A report recently released by the Canadian Bar Association details the risks of hiring immigration consultants rather than licensed attorneys. As they are particularly vulnerable to fraud and misinformation due to their lack of familiarity with Canada, foreign nationals seeking immigration services are not always able to verify the legitimacy of the agent representing them or the advice they provide. Often persuaded by lower fees or exaggerated promises of potential outcomes, these consultants may mislead clients into providing false or incomplete information or may simply mismanage their applications, seriously compromising the client’s chances of success ever immigrating to Canada.
Immigration consultants across Canada are not effectively regulated. The Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) has suffered from ongoing mismanagement, allowing negligent consultants to operate without penalty. Many of these practitioners are hugely inexperienced and have a high incidence of complaint reporting-up to 63% of regulated consultants have five or fewer years of experience in immigration consulting. Further, many consultants operate outside the reach of the ICCRC, so-called “ghost consultants” who provide fraudulent information to clients who have little ability to rectify their situation.
When you hire a lawyer to represent you through your immigration application, you are engaging a skilled professional held to the utmost standard of competence and integrity. Their years of training in intersecting areas of the law (family law, corporate and tax law, human rights law, etc.) are often necessary to immigration applications-sometimes, applicants who first seek the assistance of a consultant will have to engage a lawyer further along their application. Lawyers apply their highly-specialized skills in a way that consultants cannot, meaning that even well-intentioned consultants do not deliver the same results to their clients that lawyers do.
As you make a decision affecting something as important as your immigration to Canada, understand the risks of hiring the wrong representative. Take the caution of retaining a lawyer to represent you-your future depends on it.