Published Wednesday, December 26, 2012
“You do not need to hire an immigration representative,” said a Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) spokesperson to this website.
“It is up to you. Your application will not be given special attention or guaranteed approval if you use one.”
According to the CIC all the forms and information that is needed to apply for a visa are available free on the CIC website, and if you follow the instructions in the application guide, anyone should be able to complete the application forms and submit them without any assistance.
Between 2009 and 2011 a total of 736, 336 visa and 399 work permit applications were approved by the Canadian government for UAE residents.
Many applicants in the UAE apply through an immigration consultancy company every year.
With the opening of the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP),migration aspirants who do opt to seek the help of an immigration consultant are advised to pay attention to a couple of things.
Whether an immigration consultancy firm or other representative is accredited by the government can easily be verified, says the CIC.
“Foreign consultants can register in Canada and do so through the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC), which in 2011 was designated as the regulator of immigration consultants,” notes the CIC spokesperson.
“Under Canadian law, it is an offence for anyone other than an authorised representative to advise or represent, for a fee or other consideration, at any stage of an application or proceeding.”
Thus, in order to make sure that your application is in good hands, checking the accreditation is the first step. This can be done by viewing the list of accredited companies on the CIC website.
If a company is not authorised to act as a representative of the Canadian government, the company cannot be held liable for its practice under the Canadian law.
“CIC will not deal with non-authorised immigration representatives who charge for their services,” said the CIC spokesperson.
When an applicant is not satisfied with the services of an immigration consultant and finds out this consultant was not authorised to deliver the services, this case should be referred to the Department of Economic Development (DED) Dubai.
“Since becoming the Minister of Immigration, Citizenship and Multiculturalism in 2008, Minister Kenney has called upon officials in foreign countries where immigration fraud is most prevalent to take stronger enforcement action against such fraud. He has urged those governments to protect their citizens from exploitation and abuse by unscrupulous immigration representatives,” said the CIC spokesperson.
However, most companies in Dubai are accredited by the Canadian government to act as representatives.
Yet, there are hundreds of applicants who are unsatisfied with the services they had paid thousands of dirhams for. Many of these applicants never made it to Canada, and they feel that they were cheated by the companies.
This website has reported of several such complaints, and immigration consultants have responded to these complaints
Asked which role the Canadian Embassy plays in addressing these complaints, the CIC spokesperson said that given the fact that Canada cannot directly investigate in matters in other countries, the investigation and prosecution of third parties residing abroad is challenging.
However, monthly inspections are carried out and the consultants are frequently asked to adapt their policies, rules and regulations or contracts.
“The accreditation of immigration representatives is managed by the regulatory body to which the consultant, lawyer, paralegal or notary belongs (e.g., the appropriate Canadian provincial or territorial law society, ICCRC, or the Chambre des notaires du Québec). It would be up to them to revoke the person’s accreditation,” explains the spokesperson.
“If you know your immigration representative broke the law while representing you, they could be charged under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Criminal Code of Canada or the laws of your country of residence.”
“If the law they broke was immigration-related (for example, if your immigration representative submitted fraudulent documents with your application), immediately contact the CIC office processing your application or the Canada Border Services Agency.
“If your immigration representative has defrauded you personally (for example, if they charged you a fee, but did not fulfill what was promised or refuse to return your passport without another fee), contact your local law enforcement agency,” advises the CIC spokesperson.
Being among the early Canadian Immigration Law Firms, Bayat Legal Services has been located next to the Canadian Consulate for 19 years. “We see dozens of applicants every year requesting for help regarding there Canadian Immigration file,” says Pej Mohyeddin, who works at the office as an Immigration & Business Consultant.
“Unfortunately though, they would come to see us only after having their consultant file the application and collect money from them.”
In many cases, there is not much that can be done, because often are the fees paid and services delivered in compliance with the contract, which was voluntarily signed by the applicant.
With the accreditation confirmed and the relation between consultant and applicant defined in contractual terms, the unscrupulous activities that are often referred to become more of a grey area.
Many applicants have complained of unethical practices, such as manipulation, time-pressure, raising false hope or accepting applications while the category the applicant would apply for is closed at the moment of application.
“Members of ICCRC must adhere to the Code of Professional Ethics,” comments the CIC spokesperson. This Code can be viewed on thewebsite of CIC.
However, it is not clear whether immigration consultants can be held liable when these ethics are not adhered to.
What CIC does point out, is that the authorised immigration consultant alone is permitted to be involved with the applicant at any stage of the application process.
At consultancy companies, the authority to act as a representative is likely to be given to the person in charge of that company only. The employees in that company are therefore not authorized to deal with the applicant on a representative basis.
“There are requirements that all representatives used at any stage of an immigration application or proceeding be members in good standing of a provincial bar, the Chambre des notaires du Québec, or the governing body for immigration consultants (ICCRC). This makes it illegal for anyone to operate in Canada as an unauthorized representative at any stage of an immigration application or proceeding,” says the CIC spokesperson.
“In general, if a third party does not advise or represent for a fee, they do not need to be an authorised representative. However, if a third party provides immigration advice or representation for a fee to a client, he/she must be an authorized immigration representative.”