Can I Give Immigration Advice to a Friend?

Meurrens LawImmigration Trends

A couple days ago a friend and I were having a drink.  He is in the process of helping his aunt apply for a visitor visa.  He wanted to know whether he had to complete the IMM5476-Use of Rep form, and whether he had to register with the ICCRC (the regulatory body that is replacing CSIC) even if he was not being paid.

In general, a person only has to complete the IMM5476 if they are providing services which constitute advising or representing an applicant.   Examples of assistance that someone could provide which does not constitute advising or representing include:

  • Directing someone to the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website to find information on immigration programs;
  • Directing someone to the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website to access immigration application forms;
  • Directing someone to an immigration representative;
  • Providing translation services;
  • Providing medical services (i.e. medical exams, DNA testing);
  • Providing fingerprinting services; and
  • Making travel arrangements for the person to come to Canada.

The following, however, does constitute providing advice or representation:

  • Explaining and providing advice on someone’s immigration options;
  • Providing guidance to a client on how to select the best immigration stream and how to complete the appropriate forms;
  • Communicating with Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency, and the Immigration and Refugee Board on someone’s behalf;
  • Representing someone in an immigration application or proceeding;
  • Representing someone in an Arranged Employment Opinion or Labour Market Opinion application; and
  • Advertising that they can provide immigration advice.

Judging from what my friend was telling me, he had to complete an IMM5476.  Did this mean that he had to register with the ICCRC?

The answer is no.

Unpaid third parties, such as family members and friends, can act on behalf of an applicant without being authorized.

Now, you might be asking, “why should I care?”

The reason is because the Canadian government has recently intensified its efforts to crack down on unregistered consultants.  They even named their recent amendments to Canadian immigration law the “Cracking Down on Crooked Consultants Act”.

Part of this Act makes it a criminal offense for an unauthorized person to advise or represent an individual with an immigration matter for a fee, or offer to do so.

The penalty for breaching the offense is a fine of not more than $100,000 or imprisonment for a term of not more than two years, or both.