The Citizenship and Immigration Department has published a document, entitled “Who May Represent You,” outlining some of the factors that candidates considering professional representation should consider. In this document, the Department has clarified some of the differences between representation by a lawyer and representation by a consultant. Below are some of the points made in this regard:
* Only lawyers licensed to practise in Canada can represent you at the Federal Court.
* CIC can provide information on your file only to people who are either(1) Canadian citizens,(2) permanent residents of Canada or(3) physically present in Canada. Representatives who live outside Canada and are neither Canadian citizens nor permanent residents might be unable to help you.
* Be cautious when dealing with foreign-based representatives. Such companies or individuals may be outside the reach of Canadian law, and there may be no protection or remedy available in Canada to a dissatisfied client.
* Lawyers practising in Canada are regulated by provincial regulatory bodies. Only a lawyer who is a member in good standing of a provincial or territorial law society may practise law. The law societies regulate lawyers and can investigate complaints against members, impose discipline and provide financial compensation to clients who are victims of negligence or misconduct.
* Immigration consultants are not regulated by either the federal or provincial governments of Canada.
The distinction between a lawyer and a consultant is, certainly, not the only factor that should be considered in selecting professional representation. Determining that you are dealing with a knowledgeable and professional practitioner, lawyer or consultant, is most important. Applicants should bear in mind, however, some of the limitations on those outside of Canada, and the implications of those limitations on the ability of the representative to effectively assist you.