Immigration Lawyer or Consultant: which one is right for you?

Immigration is a long and costly process, one that most people only want to do once. It is pertinent to research ahead of time what kind of services you need to immigrate to Canada.

When immigrating to Canada potential imitators have various options, the most common three are no-representatives doing it yourself, hiring a consultant, or hiring a lawyer. This article will highlight the differences between hiring a Immigration lawyer or consultant.

The statistics gathered at Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants (CAPIC) shows that by not having a representative, doing the immigration process yourself, applicants have around a 21 per cent refusal rate. Consultants on the other hand have a refusal rate of 19 per cent. Professional Immigration lawyers have around a 10 per cent refusal rate, due to the number of complex cases that lawyers take on.

The differences between Consultant and Lawyers:

  • Education: one of the main differences between the two parties is their The differences in education effect analytical reasoning skills, competency, and legal knowledge
    • Consultants: can get a diploma from various post-secondary institutions, the program lasts six months to one-year. Immigration Consultants must be certified by Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC)
    • Whereas, a lawyer must pass the law entrance exam, apply with thousands of other applicants to law school, go through a three-year law degree, complete a year of articling and pass the bar examination for their province. Then they usually spend a number of years specializing in certain areas of law.
  • Services: When it comes to providing immigration services in Canada, lawyers and consultants can offer most of the same services. The main difference is that lawyers can represent a client in federal court for complicated cases. Whereas, a consultant can only go up to the appeal tribunal level when there is an issue with an application.
  • After a case has been refused, most immigration consultants will not go through a judicial review—when the case gets rejected—opting for a re-submission to address the officer’s concerns, which can dramatically impact the outcome. Lawyers, on the other hand, have the capability and knowledge to expertly conduct a judicial review. Some lawyers even take refused cases from immigration consultants and submit for judicial review.

Consequently, fees are usually a concern for many people immigrating to Canada. Consultants usually have lower fees, which is why people tend to favor their services. Lawyers have higher fees because they can provide legal professional services. High lawyer fees are usually justified because lawyers are held to high ethical standards. Over the years there has been many cases of fraud regarding immigration consultants. In 2011 the government of Canada passed a law requiring all immigration consultants to become certified by the ICCRC. However, there are some unlicensed consultants in Canada, you must be vigilant when hiring a professional.

Overall, when deciding whether to hire an immigration lawyer or consultant the differences could be submitting one application or having to go through various applications and/or professionals, excessive amount of processing times and additional fees because of refusals due to incompetent work. Lawyers are held to higher standards than are immigration consultants because of the rigorous training, high ethical standards set by the law society and the critical reasoning skills that have been honed for years. Certainly, there are professional immigration consultants who are diligent and hard-working, however if you want to ensure that your application is correctly completed you must conduct research on the professional you hire. Look at years of experiences, reviews, and training, this will help maximize your chances of being accepted.

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