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In our Toronto office, we often we get asked about what is the difference between immigration lawyers and immigration consultants. After all, both immigration consultants and immigration lawyers offer services related to helping people with their immigration and visa applications. Many immigration consultants in Toronto and elsewhere are very good at what they do and some are not so reputable. The same can be said for lawyers. However, you should be aware that to become either an immigration lawyer or immigration consultant there are certain educational requirements that have to be met, at least in the province of Ontario.
For instance, in order to become a licensed lawyer in Ontario, you have to go to law school, graduate and then undergo 10 months of “articling” which is like an apprenticeship with another licensed lawyer or law firm. As you can imagine, that is a lot of schooling. And to even get into law school, you have complete at least 2 years of undergraduate university courses under your belt (in most cases, a full 3 year B.A.) and have very high grades. Finally, all lawyers have to pass their Bar Examinations which permit them to actually practice law with a license. The Bar course that lawyers have to take consists of both practical and ethical components.You therefore know when hiring a licensed lawyer to assist you with your immigration and visa case, he or she has undergone extensive training and obviously has completed and passed a lot of difficult exams! Of course, there is no substitute for experience. In deciding on an immigration lawyer, it is really important to ask the right questions about that lawyer’s experience in dealing in a wide range of immigration cases.
In terms of Toronto immigration consultants and consultants in other cities in Ontario, they also have to meet certain requirements in order to legally represent clients in Ontario. According to the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants, known as CSIC, consultants have to be Canadian citizens or Permanent Residents and a graduate of an accredited immigration certificate or diploma program. They will also have to complete a mandatory pre-admission course for membership into CSIC. Immigration Consultants also have to pass a language proficiency test, show proof of good character and have no criminal record.Finally, both immigration lawyer and immigration consultant have to have liability insurance which is very important to protect client and representative where there are claims of liability.Regardless of whether you are considering hiring an immigration lawyer or immigration consultant in Toronto or elsewhere, it is important that you do your due diligence in terms of looking into the background of the professional you are considering. There is even no harm in asking to see a copy of their license to practice immigration before signing up for their services.
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