, corporate clients were basically shut down. Our corporate immigration work dried up. We were worried. However, by June, clients could no longer remain shut down and our office exploded with work. We had difficulty taking holidays because we were all extremely busy this summer. Our team has worked day and night to meet client demands. Travel bans and border closures have led to a plethora of new regulation both in immigration and quarantine law. The policy initially trickled out by our Canadian government through orders in council, which led to some interpretative murkiness. However, by July 2020, the government had established a robust pandemic immigration legislative framework for balancing the need for corporate immigration, and public health and safety. As immigration lawyers, we generally disagree with any type of travel ban or border closure; however, given the health risks involved, Canadian immigration lawyers largely supported our government, while pressing for business immigration exemptions and clarity.
What impact has the pandemic had on Canada’s immigration policy with regards to the issuance of work permits?
At the beginning of the pandemic, the border was substantially closed to foreign workers. It was extremely difficult to obtain work permit adjudications at visa offices (because the visa offices and VACs had generally closed) or even from the inland government processing centres. By June and July, the pandemic immigration policies had been refined and clarified. Bringing foreign workers from the USA was no longer as challenging. Our pandemic immigration laws are separate the USA from the rest of the world. Canada’s polices are more facilitative for US entries than for all other international entries. Internationally, it has been challenging to bring foreign workers to Canada because we must ensure that they are able to board the plane. In order to do so, foreign authorities often consult with our Canada Border Service Agents and the results can be varied where discretion is involved. To avoid unwanted discretion and now that the visa offices and VACs are slowly opening, we generally seek pre-approvals through the missions whenever possible for our foreign workers. However, in urgent cases, pre-approval is not possible because of delayed entry, such as in cases of emergency repair foreign workers seeking entry to avoid a manufacturing collapse at a company.
You note that Canada’s immigration policy and laws are rapidly evolving following the coronavirus pandemic; what are the main challenges you face from this?
Canada’s pandemic immigration laws are constantly evolving to balance health and safety measures, and business demands. This means that the work of a corporate immigration lawyer has become much more complex during the pandemic. The pandemic fundamentally changed the way that immigration law is practised, and micro-changes occur on a daily basis in each area of immigration law and practice. Processing has never been so complex. In addition, Canadian immigration lawyers have become Quarantine Act experts!
How do you see your practice developing in the next five years?
Our office has grown in the past five years and we’ve hired additional law clerks and administrative personnel. Our lawyers are all graduates from the top four law schools in the country with high marks. We are currently hiring clerks with common law jurisdictions law firm training so that we maintain our standard of high-quality legal services, and so that they can keep up with the culture of our reputable and specialised firm. In the next five years, I aim to continue and refine our hiring choices for ongoing and even superior delivery of our high-quality corporate immigration law services. My motto for hiring is: the quality of the law firm team IS the law firm.
What advice would you give to younger corporate immigration lawyers hoping to one day be in your position?
Immigration law is an excellent choice for the practice of law because it is growing in prominence, complexity and volume throughout the world. I strongly encourage new lawyers to choose this rewarding area of practice that touches on human rights, business, employment, family, criminal, corporate, medical, transactional and many other areas of law. However, it is challenging. Lives and livelihoods are counting on your successful work. Young lawyers will need to work hard and have an interest in people and in helping clients in difficult situations. “Corporate immigration” law is somewhat of a misnomer, because there is much more humanity associated with corporate immigration than corporate work.
Leading lawyer Jacqueline Bart is “the queen of Canadian immigration law” and “wonderful to work with” according to impressed peers. She offers full-service corporate immigration expertise.
Jacqueline is a Law Society-certified immigration specialist, with over 25 years of experience in Canadian immigration law. She is the author, co-author and/or editor-in-chief of 18 immigration law books, including the 3,000-plus-page quarterly updated Canada/US Relocation Treatise, in addition to over 110 other immigration law publications. Jacqueline has held numerous prestigious executive positions at national and international bar associations and has moderated, chaired or spoken at over 90 law conferences worldwide.
Jacqueline began her career at Canada's largest law firm, after completing contracts at the High Court of Justice in London, UK; and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHRC) in Geneva. She founded BARTLAW – a top tier Canadian immigration firm that has received many national and international awards – in 1994.
Jacqueline is the vice-chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) international law section's immigration and naturalisation committee and a member of the ABA steering group for the international law practice management forum. She is the immediate past president of the immigration and nationality commission of the International Association of Lawyers (UIA) and of the UIA Annual Congress, Toronto (2017).
Jacqueline has chaired and/or presented on Canadian immigration law, inter alia, at the World Trade Organization (WTO), International Bar Association (IBA), UIA, Inter-Pacific Bar Association (IPBA), Canadian Bar Association (CBA), Ontario Bar Association (OBA), American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), ABA, Council of Canadian Administrative Tribunals (CCAT), International Association of Young Lawyers (AIJA) and the Worldwide Relocation Council (WRC).
She is a retired member of the diplomatic corps in Toronto, as an ex officio honorary Consul of Ecuador. In her spare time, Jacqueline volunteers for various children's charities and provides pro bono immigration assistance at the Sick Children's Hospital in Toronto.