You know that Canadian immigration applications can be complicated, time consuming, and downright frustrating. You know because you’ve experienced it firsthand, which is why you’re considering working with a representative on your immigration application. But, who is legally able to represent you on your application to immigrate to Canada?
In this article, we break down the three types of people who can legally represent you in Canadian immigration matters. There is a LOT of fraud in this industry, and the best defense against scammers is being well-armed with knowledge. So, let’s bolster your armoury!
Before we get into it, remember that you do not need to work with a representative on your Canadian immigration application. Many people choose to complete the application process entirely on their own, it just takes a bit more time, research, and attention to detail.
Who can represent me on my application for Canadian immigration?
There are three types of people who can represent you on your Canadian immigration application: immigration lawyers, immigration consultants, and other unpaid representatives. However, only lawyers and consultants are legally able to accept money for their work.
Authorized representatives are allowed to give you advice on immigration programs, help you prepare and submit your application, and communicate with the government on your behalf. Certain representatives can also represent you in legal proceedings, if necessary.
What’s the difference between a paid and an unpaid representative in Canadian immigration?
Only immigration lawyers and immigration consultants are legally able to accept payment for assisting with your Canadian immigration application. This is why lawyers and consultants are known as ‘paid representatives’.
But, if you have a friend or family member who would like to help you with your application, this person can do so. However, they cannot accept any form of payment for their assistance. This includes all third parties who are not lawyers or consultants.
If your friend Lucas has gone through the same immigration program as you, he can help you, but you can’t pay him for it.
What is a regulated Canadian immigration consultant (RCIC)?
A regulated Canadian immigration consultant (RCIC) is a person who has completed formal training and licensing in Canadian immigration. This includes the completion of an educational program, the passing of an examination, and the proper registration with the regulatory body for Canadian immigration consultants.
Canadian immigration consultants are regulated by the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC), although this is expected to be replaced by the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants (CICC) in the near future.
All regulated immigration consultants who are in good standing have a valid identification number, known as an RCIC number. To make sure that your consultant is in good standing, you must ask for this number and then verify it on the ICCRC database.
What is a Canadian immigration lawyer?
A Canadian immigration lawyer is a person who has completed a Canadian law degree and passed the provincial or territorial bar exam used to authorize lawyers to practice in Canada. Lawyers go through extensive legal training outside of the field of immigration and are authorized to represent clients in a court of law.
Canadian immigration lawyers are regulated at the provincial level. To verify that your lawyer is in good standing, you can ask your lawyer to provide a link to their listing on their provincial or territorial bar association website. Additionally, if you experience any issues of fraud with an immigration lawyer, you can bring this complaint directly to the relevant provincial or territorial bar association.
In Ontario, paralegals can also represent you on your application, but must be in good standing with the Ontario Bar Association. In Quebec, notaries can also represent you, but must be in good standing with the Chambre des notaires du Québec.
Immigration consultants and immigration lawyers provide comparable services as per giving guidance, preparing documents, and submitting applications. Lawyers are legally authorized to represent clients in a court of law, but only a tiny fraction of immigration applicants end up in court, usually due to a foreseeable issue. In the end, lawyers are not necessarily “better” than consultants, nor vice versa. You are best off considering the merits of each individual consultant or lawyer you approach, and assess based on their track record and reviews.
Who can be an unpaid representative for Canadian immigration?
Anyone can be an unpaid representative for Canadian immigration as long as they do not charge any fee or expect any type of payment for their services. An unpaid representative could be a friend, a member of your family, or any other third party you know who isn’t being paid for their services.
When looking to hire a representative, be it a lawyer or a consultant, be vigilant with your research. Even registered lawyers and consultants can scam you. We’ve developed a list of expert consultants with years of experience and positive reviews. If you’re considering hiring a representative, consider one of our recommended consultants, and use these other resources we’ve developed: