Immigration lawyer aids all ages. Bola Akinnusi Janis Ramsay photo
BARRIE – From adopting a tiny baby to bringing your grandparents to Canada, Bola Akinnusi is ready to help Barrie residents.
Practising immigration and refugee law, Akinnusi set up shop in Barrie earlier this summer.
“My main focus in Barrie is immigration, as I discovered a year ago there was a need for an immigration lawyer in Barrie,” said Akinnusi.
“I don’t think there is a law firm that exclusively covers it in this area. Barrie is a diverse community and there are a lot of immigrant families coming here.”
Akinnusi has been a lawyer since 1993, and originated her work in Nigeria.
“I’m an immigrant myself,” she said.
She decided to move here after learning how receptive Canada is to accepting new families.
But since then, the laws have changed and it’s more difficult for people to obtain permanent residency, she said.
Wading through the legal system is only part of the problem. New families may find it difficult to integrate into a new community, and may also have problems finding a job, said Akinnusi.
“Then they have to go back because at the end of the day, they lose their residency.”
In a smaller city like Barrie or the surrounding communities, it can be easy for someone to get lost, especially with language or transportation barriers.
“I’ve had families say they’ve been looking for an immigration lawyer for months,” said Akinnusi.
She’s also had to deal with deportation appeals, which are always sad stories.
“It’s a tough call, but the judges have to follow the letter of the law. If they’ve been here for 20 years, they can look at the humanitarian issues,” said Akinnusi.
She has also defended refugees who are fleeing from their country for safety reasons.
“We have a lot from the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community. You don’t talk about being gay in Nigeria. It’s illegal there, and they’ll be dead,” said Akinnusi.
While each case is unique and some may be more complicated than others, Akinnusi advises people not to hide from the government to stay in Canada.
“Don’t go underground. You don’t want to live your entire life looking over your shoulder,” she said.
She did say timelines for each case vary, and even for some straightforward applications, it could take months or years for residency status to be granted.
For example, couples adopting foreign children may have to wait before bringing a baby home, even if they’ve met all the Canadian criteria to adopt.
“The government has agencies (to help with adoption), but I believe you would still need a lawyer to guide you through the process. The baby needs a visa, then you have to adopt it legally in that country.”
To contact Akinnusi, call 705-792-7818 to book an appointment.
Article posted in African community, Communities, Family reunification/Sponsorship, Immigration, International adoption