Five Questions to ask your Immigration Lawyer

Why is choosing the right immigration lawyer important?

Choosing an immigration lawyer (or immigration attorney as they’re called in the United States) is an important part of your immigration process. Not all immigration lawyers are the same, and choosing the right one can mean the difference between the success of your immigration application and the failure of your immigration application. Asking the immigration lawyer questions before deciding to hire them is common, and should always be a part of the hiring process.

Questions to ask an immigration lawyer

1. Ask the lawyer how they will contact you and how frequently. Keep in mind that some immigration applications can take months or even years to process , so there may not be much to report on your case every week. However, the immigration lawyer should be able to respond to your calls or e-mails in a timely manner and keep you updated when possible. In other words: they should be available.

2. Ask for referrals or references. If the immigration lawyer does a good job with his other clients, there are likely many former clients who were happy with the immigration lawyer’s services. While much information is confidential in the legal world, some immigration lawyers may have a selection of testimonials or “thank you” letters posted on their website, or on online reviews or in their office to show you.

3. Ask the lawyer whether they think your case will be successful or a failure. A good immigration lawyer will be able to call on their years of experience and tell you your chances, but generally not provide a “percentage” of likelihood your application will be approved. If an immigration lawyer or consultant guarantees your application will be successful because they know someone working at Citizenship and Immigration Canada or the Canada Border Services Agency, encourages you to lie on your application or provides false documents – don’t walk out of the office… run!

4. Don’t hesitate to ask who will be representing you. Just because you know a recognizable face from television or online ads, doesn’t mean that exact lawyer will be handling your case. If you do have another person from a large law firm representing you, make sure they have the same qualifications and positive track record.

5. Ask about the fees for all of the services that will be provided to you by the immigration lawyer and how they will breakdown. A good immigration lawyer will be able to explain these for you clearly, and not be vague about how much they charge.

What about an immigration consultant instead of an immigration lawyer?

Immigration consultants also provide services to immigrants, but these services can be limited. They can fill out immigration forms for you, but they cannot appear in Federal Court if necessary when the case is refused.

In Canada, the immigration consultant occupation generally only requires a certificate or diploma while immigration lawyers have gone through university and then law school. Immigration lawyers are regulated by their Provincial or State Bars  while immigration consultants, in Canada, must be members Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC), which as it turns out,  does seem to have the resources nor will take disciplinary action where there is misconduct.

There have been many cases in the media during the past year where immigration consultants have overcharged clients, not done the work the client paid for or even blackmailed clients into paying more money before having them deported. This is not to say all consultants are bad. There are many good, ethical and qualified ones. However, clients will have little to no recourse, it seems, using an immigration consultant if something does go wrong. This is not the case when using a licensed  immigration lawyer.


About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more

8 thoughts on “Five Questions to ask your Immigration Lawyer

  1. Selen

    Hello to all,

    I am staying in BC, Canada since the end of October. I have a multiple entrance Tourist visa valid till 2023. I am a freelancer in a social media management company that is located in UK. I am working online and all I need is a computer and a internet connection.
    I would like to go back to work during my stay here and I am wondering if I need a working Permit or I can perform my work without a Permit.
    I am doing business activity that is not part of the Canadian Labor Market. My company is located out of Canada, and the primary source of remuneration for the business activities is outside Canada; also the principal place of business and actual place of accrual of profits remain predominately outside Canada. In this case, am I considered a Business visitor to work without permit? :-\

    Sources about work without permit, there is a list under the Jobs that do not need a work permit named:
    [b]Business visitors[/b]
    Business visitors who come to Canada to do business activities but are not part of the Canadian labour market.
    Note: “Business people” does not mean the same thing.
    From CIC website

    And there is another source I found which says:
    Division 3 – Work Without a Permit
    Marginal note:No permit required

    186. A foreign national may work in Canada without a work permit
    (a) as a business visitor to Canada within the meaning of section 187;
    187. (1) For the purposes of paragraph 186(a), a business visitor to Canada is a foreign national who is described in subsection (2) or who seeks to engage in international business activities in Canada without directly entering the Canadian labour market.
    Marginal note:Specific cases

    (2) The following foreign nationals are business visitors:

    (a) foreign nationals purchasing Canadian goods or services for a foreign business or government, or receiving training or familiarization in respect of such goods or services;

    (b) foreign nationals receiving or giving training within a Canadian parent or subsidiary of the corporation that employs them outside Canada, if any production of goods or services that results from the training is incidental; and

    (c) foreign nationals representing a foreign business or government for the purpose of selling goods for that business or government, if the foreign national is not engaged in making sales to the general public in Canada.
    Marginal note:Factors

    (3) For the purpose of subsection (1), a foreign national seeks to engage in international business activities in Canada without directly entering the Canadian labour market only if

    (a) the primary source of remuneration for the business activities is outside Canada; and

    (b) the principal place of business and actual place of accrual of profits remain predominately outside Canada.

    1. vahe

      Hello Selen,

      To answer your question, in certain types of situations yes you do not require a work permit to work in Canada as long as you are not impacting the Canadian labor market and in no way engaging in any activity with Canadian clients. In order for us to assess your situation in more depth, kindly fill in our online assessment form at

  2. asim

    Dear sir,
    i apply family visit visa but visa refuesed.kinldy give me advise when we apply again .we are 4 person husband wife and 2 children.

    1. Sarah Jane MacDonald


      I am sorry to hear that your application was refused. Please take some time and fill out or online assessment form, one of our experienced immigration consultants will take a look at your information and see how we can help. You will be contacted within 24 hours of submitting the form.

      All the best,
      Sarah Jane

  3. noor

    can you pls.tell me what is processing time for i130 visa after you risive your approval later im us citizen and I meride to Indian girls

    1. Michael Niren

      Hello Noor
      The processing times for I-130s vary depending on the Visa Post and country of origin There are a lot of factors. For more information about I-130s, you can visit our US Green Card page

      I hope that helps!


  4. Amarish

    Good Day,
    My name is Amarish Tripathi, living in Canada since last 10 years. I sponcer my parents in 2004 & my file was rejected because of my father has knee problem. I appeal in 2006 & also rejected in appeal.
    now situation is change; my father pass away in April 2012.
    Can i re-appeal to open my file for my mother?
    Please find attached appeal refusal letter for your reference.
    Thank you for your time & have a Great Day!
    403 755 1900

    1. Michael Niren

      Hello Amarish
      It looks you could could re-apply again. You would have to contact us for more details on your case.

      Michael Niren


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