As previously noted on this blog, big changes are afoot in the Canadian immigration consultant world. On March 18, 2011, the Canadian government announced that the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) would replace the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC) as the body that regulates immigration consultants.
Accordingly, immigration consultants that want to continue to represent applicants must become members of the ICCRC. Pursuant to Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s Operational Bulletin 317, all CSIC members in good standing as of June 30, 2011 are temporarily deemed to be members of the ICCRC. This transition period will last until October 28, 2011, after which anyone who wishes to be an immigration consultant must register with the ICCRC.
CSIC Gets Sued
As is evident from the above, in order to continue practicing as an immigration consultant, it is necessary for CSIC members to maintain their standing with CSIC during the transition process.
Since the Minister announced that the ICCRC would replace CSIC, CSIC has suspended roughly 600 members for failing to pay their fees. They have since removed the list of suspended members from their website, however, numerous people saved screen shots of who was suspended, and the list can be found online in numerous places.
Now, according to the Toronto Star, two immigration consultants that were on the CSIC list of suspended members have filed a lawsuit against CSIC. They are seeking a refund of any dues collected after CSIC ceased being the regulator.
It should be noted that both consultants, as well as most of those who were suspended by CSIC, appear to have registered with the ICCRC.
CSIC, meanwhile, is not losing its regulatory status without a fight. On April 5, 2011, it took legal action to halt the Canadian government’s decision to replace CSIC with the ICCRC. In the lawsuit, CSIC alleges that the process that the government followed was biased, unreasonable, and unfair. Specifically, the Application for Leave maintains that the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration made a number of inaccurate, misleading, and prejudicial comments in the House of Comments, to the media, and on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website about CSIC. They also allege that the ICCRC, formally the Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants, did not meet the requirements of a government selection process which was held to determine the best regulator.
CSIC’s Application for Leave and Judicial Review, as well as supplementary documents that it intends to use as evidence in the case, can be found here.
The Federal Court of Canada has dismissed CSIC’s application for a stay of the Government of Canada’s decision to appoint the ICCRC as regulator and remove CSIC as the regulatory body pending the judicial review. The Court found that CSIC did not show that it would suffer irreparable harm if the decision went ahead.
Irreparable harm is a harm which either cannot be quantified in monetary terms or which cannot be cured because one party cannot collect damages from the other. Evidence must be clear and non-speculative. It must be shown that the harm will occur before the judicial review decision occurs.
CSIC argued that it would be forced to wind-down if there was no stay, and that it would likely have to terminate the employment of its 38 employees.
The Federal Court disagreed, and found that even if CSIC did have to wind down (which it found as being a possibility), that CSIC still have enough funds in the bank to pay its employees and wind down in an orderly fashion.
At the website http://www.petitions24.com you can read over 800 comments that by current and former CSIC members that chronicle their frustrations about just about everything under the sun, and the build-up to the decision of hundreds of CSIC members to not pay their CSIC membership fees.
It makes for an interesting read.
The start of the comments can be seen here: http://www.petitions24.com/forum/13650/start/0