More than once I have come across these questions:
“Is it worth the time and money to hire an immigration consultant? Does my application get special attention because I hired you?”
My simple answer has always been NO.
Hiring an immigration consultant has always been the choice of any individual when it comes to immigration matters. Application forms can be pretty straightforward and at first glance, does not need special expertise. The truth is, individuals can represent themselves in some court procedures. However, oftentimes, people would most likely hire a lawyer to represent their case in the best possible manner. The same can be said with Canadian Immigration.
Due to the ever-changing rules and regulations these days, a person may make a mistake in applying in the wrong category, or worse, miss a deadline or limitation periods. Wrong applications or submissions can lead to the return of your application where you’ll have to start all over again, or your application is refused due to technicality that could have been avoided.
Sometimes, seeking the help of a professional can find other avenues when you think you’ve hit a brick wall.
This year’s four-year employment rule for foreign workers is a good example:
A foreign worker, working in Canada since 2008 would have been sent home in April 2015 due to the cumulative duration rule of Immigration. He applied for his permanent residence and has not received the decision on it yet. Some foreign workers do not realize that there are ways to extend their work permit due to exemptions to the four-year rule. However, due to misconceptions, hearsays, and lack of information, work permit applications can get complicated when not applied properly! Even permanent resident applications can get returned to you. The scary part here is, sometimes you’re not eligible anymore to submit the application!
Everyone has an “opinion” when it comes to immigration applications. Almost any one knows “someone” who has done a similar application with a similar situation. Because of this, they feel “confident” to with their application submission. However, when things don’t turn out the way it is supposed to be, there’s no one to be held accountable but yourself.
Make sure you seek legal and professional advise. Aside from the friendly advices of friends or relatives, there are other individuals that provide advice for a fee. Make sure the government has accredited these individuals. Under Canadian law, it is an offence for anyone other than an authorized representative to advise or represent, for a fee or other consideration, at any stage of an application or proceeding. CIC does not deal, or communicate with unauthorized representatives, so make sure you do your part by researching if you are dealing with authorized professionals.
As mentioned earlier, proper application procedures must be followed to be successful in an immigration proceeding. Licensed Immigration Consultants are required to adhere to stringent rules including those regarding quality of service, professionalism, ethical practice and confidentiality. Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council can hold them accountable for any actions that are considered unethical by the profession.
LIABILITY AND COMPETENCY
Immigration Consultants have a high standard of competency. They are required by the governing body to be competent by imposing yearly professional development programs. They also have Errors and Omissions Insurance that further protect consumers. Any unauthorized consultant providing services can leave a consumer vulnerable, as they are unable to compensate consumers adequately who has been financially hurt.
Licensed Immigration Consultants adheres to the strict standards of the professional body and follows a strict degree of professionalism. They’ve undergone specialized trainings and further exams to expand their knowledge and expertise on certain areas of Immigration.
With a Licensed Immigration Consultant, you can be sure that applications are presented in a competent and professional manner. It is true that a candidate can do this on his own. I do not contest that one cannot submit a straightforward application. However, when an application is complicated, or you feel overwhelmed by the requirements, I would recommend to have a consultation first with a professional before deciding whether you can submit the application on your own or not.
Be proactive in making decisions. After all, this is not only your future you are deciding, but also your family's future.
Maria Andrea De Luna is the owner of Maria De Luna Immigration Services Inc. located in downtown Calgary, Alberta. She has been in the immigration services industry for about ten years. She is a contributing writer for TFCC- The Filipino Champions of Canada, and Mabuhay Calgary, a community newspaper based in Calgary.
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ mariaandrea.d.luna