The Danger Of Relying On General Knowledge When Making Decisions About Immigration Law

Clients will often say that they have heard some fact about immigration from a friend or neighbour and want to confirm that it’s true.

They have a sort of general knowledge about immigration issues based on other people’s experiences, and they want to know if this applies to them.

This creates an incredibly difficult situation because I do not know the context in which the information was shared. I do not know the circumstances, the parties involved or when that question was asked. For example, if a third-year student, who is here on a student visa, came to me last September and asked if, after graduation, he could get a work permit for one year, I would have answered that if he stays in Kitchener-Waterloo he could get a permit for up to two years. If the same student came to me today, I have to say, it is not one or two years, it is three years. If he is a co-op student, or if he’s decided to look for work in an area outside of his field of study, that changes things. He could be a third year student about to get married to a Canadian citizen, or he may be in third year, but has also brought his wife with him and they are expecting their first child. Everyone is different, everyone has different situation; thus, every answer is different in each of those situations. The knowledge required to give an accurate answer is really not general at all.

When people come to me and repeat advice or information they have received from other sources, such as family, friends, co-workers, or church groups, I basically say two things. One is, be careful, because there may be certain circumstances that we don’t know about. My second response is, why you don’t ask me that same question and when I answer it according to your situation, we’ll see if it’s same answer as your friend or minister or co-worker gave you. With my experience and access to all the up-to-date sources of information, I am more likely than any of their own sources to provide the correct information. Furthermore, it is important to me that prospective clients rely upon my advice or recommendations. If they cannot rely upon me or my office to provide expertise, then why should they hire me in the first place? On the other hand, why should I rely on them for providing me full information in order for me to provide proper legal services? The most important thing I must do during my initial consultation is to start a trusting relationship between my office and prospective clients for mutual respect and benefits.

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If you, or someone you care about, is dealing with immigration law issues in the Kitchener, Ontario Region, contact Jennifer Roggemann Law Office for a consultation.

This information is taken from an interview from June 20, 2008 interview with Jennifer Roggemann, Immigration Lawyer with Jennifer Roggemann Law Office, a Kitchener Ontario Canada Immigration Law Firm. This article is provided as an information service only and should not be used as legal advice. Laws vary by jurisdiction so please consult with an appropriate legal professional if you are looking for help with a specific situation.