Thursday, July 7, 2011

Immigration consultants, lawyers, and other representatives: Who can represent you

Authorized immigration consultants, lawyers, Québec notaries, and paralegals regulated by a law society are people who can offer immigration advice to applicants. Some applicants may choose to use such a representative to act on their behalf with Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), the Immigration and Refugee Board or the Canada Border Services Agency.
There are two types of immigration representatives: paid and unpaid.

Paid immigration representatives

Only the following people may charge a fee or receive any other type of consideration, to represent or advise you in connection with a Canadian immigration proceeding or application:
  • lawyers and paralegals who are members in good standing of a Canadian provincial or territorial law society
  • Notaries who are members in good standing of the Chambre des notaires du Québec, and
  • Immigration consultants who are members in good standing of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council
The Government of Canada will not deal with non-authorized immigration representatives who charge for their services.

NEW: Other people who offer paid immigration advice

With the coming into force of Bill C-35, anyone who provides paid advice prior to the filing of an application or the commencement of a proceeding will need to be an authorized representative. This means that some third parties who were not formerly required to be recognized to provide paid advice will now have to refer people to an authorized representative or become authorized themselves. Some examples of paid advice or representation that will now be captured through the implementation of Bill C-35 include:
  • representing the applicant during an immigration proceeding by speaking on their behalf.
  • providing guidance to a client on how to select the best immigration stream and complete the appropriate forms.

Unpaid immigration third parties

Unpaid third parties, such as family members, friends, non-governmental or religious organizations will still be allowed to act on your behalf.
To protect your privacy, CIC will not share any of your personal information with your consultant, lawyer, and other representative unless you provide your written consent using the Use of a Representative (IMM 5476)form.

Other people who offer immigration advice or assistance

People who provide immigration-related advice or assistance for a fee before the application is filed are not obliged to be authorized consultants. However, be aware that non-authorized consultants, lawyers, and other representatives or advisors are not regulated. This means that they may not have adequate knowledge or training. It also means that you cannot seek help from the professional bodies (that is, the law societies, ICCRCetc.) if that person provides you with the wrong advice or behaves in an unprofessional way.