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Immigration and Citizenship Consultants - who’s in charge?

Published: May 30, 2019

A reoccurring question in citizenship and immigration law is who is and who is not qualified or authorized to give advice or help with immigration and citizenship matters.

Even from within Canada it is hard to tell which so-called "consultants" can give sound advice, provide good service, and will behave in an ethical matter.

Prior to April, 2004 there were no real rules defining who was permitted to act as an immigration or citizenship consultant. There were, however, voluntarily organizations: the Association of Immigration Counsel of Canada (AICC) and the Organization of Professional Immigration Consultants (OPIC). These organizations merged into the Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants (CAPIC).

To try and provide some oversight, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (now Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) created the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC), a self-regulating professional body. Its job was to make sure that consultants adhere to professional standards, received proper training, and to police those who are not qualified or authorized to practice. Relatively soon after CSIC's start, confidence in its abilities eroded. On June 30, 2011 it was replaced by a new, self-regulating body called the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regularity Council (ICCRC). This body like CSIC was monitored by and supported by the Immigration Ministry.

 The Federal Government determined that ICCRC also failed to properly do its job. As part of the 2019 Budget Implementation Act, the Federal Government has tabled legislation to create yet another regulatory body: the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants (CICC). It is not clear when CICC will take over from ICCRC. It is hard to believe that the new body will do any better at regulating and monitoring immigration and citizenship consultants than the previous groups.

The partners at Eisenberg & Young LLP are not immigration consultants. They are immigration lawyers certified by the Law Society of Ontario as specialists in Citizenship and Immigration Law.

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