CIMM Committee Report
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That the Government of Canada create, by statute, an independent public-interest body empowered to regulate and govern the profession of immigration consultants; and that the mandate of the new regulatory body include: protection of the public by maintaining high ethical standards, so as to preserve the integrity of the system; and, protection of applicants from exploitation by maintaining high standards of competence and encouraging reasonable fees for services rendered. To avoid actual or apparent conflicts of interest, this new body should be accountable to a Minister other than the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. This would be a government regulated body.
That the only persons permitted to act as authorized paid representatives of applicants for immigration, or citizenship, or persons claiming refugee status be lawyers who are members in good standing of a Canadian provincial or territorial law society; notaries who are members in good standing of the Chambre des notaires du Québec; and immigration consultants admitted to the profession by the new regulatory body.
That the new regulatory body develop, establish and require high standards for admission including, but not limited to, the areas of training, education and standardized curriculum across the provinces and territories, to membership in the profession, develop a code of conduct and ethical standards, identify the scope of practice and areas of responsibility of immigration consultants, develop a program of errors and omissions insurance coverage and require members of the profession to maintain appropriate coverage. For clarity, registered immigration consultants shall be legally and ethically responsible for all activities undertaken in their name or on their behalf by employees or associates in their work on behalf of clients.
That the new regulatory body set training, education and experience standards, more rigorous than current standards, for those seeking to become immigration consultants; and that the new regulatory body act as an accreditation agency for such programs of education as may be provided by educational institutions; and that the new regulatory body establish, offer and require appropriate continuing education for immigration consultants to maintain their membership in the profession.
That the new regulatory body develop a system of tiered licensing in relation to the categories of services individual consultants are permitted to provide, the highest level restricted to those members of the profession sufficiently capable and experienced to conduct litigation before the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. The licensing requirements would be based on education, practical training and experience.
That the new regulatory body be empowered to create mechanisms for investigating and dealing with complaints and disciplinary matters where an immigration consultant may have failed to meet standards of learning, professional competence or conduct; and that the new regulatory body be empowered to investigate and prosecute persons who provide immigration consulting services to the public for payment without having been admitted to the profession by the new regulatory body. For these purposes the new regulatory body should be provided with investigative and disciplinary powers similar to those exercised by Canadian provincial and territorial law societies. Further, that the new regulatory body shall be authorized and encouraged to engage in public education about the profession.
That the new regulatory body be empowered to develop and conduct a process for review and resolution of fee disputes.
That as soon as the new regulatory body is constituted, staffed and ready to function, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship revoke ICCRC’s designation as the regulatory body for immigration and citizenship.
That the new regulatory body be subject to a regular, triennial review by a Committee of the House of Commons and by a Committee of the Senate.
That Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada create a mechanism that will effectively allow individuals who have been abused by unscrupulous representatives to file a complaint without fear it will jeopardize their application or status.
That Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada amend section 91 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act in order to clarify that non-governmental organizations, such as settlement agencies, will not be subject to sanctions for offering basic immigration services.
That Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada provide more financial support to settlement agencies to offer basic immigration services.
That Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada provide to all potential newcomers at the beginning of their application process the rules regarding legal representation in the languages most used by prospective immigrants; that this information be on its website and as part of its application forms. Further, that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada direct the applicants to the regulatory body for immigration consultants, provide a public list of suspended registered consultants, explain the risks in using unregistered consultants, and notify applicants of the assistance available from non-governmental organizations.
That Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada work in consultation and collaboration with Global Affairs Canada and stakeholders to develop education campaigns in foreign markets with a prevalence of unregistered immigration consultants who target immigrants to Canada, and with local ethnic media to educate on registered immigration consultants, the immigration process, and to counter misleading and inaccurate information.
That Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada review its Call Centre to provide individuals with basic immigration information in the languages most used by prospective immigrants.
That Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada undertake a review of the use of consultants by its clients, and develop a formal working group with members of the department and the new regulatory body to explore ways of simplifying its processes to reduce the need for third party assistance.
That, when Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada suspects that an application has been prepared by someone other than the applicant, who has been paid for their services and who is not an authorized representative (“ghost consultant”), IRCC should continue to process the application, advise the applicant of their suspicion, and inform the applicant how to find a properly licensed authorized representative. IRCC should then also allow the applicant the opportunity to review the information provided by the “ghost consultant” and, if in good faith, the applicant or someone on the applicant’s behalf has submitted an application which contains any error or misrepresentation not authorized or previously known to the applicant, the applicant should be permitted to correct the errors or misrepresentations made by the “ghost consultant”.
That the Government of Canada conduct a review of the current policies addressing the unauthorized practice of immigration law by “ghost consultants”, and that increased fines and sentences for these offences be considered.
That the Government of Canada consult with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and provincial and municipal police forces and address the issue of increased workload and resources before placing responsibility for the enforcement and investigation of violations of section 91 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act under the jurisdiction of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and provincial and municipal police forces.
That the Government of Canada examine the feasibility of implementing a tariff system similar to that which exists in legal aid for the immigration consulting industry in order to reduce the risk of financial exploitation of applicants.
That the Government of Canada provide adequate, sustainable and targeted funding to CBSA to allow for an expanded ability to investigate and lay charges on authorized or unauthorized immigration consultants until such time as the new regulatory body empowered to investigate and prosecute persons who provide immigration consulting services to the public for payments is in place.