Last Updated on April 6, 2017
February 20, 2017 – Canada has moved to reject a block of immigration applications associated with an unlicensed consultancy in China.
Beijing-based Flyabroad is suspected of breaking the terms of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which says only lawyers and consultants with a license can charge for immigration services.
The license is awarded by the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC).
As a result, all applications filed from the company’s Beijing address have been rejected.
Nearly 60 of those rejected are pursuing an appeal to the Federal Court, arguing that they only received translation and clerical services – not advice on their immigration cases.
As part of the application process, candidates must declare details of anyone retained to act on their behalf. Part of the reason for this is to spot unlicensed consultants.
What is the difference between hiring a lawyer and hiring a licensed consultant?
A consultant is any person called on to give advice. A lawyer (attorney, barrister or solicitor) is licensed to perform legal functions. These may include:
- Drafting documents,
- Interpreting and applying laws,
- Giving legal advice,
- Representing clients in court.
The practice of law is regulated by each of the provinces. A lawyer must have the following credentials:
- Bachelor of law degree from recognized university,
- Law admission examinations,
- Training under practicing lawyer.
The conduct of lawyers in Canada is regulated by the Professional Order of Lawyers (POL). POL rules cover areas including:
- Separate trust bank accounts for client fees,
- Obligations of lawyers towards clients,
- Performance of mandates.
Breaking these rules can result in the loss or suspension of a lawyer’s license.
Anyone charging a fee to give advice on immigration must be a member of one of the following:
- Provincial or territorial law society
- Chambre des notaires du Québec
- Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC), which replaced the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC) in 2011.
The admission process for licensed immigration consultants in Canada is far less rigorous. Immigration consultants do not need the same education, nor are they scrutinized to the same standards.
A client not happy with a lawyer can raise a formal complaint with the POL, which has a fund to provide compensation for irregularities.
Do I need to hire a lawyer to successfully immigrate to Canada?
There is no rule which says a candidate must hire a lawyer to successfully apply for Canadian permanent residency.
Many candidates apply and succeed on their own, while many who apply on their own face unnecessary delays or fail.
Taking a decision to apply for Canadian permanent residency is not done on a whim. It is a life-changing step made to improve the standard of living of an applicant and family members.
The process is costly, takes time and depends on the assessment of third-party officials who review and rate each case.
The review process needs full knowledge of rules and laws which are often revised. Policies and procedures change depending on the aims of the Canadian government of the day.
An immigration officer’s decision must consider an array of issues covered by volumes of government manuals, as well as ad hoc changes. These decisions are often challenged by lawyers and become the subject of volumes of reported case law.
The government encourages candidates to apply without a lawyer, but in reality, a good lawyer protects an applicant’s rights.
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Interested candidates: Find out whether you qualify to Canada by completing our free on-line evaluation. We will provide you with our evaluation within 1-2 business days.
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