Are Canadian Immigration Consultants Worth It? Part 1

The Canadian Immigration Labyrinth

Are you starting your immigration journey and feeling overwhelmed with the sheer volume of information online? Uncertain where or how to start your application for immigration to Canada? Or, have you started your immigration application and have doubts about the completeness of your application that are keeping you up at night? Maybe you’re an employer who wants to hire or retain an employee who’s not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, but you’re not sure what options you have. Perhaps, your spouse, common-law partner, parent, or child is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and you are curious if you could become one too?

There are over 120 different pathways to becoming a permanent resident of Canada. Additionally, there are over 50 different types of work permits, including ones that require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) and those that are exempt from LMIA. Family members can be sponsored in the Family Class, but there’s also the Spouse and Common-law Partner in Canada Class. Employers often wonder what “sponsorship” means. Does it always mean an LMIA is needed? Or can you support employees’ immigration through other programs, like the Provincial Nominee or International Mobility Programs?

Immigration consultants have deep knowledge, practical understanding, and experience with Canadian immigration programs, systems, laws, and policies. They can help get you started down the right path, identify viable strategies and help you choose the best-suited one, guide you through the process faster, with greater ease, demystify complex or confusing requirements or processes, and help manage your interactions with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Immigration consultants can be your #1 fan and biggest cheerleader as you embark on a journey that will change your life or keep your business operational. Their expert knowledge and insights can mean the difference between success and failure.

Canadian Immigration Consultants

What is a Canadian Immigration Consultant?

Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCIC) are a class of professionals authorized by the Government of Canada (Immigration and Refugee Act s. 91(2)(c)) to provide advice and support to those navigating Canadian immigration systems and processes.

RCICs have highly specialized education in Canadian immigration laws, policies, and procedures. They study the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and Regulations, Ministerial instructions, case law (decisions made in Canadian courts that shape how Immigration Officers interpret and apply the law), and operational instructions and guidelines. Immigration consultants are a regulated profession governed by the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants (CICC). To become licensed, immigration consultants must:

  1. Have a Bachelor’s degree
  2. complete a graduate diploma program delivered by Queen’s University or the Université de Montréal[1]
  3. pass an Entry to Practice exam
  4. complete 9 Practice Management Education (PME) courses within the first year of becoming a lincensee
  5. participate in a mentorship program facilitated by senior RCICs who have practical knowledge and experience from the field.

Canadian immigration consultants are only educated and licensed to provide advice on Canadian immigration matters. Our specialized training and scope of practice allow us to become highly specialized and experienced in this specific field of Canadian law.  Additionally, we are required to complete at least 16 hours of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) training every year. We pay an annual professional licensing fee, must maintain professional liability insurance, and complete an annual renewal.

Do I need a Canadian Immigration Consultant?

No. You DO NOT need to hire an RCIC to submit your Canadian immigration application.  IRCC does not give preferential treatment to applications prepared or submitted by an immigration consultant.

Choosing to hire an immigration consultant is a personal decision that depends on many factors. These include the complexity of your situation, how much free time you have, and your aptitude for administrative work requiring high attention to detail.

You might consider seeking support from an immigration consultant for the following reasons:

1.       Clarity

We can all agree understanding Canadian immigration programs, systems, policies, and laws can be at least a little overwhelming. While I was completing my Master’s of Management, Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Smith School of Business at Queen’s University, I completed a survey of over 300 people who had or were in the process, of immigrating to Canada. Over 80% of respondents found the process somewhat or very difficult. Immigration consultants can provide clarity, offer firsthand knowledge, and give you insights that only come from experience and specialized education.

2.      Personalization

There may be multiple avenues to accomplishing your Canadian immigration goals. Identifying, comparing, and contrasting the options to ultimately choose the best strategy based on your circumstances requires a high level of expertise and deep knowledge. RCICs can help you understand your options, weigh the pros and cons, and execute your strategy successfully.

3.      Efficiency

Experienced immigration consultants have navigated the same immigration processes countless times with different clients. Think about the first time you did anything, and how much more efficient you got the more times you did such a thing. As immigration consultants, we can help you reach your goals faster because we’re already familiar with the process, the requirements, the portals, the forms, the documents, etc. We use our trade secrets, developed from repeating the processes time and again, to help you craft your application quickly and efficiently.

4.      Success

Similarly to #3, RCICs have gained knowledge that’s only attainable by repeating the process again and again. This firsthand knowledge is hard to find elsewhere and can mean the difference between a refusal or approval. We can help you avoid costly and time-consuming mistakes and missteps so you can accomplish your goals faster, and with less stress.

5.      Peace of mind

If you’ve decided to immigrate to Canada, to sponsor a family member, or to support an employee, it’s likely a very important goal to achieve. Again, through my Master’s studies, I confirmed that one of the most painful parts of immigrating to Canada is the uncertainty, stress, and anxiety that accompanies the process. Many people lose sleep, are distracted from other areas of their lives (like work or family), and experience friction in their relationships due to the pressure and high stakes of the process. RCICs are cheerleaders and advocates who can significantly ease the discomfort that many experience on their immigration journey.

Part 2, “How Much Does a Canadian Immigration Consultant Cost?” is available HERE!

Final Part 3 of this series is also available now! Read how to find a good immigration consultant with confidence.

[1] Prior to December 31, 2022, would-be consultants had to complete the Immigration Practitioner Program (IPP)

Written on February 8, 2024 by Brooke Finlay