If the announcement of yet another new regulatory body to govern the conduct of immigration consultants is giving anyone else déjà vu, you’re not alone.
On Nov. 26 Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Marco E. L. Mendicino announced that the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants Act is now in force.
The College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants Act clears the way for a new official regulator of immigration and citizenship consultants across the country which will take place sometime in 2021. This new governing body will transition the current one, the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC), to the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants.
The College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants (CICC)
Only certified persons can request a fee to represent someone on their Canadian immigration application. These are lawyers and paralegals, notaries in Quebec, and immigration consultants.
Immigration consultants must take classes, pay membership dues and be certified by their governing organization, the ICCRC. The CICC will continue the certification process that ICCRC currently does but with added government oversight.
According to the Nov. 26 IRCC announcement, the CICC will “establish a code of professional conduct for licensees of the College, to set the composition of the College Board of Directors, and appoint up to a majority of directors.”
ITC News spoke with ICCRC’s DIrector and Public Affairs Communication, Christopher May about the transition from the ICCRC to the CICC. May states that the new CICC will grant additional regulatory powers to the body to investigate and report on cases involving immigration consultants and suspected immigration fraud.
Why is ICCRC being replaced?
The organization has been plagued with infighting. Perhaps more concerning, at least to potential newcomers to Canada, is that the organization was unable to effectively police members of their profession.
The stories can be heartbreaking or infuriating. In some cases, unsuspecting applicants don’t even know they are participating in immigration fraud and lose thousands of dollars. In other cases, the applicant knows full well they are committing fraud and are collaborating with unscrupulous consultants to take advantage of Canada’s generous immigration system.
This is not to say that immigration consultants are the only ones committing immigration fraud. The majority of immigration consultants are respected professionals trying to help newcomers with their Canadian immigration applications. But when you look at the preponderance of the evidence, the vast majority of fraud cases involve immigration consultants.
The history of immigration consultants in Canada
Before ICCRC was created in 2011, immigration consultants were governed by its predecessor, the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC). ICCRC replaced the CSIC because of the perception that CSIC was ineffective and did not enforce the ethical and professional standards governing immigration consultants in Canada. CSIC was also accused of mismanagement, lack of governance and a lack of transparency in its proceedings and decision-making processes.
It’s important not to forget why the ICCRC was created in 2011 — to protect consumers (prospective applicants to Canada) through regulation. ICCRC has had nine years to prove it can effectively govern itself. Previous to that, the CSIC had ample chance to demonstrate this can be done, yet both organizations failed to do the job they are tasked with.
Now as we transition to a new regulatory body for immigration consultants to self-govern themselves, one must ask the question, are we just doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result?