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Prospective immigrants have plenty of choice when it comes to who helps them with the Canadian immigration process, and one of those choices is to use an immigration consultant. An immigration consultant is different than an immigration lawyer.
An immigration lawyer has completed years of schooling in law school and has gone on to do a minimum 10 months of “articling”, which is similar to what a doctor does in his or her residency. Articling is basically an apprenticeship with another lawyer who is licensed, or in a law firm. They are also licensed to practice immigration law.
Immigration consultants must also complete their educational requirements by graduating from a certificate or diploma program, as well as study under the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants.
There are great immigration lawyers and great immigration consultants available to immigrants, but there are also some bad apples in each industry – like any other. After several stories of immigrants fraudulently coming to Canada under the advice of their immigration consultants, the government of Canada created Bill C-35, which came into effect in June of 2011. This bill helps regulate the industry and creates the following requirements for immigration consultants:
– An immigration consultant must be an accredited immigration representative in order to charge for immigration advice.
– Immigration consultants must be members of the governing body for immigration consultants.
– Immigration consultants also have a new regulatory body, the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council.
Immigration consultants who break the above rules will be subject to a $10,000 fine or two years in prison.
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