New rules making it easier to investigate the professional or ethical misconduct of immigration representatives have been announced in Canada.
It is part of a wider crackdown on immigration consultants who mislead or even defraud would be expats seeking their help with visas, citizenship and moving to Canada.
Until recently, when Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) became aware of misconduct by an immigration representative, either an immigration consultant, a lawyer, a paralegal or a notary, it did not have the authority to share this information with the appropriate governing body.
‘Sharing information on the misconduct of an immigration representative with the regulatory body will help protect the integrity of our immigration system, and immigrants themselves,,’ said Jason Kenney, minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.
‘We are concerned about unscrupulous immigration representatives who prey on people wanting to immigrate to or stay in Canada. We want to do everything in our power to crack down on fraud and protect the integrity of Canada’s immigration system,’ added Kenney.
These regulatory provisions allow officials from CIC, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) to provide information regarding an immigration representative’s professional or ethical conduct to people governing or investigating that conduct.
When CIC, CBSA or the IRB believes that immigration representatives have contravened their professional or ethical obligations, it can share this information with the governing body, in a manner consistent with the Privacy Act.
The information sharing provisions came into force on 10 April and recently, CIC officials shared with the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC), the governing body for immigration consultants, credible information that the department received on one of its members.
‘My department regularly receives tips from the public about crooked representatives. Now we can finally ask the regulatory body to investigate these tips,’ said Kenney.
Phil Mooney, chief executive officer of the ICCRC, said it boosts joint efforts to fight alleged criminals.
‘We are pleased with these initiatives as they help us fight those who prey on the unsuspecting and vulnerable,’ he added.
Examples of information that can be shared are allegations or evidence of making false promises to an applicant, providing false information about Canada’s immigration processes, failing to provide services agreed to between the representative and the client and counselling to obtain or submit false evidence.
New regulatory provisions following the adoption of Bill C-35 also include an oversight mechanism requiring that the ICCRC provide information to the government to ensure it is governing its members in the public interest.
Bill C-35, an Act to Amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, came into force on June 30, 2011. At the heart of the Act are changes that require an immigration representative used at any stage of an immigration application or a proceeding to be a lawyer or a paralegal who is a member in good standing of a Canadian provincial or territorial law society, a notary who is a member in good standing of the Chambre des Notaires du Québec, or an immigration consultant who is a member in good standing of the ICCRC.
Information on how to find an accredited immigration consultant, lawyer or other representative, and tips on avoiding unscrupulous representatives, are available on CIC’s website.