Each year, Canada sets targets for the number of people allowed to enter under each of its immigration programs. Between 2019 and 2021, Canada set a target of allowing one million new permanent residents into the country.

If you are considering immigrating to Canada, you may be wondering who can help you with your immigration needs. You may also wonder whether you should hire an immigration consultant or a lawyer.

Anyone accepting payment for Canadian immigration services must be properly licensed. The following are the differences between immigration lawyers and immigration consultants:

What Is an Immigration Consultant?

An Immigration consultant must belong to the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) and have an ICCRC number.

Consultants need a one-year certification to obtain registration. Consultants are less knowledgeable than lawyers and have a more considerable margin of error in processing applications.

Consultants are not lawyers, did not attend law school, and cannot advocate in court for you.

What Is an Immigration Lawyer?

Lawyers must attend law school, pass the bar exam and be a member of a provincial Law Society.

An immigration lawyer can attend immigration interviews with you. If your application comes under judicial review, a lawyer has the authority to advocate for you in court.

Lawyers are held to a higher ethical standard than consultants and must always work in your best interests.

Immigration lawyers, and lawyers in general, are regulated and governed by provincial law societies; they do not have ICCRC numbers. Your lawyer’s authority is their membership under a Law Society.

Avoid Fraud

While properly licensed immigration consultants are reliable and helpful in the immigration process, there are however reports of a high incidence of fraud. Ensure you verify all immigration services you are receiving and be careful of anything that sends up a red flag, including:

  • payment upfront without a consultation,
  • no contract to sign,
  • money for a job offer,
  • guarantee of success in your immigration application,
  • a consultant unable to provide an ICCRC number; or
  • a lawyer unable to provide a provincial law association listing.

Benefits of Immigration Lawyer Representation

Canada’s immigration law and programs are complex and confusing. Immigration lawyers stay up to date on Canada’s changing immigration laws and can help walk you through the process of immigrating to Canada.

You will want to hire an immigration lawyer where you have:

  • medical concerns,
  • prior refusals, or
  • a criminal conviction,

The above are all factors that could cause a denial of your application.

Lawyers are familiar with immigration laws and regulations and can help you obtain permanent residency, a work visa, or citizenship.

Immigration to Canada

When considering whether to hire an immigration consultant or an immigration lawyer, ensure you are getting the best possible representation by doing a little research. Heath Law LLP can help you with your application, answer your questions, and provide expert legal advice.