Transcend Consultants Alerts Immigration Services Providers to Stringent Provisions in New Canadian Immigration Law

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The Government of Canada has recently announced measures to stem the practices of Unauthorised Representatives. With coming into force of Bill C-35, Immigration advice provided at any stage of Application is considered as an offence.

With coming into force of Bill C-35, Immigration advice provided at any stage of Application is considered as an offence.

Bill C-35, An Act to Amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, came into force on June 30, 2011.

The Act amended IRPA by making it an offence for anyone other than an Authorized Representative (AR) to represent or advise a client on an immigration matter for a fee or other consideration at any stage of an immigration application or proceeding. This includes the period before a proceeding begins or an application is submitted, meaning that anyone who provides immigration advice for compensation at the pre-application stage must be an AR.

Uncompensated third parties, such as family members and friends, can still act on behalf of an applicant.

The Act also includes the creation of a specific offence with maximum fines of $100,000 and/or imprisonment for up to two years upon conviction by indictment; and of $20,000 and/or imprisonment for up to six months on summary conviction

ARs may charge a fee or receive other forms of consideration for the provision of advice or representation with regard to an immigration application or proceeding and are those registered with one of the regulatory bodies. These bodies are the Canadian provincial/territorial law societies, who regulate lawyers and (in some cases) paralegals, the Chambre des notaires du Québec, and the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC).

The department officials have been instructed to be aware of following:

  • A person receiving consideration, such as a fee, who is not an AR may not provide immigration advice or representation at any stage of an application or proceeding.
  • Officials of the CIC, CBSA & HRSDC will deal only with ARs in cases where the representative receives consideration, such as a fee.
  • Applicants using ARs are required to submit the name of their AR, the organization they are a member of, their identification or membership number, their telephone number and mailing address, and to identify whether they were compensated or uncompensated for verification purposes.

Examples of advising and representation would include:

  • Explaining and/or providing advice on someone’s immigration options
  • Providing guidance to a client on how to select the best immigration stream
  • Completing and submitting immigration forms on a client’s behalf
  • Communicating with CIC and the CBSA on a client’s behalf (except for the direct translation of a client’s written or spoken submissions)
  • Representing a client in an immigration application or proceeding
  • Representing a client in an Arranged Employment Opinion or Labour Market Opinion application
  • Advertising that they can provide immigration advice for consideration

Implications for Stakeholders:
With this Act and its regulations, the prohibition against representing or advising persons for consideration — or offering to do so — has been extended to all stages in connection with a proceeding or application under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, including before a proceeding has been commenced or an application has been made. As a result, many stakeholders are now required to be members of a prescribed regulatory body - or an Agent of such a member - if they wish to provide immigration services to their clients, when they were not obliged to do so in the past.

Some of the stakeholders provide important allied services to people using immigration services. They may continue to provide these services. However, if immigration advice or representation is given to the student by the stakeholder, and the stakeholder is being compensated for their services, then they must be ARs - or Agents of an AR. The following examples of stakeholders are among those affected:

  • Educational Agents in Canada
  • Educational Agents outside Canada
  • Employment agents and recruiters
  • Travel Agents
  • Adoption agencies
  • Live-in caregiver agents

Where the officer is concerned that an unauthorised representative is involved, if though this may not be declared ("concealed representative"), the officer may return the application and even initiate enforcement measures against the applicant and/or representative, including investigation and prosecution.

Course of action for stakeholders:
For organizations providing legitimate services to their clients, the course of action is to either become an AR themselves or become an Agent for an AR. The first option involves training, applying for membership, passing skills and language tests, paying the fee, etc. In many cases, the membership is open only to Canadian citizens or permanent residents. The second option doesn't require any of the above, but entails working with an AR.

For more information about the above note, or to become an Agent, contact Deepak Kohli (Authorised representative) or visit http://www.transcendconsultants.com.

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Deepak Kohli, RCIC
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