Not licensed? Not legal!

Not licensed? Not legal!

Safeguarding potential immigrants to Canada from unauthorised representatives

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

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Dear Mr Brown,

There is a local agency in Manchester that claims it can get jobs in Canada by working with overseas lawyers. I am wondering if this is legitimate. Please advise.

-DL

Dear DL:

The Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) is the regulatory body responsible for governing the conduct of immigration representatives. The Federation of Law Societies of Canada (FLSC) is the national coordinating body for provincial and territorial law societies in Canada.

Together with Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), these organisations help safeguard potential immigrants from unauthorised immigration representatives who pose a threat to the integrity of Canada's immigration system.

Authorised immigration representatives

When undertaking Canadian immigration matters, you should always receive Canadian immigration advice from an authorised immigration representative. Under Canadian law, only authorised immigration representatives can charge a fee to assist someone to apply for visas, permits, permanent residence, and/or citizenship.

Accordingly, local employment agencies (as well as travel agencies or education agents) in Jamaica must be authorised agents in order to provide any form of immigration advice. Otherwise, they are contravening the laws of Canada.

Fraud Prevention Month

March is Fraud Prevention Month in which the ICCRC seeks to highlight practices for the protection of the general public.

This year the ICCRC included tips on how to recognise unauthorised practitioners, such as:

• Be mindful if you are asked to sign a retainer agreement with a company, an agent or someone else, instead of the authorised practitioner;

• Make sure you receive invoices and/or receipts for all payments;

• Be careful if a travel agent or a recruiter offers you immigration services;

• Be aware that no one can guarantee an approval of an immigration application;

• Beware if your authorised immigration professional demonstrates an apparent lack of knowledge when you ask specific questions about immigration or ICCRC's Code of Professional Ethics.

Code of ethics

Authorised immigration professionals enter their profession with a standard level of knowledge in immigration. Moreover, they must follow the Code of Professional Ethics that states an immigration professional must be honest with you and work within his/her abilities to handle your immigration case.

If you are not sure about the status of an immigration professional, you may ask about an immigration practitioner's membership standing.

Not Licensed? Not Legal!

The Canadian immigration regulations prescribe which immigration representatives may (or may not) represent or advise, for a fee or other consideration.

Examples of advice and representation would include:

• Advertising that they can provide immigration advice for a fee;

• Explaining and/or providing advice on someone's immigration options;

• Providing guidance to a client on how to select the best immigration stream;

• Providing guidance on completing and submitting immigration forms, such as a visitor's visa, work permit or study permit;

• Representing a client in an immigration application or proceeding;

• Making interventions on behalf of the applicant during processing; and

• Requesting information from the embassy about the progress of the application.

An unauthorised representative is an individual or company who receives a fee for advising or representing a client on immigration matters but who are not members of the ICCRC or a law society. They are not permitted to provide any of the services outlined above.

Use of Representative Form

For future reference, the main indication of unauthorised immigration activity is the failure to complete and submit the Use of a Representative Form (IMM5476). This document must be completed and included in a visa application submitted to the Canadian High Commission if someone assisted with the visa application or before the application was submitted. The executed document would contain your information, the representative's information, along with signatures of both parties.

Please visit jamaica2canada.com for additional information on Canadian permanent residence programmes, including Express Entry, the Study and Work programme, visitor's visas or appeals, etc.

Antonn Brown, BA, (Hons), LLB, MSc, RCIC, is an immigration counsel and an accredited Canadian education agent of JAMAICA2CANADA.COM—a Canadian immigration & education firm in Kingston. Send questions/comments to jamaica2canada@gmail.com.


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