Canadian immigration lawyer or consultant?


As with many things in life, you can attempt to do it yourself or hire a professional to assist you.

Immigrating to Canada is no different – you can attempt the process yourself or hire a representative.

Even though the CIC website makes it appear relatively easy to apply for temporary or permanent residence, the reality is quite different.

For example, did you know that CIC only provides the most basic list of required supporting evidence?  It is often the case that the list provided by CIC is woefully insufficient.  Often times, affidavits and other documents are absolutely required for a successful application.  Of course, you’ll only find out when your file is rejected.

As well, the application forms have to be completed in a specific way.  Even the smallest errors can delay a file for months, or cause an outright rejection.

Did you know that a submission letter goes a long way in focusing the mind of the visa officer on the issues at hand and the resolution of those issues in the particular file? Do you know how to draft a submission letter? Did you know you must ask for consideration under the “unadvertised” category if you don’t score 67 points in the skilled worker program (for example)?

Also, try to contact CIC during your application and you will get frustrated quite quickly.  As a lawyer, I have access to contact information for managers in each visa office around the world that is shared with the Canadian Bar Association – this information is not available to the public in general.

I think those are some compelling reason to hire a representative, but do you seek out a lawyer or a consultant?

Now, you likely know that I am an immigration lawyer so my opinion is a tad biased, but nonetheless I have some views on the issue.

Lawyers in Canada have to complete seven years of university for a Bachelor of Law degree, plus an additional year of articling (which is essentially a mentorship program with an experienced lawyer), and must pass a series of tough exams before being “called to the Bar” and given the privilege of practising law.  In my case, I completed even more education to secure my Master of Law degree from the University of Cambridge.

An immigration consultant can begin advising clients with as little as three months education at a local college.  Immigration consultants do not study family law, business law, or criminal law, which often impact immigration applications.  Immigration consultants are not exposed to those areas of law (as they are not permitted to practise them) and can not offer as broad or deep a view of the issues as lawyers.  Consultants do not participate in the Canadian Bar Association or the national listserv where lawyers share insights on the immigration process.

I’m sure there are immigration consultants who can provide satisfactory service in filing your application, but you should know the difference between lawyers and consultants before you make the decision on representation.

About the author

Gianpaolo Panusa Gianpaolo Panusa is a Canadian immigration lawyer, writer, and founder of the PanCanadian Immigration Law Group based in Vancouver, Canada. Google+ Profile