The Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) will soon transition into the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants. This transitional shift is brought into effect for the purpose of increasing the integrity and public trust in the profession of immigration. It was initiated with the passing of Bill C 97 in April 2019 and re-affirms the implication of section 91(1) & 91(2) of the Immigration & Refugee Protection Act(IRPA), which states that providing of immigration advice for a fee is restricted only to Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants, Immigration lawyers and Quebec Notaries. In other words, besides these three specified entities no one is authorized to give advice on Canadian immigration and charge a fee to the clients or even enter into a retainer agreement with clients.
We have been receiving many enquiries requesting more clarification on the transition and hence we would like to shed some light on the transition, hoping it would answer many questions for applicants aspiring to immigrate to Canada.
Why is the transition being initiated?
In Canada, most regulators of professionals (like Physicians, lawyers etc.) are established under statute. Currently, the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) has its authority from its designation by the Federal Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and the Citizenship Act. However, there were administrative and legal challenges that limited ICCRC’s role in implementing professional compliance and regulatory services. Thus, for the past two years, ICCRC has been working with IRCC and major stakeholders to gain enhanced powers for supervision, enforcement and investigation for identifying the unlicensed and unauthorized immigration consultants and agencies. It will now be able to go after such illegal practitioners and hold them accountable for their actions.
How will the new College work?
The new College will be an official regulator of immigration and citizenship consultants. They will have significant new powers and tools to recognize and take action against unlicensed immigration consultants as well as investigate, obtain evidence & also order for a refund where applicable. Moreover, a fund will be created by the College to compensate applicants who got cheated by the unlawful practices of certified immigration and citizenship experts.
How will the new legislation help the government deal with illegal immigration organizations/agents/agencies who are based outside Canada and are cheating aspiring candidates with false hopes?
ICCRC has been working with IRCC, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the College will be in a better position to connect with unfamiliar government organizations to implement enforcement actions. The Bill C-97 also includes extra financing for enforcement and public education which will eventually lead to bringing down unscrupulous overseas immigration agents.
After receiving the proposed authority, what will be the next step? How soon will the organization address the matter of unlicensed immigration consultants?
The next step for the new College is to expedite its licensee-requirement exercises concerning open cases, and take instant actions against unlicensed immigration specialists/agencies who have been on their radar. They will keep on expanding on their associations with the RCMP, CBSA and different levels of government to share accurate information to the public and put all the efforts in eliminating all fraudulent immigration activities that are happening within and outside Canada.
What strategies and measures will the College take to fight against illegal immigration consultants?
The College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants Act gives the College the power to file an injunction against unlicensed immigration consultants, which means that a Canadian court can charge the unlicensed immigration consultants if they keep on posing as one and provide assistance without approval. There will be legal consequences and administrative penalties, which will make it feasible for the College to fine unlicensed immigration consultants and encourage them to change their conduct of business if they wish to continue with their work in Canada immigration. Every immigration consultant providing immigration services outside Canada must be licensed by the College. The federal budget will also allot CAD$ 2 million to CBSA to conduct more investigations against illegal immigration consultants.
When will the new College begin its operations?
The College will begin from November 23, 2021. It will be run by a transitional Board of Directors which will supervise the approval of the initial College By-laws and other procedures. A code of professional conduct for the College is currently in the process to be a part of the regulatory process. The code will play a significant part in maintaining standard and professional norms that all licensed immigration consultants must abide by.
The College will be the authority controller of immigration and citizenship consultants in Canada, under the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants Act, thus fulfilling its commitment to strengthen oversight and cracking down on illegal immigration consultants both in Canada and overseas.