Canada: Tougher rules governing immigration consultants enacted

Legislation cracking down on crooked immigration consultants will come into force on June 30, 2011, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced today.

At the same time, oversight of the consultant community is being turned over to the newly created Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC). “The Government of Canada has promised to crack down on crooked immigration consultants and their shady practices, and with Bill C-35, we now have the tools,” said the Minister.

Bill C-35 strengthens the rules governing those who charge their clients for immigration advice or representation, making it an offence for anyone other than an accredited immigration representative to conduct business, for a fee or other consideration, at any stage of an application or proceeding. It also increases penalties and fines for unauthorized representation and allows for more government oversight in order to improve the way in which immigration consultants are regulated.

With the designation of the ICCRC as the regulator of immigration consultants, consultants who are currently members in good standing of the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC) can begin to register with the ICCRC on June 30, 2011.

Immigration representatives must be either members in good standing of a provincial or territorial law society, including paralegals; members of the Chambre des notaires du Québec; or members of the governing body for immigration consultants.

A 120-day transitional period will be put in place to ensure a smooth transition and continuity of service for both CSIC members currently in good standing and their clients during the transition to the ICCRC. The transition period will end on October 28, 2011.

After a notice was published on March 19, 2011, in the Canada Gazette, Part I, proposing the ICCRC be designated the regulator of immigration consultants, over 70 percent of the public comments received during the 30-day consultation period supported the proposal to establish a new regulator of immigration consultants.