April 9, 2019 – Canada will overhaul its system for regulating immigration consultants by creating a new College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants (CICC).
The College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants Act, tabled as part of the budget implementation bill tabled on Monday April 8, 2019, will see the introduction of a new licensing regime and a new code of professional conduct for immigration consultants.
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The system will remain self-regulatory, as with the current Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC), created in 2011.
This, despite a parliamentary committee recommendation dating back two years calling for the regulation of immigration consultants to be brought under the direct authority of the federal government.
Under the act table on Monday, the federal immigration minister will get new powers, including in the establishment of the code of conduct and in the formation of the board of directors of the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants (CICC).
College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants Act
1. Creates a licensing regime for immigration and citizenship consultants and requires that licensees comply with a code of professional conduct established by the minister, through regulations to be tabled by the government.
2. Authorizes the College’s Complaints Committee to conduct investigations into a licensee’s conduct and activities.
3. Authorizes the College’s Discipline Committee to take or require action if it determines that a licensee has committed professional misconduct or was incompetent.
4. Prohibits persons who are not licensees from using certain titles and representing themselves to be licensees and provides that the College may seek an injunction for the contravention of those prohibitions.
5. Gives the immigration minister the authority to determine the number of directors on the board of directors and to require the Board to do anything that is advisable to carry out the purposes of that Act.
6. Gives the new regulatory body to hear complaints regarding licensed members under the former regulatory body (ICCRC).
7. Fines doubled for consultants found to be violating rules.
The move comes after years of investigations and reports citing abuse and violations by licensed and unlicensed consultants in the Canadian immigration industry.
The regulation of the immigration consultancy industry has long been a source of controversy, even before a Standing Committee report in 2017.
That report called for action in three main areas:
- The legislative framework for the body responsible for governing immigration and citizenship consultants.
- Investigations and enforcement concerning the offence of practising while not authorized and other offences.
- Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada procedures for processing applications and for communicating with clients and with prospective applicants.
Previously there have been a number of damning reports into the conduct of the existing ICCRC, exposing an unprofessional organization beset with in fighting and poor practices.
An overwhelming concern is that unregulated ‘ghost’ consultants who operate in Canada and overseas without sanction. The current legal framework does not enable ICCRC to police unlicensed consultants inside Canada or abroad. This leaves the task for CBSA and RCMP, as well as the federal government to try and address this problem. A number of high-profile fraud cases have thus made their way into the Canadian legal system.
The advice for immigration candidates is to exercise caution when hiring an immigration consultant.
Candidates who wish to receive representation are encouraged to hire a qualified immigration lawyer, who is monitored by a provincial law society.
The College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants Act must undergo further approval before coming into force.
Thereafter the immigration minister will table new regulations that will provide further details on how this new regulatory body will function.
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