The role of the immigration consultant

As an aspiring immigration consultant, I believe it is important to have a clear understanding of what we need to do and what role we play in promoting, preserving and protecting the integrity of the Canadian immigration process.

In an uncertain age where a climate of fear and opposition is clearly felt against immigration and the very idea of multiculturalism, I believe it is also important that someone steps up the plate and be called upon to defend the idea of Canada being a nation not only of one distinct racial group but rather a nation where people of different races can come together in harmony and live in a nation where their culture can be freely practiced but still be Canadian.

One way to describe the role of an immigration consultant is to define it for what it is not. It then becomes easy to strip away the stereotypes that have given the profession a bad name and concentrate on what it really is or what is should be.

First, an immigration consultant does not earn a truckload of money on the basis of tricking gullible people out of their life savings just because they don’t know any better. I think that in the age of the occupy movement where disgruntled people have expressed their condemnation and rage against a corrupt and immoral system that job description is assigned to bankers and CEO’s. But sometimes, or rather, most of the time people have this strange idea that to be an immigration consultant is to be part of the 1%. Earning Gazillions, having it easy and living the good life sounds like fun but really being an immigration consultant is hard work.

Second, an immigration consultant cannot and I say this with a strong conviction, should not claim to any client that they can be assured of a positive decision with regard to their immigration application if they engage him as a consultant because nobody can predict the outcome of an immigration decision with 100% certainty. Immigration consultants are not God Almighty so it is best not to treat them that way. Treat your consultant as a professional working within the established rules and regulations of the Canadian immigration system who is therefore subject to the same constraints and limitations inherent in a regulated and regularly functioning system free from corruption.

Third, an immigration consultant is not your psychiatrist / mentor/ confidante / life coach etc. you may feel safe and comfortable in telling him your problems but at the end of the day he has no training or any practical knowledge in dealing with your issues beyond what he is trained and regulated to do: which is to advise you on your immigration options.

Having stripped away the false stereotypes attributed to the profession I think it is best to describe what the roles of the immigration consultant should be based on what is expressly mandated and what is morally expected.

First, an immigration consultant should act as an advisor and advice his clients with competence and integrity. He should ensure that he is competent to actually advise the client on the best course of action needed to ensure the timely, affordable and positive result of any immigration matter or issue brought upon his attention. Integrity deals with the immigration consultant’s honesty and manner of dealing with a client that is not only fair but is also perceived to be fair giving the client an actual experience and perception of having been treated with all candor and fairness.

Second, an immigration consultant should be an advocate and a defender of the Canadian principle of multiculturalism. It is the role of the immigration consultant to advocate for the continuous implementation and the strengthening of the reforms needed to uphold this principle in the face of attacks by different sectors who have grown weary of this ideal based on their economic hardships and political, social or cultural biases.

Third, the immigration consultant should act as a role model in projecting professionalism in his practice of the profession. He should be keenly aware and conscious of the fact that he represents the whole profession in the eyes of the public and that any move he makes that false short of the accepted standard will result to a negative perception not only to himself or his practice but to the whole profession and the Canadian immigration process. For some people an immigration consultant is the first Canadian professional that they deal with in connection with their application and eventual resettlement to Canada. It is therefore important to project a professional image to all potential clients as well as the public to ensure that the profession and the industry is not seen as a haven of crooked and unscrupulous practitioners out to swindle any unsuspecting client.

Lastly, an immigration consultant should educate the public about the Canadian immigration system. He should engage in activities that will actively educate the public on the latest policies, and the implications of these policies not only to the aspiring immigrant, student or worker but to the Canadians who are already established in Canada. Immigration plays a significant role on what kind of country Canada is going to be… It will determine who your future neighbors are, your children’s classmates or the kind of squad mates you are going to have in that foxhole if and when the time comes you need to defend the country. Therefore, I subscribe to the idea that immigration policies should be driven not so much by the principle of headhunting but rather by the more long term and strategic principle of nation building.

Immigration consultants have an important role in the transformation of Canadian society and way of life. It is therefore important that only men and women of competence and integrity be admitted to this noble profession.

Tony Santiago
Immigration Program Student at Ashton College
under the tutelage of Jose Godoy Toku

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