Self-Help, Do it yourself Immigration kits. A Blessing or Curse?

In the legal service industry, there is a clear trend these days of people attempting to bypass the “middle man” or purchase self-help “kits” at book stores or online that promise, quick and easy results for your all your legal needs.

These How-To kits are relatively inexpensive and claim to provide step-by-step guidance from start to finish. You have seen these do it yourself Will kits in stores everywhere or do it yourself guides to opening up a company or getting a divorce. Sounds wonderful!

These kits contain all the information and forms you need for getting the results you desire and all for a price under $100 in some cases! Sounds too good to be true? Well it depends. Some swear by these how-to guides and claim they have saved $1000s in legal fees. Others have, well,  regretted it.

The reality is that with these kits they are designed to give you the basics: information that really applies to the most simple, straitforward cases.

Immigration Kits now being offered

It was just a matter of time that the immigration service industry got on board offering immigration kits to the public. Same deal. Loud claims are made that you can get visas by just purchasing or downloading these kits and following the instructions. Even the Canadian government is now  in the game claming that you do not need a lawyer but rather just follow their instructions online.

If life were only that simple……

Problem with Immigration Kits

Especially in the immigration field where cases are rarely strait forward even if at first they seem so, these immigration kits, how-tos, downloadable guilds are, in my view, a real problem for the unsuspecting public. Yes, they are cheap. But the cost of relying on these kits as a “magic bullet” is, as I have seen, a price not worth paying in most cases.

When purchasing these kits, what you really are doing is rolling the dice, gambling on your future in the hopes that your case fits into some template designed for everyone but no one in particular.

I am not saying that immigration and visa kits have not been of value to some users. But in deciding whether to purchase a kit, it is prudent to do so with your eyes wide open, knowing the risks. Paying thousands of dollars in legal fees may seem like a lot but consider the alternatives. You are, after all, trying to get a visa to move or to enter another country. Big decisions, big consequences if it doesn’t work out.  Like everything, in making such decisions, you have to weigh the pros and cons.

I have no problem with immigration service providers offering immigration and visa kits. If there is a market for them, why not? What I do object to is the lack of warnings and the misleading claims suggesting that visa processing is so simple and easy.

Sadly I see everyday people who were refused visas because they thought that doing it yourself was the way to go. I tell these souls not to look back. What is done is done. In some cases I can help them. In other cases, I just try to sympathize.



Michael Niren

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

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