Monday, July 4, 2011

Why Use a Regulated Consultant in Canadian Immigration?

Why Use a Regulated Consultant in Canadian Immigration?

Before acquiring the services of an immigration consultant, it is important to understand the difference between a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) and an unauthorized provider of immigration services.  RCICs are required to abide by a strict Code of Conduct – available here.  There will be numerous benefits associated with utilizing the services of a RCIC and serious risks associated with utilizing the services of these unauthorized providers.  

Regulated Consultants vs. Unauthorized Providers of Immigration Services:
 Attribute  Regulated Canadian
Immigration Consultant
 Unauthorized Provider of Immigration Services
 Accountable to ICCRC; complaints are taken seriously Yes  No – accountable to no one 
 Monitored by ICCRC; non-compliance is taken seriously  Yes No – may operate unknown to authorities 
 Supported by ICCRC to enhance quality of services  Yes No – not supported by anyone 
 Knowledgeable and informed on immigration law and Canadian immigration system  Yes  No – no education prerequisite on immigration issues
Proficient in English or French   Yes No – may be unable to communicate properly in English or French 
 Required to abide by stringent ethical and professional rules that are designed to protect consumers  Yes No – not subject to any ethical requirements 
 Possess valid Errors and Omissions Insurance for enhanced consumer protection  Yes No – may not have any Errors and Omissions Insurance 
 Work with agents known to ICCRC  Yes  No – no information on their associates
 Required to provide evidence of good character prior to becoming Regulated  Yes No – may have committed fraudulent or illegal activities in the past

Tips for Consumers 

If you are looking to obtain the services from a RCIC, look at the Council’s list of members to ensure he or she is regulated by the Council – if his or her name is not on the list, he or she is NOT authorized. The up-to-date list will be accessible on the Council’s website 

Read the Code of Ethical and Professional Conduct for Members (available on the Council’s website) – this will help you to know what you can expect from a RCIC

Benefits of Obtaining Immigration Services from a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant

A Regulated Consultant is your assurance of quality. Certified consultants are equipped with the latest information on immigration law, procedures and practices and go about their business according to a strict, enforceable Code of Conduct.   

Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants are educated and informed
Prior to becoming RCICs, candidates are required to demonstrate their knowledge and language skills with entrance examinations. Since 2004, candidates to become authorized immigration consultants have been required to complete an accredited program. An accredited program provides consultants with essential information regarding immigration law in Canada and proper procedures regarding applications with Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Additionally, members of the Council are kept well-informed on developments in the immigration field. They are required to complete ongoing professional development and Practice Management Education.

Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants are required to abide by stringent ethical and professional guidelines
Council members are subject to a Code of Ethical Conduct that stipulates proper procedures for their practice. The Code requires all members to adhere to stringent rules, including those regarding quality of service, professionalism, ethical practice and confidentiality. A breach of this code is considered an act of non-compliance; it is taken seriously and dealt with expeditiously by the Council. Additionally, members of the Council must provide evidence of good character before being newly regulated, including submitting a police record check.

Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants are insured
Members of the Council are required to obtain Errors and Omissions Insurance, which protects consumers against unintended actions that may cause financial damage. 

The agents of Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants are known to the Regulator
Members’ agents, or those individuals who work with RCICs on a regular basis, often play a big part in processing and handling important documents and correspondence. RCICs are required to provide to the Council a list of agents with whom they work. The actions of these agents reflect upon the member, and members will thus be responsible for ensuring that their agents act with professionalism and integrity.

Risks of Obtaining Services from Unauthorized Providers of Immigration Services

These unauthorized providers are breaking the law
Unauthorized practitioners who charge money for immigration services are acting illegally. These individuals should not be trusted to provide immigration services in exchange for money.  

These unauthorized providers may not be educated or informed
These unauthorized providers may be operating without proper education or knowledge of the Canadian immigration system or Canadian immigration law. They may be unaware of essential requirements or procedures in dealing with Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and may not be informed of developments regarding the immigration system or of immigration legislation that could have a negative effect on a consumer’s circumstances as related to CIC.

These unauthorized providers may not be ethical or professional
As someone who is operating illegitimately, these individuals may have no qualms about engaging in highly unethical or unprofessional actions. Many times, these unauthorized providers are seeking only to swindle money from unsuspecting clients. Additionally, they may engage in unethical or illegal practices in their dealings with CIC, which could jeopardize an applicant’s current and future status with CIC.

These unauthorized providers are not accountable to the Council
Non-members are practicing without the authorization of the regulatory body. They are not subject to the rules and regulations that govern Council members, who are held accountable for their actions by the Council. They may not properly identify themselves on official documents and records and most likely operate unknown to the Council and appropriate officials.

These unauthorized providers are not insured
Unauthorized providers do not have Errors and Omissions Insurance and are subsequently unprotected and unable to compensate consumers adequately who have been financially hurt. (Source ICCRC)

Mr. Amir Ismail is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant based in Toronto with offices worldwide who is authorized by the government of Canada to deal with clients and represent their immigration applications. His contact information is available on his website for consultations on Canadian Immigration matters.