Immigration Advisory Committee (IAC)

Established in 1994, the Immigration Advisory Committee identifies critical issues from the institutional perspective, in particular systemic issues affecting international students, and works with CBIE and with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to attempt to resolve them.

The committee serves as the communication liaison with CBIE members on immigration issues, and facilitates the development of more effective policies, procedures and systems meeting the needs of international students and institutions.

Learn More about the IAC

Meet our Members

Anne Christensen
Director, Development and Partnerships
CBIE (co-chair)
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Since 2010, Anne has held various positions at the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) working to promote Canada’s international relations through international education by way of advocacy, research, technical assistance and capacity building services. In addition to working on CBIE’s strategic and corporate development portfolio, over the last 9 years she managed various Government of Canada funded technical assistance development projects. Anne holds a Masters of International Public Policy from the Balsillie School of International Affairs, at Wilfrid Laurier University.

Philipp Reichert
Manager, International Programs and Services
UBC Okanagan (co-chair)
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Philipp is an RCIC and the Manager of International Programs & Services at UBC Okanagan campus and a member of the Central Okanagan Local Immigration Partnership Committee (COLIP). He completed his Master’s degree with honours in International Relations University of Leiden in the Netherlands where he was a Nuffic Huygens scholar. Philipp has a doctorate from the University of Calgary where his research focused on the internationalization of higher education and the nexus of government policy, institutional programming, and international student career transitions

Philipp has over 15 years experience studying and working internationally in a variety of capacities. Before joining UBC, he worked at the Rotterdam School of Management at Erasmus University, and the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies, in the Netherlands. In addition to his role at UBC, he is an instructor/consultant for CBIE’s International Students and Immigration Education Program (ISIEP) and is involved in various community activities focused on topics related to equity/diversity and welcoming newcomers to the Okanagan Valley. In 2016, he was recognized for his contributions to international education in Canada with the CBIE North Star Award for Emerging Leader in International Education.

Imarú Baquero
Imarú Baquero
Manager, International Student Services
University of Lethbridge
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Imarú (Ima) Baquero has worked in international education for over 10 years, in both college and university environments, and currently works as the Manager, International Student Services at the University of Lethbridge. Her responsibilities have included international strategic planning, international student support and advising, education abroad, partnership development, and international student enrolment management. Imarú is a Regulated International Student Immigration Advisor since 2017, she is one of the instructors of the CBIE International Students and Immigration Education Program, and she has served as a co-champion of CBIE’s Student Services Professional Learning Community.

Patrick Bissonnette
Conseiller aux étudiants étrangers
Université Laval
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Patrick is an International Student Advisor at Université Laval since 2006 and he is also since 2017 one of the instructors of the Programme d’études sur l’immigration et les étudiants internationaux (PEIEI). He holds the RISIA designation since 2016 as well as a bachelor in Social Work (Université Laval, 2004). He has a lifelong interest in International Education and is fluent in French, English and Spanish.

Brianna (Bree) Carney
Immigration Consultant, HR Immigration
University of Calgary
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Bree has been working in the field of international education for close to a decade. Bree’s experience involves a unique array of having been an international exchange student herself during her degree, providing support and guidance on study abroad programming, aiding international students in navigating the complex world of student immigration, and now working for human resources in bringing foreign academics, researchers, and support staff onto the university campus. This experience has allowed Bree to gain a holistic understanding of the complexities surrounding international education in Canada, and in particular, the challenges post-secondary’s face with trying to navigate Canadian Immigration policies and regulations in the face of ever changing curricula and internal university policies.

Vanesa Casanovas Michel
Vanesa Casanovas Michel
International Recruitment and Immigration Advisor, Department of International Affairs (DIA)
Fédération des cégeps
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Ms. Casanovas Michel holds a BA in political science and administration from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (2002) and a graduate diploma in international studies from the Université de Montréal (2005). In February 2016, she became a certified Regulated Immigration Counsellor for International Students (RISIA) and has since been collaborating with the Canadian Bureau for International Education on a number of education projects, including the International Students and Immigration Education Program (ISIEP) and “Immigration Policy and Law in Practice” – a continuing education workshop.

Ms.  Casanovas Michel is the International Recruitment and Immigration Advisor at the Fédération des cégeps, an organization that represents 48 public CEGEPS in Quebec. Its mandate is to promote them, defend their interests, support their development, facilitate collaborative work and provide services and advice so they can carry out their educational mission.

Previously, Ms. Casanovas Michel was the person in charge of international students and the international exchange program at Polytechnique Montréal. In her role, she coordinated welcome services, as well as transition and integration services for international students and offered advice on federal and provincial immigration to this group. She also coordinated the 2010 and 2011 editions of Accueil Plus, a welcome service that allows international students arriving at the airport in Montreal in the summer to enjoy a more simplified entry process with the Canada Border Services Agency.

Lisa Griffin Ndour
Responsable, Services aux étudiantes et étudiants internationaux et de la mobilité étudiante
Université de Moncton
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Lisa Griffin Ndour grew up in the city of Moncton where she pursued her studies at the Université de Moncton, recently graduating with an MB. She has worked for more than 10 years in the international field helping immigrants here in Canada and abroad in different roles: helping aspiring Canadians to study or work abroad, creating and delivering workshops on intercultural skills, working as an immigration officer for the Province of New-Brunswick and providing employability advice to international students in the context of immigration. She has also worked with different welcome centers to help newcomers integrate and adjust to Canadian life. She currently works at the Université de Moncton as head of International Student Services and Student Mobility and runs her own business as an immigration consultant. Having studied, worked and lived in different countries such as Mexico, Niger, Senegal, France and Belgium, she is really passionate about helping newcomers integrate and find their place in her community.

Celine Huang
Manager, International Student Services
Vancouver Community College
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Celine has been working in the International Education field for over 10 years with a specialization in international student services and intercultural communication. In her current role as Manager, International Student Services at Vancouver Community College, she is responsible for overseeing operations in international student support, advising services, and student engagement. Celine has received her RISIA certificate in 2017 after challenging the exam, and has since been using her skills in policy development within the institution, providing consulting support to various departments, and advising international students on immigration matters. She received her Bachelor in Arts from Simon Fraser University as well as her Masters in Intercultural and International Communication from Royal Roads University where her research project was focused on pre-arrival support for incoming international students

Jean Lomas
Jean Lomas
International Student Advisor, Immigration Specialist
Simon Fraser University
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With over a decade of experience in international education, Jean has a keen interest in the interplay between immigration policy, institutional policy, and international students’ daily realities. Her passion for international education stems from her experience as an international graduate student in Ireland, and she has since had the privilege to work with students and educators at both the college and university levels. In her current role as an International Student Advisor, Immigration Specialist at Simon Fraser University, Jean helps international students and their families navigate the complexities of immigration policy, and works with faculty to facilitate the entry of visiting research students to Canada.

Jean holds a BA from the University of Victoria and an MA from University College Cork. She has been an RCIC since 2014.

Bonnie McKie
Bonnie McKie
Executive Director
Canadian Association of Public Schools – International (CAPS-I)
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Bonnie McKie has provided leadership in international education within the K-12 public school sector for 19 years. She has been the Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Public Schools International (CAPS-I) since the not-for-profit association’s incorporation in 2008.

Prior to joining CAPS-I, as Manager of International Education for the Surrey School District, Bonnie developed the International Student Program for the largest public school district in British Columbia.

She also served on the Executive Committee of IPSEA (International Public School Education Association of BC) as Vice-President and as Co-Convenor of the Global Alliance of Education and Language Associations.

Leyda-Melissa Paulmier
Immigration Advisor/ Conseillère en Immigration
McGill University
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Melissa is an immigration advisor at McGill University’s International Student Services office. Prior to working at McGill, she worked as an immigration lawyer at a Montreal based firm that specialized in immigration law. She holds a Bachelor of Laws from the Université de Montréal and a Bachelor of Science from McGill University. She is a member of the Barreau du Québec.

Larissa Strong
Director, International Education
St. Francis Xavier University
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Larissa has worked in the International Education sector for the past 19 years in both colleges and universities. Starting as an International Student Advisor at Niagara College, then Project Manager of Strategic International Initiatives at York University, Manager of International Education at Durham College, and now Director of Internationalization at St. Francis Xavier University. She has experience with international student support, establishing international partnerships, managing education abroad programs, student programming and services, managing international projects, and international recruitment and admissions. Her work and passion focus on building and contributing to communities of knowledge that promote international education provincially, nationally, and internationally.

Ashley Sullivan
Manager, International Admissions & Enrolment, RISIA
George Brown College
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Ashley Sullivan has 11 years’ experience working in the Ontario College sector. She is the Manager, International Admissions and Enrolment at George Brown College in Toronto. Previous to her current role, Ashley was the Manager, International Student Services and Support at George Brown College for 8 years. She is passionate about supporting the positive transition of international students to Canada and assisting in their academic and career goals. Ashley also has experience working in international education abroad in Ireland as a Global Officer at Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin.

Ashley is a Regulated International Student Immigration Advisor (RISIA) and holds a Master’s of
Professional Education, specializing in International Education, from the University of Western Ontario.

Patrick Sullivan
Director, International Centre
Southern Alberta Institute of Technology
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Patrick is an experienced international education and immigration professional with over 12 years of international academic, work (Americas and Asia), program support and development, and policy research and analysis. In addition to holding a Master’s Degree in Immigration and Settlement Studies, a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations, and being fluently trilingual in English, Spanish and Portuguese, he is also a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant certified to advise on all things immigration.

Currently, as Director, International Centre, Patrick determines and carries out the strategic direction of SAIT’s Global Strategy. In collaboration with academic and other administrative departments, he oversees the designing, development, planning, implementation, and periodic assessment of campus-wide, comprehensive recruitment, immigration, cultural, social, and outreach programs, and services for all international students at SAIT.

Will Tao
Immigration and Refugee Lawyer
Edelmann & Co
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Will Tao, BA, JD, is a Canadian immigration and refugee lawyer at Edelmann & Co. He provides legal services in all areas of Canadian immigration and refugee law, with a focus on complex refusals, appeals and judicial reviews within the context of international students and study permits.

Will also provides strategic advice and consulting to government, media, educational institutions, and businesses on immigration/refugee, decolonization and race/inclusion-related issues. His law blog, Vancouver Immigration Blog, recently won a 2019 Best Law and Commentary Blog in Canada (Clawbies) Award.

Will’s current project is working with his colleague Edris Arib to build the Arenous Foundation, a non-profit advocacy, research, and education organization, for which he is a Director and co-Founder.