Applicants for Canadian immigration or Canadian citizenship are not required to pay a consultant or representative to assist them in their application, and applicants who have representatives or consultants do not receive preferential treatment. The Canadian federal government department of Citizenship and Immigration provides immigration and citizenship information online as well as detailed application kits, and tries to keep the process as simple as possible.
However, many applicants for Canadian immigration and citizenship find the application process complicated and difficult, and prefer to use a representative to assist them with their applications.
Until April 2004, just about anybody could charge fees to act as a Canadian immigration consultant, although only lawyers licensed in Canada could represent an applicant in Federal Court.
Since April 2004, immigration and citizenship consultants have been regulated.
Regulation of Immigration Consultants
While many immigration consultants behaved in an ethical manner, there were numerous reports over the years of immigration consultants who engaged in people smuggling, issued fraudulent documents, made unrealistic promises and charged exorbitant fees.
To provide protection for immigration and citizenship applicants and to establish standards for ethics and education for these consultants, the Canadian federal government examined ways to regulate immigration consultants.
Beginning in April 2004, an independent non-profit organization called the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC) has served as a self-regulating body for Canadian immigration consultants.
As of April 2004, the only immigration and citizenship consultants who will be recognized by the federal government department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada are those who are members in good standing of CSIC or lawyers who are members of a Canadian provincial or territorial law society.
Membership in the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants is restricted to Canadian citizens and permanent residents.
Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC)
The Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC) was incorporated in October 2003 as a non-profit organization.
The operations of the CSIC include
- a registration process for Canadian immigration consultants
- monitoring member immigration consultants
- the requirement for member consultants to maintain current knowledge and take refresher and professional development courses.