Ann Arbour Consultants recognized and rewarded by Manage HR
Interview of Sharmila Perera by Manage HR: Ann Arbour Consultants make Immigration Easy.
Having immigrated to Canada at the age of 32 with three young children, Sharmila Perera is the ultimate personification of courage and self-belief. Upon reaching Canada, she faced the hardships of not just settling down but to even getting a job.
Sharmila had been a stay-at-home mom for the last five years with no job experience in Canada. This forced her to volunteer at a law firm. To make ends meet, her husband, despite his marketing management background, took up a factory job. As days passed, Sharmila made many sacrifices—traveling and having to leave her young children at home to meet up with potential immigration clients. During her struggle, she never allowed her resilience to die—the will to open her own company.
Her struggle finally paid off when she took a leap of faith and set the foundation of Ann Arbour Consultants—a full-service immigration and foreign talent recruitment company.
Following is the conversation that Manage HR had with Sharmila to understand her journey in making Ann Arbour Consultants, a household name in many parts of the world for people seeking to immigrate to Canada.
How has Ann Arbour Consultants established itself in the Canadian Immigration space?
In Canada, we are well known among immigrant communities. Over 90 percent of our clients come through referrals, which speaks volumes of our service. Our social media account overflows daily with inquiries, and this extends to people seeking me out personally.
There are over 50 immigration programs available in Canada – but we concentrate on paths that we are excellent at and refer other cases to colleagues. By doing this, we have earned the reputation of taking on cases that we are 99 percent sure of succeeding.
We have mainly two types of clients today—individuals or families located globally who wish to immigrate to Canada and the corporate client in Canada who is seeking to incorporate foreign talent into their team.
In your interactions with leading companies in Canada, what sense do you get of the challenges they face in the labor market?
Canada has a growing aging population. Statistics show that around 10,000 people or more retire every single day. Almost 900,000 jobs went unfilled in 2021—even with the pandemic.
Ann Arbour works with corporates to identify the positions that are hard to fill with Canadians, and establish a plan for recruiting foreign talent. We educate employers on the foreign worker program, their duties and responsibilities towards the workers, and the importance of adhering to the program regulations. We process all the paperwork for the employer and employee permits and successfully immigrate the foreign candidate. We update our corporate clients with program changes and advise them on any issues that might come up during their tenure of employment. We constantly remind them about permit renewals, advise if they can sponsor the employees for permanent immigration, and become their ‘go-to’ company for any immigration matter.
If you were to ask me what employers like about working with us? I believe it is not just because we deliver what we promise but also because we are very accessible and do not believe in charging for every hour spent.
Please shed light on the immigration services that you offer?
We talk to our clients. For us, they are not file numbers. We care for them genuinely and know them personally, and we celebrate every successful application. The care is not just for our clients.
Our entire team is based on “care.” I care deeply for everyone that works for and with me personally and professionally, stemming down to everyone in the organization caring for each other and helping each other out in the work process. I hire people more for their personality and not just their abilities.
Over 90 percent of our clients come through referrals, which speaks volumes of our service. Our social media account overflows daily with inquiries, and this extends to people seeking me out personally
This caring culture in our organization, therefore naturally flows toward our clients, which makes us do what we do— outstanding work. People write to us saying their friend recommended us as the most trusted immigration consultant. The programs we offer are very selective.
Work permit is our biggest area. Permanent immigration under the Federal Programs and all Provincial programs, sponsorships, and business immigration through the Intra Company Transfer, C11 and C12, and some Provincial are what we concentrate on.
Please cite one case study on how you enable clients to overcome hurdles and attain desired outcomes.
When we assess a client, we assess and submit the application, citing very clearly and providing, without doubt, all proof that a client qualifies to come to Canada under the program we have applied for. IRCC, like any other organization, sometimes makes a mistake, assesses the file under a different program, and refuses the application. We have had at least four such cases in the last two years. We have not taken their word. We believe in fighting for the rights of our clients. We filed for reconsideration, citing the file was wrongly assessed and why we think so, providing all proof once again as to why we believe it was wrongly assessed.
We are happy to state that all such applications have been re-assessed and approved. The repercussion for the clients if we did not do this would have been great as some may not qualify to re-apply under that same stream.
What differentiates Ann Arbour Consultants and gives it a competitive edge?
The most distinctive feature about our company is the way we treat our clients. Care, empathy, knowing them personally, and talking to them when they are confused or worried are what set us apart from other companies. We have the policy to answer calls rather than letting them go to voice mail; every social media inquiry and email must be replied to – and trust me, it’s in the thousands.
Instead of just traveling all over the world to meet and assess potential immigrant clients, I travel all over Canada, meeting with employers who wish to incorporate foreign talent into their teams but have no idea how to navigate through the complicated immigration process.
Another path we have taken is with business people. I have recognized that people, especially in Asia and southeast Asia, have the money and the business knowledge and wish to invest this money in a more stable economy—and Canada is the first choice in this regard. Recognizing the instability in many countries and target marketing the business people in these counties have provided us yet another great pathway for people seeking to immigrate.