Amidst the Canadian law firms and regulated Canadian immigration consultants who understand and can advise you on Canadian immigration matters, there are also endless travel agencies and foreign companies offering immigration services, including faceless, nameless websites offering their services in Canadian immigration without revealing who is going to prepare the application.
Foreign lawyers can be legitimately practicing law in their native country, but they are not permitted to practice Canadian immigration law as per the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA); the same applies to travel agencies or any other entity or individual who has no official authorization to represent you regarding Canadian immigration law.
Risks of being represented by unlicensed professionals
Being represented by unlicensed professionals comes with many risks. One of the most problematic is misrepresentation; these unprofessional companies like to take shortcuts and distort or conceal the facts, which may lead to misrepresentation, and thus a 5-year bar for you, the applicant, as the applicant is the one responsible for mistakes on his or her application.
Rules aren’t the only thing they have limited regard for, either. They just fill out the forms, but they do not advocate for your benefit; they submit your application on your behalf as if it is you who is submitting. Their lack of a proper understanding of Canadian immigration laws and guidelines also means that any advice or assistance they do give you may not be trustworthy. They don’t know enough to tell you what you should do. Do these travel agencies and nameless companies really advocate on your behalf?
Who makes the misrepresentation and when?
The applicant is, of course, ultimately responsible for his or her own misrepresentations. If a procedural fairness letter was sent to what is allegedly your email address (but is actually an email created by your unlicensed representative — let’s say your travel agency), and that letter never reaches you, thereby making you unable to rebut the concerns that an immigration officer may have, it would not be legally defensible that you didn’t know that a travel agency is not permitted to represent you. As a result, you would be barred for 5 years.
Also, you must disclose if you have received assistance in preparing your application from a person who is compensated or receives a benefit as a result of such assistance. Failure to declare such assistance may result in the refusal of the application or you may be found inadmissible to Canada, as you have not disclosed this fact. If you pay someone to act as your representative, they must meet the requirements for authorized representatives, as listed below. “Ghost consultants” have no knowledge on how to address the issues that immigration officers might have raised. The result? Refusal of your application, or worse — a 5-year bar. Is it worth risking your future?
So who can represent you?
Only Canadian lawyers in good standing with their respectful law society, regulated Canadian immigration consultants (RCICs), and Quebec notaries are eligible to assist in immigrating to Canada for payment (direct or indirect).
Because of the issues with unauthorized representatives, Bill C-35, An Act to Amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), came into force on June 30, 2011. The bill created a new offence by extending the prohibition against representing or advising (or offering to represent or advise) immigration applicants or potential applicants to include all stages connected to an application or proceeding, including those prior to the official application being made, and puts penalties in place for those who violate this ruling. And by using the services of someone who isn’t authorized, you, the applicant, might be found to have misrepresented yourself on your application, as you did not disclose that you retained and paid for the services of an organization or an individual that does not fall under one of the three categories permitted to represent for a fee.
The Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (“ICCRC”) is responsible for regulating the activities of the immigration consultants who are its members and who provide immigration advice and representation. ICCRC operates at arm’s length from the Government of Canada. Membership is granted only to those individuals who have demonstrated their knowledge and ability to advise and represent people who seek to immigrate to Canada.
Always check if your representative is a licenced Canadian immigration consultant. The risks to your future are too great otherwise. We are also inviting you to watch this presentation:
The representatives at Milmantas Immigration are all members of ICCRC, and we are here to help if you need assistance with a Canadian immigration matter. If you need help handling an immigration application, contact us.