May 7, 2019 – Canada Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen has defended plans to continue a policy of self-regulation for the immigration consultancy industry.
Ottawa announced in early April the plan to form the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants (CICC), to replace the existing Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC).
The move goes against 2017 Standing Committee recommendations for the ICCRC to be disbanded, and regulation brought directly under the federal government’s remit.
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Hussen says the recommendation was seriously considered.
“We looked at it very seriously, we considered it, we studied it. There were a number of issues with it,” he said in front of the committee on Monday.
Calls for the regulation of the industry to be improved stem from frequent stories of ‘ghost consultants’ charging extortionate amounts for their services, making false promises and ultimately committing fraud against vulnerable immigration candidates.
The federal government plans to spend $51.9 million over five years in forming the CICC and improving the regulation of the industry.
“It is the responsibility of governments to do all we can to stop this kind of unethical and damaging behaviour,” Hussen said.
“At the same time, we must acknowledge that there are many, many honest and ethical professionals who provide important services to clients, and they help them to navigate the immigration system.
“It is imperative to create a system that better protects everyone involved. While fraudsters will always seek ways to benefit themselves, we can make it harder for them to succeed and deter others from seeking to do the same.”
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.
College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants Act
- 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.
- Authorizes the College’s Complaints Committee to conduct investigations into a licensee’s conduct and activities.
- Authorizes the College’s Discipline Committee to take or require action if it determines that a licensee has committed professional misconduct or was incompetent.
- 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.
- 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.
- Gives the new regulatory body to hear complaints regarding licensed members under the former regulatory body (ICCRC).
- Fines doubled for consultants found to be violating rules.
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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