Rachael J Anderson is a lawyer focused on immigration, citizenship and refugee law located in Edmonton, Alberta. Rachael is a member of The Law Society of Alberta and active with the local Canadian Bar Association (CBA) Immigration Section.
Rachael has successfully helped over 500 clients resolve their immigration matters, including applications and appeals for families, businesses and refugees. She has represented clients before all of the major immigration tribunals, including Immigration Appeal Division (IAD) and Refugee Protection Division (RPD). She regularly appears before the Federal Court of Canada, the last resort for those who have had their applications rejected and may be facing imminent deportation.
Prior to starting her own firm in 2013, Rachael worked for two years with a well known immigration lawyer, Ahlam J Balazs. Rachael achieved her J.D. from the University of Alberta. Rachael’s strong roots in social justice are evident in her Social Work background. A global citizen at heart, Rachael also received a B.A. with distinction majoring in East Asian Studies and is fluent in Mandarin Chinese.
In her spare time, Rachael enjoys baking and cycling with her toddler around Edmonton.
We have a basic three step approach to working with clients on all types of immigration matters. Although every case is different, here is an overview of what to expect when you work with an experienced immigration lawyer:
The first step is for us to meet and discuss your situation. Each person’s immigration options are different and it is important to understand the range of possible outcomes. At this time, an agreement may be reached regarding what legal services will be required and what is the cost. We recognize that immigration legal fees are a significant cost to most families and we will develop a plan to keep the cost reasonable for your situation.
We are committed to providing access to justice for all people, and Rachael is an active legal aid roster lawyer. Legal Aid Alberta arranges a wide variety of legal services, including refugee and immigration matters, for low income Albertans. During the consultation, we can provide an overview of the Legal Aid process, if required.
Once we have agreed on an overall approach, we will develop more specific plans to achieve your immigration goals. This may involve collecting information from you and your family and obtaining additional documentation. Immigration matters often involve coordinating a large number of documents in multiple languages from different countries around the world. We have experience working with a broad range of government agencies to obtain required documents. We are also able to pass on savings to our clients by using low cost, yet reliable, translation services.
We are a law office focused on immigration and take time to prepare personalized statements and review required forms. In a recent study of refugee cases in Canada, there was a correlation between applicant’s success and the thoroughness of the submission. We take the view that each submission should be crafted to the situation of the particular applicant and we take pride in preparing well organized, complete and thoughtful submissions. If your case will require a hearing or an interview, we will work with you to prepare you for the process so that you are able to present all the facts of your case clearly to the official or board member.
After submitting your application there is a period of time that will pass while the government reviews your file or you wait for your tribunal or court date. Waiting for prolonged periods of time is an unfortunate reality with the immigration system, and this time can be extremely stressful for you and your loved ones. We understand this difficulty and work as your advocate to obtain responses within a reasonable time frame.
As a law office focused on immigration, we are in contact regularly with the Government of Canada. We will regularly communicate with you throughout the process and to provide updates and promptly notify you if there are any follow-up requests that need attention. We have a limited roster of clients so that we are able to keep your case front of mind as the process unfolds. We take pride in being responsive to our client’s needs and provide after-hours contact information in case of emergency.
We would definitely recommend RJA Law to friends and family. Working with Rachael meant having peace of mind during processing time and that nothing was missed when documents were submitted due to the thorough work she did. I was very satisfied with how concerned they were for my case and in the end it was successful. A good law firm. Very professional and they will keep you updated all the time!
Can you tell me if I am eligible to come and stay in Canada?
In broad terms, there are three ways to become a permanent resident in Canada: economic programs, family class and refugees. Each of these is quite different and there are often changes to the program criteria so the Government’s web sites are the best source for up to date information. We are able to meet with you discuss your options and walk you though all of the required information.
How much does it cost?
Immigration can be an expensive undertaking and we understand legal fees are a significant cost for most families. We often work with clients within a budget and are able to develop plan together.
Before we provide an estimate of the cost for your particular matter, we will meet for a consultation. Our standard consultation fee is $175 for a 45 minute in person meeting to review any documents you have and receive advice on your situation. Our office rate for legal services is $225 per hour and for most assignments we will quote a fixed price. In addition to legal fees, there are expenses such as couriers, translation and other experts as well as government processing fees.
We are serious about ensuring all people have access to justice and regularly take legal aid files. Legal Aid Alberta is able to refer immigration cases to our office that meet their eligibility criteria. Free advice is also available on certain immigration and refugee matters through Edmonton Community Legal Centre, where members of our team have volunteered in the past.
How long will it take for me to get my application processed?
Unfortunately, immigration is a significant undertaking and there are a number of time consuming steps involved. The Government of Canada publishes average processing times and we can often use these as a guideline. We are experienced in preparing application packages and are often able to meet tight timelines however it will depend on the complexity of the case involved. During the processing period, we can act as your representative and ensure that a prompt reply is given to any information requests that come up.
Can’t I just complete an application myself?
Certainly there are many people who complete immigration applications on their own or with the help of a family member. Many of the government forms are straight forward and the Government of Canada has made significant efforts to improve their website and online application portal. For many people with a relatively straight forward situation this is an excellent option.
An experienced immigration lawyer will be able to quickly assess your situation and provide you with advice on the best approach to proceed. This includes deciding on what type of application is mostly likely to be successful. During an immigration consultation, it could be that the best way forward is for a client to complete their own application with some additional support documents, such as a statutory declaration.
If your decision is to have a representative complete and file your application you can have the peace of mind that you have an experienced and professional partner in the immigration process. During the processing period there are often requests for additional information or documentation and having a representative will ensure that those requests are answered promptly and correctly.
What is the difference between an immigration lawyer and an immigration consultant?
Due to issues of exploitation of vulnerable people in the immigration system, anyone who provides Canadian immigration or citizenship advice for a fee must be a lawyer or a registered as a consultant through the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC). The Government of Canada has produced a short video to help identify and avoid fraudulent consultants. Be especially cautious of anyone who guarantees a successful application or who claims they have a ‘special’ way to achieve status quickly.
Registered immigration consultants will manage the preparation of a range of application packages and are often a lower cost choice depending on the complexity of the file. Registered consultants have undergone police background checks, completed an accredited immigration practitioner’s program and passed a skills exam. Consultants are also able to represent individuals before boards and in certain types of appeal hearings.
Lawyers are experts in Canada’s immigration laws and are better able to handle more complex cases. As they are governed by Provincial law societies, they can offer you a fully confidential, accountable, and professional service. In the case of appeals to the Federal Court, a lawyer is the only authorized representative. You can verify that an individual is a practicing lawyer in Alberta and member in good standing through the Law Society of Alberta website. A lawyer who regularly handles immigration matters will have the knowledge and experience to help you develop a strategy for success.