The Canada-European Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement

On September 21, 2017 the immigration provisions of the Canada-European Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (“CETA”) came into effect.

Chapter 10 of CETA provides for the facilitation of the temporary entry of business persons.  The European Union’s commitments are the most ambitious that the European Union has ever negotiated in a free trade agreement.  For Canada, CETA’s temporary entry provisions contain similar ideas to those contained in the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA“), although there are very significant differences.

CETA is significant from a Canadian immigration perspective because prospective foreign workers who are eligible for work permits under CETA do not require Labour Market Impact Assessments (“LMIAs“).  This means that companies do not have to first test the Canadian labour market before hiring a foreign worker, nor do they have to commit to labour market bneefits.

Any Canadian businesses seeking to hire United States or Mexican nationals will typically begin by determining whether their prospective employees are eligible for work permits under NAFTA.  When CETA takes affect, the same will be true for Canadian employers hiring citizens from the European Union.

Short Term Business Visitors

Under CETA, there are two categories of business visitors: short-term business visitors and business visitors for investment purposes.  Because CETA business visitors are in some cases more narrowly defined than general business visitors under current Canadian immigration law, officers will apply whichever type of business visitor provision is broader.

Specific examples of CETA short-term business visitors include those conducting independent research and design, those conducting marketing research, those engaged in most types of international sales and purchasing, tourism personnel and translators. It is important to note that the maximum length of stay of short term business visitors under CETA shall be 90 days in any six-month period.

A business visitor for investment purposes is an employee in a managerial or specialist position who is responsible for setting up an enterprise but who does not engage in direct transactions with the general public and will not receive direct or indirect remuneration from a Canadian source.

 

Intra-Corporate Transferee 

The CETA Intra-Corporate Transferee (“ICT”) provisions are similar to existing Intra-Company Transferee provisions.  It allows natural persons who have been employed by an enterprise in the European Union or who have been partners in it for at least one year and who are temporarily transferred to a subsidiary, branch, or parent company in Canada  to obtain work permits.  The natural persons must belong to one of the following categories:

Senior Personnel – these are natural persons working in a senior position within an enterprise who (a) primarily direct the management of the enterprise, a department or sub-division thereof; and (b) exercise wide latitude in decision making, which may include having the authority personally to recruit and dismiss or taking other personnel actions (such as promotion or leave authorisations), and (i) receive only general supervision or direction principally from higher level executives, the board of directors and/or stockholders of the business or their equivalent, or (ii) supervise and control the work of other supervisory, professional or managerial employees and exercise discretionary authority over day-to-day operations.  These individuals will be allowed work permits valid for the lesser of 3 years, or the length of the contract, with a possible extension of up to 18 months.

Specialists – these include natural persons working within an enterprise who possess: (a) uncommon knowledge of the enterprise’s products or services and its application in international markets; or (b) an advanced level of expertise or knowledge of the enterprise’s processes and procedures such as its production, research equipment, techniques or management. These individuals will be allowed work permits valid for the lesser of 3 years, or the length of the contract, with a possible extension of up to 18 months.

Graduate trainees – this ICT provision is unique to CETA, and includes those who: (a) possess a university degree; and (b) are temporarily transferred to Canada for career development purposes, or to obtain training in business techniques or methods.  Graduate trainees will be allowed work permits valid for the lesser of 1 year or the length of the contract, whichever is shorter.

Contractual Service Providers

CETA provides that Canada shall allow the temporary entry and stay of contractual service suppliers.  These are natural persons employed by an enterprise of the European Union that has no establishment in Canada and that has signed a contract to supply a service to a consumer in Canada that requires the presence on a temporary basis of the European Union company’s employee in Canada.  To qualify for a LMIA exemption, the contractual service supplier must:

  • be a citizen of a European Union member state;
  • be engaged in the supply of a service on a temporary basis as employees of an enterprise which has obtained a service contract;
  • be entering Canada as an employee of the enterprise supplying the services for at least the year immediately preceding the date of submission of an application for entry into Canada;
  • generally possess (i) a university degree or a qualification demonstrating knowledge of an equivalent level and (ii) professional qualifications where such qualifications are required to exercise an activity pursuant to the law, regulations or other requirements of Canada, where the service is supplied; and
  • possess three years of professional experience in the sector of activity that is the subject of the contract at the date of submission;

A CETA Contractual Service Provider can work in Canada for a 12-month period every 24 months.

The CETA Professionals Contractual Services Suppliers category applies to all professional and managerial occupations in the following sectors:

  1. Legal advisory services in respect of international public law and foreign law (i.e. non-EU law)
  2. Accounting and bookkeeping services
  3. Taxation advisory services
  4. Architectural services and urban planning and landscape architecture services
  5. Engineering services and integrated engineering services
  6. Medical and dental services
  7. Veterinary services
  8. Midwives services
  9. Services provided by nurses, physiotherapists and paramedical personnel
  10. Computer and related services
  11. Research and development services
  12. Advertising services
  13. Market research and opinion polling
  14. Management consulting services
  15. Services related to management consulting
  16. Technical testing and analysis services
  17. Related scientific and technical consulting services
  18. Mining
  19. Maintenance and repair of vessels
  20. Maintenance and repair of rail transport equipment
  21. Maintenance and repair of motor vehicles, motorcycles, snowmobiles and road transport equipment
  22. Maintenance and repair of aircrafts and parts thereof
  23. Maintenance and repair of metal products, of (non-office) machinery, of (non-transport and non-office) equipment and of personal and household goods
  24. Translation and interpretation services
  25. Telecommunication services
  26. Postal and courier services
  27. Construction and related engineering services
  28. Site investigation work
  29. Higher education services
  30. Services Relating to Agriculture, Hunting and Forestry
  31. Environmental services
  32. Insurance and insurance related services advisory and consulting services
  33. Other financial services advisory and consulting services
  34. Transport advisory and consulting services
  35. Travel agencies and tour operators’ services
  36. Tourist guides services
  37. Manufacturing advisory and consulting services

Independent Professionals

CETA also allows the temporary entry and stay of independent professionals, which are defined as being self-employed individuals in the European Union who have a contract in Canada.  The independent professionals must:

  • be engaged in the supply of a service on a temporary basis as self-employed persons in Canada;
  • have at least six years professional experience in the sector of activity which is the subject of the contract.
  • possess (i) a university degree or a qualification demonstrating knowledge of an equivalent level and ii) professional qualifications where this is required to exercise an activity pursuant to the law, regulations or other requirements of the Party, where the service is supplied.

A CETA Independent Professional can work in Canada for a 12-month period every 24 months.

The CETA Professionals Independent Professionals category applies to all occupations listed under level “O” and “A” of Canada’s National Occupational Classification in the following sectors:

  1. Legal advisory services in respect of international public law and foreign law (i.e. non-EU law)
  2. Architectural services and urban planning and landscape architecture services
  3. Engineering services and integrated engineering services
  4. Computer and related services
  5. Research and development services
  6. Market research and opinion polling
  7. Management consulting services
  8. Services related to management consulting
  9. Mining
  10. Translation and interpretation services
  11. Telecommunication services
  12. Postal and courier services
  13. Higher education services
  14. Insurance related services advisory and consulting services
  15. Other financial services advisory and consulting services
  16. Transport advisory and consulting services
  17. Manufacturing advisory and consulting services

Importantly, CETA Professionals may not enter under the following sectors:

  • medical and dental services
  • veterinary services
  • midwifery services
  • services provided by nurses, physiotherapists and paramedical personnel
  • higher education services

Investors

Investors who are staying for an extended period in Canada can also obtain LMIA exempt work permits.  Investors are defined as those who:

  • will establish, develop, or administer the operation of an investment in a capacity that is supervisory or executive;
  • are the investor; and
  • are employed by an enterprise that has committed or is in the process of committing a substantial amount of capital.

A CETA investor work permit will be issued for one year, with possible renewals.

The above is just a summary of very complex free trade agreement provisions, and we strongly recommended that prospective applicants under CETA consult the IRCC website or a professional to see whether CETA encompasses them.

More information about CETA can be found here: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/tools/updates/2017/07041530.asp


Upfront Medicals in the Family Class

On September 20, 2017 Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada affirmed that upfront medical examinations are no longer available for Family Class applicants.

http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/tools/updates/2017/09110950.asp

The inability of Family Class applicants to do upfront medical examinations was one of the changes introduced when the Liberal Government of Canada announced that it had reformed the Family Class application processing system to reduce backlogs.  At the time it was unclear why removing the ability of applicants to complete their medical examinations before applying for permanent residence would speed things up, and it is still not clear if (or why) this is the case.

It is also problematic for those who want to work in Canada during the processing of their application in certain occupations.

The issue involves Inside-Canada Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada Class (“SCPCC“) applicants who work in health or education professions and who are eligible for SCPCC work permits.  Because of IRCC’s announcement, applicants have had difficulty obtaining work permits that do not have medical restrictions. Indeed, in at least one case a Panel Physician refused to do a medical exam for a nurse who needed the medical restriction on her work permit removed, on the basis of IRCC’s instructions.

I hope that if anyone at IRCC is reading they reconsider their decision to not let Family Class applicants do upfront medicals, or at least clarifies that applicants who are applying under the SCPCC are exempt from the upfront medical restriction.


Working without a work permit: what jobs can a visitor do in Canada?

The following is an article that I recent wrote for The Canadian Immigrant:

It is generally understood that visitors to Canada cannot work without work permits. The consequences for doing so can include removal from Canada, being unable to apply for work permits for six months, year-long prohibitions on returning to Canada and even possible criminal sanctions for employers.

Canadian immigration legislation defines “work” broadly. It includes any activities for which wages are paid or commission is earned, and any activity that competes directly with the activities of Canadian citizens or permanent residents in the Canadian labour market. Because of this, volunteer work, unpaid internships and practicums may also require work permits.

However, while the definition of what constitutes work is broad, there are many activities that people would generally consider work that do not require work permits.

Remote work

In our increasingly globalized and digitized world, perhaps the most important work permit exemption is for remote work. Canada’s immigration department allows visitors to Canada to perform long-distance (by telephone or internet) work if their employer is outside Canada and they are remunerated from outside Canada. As such, many people who work remotely for companies abroad are able to reside in Canada for extended periods and continue working for their foreign employers. Typical examples include IT consultants, website developers, accountants, and so on.

Self-employment in a purely remote business can also be permitted. For example, an individual who runs a subscription-based website may be able to do so while residing in Canada as a long-term visitor. However, the legality of this may become questionable if the individual begins selling products directly to Canadians.

Volunteer work

The fine line between work that requires a work permit and work that doesn’t is also apparent when it comes to volunteer work.

While unpaid work can require a work permit, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website also states that people can volunteer for positions “which a person would not normally be remunerated, such as sitting on the board of a charity or religious institution, being a ‘big brother’ or ‘big sister’ to a child, or being on the telephone line at a rape crisis centre.” As well, unpaid remuneration for family members that is incidental to why the person is in Canada is typically permissible, including, for example, a mother assisting a daughter with childcare or an uncle helping his nephew build a cottage.

Business visitors

The largest category of people who are able to work in Canada without a work permit is business visitors. To be a business visitor, the activity must be international in scope, the primary source of the worker’s remuneration must be outside Canada, the principal place of the worker’s employer must be outside of Canada, and the accrual of profits must be outside Canada.

A very popular business visitor category includes intra-company trainers and trainees. Indeed, most business visitors to Canada typically perform some combination of attending meetings, and either giving or receiving training.

Finally, Canada’s immigration department has proclaimed that film producers employed by foreign companies for commercial shoots and any essential personnel can work in Canada without work permits.

Other exemptions

Canadian immigration legislation lists many other types of work that do not require a work permit, including some performing artists, clergy, athletes, convention organizers, public speakers, emergency personnel and more. In fact, given how many exemptions there are to needing a work permit, the starting point for any tourist wondering how to apply for a work permit should be to first determine if one is even needed.


Meaning of Dependent Child

I was recently asked whether the lock-in age for dependency is when an application is submitted or when it was assessed. In short, in Hamid v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), [2007] 2 FCR 152, 2006 FCA 217, the Federal Court of Appeal stated:

A child of a federal skilled worker who has applied for a visa, who was 22 years of age or over, and who was considered dependent on the skilled worker at the date of application by virtue of his or her financial dependence and full‑time study, but who does not meet the requirements of a “dependent child” within the meaning of subparagraph 2(b)(ii) of theImmigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, SOR/2002‑227, when the visa application is determined, cannot be included as part of his or her parent’s application for permanent residence in Canada.

In Anata v. Canadathe Federal Court affirmed that there is nothing in the jurisprudence or the Rules or Guidelines relevant to a live-in caregiver application to suggest that “dependent child” in this context should have a different meaning, or should be assessed at the time the application is submitted, and should not take into account what happens between the time of the application and the time of the decision.


The Post-Graduation Work Permit

Canada’s Post-Graduate Work Permit (“PGWP”) program allows international students who have completed certain Canadian post-secondary programs to obtain work permits after graduating.  The work permits are open, meaning that the graduates can work for any employer(s) in any Canadian province(s).  It is a fantastic program that enhances the competitiveness of Canadian post-secondary institutions internationally, and is normally an essential transitory step for international graduates looking to eventually obtain Canadian permanent residency.

However, every year there are many international students who mistakenly think that they will be eligible to participate in the program after graduating only to discover midway through their studies that they cannot.  It is accordingly very important that all international students in Canada understand how the PGWP program works.

Basis in Law

Section 205 of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations provides the government with the authority to create programs to issue work permits to foreign nationals when it is satisfied that public policy objectives relating to the competiveness of Canada’s economy or academic institutions are met.  The PGWP is one of these programs, and detailed information about it can be found on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC“) website here.

As the Federal Court has noted in numerous decisions (such as Osahar v. Canada), immigration officers can determine these requirements to be binding.

Eligibility and Validity

Outside of Quebec, in order for an international graduate to obtain a PGWP after graduating, an international student must:

  • have a valid study permit when applying for their PGWP;
  • have continuously studied full time in Canada, except for the final academic session, where part-time studies are permitted;
  • have completed and passed a program of study that is at least eight months in duration at either a public post-secondary institution, a private post-secondary institution that operates under the same rules and regulations as public institutions, or at a Canadian private institution if the student was enrolled in a program of study which led to a degree; and
  • apply for the work permit within 90 days of receiving written confirmation from their educational institution that they have met the requirements for completing their program of study.

A PGWP’s duration will be equal to the length of the educational program that the international graduate completed, up to a maximum of three years.  Any completed program that is longer than two-years will result in a three-year work permit.  In other words, a two-year diploma and a four-year degree will both result in a three-year work permit.

It is important to note that it is the length of the program of study that is important, and not the actual time that it takes an international student to complete their program. For example, if a student enrolls in a program of study that is normally eight months in duration, but completes it in six months, then the student will be able to obtain an eight-month work permit after graduating. Conversely, an international student who takes two years to complete a one-year program will only receive a one-year PGWP.

There are complicated rules and scenarios for students transferring from one program to another, or completing multiple programs, that are beyond the scope of this article.  However, a particularly common one is that students who obtain a one-year degree or diploma from an eligible institution in Canada after having obtained, with the prior two-years, another diploma or degree from an eligible institution in Canada, may be issued a work permit for up to three years.  For example, if a student obtained a one-year diploma from the University of British Columbia in 2013, and then in 2015 obtained a MBA from the University of Toronto, then he would be able to obtain a three-year PGWP.

Graduates may submit their applications online, or, in certain cases at a Canadian port of entry or at overseas visa offices.  Students who have completed their program of study and who apply for their PGWPs are permitted to work in Canada while IRCC processes their applications, provided that they were indeed full-time students enrolled in eligible programs while they were studying, and that they did not exceed their authorized off-campus work periods while they were students.

Finally, unlike with international students, the spouses or common-law partners of PGWP holders are not automatically entitled to open work permits.  They will only be eligible if the PGWP holder obtains skilled employment, and can demonstrate this to IRCC by presenting an offer of employment as well as a copy of one or more pay slips.

Ongoing Complications

Students who complete a program of study granted by a non-Canadian institution located in Canada are ineligible to obtain work permits under the PGWP program.  However, students completing a program of study that has, as part of the program, an overseas component, such as an exchange, will be eligible as long as they earn a Canadian educational credential.

There are two further restrictions, or potential restrictions, to obtaining PGWPs that are currently the subject of litigation that potential international students and graduates should understand.

The first is that students participating in distancing learning programs, either abroad or in Canada, are ineligible to obtain PGWPs.  In 2015, this restriction generated considerable media attention, as IRCC refused the PGWP applications of an entire graduating class at a private post-secondary institution after IRCC determined that the institution’s program constituted online learning.  Some of these graduates have sought intervention from the Federal Court of Canada, and one of the questions before the court is whether there is a percentage of online courses threshold that must be met before IRCC can declare a program ineligible.  Until either IRCC or the Federal Court provides clarification on this matter, international students who wish to participate in the PGWP program should understand the possible negative consequences of enrolling in any online courses.

Second, recent graduates applying for PGWPs must ensure that they complete their PGWP applications promptly and properly.  With most work permits applications, if IRCC either refuses or bounces an application for incompleteness, then an applicant can typically apply for restoration of status within 90 days.  It is not clear, however, whether restoration is possible in the case of the PGWP because of the IRCC’s requirement that a recent graduate’s study permit be valid when they apply for their PGWP, although several Federal Court decisions seem to imply that it really is up to the officer.



Borderlines #16 – The History of the Immigration Consultant Profession in Canada

Ron McKay is a past Chair of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council’s (“ICCRC”) Board of Directors. He is a former Immigration Officer who spent ten years at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo, Japan. He is also a past National President of the Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants.

In this episode we discuss the history of the immigration consultant profession in Vancouver and current issues that it faces.

Topics

3:30 – We discuss the history of immigration consultants in Canada, including an in depth discussion of the Mangat case, in which the Supreme Court of Canada determined that the federal government could allow non-lawyers to practice immigration law. We also discussed the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (“CSIC”), the first regulatory body of immigration consultants in Canada.

24:00 – We get into governance issues at regulatory oversight issues at both CSIC and the ICCRC.

38:30 – We talk about ghost consultants and what the immigration consultancy profession can do about it.

50:00 – We discuss how the immigration consulting profession needs to be regulated yet at the same time be independent of the government.

53:00 – Steven asks how the ICCRC determines how many consultants there should be. Are we reaching a saturation point? Should there be limits as to which aspects of immigration law they can practice?

 

 

 


Weeding Out Crooked Immigration Consultants

The following is an article that I wrote for Policy Options.

The first paper that I wrote in law school was about legal ethics. I submitted a seven-page essay arguing that restricting the practice of law to graduates of law school was unethical, given the crisis of access to justice that so many face, and that the free market should instead regulate who can and cannot charge fees to provide legal representation. I got my lowest mark in law school.

The study and practice of law moderated many of my views, and my opinion on who should be able to practise law has been adjusted accordingly. It has become clear to me that those who receive fees in exchange for the provision of legal advice must be regulated, and that in an era of easy Internet marketing, paid-for reviews and fake news, the free market is incapable of performing this role. However, I still believe that access to the ability to practise law should be extended beyond those who have completed three years of law school.

It may not be surprising then that, unlike many immigration lawyers, I do not consider the existence of immigration consultants to be inherently problematic. When I started practising immigration law, a local immigration consultant was an important mentor to me, and some of the most passionate people I know who are advocating for greater justice and fairness in Canada’s immigration system are consultants.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to practise immigration law for long before encountering people who have been the victims of immigration consultants who provided extremely bad representation, ranging from sheer incompetence to fraud. In many other cases, the prospective immigrants were not victims of fraudulent consultants but willing participants in their schemes. What’s more, it is also apparent that many unscrupulous immigration consultants do not fear any consequences from their regulator and seemingly act with impunity.

I do empathize with their regulator, the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC). In 2003, the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC) was established as the first independent governing body of the immigration consulting profession. In 2008, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration determined that the CSIC was not providing adequate regulation, and in 2011 the CSIC was replaced by the ICCRC. Now, in June 2017, the same parliamentary committee has determined that the ICCRC is not doing a sufficient job of regulating consultants and protecting the public, and has again recommended that a new regulatory body be created. It is not difficult to envision this cycle repeating itself every five years.

The deficiencies of the ICCRC are constantly contrasted with the strengths of provincial law societies, which hardly seems fair given that most provincial law societies are over a hundred years old, while the ICCRC has existed for only six. Perhaps the best approach that the government could take to the regulation of immigration consultants is to allow the consultants’ regulatory body time to gain experience and mature.

However, until the immigration consulting profession demonstrates that it can be effectively self-regulated, the government must act to protect the public from unscrupulous and incompetent consultants. The people who would benefit most are the many hard-working immigration consultants who constantly see their profession’s reputation dragged through the mud.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canada Border Services Agency are both responsible for investigating licensed immigration consultants who engage in fraud. A representative of the CBSA recently told the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration:

We have just over 200 criminal investigators across Canada who are responsible for investigating an array of crimes under IRPA [Immigration and Refugee Protection Act], as well as under the Customs Act. As a result, we use a tiered process with respect to issues that involve consultants. Generally, we go after individuals, or investigate individuals, who are the organizers of, let’s say, mass misrepresentation or mass fraud, rather than the one-offs. In terms of how we’re approaching this, we are looking at where the greatest deterrent could occur. We are looking at the big organizers, rather than the individual who may have provided information for profit in one case, and so forth. I do believe that we are using the resources that we have to the best of our ability, based on a risk profile.

It is understandable that the CBSA would want to pursue the most flagrant ethical breaches, such as the misdeeds of a Vancouver “ghost” (unlicensed) consultant who recently went to jail for eight years after putting fraudulent passport stamps in people’s passports. But the cumulative effect of the everyday misrepresentations — including, as recently reported by the CBC, consultants facilitating the illegal charging of fees by employers to employees for jobs — is just as great a threat to the integrity of Canada’s immigration system.

Criminal prosecutions require a high level of proof, and the criminal justice system has limited investigatory and prosecutorial resources. In any case, incompetent (as opposed to fraudulent) representation would not result in criminal charges. So, in seeking ways to protect the public, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) must look beyond the criminal justice system.

There are several other measures that IRCC and the IRB can take.

First, the government should amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations to provide IRCC with the power to temporarily refuse to process applications submitted by people represented by consultants whom IRCC has previously determined to be unscrupulous. Prospective immigrants should be advised that the processing of their applications will not continue until they retain new representatives. IRCC should also be allowed to charge fines. IRCC has already implemented both bans and fines to penalize employers who misrepresent themselves in applications to hire foreign workers. These have proven to be excellent deterrents, and the same principles and techniques could be utilized to deter fraud by consultants.

This is not to suggest that IRCC should become a permanent regulatory body for consultants, as some people have suggested. It is crucial that immigration consultants be able to be passionate advocates for their clients, including those accused by the government of being inadmissible to Canada and those who are clearly being deliberately blocked by the bureaucracy even though they are legally qualified to immigrate. If IRCC becomes both the visa adjudicator and the regulator of consultants, many consultants would likely be wary of aggressively challenging it. However, until immigration consultants fear crossing their regulator as much as lawyers fear breaching the rules of their respective law societies, the IRCC should have the ability to refuse to interact with known unscrupulous consultants.

Second, the IRB should be given the power to refuse to allow certain consultants to appear before it. An IRB official recently told the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration:

Board members use a kind of compensatory mechanism in a hearing room. If they’re dealing with a consultant who is not able to present the client’s case, they get drawn into the arena and they have to start eliciting the evidence. It’s not something a lot of members like to do, but sometimes they feel they have to do that in order for the case to go ahead that day and for there not to be a miscarriage of justice.

This is a tremendous waste of scarce resources. The Immigration and Refugee Board should be able to simply refuse to allow incompetent consultants to represent clients before it. The IRB should work with the regulator to develop appropriate standards and testing that any consultants who wish to appear before it must pass.

Third, a significant obstacle to combatting fraud by consultants is that prospective immigrants who learn that they committed misrepresentation in an application because of poor advice fear lodging complaints against their representatives; they believe, often accurately, that they may be considered complicit in misrepresentation and could be removed from Canada or barred from entering. IRCC should allow such persons to correct their applications without fear of being barred from Canada for five years, which is the current penalty for any misrepresentation. While granting entry to someone who misstated a fact in an application may leave a bad taste in IRCC’s mouth, making progress against fraud by consultants should provide some satisfaction in compensation.

Finally, one of the principal reasons that people hire third-party representatives is language barriers. Most applicants in Canada’s economic-immigration programs must demonstrate a certain level of fluency in English or French, but this is not the case in Canada’s family reunification programs. People applying to immigrate under family reunification who do not speak either language are especially vulnerable to receiving bad advice, because they often do not understand the forms they must fill out. IRCC should provide as many of its forms as possible in the greatest number of languages possible. Any online forms should be able to connect to free translating services like Google Translate. When applicants can communicate with IRCC in their own language, unscrupulous consultants will be much less able to provide information on forms that does not reflect what their clients told them, and applicants will be less able to claim that they did not know what an immigration consultant wrote on their behalf.

In my experience, the majority of immigration consultants are ethical and provide very valuable services. It is they, frankly, who have been let down by both the government and their regulator. They deserve better, and well-considered actions are needed to remove the bad individuals who are ruining their profession’s reputation.