Updated: Sep 22, 2021
It could be difficult for any applicant to differentiate between a Canada Immigration Consultant and a Canada Immigration Agency. This is mainly because they seem to offer similar services. However, there are significant differences that one needs to understand if one is planning to avail their services for immigrating to Canada as a Permanent Resident.
Following are the key differences:
· Role & Legal Existence: A Canada Immigration Consultant accredited by the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) has the advantage of a legal existence and is called a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC). A RCIC can only be a Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident who undergoes thorough studies and training before being able to appear for the licensing exam. In addition, a RCIC also needs to pass an IELTS academic exam with a band 9 and obtain police clearances from all the countries where the RCIC has stayed for more than 6 months. A RCIC is legally authorized by the ICCRC to consult a prospective applicant for Canada immigration. On the other hand, a Canada immigration agency is only supposed to assist a RCIC in marketing activities. They are not permitted by law to offer immigration services for a fee or enter into retainer agreement with applicants for Canadian immigration. There are travel agents, educational agents, recruitment agencies, etc. who are offering immigration consultation services for a fee, going against the law. Most of the local companies one might come across around them are breaking all rules related to Canadian immigration thus twisting and defying the laws prescribed for Canadian immigration.
· Accreditation number: All licensed Canada immigration consultants or RCIC have a valid seven digit RCIC number through which they can be verified in the official ICCRC database. This RCIC number proves that a RCIC is a member of the immigration council and approved to practice in area of immigration. Any immigration agency will not have this accreditation number which proves that they are not authorized as per Canadian laws to give immigration advice by charging a fee to prospective applicants for immigrating to Canada.
· Knowledge: Since a RCIC undergoes complete studies in Canadian Immigration Laws, policies and procedures and have to pass an extremely difficult exam and clearance process, they are equipped with the complete knowledge of Canadian immigration laws. A Canada immigration agency on the other hand is neither trained nor has the knowledge to advice on Canada immigration laws. Due to this drawback, applicants are misguided and misled with inaccurate and incomplete information most of the time, which results in wastage of precious time, energy and money of the applicants. The worst impact is getting a negative outcome after waiting for years or even being barred from coming to Canada on account of misrepresentation.
· Retainer Agreement: It is always recommended to avail immigration services after signing a valid and legal retainer agreement. A Canada Immigration Consultant (RCIC) is authorized to enter into a retainer agreement with clients whereas a Canada immigration agency is not authorized to sign such an agreement with client. A RCIC will mandatorily share all the services with timelines and costs involved in a retainer agreement. They would also mention contact details of ICCRC for benefit of the client, in case of a dispute or non-delivery of committed services.
· Representation: An Immigration agency is not authorized to represent your application anywhere as their sole task is only to assist a RCIC to market their services in different countries. On the other hand, a RCIC member has authorization to represent you for all immigration matters including representing you to the Immigration Division or Immigration Appeal Division, which are administrative tribunals of Canada. A RCIC cannot represent you at the Federal or Supreme court but only at the provincial levels. However, there are very limited cases that go to federal courts.
· Professional Code of Ethics: A Canada Immigration Consultant is bound by the 'Professional Code of Ethics' and performs within the prescribed laws and regulations. They are thoroughly regulated by the ICCRC and thus all applicants for Canada immigration are protected.
Knowledge of the Canadian Immigration Laws and Regulations is the key. It is extremely important that the professional you choose to work with understands the various laws and immigration options in assessing the best fit for you to be able to come to Canada. Determining the right program is half the battle won but unfortunately the local immigration agencies are not qualified in the related laws applicable to the 60+ immigration program options available for Canada. The right option needs to be followed by the right paperwork and understanding what an immigration officer would look for while assessing an application. A Canada Immigration Consultant such as a RCIC is undoubtedly the more qualified choice for an accurate processing as compared to a local Immigration agency with limited knowledge who is not authorized to provide immigration advice for a fee in the first place. You might get a single opportunity at immigrating to Canada and you need to be sure that you do not risk it with someone who is unqualified and unauthorized to consult on Canadian immigration.