Canadian Immigrant Consultants
In recent years, in Canada, there has been much discussion surrounding the issue of the quality of advice that is being given by Canadian Immigrant Consultants. There have been stories in the news of fraud, and many individual persons, the public, stakeholders (both NGOs and Government), as well as Foreign Governments, Law Societies and the RCMP have expressed serious concern over this issue. I’d like to add some structure to this discussion.
For a long time, the profession of giving advice on matters of immigration was unregulated. That basically meant that anyone, including a family member of someone who wished to immigrate, could act on behalf of a person overseas. This is the perfect scenario for unscrupulous people. They know that the client is far away. They know that the client is vulnerable. They know that the client is dependent upon them. And they take advantage of and abuse the situation. It is important to note that as there was no regulation, it opened the door for professional email-scam rings to pose as legitimate officials working with the Government of Canada. These “thieves” regularly target occupational and professsional scenarios where the client is so far away from them, that there is no chance of ever being caught or held accountable. These persons have never taken classes in law, they do not work at any profession, and they do this activity both as fraudulent “immigrant consultants” as well as fraudulent “business owners”, “financial investors”, “financial bankers” and so on and so on. And so the fact that Immigrant Consultancy has been “targeted” and “tainted” is unfortunate in that the people that are actually working in the profession are some of the smartest and most educated professionals in the world.
Buyer Beware? Well the issue is not as simple as that. Especially in Canada. In the case of Australia and the United States, it is required that Immigration Consultants be lawyers. In the case of the United Kingdom’s regulatory system, it is required that every person practicing and advising clients be a registered member of their Rgulatory Body. In the Canadian case, Parliament always gave permission by law to regulate this profession. As in the following passage which states:
It is important to note that the authority to regulate
already lies in section 91 of the IRPA, which authorizes the government to pass regulations to:
govern who may or may not represent, advise or consult with a person who is the subject of a proceeding or application before the Minister, an Officer or the (Immigration Appeal) Board.
(Source: 2003 Report of the Advisory Committee to Regulate Immigration Consultants presented to the Minister of Citizenship & Immigration Canada pg. 14)
It is the 2003 Report of the Advisory Committee to Regulate Immigration Consultants that put the wheel in motion for regulation of the profession in Canada. And that meant that Citizenship & Immigration Canada financially backed this initiative to take place. Furthermore, the concept of the occupation of an Immigration Consultant was further defined as (in the Report, Recommendation 3, pg. 6):
The Committee recommends the following definitions:
Counsel: refers to a barrister or solicitor, or to a licensed immigration consultant.
Other Representative: refers to a person who, without collecting any fee, remuneration or other benefit whatsoever, represents or advises a person who is the subject of a proceeding or application before the Minister, an officer or the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB).
With this new definition in mind, in 2003/2004, it became not only law, but enforceable law that persons who practice this profession, must be licenced persons under the newly formed Regulatory Body.
In doing business, you always need to do your research. But now people need to ask the right questions. Consider asking the person who could potentially represent you to the Canadian Government, “Are you registered Immigration Counsel?” I guarantee you this will perk their ears up and have them looking at you as someone who knows the ‘lay of the land is’ in terms of where this profession is at and how it now works in Canada. Then go to the registry and enter their name into the search engine here: http://secure.iccrc-crcic.ca/search/en If they are not on the registry, then they are not proper Counsel. Immigration Counsel, in essence, now have the same power and prestige of an attorney of law, only that they practice in the specialty area of Immigration. Immigration Counsel who are registered with the Canadian Society of Immigrant Consultants, are actual persons who are authorized to practice in the area of Immigration Law and Policy. They are professionals who have undergone rigorous training and many have Masters or more level of education. They are not part of the “immigrant consultancy conspiracy” that regularly hits the news.
Immigration Counsel can help you so that no mistakes are made in your immigration application process and they are well versed in policy and regulation. If you do not have a good command of the English language, if you cannot take the time to read the IRPA or the IRPR (Immigration Law), if you are from a country that has no agreements with Canada, you would be well advised to refer your case to a member of Immigration Counsel.
Also, consumers should note well that the formed Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC) is subject to a Regulatory Body and has a Disciplinary Board where a member of the public can file a complaint that will be processed free of charge. The professional Regulatory Body, with the full cooperation of all licensed Immigrant Consultants established a fund to pay out and compensate victims of fraud, and to help other persons who might fall prey to a scam artist scheme through advocacy and outreach programs, CIC and the Embassies have also undertaken outreach projects globally.
At IBBC, we regularly refer clients to Immigration Counsel, and we will always give you more than one name so that you can ask questions and pick the representative that is best for you. Do your homework, do your research, and then make a well informed decision for you and your family. If you are far away, then you need to be extra careful and get in touch with a trusted source of information.
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