Do it yourself immigration? Why use a lawyer?
I have re-posted this information below from our FAQ section of our site. I am seeing a concerning trend in the immigration industry of consultants trying to make a quick buck by offering “immigration kits” or do-it-yourself guides that can be downloaded online. Immigration kits are what I consider the half way mark between doing it yourself and hiring a professional.
But in reality, these immigration kits turn out to be a false sense of security and buying them often makes no difference in really doing it alone. So below is my take on going solo when it comes to immigration applications. Enjoy!
Why choose a immigration lawyer when I can do it myself?
Before making the decision to choose an immigration representative, you may wonder whether or not you even need one. After all you may know people who have successfully obtained their visas without hiring an immigration lawyer or consultant. You may have heard stories of people simply filling out the forms, paying the government fees and bingo they have been issued their visa.
However, you may have also heard of cases where the adventurous have gone it alone only to find that, for some strange reason, their visa application was refused. These stories are just that: stories.
Our position on applying for a visa without the benefit of legal representation is a risk that is not worth taking-especially if you and your family are serious about successfully immigrating. While it is true that it is possible for you to represent yourself in some simple immigration matters, the reality is that in doing so you are taking a gamble.
Immigration laws are constantly changing and are very complex. You may have some basic understanding about what is involved in applying for a visa, but unless you are a full time immigration professional, you will not be aware of all the issues which may impact on your case. Moreover, even if you apply on your own and get your visa, you may have created some problems that could impact on your status long after your visa has been issued. So what seemed like a successful visa application, may turn out to be just the opposite.
Does this mean that we think you should leave it all up to the experts? No way. We believe that it is important that applicants educate themselves about the visa process and work with a professional as a team. Both applicants and immigration professionals working together can maximize the applicant’s chances of success. Applicants know more about their personal circumstances than the professional, whereas the professional knows more about immigration law. Successful immigration cases result from bringing applicants and immigration professionals together to work as a team.
Which professional should I choose? Lawyer or Consultant?
Applicants should also know something about the visa process to protect themselves from individuals representing themselves as immigration professionals when they are really not. There is a great deal of corruption in the immigration business. By having a basic understanding about immigration, applicants can arm themselves against being victims of fraud.
There are essentially two types of immigration representatives offering their services to clients: Lawyers and Consultants
Consultants are immigration representatives who are not lawyers. They are often referred to as paralegals, law officers and, immigration specialists. Some consultants are former immigration officers who have left the government to work in the private sector. Immigration consultants are now regulated by the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Counsel (ICCRC). The Counsel is responsible for regulating the activities of immigration consultants who are members and who provide immigration advice for a fee.
The Counsel grants memberships to only those individuals who have demonstrated their knowledge and ability to advise, consult and represent people who wish to seek Canadian immigration, have passed a Knowledge and Ethics Test and have demonstrated their good character.
Lawyers often act as representatives for applicants with immigration matters. Unlike consultants, lawyers in Canada are required to have a university education and to complete law school. Lawyers are regulated by the Law Society in the province in which they practice. For instance, lawyers practicing in the province of Ontario are regulated by the Law Society of Upper Canada. The fact that lawyers are regulated provides their clients with protection against unethical and incompetent practitioners
Immigration Lawyers are lawyers who practice primarily or exclusively in immigration law. They generally have a greater level of expertise than a general practitioner who may merely dabble in the field. Clients interested in hiring a lawyer with experience in immigration law should always ask the lawyer what percentage of their practice is dedicated to immigration law to determine if they practice immigration law on a regular basis.
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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