What is a Canadian Immigration Consultant?
A Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) is a professional who has studied a formal program of Canadian Immigration Law and subsequently passed a professional licensing exam that attests to the fact that they have achieved a certain level of proficiency with respect to Canadian immigration matters. RCIC’s are regulated in Canada by the Immigration Consultant Regulatory Council (IRCC) and are required to maintain strict standards of practice in order to protect consumers of immigration services. The scope of education for an RCIC is strictly related to immigration law. They have only studied Canadian Immigration Law.
What is a Canadian Immigration Lawyer?
A Canadian immigration lawyer is a professional who has completed a law degree from a recognized university and has subsequently been called to the bar of a specific Province in Canada. Most law schools in Canada do not provide specific study related to Canadian immigration law, so a lawyer who wants to practice immigration law would be expected to find an articling position with an experienced immigration lawyer, or to obtain on the job training in immigration matters. The scope of education for a lawyer encompasses most areas of law in Canada. They have studied law in general, with little formal emphasis on immigration law itself.
Question: Should I hire a lawyer or a consultant for my Canadian immigration application?
Answer: You should hire an expert.
The simple answer is, it depends on what you need to have accomplished. The Canadian Immigration process encompasses a wide range of situations, and most practitioners will specialize in specific areas of Canadian immigration law. There is no one representative who can capably handle every situation that you might encounter with the Canadian immigration system. The most important thing you can do is to hire an expert in the exact type of situation that you are facing.
Here are some general rules for getting started:
You most likely need a consultant if:
- You are looking for options
- You are looking for information
- You need to make an application
You most likely need a consultant or a lawyer if:
- You already have a serious immigration problem
You most likely need a lawyer if:
- You are seeking to overturn a refusal
When to Hire a Canadian Immigration Consultant
If you need to get yourself to Canada or if you are already in Canada but want to stay longer, then you need to make an application for a specific type of status. For the processing of most types of applications – Citizenship, Permanent Residence, work or study permits, as well as all types of visas – you will be best served by a consultant. Consultants prepare and represent the vast majority of Canadian immigration applications each year – meaning they have the most expertise in managing these types of processes. You will also likely find that their rates are lower than a lawyer. Hiring a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant for your immigration application results in the best of both worlds for you – you have the most qualified expert for your situation, and the price will probably be lower than using a lawyer.
Hire a Consultant or a Lawyer
There are certain situations where you might choose to work with either a consultant or a lawyer and so your focus should be on determining whether the representative you are considering has direct experience in the type of situation you are facing. Responses to procedural fairness letters, admissibility assessments, refugee claims, detention reviews, removals or appeals can all be handled by either a consultant or a lawyer. Your focus should be on determining whether the representative you are considering has direct experience in the type of situation you are facing – don’t just assume that someone knows what they are doing. Ask them how often they handle cases like yours and how successful they are. If you have two equally qualified reps, then you could make a decision based on price and availability to take your case; but generally, when you get to a situation that is as serious as those we have just mentioned – you really need competent counsel or you could find yourself barred from Canada. At this point, you want the most competence, not the lowest price.
Hire a Lawyer
If you need to overturn a Canadian immigration refusal that you feel was issued in error or was somehow unjust, in most cases you will need to file for a Judicial Review of the decision in Federal Court. This is an application that only a lawyer can make for you. However, it’s important to note that it might not always make sense to proceed to judicial review after a refusal. If you prepared the application on your own – without counsel – and it was refused, in many cases, it will make sense to meet with a consultant to decide if you should just file again and make a better application, or if you should actually see a lawyer to file for judicial review. It is very rare that an individual working on their own file will prepare an application to the rigorous standards that will be needed to achieve a positive result in federal court. However, to repeat our earlier advice, ensure that you ask any consultant that you want to engage with what their level of experience has been in preparing files in anticipation of a judicial review. Applications need to be extremely comprehensive in order for you to have a chance of success at the federal court level.
Authorized Immigration Representative
No matter who you choose to work with – a consultant or a lawyer – the best advice is to always hire an authorized rep. Taking counsel from someone who is not authorized to practice Canadian immigration law is a dangerous practice. You alone will bear the consequences of your application and, if you have been given faulty advice – you will be in trouble, not them. You can also receive a 5-year ban from Canada for misrepresentation if you have worked with an unauthorized rep and they were not declared on your application. Hiring an authorized rep that is located inside Canada gives you the most protection because Canadian authorities can intervene on your behalf if you are taken advantage of.
To find out if a representative is authorized to practice Canadian immigration law – ask them. They should be able to direct you to their information on the ICCRC website (consultants) or with the Law Society of any Canadian province. If they can’t show you that their name is available on a public database, then walk away. There are plenty of authorized reps available for you to work with.
Immigration is such an important matter for your life and future. Ensure that no matter which expert you choose to work with, your situation will be handled by someone who gives you the best chance of success. The Way Immigration has experts who can work within most areas of Canadian Immigration Law. However, if we feel that your situation needs attention that we are not in the best position to provide, we will refer you to a trusted colleague with expertise that matches your needs. Your success and well being is our primary concern.