On June 30, 2011, the federal government’s new rules aimed at cracking down on crooked immigration consultants (Bill C-35) came into force. At the same time, oversight of immigration consultants has been turned over to the newly created regulator, the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC).
In an effort to tackle the growing problem of fraud perpetrated by phoney immigration consultants and to improve the integrity of the Canadian immigration system, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) has been amended to include a new offence and increased penalties for anyone other than an authorized immigration representative to represent or advise a person in exchange for money or other benefit in connection with a proceeding or application under the IRPA.
Under the new legislation, the Minister has designated the ICCRC as the new regulator of immigration consultants. All consultants who are currently members in good standing of the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC) have 120 days from June 30, 2011 to register with the ICCRC failing which they will no longer be authorized to represent persons in any proceeding or application under the IRPA.
Following on the Bill C-35 amendments, only lawyers, paralegals, members of the Chambres des notaires du Québec, or immigration consultants who are members of the ICCRC, are authorized to represent or advise persons for money or other benefit in connection with any immigration proceeding or application.
The best approach is still to hire an immigration lawyer. They know the law and process and are best qualified to advise clients on how to solve their immigration issues. As the Ontario Bar Association explains in its publication, “When your whole future is at stake: Hire an Immigration Lawyer”, there are many benefits to hiring an immigration lawyer in connection with any immigration matter. Immigration lawyers have many years of education and specialized training. And they are the only authorized immigration representatives who can represent clients before the Federal Court. Another consideration is the fact that immigration lawyers are also trained in many other areas of the law that may be relevant when advising a client in an immigration matter, such as tax law, family law and employment law.