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.

Meet Our Members

Anne Christensen

Anne Christensen
CBIE Director, Development and Partnerships

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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, including a project aimed to support policy reform and implementation mechanisms in Ukraine and a Jordan-based women’s economic empowerment project focused on gender equality and entrepreneurship.

In her role as Director, Development and Partnerships, Anne will leverage her expertise in designing, developing, securing and managing new collaboration models and capacity building projects for a variety of Canadian and international partners.

Anne holds a Masters of International Public Policy from the Balsillie School of International Affairs, at Wilfrid Laurier University.

Jean Lomas
Manager, International Student Advising
University of Victoria

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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 Manager, International Student Advising at the University of Victoria, Jean leads a team of professionals helping international students and their families navigate the complexities of immigration policy and supporting them with settlement resources.

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

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.

Danai Bélanger
Director, Student Experience
Mount Allison University

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Danai Bélanger is a trilingual (Shona, English, and French) Student Experience Director at Mount Allison University. She has a master’s degree from The University of British Columbia-Okanagan in Diversity Education and obtained her RCIC designation in 2015. She has spent the last 14 years navigating Canada’s many immigration systems for various institutions that span four of Canada’s provinces.

She has first-hand experience as a user and educator of Canada’s immigration programs – experiences that have enabled her to provide the highest service to some of the most vulnerable people in post-secondary institutions. This experience has informed her research in community building and public policy, as well as her inherent desire to advocate for improved immigration systems in the post-secondary sector.

She has educated Royal Newfoundland Constabulary police recruits about racial bias amongst Black people and has worked with local government in New Brunswick to create an employment preparation program for international students. She has also worked with Focus for Ethnic Women (FEW) in Ontario to develop employment programming and sourcing federal and provincial funding for initiatives for racialized women.

Danai has worked as a consultant for the ISIEP-PEIEI, creating and editing course content and currently sits on the Student Advising/Conseiller aux étudiants (SACE) committee.

Université Laval

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 RCIC designation since 2021 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.

Amy Braye2

Amy Braye
Manager, International Education Centre
Mount Saint Vincent University

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Amy has been working in the international education sector in Nova Scotia for over 14 years. She began as a study abroad advisor at Dalhousie University, eventually specializing in outbound students, partnerships, and program development. In 2017, she took over managing the International Education Centre at Mount Saint Vincent University, where she oversees international student services and English language programs, in addition to study abroad. Amy holds BA from the University of Victoria, an MA from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Public Administration (MPA) from Dalhousie University. She is also a Regulated International Student Immigration Advisor. Amy is an active contributor to regional projects within both the international student service and study abroad portfolios and is recognized as an innovator in the development of new programs, services and policies that support international students in attaining their goals.

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.

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Mélanie Doyon
International Liaison Manager
Collège Boréal

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Mélanie Doyon has carved out a fascinating career in the cultural and educational fields. Taking a passionate interest in international recruitment and student welcome initiatives, she has been involved in recruiting prospective Collège Boréal students since 2011. In her view, the most interesting and important aspect of her work is supporting international students. She received her RISIA designation (Regulated International Student Immigration Advisor) in 2018. As an involved Franco-Ontarian, she has in-depth knowledge of the field of education in a linguistic minority context. In 2016-2017, she visited more than 23 countries during an around-the-world trip with her partner and children.


Sarah Edwards
International Student Advisor, International Education Office
Durham College

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Sarah has worked in international education for 20 years at Durham College in various capacities from international admissions right through to supporting international students on their post-graduation journey. As an International Student Advisor since 2012, Sarah’s heart has always been in working with international students. She is particularly passionate about helping international students navigate their way through the challenges and successes of post-secondary education and supporting students with getting their Post-Graduation Work Permit.

A strong advocate for and supporter of internationalization in the college sector, Sarah is a graduate of Fleming College in Business Administration – Marketing and Business – Administration – Materials Management). She has been a RISIA since 2018.

Manar Elbarbari
International Student Coordinator / Lead Immigration Advisor
Langara College

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Manar has been working in international education for the last ten years.  She is an international student coordinator (ISC) at Langara College as well as the lead immigration consultant for the institution.  She is the first point of contact for new international students and assists them with their transition to Canadian post-secondary.  Since 2018, Manar has been a Regulated Immigration Consultant. As the immigration lead, she is responsible for educating and supporting the college community on immigration policies.

She is committed to fostering strong relationships while advocating for equity, diversity, and inclusion. Manar has a Bachelor’s from Simon Fraser University and is currently pursuing Master’s degree from Royal Roads University.

Headshot Lisa4

Lisa Griffin Ndour
CBIE Immigration Lead

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For more than a decade, Lisa Griffin Ndour has dedicated her career to helping international students and newcomers to make New Brunswick their home. Fully bilingual, she’s worked at all levels to help immigrants navigate the immigration world and help them settle into her community. This has included working and volunteering with local immigrants’ settlement agencies, as a provincial immigration officer, as an international student advisor, and, most recently, as Manager of International Mobility and Student Services at the Université de Moncton. As an RCIC, she is also the CEO of LGN Services where she manages a series of immigration-related projects with numerous post-secondary institutions as well as the ISIEP-PEIEI program at CBIE. In addition to her professional expertise, Lisa brings her insight and perspective to several regional and national volunteer boards, including CBIE, and the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council.

Mikhail Ivanov
Coordinator, International Recruitment, RISIA
Vancouver Island University

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With over a decade of teaching, student recruitment and advising experience in Eastern Europe, the United States, and the Middle East, Mikhail is passionate about supporting international students and their families in their pursuit for education and possible settlement abroad.

Being a recent immigrant himself, Mikhail moved to Canada in 2018 and worked in both private and public education sectors. In his current role as a Student Recruitment Coordinator at Vancouver Island University, Mikhail focuses on promoting Canada and specifically VIU as a study destination to stakeholders across the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

In addition to his Master’s in Education, Mikhail is a Fulbright scholar who obtained a RISIA designation in 2021. Prior to joining the Immigration Advisory Committee, Mikhail was a member of The International Network of Tomorrow’s Leaders (INTL) professional community of the CBIE.

Outside the office, Mikhail spends his time diving and exploring shorelines of British Columbia.


Diana Jamal-Samborski
International Student Specialist, RCIC
University of Calgary

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Coming soon

Boon Khoo
Manager, Immigration Consulting Services
University of Waterloo

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Boon Khoo is an experienced Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) with a Master’s degree in Peace and Conflict and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She brings a wealth of experience, enriched by a multicultural background and proficiency in multiple languages. With over a decade of expertise in immigration consulting and international student education, Boon excels at simplifying complex immigration regulations and providing personalized guidance to students, along with expert advice to the campus community.

As the Manager of Immigration Consulting Services at the University of Waterloo, Boon spearheads strategic initiatives and guides a team of RCICs in the development and implementation of a comprehensive and proactive immigration consulting service for international students. Previously, at Global Networks Immigrations (GNI), Boon held the role as the Principal Immigration Consultant, where she was instrumental in business development, consultation, and client advocacy.

She enjoys spending time with colleagues and meeting with students, but she also finds solace and pleasure in taking solitary walks.

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.

Zuzana Schmidtova Ritzer
Manager – International Student Support
Southern Alberta Institute of Technology

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Zuzana has been working in international education sector for 12+ years, supporting international learners at institutions in three countries and on two continents.

In addition to her two master’s degrees (Master in North American History and Politics and Master in Management of Non Profit Organizations), Zuzana is also a Regulated International Student Immigration Advisor (RISIA) since 2017, graduating as a part of the the first ever cohort of the program.

An immigrant to Canada herself, she understands the deep impact services tailored directly to international students’ needs can have on their whole journey.

Zuzana is working as a Manager, International Student Support as Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) creating support strategies and services for international learners as well as overseeing the intercultural strategy implementation.

Lana (Svetlana) Volkova
Associate Director, International Student Services
Centre for International Experience
University of Toronto

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Lana (Svetlana) Volkova has worked in international education for over 14 years. She has experience in international student recruitment, international partnerships and projects, international student services and programming, including immigration advising. She is a Ph.D. candidate at the NOVA University of Lisbon (Education for Global Citizenship). She currently holds the position of Associated Director Center for International Experience at the University of Toronto. Lana speaks several languages and has worked and studied in multiple countries.

IAC Documents

IAC Terms of reference