If you have made the decision to hire an immigration representative to help you with your plans to immigrate to Canada, there are some key questions you should be asking your representative and yourself before you make the decision!
1. Is your representative an Immigration Lawyer?
Immigration fraud is very common in Canada and you will find thousands of Immigration "companies" which advertise their services. Essentially, there are three types of Immigration Representatives:
Immigration lawyers are regulated by their provincial bar and are lawyers that specialize in the field of immigration. Lawyers are under strict ethical rules which are enforced by the provincial bar. For example, lawyers in Quebec are not allowed to promote successful clients and promise you something they are not competent to provide for.
Immigration consultants have their own organization (IRCC) , which is a private organization mandated by the government to regulate consultants.
The main difference between lawyers and consultants is their education. Lawyers have to complete law school, articling and pass the bar in order to hold their license. Consultants must complete a 1 year college program and pass the IRCC immigration consultant exam in order to practice. This is not to say that immigration lawyers are better than immigration consultants, but lawyers usually have much more training.
You can easily find good and bad lawyers or consultants, therefore the person you chose to handle your application should be selected carefully.
2. Is the person you are speaking to handling your application?
If you filled out a free assessment or if you contacted an immigration law firm, you will usually get a call from a sales associate or employee of the firm. If you choose to move forward with them, you should make sure to at least know who will be dealing with your application and if a lawyer will be reviewing your case.
When your information is shared among different levels of employees in a firm, it is easy for misunderstandings to happen.
3. Does your representative have success with similar cases?
This is a simple question to ask and is often overlooked. Although all applications are different due to everyone having different personal circumstances, many applicants will however be in similar situations. You can simply ask your representative if they have dealt with similar cases and their legal opinion on your chances of success. A big red flag is when someone guarantees you a 100% success chance as this is never the case in Canadian immigration.
Once again, if it sounds too good to be true, you are probably being fooled.
4. Does your representative meet your needs?
We all react to situations differently and applying for Canadian immigration can be an extremely stressful and uncertain time for you. It is important to find a representative that will meet your needs during this time. For example, does your representative take more than 1 business day to answer your questions? Is your representative available to speak over the phone at all times?
If you can never reach your representative and they take time to answer your questions, this likely means they are behind on your application as well.
5. What is the payment structure?
There should never be any surprises in the amount of money you pay for your representative's legal fees. You should choose a representative that will charge you fair and reasonable fees to represent you in your application. The usual standard in Canadian Immigration applications is that the fees are based on milestones. You pay a fee for the representative to prepare and submit your application and you pay the rest of the fees only when a milestone is achieved (for example you obtained an invitation to apply for permanent residency). You should know exactly how much money you will be required to pay to reach your end goal (permanent residency, work permit, etc.).
Beware if you are also required to make additional payments after X number of days have passed as this means the representative will get paid whether they reach the milestone or not.