Why Choose a Lawyer Instead of a Consultant?
Over the years, there have been many instances of malpractice by Immigration consultants in Canada. Although certain regulations now exist to discourage such behaviour, some consultants hold themselves out to be experts when they may have no training or experience handling complex files. They may also abuse their client’s trust by promising the impossible and failing to deliver and sometimes by charging exorbitant fees for their services. In a number of reported cases, unscrupulous consultants have charged fees based on an unfulfilled promise to file Immigration Applications. When their clients request information on the status of these non-existent Applications, the consultant will report back that the Canadian Government refused the Application and even provide bogus file reference numbers.
The actions of unscrupulous Immigration consultants and the lack of regulation of the profession have been detrimental to clients, to the consulting profession, and to the reputation of the Canadian Immigration program in Canada and abroad. As a result, Citizenship and Immigration Canada tabled new Regulations, which, among other things:
- define the meaning of “authorized representative”;
- specify that a fee-charging person who is not an authorized representative may not provide Immigration advice, represent or consult; and
- require applicants using authorized representatives to submit contact information, the name of the organization referred to in the definition “authorized representative,” and their identification or membership number, if any, for verification purposes.
As of July 2011, any person, calling himself/herself an Immigration consultant must now be a member of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (“ICCRC”) if he/she wishes to deal with Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Citizenship and Immigration Canada will not conduct business with consultants who are not members in good standing with ICCRC or one of the provincial or territorial law societies. Immigration officers will verify electronically if an applicant’s representative is an authorized representative.
It is expected that applicants hire only qualified and ethical Immigration consultants. The practices of unscrupulous consultants will therefore be reduced significantly. As a result, this new regulatory approach will enhance public confidence in Canada’s Immigration system and protect vulnerable clients. In addition, standards will be established for the Immigration consulting profession, which will enhance the profession’s credibility.