Veronika Barbakadze finds the practice of immigration consulting rewarding on many levels. Whether she is explaining our complex immigration system to an individual seeking to make Canada their permanent home or strategizing with a skilled worker or student on a temporary visa on how to transition to permanent residence, she appreciates the challenges in the legal system and understands how her work impacts real lives.
Veronika learned the challenges of immigration the hard way. Born in Ukraine and raised in Georgia until her teenage years, Veronika and her family fled to Israel in 1992 at the start of the civil war in Georgia. In Israel, Veronika developed a successful career in hospitality and tourism, which brought her to Canada at the age of 25 to study hotel management at George Brown College in order to expand her knowledge and gain opportunities in global hospitality arenas. By the time she was nearing graduation, she was married and had begun to start a family and self-navigated the immigration process to become a Canadian citizen.
Shortly after, on the advice of an Immigration lawyer, Veronika’s mother applied for and received refugee status and joined Veronika and her family in Canada. Within three years, her mother’s refugee status ended, and she was deported. It was watching the way her mother’s “highly regarded” attorney handled her case that got Veronika thinking that immigration law might be her calling. “I’m not sure if he didn’t care or if he was just plain negligent, but at that moment I realized that I could argue her case much better,” says Veronika. Veronika then engaged a caring, compassionate Immigration professional who helped sort out her mother’s paperwork and she was able to return to Canada. “I saw two people in the same profession handle the same situation very differently,” says Veronika.
Veronika got a job as an independent associate working for the immigration consultant who had helped her mother, who then became her mentor. While working at the firm for six years, she completed her diploma in Immigration Consultancy with honors from Humber College in Toronto and received her designation of a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant.
In September 2017, Veronika realized her dream of starting her own immigration consultancy business, opening the doors to Veronika Barbakadze & Associates in the shared office space of Sloan Partners in North York. “It seemed like the right time. My children are older now, and I wanted to spread my wings and fly.”
Her firm offers a full range of efficient immigration solutions for permanent and temporary residency as well as assists clients seeking Canadian business opportunities under the Start Up Program and Provincial Business streams. Veronika represents Canadian corporations who seek to fill labour shortages or attract specialized knowledge foreign professionals through the complex requirements of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and applications for Labour market Impact Assessments (LMIA).
She boasts a 98 percent success rate among clients. She is proud of the fact that she can build winning cases that resolve complex immigration matters, including those in which clients have faced prior refusals. “We joke around the office that we always get the cases that seem doomed,” says Veronika with a laugh. “But through our determination and passionate advocacy we get results where others haven’t been successful.”
Veronika, who speaks four languages (English, Russian, Hebrew and Georgian), communicates with many of her clients in their own language, offering a sense of security and trust during a complicated process. “Being able to express themselves in their own language can have a huge effect on a client’s case,” says Veronika. “The level of communication allows me to find out information that can greatly affect the immigration process.” In fact, she has plans to learn three additional languages, starting with French. “Seven is the goal,” she says proudly.
Veronika is already expanding her business, recently hiring two associates and expanding office space in the Sloan building. She plans to introduce seminars for people interested in immigrating and for companies looking to recruit foreign talent under the International Mobility Program.
“I have a real passion for my work. Each client is different and has a unique set of circumstances,” says Veronika. “Immigration is not just about the individual person; it affects their entire family.”