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The role of Canadian immigration consultant

Immigration is the act setting as a permanent resident in a country not one’s own. When people think about migrating to Canada the first question that crops is who can help them with such a process. For some this is considered a critical question whereby availing the services of an immigration consultant is necessary in order to assist them throughout the migration process. But many might want to ask what exactly the role of an immigration consultant is? Immigration Consultants in Canada are governed by the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC);

“Membership is granted only to those individuals who have demonstrated their knowledge and ability to advisee and represent people who seek Canadian Immigration.” 1

There is no doubt whatsoever that the role of an immigration consultant is unique; the majority of immigration consultants spend their time helping/assisting persons/prospective immigrants deal/handle Canadian immigration requirements and Canadian immigration procedures.

The Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) expressly states that an ICCRC member/immigration consultant shall perform the following: 2

  • Serve honorably;
  • Maintain integrity;
  • Duty to be competent;
  • Maintenance of quality of service;
  • Advising clients (maintain honesty);
  • Maintenance of confidentiality.

Despite the aforementioned, the question that needs to be answered is what are the functions/duties of immigration representatives/consultants?

The role of immigration consultant in Canada is usually to act as an “advisor” to foreign nationals/citizens by providing assistance to immigrants in navigating the immigration system and ensuring that they comply or meet the legal requirements of the Canadian Immigration System.

Many immigrants might not be aware of the fact that immigration is an extremely complex procedure/process which involves various or many intertwined legal issues. The immigration consultant/counsel should be competent/well-versed, eloquent and must possess the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities (KSA’s) to carry out or perform such a tedious undertaking. Nevertheless, it is noteworthy mentioning that the real role of an immigration consultant is to add value and the value has to be substantially greater in proportion to what the consultant earns. Moreover, it all depends upon the effectiveness gains pertaining to the client in question.

Many might have the idea or impression that a Consultant’s role is limited to completing and filling applications forms (IRPA Forms); this might be part of an exhaustive list of duties/functions performed by the Immigration Consultant. The Consultant’s Role is all about guiding and digging up options/streams, establishing a sensible/practical process in order to come up with a workable immigration process. Being innovative and creative is critical especially when dealing with complex issues, in order to find or reach to a plausible options/solution which clients might not be aware of.

Maintaining integrity, ethics and honesty as per the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) code of professional ethics, ensuring that they continue to adhere/comply with the stipulated rules to preserve the integrity of the profession and governing/regulatory Body which they represent.

It is pivotal to mention/state that the heart of consulting is “honesty”; a consultant shall always carry out/perform his/her duties/role in an honest and candid manner.3

We can certainly list/categorize the role of an immigration consultant in Canada into three major tasks/roles:

  1. Provide Immigration Advice;
  2. Prepare Applications (IRPA – Forms);
  3. Represent a client at a hearing (Tribunals) and Appeals.

Evaluating immigration cases objectively and honestly in order to provide the best available option for migrating to Canada.

Immigration Consultants play an extremely important role in attracting qualified skilled immigrants, to fill specific labor market needs, moreover they perform an extremely crucial function by assisting individuals/prospective immigrants navigate the Canadian Immigration System. Various/numerous foreign nationals/immigrants are not familiar with immigration rules in Canada nor are they capable of construing and comprehending such complicated terminology, this is when the immigration consultant’s role is crucial in order to ensure that the public are provided with the best service and advice. But does an Immigration Consultant’s role involve simply assisting a client navigate the immigration system and selecting the appropriate stream? A consultant’s role includes spotting all the pitfalls and hiccups that may arise; or to rephrase the aforementioned statement, a Consultant anticipates the drawbacks that a client/foreign national may encounter such as inadmissibility issues whether criminal or medical.

Immigration matters can often be complex and difficult to comprehend. Many applications take several months or even years to complete. It is noteworthy mentioning that an immigration consultant performs similar tasks as lawyers and many might agree with the fact that some consultants have broader knowledge/expertise pertaining to immigration matters compared to lawyers.

Generally speaking, the immigration consultant’s role shall involve conveying and explaining information in an understandable form/manner, ensuring that a foreign national/prospective immigrant has a vivid picture of the immigration system.

“Many have criticized or even strongly opposed the role of immigration consultants; by portraying all immigration consultants as fraudsters or charlatans without drawing the distinction between unlicensed ghost agents and certified Canadian Immigration Consultants”. 4

A question that must be answered by critics when referring to immigration consultants; does one bad apple spoil all the apples?

The answer to this question is crystal clear; of course not! Despite the criticism; many prospective immigrants strongly believe that not all immigration consultants are fraudsters, many are bonafide/respectable consultants that have played a critical role particularly in helping/assisting clients land on Canadian soil. Many lack any cognizance specifically when looking at the role of an immigration consultant, this due to the fact that such individuals are naive and do not appreciate the role of a consultant.

A consultant spends years with his/her client (if necessary), to get immigration matters resolved, solving issues, representing their clients by taking legal steps to appeal negative decisions by the government’s bureaucrats, trying their utmost best to reverse such decisions.

No one can doubt the fact that, a consultant’s role is not simple; it requires effort and devotion on behalf of an immigration consultant. Surely, an immigration consultant in Canada fills an important role that no other professional fills, no matter what people continue to say about consultants they ultimately have an extremely important role in the lives of others.

Ahmad Al-Azem
Immigration Program Student at Ashton College
under the tutelage of Jose Godoy Toku


References:

1 IP-9-Use of Representatives at page 7.
2 Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council – Code of Professional Ethics – September 2011.
3 ibid
3 Ads warn of crooked immigration consultants

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