Bill C-35, The Cracking Down on Crooked Counsultants Act (Updated – November 17, 2015)

For years, Canadian politicians have been grappling with the issue of how to end untrained and unregulated people from providing immigration advice, also known as “ghost consulting.”  There appears to be a general consensus that tens of thousands of people each year are ripped off by ghost consultants.

The Government of Canada has launched numerous attempts at cracking down on ghost consultants, including, but not limited to, requiring licensing, creating the designated the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council, and creating this video:

In June, 2010, the Conservative Government of Canada stepped up Canada’s efforts to regulate immigration consultants by introducing Bill C-35, also known as the Cracking Down on Crooked Consultants Act.

The Cracking Down on Crooked Consultants Act resulted in the following changes:

  • Section 91 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (“IRPA“) was amended so that no person can knowingly represent or advise a person for consideration – or offer to do so – in connection with an immigration proceeding unless the person is a member in good standing of a law society, or a member of a body designated by the government.  Importantly, the prohibition does not extend to people who will not be paid for their services.
  • The Government of Canada has a great deal of control over any body designated to regulate immigration consultants. Indeed, it may make regulations requiring the designated body to provide Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC“) with any information for the purpose of assisting the government in evaluating whether the body governs its members in a manner that is in the public interest, is professional, and is ethical.
  • Any unauthorized person who represents or advises a person with regard to an immigration matter will have committed an offense. This applies to all stages in connection with the immigration proceeding or application, including before the application has been made. There will be a five year limitation period to commence an action against such an individual.  The offense is a summary offense with a maximum penalty of two-years imprisonment or a $50,000 fine.
  • The government may make regulations requiring the disclosure of information relating to the professional or ethical conduct of a lawyer or regulated immigration consultant in connection with a proceeding or application under IRPA to a body that is responsible for governing or investigating that conduct or to a person who is responsible for regulating that conduct.

Ghosts or Industry?

Previously, many people assisted individuals with CIC applications who would not have considered themselves ghost consultants.  These included travel agents who completed and submitted visa applications to CIC visa offices on behalf of their clients, educational agents and international student advisers at universities and colleges who assisted students with applications for study permits; and employment agents who assisted the foreign workers they recruited with visa and work permit applications.  When Bill C-35 came into force, some of these stakeholders were uncertain as to whether their activities were now illegal. I certainly did not believe, for example, that Bill C-35 was going to be interpreted in a way such that it would be illegal for international student advisers who are not licensed consultants to assist students with Post-Graduate Work Permit applications, for example.

However, CIC has interpreted Bill C-35 as prohibiting all of the above stakeholders from providing immigration advice unless they are licensed.  A breakdown of what they can and cannot do is as follows:

Can Do

Cannot Do

Direct someone to the CIC website to find information on immigration programs, application forms, and authorized immigration representatives. Explain and/or advise on someone’s immigration options.
Provide services such as translation, travel arrangements, and courier. Guide a client on how to select the best immigration stream.
Advise international students on how to select their courses or register. Complete and submit immigration forms on a client’s behalf.
Conduct a job interview. Communicate with CIC and the Canada Border Services Agency on a client’s behalf (except for the direct translation of a client’s written or spoken submissions).
Represent a client in an immigration application or proceeding.
Represent a client in an Arranged Employment Opinion or Labour Market Opinion application (unless they are the employer).
Advertise that they can provide immigration advice for consideration.

Results

As of November 2015, since the coming into force of the Cracking Down of Crooked Consultants Act, 412 cases of “ghost consulting” have been reported to the Canada Border Services Agency (“CBSA”).  CBSA opened 71 of those cases, and 53 are currently being investigated.  Charges have been laid in 12 cases, with 10 currently before the courts.  There has been one conviction.

PPSC Section 91 Procesution _Page_2


One thought on “Bill C-35, The Cracking Down on Crooked Counsultants Act (Updated – November 17, 2015)

  1. Dear Pierre Briand,

    Re: Just the Facts -Part I

    Ten days ago, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced his government’s plan for the future of the immigration consulting profession and the crack down on ghost agents. Since then, CMI has taken a responsible position by waiting for the government to fully disclose its plans for implementation. In the meantime, our intelligent, well-informed fellows have had the opportunity to carefully consider the implications of Bill C-35 on their businesses.

    Unfortunately, CAPIC has intervened, spreading misinformation to instill fear in the hearts and minds of honest, hardworking CSIC members. This fear has generated widespread concern over your right to practice and your right to remain self-governed. CMI has an obligation to its Fellows to provide the truth about what is really happening, to support the profession, and to debunk the myths. It’s ironic that CAPIC, who claims to be the voice of the profession, is taking irresponsible actions that may cause the most irreparable harm to the profession. These actions may result in CSIC members being regulated by Lawyers or the Government.

    It’s clear that CAPIC has employed these fear-mongering tactics to sell memberships. They are not doing it out of selfless concern for the interests of the profession, but to advance their own agenda.

    CSIC clearly remains the Regulator of Immigration Consultants and your right to practice is protected. This situation shall not change until such time as the Minister exercises a power that Parliament has yet to confer.

    CSIC has the expert staff, IT infrastructure, well-defined disciplinary, registration and educational processes that are necessary to act as regulator. No other organization has these resources. CSIC has the greatest advantage and is the natural choice to regulate the immigration consulting profession.

    Minister Kenney has made it clear that the government will not be providing funding to start a new regulator. CSIC members, you, have invested $29 million to build CSIC into what it is today. The start-up costs of new regulator are huge and any new regulator would take several years to develop the processes CSIC already has. The cost of time and money will be on the backs of CSIC members. Minister Kenney understands that, CMI understands that, and now Fellows should understand that too.

    The time to Act is now!

    Make an informed decision. Protect your investment, your future and your right to be regulated by your peers. It’s time for Fellows to speak up by supporting CSIC. Don’t financially support an organization that seeks to destroy what you have.

    Write to the Minister at minister@cic.gc.ca and tell him you support cracking down on ghost agents, you want what we now have in our regulator, and we have come too far in our profession to start over. Tell the Department what you think by contacting Ms. Catherine Marx at catherine.marx@cic.gc.ca.

    Look forward to more installments of Just the Facts in the coming weeks.

    Re: Simplement les faits – Partie 1

    Il y a dix jours, le ministre de l’Immigration Jason Kenney a annoncé le plan de son gouvernement concernant l’avenir de la profession de consultant en immigration et la lutte contre les agents fantômes. Depuis, l’ICM a adopté une position responsable en attendant que le gouvernement communique pleinement ses plans de mise en œuvre. Entre-temps, nos Fellows perspicaces et bien informés ont eu l’occasion de considérer attentivement les répercussions du projet de loi C-35 sur leur pratique.

    Malheureusement, l’ACCPI est intervenue et répand des faussetés pour semer la peur dans le cœur et la tête des membres de la SCCI qui sont honnêtes et travaillent fort. Cette peur a engendré de nombreuses inquiétudes quant à votre droit de pratiquer et votre droit de continuer d’être auto-réglementé. L’ICM a l’obligation envers ses Fellows de transmettre des faits véridiques sur ce qui se passe réellement, d’appuyer la profession et de détruire les mythes qui circulent. Il est ironique que l’ACCPI, qui prétend être le porte-parole de la profession, pose des gestes irresponsables qui risquent de causer un tort irréparable à la profession. Par suite des gestes de l’ACCPI, les activités des membres de la SCCI pourraient être réglementées par des avocats ou le gouvernement.

    Il est évident que l’ACCPI fait appel à ces tactiques pour semer la panique et vendre des adhésions. Elle ne le fait pas pour des raisons altruistes qui sont dans l’intérêt de la profession, mais bien dans le but de faire avancer sa propre cause.

    Il est clair que la SCCI demeure l’organisme de réglementation des consultants en immigration et que votre droit d’exercer à ce titre est protégé. Cette situation ne changera pas jusqu’à ce que le Ministre exerce un pouvoir que le Parlement n’a pas encore conféré.

    La SCCI est dotée d’un personnel spécialisé, d’une infrastructure de TI, de processus de discipline, d’inscription et de formation bien définis qui sont nécessaires pour agir en tant qu’organisme de réglementation. Aucun autre organisme ne dispose de ces ressources. La SCCI a le plus grand avantage et est le choix tout désigné pour réglementer la profession de consultant en immigration.

    Le ministre Kenney a clairement fait savoir que le gouvernement n’entend pas octroyer des fonds pour lancer un nouvel organisme de réglementation. En tant que membres de la SCCI, vous avez investi 29 millions de dollars pour bâtir la SCCI et en faire ce qu’elle est aujourd’hui. Les coûts de démarrage d’un nouvel organisme sont énormes et il faudrait compter plusieurs années avant qu’un nouvel organisme de réglementation ne puisse élaborer les processus que la SCCI a déjà mis en place. L’investissement en temps et en argent sera un fardeau pour les membres de la SCCI. Le ministre Kenney comprend cela, l’ICM le comprend et, maintenant, il est important que les Fellows le comprennent aussi.

    Il est temps d’agir!
    Prenez une décision éclairée. Protégez votre investissement, votre avenir et votre droit d’être réglementé par vos pairs. Le moment est venu pour les Fellows d’exprimer leur appui à l’endroit de la SCCI. N’appuyez pas financièrement une organisation qui cherche à détruire tout ce que vous avez déjà acquis.

    Écrivez au Ministre à minister@cic.gc.ca et dites-lui que vous appuyez les mesures visant à sévir contre les agents fantômes, que vous voulez conserver ce que notre organisme de réglementation offre maintenant et que nous nous nous sommes tellement investis dans notre profession et parcouru trop de chemin pour recommencer à zéro. Dites au Ministère ce que vous pensez en communiquant avec Mme Catherine Marx à catherine.marx@cic.gc.ca.

    Restez à l’affût, car nous vous enverrons d’autres numéros de Simplement les faits au cours des prochaines semaines.

    Respectueusement,

    Institut canadien de la migration
    Liens : Site Web | Courriel

    Tél. : 416.945.6278 | Télec. : 888.643.8886
    C.P. 936 rue Adelaide est, Toronto (Ontario) Canada M5C 2K3

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